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The Emerikol Fallacy .... or .... Fallacious uses of the Oberoni Fallacy

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Emerikol

Villager
Text from my blog....

The basic gist of the Oberoni Fallacy is...

The fact a GM using rule zero can fix a rules problem does not mean there is no rules problem.

I agree with Oberoni that such thinking is a fallacy. But that fallacy has been taken too far in some discussions. We are no longer talking about rules problems. We are talking about rules that allow more or less GM adjudication.

The fallacy has been stretched to mean the following...

Any rule that is open to GM interpretation and could possibly be abused by a bad DM is a bad rule.

Let me call this the Emerikol Fallacy.

One of the advantages of roll playing games is that you have a human who can make judgments that are beyond today's computers abilities to make. This ability to judge allows players greater flexibility. They can literally try anything. The GM is expected to fairly set the difficulty and allow for a roll. The number he chooses can vary from GM to GM but that is not a bad thing. Each GM is tasked with representing his own campaign world. As long as he is consistent in application across all players and npcs, it's fine.

Comments and discussion?
 
Any rule that ... could possibly be abused by a bad DM is a bad rule.
Based on that logic all rules are bad rules. Stop the RPG industry; we're done.

You can't build a game based on how it might be abused. At best, you build a game to function as designed, and design the game so that it is easy to interpret, understand, and use as designed.
 

Emerikol

Villager
Based on that logic all rules are bad rules. Stop the RPG industry; we're done.

You can't build a game based on how it might be abused. At best, you build a game to function as designed, and design the game so that it is easy to interpret, understand, and use as designed.
I agree with everything you say.

My emphasis perhaps is on rules that deliberately allow some GM adjudication on purpose. Kind of like the Charm Person spell in 5e. I think rules should assume at minimum a GM that is trying to do right by the players. They should not assume a veteran of 30+ years. They should assume good intent. GMs with bad intend should be shunned.
 

Halivar

Villager
It's essential that I have a ruleset that I can memorize easily and not have to consult books in play. The more minutiae that the rules cover, the less I am able to run it RAW. Give me the 20% of rules that I need 80% of the time, and I can wing the rest.
 

Ruin Explorer

Villager
They should assume good intent. GMs with bad intend should be shunned.
The trouble is that it's not binary in reality, Emerikol. DMs aren't good/evil. Almost every godawful game-stopping, unfair-seeming, DM fiat-ish ruling I've ever seen came from a DM who, if you'd cast "detect truth" on him or whatever, would have passed as having at least "honest intent". Even Mr Orc Babies.

Good intent is not at all the same as good decision-making or good DM'ing either. Indeed, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It is for that reason that rules should be designed so that they aren't likely to create bad situations. Obviously sometimes you can't do that. But what you can do then is give good guidance as to how to adjudicate the rule.

If you have a rule that seems likely to create bad situations AND you don't give good guidance on it, then I really do think that rule is a problem. Do you disagree?

EDIT - The rules should assume that the DM is:

A) Not a total bastard.

and

B) Human and therefore very fallible.
 

Majoru Oakheart

Adventurer
I agree that rules will often need to be interpreted by the DM and that's perfectly acceptable. I even encourage them to a point. However, if rules are vague to the point that a wildly different interpretation is actually LIKELY then they are too vague.

For instance, "PCs can regain all their hitpoints after rest of approximately 8 hours with no more than an hour gap." is fine. A DM can say "Sure, I'll allow you to get a long rest even though you were technically awake for 2 hours because you rested a total of 9 hours." A DM can say that standing around is still resting since it doesn't say. That's fine.

On the other hand, if a rule is written like this: "PCs can regain all their hitpoints after resting for a long period of time.", the rule is so vague as to be useless. One DM might assume a long time is a month while another assumes it's an hour. Might as well not have a rule at all if you write them this vaguely.

And it certainly doesn't excuse real abuses of the Oberoni Fallacy, which are fairly rampant. The problem is there is likely an overlap between the Emerikol Falacy and the Oberoni Fallacy in the case of extremely vague rules.

I submit that the last resting example I give above is a BAD rule because it is so vague that a DM interpreting it badly could ruin the fun of an entire game. It's written in such a way that it REQUIRES DM interpretation to even use it. Now, a lot of people will say "Yeah, but if you're DM rules that a 'long period of time' is 8 hours, then the rule is perfectly acceptable." Which is pretty much the definition of an Oberoni Fallacy. It's a bad rule that can be fixed through DM interpretation...but that doesn't make the rule good.
 

Emerikol

Villager
If you have a rule that seems likely to create bad situations AND you don't give good guidance on it, then I really do think that rule is a problem. Do you disagree?

EDIT - The rules should assume that the DM is:

A) Not a total bastard.

and

B) Human and therefore very fallible.
I thought that A&B were addressed in my post and one response. I think A&B should be assumed.

I am definitely not for rules that are likely to create a bad situation. That definition though might be applied differently by the two of us.

Let's suppose the Charm Person spell's description said the following...
Assuming the target is not in active conflict with the party, their attitude towards the caster becomes one of a friendly acquaintance.

Now that to me would be minimally good. Would I add a few more caveats and explanations just to make it almost child proof? Sure. Why not? Still your reasonably competent DM can run with the initial statement and wouldn't need anything more. He knows what a friendly acquaintance is and can act on that knowledge to make adjudications when the players try to use their new relationship.

A lot of utility spells get criticized for not being precise enough. Personally I think too much precision can suck the life out of the power. It's not intended to be hyper precise.
 

Ruin Explorer

Villager
I thought that A&B were addressed in my post and one response. I think A&B should be assumed.

I am definitely not for rules that are likely to create a bad situation. That definition though might be applied differently by the two of us.

Let's suppose the Charm Person spell's description said the following...
Assuming the target is not in active conflict with the party, their attitude towards the caster becomes one of a friendly acquaintance.

Now that to me would be minimally good. Would I add a few more caveats and explanations just to make it almost child proof? Sure. Why not? Still your reasonably competent DM can run with the initial statement and wouldn't need anything more. He knows what a friendly acquaintance is and can act on that knowledge to make adjudications when the players try to use their new relationship.

A lot of utility spells get criticized for not being precise enough. Personally I think too much precision can suck the life out of the power. It's not intended to be hyper precise.
The point, which you appear to agree with, is that there is a balance to be struck. Once you accept that, the question is where that balance is, you can't claim "Emerikol Fallacy", only "We disagree!". I think your charm definition is way too vague, for example and indeed likely to cause problems. Presumably you do not?

Also I think your notion of DM "competence" is hopelessly vague, and is a THIRD criteria, too! I've certainly seen experienced DMs go to bad places due to vague-ness and poor rules.
 

Rod Staffwand

aka Ermlaspur Flormbator
RPG Rules exist to answer a series of simple questions:
1. Can my character do this? Yes/No/Maybe.
2. If maybe, what are the chances?
3. What are the results of success and failure?

Rules should be clear. Ambiguous rules are not helpful to anyone. They might occur through poor communication on the part of the designers or by the designers not fully analyzing the implications of their rules. These are objectively bad rules.

At the same time, I don't have a problem if the designers say: "Devising rules to cover this extremely complex situation would result in a baroque, unplayable monstrosity. We have therefore decided to leave implementation to the good judgment of the DM based on what is happening in play and the needs of the game." Purposely leaving the resolution of certain situations in the hands of the DM is not necessarily bad game design. No game can realistically give 100% coverage of all scenarios and variables. Designers should still give DMs advice for adjudicating these situations within the system, optimally giving examples.

I'm also a fan of books like 13th Age, wherein the designers have sidebars scattered throughout explaining their design decisions and giving options for DMs in running their own games--along with advantages and disadvantages of various approaches.
 

Emerikol

Villager
RPG Rules exist to answer a series of simple questions:
1. Can my character do this? Yes/No/Maybe.
2. If maybe, what are the chances?
3. What are the results of success and failure?

Rules should be clear. Ambiguous rules are not helpful to anyone. They might occur through poor communication on the part of the designers or by the designers not fully analyzing the implications of their rules. These are objectively bad rules.

At the same time, I don't have a problem if the designers say: "Devising rules to cover this extremely complex situation would result in a baroque, unplayable monstrosity. We have therefore decided to leave implementation to the good judgment of the DM based on what is happening in play and the needs of the game." Purposely leaving the resolution of certain situations in the hands of the DM is not necessarily bad game design. No game can realistically give 100% coverage of all scenarios and variables. Designers should still give DMs advice for adjudicating these situations within the system, optimally giving examples.

I'm also a fan of books like 13th Age, wherein the designers have sidebars scattered throughout explaining their design decisions and giving options for DMs in running their own games--along with advantages and disadvantages of various approaches.
As long as a set of DCs is defined in the game so that
DC 5 - easy
DC 10 - moderate
DC 15 - hard
.... and so on.....

Then a DM can answer your questions given a "vaguely" described spell like charm person above.

The players asks "I want to convince my new acquaintance to let us inside the palace that he is guarding"
The DM thinks - hmmm. He is only an acquaintance and he will get in big trouble if found out. I'll choose a DC of 25 for super hard.

The idea is to teach the DM a range of DCs that make sense. Then the DM can look at the natural situation and set DCs based upon his own experience and understanding of the world. That is his job.
[MENTION=16326]Ruin[/MENTION]Explorer
Keep in mind Ruin that I think any DM with good intentions will quickly become moderately competent. He has is own life to draw upon. He doesn't have to be consistent with other DMs. He only has to be consistent with his own rulings. The players will quickly learn how his world world. It's also okay has a player to ask how hard something will likely be and get an answer like "hard" which means something like DC 15.

The fallacy is stating that a rule is incomplete because it does not spell out exactly what can happen but leaves it open to DM adjudication.
 

Ruin Explorer

Villager
He only has to be consistent with his own rulings. The players will quickly learn how his world world.
Ah, I disagree, but hope to discuss it later. In short a competent DM gets player buy-in, not just player acceptance/understanding, imo.

The fallacy is stating that a rule is incomplete because it does not spell out exactly what can happen but leaves it open to DM adjudication.
But as you've accepted that this is an honest question of degree, your fallacy will rarely, if ever, be valid. :) More later maybe!
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You can't build a game based on how it might be abused. At best, you build a game to function as designed, and design the game so that it is easy to interpret, understand, and use as designed.
There is this wonderful place called the "middle ground" we don't like to talk about. The internet is this place a whole lot of "all or nothing" that doesn't need to be so extreme.

I'm sorry, Olgar, but at best, you build a game to function as designed, and design the game so that is it easy to interpret, understand, and use as designed... with some attention paid to obvious abuses.

Can you make a system foolproof? Of course, not. And being damnfoolproof is certainly out of the question. But that doesn't mean that abuse cannot, and should not, be considered as you go along. If you must, you can consider this a sub-heading under "easy to use as designed" - because shooting yourself in the foot does not make for an "easy" play experience.

There's also a major problem, in that the designers aren't really allowed to tell you what it is designed to do. Large sections of the Internet would consider it a foul - "DON'T TELL ME HOW TO PLAY!!!1!" would be the battle cry.
 
I'm sorry, Olgar, but at best, you build a game to function as designed, and design the game so that is it easy to interpret, understand, and use as designed... with some attention paid to obvious abuses.

Can you make a system foolproof? Of course, not. And being damnfoolproof is certainly out of the question. But that doesn't mean that abuse cannot, and should not, be considered as you go along. If you must, you can consider this a sub-heading under "easy to use as designed" - because shooting yourself in the foot does not make for an "easy" play experience.
We agree, and are saying the same thing.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
There's also a major problem, in that the designers aren't really allowed to tell you what it is designed to do. Large sections of the Internet would consider it a foul - "DON'T TELL ME HOW TO PLAY!!!1!" would be the battle cry.
I would hope in 2014 that we're past that kind of nonsense. I mean, FATE Core, which is one of my favorite RPG rulebooks, has pretty explicit sidebars along the lines of "We've found the best way to run this situation is to do X. You can do Y, but you'll probably run into these problems, and honestly, it's less fun." 13th Age has extremely similar sidebars. I'm hoping to see some good designer voice sidebars in the 5e DMG, at least. I think it would be a missed opportunity if they didn't.
 

Emerikol

Villager
Ah, I disagree, but hope to discuss it later. In short a competent DM gets player buy-in, not just player acceptance/understanding, imo.
Yeah it would be a fun discussion if we kept it friendly. I'm more of the school of thought that a DM needs to be highly motivated and really involved and it's best if possible for him to seek players that fit his game rather than adjusting. Obviously if your playerbase is limited or intransigent that might be hard. For me it never has been. I can only surmise that what I like is at least liked enough by a lot of people.

But as you've accepted that this is an honest question of degree, your fallacy will rarely, if ever, be valid. :) More later maybe!
If the rule is clear in a language sense, and there exists somewhere in the book advice on adjudication then it qualifies. It's not a bad rule. It may still be a rule that you don't like. I don't like martial healing but it's not a bad rule in the sense I'm using here. It's a bad rule for my enjoyment of the game but it's not a broken rule. Perhaps the term broken is a better term. We subjectively say all sorts of things are bad when we mean bad for us.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
We agree, and are saying the same thing.
You may mean the same thing, but it doesn't seem present in what you said. What you said looks like a rather polar, "don't worry about abuse at all". What I'm saying is "a moderate amount of attention should be paid to abuse". I'd like to hear what in your text indicates that.
 

Agamon

Adventurer
Any rule that is open to GM interpretation and could possibly be abused by a bad DM is a bad rule.

Let me call this the Emerikol Fallacy.

One of the advantages of roll playing games is that you have a human who can make judgments that are beyond today's computers abilities to make. This ability to judge allows players greater flexibility. They can literally try anything. The GM is expected to fairly set the difficulty and allow for a roll. The number he chooses can vary from GM to GM but that is not a bad thing. Each GM is tasked with representing his own campaign world. As long as he is consistent in application across all players and npcs, it's fine.
Exactly. Rule zero should not be there to fix "PC's never heal damage" or "Slap your player if he rolls a one." Bad rules are bad rules. There may be some disagreement as to what a bad rule is (thus my extreme examples), but often a majority may agree on what doesn't work. Now, if a game does have a bad rule, rule zero lets you fix it. But just because I have a well stocked tool box in the garage doesn't mean it's okay to sell me a lemon car.

But how this got mixed up with GM's adjudicating rules is beyond me. Interpretable rules are not bad rules. One may have a preference for having the rules be as blunt and fixed and spelled out as possible, but that doesn't make interpretable rules bad. It's simply a different style of game.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
Exactly. Rule zero should not be there to fix "PC's never heal damage" or "Slap your player if he rolls a one."
Yeah, that's a terrible implementation of Rule Zero. Waiting until they roll a one is just going to make them think they run the place.
 

Emerikol

Villager
Exactly. Rule zero should not be there to fix "PC's never heal damage" or "Slap your player if he rolls a one." Bad rules are bad rules. There may be some disagreement as to what a bad rule is (thus my extreme examples), but often a majority may agree on what doesn't work. Now, if a game does have a bad rule, rule zero lets you fix it. But just because I have a well stocked tool box in the garage doesn't mean it's okay to sell me a lemon car.

But how this got mixed up with GM's adjudicating rules is beyond me. Interpretable rules are not bad rules. One may have a preference for having the rules be as blunt and fixed and spelled out as possible, but that doesn't make interpretable rules bad. It's simply a different style of game.
And that is my entire point. If the REASON you give for saying a rule is bad is that a bad DM could abuse it then you are committing the Emerikol Fallacy. If you dislike a rule because of other reasons then you are not committing the fallacy.

The fallacy is believing a game can ever contain bad DMs. Bad as in evil not bad as in inexperienced.
 

Ruin Explorer

Villager
And that is my entire point. If the REASON you give for saying a rule is bad is that a bad DM could abuse it then you are committing the Emerikol Fallacy. If you dislike a rule because of other reasons then you are not committing the fallacy.

The fallacy is believing a game can ever contain bad DMs. Bad as in evil not bad as in inexperienced.
So to rephrase it, the Emerikol Fallacy would be:

"If a rule is ONLY "bad" because a nasty/unpleasant/malicious/evil DM (as opposed to a merely incompetent/newbie/etc. DM) can abuse it, it is not actually bad".

Yes/no?
 
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