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The Origins of ‘Rule Zero’

Jon Peterson discusses the origins of Rule Zero on his blog. It featured as early as 1978 in Alarums & Excursions #38.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Rule Zero is more of a patchwork fix for rules (or even rulings). DYI Kitbashing is more about treating the game as a toolkit. But I would still say that we should not conflate the two.
Why not, though? They're the same thing, in that they involve changing rules; also kitbashing can most certainly involve both patchwork-fixing existing rules and-or inventing new ones. The only difference is that kitbashing is rarely if ever done during the run of play.
The boundaries of Rule Zero are already murky as it is (and I suspect intentionally so in regards to ever-expanding the bounds of GM authority).
How can you expand that which is already infinite? ;)
I suppose you hear what you want to hear, but that's not really the case. Fate is more akin to a system toolkit with some key tech (e.g., aspects, four actions, fate point economy, etc.) and some optional ones (e.g., skills). Not all skills will be relevant for all games, so you can rename them, remove them, or regroup them. We see this all the time in their Fate spotlight mini-settings. FWIW there is not a magic system in Fate. It's free to the table or designer to establish with the various mechanics what magic may look like in their game. But this is hardly a Rule Zero nor is a charitable reading for D&D GMs to constantly read Rule Zero into games where there isn't one.
Charitable or not, the way you put this tells me Fate (about which I otherwise know nothing) is a kitbasher's system - and is thus almost built around that aspect of Rule 0. The difference then - by the sound of it - becomes one of whatever kits get bashed for a given campaign then become locked in along with the rest of the rules once that campaign starts.

So, I'd better ask: if something comes up in a Fate game that the rules don't cover, and there's no Rule 0 to allow the GM to sort it out, how do things proceed?
 

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R_Chance

Adventurer
Not by the fall. I could point to massive chunks of active SF fandom who were playing it who'd never touched a wargame, let alone a miniatures game in their life playing it by then. It was a very well developed subset of fandom. There was some overlap of course, but I'll go as far as to say in some areas wargame players were the minority of D&D players even by then.

At the time the three original books dropped, and I'd guess for the first six months you were probably right, but the heavy spread of the game was not through wargamers, even if they were the first ones to see it.

I think there's issues of scale, however; when you have people doing whole extra subsystems and character classes, I'd be willing to bet that's beyond the degree of houseruling most wargamers were doing (though I can only speak of the hex-and-chit end of it, not the miniatures end of it).

But the real buildup of the system, the place where most people were encountering it was not at the beginning of that. I also should note that there was already a great degree of third party support for the game by then, so that the upward pressure was reduced; people who found OD&D insufficient could be buying Arduin or a million more obscure add-ons, because the hobby was still small enough for that to propagate around a bit during that period.
Given that there were only a thousand copies of D&D in that first print batch (1974) and as I understand it they took a year to sell out, I doubt there was a massive infusion of anyone playing the game. I knew about 12-15 players and there were three boxed sets among us. I don't think they had any distribution outside of hobby channels at the time. Some of the guys I played historical miniatures with (even medieval) just didn't go for fantasy too. I was busy absorbing every fantasy and science fiction book I could get my hands on myself :) If you were talking later in 1975 when the next couple of print runs were done or 1976 when the white box was produced in fairly large numbers I might agree. At least I'm pretty sure there was only one printing of D&D in '74, but I might be wrong. Those years kind of melt into a haze of high school / gaming / college :D I am occasionally amazed that I managed to graduate from high school and wonder on into college. Still, the evidence I have is only anecdotal, my memory is subject to error, ad this is for two groups I played with in one town. So, can't say anything for sure.

And I wish I still had one of the originals. We literally wore them out and some booklets were misplaced / borrowed and boxes destroyed by time and casual abuse while playing. One guy moved out of town with a bunch of our stuff. That was annoying. The oldest we (me and my brother) have left is, I think, a third printing woodgrain box set, ? 1975. I have a white box set too, 1975-6 probably. There were things added to the 1977 white boxed cover iirc.

As for house ruling board wargames, for some games we altered rules and used spare counter to produce units, etc. We were producing other nations navies for use with the Jutland game / rules for example and doing our own strategic maps etc. That game was half way to a miniature set though. Played it later with 1/2400 scale miniature warships. Most of the house rules were miniature rules though. It was easier to find a RAW board game group, although interpretations of the rules might vary. A lot in some cases :D

Judges Guild was the first "third party" D&D support I remember and that was 1976 (iirc). There were APA 'zines too, and probably a lot of stuff made that didn't see wide distribution. The Strategic Review / The Dragon, and the D&D supplements were out but that's not third party. I'm not sure what year White Dwarf dropped just off hand, but post 1976 I think. I have a couple of the Arduin Grimoires volumes boxed around here somewhere. Not sure when they came out.

Most of the "add on" content we used was what we home brewed. It was as good as anything else we were likely to find (I think). And creating it was fun. OK, I am having a massive nostalgia attack here :D A sure sign of advancing old age...
 

Aldarc

Legend
Why not, though? They're the same thing, in that they involve changing rules; also kitbashing can most certainly involve both patchwork-fixing existing rules and-or inventing new ones. The only difference is that kitbashing is rarely if ever done during the run of play.
I don't think that equivocating on terms through shallow, superficial comparisons is particularly helpful for discussion for understanding the key ideas, principles, and meanings of terms.

How can you expand that which is already infinite? ;)
I don't think that it ever was infinite, though it says quite a bit that you think it is.

Charitable or not, the way you put this tells me Fate (about which I otherwise know nothing) is a kitbasher's system - and is thus almost built around that aspect of Rule 0. The difference then - by the sound of it - becomes one of whatever kits get bashed for a given campaign then become locked in along with the rest of the rules once that campaign starts.
If you know nothing about Fate by this point after at least 2 years of regular discussion with me and others who bring it up, I would say that's as good of proof as anything that you never listen, which would certainly explain why you are one of those posters that we constantly have to re-explain basic concepts and gameplay of other systems to.

Also, this has the same problem as above where you are conflating kit-bashing with Rule Zero.

So, I'd better ask: if something comes up in a Fate game that the rules don't cover, and there's no Rule 0 to allow the GM to sort it out, how do things proceed?
If only someone has already discussed this before in this thread... :unsure:
 

Why not, though? They're the same thing, in that they involve changing rules; also kitbashing can most certainly involve both patchwork-fixing existing rules and-or inventing new ones. The only difference is that kitbashing is rarely if ever done during the run of play.
Though I don't quite follow Aldarc's way of saying it, I have to agree with him that you seem to be looking at only the most superficial similarity and calling that equivalence.

Rule 0 isn't, as far as I'm concerned, about inventing new rules. I would even go so far as to say that no application of Rule 0 that anyone has ever actually described to me would qualify as inventing new rules. It is, instead, "Okay well this rule did a dumb thing on this one special occasion, so we'll bend/ignore it just for this one moment, but it still holds in general." Hence why I said earlier that "Rule 0" really isn't--and, IMO, cannot be--a "rule" proper of the system. Because it's not a rule. It's a reminder that this thing we call "gaming" is a social activity, and thus not beholden purely to arbitrary rules on a page. Being a social activity, "gaming" admits dynamic understanding of its own structures. That doesn't mean there can never be (contextually) objective answers; what it means is that that context includes self-reflection and the ability to see the higher purpose which the rules try to pursue but will (by definition!) fail to pursue at least some of the time.

It is exactly analogous to the idea that there can be unjust laws, but that the existence of unjust laws does not make the concept of law self-contradictory. Laws exist to serve some purpose, by definition. But, being the product of mortal hands, they cannot be perfect. It is possible for mortal hands to write mortal laws that conflict with the purpose for which they were designed. An otherwise good law which has suddenly run into a particularly rare special case is (one reason) why we have courts--the courts are the Rule 0 of law, so that living, thinking minds can review and provide relief if a law has erred. A law that has an egregiously open flaw may thus be discovered by the application of the courts (the Rule 0 of law), but--and this, again, is perfectly analogous to the RPG rules structure--it is not the place of the courts (Rule 0) to create new law. That's the job of the legislature.

It just so happens that, for a D&D-style RPG, the equivalents of judiciary and executive are vested in the DM, and significant but not absolute legislative power is also vested in the DM. (Even for those who advocate "absolute" DM authority etc. whatever you want to call it, recognize that a real and functional group requires keeping the players on board with the DM's house rules and choices, and that genuine sustained pushback from the players is commonly recognized by DMs worthy of the title as a clear sign to back off and re-evaluate.) But this does not mean that the judicial powers and the legislative powers are equivalent just because they are both exercised by the same person and both relate to laws/rules.

How can you expand that which is already infinite? ;)
Given your wink, I assume this means you recognize that there are limits on the appropriate and judicious use of Rule 0?

Charitable or not, the way you put this tells me Fate (about which I otherwise know nothing) is a kitbasher's system - and is thus almost built around that aspect of Rule 0. The difference then - by the sound of it - becomes one of whatever kits get bashed for a given campaign then become locked in along with the rest of the rules once that campaign starts.

So, I'd better ask: if something comes up in a Fate game that the rules don't cover, and there's no Rule 0 to allow the GM to sort it out, how do things proceed?
Fate...isn't a kitbasher's system. Kitbasher implies inventing new rules; you don't do that with Fate. You use the one(ish) rule in a consistent and symmetric manner. I don't know it well enough to give an in-depth explanation, but I do know it well enough to say that the two are DEFINITELY different.

Since I'm fairly sure you have more knowledge of 4e, consider Page 42. Page 42 was meant to have rules for all possible attack-like and skill-like actions. It offers DCs which are appropriate to actions that should be easy, medium, or hard for a character of a given level, so if you've decided that climbing a glass mountain should be hard for a 14th-level Rogue, you can get an accurate number for what that "means" in-world. There is no need to "kitbash" anything within the realm of attacks or skill-use actions, because Page 42's extensible framework is applicable to all possible uses of either mechanic. Now, you would be right to say that if all you had was Page 42, you might need to kitbash rules for something that wasn't the use of a skill or an attack, but given how broad 4e skills are, it's hard to think of example actions that couldn't, in some way, cash out as some kind of skillful endeavor.

Now, take that same concept, but generalize it even further. Fate's aspects are literally "why X person/place/thing is important," its skills are a very nearly comprehensive list of "stuff people can do" (such as "deceive" or "fight"), its stunts are ways to make skills do things they normally don't (backstab is a given example: you can Attack using Stealth, but only if your target can't see you), Compels and Invokes cover effectively all possible forms of having-your-weakness-exploited and finding-an-advantage-from-the-world. The extremely broad four actions (Overcome, Create an Advantage, Attack, and Defend) cover pretty much all possible things you could want to do (since you can Overcome your depression or Create an Advantage through your art or whatever), and the four Outcomes (Fail, Tie, Succeed, and Succeed with Style) cover with reasonable granularity all possible results of an attempted action.

I'm just not seeing where the room is to kitbash anything. Fate is literally designed to be the RPG equivalent of "algebraically closed." I don't see where there's room to kitbash any totally new rules. You'd end up just re-building the rules you were already using, or ceasing to play Fate entirely (because you wouldn't have these universal mechanics still being universal anymore.)
 

Aldarc

Legend
I'm just not seeing where the room is to kitbash anything. Fate is literally designed to be the RPG equivalent of "algebraically closed." I don't see where there's room to kitbash any totally new rules. You'd end up just re-building the rules you were already using, or ceasing to play Fate entirely (because you wouldn't have these universal mechanics still being universal anymore.)
The core mechanics are generalized and integral, but outside of that? A fair amount is fairly mutable: e.g., Skills vs. Approaches vs. Roles vs. Rated Aspects. And additional mechanics can be built on top (e.g, Mantles, magic sub-systems, stress types, etc.). But the generalized core system form the foundation or skeleton for the rest of the game.
 

pemerton

Legend
I can't speak for Forged in the Dark,, but none of the Cortex games I'm familiar with would be in the least difficult to play with just Discord if you're not super fussy about being able to supervise dice rolls.
We found a free online dice roller that works well for Cortex+ online play. We used it together with Zoom (and screen sharing so everyone can cheer or boo the rolls) to play sessions of Cortex+ Heroic LotR. Zoom chat is a good way to share Scene Distinctions and the current size of the doom pool.

There's no need for a virtual table top in any literal sense.
 

TheSword

Legend
Though I don't quite follow Aldarc's way of saying it, I have to agree with him that you seem to be looking at only the most superficial similarity and calling that equivalence.

Rule 0 isn't, as far as I'm concerned, about inventing new rules. I would even go so far as to say that no application of Rule 0 that anyone has ever actually described to me would qualify as inventing new rules. It is, instead, "Okay well this rule did a dumb thing on this one special occasion, so we'll bend/ignore it just for this one moment, but it still holds in general." Hence why I said earlier that "Rule 0" really isn't--and, IMO, cannot be--a "rule" proper of the system. Because it's not a rule. It's a reminder that this thing we call "gaming" is a social activity, and thus not beholden purely to arbitrary rules on a page. Being a social activity, "gaming" admits dynamic understanding of its own structures. That doesn't mean there can never be (contextually) objective answers; what it means is that that context includes self-reflection and the ability to see the higher purpose which the rules try to pursue but will (by definition!) fail to pursue at least some of the time.
Rule zero absolutely can be about inventing new rules if that makes the game more fun.

Some applications of rule zero I can think of off the top of my head.

  • giving characters an extra feat at first level (not uncommon as far as I can tell)
  • Increasing starting hit points.
  • Creating extra skills proficiencies for a specific campaign that required them.
  • Creating a new special ability for a monster that isn’t featured in the DMG. Perhaps porting it over from Pathfinder or another edition.
  • Adjudicating outcomes that don’t fall within the the rules of the game. For instance making a deal with a warlocks patron to un petrify a colleague in exchange for a dark deal.
  • Allowing Gestalt PCs where they can carry abilities over from two classes. Particularly where there are only one or two players in a campaign.
  • Adding kingdom building elements to the campaign such a Pathfinders Campaign Guides, or Birthrights domain management.

All these are examples of Rule Zero creating rules that aren’t in the game. I’ve used all these at some point in 5e, with the exception of the petrification which came from the Nerdarchy blog on Rule Zero. Rule Zero is RPG Storytellers’ Best Friend

As has been said, Players vest authority to use rule zero when they nominate/accept a DM. Players can register dissent on a variety of levels with applications of rule zero: simple protest; after game conversation; group discussion; player quits the campaign; group says they don’t want to play that campaign anymore.

In reality the players can exercise greater control as a collective to check the ‘unlimited’ power of a rogue DM. A DM can do anything in the game, but they can’t force players to sit there and take it. This balance is there because the ultimate driving need for the DM is to keep the game fun, because their existence depends upon it.

@loverdrive quoted a list of principals and agendas for a DM in the game being described. I would say that that list can equally be used for D&D if you replace rule related principals with their equivalents. They are just advice for a way of playing any rpg.
 

pemerton

Legend
@loverdrive quoted a list of principals and agendas for a DM in the game being described. I would say that that list can equally be used for D&D if you replace rule related principals with their equivalents. They are just advice for a way of playing any rpg.
I don't see very many posts about D&D games that play like Dungeon World or Apocalypse World games play. And mostly when I see responses to posts about DW or AW play from posters who are primarily or exclusively D&D players they seem non-plussed or express objctions to the way DW or AW works.

So I don't really believe that 5e can be played in the way that DW is, or by application of the DW principles.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Rule zero absolutely can be about inventing new rules if that makes the game more fun.

Some applications of rule zero I can think of off the top of my head.

  • giving characters an extra feat at first level (not uncommon as far as I can tell)
  • Increasing starting hit points.
  • Creating extra skills proficiencies for a specific campaign that required them.
  • Creating a new special ability for a monster that isn’t featured in the DMG. Perhaps porting it over from Pathfinder or another edition.
  • Adjudicating outcomes that don’t fall within the the rules of the game. For instance making a deal with a warlocks patron to un petrify a colleague in exchange for a dark deal.
  • Allowing Gestalt PCs where they can carry abilities over from two classes. Particularly where there are only one or two players in a campaign.
  • Adding kingdom building elements to the campaign such a Pathfinders Campaign Guides, or Birthrights domain management.

All these are examples of Rule Zero creating rules that aren’t in the game. I’ve used all these at some point in 5e, with the exception of the petrification which came from the Nerdarchy blog on Rule Zero. Rule Zero is RPG Storytellers’ Best Friend

As has been said, Players vest authority to use rule zero when they nominate/accept a DM. Players can register dissent on a variety of levels with applications of rule zero: simple protest; after game conversation; group discussion; player quits the campaign; group says they don’t want to play that campaign anymore.

In reality the players can exercise greater control as a collective to check the ‘unlimited’ power of a rogue DM. A DM can do anything in the game, but they can’t force players to sit there and take it. This balance is there because the ultimate driving need for the DM is to keep the game fun, because their existence depends upon it.

@loverdrive quoted a list of principals and agendas for a DM in the game being described. I would say that that list can equally be used for D&D if you replace rule related principals with their equivalents. They are just advice for a way of playing any rpg.
From what I gather from the way you talk about Rule Zero, the Rule Zero of Rule Zero is that Rule Zero involves shifting the goal posts of the definition so liberally that Rule Zero that can be anything the GM wants Rule Zero to be.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
From what I gather from the way you talk about Rule Zero, the Rule Zero of Rule Zero is that Rule Zero involves shifting the goal posts of the definition so liberally that Rule Zero that can be anything the GM wants Rule Zero to be.
I invoke rule zero so tonight we play Smash instead of D&D
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
From what I gather from the way you talk about Rule Zero, the Rule Zero of Rule Zero is that Rule Zero involves shifting the goal posts of the definition so liberally that Rule Zero that can be anything the GM wants Rule Zero to be.
There was nothing in his examples that shifted the definition that we've been using for Rule 0 since this discussion started. Rule 0 may have come from wargames back in Chainmail, but by the time 1e hit, it was being used to improve the game, however that improvement came. Things evolve. Rule 0 is one of those things.
 

Rule zero absolutely can be about inventing new rules if that makes the game more fun.

Some applications of rule zero I can think of off the top of my head.

  • giving characters an extra feat at first level (not uncommon as far as I can tell)
  • Increasing starting hit points.
  • Creating extra skills proficiencies for a specific campaign that required them.
  • Creating a new special ability for a monster that isn’t featured in the DMG. Perhaps porting it over from Pathfinder or another edition.
  • Adjudicating outcomes that don’t fall within the the rules of the game. For instance making a deal with a warlocks patron to un petrify a colleague in exchange for a dark deal.
  • Allowing Gestalt PCs where they can carry abilities over from two classes. Particularly where there are only one or two players in a campaign.
  • Adding kingdom building elements to the campaign such a Pathfinders Campaign Guides, or Birthrights domain management.

All these are examples of Rule Zero creating rules that aren’t in the game. I’ve used all these at some point in 5e, with the exception of the petrification which came from the Nerdarchy blog on Rule Zero. Rule Zero is RPG Storytellers’ Best Friend

As has been said, Players vest authority to use rule zero when they nominate/accept a DM. Players can register dissent on a variety of levels with applications of rule zero: simple protest; after game conversation; group discussion; player quits the campaign; group says they don’t want to play that campaign anymore.

In reality the players can exercise greater control as a collective to check the ‘unlimited’ power of a rogue DM. A DM can do anything in the game, but they can’t force players to sit there and take it. This balance is there because the ultimate driving need for the DM is to keep the game fun, because their existence depends upon it.

@loverdrive quoted a list of principals and agendas for a DM in the game being described. I would say that that list can equally be used for D&D if you replace rule related principals with their equivalents. They are just advice for a way of playing any rpg.
Since when did house rules fall under Rule 0?
 

Campbell

Legend
Since when did house rules fall under Rule 0?

The term pretty much stems from Step 0 of character creation in D&D 3e which is to check with the DM to see if there are any house rules for the game that impact character creation. I think this often gets conflated with White Wolf's Golden Rule which is specifically about ignoring or changing rules based on what the GM thinks is "best for the story" and Rulings Over Rules from the OSR community which about a GM making judgements about how to handle a situation based on fictional positioning, and a GM's role as arbiter/interpreter of rules of the game. These are very different conceptually.

In my view framing Rule Zero in such an expansive way is mostly about enshrining The Golden Rule using language that feels like it's an essential part of the D&D tradition and roleplaying games in general. In particular when it is farmed out as something applying to all RPGs without reference to how that particular game defines the GM role. Being able to unilaterally declare house rules, The Golden Rule, and Rulings Over Rules, GM as rules arbiter are features of some games and they are not really tied together in any way. The can exist in any combination. Absolutely none of them are required for functional RPG play. GMs are not even required.
 

TheSword

Legend
I don't see very many posts about D&D games that play like Dungeon World or Apocalypse World games play. And mostly when I see responses to posts about DW or AW play from posters who are primarily or exclusively D&D players they seem non-plussed or express objctions to the way DW or AW works.

So I don't really believe that 5e can be played in the way that DW is, or by application of the DW principles.
You don’t believe these principles can apply to D&D?
  • Portray a fantastic world
  • Fill the characters’ lives with adventure
  • Play to find out what happens
  • Draw maps, leave blanks
  • Address the characters, not the players
  • Embrace the fantastic
  • Describe actions not rules
  • Give every monster life
  • Name every person
  • Ask questions and use the answers
  • Be a fan of the characters
  • Think dangerous
  • Begin and end with the fiction
  • Think offscreen, too
You don’t think D&D can play this way? I’m surprised because most of my campaigns run this way.

Could you explain how this is not possible?
 

Aldarc

Legend
You don’t believe these principles can apply to D&D?
Regardless of whether one can, I don't think that the rules of D&D (or the typical approach around them) necessarily support or reinforce all the listed principles. Plus, you also leave out a number of the ones that she listed. Nor do I think that you could run D&D like DW particularly well despite what you may claim. Have you actually played DW (or a PbtA game) before?

In my view framing Rule Zero in such an expansive way is mostly about enshrining The Golden Rule using language that feels like it's an essential part of the D&D tradition and roleplaying games in general. In particular when it is farmed out as something applying to all RPGs without reference to how that particular game defines the GM role. Being able to unilaterally declare house rules, The Golden Rule, and Rulings Over Rules, GM as rules arbiter are features of some games and they are not really tied together in any way. The can exist in any combination. Absolutely none of them are required for functional RPG play. GMs are not even required.
Yeah, there is a lot of trying to conflate a variety of different terms and principles as a way to reinforce GM carte blanche.
 

We found a free online dice roller that works well for Cortex+ online play. We used it together with Zoom (and screen sharing so everyone can cheer or boo the rolls) to play sessions of Cortex+ Heroic LotR. Zoom chat is a good way to share Scene Distinctions and the current size of the doom pool.

There's no need for a virtual table top in any literal sense.

That was my point. VTTs can sometimes have some mechanical support that's useful, but a big part of their benefit is usually to games that actually make it useful to have a battle map of at least some sort (though you can also get some convenient sharing of other sorts of maps and images, but again, you can do that with Discord too, its just not quite as efficient). Mind you, most of the games I prefer do work better that way, not the least because I have terrible spatial imagination and memory, but I'm entirely aware there are some that don't really benefit much there, because of some combination of not being too interested in distance and position, or having potential scales so large it's largely moot, like some superhero games.
 

Given that there were only a thousand copies of D&D in that first print batch (1974) and as I understand it they took a year to sell out, I doubt there was a massive infusion of anyone playing the game. I knew about 12-15 players and there were three boxed sets among us. I don't think they had any distribution outside of hobby channels at the time. Some of the guys I played historical miniatures with (even medieval) just didn't go for fantasy too. I was busy absorbing every fantasy and science fiction book I could get my hands on myself :) If you were talking later in 1975 when the next couple of print runs were done or 1976 when the white box was produced in fairly large numbers I might agree. At least I'm pretty sure there was only one printing of D&D in '74, but I might be wrong. Those years kind of melt into a haze of high school / gaming / college :D I am occasionally amazed that I managed to graduate from high school and wonder on into college. Still, the evidence I have is only anecdotal, my memory is subject to error, ad this is for two groups I played with in one town. So, can't say anything for sure.

I'm not going to speak of the early part, but all I can tell you is they were absolutely were all over the place by early '75 (specifically by the time of the publication of Greyhawk). It was sufficiently spread out by the middle of that year that SF cons were starting to have issues with the amount of space D&D players were taking up, and that it had spawned two (and probably more, these were just the two I was aware of that were out that early) expanding APAs in the form of The Wild Hunt and Alarums and Excursions. So I suppose you could argue that it didn't really take off until a year after its publication, but its still the case that once it penetrated SF fandom it grew pretty explosively. By the time I got into it myself in late '75 it had even spawned its own dedicated convention (though that quickly expanded into supporting other RPGs).

And I wish I still had one of the originals. We literally wore them out and some booklets were misplaced / borrowed and boxes destroyed by time and casual abuse while playing. One guy moved out of town with a bunch of our stuff. That was annoying. The oldest we (me and my brother) have left is, I think, a third printing woodgrain box set, ? 1975. I have a white box set too, 1975-6 probably. There were things added to the 1977 white boxed cover iirc.

Same here; I have an incredibly battered beige box with disintergrating books, and a later white box I inherited from a late friend. A quick check shows the former is indeed, the same third printing you reference above (which isn't surprising since I entered the hobby in late '75).

As for house ruling board wargames, for some games we altered rules and used spare counter to produce units, etc. We were producing other nations navies for use with the Jutland game / rules for example and doing our own strategic maps etc. That game was half way to a miniature set though. Played it later with 1/2400 scale miniature warships. Most of the house rules were miniature rules though. It was easier to find a RAW board game group, although interpretations of the rules might vary. A lot in some cases :D

Well, the extent and quality of the rules involved was absolutely going to impact the latter. How consistent people were going to be from use of, say, Avalon Hill's Kriegspiel was going to vary considerably in contrast with some of the more, uhm, detailed SPI games.

Judges Guild was the first "third party" D&D support I remember and that was 1976 (iirc). There were APA 'zines too, and probably a lot of stuff made that didn't see wide distribution. The Strategic Review / The Dragon, and the D&D supplements were out but that's not third party. I'm not sure what year White Dwarf dropped just off hand, but post 1976 I think. I have a couple of the Arduin Grimoires volumes boxed around here somewhere. Not sure when they came out.

There was already various third party products by the time I got in in late '75. How widely distributed they were I can't say, but I was finding them at game stores and conventions in that period. Judges Guild may well have been the biggest, but they were neither first nor only. Most of the other material was clearly stuff that was done on, charitably, a budget. And as you say, there were the APAs, though how widely spread they were was a really good question. I suspect it was one of those things that if you were involved through SF fandom you were more likely to see than if you came in through other routes, since APAs were a big thing in organized fandom at the time.

Most of the "add on" content we used was what we home brewed. It was as good as anything else we were likely to find (I think). And creating it was fun. OK, I am having a massive nostalgia attack here :D A sure sign of advancing old age...

Well, since much of the third party product was "Somebody got this set of ideas and then decided to sell it..." that's probably no big surprise. And awful lot of it was more colorful than really thought through (which was more of an issue with new spells and classes than it was with monsters or magic items...)
 

I'm just not seeing where the room is to kitbash anything. Fate is literally designed to be the RPG equivalent of "algebraically closed." I don't see where there's room to kitbash any totally new rules. You'd end up just re-building the rules you were already using, or ceasing to play Fate entirely (because you wouldn't have these universal mechanics still being universal anymore.)

I think it turns on how you view different versions of Fate; for example, all evidence I have are that FAE and Strange Fate are very different beasts, but they're both derived from the same basic structure, where FAE has smoothed out some elements and SF has expanded on and added some. The latter seems at least vaguely analogous to "kitbashing" at its root.

So are both those games also Fate, or not? (And its legitimate to answer you're not familiar enough with either to say).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't think that equivocating on terms through shallow, superficial comparisons is particularly helpful for discussion for understanding the key ideas, principles, and meanings of terms.
It is when you're trying to limit the definition of Rule 0 to one specific subset of what it covers; and if you want to call that "shallow" and "superficial" then sorry, that's on you.
I don't think that it ever was infinite, though it says quite a bit that you think it is.
Sigh...so much for that joke.
If you know nothing about Fate by this point after at least 2 years of regular discussion with me and others who bring it up, I would say that's as good of proof as anything that you never listen, which would certainly explain why you are one of those posters that we constantly have to re-explain basic concepts and gameplay of other systems to.

Also, this has the same problem as above where you are conflating kit-bashing with Rule Zero.
"Conflating" kit-bashing with Rule 0 is only a problem in your eyes due to your limited definition of what Rule 0 covers.

System-level kitbashing, house rules, on-the-fly rulings to covers things not hit by the rules - all of these are part of Rule 0, which in itself boils down to "make the game your own".
OK, so Fate just hides its version of Rule 0 under a different name. Got it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Though I don't quite follow Aldarc's way of saying it, I have to agree with him that you seem to be looking at only the most superficial similarity and calling that equivalence.

Rule 0 isn't, as far as I'm concerned, about inventing new rules. I would even go so far as to say that no application of Rule 0 that anyone has ever actually described to me would qualify as inventing new rules. It is, instead, "Okay well this rule did a dumb thing on this one special occasion, so we'll bend/ignore it just for this one moment, but it still holds in general."
That's one part of Rule 0. To me, Rule 0 also includes "This rule* does a dumb thing every time it comes up, so let's fix it once and for all." It also includes "No matter how I tilt my head I can't see a rule anywhere that covers this particular mess we're in, so I'm going to make one up and, because it's setting a precedent, it'll become part of our game rules henceforth". Now, expand that to include the GM noticing these things before play even begins, and you've covered houseruling.

* - replacing 'rule' with 'system' takes you straight into kitbashing: this system for doing xxx causes headaches every time we touch it, so let's fix it.
Hence why I said earlier that "Rule 0" really isn't--and, IMO, cannot be--a "rule" proper of the system. Because it's not a rule. It's a reminder that this thing we call "gaming" is a social activity, and thus not beholden purely to arbitrary rules on a page. Being a social activity, "gaming" admits dynamic understanding of its own structures. That doesn't mean there can never be (contextually) objective answers; what it means is that that context includes self-reflection and the ability to see the higher purpose which the rules try to pursue but will (by definition!) fail to pursue at least some of the time.

It is exactly analogous to the idea that there can be unjust laws, but that the existence of unjust laws does not make the concept of law self-contradictory. Laws exist to serve some purpose, by definition. But, being the product of mortal hands, they cannot be perfect. It is possible for mortal hands to write mortal laws that conflict with the purpose for which they were designed. An otherwise good law which has suddenly run into a particularly rare special case is (one reason) why we have courts--the courts are the Rule 0 of law, so that living, thinking minds can review and provide relief if a law has erred. A law that has an egregiously open flaw may thus be discovered by the application of the courts (the Rule 0 of law), but--and this, again, is perfectly analogous to the RPG rules structure--it is not the place of the courts (Rule 0) to create new law. That's the job of the legislature.
If I follow up on this it'll get politicial in a flash, so I'm going to abstain... :)
Given your wink, I assume this means you recognize that there are limits on the appropriate and judicious use of Rule 0?
Obviously. And we can all quickly think of enough bad ways to use it, I'm sure. :)
Fate...isn't a kitbasher's system. Kitbasher implies inventing new rules; you don't do that with Fate.
Kitbashing also implies dropping rules or systems that don't work (e.g. anyone who dropped weapon speed from 1e D&D was kitbashing), along with changing other rules or systems.

When TSR/WotC does their kitbashing they call the results a new edition.
Since I'm fairly sure you have more knowledge of 4e, consider Page 42. Page 42 was meant to have rules for all possible attack-like and skill-like actions. It offers DCs which are appropriate to actions that should be easy, medium, or hard for a character of a given level, so if you've decided that climbing a glass mountain should be hard for a 14th-level Rogue, you can get an accurate number for what that "means" in-world. There is no need to "kitbash" anything within the realm of attacks or skill-use actions, because Page 42's extensible framework is applicable to all possible uses of either mechanic. Now, you would be right to say that if all you had was Page 42, you might need to kitbash rules for something that wasn't the use of a skill or an attack, but given how broad 4e skills are, it's hard to think of example actions that couldn't, in some way, cash out as some kind of skillful endeavor.
Gotcha. This falls more under on-the-fly rulings; another aspect of Rule 0.

I suppose the only minor kitbash aspect of it might arise if your rulings in a given situation hold precedent within that game and become houserules.
Now, take that same concept, but generalize it even further. Fate's aspects are literally "why X person/place/thing is important," its skills are a very nearly comprehensive list of "stuff people can do" (such as "deceive" or "fight"), its stunts are ways to make skills do things they normally don't (backstab is a given example: you can Attack using Stealth, but only if your target can't see you), Compels and Invokes cover effectively all possible forms of having-your-weakness-exploited and finding-an-advantage-from-the-world. The extremely broad four actions (Overcome, Create an Advantage, Attack, and Defend) cover pretty much all possible things you could want to do (since you can Overcome your depression or Create an Advantage through your art or whatever), and the four Outcomes (Fail, Tie, Succeed, and Succeed with Style) cover with reasonable granularity all possible results of an attempted action.

I'm just not seeing where the room is to kitbash anything. Fate is literally designed to be the RPG equivalent of "algebraically closed." I don't see where there's room to kitbash any totally new rules. You'd end up just re-building the rules you were already using, or ceasing to play Fate entirely (because you wouldn't have these universal mechanics still being universal anymore.)
Kitbashing almost always moves away from RAW; and at some hard-to-define point yes, one could say it's no longer the original game. Much there depends on how closely you adhere to the original chassis in your changes.
 

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