I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Well, the issue with legal writing is that it is often requires jargon (words that have acquired specific legal meaning) or that, in the need to be complete, it acquires a great deal of complexity.The relationship between "rules" and written law and "rulings" and common law is something I've thought about before.
I've always been a critic of the phrase "rulings not rules" because ultimately both seemed to me to be much the same thing - regardless of whether the law is derived from a Constitution or a body of common law, it's still going to be law and fodder therefore for lawyers.
I've never been a lawyer, but it seems to me that the great difficulty in being a lawyer always come from the common law, which in any legal system soon vastly outweighs the written law both in its volume and its influence over how a case is adjudicated. I've read the written law and it's often struck me how the written law is just as badly written as RPG rules, and often much more so, so that it doesn't actually address the question or provide the answers you'd want to have in practice.
Tell that to Napoleon! (I kid. But the issue of primacy of interpretation is, well, something that is featured in Anglo-american jurisprudence, less so in those that prefer the more Roman model).I don't think it is possible to write law or rules that are so complete that no common law arises from the interpretation of them.
Again, that's what the quote is going to. The more simplified the system, the easier to read and comprehend, the more open it is to interpretation. You can't possibly begin to cover all use-cases with general language. Just think of the usual phrase-But I think it is possible to write law or rules to varying degrees of quality so that on the whole, the situation is more ruled by the law than fiat and almost everyone reading the rules has some close sense regarding what the laws say and how they'll work in practice.
I likewise think that there is a more or less ideal state where the rules are short enough to be comprehensible and yet comprehensive enough that they seldom give rise to the need for rulings touching on things that the rules do not cover adequately.
"Due process." Well, how much process are you due? Notice? An opportunity to be heard? Okay, great! How much notice? What is notice? Does it have to be a particular form? Email? What happens when the person doesn't get notice? What if it's through no fault of their own? What if the person is actually a corporation? How do they get notice?
... and so on. Just look at something as simple as, well, (American) Football. If you look at the byzantine rulebook, you get further and further in the weeds as they attempt to truly define things, because they can't trust the refs to interpret.
Like I said- there are always tradeoffs. It's not a question of good or bad, just different.
Yeah .... there's a difference between, "Everyone pay your fair share of taxes" and U.S. Code Title 26 and associated regulations (the tax code).My suspicion is that that ideal state is for a rather large body of written rules, both by practical experience (trying to apply different rules set) and theoretically in that I think that the complexity of a rules set which involves simple operations tends to grow at a less than linear rate. That is to say, I tend to think that doubling the page count less than doubles the complexity - at least for certain types of writing (the sort I prefer).
The trouble with your assertion (doubling less than doubles complexity) is that it doesn't take into account how different provisions interact with each other. Unfortunately, most rules you add tend to interact with other rules, and then you have rules that specifically change, modify, and otherwise alter the impact of already-extant rules. So IME doubling the length of something more than doubles complexity- first, because of the actual increase, and second, because it becomes more difficult for someone to fully understand all of it.
That's what we get to from the beginning- it depends on how you measure complexity. And preferences.In fact, I think you can increase complexity by shortening the rules. For example, consider the following variant:
1) If the proposition is trivially easy, it always succeeds.
2) If the proposition is impossible, it always fails.
3) If the proposition is doubtful, then the GM decides the outcome.
For most traditional RPGs, since the GM is the sole authority on resolving propositions, so this reduces to a game with only the following rule:
1) The GM decides the outcome of propositions.
This is in fact a game which contains only the rule frequently referred to as "Rule Zero". Despite having the same number of rules as "The World's Simplest RPG", the complexity of "The World's Simplest RPG" defined by the number of factors that touch on the resolution is zero. While the complexity of game based solely on "Rule Zero" has a complexity that approaches infinity. Since the "Rule Zero" game is the only rule in a Braunstein, I see the entire history of RPG rule development as an attempt to reduce the complexity of the rules compared to that of a Braunstein.
To give you an easy example from RL- the more trust there is between two parties, the easier it is to draft a short document (settlement, lease, contract, etc.). The less trust, the longer it becomes as a general rule (because of the need to account for eventualities, and additional language in case it goes to litigation).*
I think this applies to a lot of things; if you have believe that there will be a good-faith interpretation, you're less worried about the need to constrain the adjudicator and the other parties; OTOH, if you are worried .... this might apply to RPGs, too.
*Of course, any good attorney will tell you to trust no one. That's why you hired an attorney.