Legends and Lore - Rules, Rules, Rules

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Legends and Lore
Rules, Rules, Rules

by Monte Cook

A game designer can affect the play of the game by how a rule is presented, and what is said or not said within the framework of that rule.

Talk about this column here.

Now I want a character that can climb a cyclone!

Also more poll options for those who wanted them - who says that Monte does not learn from experience?

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^not really, no.  you can tell yourself that though if it will make you feel better about how you act at your table.

i'd want something like 1 (assumption that the PC can climb) but then maybe a mechanic for like, dramatic situations to resolve getting shot off a ladder or something.
one of the biggest benefits of a new edition of a game is that all of the best ideas of the game, and the best approaches to the game, can be gathered together and codified in the new edition, for the benefit of all players of the game.

i fell in love with d&d back in 1st edition, but mr. cook's option 1 dug up memories of how the rules back then seemed to raise more questions than they answered.

i much prefer option 3, both as a dm and as a player. 
Where as I chose the 'radically different' option as I prefer a level based DC and the simplicity of the 4th Ed rules (stat +trained/untrained + 1/2 level + situational/miscellaneous modifiers).

I also note that the results of last week's poll are apparently being kept in house.
As a DM I think I would like option 2.5 - the entierty of Option 2 with the Surface chart added in.

As a player, I think I like option 2 for its simplicity but option 3 for its Surface table and rules for slipping/falling.

As a forum goer, I think Option 2 would be fine for 99% of all groups but that highly vocal 1% would abuse the rule and thus force the need for the lamentably long winded Option 3. 
Could somebody please tell me what the purpose of this article is? I don't get it.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Could somebody please tell me what the purpose of this article is? I don't get it.



The purpose is to showcase the many different ways in which rules can be written. You can have a very simple, yet horribly vague, rule (option 1), a rule that's still vague but less so (option 2) or a rule that has a sub-rule for every fringe interaction with the rule (option 3). The article is showing us how rules have evolved over the years from basically single line text to very complex paragraphs.
one of the biggest benefits of a new edition of a game is that all of the best ideas of the game, and the best approaches to the game, can be gathered together and codified in the new edition, for the benefit of all players of the game.

i fell in love with d&d back in 1st edition, but mr. cook's option 1 dug up memories of how the rules back then seemed to raise more questions than they answered.

i much prefer option 3, both as a dm and as a player. 



option 1 has the nice base assumption that adventurers are any good at climbing.  maybe a "how to climb crazy crap" rule would be good, though?  actually that vague, though, so it's really up to the DM on when to apply the mechanic and when to let it slide.  rolling a 1 on something simple is always lame and rolling a 20 feels like wasted luck.

option 3 in this specific example can lead to the whole 3rd edition skillmancy problems (combination rules lawyer BS and ridiculous game breaking crap) but you don't really get anything back from it unless you're using 4e-style scaling DCs for most things.
I voted option 3 because it's definitely the closest to what I like.

I enjoy 4E's  DC by level charts; they're great for knowing what an appropriate challenge is.  But I also enjoy having suggestion charts for the DCs of common tasks.  It's important to know that they're suggestions, but it helps with both assigning DCs to things on the fly (not every rope is a level X challenge, after all; sometimes the PCs decide to climb something you never expected but that shouldn't really be a challenge equal to their level) and also with describing the existing DC you already have (ok, so I have a DC 18 rope, what kind of rope should that be?).

I don't think either 'DC by level/narrative' or 'DC by simulation' qualifies as the One True Rule that should always be followed.  They both have their place.
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I went with 2. Rules should be solid, but they shouldn't lock down the game. They should handle everything they need to handle, while not infringing on things they have no business in.
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#3 Simplicity in complexity.

Oxymoron.
Oxymoron.



And yet, like jumbo shrimp, entirely possible.
The reverse (complexity through simplicity) is entirely possible in a paper game. Simplicity through complexity is possible on a computer. But I've never seen it done in a paper game, where you have to run through all the complexities yourself.
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Option 2. Make the rules too simple, and it becomes a guessing what the DM feels type of game. Make the rules too detailed, and it will tie down the players in their creativity. Monte suggests it ties down the DM, but in my experience a DM rarely lets himself be tied down by such rules. The DM tends to be empower to modify rules and add/remove modifiers based on the story by definition. The DM also has the advantage to think about an encounter while designing it, having much more time to consider how it likely will evolve in play. Players rarely feel empowered enough to even suggest a change unless obvious, and they do not often consider it while solving a problem.

Mind you, in that regards climbing is not a particular good example. RL physics tend to put more restraints on it since nobody contemplates climbing that cyclone ;) Skills like Bluff and Intimidate though are much better examples. All too often I have seen players dismiss infiltrating the enemy out of hand in 3E and 4E because they "lack" Bluff, while they would have done so in 2e with a bit of planning setting up good disguises (yes, this is a prime example of a good place for a skill challenge - but players are surprisingly unaware and trusting on that mechanic in my experience). Similarly, since Intimidate is described as being against DC X against bloodied targets it either is overpowered, or practically useless.

Of course, for each example where detailed rules stiffle creativety, somebody else could point an example in their own games in 2e where the DM without such detailed rules refused to allow the PCs to do anything. So it will always remain a balancing act ;)
Option #3. I prefer all the specifics there so I can ignore them at my leisure. ;) 

Specifically, I like to have them just in case I need them.
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The reverse (complexity through simplicity) is entirely possible in a paper game. Simplicity through complexity is possible on a computer. But I've never seen it done in a paper game, where you have to run through all the complexities yourself.



Well, it's a certain degree of simplicity through complexity, in that you have situations X, Y, and Z covered, and maybe corner case A and B, so that even if you're missing corner case C at least 90% of the times you want to climb something the rules are there and it's very easy to just do what they say (assuming they're easy rules, which is not necessarily the case).

I'm not saying it's necessarily the best idea to attempt "simplicity through complexity", especially in a game without a Google search bar integrated into the book, but it is possible.



I'm kind of sad that they didn't release the last poll's results, what gives?
leaving other aspects of the article aside, I was disappointed by Monte's declaration, "any time a designer puts a rule in a rulebook, he is saying "no" to the DM. The rule takes away the DM's ability to make a judgment call in her game."

I feel in contrast that any time a designer puts a rule in a rulebook, he is saying, "yes," to the DM. The rule gives guidance and consistency for a DM to make a judgment call in his/her game.

It is as though the designer is really saying, "Yes, your players may want to do this; there is a mechanic to resolve that action. We (as designers) don't expect you to wing it on every action. We want you to have tools to create a fantastic game. You can ignore rules from time to time, or follow your imagination; some players will quote the rules. But, if you can show a pattern of consistency that the players find predictable, they are far more willing to play along when you want to make a change for a special case.

"To create a game in this system, these rules are here to help you along the way and give you the best tools. In some cases, you might disagree with the rules, but it is far easier for you to alert players of rules you will be changing than force you to write your own rules for everything. You might be so experienced that these guidelines are meaningless, but it is far better to have an answer than to tell players their characters cannot do something; because, you don't want to make up rules for how to resolve it.

"DMs and PCs can both access these rules equally, giving both sides of the screen an easy common language for resolving actions in the game. When the rules are provided in a clear way, both DM and PCs can communicate better, judge their choices against the standards, and feel confident in the predictability of the outcome."

I've never felt personally less pleased with Monte Cooks L&L column than reading his declaration that rules are a way of a designer denying power to a DM. I simply don't feel the same about that.

Does anyone else feel that also? Do DMs really feel the rules are a way of designers restricting power?

What about for PCs? Is the insertion of a rule meant to deny power to a player making choices on behalf of their character? Do you feel that a designer makes a rule to protect your character from a power-mad DM?
I prefer option 2. Simple yet enought complex. 

 

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i was ashamed to read this article. whats next, you can disable traps without trying? or you can just jump 4 squares whenever you want. or you can be diplomatic no matter who you are, automatically. or everyone can just bluff without any chance of failure. bc thats what this climbing rule #1 is, theres no way you could ever fail.  dumbed down crapola. anybody that votes number 1 should be ashamed of themselves
Option 3 thanking ye
@ DanTracker - I'm not interested in having a big heated debate over it, but I think I can see where Monte is coming from on that one so I'll try to explain. As a DM, sometimes you might want to exercise your creativity and say, hey, this surface should be such and such hard to climb (we'll say a DC15). On the other hand, if that surface happens to be a wall made of brick masonry, and the player looks it up in the climb table and says "hey, DM, what gives? This table says the wall should be a DC13! You're doing it wrong!" it sort of reduces the want to deviate from the rules as suggested.

The rules are suggestions, yes, but they are powerful suggestions and most people believe they shouldn't be deviated from except in extreme cases. Since the DM doesn't technically follow the rules (in the same way that a child playing pretend may not follow any rules - there technically aren't any that hard and fast govern their behavior), the rules are more for the other players' benefits. It's so the players can go "this table tells me that most surfaces of this type should probably be DC 13", but when a player starts to use that information in an adversarial role, since the DM is outnumbered and just wants to have fun, too, it can quickly lead to a shutdown on the DM's creativity.

In other words, if the DM wanted a brick wall in his game to be DC15 to climb, but the rule book said DC13, the rule is telling the DM "hey wait a minute, I don't think that your idea of a DC15 brick wall is good - don't do that or at least put the brakes on", especially through the purview of a player who really enjoys the rules, like, say, somebody who would be interested in the character optimization forum, or a lot of the players who prefer 3.5e and want that consistent, rules-driven experience rather than the slightly more loosey-goosey 1st edition type experience. Another example might be building a monster. The revised DMG formulae tell us that a monster of a certain level tends to have AC of that level + 15 (assuming it's not a Soldier monster). If you were to make a level 3 monster with AC 10, that might be a bit weird. If you made a level 3 monster with AC 25, your players might (rightly?) call foul. Why? Because it's "against the rules".


The rules are there to give a limiting structure to the game, basically. They're there to create reasonable bounds within which you play. There are rules for character generation that we all tend to take for granted - hey, cool, I can be a ranger. But what if I wanted to be a ranger who was proficient in heavier armor at the expense of his weapon proficiencies? Well, going by the rules, that's "not allowed"*. It's two sides of the same coin: you are given the ability to play a ranger, and hey maybe you never thought to play something that works like a ranger ever before (unlikely, but it's an example Tongue out), but for the person who wants to play "the ranger but different", and a different ranger doesn't exist, they're stuck being a ranger that is not to their liking. The rules enable you to be a ranger, but they also restrict you in the kind of ranger you can be, if that makes sense. We could just "play pretend" with no rules, but then you get in a fight about "I shot you!" "Nuh uh!", and the rules are there to provide a limiting framework for what is possible to resolve just such disputes. Fewer rules relies more on the GM to resolve disputes, while more rules tend to be a lot more self-sufficient and allow the players to police themselves more effectively.


*When I say it's not allowed, of course there are other rules that say "you can adjust these rules". Then again, you could also just as easily adjust the rule about adjusting rules into nonexistence and nullify that statement, so for sake of argument we're ignoring all of that "actions the rules don't cover" sort of stuff.
Does anyone else feel that also? Do DMs really feel the rules are a way of designers restricting power?

What about for PCs? Is the insertion of a rule meant to deny power to a player making choices on behalf of their character? Do you feel that a designer makes a rule to protect your character from a power-mad DM?



I think a lot of the specifics (beyond the basic mechanic of stat+trained?+1/2 level) should be placed in the DMG rather than the PHB. That helps emphasize Rule 0 and Page 42.

Plyers generally point to power-mad DM's when defending the need for detailed rule mechanisms and the 'Just Say Yes' mode of 4th edition. Are there really that many of these guys out there? Would you play with such a DM more than once? Do you think being able to point to page x in the book to overturn a ruling by such a DM helps when they can just tell you it doesn't work that way in MY game (they are power-mad you will remember).

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Does anyone else feel that also? Do DMs really feel the rules are a way of designers restricting power?

What about for PCs? Is the insertion of a rule meant to deny power to a player making choices on behalf of their character? Do you feel that a designer makes a rule to protect your character from a power-mad DM?



For a new DM or a DM with a very "vocal" rules lawyer - rules in the book can cause the DM to be restricted, either self imposed ("I don't have enough experience to make this rule up") or externally imposed ("I can't make this rule up because it will make Johnny player mad"). 

On the player side, having clear consice rules helps.   Newer/inexperienced players may feel that the rules are restrictive, however if nothing else it let's them clearly know what the likely hood of soemthing happening will be.  More experienced players see where there is gaps, and that's when they ask the DM "What happens if I do this", which is where the DM has to now make an on the spot decision, but at least has a good chunk of information to go off of.

So in short I only see rules having any restrictions when you have new players or DMs, but that even the most detailed rules work fine when in the hands of more experienced players/DMs

Detailed rules help with expectations, making it easier to join games/find new players since there are less additional things to learn and less "feeling out" the DM/Player to understand how they tick, there's enough of that as it is without having to figure out if your DM will let you climb cyclones or not.

Detailed rules are also pretty much a requirement if wizards wants to keep the encounters/delves going - players aren't going to like driving all the way to have a DM who just happened to have a bad day rule against them over and over.  

As a side note - I voted option 3.  I like complex rules, and really that isn't that complex at all.  It tells me: 

1. How do I succeed
2. How hard is it to succeed
3. What happens if I fail

That's a good base for climbing, now maybe under some other entries they may add to the DC a bit more (in particular in new books - say talking about trying to cimb up a rope ladder during a hurricane while fighting)
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I think a lot of the specifics (beyond the basic mechanic of stat+trained?+1/2 level) should be placed in the DMG rather than the PHB. That helps emphasize Rule 0 and Page 42.

Plyers generally point to power-mad DM's when defending the need for detailed rule mechanisms and the 'Just Say Yes' mode of 4th edition. Are there really that many of these guys out there? Would you play with such a DM more than once? Do you think being able to point to page x in the book to overturn a ruling by such a DM helps when they can just tell you it doesn't work that way in MY game (they are power-mad you will remember).




+1

The problem with the power mad DM is that you hear about them all the time and what horrible people they must be but in 30 years I've yet to see one in action.  If there is no level of trust between the DM and Player then there will be problems in the game (accusations of cheating and meta gaming that you see all the time on the DM and Player help sections of this forum come to mind) no matter how complex or simple the ruleset is. 

I voted option 1 but would like to see an appendix that included option 3 if you chose to use it.
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leaving other aspects of the article aside, I was disappointed by Monte's declaration, "any time a designer puts a rule in a rulebook, he is saying "no" to the DM. The rule takes away the DM's ability to make a judgment call in her game."

I feel in contrast that any time a designer puts a rule in a rulebook, he is saying, "yes," to the DM. The rule gives guidance and consistency for a DM to make a judgment call in his/her game.

It is as though the designer is really saying, "Yes, your players may want to do this; there is a mechanic to resolve that action. We (as designers) don't expect you to wing it on every action. We want you to have tools to create a fantastic game. You can ignore rules from time to time, or follow your imagination; some players will quote the rules. But, if you can show a pattern of consistency that the players find predictable, they are far more willing to play along when you want to make a change for a special case.

"To create a game in this system, these rules are here to help you along the way and give you the best tools. In some cases, you might disagree with the rules, but it is far easier for you to alert players of rules you will be changing than force you to write your own rules for everything. You might be so experienced that these guidelines are meaningless, but it is far better to have an answer than to tell players their characters cannot do something; because, you don't want to make up rules for how to resolve it.

"DMs and PCs can both access these rules equally, giving both sides of the screen an easy common language for resolving actions in the game. When the rules are provided in a clear way, both DM and PCs can communicate better, judge their choices against the standards, and feel confident in the predictability of the outcome."

I've never felt personally less pleased with Monte Cooks L&L column than reading his declaration that rules are a way of a designer denying power to a DM. I simply don't feel the same about that.

Does anyone else feel that also? Do DMs really feel the rules are a way of designers restricting power?

What about for PCs? Is the insertion of a rule meant to deny power to a player making choices on behalf of their character? Do you feel that a designer makes a rule to protect your character from a power-mad DM?

You are not alone, no - I agree with most of what you wrote.  It relates also to:
Make the rules too detailed, and it will tie down the players in their creativity.

...which I hear a lot, but does not really fit with my experience.  Chess and draught players come up with creative moves without ever needing to add an extra rule that queens can move like knights if they start on any of the centre four squares of the board, for example.  Creativity within a (good) rules structure is entirely possible.  Sure, unbounded creativity may be easier, but most really good artists could tell you about the benefits of disciplined creativity.


@ DanTracker - I'm not interested in having a big heated debate over it, but I think I can see where Monte is coming from on that one so I'll try to explain. As a DM, sometimes you might want to exercise your creativity and say, hey, this surface should be such and such hard to climb (we'll say a DC15). On the other hand, if that surface happens to be a wall made of brick masonry, and the player looks it up in the climb table and says "hey, DM, what gives? This table says the wall should be a DC13! You're doing it wrong!" it sort of reduces the want to deviate from the rules as suggested.

I just wrote a post in an earlier L&L thread about the correspondance between what the rules specify and what the players envision as happening in the game world, and I don't intend to repeat it, but the questions I would ask for this example are:

1) Why does it need to be DC15?

2) Why does it need to be a brick masonry wall?

If both of these questions have compelling, substantive answers, I think I would be looking at a very odd roleplaying game.  In short: change either the mechanical specification or the in-world description, keeping whichever one is actually important to your style of play.  If the challenge to the characters is important, is it really critical that that wall is plain, ordinary brick masonry?  If the material and composition of the wall are really important, does it matter if the characters are 10% more likely to climb it?
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Option 2.

I think the debate generated by that article might be more interesting than the article itself ... How rules interact with gmeplay is an interesting topic.
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Does anyone else feel that also? Do DMs really feel the rules are a way of designers restricting power?

What about for PCs? Is the insertion of a rule meant to deny power to a player making choices on behalf of their character? Do you feel that a designer makes a rule to protect your character from a power-mad DM?

I think a lot of the specifics (beyond the basic mechanic of stat+trained?+1/2 level) should be placed in the DMG rather than the PHB. That helps emphasize Rule 0 and Page 42.

Plyers generally point to power-mad DM's when defending the need for detailed rule mechanisms and the 'Just Say Yes' mode of 4th edition. Are there really that many of these guys out there? Would you play with such a DM more than once? Do you think being able to point to page x in the book to overturn a ruling by such a DM helps when they can just tell you it doesn't work that way in MY game (they are power-mad you will remember).

I agree that "Power Mad DMs" are a bugaboo invented to scare naughty children, but I still see a function for rules that are open to the players' perusal.

Rules are the players' surrogate for the world knowledge that their characters would have accumulated as they grew up in the fantasy world.  Do you, personally, really not have any clue how easy it is (for you) to climb a ladder?  Or a slippery sea wall?

Since the rules define situations that are expected to arise in play, they serve to synchronise the players' and the DM's mental pictures of those events enough that "facts" arising as a result of the rules don't suddenly jar against those mental models.  How would you, in the real world, feel if one day you started to ascend a ladder, only to discover that, overnight, ladders had changed such that you could not now ascend it?  No reason for this change is evident - no physical features of the ladder or facets of your mental state explain it - it's just got harder.  For no apparent reason.  How well would that support your belief in your own sanity or the reality of your surroundings?
======= Balesir
I love the ease of use of more free-form rules. However...make them too free-form, and they're too open to debate. If they're too free-form, then why include them at all? I would, personally, like to have a larger block of rules for a situation that I can ignore if I want to, but would be there if I wanted to use them.

Some will ask, "Why set the target DC at 15? Why not 10 or 20, or another number?". The reason? It's a game, first and foremost. Games have rules. If it is left up to the DM 100% of the time to decide what the DCs are for every possible scenario, new and inexperienced DMs will surely stumble over them. For experienced DMs, however, the number stated is all-to-easy to change to whatever they like. It is better to inlcude one that can be changed than to not include one at all. Keep in mind that new DMs might fully appreciate and need all the help they can get.

Then you have a different approach that states, "Too many rules bind the players and DMs and choke creativity". This isn't true, of course. Not in a game like D&D where DMs are given the power to change the rules as they see fit. For those that want them, they will be there. For those that don't, they can change them or ignore them altogether.

I look at RPG rules like I do guns or condoms: it's better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.

As for rules-lawyer players: they can take a hike, for all I care. The DM sets the "rules". If I have a rules-lawyer player constantly chiming in with his two cents worth, I calmly remind them once that I can/will/already have altered certain rules to better fit my campaign. If they keep it up, they can hit the road. They're too easy to replace to let them stick around and drag the entire game down with their constant commentary.

As for power-mad DMs: No amount of rules can fix this. Actually, the more lenient the rules, the more the power-mad DM can exploit them. If the wording is vague (or simply not present), it gives the power-tripping DM full reign to "interpret" them however they wish, and use them as a cudgel on their players. Bad DMs will be bad DMs. This is edition-neutral and rules-amount neutral.
Option #3. I prefer all the specifics there so I can ignore them at my leisure. ;) 

Specifically, I like to have them just in case I need them.



This.
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I think a lot of the specifics (beyond the basic mechanic of stat+trained?+1/2 level) should be placed in the DMG rather than the PHB. That helps emphasize Rule 0 and Page 42.

Plyers generally point to power-mad DM's when defending the need for detailed rule mechanisms and the 'Just Say Yes' mode of 4th edition. Are there really that many of these guys out there? Would you play with such a DM more than once? Do you think being able to point to page x in the book to overturn a ruling by such a DM helps when they can just tell you it doesn't work that way in MY game (they are power-mad you will remember).




+1

The problem with the power mad DM is that you hear about them all the time and what horrible people they must be but in 30 years I've yet to see one in action.  If there is no level of trust between the DM and Player then there will be problems in the game (accusations of cheating and meta gaming that you see all the time on the DM and Player help sections of this forum come to mind) no matter how complex or simple the ruleset is. 

I voted option 1 but would like to see an appendix that included option 3 if you chose to use it.



I have been gaming for 26 years or so and I have unfortunately run into two DMs who fit the "power mad DM" category, each a DM we needed rules to protect ourselves against.

In both cases I walked away from the game after one or two sessions and the problem was solved. No amount of rules is going to fix a bad DM and I think designing a game to combat those kinds of DMs is a bit of folly.

On the flipside of the coin I have played with dozens and dozens of excellent DMs (moving around and organized play) and there was no need for expansive rules to protect ourselves. I would go as far as to say the best DMs I have ever played with went rules-lite anyway.

So I would have voted for Option 1 but I know organized play groups like Living Forgotten Realms need a little more structure than that so I went with Option 2. I don't think we should ever see something like Option 3 in print.
Honestly, I would be happy in a system with any or none of the above.

My preference is something like 2 - too many specifics, as in 3, just invites problems, and has the potential to remove the DM's freedom to make a DC5 ladder, for instance.

But 1 works fine.  0 (you can climb, or you can't) would also work fine.  It would depend a little on the system, maybe.

But overall, I'd prefer rules which fit well with the rest of the system.  I don't think you can look at a single rule in isolation and decide how good, or nbot, it is in this way.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
What happened to DMs over the last several years?
When did it happen that a DM looked at a rule and went, "Damn! There's a rule for this in a book! Now I HAVE to use it! I can't change it or anything! My creativity has been killed!"? What happened to "change the rules as you wish"? People are just too literal anymore. If I want a DC 5 ladder, and the book says it's DC 10...the book will just have to take a back seat. It's like there is no DM initiative anymore. This makes me sad.
Most of them have realized that we pay for rules systems for a reason, and that the people who wrote them tend to be better at it than themselves, especially where balance, fairness, and transparency are concerned.

A little more deference to the rules rather than half-assing it ad hoc seems like a good thing, not a bad thing.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I also voted 2 but would prefer a "2.5". While I do feel that something a little more concrete is needed, I don't like the long lists of little numeric modifiers.

I'd be more inclined to have the DC chart extend to (say) very easy / easy / moderate / hard / very hard (ideally this might not even be necessary if the game's math worked well enough that a category shift was consistent rather than each scaling at a completely different rate, in which case a category shift could be replaced with a set value like +5/-5 ) and propose that significant favorable or unfavorable circumstances would shift it up or down one step. Having the right gear to climb would be favorable. Climbing something that is oozing with sludge (slick) would be unfavorable. Minor factors would just be ignored.

Now, I like the idea of just automatically succeeding at something that's relatively easy and only needing to roll if it's too difficult or there's something going on that would interfere, but I wouldn't want to go as far as Monte's earlier proposal of "you automatically fail/succeed unless the difficulty is just right" approach to those categories; that becomes a little too constraining, and in many cases, too arbitrary.

Consider, for example, that someone is climbing with a medium difficulty (and can Take 10, so would normally get up without any problem) but comes under attack part way. This is a significantly unfavorable circumstance and pushes the difficulty up to hard. Now he won't be able to hit that DC with take 10 and will need to roll... but he can still do it; there's no "oops, the difficulty just increased - you automatically fail!" element.
What happened to DMs over the last several years?
When did it happen that a DM looked at a rule and went, "Damn! There's a rule for this in a book! Now I HAVE to use it! I can't change it or anything! My creativity has been killed!"? What happened to "change the rules as you wish"? People are just too literal anymore. If I want a DC 5 ladder, and the book says it's DC 10...the book will just have to take a back seat. It's like there is no DM initiative anymore. This makes me sad.



I think they still exist, they're just being eclipsed by a massive influx of new DMs who see a userfriendly system that works just fine as is, and realise that they probably don't have the experience to mess with the rules and so are better off just using what the book says.

It's not that people don't want to change the rules, it's that it's generally not needed to change the rules, and for the first time in a long time, odds are pretty good that what the book says will actually work better then what a (new) DM can come up with.
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Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
This maybe should be in the newer L&L thread but from a player perspective, is the player not entitled to know PRIOR to setting something up that relies on a fixed DC as set in the rules that those rules have been arbitrarily (or maybe even after much consideration) changed by the DM before his character is stuck out on a tree limb that's waving in hurricane force limbs and the DM says that he's just taken a chainsaw to the branch somewhere between the character and the trunk of the tree?

Because that's really where I see the "Bad DMs" and "Rules Lawyering Players" spats starting (I know I've started some myself). *edit* I was responding to Hocus. I see some posts snuck in there.
anybody that votes number 1 should be ashamed of themselves


I proudly voted 1.  Keep the rules simple in the initial ruleset and then introduce supplements for people who want more ganular rules in specific areas.  You want to go spelunking?  here's a supplement all about underground exploration, with more detailed climbing rules.

So, yes, I would have no problem with rules like set forth in option 1.  I would have no problem with rules as follows:

Lockpicking: Any hero with a set of lockpicks can pick a lock after ten minutes of effort, unless the DM decides the lock is too advanced for their skill level.

Search: Any hero who spends five minutes examining an area will find any objects or feature of note, unless the DM decides they have been too cleverly hidden to be detected by the hero through normal means.

Bluff: A DM shall decide is an NPC is gullible, average, or wary.  Gullible NPCs will believe the lies of any PC whose Charisma exceeds the NPC's Wisdom, or any lie of other PCs when their Charisma checks exceed the NPC's Wisdom score.  Wary NPCs will never take anything PCs say at face value.  Average NPCs will only believe a lie if the PCs' Charisma check exceeds the NPC's Wisdom score +10.  Over time, an NPC's attitude can be shifted from one state to another through roleplay as the DM deems appropriate.

I like very basic rules that DMs can build off of, rather than granular rules that try -- and usually fail -- to assign minor bonuses to every possible factor that might affect a roll.
Most of them have realized that we pay for rules systems for a reason, and that the people who wrote them tend to be better at it than themselves, especially where balance, fairness, and transparency are concerned.

A little more deference to the rules rather than half-assing it ad hoc seems like a good thing, not a bad thing.



This is fine, and this is also what we currently have.
I just hate to see people get too hung up over a rule they don't agree with.
It's simply too easy to change/alter/dismiss a rule you don't like than to not have one at all and have to make one up on the spot. Once a DM has several sessions under their belt, they will likely have an easier time changing rules or disregarding them as they wish. For new DMs though, thorough, concrete rules set that foundation. It's a securty blanket new and inexperienced DMs can fall back on, whereas experienced DMs don't need (and usually don't want) an over-abundance of rules. I'd rather the books give me too much info that I can easily disregard than to screw over new DMs and players by not including them at all.

I think a lot of the specifics (beyond the basic mechanic of stat+trained?+1/2 level) should be placed in the DMG rather than the PHB. That helps emphasize Rule 0 and Page 42.

Plyers generally point to power-mad DM's when defending the need for detailed rule mechanisms and the 'Just Say Yes' mode of 4th edition. Are there really that many of these guys out there? Would you play with such a DM more than once? Do you think being able to point to page x in the book to overturn a ruling by such a DM helps when they can just tell you it doesn't work that way in MY game (they are power-mad you will remember).




+1

The problem with the power mad DM is that you hear about them all the time and what horrible people they must be but in 30 years I've yet to see one in action.  If there is no level of trust between the DM and Player then there will be problems in the game (accusations of cheating and meta gaming that you see all the time on the DM and Player help sections of this forum come to mind) no matter how complex or simple the ruleset is. 

I voted option 1 but would like to see an appendix that included option 3 if you chose to use it.



Or no game at all. I've only come across one of these rare encounters in my years of gaming and it only lasted two sessions. This fabled DM is the poster boy for gaming's "war on terror." 

I'd like to see the Player's Handbook hold the core mechanic, the DMG show the DC's and other light ruling material, and another book (Advanced DMG?) contain all the exhausting corner cases they can come up with. I wonder how that would sell. Dragon article anyone?

I was only fourteen when I ran games using core mechanics alone. Roll the die and i'll tell you what happens. I added in rules as needed. We had a seven year old playing with us. We weren't doing it wrong. Kids are not as dumb as some might think. They don't need a ton of hand-holding. Being told to learn a ton of rules or else seems like a barrier to a hobby that doesn't need any more enemies (video games, frat parties, school, work).