D&D rules and the social contract

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Is Lord of the Flies still required reading? Since I pulled up a chair at this virtual table I have noticed several arguments that all seem to be based around the idea that the game rules can or should be part of the social contract between players.


 Lots of thoughts along the lines of “if its not in the rules the DM wont allow it.” Or “if that’s not in the rules then the DM will abuse it.”


 Perhaps I am way off base, and I misunderstand these statements and arguments. But I don’t think so. I’m 95% sure that there is a large block of folks who feel that the D&D rules, if properly presented will help smooth relations between people at the table.


 I guess this could even be a correct assumption, but it is not the effect that I have actually witnessed at the table. What I have seen is that a complex and bulky rule set will lead to misinterpretations and conflict about who is right.


 When a rule set is bulked up to handle contingencies that are ultimately a matter to be decided outside of the game a couple of things happen: The rules become more difficult to use, there are more of them and they are more complicated. Also interactions that should be a friendly discussion between people turn into an intellectual battle of lawschoolian proportions.


 Do you think that DDN rules are trying to smooth social relations at the game table? Should they? Are the arguments here not influencing that aspect of the rules?


 I’m just curious and wanted to get some other input on the idea.


 Thanks for your time.


 


Is Lord of the Flies still required reading? Since I pulled up a chair at this virtual table I have noticed several arguments that all seem to be based around the idea that the game rules can or should be part of the social contract between players.


 Lots of thoughts along the lines of “if its not in the rules the DM wont allow it.” Or “if that’s not in the rules then the DM will abuse it.”


 Perhaps I am way off base, and I misunderstand these statements and arguments. But I don’t think so. I’m 95% sure that there is a large block of folks who feel that the D&D rules, if properly presented will help smooth relations between people at the table.


 I guess this could even be a correct assumption, but it is not the effect that I have actually witnessed at the table. What I have seen is that a complex and bulky rule set will lead to misinterpretations and conflict about who is right.


 When a rule set is bulked up to handle contingencies that are ultimately a matter to be decided outside of the game a couple of things happen: The rules become more difficult to use, there are more of them and they are more complicated. Also interactions that should be a friendly discussion between people turn into an intellectual battle of lawschoolian proportions.


 Do you think that DDN rules are trying to smooth social relations at the game table? Should they? Are the arguments here not influencing that aspect of the rules?


 I’m just curious and wanted to get some other input on the idea.


 Thanks for your time.


 



The words "Complex" and "Bulky" are not what people are talking about. They are talking about simple and short rules that cover a variety of subjects like fluid dynamics being able to be applied to anything liquid or gas and having the same effect. Many of us want simple effective rules so we don't have to tell our players no or come up with story reasons things happen. We simply want the game to work well out of the box.
Actually 'Social Contracts' are as much a problem as the rules.  But not because they're a bad thing.  On the contrary, they're what makes the game work for everyone.  The issue lies in that each groups contract is personal to each group, and sometimes it gives rise to rule interpretations or just adding house rules, which work fine until they're debated in a public forum like this board.

What most don't seem to realize is that each social contract will change the way the game is played for that group, your group, and not everyone else will have the same idea as to what needs(ed) to be changed.

People need to realize that. 
Also there's bound to be crap DMs.  Some players don't have a variety of DM's to choose from and may be stuck with sub-par ones.  In other words they may not be able to choose which social contract they have to sign on to.  Thus a ruleset that is balanced and can cover a lot of contigencies can be a boon for such players by mitigating some potential DM abuses.  It's not perfect as crap DMs will be crap DMs regardless of the ruleset, but at least these players have a document to point to.    
What specific examples are you thinking of, of people proposing bulky or complex rulesets that actually make the game more difficult?
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
I've never met a player that was fun to game with under one rule set and crap to play with under a different rule set.
I've never met a player that was fun to game with under one rule set and crap to play with under a different rule set.



I have seen people who will exploit low hanging fruit move to games with fewer of those ... who then take a different run at the game. But that may just be one of the few people can learn issues.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

What specific examples are you thinking of, of people proposing bulky or complex rulesets that actually make the game more difficult?




I haven’t seen any individual propositions that are overly bulky or complex. I have seen a lot of contingency plans and "statements of intent" that people want listed as a starting point for conversation about a vague and seldom used idea. The cumulative effect of these “spur” rules can lead to a bulky rule set that is easily misinterpreted.


The words "Complex" and "Bulky" are not what people are talking about. They are talking about simple and short rules that cover a variety of subjects like fluid dynamics being able to be applied to anything liquid or gas and having the same effect. Many of us want simple effective rules so we don't have to tell our players no or come up with story reasons things happen. We simply want the game to work well out of the box.




You say “they” and “us” like there are already teams playing this game. And you present your position as one who is familiar with it, a veteran of some prior conflict. Are you involved in the 5mwd discussion Veg?


That’s not a can of worms that I want to get into. If my question has been part of that debate I didn’t know about it and I may just flee to another forum.


 

Also there's bound to be crap DMs.  Some players don't have a variety of DM's to choose from and may be stuck with sub-par ones.  In other words they may not be able to choose which social contract they have to sign on to.  Thus a ruleset that is balanced and can cover a lot of contigencies can be a boon for such players by mitigating some potential DM abuses.  It's not perfect as crap DMs will be crap DMs regardless of the ruleset, but at least these players have a document to point to.    



So you are definitely of the belief that the game rules should attempt to regulate the relationship between the players?


So you are definitely of the belief that the game rules should attempt to regulate the relationship between the players?



They seem to influence it...  allignment mechanics were an explicit attempt to regulate relationships between the players by establishing a team label and giving dms clout to beat on the player who broke the bonds so to speak. I think it was a mistake to go that particular route.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I've never met a player that was fun to game with under one rule set and crap to play with under a different rule set.


Isn't that the truth! =-)
Do you play 40k one eye?


So you are definitely of the belief that the game rules should attempt to regulate the relationship between the players?



They seem to influence it...  allignment mechanics were an explicit attempt to regulate relationships between the players by establishing a team label and giving dms clout to beat on the player who broke the bonds so to speak. I think it was a mistake to go that particular route.

I never thought about alignment that way Garthanos, good point, and worth contemplating for a bit I think.


So you are definitely of the belief that the game rules should attempt to regulate the relationship between the players?



They seem to influence it...  allignment mechanics were an explicit attempt to regulate relationships between the players by establishing a team label and giving dms clout to beat on the player who broke the bonds so to speak. I think it was a mistake to go that particular route.


White Wolf was pretty heavy handed with their Humanity chart, and it's strict code of behaviour that they attached to it.  And yet most of the players say it's exactly what they wanted.  Or needed, for that matter.


So you are definitely of the belief that the game rules should attempt to regulate the relationship between the players?



They seem to influence it...  allignment mechanics were an explicit attempt to regulate relationships between the players by establishing a team label and giving dms clout to beat on the player who broke the bonds so to speak. I think it was a mistake to go that particular route.


White Wolf was pretty heavy handed with their Humanity chart, and it's strict code of behaviour that they attached to it.  And yet most of the players say it's exactly what they wanted.  Or needed, for that matter.


Not sure I am remembering the right mechanic fro WoD
I remember there being a technique for regaining will power pts.. when you did something that seemed to agree with your nature you regained a point.  This might have been in mage the assention though.

I also think some people like being hit by sticks (masochistic tendencies amongst the gloomy gusses news at 11) - take with humor please
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

[Lesp asked for some specific examples, here's one:


"There is a rule to add.  You can make it a single sentence: "Firearms: If your DM allows firearms in his/her campaign, then pistols have the same stats as hand crossbows and rifles have the same stats as crossbows.""

The above statement serves no purpose, that conversation is something that players do not need the rules to initiate. The above statement will lead to bloat and misunderstanding.



The ideas below are some rules that while cumbersome are not something that can be left to social niceties. 

"Pathfinder does a fairly good job of making gun use distinct without attaching a bunch of random rules to guns by giving the premier gun-use class (the gunslinger) and to a lesser extent other classes that have gun options the ability to do various tricks with a gun, most of which are more associated with firearms than with bows or crossbows - things like pistol-whipping, blasting locks, exploiting the muzzle flash, stuff like that." 

These firearms rules are in game events that need in game rules to carry out. Whether or not they should be included in DDN is NOT what we are talking about here. 


Not sure I am remembering the right mechanic fro WoD
I remember there being a technique for regaining will power pts.. when you did something that seemed to agree with your nature you regained a point.  This might have been in mage the assention though.

I also think some people like being hit by sticks (masochistic tendencies amongst the gloomy gusses news at 11) - take with humor please



If I recall correctly, Humanity was a Vampire: the Masquerade mechanic that determined how much of a monster your character was.  Basically, the lower your Humanity score, the more you disregarded human ethics and moral codes and the more you acted like an animal, someone for whom ethics are irrelevant in the face of hunger.

Now that I think about it, it might have been Werewolf instead of Vampire.  I'm pretty sure I remember the actual mechanic though, even if I'm not sure which game it's from >.>
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game. The DM puts in more time than the entire group combined for each session. Writting rules for being a DM (other than guildelines to help you get started) pushes people out of the DM role. No one wants to put forth a lot of effort, only to be told they're DMing wrong. I think Next is taking the correct move back to making things simpler; each DM will determine what options to use for his game.

For those of you who fear bad DMs, I agree they are out there. However, players put up with bad DMs for only so long, and are going to do one of three things: Quit D&D, Quit the game for a better DM, or become a DM themselves. I chose the last route, and would encourage any player with a bad DM do the same. The purpose of the game is to have fun, and good DMs make it their (unpaid and often unapreciated) job to make it so.

The rules are not part of any Social Contract, and making them so will ruin relationships. Most players probably already play with people they know, so they don't need rules governing their behavor.

My two copper.
One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game.



As a DM, I disagree with this.  It is everybody's game.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.

Is Lord of the Flies still required reading? Since I pulled up a chair at this virtual table I have noticed several arguments that all seem to be based around the idea that the game rules can or should be part of the social contract between players.


 Lots of thoughts along the lines of “if its not in the rules the DM wont allow it.” Or “if that’s not in the rules then the DM will abuse it.”


 Perhaps I am way off base, and I misunderstand these statements and arguments. But I don’t think so. I’m 95% sure that there is a large block of folks who feel that the D&D rules, if properly presented will help smooth relations between people at the table.


 I guess this could even be a correct assumption, but it is not the effect that I have actually witnessed at the table. What I have seen is that a complex and bulky rule set will lead to misinterpretations and conflict about who is right.


 When a rule set is bulked up to handle contingencies that are ultimately a matter to be decided outside of the game a couple of things happen: The rules become more difficult to use, there are more of them and they are more complicated. Also interactions that should be a friendly discussion between people turn into an intellectual battle of lawschoolian proportions.


 Do you think that DDN rules are trying to smooth social relations at the game table? Should they? Are the arguments here not influencing that aspect of the rules?


 I’m just curious and wanted to get some other input on the idea.


 Thanks for your time.


 




It's been my experience in general that a light rules set, so long as it is a local or at least relatively small group ("small" in this case being dependent on the group and style of game - a small LARP group in my opinion is still 20 people or so, which is more than I'd prefer to deal with at a table), is best. Folks are generally fine with sorting out situationally what happens in the event a rule doesn't cover something very specific.

When the group becomes larger, that's when usually more rules are needed. But even then there's a balancing act. You get the behavior you reward, after all, and tons and tons of rules only reward the people who have the time, energy, and inclination to go through them. Often (again in my experience) they are looking for loopholes, and use their system mastery in less-than-good ways.

I prefer rules to be on the lighter side of that balance for those reasons.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game.



As a DM, I disagree with this.  It is everybody's game.



The game can continue if a player leaves. It ends when the DM departs.

Players are part of the game, but the final control of the game is up to the DM. Putting rules in to limit the DM hurts the game.
One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game.



As a DM, I disagree with this.  It is everybody's game.




I was thinking the same thing Salla, we are all players. Everyone at the table is a player. There are different roles; there used to be a caller, the person who talked to the group decided their actions and then informed the DM of what everyone was doing, there was a mapper and most tables I have been at still have an accountant or scribe to keep track of group money and time. The DM has a very special role, but the DM is still a player at the table.

Aside from that potentially semantic difference I think that I can agree with everything else that Shiroiken said.



It's been my experience in general that a light rules set, so long as it is a local or at least relatively small group ("small" in this case being dependent on the group and style of game - a small LARP group in my opinion is still 20 people or so, which is more than I'd prefer to deal with at a table), is best. Folks are generally fine with sorting out situationally what happens in the event a rule doesn't cover something very specific.

When the group becomes larger, that's when usually more rules are needed. But even then there's a balancing act. You get the behavior you reward, after all, and tons and tons of rules only reward the people who have the time, energy, and inclination to go through them. Often (again in my experience) they are looking for loopholes, and use their system mastery in less-than-good ways.

I prefer rules to be on the lighter side of that balance for those reasons.





I just picked up "Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role Playing" which is part of what made me think of this question. LotFP is as thorough a system I have ever seen in so few pages. And it has been a joy to read through and play the tutorial. If you have 10 minutes here is my review on youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeUg0jJyh0U">LINK to 10 min youtube review of LAmentations of the Flame Princess 

I bought Lamentations as a stop gap until DDN came out, but now I'm not sure I will bother to switch. A large part of that depends on how much "bloat" comes along with DDN. We will see i guess.





Not sure I am remembering the right mechanic fro WoD
I remember there being a technique for regaining will power pts.. when you did something that seemed to agree with your nature you regained a point.  This might have been in mage the assention though.

I also think some people like being hit by sticks (masochistic tendencies amongst the gloomy gusses news at 11) - take with humor please



If I recall correctly, Humanity was a Vampire: the Masquerade mechanic that determined how much of a monster your character was.  Basically, the lower your Humanity score, the more you disregarded human ethics and moral codes and the more you acted like an animal, someone for whom ethics are irrelevant in the face of hunger.

Now that I think about it, it might have been Werewolf instead of Vampire.  I'm pretty sure I remember the actual mechanic though, even if I'm not sure which game it's from >.>



Humanity as a morality stat has been in three White Wolf games as I can think of off the top of my head. Vampire: the Masquerade, Vampire: the Requiem, and Promethean: the Created. For all three, it's pretty much as you described, although in Vampire's case, it's more the Beast gaining some ground on the Man, and in Promethean, the Created might not fully understand what exactly he did to sin, as he's aping humanity as best he can, being an artificial being.

I don't think any of the other oWoD game lines used morality stats of any kind (going from memory, anyway). Werewolf: the Apocalypse certainly didn't, though. As for the rest of the nWoD lines, Werewolf: the Forsaken uses Harmony (a measure of the balance of your spiritual soul, in a way), Mage: the Awakening uses Wisdom (a measure of your hubris), Changeling: the Lost uses Clarity (measure of your sanity, basically), Hunter: the Vigil, as the core WoD mortals system, uses Morality (as labeled on the tin), and Geist: the Sin-Eaters uses Synergy (how closely the host and the geist are linked). I don't yet know what the upcoming Mummy: the Curse or Demon: the ??? will use, as neither is out yet - although Mummy is close.

I don't remember enough about oWoD mechanics in regards to regaining Willpower through Humanity. In nWoD, you can regain a point of Willpower by indulging your Vice, or all of your spent Willpower by rising to your Virtue, though. You also regain a point of Willpower after a night's rest, or (with Storyteller discretion) if you achieve a significant goal that affirms your sense of confidence. Also, you get all spent Willpower back at the end of each story (which, for those not familiar with White Wolf's lingo, may well - and usually does - span several game sessions).

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game.



As a DM, I disagree with this.  It is everybody's game.



The game can continue if a player leaves. It ends when the DM departs.

Players are part of the game, but the final control of the game is up to the DM. Putting rules in to limit the DM hurts the game.



While I firmly believe there should be a balance to things - neither the players nor the DM can go too far towards being asshats without someone leaving, for instance - I have to agree with this. While on one level everyone is equal, because they are obstensibly adults or at least semi-reasonable people who should be able to get along, if the DM leaves, then often the group is screwed. Unless of course someone else takes up the mantle, but there are fewer people willing to DM than not.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.




I just picked up "Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role Playing" which is part of what made me think of this question. LotFP is as thorough a system I have ever seen in so few pages. And it has been a joy to read through and play the tutorial. If you have 10 minutes here is my review on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyfgrTtC6dY  ">LINK to 10 min youtube review of LAmentations of the Flame Princess

I bought Lamentations as a stop gap until DDN came out, but now I'm not sure I will bother to switch. A large part of that depends on how much "bloat" comes along with DDN. We will see i guess.







I will have to check that out, thanks!

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

Do you play 40k one eye?



No
One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game.



As a DM, I disagree with this.  It is everybody's game.



The game can continue if a player leaves. It ends when the DM departs.

Players are part of the game, but the final control of the game is up to the DM. Putting rules in to limit the DM hurts the game.



I agree with Salla on this particular issue.  Players and DMs are both part of the game.  They are just fulfilling different, but equally important roles.  Don't be confused that one of them is occupied by more people.  That does not correlate to importance.  Your game won't function without a DM, but it also won't function without players.  A DM who thinks their game should all be about them is exactly as problematic as the player who dominates the table and thinks the game should all be about them.

In the long run its not as fun for the players as sharing the spotlight and playing a fun game where the roles can be switched up. 
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D&d is pretty contentious, so perhaps it's worth asking, in general, do rules that could be enforced through social contract affect the tenor of people's relationships during a game? And, stated like that, the answer seems obviously yes. Many trading games explicitly limit what you can trade - illuminati explicitly points out what trades are and are not legal. These rules make the game play very different than bohnanza, for instance.

Bringing this back to d&d, it feels like some people here would like it if the rules explicitly mentioned that the dm does more work, so should be given more leniency and more power over campaign setting. Whether or not that leads to better outcomes is under debate, but the logic "use the rules to help players realize the value of dms"' seems valuable to many people.

Of course, with any rule, it's fair to ask if it works or is just bloat. So some rules don't make sense. But, in general, making rules to help players get along? Sure, potentially very useful.
Also there's bound to be crap DMs.  Some players don't have a variety of DM's to choose from and may be stuck with sub-par ones.  In other words they may not be able to choose which social contract they have to sign on to.  Thus a ruleset that is balanced and can cover a lot of contigencies can be a boon for such players by mitigating some potential DM abuses.  It's not perfect as crap DMs will be crap DMs regardless of the ruleset, but at least these players have a document to point to.    



So you are definitely of the belief that the game rules should attempt to regulate the relationship between the players?


My point was about regulating the DM/player relationship, or one reason why people would want that to happen.  Though I've never had a problem with player to player relationships I could see the need for some guidelines.  
 In nWoD, you can regain a point of Willpower by indulging your Vice, or all of your spent Willpower by rising to your Virtue, though.  



They had nature and demeanor.... if I recall correctly in the earlier incarnations.


The difference is at minimum carrot vs stick... D&D used stick

break the rules loose a level and become lame...  
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

D&d is pretty contentious, so perhaps it's worth asking, in general, do rules that could be enforced through social contract affect the tenor of people's relationships during a game? And, stated like that, the answer seems obviously yes. Many trading games explicitly limit what you can trade - illuminati explicitly points out what trades are and are not legal. These rules make the game play very different than bohnanza, for instance. Bringing this back to d&d, it feels like some people here would like it if the rules explicitly mentioned that the dm does more work, so should be given more leniency and more power over campaign setting. Whether or not that leads to better outcomes is under debate, but the logic "use the rules to help players realize the value of dms"' seems valuable to many people. Of course, with any rule, it's fair to ask if it works or is just bloat. So some rules don't make sense. But, in general, making rules to help players get along? Sure, potentially very useful.



I'm going to put you in the column that says "Thinks rules should adress social concerns in addition to the purely mechanical aspects of gameplay." Even though I couldnt follow the first half of your post at all.

One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game.



As a DM, I disagree with this.  It is everybody's game.


I agree with Salla even though I exercise itermittent absolute control in the games I run.  I will break the rules, fudge, and outright cheat to, for instance, preserve a particularly hated archvillain for a later death.  However I have the joy and luxury of playing with a group of people I have known for two decades, and my lady friend.  But overall a rules system should basically act as a contract for the DMs and players if the group agrees on playing by the book.     
 In nWoD, you can regain a point of Willpower by indulging your Vice, or all of your spent Willpower by rising to your Virtue, though.  



They had nature and demeanor.... if I recall correctly in the earlier incarnations.


The difference is at minimum carrot vs stick... D&D used stick

break the rules loose a level and become lame...  



Ah-ha! Found it! (And yes, I remembered Nature and Demeanor, but first off, neither of those are Humanity, and secondly, I couldn't remember if they had a tie to regaining Willpower. Turns out, one of them does.)

Checking in the only oWoD book I had handy - amusingly enough, Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition (so, keeping with the whole Vampire discussion) - I find that if a character "behaves in a manner that fulfills her Nature Archetype, the Storyteller may reward the character with one to three Willpower points..." (Source: Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, p. 267)

So, there you go. Nature, yes. Humanity....doesn't seem like it. Unless there was an optional rule somewhere in one of the many splatbooks Masquerade seemed to have? I mean, could be.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game. The DM puts in more time than the entire group combined for each session. Writting rules for being a DM (other than guildelines to help you get started) pushes people out of the DM role. No one wants to put forth a lot of effort, only to be told they're DMing wrong. I think Next is taking the correct move back to making things simpler; each DM will determine what options to use for his game.

For those of you who fear bad DMs, I agree they are out there. However, players put up with bad DMs for only so long, and are going to do one of three things: Quit D&D, Quit the game for a better DM, or become a DM themselves. I chose the last route, and would encourage any player with a bad DM do the same. The purpose of the game is to have fun, and good DMs make it their (unpaid and often unapreciated) job to make it so.

The rules are not part of any Social Contract, and making them so will ruin relationships. Most players probably already play with people they know, so they don't need rules governing their behavor.

My two copper.



What if DMing was nearly as easy as being a player? What if it took minimal prep time and everything flowed super easy? What if the rules were near perfect? The DM would not have any excuse for being more important to the game than the players. When you say the rules shouldn't interfere with the social contract, what exactly are you saying? The rules form he social contract in that the contract is that everyone is following the rules, except when everyone agrees to change them. Better rules means less changes are necessary. Better rules means the DM is not needed for adjudication as much and can focus on their real job which is to build the world, adventure, NPCs, and story.
For me game rules create expectations at the table ... common expectations between all involved allow smoother play and smother relationships between players. Clearer rules help that.

I found some of the rules and Gygax written guidelines, seemed to create and encouraged adversarial play dm vs player, it manifested rather strongly when discussing backgrounds with a player at a convension, he very much assumed your character having families and interests and connections within the game world to be terrible and dangerous just tools for a dm to abuse in effect ... yes it flabhergasted me. I got the impression he considered much the same of allignment restricted classes that he would never ever play one and various things of that sort. I am not sure what all experiences he had but it seemed pretty traumatic .. but people take this game seriously
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game.



As a DM, I disagree with this.  It is everybody's game.


As a DM, I agree with Shiroiken.

It may be everyone's game, but the DM is in the driver's seat. The DM should have the ultimate "say so" in his/her game world; regardless of the Rules-As-Written, which are supposed to be adjudicated by the DM, whenever a conflict arises.
The DM is like the POTUS: he needs to have greater authority than his fellow citizens, but that authority is granted to him by his fellow citizens. Thus, there is accountability placed upon the President/DM to act in the best interests of his group. Sometimes, it means he has to do unpopular things and make judgment calls that benefit one person above another, but (in an ideal world) all of that is done for the group's benefit.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game.



As a DM, I disagree with this.  It is everybody's game.



The game can continue if a player leaves. It ends when the DM departs.

Players are part of the game, but the final control of the game is up to the DM. Putting rules in to limit the DM hurts the game.



I agree with Salla on this particular issue.  Players and DMs are both part of the game.  They are just fulfilling different, but equally important roles.  Don't be confused that one of them is occupied by more people.  That does not correlate to importance.  Your game won't function without a DM, but it also won't function without players.  A DM who thinks their game should all be about them is exactly as problematic as the player who dominates the table and thinks the game should all be about them.

In the long run its not as fun for the players as sharing the spotlight and playing a fun game where the roles can be switched up. 


That statement is just flat wrong.

My group has been playing for over two decades, with only two rules stated at the start of every campaign: 1) The DM is always right, and 2) If, for any reason, you think the DM is wrong; refer back to rule #1. While some players have come and gone over the years, none of the players has ever left because they weren't having fun.

I started as a player using these rules and have since become the DM; I kept those rules and haven't had any complaints about them in the decade that I've been the DM.

Players come and go, but a good DM is hard to find and must be given more weight than any single player. I'm not saying that the DM should have more weight than the rest of a group altogether, certainly not; but the DM is much more that just another player at the table.
One of the flaws that I have seen occur in RPGs over the last decade is the shift away from the DM. Players may not like to accept this, but it is the DMs Game.



As a DM, I disagree with this.  It is everybody's game.



The game can continue if a player leaves. It ends when the DM departs.

Players are part of the game, but the final control of the game is up to the DM. Putting rules in to limit the DM hurts the game.



I agree with Salla on this particular issue.  Players and DMs are both part of the game.  They are just fulfilling different, but equally important roles.  Don't be confused that one of them is occupied by more people.  That does not correlate to importance.  Your game won't function without a DM, but it also won't function without players.  A DM who thinks their game should all be about them is exactly as problematic as the player who dominates the table and thinks the game should all be about them.

In the long run its not as fun for the players as sharing the spotlight and playing a fun game where the roles can be switched up. 


That statement is just flat wrong.

My group has been playing for over two decades, with only two rules stated at the start of every campaign: 1) The DM is always right, and 2) If, for any reason, you think the DM is wrong; refer back to rule #1. While some players have come and gone over the years, none of the players has ever left because they weren't having fun.

I started as a player using these rules and have since become the DM; I kept those rules and haven't had any complaints about them in the decade that I've been the DM.

Players come and go, but a good DM is hard to find and must be given more weight than any single player. I'm not saying that the DM should have more weight than the rest of a group altogether, certainly not; but the DM is much more that just another player at the table.



I wasn't saying the DM doesn't have more weight, or that they should be contested at table.  What I'm saying is the /focus of the story in the game/ should be on the players and not the players playing in the DM's world.  Players who play in the DM's world tends to go towards railroading and a smaller feeling of agency for the players.  Is it always bad?  No.  Do I think it is bad in the long run?  Yes.

Again, to be clear, I am not saying the DM isn't the ultimate arbiter of what is happening at the table.  I am saying that the FOCUS OF THE GAME should be on the players in the world not the dm's world.
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