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 Post subject: Observations of the Rules of the Rules of RPGs
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:00 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:45 pm
Posts: 632
So I was thinking about some of the reasons that Pathfinder, and to a lessor extent, Adventure League players have transitioning to how we do things in Arcanis. I was also reflecting on some of my own past misunderstandings of the rules as well. I came to what I think is a profound insight regarding how RPG games function. I'd like some feedback into that insight. What I discovered is that their are sources of rules for every RPG game, not just one.

The first set of rules is the printed word contained within the rulebooks. Admittedly these printed rule books change from game system to game system. But what is common between every set of these books is that they are "express rules". So that is what I will call them.

The second set of rules are what I will called "House Rules". These are those rules that are common to a given group. Most players are familiar with them on some level. Critical Hit Tables are a frequent example. But other "House Rules" would include "The last player to sit at the table plays the Healer". Or, even "Bob always brings the beer". An important subset of "House Rules" are rules the interpretations of "Express Rules" each group has come to agree on.

The third set of rules are "Plot Rules". These are a bit harder to pin down. But every RPG has a story of some kind. Some stories are more developed than others. Lets take the example of your favorite swash buckling pirate PC. Can he swing from the chandelier? Of course he can....IF.... the combat is inside, there is a chandelier within reach, and his hands are free. But if the combat is outside, or if there is no chandelier, or if the pirates hands are bound, then PLOT RULES prevent the swashbuckling pirate from performing his favorite stunt.

Now, the second insight I had was that different games put these three sets of rules in different priorities. For example the typical Pathfinder League puts "Express Rules First", followed by "House Rules" followed by "Plot Rules". While Arcanis puts "Plot Rules" first, followed by "House Rules", Followed by "Express Rules". See the difference? A player that is used to having everything thing revealed in an express manner will have trouble understanding the how and why of Arcanis, because they are looking at different sets of rules.

The third Insight I had was that different games weigh the rules differently even if they place the groups in the same order of priority. For example, a "Home Game" that has the "Bob brings the beer rule" could do several different things when Bob breaks the rule. They could shrug their shoulders and move on, or they could all go on a beer run and postpone the game. Or they could cancel the game all together. Practically speaking, Pathfinder and Legends of Arcanis are similar. While Pathfinder puts "Express Rules" at the top of the food chain, and Arcanis puts "Plot Rules" at the top of the food chain, both systems weigh their respective priority very heavily. In contrast Adventure League weighs each of the three sets of rules fairly equally.

Anyhow, that was my insight, I hope that helps.

Thanks

_________________
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Eric Hughes

There once was a gnome called Oozy,
Who kissed a Yaricite floozy.
But rather than wed,
She drowned him instead,
Now he is a Yaricite toosey!


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 Post subject: Re: Observations of the Rules of the Rules of RPGs
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:17 am
Posts: 195
I like reading your description.
But I just want to be sure I understand what you mean by Plot Rules.
So if the question being asked was "Can I build a female Solani Dwarf, who is a Diving casting Initiate of Larissa of the Milandisian Orthodox Church? or "Can I build an flamboyant val'Abebi wizard who shows common people the virtues of arcane magic, and teaches them not to fear it?"

Express Rules say yes.
But Plot Rules say no.

I think anyone on the forums would understand how these two characters (and their players) would find it difficult to join the Arcanis gaming world.
Is that how you are trying to describe Plot Rules?

If I misunderstood please explain it again.

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 Post subject: Re: Observations of the Rules of the Rules of RPGs
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:20 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:45 pm
Posts: 632
The Vault wrote:
I like reading your description.
But I just want to be sure I understand what you mean by Plot Rules.
So if the question being asked was "Can I build a female Solani Dwarf, who is a Diving casting Initiate of Larissa of the Milandisian Orthodox Church? or "Can I build an flamboyant val'Abebi wizard who shows common people the virtues of arcane magic, and teaches them not to fear it?"

Express Rules say yes.
But Plot Rules say no.

I think anyone on the forums would understand how these two characters (and their players) would find it difficult to join the Arcanis gaming world.
Is that how you are trying to describe Plot Rules?

If I misunderstood please explain it again.


You understand correctly.

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Eric Hughes

There once was a gnome called Oozy,
Who kissed a Yaricite floozy.
But rather than wed,
She drowned him instead,
Now he is a Yaricite toosey!


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 Post subject: Re: Observations of the Rules of the Rules of RPGs
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:02 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:06 am
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Location: Portland OR
While I don't disagree with Eric, I also want to note that it is often more complicated than that.

The explicit printed rules (express) always intersect and interact with the tone of the game/campaign (plot rules).

7th Sea, as one example, hardwires swashbuckling play into the rules ... PCs are vastly superior to mooks and wade through waves of opponents. And you can choose to fail some rolls in exchange for bonuses on others. Basically players choose their own setbacks in the name of telling a more interesting story on the way to victory. Against that, Call of Cthulhu is at the other extreme and *ahem* doesn't favor swashbuckling play. Death comes really easily to those heroes who like to go in guns blazing against shoggoth.

A living campaign is also not the same as a home campaign (or a one shot tournament module with pre-generated characters). As such you will play under lots of different judges who may have their own thoughts on what the so called house and plot rules are. (even as we try to keep some consistency through the campaign guide and errata).

I am not overly familiar with Pathfinder adventures (though I did play rise of the Runelords which I though was competently executed and pretty good overall). I would agree that the verisimilitude of Arcanis is higher than Pathfinder ... and because it is more grounded in a specific vision, Arcanis has more concepts that just don't work (female PC Illirite priests). that could be interpreted as Plot over express rules.

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AKA Ambassador Tukufu, man of letters, tomb raider and Master Sword Sage
. . . and Sir Szymon val'Holryn, Order of the Phoenix
Formerly Sir Jaeger val'Holryn. Weilder of the Holy Avenger: Thonanos. Gave his soul to help free King Noen


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 Post subject: Re: Observations of the Rules of the Rules of RPGs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:24 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:01 am
Posts: 84
I would agree for the most part although I would change "plot rules" to "setting rules". Part of the frustration and benefit of Arcanis is that "actions have consequences, even at character generation". The setting is really what Arcanis is about, as evidenced by it being on three different RPG systems now and so the "setting rules" are really what needs to define it rather than the mutable system specific or house rules.


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 Post subject: Re: Observations of the Rules of the Rules of RPGs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 7:14 am 
I heartily endorse specific and complimentary plot rules.

I haven't sat a table with an Ardakene Holy Champion of the Fire Dragon for years and I completely don't miss it at all. Or a Half-Orc Kio Duelist.

I do miss the Mist Walker though. That was kinda cool -but it was cool because that it was an exception.


Last edited by ZCaslar on Thu Nov 10, 2016 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Observations of the Rules of the Rules of RPGs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 7:38 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:45 pm
Posts: 632
My orginal idea came from the realization that past arguments I've had over the rules usually involved an over reliance on literal interpretation of express rules on my part. I then assmed that the other party in these discussions were 100% correct from their own perspective. This lead me to conclude that perspectives were based on different foundations.

I shared my insight to help folks see that many of the heated discussions that occure on RPG forums, including but not limited to this one, have more to do with the perspective of the parties and less to do with the logic they apply to the problem at hand.

I agree that the absence of Ardekene Holy Champions of the Fire Dragon is a good thing. But they, or equally odd concepts, will reapear in the 5e game. When they do, please don't chastise those players. But instead use this post to educate them on the importance of story in Arcanis.

Thanks for the feedback.

_________________
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Eric Hughes

There once was a gnome called Oozy,
Who kissed a Yaricite floozy.
But rather than wed,
She drowned him instead,
Now he is a Yaricite toosey!


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 Post subject: Re: Observations of the Rules of the Rules of RPGs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 8:36 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:06 am
Posts: 1980
Location: Portland OR
LOL. Insights are good! Also always a good idea to worry at least a little that the guy (or gal) you are arguing with (about game rules or anything else) is cleverer or smarter than you are ... even if on the surface that seems improbable.

So....What does this insight mean for your future characters? So many of them use to what I think of as "corner cases" of the rules that use and exploit odd mechanics (i.e. Mancatcher staff).

Also a thumbs up to teaching the world to new players as they come.

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Eric Gorman

AKA Ambassador Tukufu, man of letters, tomb raider and Master Sword Sage
. . . and Sir Szymon val'Holryn, Order of the Phoenix
Formerly Sir Jaeger val'Holryn. Weilder of the Holy Avenger: Thonanos. Gave his soul to help free King Noen


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 Post subject: Re: Observations of the Rules of the Rules of RPGs
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:13 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:45 pm
Posts: 632
I have not built an ARG PC since this insight. So I don't know how it will affect ARG games yet. But for my 5e PC he is a typical illiirite.

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Eric Hughes

There once was a gnome called Oozy,
Who kissed a Yaricite floozy.
But rather than wed,
She drowned him instead,
Now he is a Yaricite toosey!


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