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 Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?

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Felorn Gloryaxe
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PostSubject: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:46 am

Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?

I personally can't stand it. I understand removing rules that don't work, and tweaking a system, but I often feel that the "Rule 0" claim is abused by people who play broken games, want to be amateur designers, or just like to rip apart games. Not trying to knock anyone who is a firm believer of "Rule 0" but it almost seems counter intuitive when people buy a game system to play then begin tearing it apart using "Rule 0" as their excuse. Of course, each to their own, but it seems like a waste of money to buy a RPG when your practically going to make an entire new one buy ripping apart the current one. I personally have a few houserules for pretty much every game I play, but unlike most that seem to bring up "Rule 0", I don't remake the system. I feel that "Rule 0" was most abused in pre-4e D&D (not sure about other games, I haven't seen many people bring that up against other games). Mainly because of the lack of coherent rules wording, or early (and now dated) mechanics.

Does anyone else share similar views or is this just me being extreme again? If you feel that I see "Rule 0" differently than it actually is feel free to make an argument.  Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:40 am

I agree. In general, the spirit of "Rule 0" is suppose to help the DM/GM to enrich the game world and enable player agency with "yes and..."; but usually it degenerates into the DM/GM blocking player ideas.
I want games that follow a more collaborative approach and GM/DM vetoes run counter to that. I'm all for house rules, but I think there should be agreement, everyone should be aware upfront. And if something isn't working there should be discussion.

"Rule 0" has a lot of the Players vs DM feel to it that was too rooted in the old school. Look at a lot of the iconic old school modules and they were just built so the DM could kill off characters. When players actually got to the end they would have "beat the dungeon [master]".

That's not a game I want to play. I guess I'm just "new school". The GM and players are part of the same game. We play together and collaborate and build something fun and exciting. There is no room for veto style "Rule 0", but there is for "yes and..."

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:46 am

I don't like rule 0 when it's used to turn D&D into free-form role play, where the DM allows the players to roll dice to maintain the pretense that they have some control over the story. Or when it's used to do bizarre metagamey stuff.

Like the DM who set us up against an invincible abomination from Beyond. Its weakness was a [real life] song that the bard player figured out because he had some inside joke with the DM. When the bard started playing the song in-game, the DM played it on a stereo, and told us "The abomination is vulnerable until the stereo stops playing, so roll quickly!" About three minutes later, another player 'just happened' to deal enough damage to kill the abomination moments before the stereo stopped.

So yeah, rule 0 can be used for evil. But it can also be used for good, so it really depends on the DM.

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:28 pm

Durriken wrote:
I agree.  In general, the spirit of "Rule 0" is suppose to help the DM/GM to enrich the game world and enable player agency with "yes and..."; but usually it degenerates into the DM/GM blocking player ideas.  
I want games that follow a more collaborative approach and GM/DM vetoes run counter to that.  I'm all for house rules, but I think there should be agreement, everyone should be aware upfront.  And if something isn't working there should be discussion.  

"Rule 0" has a lot of the Players vs DM feel to it that was too rooted in the old school.  Look at a lot of the iconic old school modules and they were just built so the DM could kill off characters.  When players actually got to the end they would have "beat the dungeon [master]".  

That's not a game I want to play.  I guess I'm just "new school".  The GM and players are part of the same game. We play together and collaborate and build something fun and exciting.  There is no room for veto style "Rule 0", but there is for "yes and..."

TjD

I also agree with this. The 4e DMG really helped me achieve a new DMing style. Before 4e I was more or less a strict DM and follwed the old the DM is god of the game thought. In hindsight, that was stupid of me. Then 13th Age came along and even further helped my DMing with the half-baked setting the players were supposed to help fill in the details.

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:29 pm

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
I don't like rule 0 when it's used to turn D&D into free-form role play, where the DM allows the players to roll dice to maintain the pretense that they have some control over the story. Or when it's used to do bizarre metagamey stuff.

Like the DM who set us up against an invincible abomination from Beyond. Its weakness was a [real life] song that the bard player figured out because he had some inside joke with the DM. When the bard started playing the song in-game, the DM played it on a stereo, and told us "The abomination is vulnerable until the stereo stops playing, so roll quickly!" About three minutes later, another player 'just happened' to deal enough damage to kill the abomination moments before the stereo stopped.

So yeah, rule 0 can be used for evil. But it can also be used for good, so it really depends on the DM.

I hope it was fun, because thats just ridiculous.

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:31 pm

Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
I don't like rule 0 when it's used to turn D&D into free-form role play, where the DM allows the players to roll dice to maintain the pretense that they have some control over the story. Or when it's used to do bizarre metagamey stuff.

Like the DM who set us up against an invincible abomination from Beyond. Its weakness was a [real life] song that the bard player figured out because he had some inside joke with the DM. When the bard started playing the song in-game, the DM played it on a stereo, and told us "The abomination is vulnerable until the stereo stops playing, so roll quickly!" About three minutes later, another player 'just happened' to deal enough damage to kill the abomination moments before the stereo stopped.

So yeah, rule 0 can be used for evil. But it can also be used for good, so it really depends on the DM.

I hope it was fun, because thats just ridiculous.
Nope, not much fun at all. The game was full of teenage boy hijinx despite all of us being nominally college students, and nothing our characters did really mattered because events were predestined by the DM. Some DMs run a railroad, but are skilled at hiding the tracks; but this guy didn't even try.

I played that one session, and called it quits.

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:39 pm

Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Felorn Gloryaxe wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
I don't like rule 0 when it's used to turn D&D into free-form role play, where the DM allows the players to roll dice to maintain the pretense that they have some control over the story. Or when it's used to do bizarre metagamey stuff.

Like the DM who set us up against an invincible abomination from Beyond. Its weakness was a [real life] song that the bard player figured out because he had some inside joke with the DM. When the bard started playing the song in-game, the DM played it on a stereo, and told us "The abomination is vulnerable until the stereo stops playing, so roll quickly!" About three minutes later, another player 'just happened' to deal enough damage to kill the abomination moments before the stereo stopped.

So yeah, rule 0 can be used for evil. But it can also be used for good, so it really depends on the DM.

I hope it was fun, because thats just ridiculous.
Nope, not much fun at all. The game was full of teenage boy hijinx despite all of us being nominally college students, and nothing our characters did really mattered because events were predestined by the DM. Some DMs run a railroad, but are skilled at hiding the tracks; but this guy didn't even try.

I played that one session, and called it quits.

I probably would've quit too. It's good that you did.

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:20 pm

I think that the concept behind "Rule 0" was intended to prevent players from thinking that they could do whatever they wanted to do. Players can come up with some crazy stuff. And I've had players that will pull phrases from obscure supplemental rule books to try to justify what they want to do with their character.

Not to say that there weren't DMs that abused the "Rule 0" like crazy.

For me, "Rule 0" allows me to make on-the-fly decisions during a game session when the rules are not 100% clear or when the player is trying to do something that doesn't have a clear cut application of the game rules.

I once had a player want to tie a rope to the railing of the upper deck of a ship, then back up some distance on the rope, hold it there, then run and fling themselves off of the side of the ship, with the goal of their distance along the rope being correct for them to swing into the open window on the deck below.

I looked at them with such surprise because they had not only come up with a genius plan that was exciting and daring but it also had so many factors that coming up with a ruling on how to determine if they succeeded or failed, and by what degree. It was amazing.

To me, the whole point of "Rule 0" was so that, as a DM, I could make a decision on how I would determine the outcome of this action and that the players would need to accept it, or give me a really good reason of why they felt I was being unfair.

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:44 am

skwyd42 wrote:
I once had a player want to tie a rope to the railing of the upper deck of a ship, then back up some distance on the rope, hold it there, then run and fling themselves off of the side of the ship, with the goal of their distance along the rope being correct for them to swing into the open window on the deck below.
This is ideally what rule 0 is for.

That and letting players do things that bad rules won't let them do. Want to play a non-LG paladin in pre-4e? Yes you can; rule zeroed! Want to play a swordmage with a one-handed axe? Yes you can; rule zeroed!

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:28 am

I totally want to play the "axemage"... wait, no, I want to play a WHIPMAGE!!! And use my whip to swing off the upper deck of the ship and through a window! (queue raider of the lost arc theme song)

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:42 pm

Durriken wrote:
I totally want to play the "axemage"... wait, no, I want to play a WHIPMAGE!!!  And use my whip to swing off the upper deck of the ship and through a window!  (queue raider of the lost arc theme song)

TjD

And the other reason that we have "Rule 0" is to stop stuff like this before it happens!!!! J/K!!!

I know that I'll be using "Rule 0" when I run my Epic Tier Dark Sun campaign (someday) because I intend to have some serious restrictions on what is available for the characters to play. I don't want the "free for all/every book available" idea used when they make their characters as I have a fairly focussed starting point for the story. It is going to take a lot of set up with the players to determine what they are going to play and then I'll have to go back and see how they will each fit into the start of the story I have planned.

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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:21 pm

For me, Rule Zero was originally meant for Gary Gygax to have a way to beat smart-aleck players who figured out the loopholes of his system, because game development at the time was nowhere near what it is today, and he was doing something completely different from wargaming, while having wargaming as his only real background. And when you have a wargamer as both arbiter and opponent for a totally untried concept, things can get real messy real quickly.

This is made more apparent by his ironically good advice, that you should be able to emulate the world above that of the rules, as this attempt at realism through story play - while having rules and game mechanics that failed to deliver on the desired realism - results in a "game" that's more like Calvinball than any typical game: fun, but unorthodox, unreliable and subject to the whims of the "god" in charge. Yes, you should emulate the fantasy world as if it were real (suspension of belief notwithstanding), but well-designed games, regardless of form or genre, should be able to deliver the sort of dynamics and emotions as intended by the game designer (or you, as DM), and as far as I can tell, D&D tried to be what GURPs is today: applicable regardless of story genre, and even purpose... and that's a lot of ground being covered by a class-based system, whose very concepts stem directly from wargaming and not storygaming.

Back to topic, Rule Zero as written is downright dangerous and prone to abuse, which is why I prefer the approach of "new school" game systems, where even if collaboration with players isn't explicitly stated, the positive facets of Rule Zero - encourage players to think out of the box, have players invest more of themselves into the campaign, and ensure fluidity of story pacing - are put forward, while the negative or questionable aspects of Rule Zero that are readily abused are resolved, eliminated or minimized.

This is all the more why I would rather have newbie DMs learn Dungeon World, 13th Age or D&D 4E first (in that order), before handling any other RPG.
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PostSubject: Re: Does anyone else really dislike "Rule 0"?   Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:01 pm

My views on Rule Zero are summed up by this blog article very nicely (not my blog):

Rule Zero
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