RPG Rules - Choices for your Games

RPG Rules - Choices for your Games

David takes a look at some things you should decide on before you start your next session!
Are you familiar with the rule of three?

There are a few ways to look at rules in whatever roleplaying game you are playing. You’ve already heard me talk about them a little bit in a past article, but here we’re going to expand upon them a little more. Now, be warned, every game master (GM) may be a little different in the way that they go about these rules, and that’s fine! After reading through this article and seeing what you have used in the past, you will be better able to decide what sounds the best to use moving forward in the future.  You also can choose to use a combination of them as the situation requires.   


Let’s start with Rules As Written (RAW), the most common of the three. This is usually one of the easier ways of rule interpretation for the aspiring GM. This is simply utilizing the rules as already written within the rulebook without any need for interpretation. It’s also easier for the players since they’ll know what to expect.  


An example of a RAW rule is the Barbarian’s Rage in Dungeons and Dragons. Reading through the rules lets you know exactly how many rages your barbarian gets per level. There is no room for interpretation and the player knows exactly what to expect. Another example is spell levels and how many you are allowed to use per level. This is clearly outlined in the Player's Handbook and doesn’t require subjective interpretation by player or GM.  


The next method of rule interpretation that a GM can utilize is Rules As Intended (RAI). This means that while the rules are written in a way, they can be interpreted differently depending on the situation. This is a bit more difficult to understand and requires that both the GM and player understand what was meant when the rules were written.  


A good example of RAI comes from Pathfinder and the Shield Master. Using RAW you could use two shields with no downsides; however it wasn’t meant to be used that way. Pathfinder eventually fixed this when they changed the text of this feat in a subsequent publishing.  


Now comes the most interesting rule, in my opinion, the Rule Of Cool (ROC). This is where the GM gets to make decisions on how awesome it would be to do something within the game. I personally like to use this rule as often as possible when I am GM of the game. The players get to be incredibly creative in the game and I get to see just what the heck would happen if a Barbarian threw a Halfling at a monster across a ravine!  Utilizing ROC allows for the most creative game play ideas for the GM and the player and helps to ensure the players stay engaged throughout the game.  


That’s just one example of ways to use ROC. Other examples include trying things that you’ve seen in movies, like firing an arrow from horseback. Of course, you need to see if they hit the enemy, but what about keeping their seat on the horse? That’s also something that you need to think about in the Rule Of Cool. Sure, it’s an awesome idea, but there are dice rolls that need to be made to see if everything works the way everyone hopes. To see the high rolls come up when they roll also makes everyone at the table cheer!  


As you can see, there is a place for each type of ruling in your game. I highly recommend trying a variety of them so that you don’t lose out on the fun you could be having. You’ll need to interpret when to use each rule during your game, however, being the amazing GM you are, it shouldn’t be that much of a problem, should it? Now get out there and roll some crits for me!


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