Friday, January 11, 2013

Rulings not rules and the inventors of D&D were middle aged

As odd as it is to consider for some, the original inventors of the game, Gary and Dave and everybody were full adults as was Dr. Holmes of Blue Book fame (the first truly mass market D&D in my opinion) , who was a respected surgeon . they were in modern terms were middle aged men in their 30 with careers, families and all the markers of adult hood.

This maturity allowed them to have very light rules, and to just in the words of Old Geezer (at 17 the youngster of the time) To Make up Some *bleep* they thought was fun

They were grown up enough to handle it.

And because they were grown ups not teen or shudder young teens, the cognitive skills they needed were well developed and as such "rulings not rules' worked.

This approach won't work with some player with maturity issues (there are lots of these alas) with with some kids and with some teens but no one considered kids much till the early 80's (Blue Book started it but B/X really took off)

I am guessing TSR s assumed that it would be imaginative adults that would play.

That of course changed as the hobby grew and and in the fullness if time D&D changed evolving into its opposite "rules not rulings" in 4e.

Now 5e from what i can tell is rolling back a bit either because they figure Old Grogs will be the main buyers or they realized that modern kids can in fact figure this stuff out and don't need to be spoon fed. Either way i am happy to see the game get back to its roots as in this mans opinion, the old way was better.

Bah, get off my lawn ...


  1. One facet of the debate (rulings vs. rules) is what sort of game is being run. Are you friends with the DM? Do you trust the DM? Are you just hanging out with friends, hoping to have some laughs?

    One the flip side, are you in a tournament? Is this game being run by a militant adversarial DM? Do you want to "beat" the DM at the game being played?

    Perhaps it is just a spectrum and nothing worth arguing over. People choose what style of game they want to play in and gravitate to that style.

  2. I think you have a rather good point. I generally have always gamed with a group thats mostly friends (not everyone, I don't fall for that particular geek fallacy) so my take on things is a bit slanted.

    I understand the concept of adversarial GMing but I won't play with one. Better no gaming than bad gaming.

    As for tournaments, thats one place rules matter more. I think assuming that every judge can be awesome under those circumstances was a mistake the original creators made. Its why tournament modules (like the A series) are structured certainer ways, as a buffer to such calls.

    In such circumstances, a more comprehensive rules set is better.

    An anecdote my good buddy played a lot of 4e and he did not think very highly of it. He did play one of those encounter things at a tournament and thought it rocked . The different expectations (roleplay matters less there) and rules rigor worked in his favor.