DISCLAIMER: This is unrelated to dungeon world specifically. It is super long, and about rpgs in general.

DISCLAIMER: This is unrelated to dungeon world specifically. It is super long, and about rpgs in general.

DISCLAIMER: This is unrelated to dungeon world specifically. It is super long, and about rpgs in general.

I just wrote out my ‘house rules for all rpgs’ this is important because I play a lot of roleplaying online and I’ve played with  power-gamers, manipulators, a brony, a drunk lady, as well as some really solid players as well. However, this is something I want out of the way right away.

I’m not sure if I’m missing anything or how relevant all of this is, but I’m gonna throw this long thing here in the hopes someone reads it through and gives me their opinion on it. Thanks.

1. I want everyone to be comfortable. Including myself.

a. I run a pg to pg-13 table.  This may not suit your tastes, but it’s not going to become any more adult. I prefer to keep promiscuousness and sexual themes out of my games, but I do describe some gore and intense violence.  That being said, I would like to implement the ‘x’ card. If at any time the mention of anything makes you uncomfortable, either say ‘x card’ or touch it in the middle of the table. We don’t ask you why it makes you uncomfortable, we just edit it out of the game. There is a huge document here:(https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SB0jsx34bWHZWbnNIVVuMjhDkrdFGo1_hSC2BWPlI3A/edit#) about it if you have any more questions. It’s as much for me as it is for you.

2. We are here to have fun and to collaboratively make a world of fantasy and wonderment. We play to find out what happens.  We all decide on a setting, and we stick to it. If we want space knights of the round saucer, sure, but that means we’re playing a very different game from traditional D&D. If we’re playing traditional D&D, no space aliens. 

a. Inappropriate Reasons to Play:

i. To beat Jimmy. (one-up-man-ship is never fun. Friendly competition can be.)

ii. To build the most powerful hero ever.

iii. To amass fortunes or level the fastest.

iv. For the lolz. Funny moments happen, but doing things ‘just cuz’ is unacceptable. If you’re bored go play a video game and leave this to us.

Note: as long as the story comes first, you can still prioritize some of these things. It’s when they are your singular goal to the exclusion of all else is when we have an issue.

3. Rule Zero.  Kind of.

a. What I say goes. Up to a point. I will try to explain why I think that way, and what I’m going for and why I might rule differently than what the rules allow or what you want to do. I like to explain my thought process as I think tabletop role-playing is collaborative and fun, however I may not do it immediately. We can discuss the game cordially after we finish this encounter even if you think I ruined your favorite rpg. 

b. ‘The unwritten rule of tabletop Role Playing Games: 

The Game/Dungeon Master has the right to veto anything any player says, he has the right to change any rule or make up his own, he need not explain why he chooses to do these things.’ 

4. Begin and end with the Fiction. Don’t tell me. ‘I make an attack roll’. Tell me, ‘I attempt to slip between the ogres legs and slash at his kneecaps as I go by.’ Then I will tell you what to do mechanically.

a. Stolen Straight from Dungeon World: ‘Everything you and the players do comes from and leads to fictional events. When the players make a move, they take a fictional action to trigger it, apply the rules, and get a fictional effect. When you make a move it always comes from the fiction.’ Or in other words: the system is here to help us to make a story.

b. Or in other words, straight from the FATE system, the metallic rules:

The Golden Rule: Decide what you want to do, then consult the rules to help you do it.

The Silver Rule: Never let the rules get in the way of what makes narrative sense.

The Bronze Rule: You can treat everything like a character. 

5. The Rule of Cool…up to a point.

a. The Narrative comes first.(I sound like a broken record)  Every scene does not contain CGI explosions and epic matrix moments. Heart-wrenching death scenes are also a powerful part of role-playing as well.  When it comes to combat, the rule cool almost always applies. As long as it makes sense, I don’t like to say no to players. However, just because dragon-riding pigmen with tattoos are cool, that does not mean they should burst in when you are professing your love to the princess.

http://6d6fireball.com/rpg/of-coolness-and-idiocy/ This person talks about the limits of the rule of cool, and I agree with a good amount of what they’re saying.

6. Final thought: I Challenge My players, but I’m really their Fan

a. I think dangerous, I make things challenging, and there’s a chance you might die. However, it’s all an attempt to make you shine as characters, as players, and as people. I’m not here to one-up or crush your characters, but I don’t want this to be a cakewalk. It’s boring if you just hack and slash an entire dungeon without going below half health. If your PC dies I will try my best to make it awesome and having a lasting effect on the game world.  One of my players characters is enshrined for all time after turning to glassy diamond on a hilltop. Now let’s go have some fun! 

14 thoughts on “DISCLAIMER: This is unrelated to dungeon world specifically. It is super long, and about rpgs in general.”

  1. Yeah. These read very very authoritative. More then I am comforts with, especially in games that are very collaborative. 

    Also what Karlen Kendrick says.

  2. Karlen Kendrick How should I filter out the jerks? I use roll20  frequently so I can get anything (as I mentioned). It’s kind of a preventative method and I’m trying to spell out exactly what I’m looking to run.  How would you suggest I reword or change this? It is a strict document, as Tim Franzke  pointed.

    I play other games as well, such as pathfinder, which can be more meta-game, war-game oriented, but I prefer to play story-based as you can tell. 

  3. Karlen Kendrick I play with several different groups, all originally formed from the random pool of online players, with changes when I do find jerks. It’s a hit or miss, and this is intended to let everyone know in one of my more regular groups ( that was my first ever campaign, so we’ve had some problems with group identity and clashing ideals before) as well as to be used in my ‘looking for players’ posting for future games. 

  4. I like most of these a lot. I’m also a little wary of the use of Rule 0 and similar in DW, but I think as long as you’re just reserving the right to do so and actually use it very rarely, you should be fine. After all, even in DW the GM acts as a referee, helping to keep everyone on track. You shouldn’t need to use it ever, but I can see why reserving the right to do so, especially with unknown players, could be useful. I would like GMs to explain their justification for house rules though, especially in such a mechanically tight game as DW.

    I will probably implement a version of the X-Card rule in my upcoming game; it’s a great idea!

  5. Justus Goldstein-Shirley Rule 0 is only when players get out of hand. However, I can say ‘you agreed to this when you started’, so people know what they’re going into and I don’t have to waste time on idiots.

  6. So. Unsurprisingly, it seems like the most controversial clause is the ‘rule zero’ rule. What do you think I should change, what do you think I should change about the document? Also, the reason why I more easily say the ‘rule zero’ is because on roll20, if they don’t want to play by the game-creator’s rules, they just don’t apply for the game. 

  7. Involve the whole table when there are rules questions.  I recently had a situation where a player described his actions, and it was all very quick moving kind of stuff he wanted to do, so I told him to Defy Danger +DEX to do it.  He began to explain that he thought is was quick thinking, so wanted to use +INT (possibly because his DEX was at a -1).  We went back and forth on it a bit, and I just opened it up to the other players, “What do you think guys, quick thinking, or quick moving?”  They agreed that, although the character was thinking of a quick solution, he still had to move quickly to accomplish what he wanted to do.  So +DEX.  

    And the player rolled a 10+, so everyone was happy.  🙂

  8. You say players mustn’t say what move they want to trigger because ONLY you can decide that.

    2 things on that:

    As a GM, not naming your moves is good storytelling.

    As a player, not naming your moves is poor communication

    As said by Epidiah Ravachol


    Everyone at the table should listen for when moves apply. If it’s ever unclear if a move has been triggered, everyone should work together to clarify what’s happening. Ask questions of everyone involved until everyone sees the situation the same way and then roll the dice, or don’t, as the situation requires. (Dungeon World p.16)

    In short, it is not the job of the GM to tell everyone what moves they are rolling now. When they are teaching the game it will often fall to them as they are the only ones that know all the moves but in my judgement they should clearly tell the players that everyone can and should be part of this process and that not all of that work should be on the GM.

    If everyone remembers all the trigger conditions, or everyone at least remembers some, it should always be clear what move is triggered.

    When there is ambiguity you can zoom in more on the action and interrogate the player more on what their character is doing specifically.

    You can also ask what move they wanted to trigger or would rather trigger in order to find a fictional action that would fit that trigger.

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