#RPGaDay2015 Day 24: Favorite Houserule

Day 24 is another tough one to answer. I play quite a few games over the course of a year. Few of them go into long-term rotation.  To ensure that we learn the game for real, I run them RAW (rules as written) and don’t fiddle with them unless we have consistent problems.

I have houseruled rarely in the last ten years. I can’t even think of an example right now. I did so more frequently in the past. We made changes to solve problems. We made changes to better blend wargames with RPGS, in both directions. We made houserules to deal with issues raised by edition changes that ‘solved problems’ we weren’t having. You know the drill. In my early days of gaming houserules ruled. They were a part of any new campaign, and seen as necessary.

I don’t experience that need anymore. Did the games change, did I, or was it both?


As a result of my current focus on RAW, some might expect a lot of rough play. That hasn’t been the case. For that, I believe two things might contribute. The first thing is a long history of being comfortable with putting Rulings in ascendency over Rules. Building experience in making assessments of how a game process is playing out, and developing confidence to adjust if needed, is a good foundation for dealing with ruly and unruly games alike. The second thing is the shift in perspective which follows the exploration of many ways to play. Things which used to look like problems may come to seem like contributing factors to the atmosphere and intention of a game. In many cases, old bugbears may be seen to define the experience of play for a once-troublesome game rather than interfere with it.

What does that mean? It might mean being able to go back to playing RAW. It might also mean deciding against playing that game. At a certain point, changes make a game something else. Change is a part of all things, but at this stage of my gaming I try to see things as they are.

These days, it seems to me that a houserule is the result of a mistake more often than other reasons. We might houserule a game to make it play in a different rather than ‘better’ way. Some might even houserule to specifically make a new game play like the old one. We might houserule to address a gap in the system that will be a recurring focus of play. However, I suspect that across the hobby the reason to houserule is either that the designer’s original rule is insufficient or the group’s comprehension of the system is.

Houserules for me now tend to fall into the category of making things up that the desiners haven’t gotten around to yet. My favorites of those are the ones we keep regardless of what gets officially released for it is in those rules that the synthesis of our campaign and the system can be seen.

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