In every discussion I read pertaining to Role Playing Game tips and rules, regardless of system, publisher or genre, there is a variation of the same rule that pops up again and again. This recurring theme even shows itself in the core rules of role playing books like Vampire: the Masquerade where it is called things like the Golden Rule or Rule Zero. Whatever the name or system, the theme is always the same;
The Game Master Is Always Right.
Wow, no pressure, right? In this multi-part series Thirdwalling will discuss this premise and equip game masters to navigate the treacherous waters of the Golden Rule.
As written above, the Golden Rule would mean that game masters would have carte blanche to supersede any rule just because they disagreed with it. But what is a game master to do when the rules are unclear or the story requires a change to protect (or override) Canon for the sake of the game? Certainly, many story-focused game masters will do exactly that – but unless the players in the game are all of the like mind, it is far more preferable to stick to the rules of the game – bending, not breaking them – to further your story or resolve disputes.
Make no mistake, rules disputes happen. It may be conflicting interpretations of the same rule or the game system may not include a ruling on how to handle a given situation. When these disputes arise, there are a few things that a game master must bear in mind to ensure their game is fair, keep the game moving and ensure players keep coming back. Throughout this series Thirdwalling will equip game masters to make changes without reinventing the game system’s wheel, create house rules to moderate disputes and ensure that the rulings made are fair and balanced.
The series will include five parts:
Part 1 – Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick.
Part 2 – The Game Comes First – or – But Don’t Be a D!ck, GM.
Part 3 – When in doubt, rule in the player’s favor.
Part 4 – Be Consistent, publish house rules.
Part 5 – Being the Final Say.
So join us over the next five weeks as we discuss this (maybe controversial) topic. And, as always, if you’ve got an opinion take it to the comments!