Tag Archives: rules

Explaining The Rules

The boardgaming website Shut Up & Sit Down has an excellent, if slightly long, article on explaining the rules, and some of the hazards of being the explainer of rules. It ties in nicely with some of the things I’ve written here about running games at conventions and in other situations where players aren’t familiar with the rules in use.

The comments on the article have some useful followup and additional points, too.

The Invisibility of Good Rules

No, not rules for Frodo sneaking up on Smaug with that useful ring of his (although possibly related), but the trick of having good rules that you know moderately well become invisible in play, so that you concentrate on gameplay and tactics rather than the minutiae of the rules.

This was prompted by something Sean, our newbie Through the Mud & the Blood player, said right at the end of last Sunday’s M&B-powered Russian Civil War game. I’m paraphrasing slightly, but he said something to the effect of, “I liked that the rules got out of the way and let you just play the game, rather than having to stop every two minutes to look up some special rule or try to interpret something out of a Codex that seems to contradict what’s in the main rulebook.”

This struck me as a useful expansion on something I’ve mentioned here before and long held as a personal tenant, that you should value flow of the game and fun value over nitpicking details of the rules you’re using. The additional thought is that good rules will assist with this process rather than hinder it. This might seem obvious, but it bears pointing out.

I posted this to the TooFatLardies mailing list, and Richard Clarke, the author of the Mud & Blood rules, replied, “Music to my ears. I keep banging on about how rules should be as “invisible” as possible, so it’s good to hear stories like that one.”

Any set of rules, even the most complex RPG rules, can become relatively invisible if enough people in the group know them well enough, but elegantly written rules let you pull the trick off faster. Off the top of my head, two other rules systems that become nearly invisible in play and are also personal favourites are the old fantasy battle game Hordes of the Things (a variant of the famous DBA) and the fantasy skirmish system Songs of Blades & Heroes from Ganesha Games. It’s also one of the attractions of playing an unfamiliar set of rules at a convention, where the details of the rules are the referee’s problem and you can concentrate on getting your troops to do things and rolling the dice when the ref tells you to.

Anyone got any other “invisible” rules to recommend, ones that get out of your way and let you concentrate on tactics and flow instead of the rules?

.45 Adventures 2nd Edition, A Review

45A2e_cover
.45 Adventures 2nd Edition

Rattrap Productions released the much-anticipated 2nd Edition of their .45 Adventures pulp adventure rules a few weeks ago, I received my copy of the full rules last week, and I’ve already run one convention game and several small private test games with the demo rules before even getting the full rules.

The PDF version should be out shortly too, as Rattrap generally releases the PDF version about a month after the initial print release. (Edit to add: the PDF version is out today.)

This review is mostly aimed at folks who have some familiarity with the 1st Edition of 45A, but it should be general enough to give those of you with no experience at all with the system an idea of how it works. Note that throughout this review I’ve used “45A1e” and “45A2e” for 1st & 2nd Edition respectively; this is a bit of a D&D-ism but useful shorthand!
Continue reading .45 Adventures 2nd Edition, A Review

45A 2nd Edition Demo out!

[R]attrap Productions has just released the demo PDF of .45 Adventures 2nd Edition!

There’s a 22 page set of demo rules which include the full movement, combat, wound, vehicle, explosive and flying rules, as well as enough Archetypes to build some characters and teams to test the new shiny out.

There’s also a draft copy of the 2nd Edition Special Abilities PDF, with a good selection of the skills & special abilities that’ll be available in 2nd Ed.

More later perhaps when I’ve had a chance to look it over properly and build a character or two! Short version is that I like what I see, lots of streamlining and good tweaks to an already great system.

Full release of the rules is pencilled in for mid-March, apparently.