Well-Worn, Comfy House Rules

When I play a ttRPG with the same group of people over long periods, we inevitably develop house rules. Often they are minor things, just tiny pain points we wear down with mutual consent and write down, making the total experience better.

Over years, the list can become longer and long, but it’s no big deal, because we do it gradually, moving to what makes more sense for us and our play style, and we keep track of what we decided.

Which leads me to wonder:

What if you don’t actually dislike a new ttRPG, you just haven’t found all your comfy house rules yet?

Most home game groups I know have at least a few house rules, designed to smooth over little rule-burrs that ruffle the fun of multiple participants. (Even Organized Play groups often have a slightly different set of rules, which are molded carefully over time to maximize the specific play environment in which they are used.)

But when you switch to a new edition, or a whole new rules engine, those well-worn, comfy house rules aren’t in place yet. You aren’t comparing the new out-of-the-box experience with the old out-of-the-box experience, you’re comparing it to the smoothed-out-through-play experience.

And, often, the new game’s still-sharp corners are going to bother you more.

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on May 21, 2021, in Game Design, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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