How Times Change: Reading the Rules

One of the items in a funny post, 27 Surefire Ways to Get Kicked Out of a Game, over at Evil Machinations was “Refuse to read the rules of the system you’re playing.”

While is is clearly intended to be a humor piece, it did make me think of how different things are today. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, most of the players in my campaigns had never read the entire rules to the games I ran. Most read little more than the character creation rules and any material directly related to the type of character they were playing. Some did not even read that much. Many did not own copies of the rules. No one in my campaigns would have thought, even in jest, that refusing to read the rules was a way to get booted from a campaign. Worse, many players didn’t bother to buy dice (another surefire way to get kicked out of a game according to this list). Hell, most games did not even come with dice — or if they did they were generally cheap and low quality. (TSR, I’m talking about you.)

Randall Stukey

Randall is the author and publisher of a number of old school games (Microlite74, Microlite81, BX Advanced, etc) through RetroRoleplaying.com. Randall's main job, however, is being caregiver for his MS-afflicted cancer survivor wife. You can support Randall with a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund.

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Randall is the author and publisher of a number of old school games (Microlite74, Microlite81, BX Advanced, etc) through RetroRoleplaying.com. Randall's main job, however, is being caregiver for his MS-afflicted cancer survivor wife. You can support Randall with a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. Gates & Glamours RSS Feed

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Jim
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I've been DMing since 1982 and I discovered recently (to my surprise) that I've never really read all the rules to the game I was running. Things really have changed.

Anonymous
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I never required my players to read the rules. If they wanted to that was cool. And I always made sure to have enough dice for everyone and if they wanted to bring their own that was cool too.

Less rules lawyering that way. But I wasn't averse to debating differing interpretations of specific rule points as long as it wasn't during an active game phase.

Bob Waller
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Yep. I never read the AD&D rules as a player in 1979. And 1981-1988 my players never read more than their character stuff either. They told me what they wanted to do, and I translated that through the rules. Good times!

Robert Fisher
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Not knowing the rules and not having dice are still acceptable in my group. In fact, I haven’t read hardly any of the rules we’re currently playing. (Mekton Zeta.)

Seriously, though, the only time people don’t have dice is because it is their first game (and—even then—they often have them) or they simply forgot them. Who doesn’t love dice, and who’s going to not be willing to loan some to the fellow gamer in need? You know…from that collection of rejected (“You will never fail me again!”) loaner dice. ^_^

Randall
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Robert, Agreed, multi-sided dice aren't nearly as hard to get today as they were back in the 1970s. However, old habits die hard. I have lots of dice and if a player didn't want to buy some, he or she could could borrow some of mine and I would not think anything of it.

Cheri
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Hi all– Thanks for commenting on my post at Evil Machinations. You've all got great points about it. I have to admit too, that I generally don't require my players to read or even own the basic rules. I've just played in several games where they did. Mostly that particular item was listed because the GM who's game I'm currently playing in had a player who categorically refused to learn anything about the game. This wasn't a case of, say, forgetting whether the edition of D&D you're playing uses a d6 or a d10 to roll initiative. This was a… Read more »