23 April 2015

Super-Duper Cheater Pants

I've run into the concept, once again, of a referee altering the game to suit his unique vision as cheating. I find this a curious idea. Not that the game can't be cheated in some way, by altering die rolls or character records and such. But, the referee's campaign?

The books themselves encourage tampering with the rules, to wit; making the game your own, why would you have us do your imagining for you, imagine the hell out of it. Or, as put recently by a member of the team who helped form the game itself: those are the fun parts!

It's terse, it may even put off some, but my campaign works the way I say it does. I don't intend that to be rude, I intend that to be a Mission Statement of sorts. You the player are welcome to know all the printed rules as well as anything the common man (were he real) living in my campaign milieu would know. Otherwise? You'll just have to poke it with a stick, wear it, taste it, talk to it, push the button, turn the crank, etc., to figure out what it does.

Likewise for my vision of how the classes and races work. If I decide, for example, Hobbits are mighty magic-users with unlimited progression within that class? That's how it works. There is literally and figuratively no aspect of the game I won't change to suit my campaign.

I recall running a temporary solo campaign game due to lack of players about 20 years ago. After conferring with the player about the game he wanted to play, I allowed him a relatively over-powered player-character. This PC was primarily a fighter with some abilities in both magic spell casting and thievery. As referee, it was incumbent upon me to run a game my sole participant wanted to play. Would I have allowed his PC in a game with more players? Almost surely not ... but this wasn't for a full game table. It was a limited and temporary situation we were both making the best of. Anyway, as I was sharing this information with another gamer a few years afterward, that person became quite indignant and accused me of cheating. Then, as now a few days ago when I read the same charge on a D&D related forum regarding Magic-Users able to wear armor, I just don't get it. I wouldn't run them that way in my campaign but that doesn't mean it's cheating.

OD&D resembles a rules book but it really isn't one in the meaningful sense of the term. It's more a collection of here's how the game might work -- now let your imagination improve upon this idea. Calling OD&D's TLBB "the rules" is akin to calling Lego bricks a toy. Lego is technically a toy, yes, but until you build something out of them there really isn't much entertainment value to be found in the box. And, because of this ephemeral nature of the so-called rules? I find the concept of calling their use as building blocks to a unique vision as cheating to be rather foolish.

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