Thursday, 7 June 2012

Rules and Rulings

All this talk about rules versus rulings and Mother-May-I? and what have you reminds me of the legal realists, particularly Jerome Frank.

Jerome Frank, writing in the 1930s and 1940s, was of the opinion that legal rules are essentially fictional. He was not a postmodernist; his scepticism came from a solid grounding in reality and was based on the premise that no court ever makes a decision based on the "real" facts - the decision often happens months or years after the event, it often relies on suspect eyewitness testimony, and judges and juries are fallible and biased.

Rather than being based on a clear understanding of the facts, then, court decisions are instead merely a manifestation of what individual judges consider to be just and proper in that particular instance, taking into account the impact on society, with the judge paying lip service to the rules after the event. The decision-making process, in fact, is the reverse of what a textbook will tell you, according to Frank. That is, in almost all cases, the judge first makes a decision based on his own idea of what he thinks would be just, and then he searches for a rule to fit it to afterwards.

This was not a problem for Frank, and indeed it was something he thought a mature legal system should embrace. He said:

We want judges who, thus viewing and employing all rules as fictions, will appreciate that, as rules are fictions 'intended for the sake of justice', it is not to be endured that they shall work injustice in any particular case...

In other words, Frank was of the belief that in a mature legal system, the fictional veneer of predictability and robustness that rules provide is valuable, but actually all that really matters is that judges make the just decision in any given case. Applying a rule "correctly" ought never to result in an injustice. Judges, basically, ought to be free to make any decision they deem proper, unconstrained by the need for "legal clarity" or undue respect for rules and principles that have no real basis in reality.

Something similar can be said, in my view, about the role of the GM in a traditional game. I'll use Monte Cook's example as my own:

Say you've got a special weapon (magic or tech, doesn't matter) that makes foes all itchy so they are distracted. In a tightly written ruleset, the designer defines not only the effect, but what (if anything) can counter the effect. Maybe it would state that if the victim suffers a -3 penalty on all actions for the next ten turns unless he spends two consecutive turns and makes a new successful resistance roll, in which case the effect ends. In a GM-logic ruleset, you would write it entirely differently. You would explain what's going on in the situation, and let the GM handle the rest. So it would say that the victim is covered in an itchy and irritating powder and suffers a -3 penalty for the next ten turns while the powder was on his flesh and clothes. Then it would be up to the player to say, "I want to clean the itching powder off." And the GM says, "okay, if you take two turns, and make a new resistance roll, you can get it off." The advantage in the latter case is, the player could also say, "I'm going to jump in this nearby pool of water," and the GM is free to say, "Okay, that washes it off immediately." Or the player might say, "I use the water in my canteen to wash it off," and the GM might say, "Okay, that still takes two turns, but the roll is automatic now." Or the victim's mage friend might conjure a wind to blow the powder off. Or whatever.

The "tightly written ruleset" is the kind of approach that Jerome Frank argued was meaningless and self-defeating: maybe in a very limited set of circumstances it is possible to create rules which will always apply in the same way in all situations, but those rules are rare and in the majority of cases the rule will not be directly relatable to the "facts", which do not really exist in any event. It is better to recognise that, generally speaking, in most situations, the GM will make a decision based on what he or she thinks is best or most appropriate, and may then retro-fit a rule to that decision afterwards. The process for making the itching-powder decision would go:

GM thinks about what would happen if the player tried what he was trying -> GM makes a ruling -> a fictional rule is stated. (Fictional in the sense that no rule is really "real".)

The next time itching powder is used, the same process is followed. It may be that the GM makes the same ruling as before, but he shouldn't feel bound to, because the circumstances may be a little different (this time, it's raining, so the powder can be cleaned of automatically in just one turn of action, or something). He should just decide based on what he thinks is appropriate.

Frank would say we should embrace this if we want to have a mature approach to role playing. Unfortunately, not everybody does.


  1. To my mind this is a solid read, and one of the best-written posts I think I've read here. But whether or not I agree with your conclusions, I do think the 'unfortunately' in the final sentence lets the argument down a little, and maybe also the rather loaded word 'mature'. The text makes a powerful case, and reads even-handed even where it's consciously and openly subjective - which is part of the point of course - and that's plenty. No need to build on known fault lines or risk the arguments going off into the personal from such a useful core topic.

    1. I'm not sure I understand why "mature" has to be a bad word, when clearly "immature" is not positive.

      I also enjoyed this post quite a bit, and might add that even defining "itching" as a -3 penalty might be optional or extraneous for some folks or systems.

      Certainly, legal systems sometimes get themselves in trouble by overdefining some terms.

    2. "Mature" is the word Frank uses. And he chose the word deliberately - a developed, grown-up legal system is one in which judges are trusted to make decisions, not apply rules, and in which they will do so in a just way. I don't see a problem with the term and I'm happy with the position that obsession with rules is childish - anybody who has seen children play will know this. I also think it is unfortunate if GMs think that their role is to apply rules rather than make the best decision.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. That sound you hear is the sonic boom as this post goes over the heads of a thousand edition warriors.

  3. Interesting comparison. Of course, one could still have this approach to gaming even if one doesn't subscribe to Frank's legal philosophy.

    In both gaming and law there is a sort of balance of power between the subjective view of the Judge and the objective view expressed in the rules. The rules force a greater degree of objectivity on the judge, while the Judge comes to apply the rules to a particular situation which the rule may not have taken into account.

    The point I'm trying to make is that in Gaming, I'm more willing to tilt the balance towards the subjective rulings, since it encourages creativity and thus fun.

    In a legal system however, the goal is not fun, rather Justice(arguably). So I want the balance to tilt more toward objective rules, since justice demands consistency.

    For example: no one cares if DM1 and DM2 rule differently about how magic power works.

    But if Judge1 and Judge2 rule differently, one sends the defendant to Jail and the other lets him go free, then we would call that system inconsistent and thus unjust.

    1. Frank, like the other legal realists, would say that consistency is an illusion. I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said something along the lines of "Give me a principle and a set of facts and I will decide the case either way" (can't remember the exact quote). It actually is the case, according to rules skeptics like Holmes, that "Judge 1 and Judge 2 will rule differently, so deal with it" rather than "let's make Judge 1 and Judge 2 rule in the same way". The latter is actually not possible and does not reflect how judicial decision-making works. You just don't get rules being applied objectively, because the facts are always different and the decision makers are human.

      American legal realism was, in essence, a call to be open about why judges make the decisions they make - and the reason is never a matter of rules. It is always a matter of what the judge thinks is just in that instance, what he thinks the ramifications of his decision will be in society, and what his biases and preconceptions are. Once we recognise that, we can move on.

      (Of course, it was long ago superseded by the Critical Legal Studies movement and postmodernists, who were similarly skeptical about facts and rules but also had their heads a lot further up their own arses.)

    2. So, if not consistency, then what role do laws play according to Realists? Purely pragmatic? i.e. "We'd rather there weren't laws, but since there are, we have to know how to get around them."

      Because, laws do force a certain basic degree of consistency. Even considering Oliver Holmes' hyperbolic quote, you'll still no doubt concede that a Judge is limited by the rules to some degree. A particular judge may decide that Justice demands the death penalty for a particular serial-Burglar, due to his repeated offenses and the damage he has done to society. Nevertheless, if the penal code offers only 25 years to life, then the Judge cannot rule according to his own subjective opinion in this case. i.e. laws force a certain degree of consistency

      In RPGs,the benefit of having some amount of starting rules is clear. Try running a game with no initial rules, only based on rulings. You could do it, but you'll waste a lot of time re-inventing the wheel, and the result will be less intuitive/streamlined than rules that were devised and play-tested in advance.

    3. Try running a game with no initial rules, only based on rulings.
      Of course, I did a load of this when I was 6, but I actually did exactly this again some years ago in college - rules-free and diceless. The players had character sheets but mostly as visual aids. It was fast and fun and free. The main tool I had for making it work was saying "yes, but" to the players' proposals, which tended to turn cinematic actions into bidding wars. Combat in particularly was enlivened - if you just said "I hack at his head" then of course he'd block, so you actually had to get a bit creative about how you were distracting him or attacking from an unexpected direction.

      The critical point: it required trust and fair-mindedness, from everyone present. Same as the point above, really. If you've got it, you can do anything. If you haven't, then you can probably find a way to spoil a game of checkers.

    4. The clue is in the name: they were realists. Obviously the next step is to call into question the rule of law itself, as you are doing here, and that is what the Critical Legal Scholars did in the 1960s, but none of the realists were interested in that: remarkably for scholars in any discipline, they were actually interested in real life and real consequences (probably because nearly all of them were actual judges for their day jobs). Obviously, judges are constrained by rules on sentencing and on the type of remedies they can give. But those are in most respects the least interesting aspects of judicial decision-making.

      The point is really that you can always distinguish facts. The facts are never the same from case to case. So there is always a reason to prefer this precedent to that, or to apply this rule differently to that, and the huge body of rules available mean that a judge can basically pick and choose according to the decision he wants to make. And this is what they do, according to a realist.

      This was reality as they saw it, and they were interested in what to do next, once you'd recognised the reality. (This mostly led them to judicial behaviourism, i.e. looking at the factors - psychological, political, prejudicial - that lead a judge to make decision x rather than decision y.)

    5. @noisms interesting. Thanks for giving us legal tyros a look at this interesting topic.

      @richard sounds like a unique game, almost a story game. I suspect your game may make a good argument in support of rules. i.e. there's something dissatisfying about having all actions adjudicated by DM fiat.

      If the DM is in a good mood that day, then you're more successful, in a bad mood, then you're less successful, etc. If he's already determined that the bad-guy escapes then he escapes. If he determines that the party will have to flee then he arranges matters so that they will likely decide to flee. The rules keep the DM honest and keep him from leading the game in a linear story sort of path.

    6. @Billy Maybe. But since your objections are based on distrust of the DM's abilities, I wonder if you simply don't believe in trust.

      In this case the stakes are low: you merely have to trust that everyone wants to make the game as fun as possible, and that they also know that, to the extent they do things to nullify each others' interactions, they will be reducing the overall fun.

    7. @Richard You are right :) I don't even trust myself as a DM, and if it weren't for the rules, I fear my games would quickly devolve into the most banal of railroads.

      When I am DMing I often have my preconception of "how things are going to go in this encounter". If it weren't for the rules("oh damn, that stormtrooper just got a lucky roll and killed a PC") then I would probably just rule according to those preconceived notions.

      So yeah, I definitely value the DM's Human ability in running the game(and it takes considerable ability--it's not something you could just write a computer program to do).

      But there are also things that Humans are bad at(generating randomness, thinking outside the box, overcoming preconceived notions, etc.) and the rules help the DM overcome these weaknesses and keep the DM honest.

      Typically we view the DM as refereeing the interaction between the Players and the Rules. I say the Rules are also refereeing the interaction between the Players and the DM!

    8. That's a good point actually, one of the things I love comparing is adversity in rustbelt and apocolypse world; in rustbelt, you go as GM to grind players down, and the rules give them ways out. It's like classic call of cthullu GMing, except the rules make heroism possible.

      In Apocalypse world, you can play it all friendly, and then the rules keep telling you to bring adversity, so you can be like "oh sorry, here's this horrible thing".

      In one case, the rules are being sort of like conflict mediator, in the other, the rules are being a conflict instigator.

      If your more of a "lets build together" kind of guy, then random generators of grisliness or apocalypse world style moves add exactly the right extra note, they force you to hold people to things and add random extra nastyness.

      If you're an "oh no you don't" conflict-bringing GM, then mechanics that add options and ways to get round your conflicts are what you need, to force more flexibility into your games.

    9. @Josh So I actually meant to write "...between the DM and himself!" but you give some pretty good examples of "...the Players and the DM!"

      I'm surprised. I've never played a game like that where the GM-Player relationship is an adversarial one. I suspect that if I were to run a game like that, then all my players would up and leave!

      But I suspect that even CoC doesn't see it as a purely adversarial relationship. I remember reading parts of "Masks of Nyarlathotep" where it actually makes suggestion how to keep the players alive, or help them to find the clues, etc.

      So my suspicion is that a Horror game like CoC expects the DM to wear two hats. One is that of the sadistic adversary, releasing inhuman horrors at his PCs. The other is that of "benevolent demigod" who makes sure that they don't get immediately slaughtered, so that the game can proceed.

      Anyway, you give great examples of the dialectic between rules and GM!

    10. Noisms says:

      "American legal realism was, in essence, a call to be open about why judges make the decisions they make - and the reason is never a matter of rules. It is always a matter of what the judge thinks is just in that instance, what he thinks the ramifications of his decision will be in society, and what his biases and preconceptions are. Once we recognise that, we can move on."

      The problem is that this assessment of judicial decisionmaking is patently false, and fails as a model of legal "realism." Actual judges often rule in ways that conflict with their personal sense of justice because they feel bound by the "rules." For example, Judge Janice Rogers Brown's concurring opinion in this case.$file/11-5065-1368692.pdf

      Judge Brown starts with "I agree fully with the court’s
      opinion. Given the long-standing precedents in this area no other result is possible," and then goes on to explain why she thinks the existing precedents are stupid and unjust, and should be overruled.

      Not that I think such strict rule-following conventions are appropriate in the RPG setting.

      On that topic, I think you're conflating GMs who slavishly follow a rule in any circumstances, regardless of its nonsensical and/or unjust applications, and people who favor a "tightly written ruleset." One can favor a more detailed set of rules without feeling the need to apply them in unjust circumstances. Frank wasn't arguing that there should be fewer laws, he was arguing that judges (and the legal system) should accept that judges have discretion, and modify common law rules that lead to unjust results.

      I realize that *you* favor a stripped down RPG ruleset, but people who don't aren't necessarily more likely to apply rules in an unjust way.

    11. Er, in what sense is your example a refutation of anything? Brown is doing precisely what Frank was criticising. Remember, "what a judge thinks is just" is only part of it, and clearly Brown has allowed her other personal biases and preconceptions (a too-strong emphasis on the importance of precedent and a desire not to rock the boat) to influence her decision more than she has allowed her sense of justice to.

      It's impressionistic, of course, because nobody can see inside Brown's head, but that's why the realists became interested in judicial behaviourism.

      I realize that *you* favor a stripped down RPG ruleset

      Not a bit of it. I think you're misunderstanding me. Crunch is great. I love Rolemaster. What I'm critiquing is the desire, most notably exhibited by the designers of 4e, to remove discretion as much as possible and try to create a system which would work in the same way no matter who was DM. That's got nothing to do with the number of rules.

    12. You said, describing legal realism, that the reason judges make decisions is "never a matter of rules." In a comment response you said

      Judge Brown's decision is one in which she followed the rules, even though she thought the result was unjust. This suggests, contrary to the characterizations in the post, and many of your statements in the comments, that judges actually do follow the rules, not just decide the result they want then manufacture a rationale afterwards.

      Re: Crunch, I am apparently mistaken about your thinking, sorry. I do think that Monte Cook's quote is talking about crunch vs. lack of crunch, not about discretion vs. lack of discretion.

    13. I accept when I said it is "never a matter of rules" I should more accurately have put it, "never a matter of objectively applying rules".

      That said, I think you have to draw a distinction between what the judge says about the reason for their decision, as opposed to the real reasons, which is something you are not doing. Again, this is why the realists became interested in judicial behaviourism.

      Have you read the decision of the court of first instance? Do you know what its fact-finding methods were? Do you know who the judge was, what his rulings in previous cases like this were? Do you know how other district courts have interpreted the Milk Regulatory Equity Act 2005? These are obvious starting points if you're interested in knowing why the initial decision was made. (I'm intrigued to know why you picked this case as your example, by the way. Is it somehow famous in your neck of the woods?)

    14. I guess what I'm reacting to is the distinction you identify ("never a matter of rules" vs. "never a matter of simply objectively applying rules"). I think its very important, and largely glossed over in your arguments, but I think we're more-or-less on the same page now.

      I'm not sure what you're getting at with your questions about the trial court. Because this ruling involved a dismissal of the plaintiff's claim as a matter of law, the trial judge would have made no findings of fact. He would have made his decision based on the allegations in the plaintiffs' complaint, just as the appeals court judges did.

      I absolutely agree that the reasons a judge gives for her decisions are not necessarily her actual reasons. And I certainly accept that any number of factors could have influenced Judge Brown (and the other judges involved in the case) when she made her decision. It may be that her father was run over by a milk truck and she hates dairy farmers. But when a judge takes the time to write a lengthy concurrence saying "I hate this result, but I have to reach it because of the rules," I'm inclined to believe her.

      I only chose the case because I had recently read it, and the unusual concurrence stuck in my mind--it's not a particularly famous or important one as far as I know.

    15. @Billy, I should probably qualify that. When I say classic CoC, I mean "classic round here"! This probably means, "weird and non-traditional"!

      I won't go into much detail because it's pretty off topic, but basically the GM holds back on monsters and lethal threats, and amps up opportunities to make horror checks.

      Thriller rules basically; there's danger you can mostly avoid, but probably not face directly, and you keep ending up in it's path (in this case because you're trying to investigate it). The world is frequently not saved, as people die or go insane at the last hurdle.

      It's pressure on the characters mainly, to grind them down and produce sparks, that's only pressure on the players to the extent that you as a player get into it, with nice psych rules to play out going mental.

    16. @Ivan: You may be inclined to believe her, but I'm interested to know why.

      As you probably know, a lot of legal realist discourse focused on the "real rules" (the considerations that really guide judicial decisions) versus the "paper rules" (the legal ones). Oliphant, writing in the 1920s, was already talking about how the explanations judges give for their decisions actually probably obscure the real reasons and the "real rules". So if you are really interested in why decisions are made, the last thing you want to look at is the judges' own rationalisations and speechifying.

      This is why I raised those questions about the court of first instance. You could easily raise more. How have judges found in similar cases? More widely, what is the Milk Regulatory Equity Act for? Who supports it? Is it viewed favourably in society? What are the "institutional patterns of behaviour" surrounding it, as Moore would put it?

      In this case the claim was dismissed, as you point out, but that doesn't obviate any of my questions. As you can see, the dismissal seems to hinge on the interpretation of such tests as "easily ascertainable", "decisive distinction", and "facial plausibility". (I didn't read the decision particularly closely but those leapt out at me.) The judges in this case rely on precedent to help them interpret those terms. But it is always possible to distinguish based on facts; why did they choose not to here? Ignore what the Judge Brown said about why she made the decision she made - look at the pattern of how similar cases have been handled, look at how her and other judges have ruled in the past, look at what the ramifications of a different decision in this case would have been.... A realist would say that you can't begin to understand the reason for the decision until you look at all this and more.

  4. Or you could caricature an Islamic legal process and start from those things Gygax wrote, those things he said, those that he implied by his actions and lived example, and those on which he remained silent.

    Thank you for writing this post. It makes sense to me, but then I was already in the fold.

  5. Interesting, I disagree with that view on the law, and I wonder if that matches my disagreement with the view of GMing too..

    The way I'd put it, (and I'm sure there's a specific legal theory that covers this) one of the strengths of a legal system over a single judge is the ability of the system to develop over time.

    If judges or GMs just make rulings, then all kinds of longer term feedback loops cannot apply, such as legislation made because of the social effects of previous forms of ruling, precedents based on special details of other cases, whatever.

    There's a whole world of institutional processes which could embody information the judge doesn't have at his disposal, just as he may make different judgements of fairness further down the line, so the system can make different judgements throughout history.

    But maybe not better ones, of course!

    Even so, the fact that a judge has to bend to fit his stuff to tradition, that he has to find justice in the structure he has inherited, means that he can be forced to take into account considerations that are valuable but not as important to him, that he would otherwise depreciate compared to other more pressing interests.

    Even if he does it from the basis of lip service, he should probably fool us into thinking he's taking it seriously, because of the way that very action will embody historical lessons. Dropping the pretence means dropping the process of making matches, because it removes the expectation that divergences should be sufficiently small as to be concealable.

    But looking at that, I'm not sure GMs should be under the same pressure! Not quite the same scale.

    In my book, the only reason to give a GM rules is because you have hard won advice that they may take a while to get, or because you have a way of playing that is different to the one they would naturally go for, allowing them more breadth in their GMing.

    And it won't be exact a lot of the time, but if those rules or ruling patterns or whatever are good, then striving to meet them will raise your game, if only because you seek to replace them with something of equal depth and logic.

    So it looks like my opinions on law and GMing do match, roughly.

    Also, explicitly writing these things out as explicit tasks and considerations can be helpful for creating tools, but I don't think that has any legal parallels!

  6. If judges are supposed to make decisions based on what's just, it seems like that would require them to have some algorithm to work out what 'just' is?

    If they're going to actually achieve their aim of being just, surely that would require them to have not just an algorithm, but the best one (whatever that is)?

    So it seems like these guys are saying that judges should have and apply a common set of rules ('the best algorithm for deciding what's just').

    These theorists seem to be saying that it's common sense that judges can't, don't and shouldn't apply one set of rules (the law).

    But they seem to be saying that it's common sense that they can, do and should apply another set of rules ('the best algorithm of justice'), without any explanation of how the two sets of rules are different.

    1. OK, reading your article again, they also seem to be saying that the law is 'a fiction', but (implicitly) saying that 'the rules of justice' aren't, without explaining why the two are different.

    2. I think you're misunderstanding - it's a bit more radical than that. It's not that there is a set of rules called "the best algorithm of justice" which get applied instead of the law. It is rather that each judge has a different idea of what would be just, or the best decision, on a given set of facts. And they decide the case based on that. There is no common set of rules at all.

      (Of course, fictionally there is a common set of rules - the law - but it is not real and not the basis for judicial decision making.)

    3. So why do they think this is good?

    4. It's not so much that it is good as it is that it is true; the argument is that recognising it is good.

      That said, it was the view of people like Holmes and Frank that it was mature, adult, and grown-up to move away from the need for a "father figure" in the form of rules. A truly adult society is one which makes decisions based on experience, not strict application of rules, and crucially is one which accepts this. It is wisdom and experience and an awareness of implications that results in good decision making. Not rules.

    5. But laws are not "fictional" just because judges don't always faithfully adhere to them. One can criticize a judge's ruling if it does not fit the rules. When that is done formally, it is called an appeal.

      This kind of argument can easily lead to legitimizing arbitrariness.

      Theoretically, the "deciding what is just" part is supposed to be handled by the legislators (whether that is Solon of Athens, Moses, or the elected representatives of the people).

    6. Brendan, I think you've just managed to set out *exactly* the mindset Jerome Frank was arguing against in 1939 or whenever it was he wrote Law and the Modern Mind.

      Decisions in appellate courts are even more about the judges' own preferences and philosophies and ideas about society than those at first instance, because that is the point at which legal rules become completely divorced from facts and take on a life of their own.

      The argument that legal realism leads to legitimizing arbitrariness is an argument about the nature of the rule of law that I'm not particularly interested in getting into here. It's certainly how you get from the rather hard-nosed and pragmatic Oliver Wendell Holmes to the radical and rather awful nihilistic people like Duncan Kennedy who came along in the 60s. The only point I would make in response is that it's not a question of legitimizing arbitrariness; it is a question of recognising the inevitability of arbitrariness.

    7. Noisms: "The only point I would make in response is that it's not a question of legitimizing arbitrariness; it is a question of recognising the inevitability of arbitrariness."

      I think the problem is that you're characterizing legal realism in a way that does suggest legitimzation of arbitrariness. My understanding is that legal realists sought to explain how judges actually make decisions, recognizing that the process was not wholly (and perhaps not even mainly) based on "rules." Descriptive, not normative. The way you're describing it is not merely descriptive ("Judges, basically, ought to be free to make any decision they deem proper, unconstrained by the need for 'legal clarity' or undue respect for rules and principles that have no real basis in reality."). That quote makes a normative claim in favor of arbitrariness -- that judges should rule as they please, not as they believe legal rules dictate.

    8. I think there is a subtle distinction between "arbitrariness is good" and "arbitrariness is inevitable so let's have judges be open about the reasons for their decisions rather than pretending they are applying rules objectively".

    9. Is it really about "arbitrariness"? If you ask the Judge to explain his opinion, I doubt he will see his own views as "arbitrary".

      The fact that there are multiple, valid ways of thinking doesn't make them arbitrary.

  7. More relevant to role-playing, in the example given I would have wanted the rules to say something like "the powder takes 2 rounds to clean off by hand, unless some quicker means is used such as conjuring a Wind spell."

    So you have an answer, but the DM has 'permission' to change the answer if required.

    1. But what's wrong with DM Bill ruling that powder takes 1 round to clean off by hand, and DM Jane ruling it takes 3? What would be wrong with that?

      And what about changes in facts? Is the 2-round rule for somebody wearing clothes? Or armour? If the former, shouldn't it take longer if the person is wearing armour?

      It's all discretionary, and DMs will make their own decisions on their own idea of what would be best anyway, so let's assume good faith on their part and leave them to it.

    2. Because most DMs want an answer in the rulebook.

  8. Good post. I'm sitting in the choir. That gets me wondering how much the corporate, voiceless author of rule books exacerbates the fiction. Are we humans more willing to disagree with a more personal voice? "Ach, that Gygax and his weapon speeds!" I'm thinking probably yes.

    That's why I love design notes. If Monte Cook designed a rule mechanic I want to hear his thinking on it. Whether I use the same mechanic or not, his thoughts will certainly inform my thinking on it.