One of the biggest issues I've seen around a gaming table is actually getting characters involved in the unfolding plot. Typically once everyone finds a reason to get involved, or a plot hook they're comfortable biting on, the game will be off to the races... but sometimes getting over that early hurdle can be a frustration.
For GMs and players alike.
|Ogre raids? Sounds like a whole lot of not my problem.|
That's why this week I'd like to introduce a concept that can really help make a game go more smoothly. Some folks might be familiar with it, but for those who aren't the term is Rule 303.
For those looking for another useful term, check out "Force Multiplication" is a Useful Idea For RPGs. And to make sure you don't miss out on any of my releases, consider signing up for my weekly newsletter!
Means, Opportunity, and Responsibility
The short version, according to Beau of The Fifth Column, is that Rule 303 means that if you have the means to hand, and the ability to help, then that implies you have a duty to get yourself involved in a situation. The term sees a lot of use among military contractors, as well as active duty folks, but you can apply it much more broadly than just in the profession of arms. If you see someone choking in a restaurant, and you know the Heimlich maneuver, you go over and help them expel the blockage. If you're a tall person and you see someone shorter struggling to reach a top shelf, you offer to get the thing down for them.
If you're a musclebound barbarian with a greatsword, and you're on-hand when bugbears are raiding the countryside, you unsheathe that beast and go to work.
Something else to remember is that this trait can manifest itself in a variety of different ways. For example, a character might be genuinely altruistic, and their desire to help people means they can't just walk on by if there's a serious problem that they have the means to fix. A character might be getting involved because it's a good excuse to show off, or because they think there could be a reward in it for them. It might coincide with a vow they took, or a core tenet of their faith.
At the end of the day, though, the player should ask themselves the first two questions of the formula. Because if you have the means to help, and you have the ability to help, then that suggests you also have the responsibility to get yourself involved in whatever nonsense is going down. Justification beyond that can't hurt, but if you jump in with both feet it makes the game go a lot smoother for everyone concerned.
And for those who are looking for some inspiration for characters who may have sworn oaths, accepted contracts, or who are simply part of an organization that would make them getting involved in solving problems easier for you to spin as a player, you might find some inspiration in some of my following supplements:
- 100 Random Mercenary Companies: From disciplined ranks of sellswords, to free-wheeling soldiers of fortune, those who want to embody the origins of Rule 303 can find plenty of inspiration in these free companies.
- 100 Knightly Orders: Whether you're a protector of the realm, or you're a wandering knight errant seeking to help the needy and protect the weak, this collection is full of orders you can swear your service to.
- 100 Secret Societies: The world at large doesn't need to know why you're helping out in this matter. And if you want to have a little cloak-and-dagger fun, these secret societies are always a ball to add into your history, and your game.
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