Monday, December 17, 2018

No One Cares How You Game At Your Table (So Just Play The Way You Want)

As I've alluded to before, I spend a lot of time on social media and on various boards talking about games. I share my work, I answer questions when I feel my knowledge is worthwhile, and I do my best to help where I can. However, I've noticed this thing that happens a lot in the digital world of game conversations, and it confuses me.

The scenario goes like this. Someone, either in the main body of a post or in a comment, will talk about how their table has changed a particular rule, or about how they would rule something as a dungeon master. Then someone else points out that their house rule, or their ruling, is not in-line with what's actually in the book, or the official errata from the game's creator. This makes it a house rule, rather than a by-the-book ruling.

Then a huge argument breaks out.

Hey, I didn't start this flame war!
Now, I'm going to say something that shouldn't be all that controversial; pointing out that something is a house rule is not the same thing as saying someone is playing the game wrong. It is simply an acknowledgement that the rules at your table, and the rules in the book as they're written, are different. That's it. It is as close to an objective fact as you can get in the world of RPGs.

If someone has a problem with the way you run things at your table, then you need to ask yourself two very important questions:

- Question #1: Do you value this person's input?
- Question #2: Is this person sitting at your table?

Assuming the answer to both of these is no, you should ask yourself a third question... why do you care?

It's Your Table, Play It Your Way

As long as there have been RPGs, there have been players arguing over how to play the games. However, I can guarantee you that no one out there is upset knowing that somewhere in the world there is a table playing their game, breaking all the established rules, and having fun doing it.

So why are you wasting your time defending yourself, and what makes you happy? Instead, take that energy, and plan your next game session with it!

Stupid rules lawyer, eh? I'll show him how this rules lawyer builds a kickass dungeon!
There is no wrong way to run a game. If you run all the rules as they exist in the book, and that makes you happy, then do that! If you change up your players' hit points and race bonuses, but the rest is mostly okay, then do that instead! If you overhaul huge portions of the rule book, and that is just fine with your table, then shine on you mad bastard!

Curmudgeons have been with us since the start of the hobby, whether they take the form of by-the-book purists who prosthelytize theirs as the one-true-way to play, or anarchists who claim that no rules matter and it's all about your creativity. There are hundreds of different approaches, and if you have found the one that works for you, then you (and the rest of your table) are the only ones who have to enjoy it. And if someone fundamentally disagrees with you about something like this, that's great, because it lets you know not to invite them to your table.

Remember that this holiday season as we all unwrap our new dice and start planning our campaigns. Because the phrase "house rule" isn't derogatory, you are free to change whatever you want, and if someone who doesn't have an invitation to your table has a problem with it, then you can keep on scrolling and leave them shouting into the void. You've got a game to play.

That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday post. Hopefully it helps some folks out there when it comes to perspective, and remembering that you don't have to engage with things if they aren't helping you. For more of my work check out my Vocal archive, or just go to my Gamers page for all my tabletop articles. You should also head over to the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio where I get together with other gamers to make videos for players and dungeon masters alike!

To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And if you'd like to support me you can Buy Me A Ko-Fi, or go to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to throw a small tip my way every month. Or, if you're looking for something to satisfy your hunger for books, you could stop by My Amazon Author Page where you'll find all kinds... like my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife!


  1. Most of the discussions I see on the FB DMs groups are always fairly productive. I often ask questions about what others do, and field my ideas about my own homebrew rules. There are always a couple of idiots, but generally, I have found them very helpful. Otherwise, I agree with most of what you say here. Wishing you good gaming!