Remember When: Making Up The Rules in RPG

Hey folks. This is my first post for Bleeding Fool and I wanted to start off slowly and introduce myself, talking about games I like to play and maybe even things I am reading from time to time.


Let’s start with where I’m coming from.


I’ve been gaming for most of my life, starting at a ripe old age of 8, where I picked up my first die, playing the D&D Red box, which his commonly referred to as “Moldvay edition” because he was the writer/editor of that edition and with all the editions that came out of that time period, its easy to refer to the edition with the author name then say “Redbox D&D”.

From there my little mind started to grow and I quickly moved into other games along the way, such as Marvel Superheroes, DC Superheroes and Star Wars (d6). During this time frame as I was growing up and learning more and more about gaming (and life), I earned my nickname of “The Evil DM”.




Well, I learned the ins and outs of the games I was playing so well, I figured out ways to twist the rules to my liking, that players enjoyed playing in my games, but they also feared doing the wrong thing in the games I ran. I had kind of a Lawful Evil attitude towards my games. While I was like this, I was still rather fair in my judgement calls and rulings, heck I am pretty sure I was, because I always had full tables of people ranging from 5 to 10 people at a time. It was a fun time back in those days.


Fast Forward many years later and here I am in my ‘40s (yep, old) still playing the games I loved to play as a kid. What’s even better a lot of people are right there with me playing games from ‘80s and ‘90s with me.




The games from this era and decade were written for people who like to discover the gaming world on their own, like to decide how the flow of the game should be and not have someone define everything out for you, and of course preach why you should do it.


Preach. Yes.

The new editions, while I’ve played them and even ran a podcast for over a year for 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, preach agenda, from HOW to play, to who should be at your table, and if you don’t do these things you are not a good person.


Example of what we don’t need in books. People can play whatever they want, do we need this feel-good signaling paragraph in the book? No.


Will Wizards of the Coast come storming to your house, grab your books and say you can’t play?


Will Wizards of the Coast send you a Cease & Desist letter because you decided to break apart the rules, remove things from the book and make up your own rules because you wanted to have a fun time?


NO, no way in hell and if you think this will happen, you are nuts.


The problem does not lay in the gaming company themselves, it’s the drones of new gamers coming into the hobby with little to no experience, having everything hand fed to them, everything defined exactly which leaves nothing up to the imagination.


That is the problem.


This alone causes various people in the hobby to take a step back as they have been playing a certain way for years and years only to be told by someone who is barely in the gaming community for a year, screaming at them saying, “THE BOOK DOESN’T SAY YOU CAN DO THAT!”


While I know NOT every gamer is like this, I’ve certainly run into a lot of gamers like this, especially when I open my games to the public at say the comic book shop or the local gaming store.


Which brings me to another problem, which I can explore at a later date of why I think Youtube shows like Critical Role are hurting the community more then helping it, due to the expectations they are setting for new players.


Now, back to what I was saying and the point of things.


The book is just a guidelines of things that are possible, and is not the be all end all of what could happen. You are only limited by your own imagination in games, and if the book doesn’t cover a certain thing, JUST MAKE IT UP!


It’s what we’ve been doing all our lives.


When we were kids playing the street or backyards, playing ‘cowboys & indians’ or just plain WAR! We didn’t have any real rules we just played and made crap up as we went along through out the day.


Did we argue about things? Yep. Did we fight? Yep, did we all come back the next day and do it all over again? You betcha.


So let’s wrap this up with it’s your game, your rules, as long as everyone is on the same page and agreement, who cares what the book says, right?


Vince The Evil DM

Raised in the '80s and enjoys all RPGs, DC Comics and movies that don't push agendas. The Evil DM is an Ennie Award winning writer that has over 25 years of experience in tabletop gaming, is the host of various RPG Podcasts, including Roll for Initiative and Roll High or Die! He also has his own youtube channel where he hosts gaming advice for the OSR Movement.