A Month of Healthy Disrespect

It’s November, which means I’m doing National Novel Writing Month again. Since I’ll be spending most of my writing energy on something completely different, this blog won’t have any long-form posts this month. Instead, I want to elaborate on something I’ve mentioned a few times: my healthy disrespect for the rules of D&D.

The context in which I intend “healthy disrespect” is “the gaming system clearly intends and expects that I will use mechanic X, but it does not specifically preclude me from doing mechanic Y and I’m willing to tweak or ignore whatever’s necessary to achieve it.” It pertains to Law #1, the DM’s ability to do anything he or she wants, and Law #0, the responsibility of all players to keep everything fun, and it’s a step beyond simple house rules because it violates some core expectation of the game. That is, if I see a way to do something fun, I’m within my rights to make that happen even if it’s contraindicated by the system. Sometimes it works, and everybody has a blast. Sometimes it fails, and I’ve inflicted something on my players with nothing to show for it but the experience. In either case, I’ve learned something about what does and doesn’t work, and I can use that in future sessions to make them even better.

This November I’ll be discussing some of our most memorable perversions of adjustments to D&D as intended, both in campaigns I’ve run and campaigns in which I’ve played. None of these will be on the level of “abolish classes” or “switch to 3d6 instead of d20.” I’m not talking about system-wide changes, I’m talking about mechanics and ideas that might work for a set piece or adventure but should not be the basis of an entire campaign. As a warmup, please refer to the time I tried to play Dynasty Warriors in D&D 4E, a system definitely not designed for mass combat. I’ve taken the lessons from that encounter and I’m coming up with something I hope is a bit more palatable. I’m tentatively calling it the Fire Emblem session.

If you like anything you see, I’d love to hear about how it works in your game. If there’s anything you think you can improve, I’d also love to hear what you’d do and, ideally, how your version actually played. I think there’s a glimmer of success in even the biggest failures, and I doubt I’m the only person testing the limits of the rules.

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One Response to A Month of Healthy Disrespect

  1. Sempiternity says:

    Looking forward to this! Rules hacking for fun and drama is always the best.

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