Four Principles For House Rules

Mike Shea has published an updated version of his Four Principles of House Rules post at Sly Flourish. First published in 2009, Mike explains the four principles he advocates:

  1. Keep the goals clear
  2. Keep House Rules simple
  3. House Rule on the GM side
  4. Keep it Compatible

The full descriptions of the principles can be found in the post.

While I can see where Mike is going with #3, I’d argue that a House Rule shouldn’t be a House Rule until it’s agreed upon by everyone at the table, GM and players together. Trying something out at the table to see how it works isn’t really a House Rule, but an experiment, and unless the table reaches consensus about using it, then it becomes codified as a House Rule. The key part there is the codifying of the rule, and using it going forward. Yes, it can be argued that a GM can make a House Rule on their own – “My table, my rules” – but that doesn’t often engender good group cohesion unless the House Rules are clearly explained to the players up front before playing or before being introduced into play. Failing to do so can actually hurt a game and a group because it’s just the GM exerting their will to do what they want without player buy-in and this may lead to breaking the trust that is needed at the table between all parties.

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