What type of GM are you?

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When I GM, I prefer to:

Ignore existing rules in a system
0
No votes
Add house rules to a system
15
100%
 
Total votes: 15

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Tim Baker
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What type of GM are you?

Post by Tim Baker » Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:24 am

I recently read a thread on Facebook where a GM said he prefers removing/ignoring systems from RPGs over adding his own house rules. I feel the opposite. That made me curious about whether I'm an outlier or if the majority of GMs are tinkerers. What's your preference?

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Khedrac
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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Khedrac » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:08 am

And if your answer is "neither"?

There can be multiple reasons for this, examples include: playing so infrequently that you don't want to have to keep track of all the rules variants.
Playing with people who also play in multiple other groups so you don't want them to have to remember which fule variations are in play in this group compared with others.
Because you like to see if you can make the game work as written, rather than using it as a starting point.
etc.

Personally the approach I take depends on the system and the nature of the problem I want to get round. For example, when playing (AH)RQ3 I usually just ignore the knockback rule except for specific opponents; but when playing D&D 3.5 I like to use the massive damage rules (which are acutally core) threshold based on size (official variant) but fail = stun not death (house-rule).
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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Sturm » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:57 am

I usually try house rules, then I may end up eliminating some of them, or all :)
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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Giorgio » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:11 pm

I did not answer the poll due to its limited binary options; there are different degrees of rules adding, subtracting, modifying, creating, and “leaving good enough alone” that varies in every game system, GM & Player preferences, availability of source material, format (F2F vs. VTT), and time and frequency of play.

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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Havard » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:36 pm

I add house rules, but I've tried to limit these lately. It also depends a lot on what edition or game I am playing.

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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Zeromaru X » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:56 pm

I guess I do both, but it depends. On my playing group (are they my friends or a new group), wheter the game is new or old, etc.

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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Yaztromo » Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:59 pm

I do a bit of both. In general my approach is for simplification, so I sometimes remove complicate rules and replace them with simpler house rules. More often I reduce the number of options that can be taken at character creation (3 Special Skills instead of 8 Special Skills, etc.)
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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by timemrick » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:07 pm

I usually try to use the rules as closely to how they are written as possible, because I'm a firm believer that a certain level of rules mastery is necessary for experimenting in any informed and productive way. Put another way, I don't like to change rules until I have a solid grasp on how those changes will impact the rest of the game.

Currently, the majority of my gaming is Pathfinder Society organized play, where strict adherence to the rules is mandatory. Some scenarios include variant rules in order to speed up play within the fixed time span (one scenario we'll be playing next week uses simplified mass combat rules, for example), but the GM isn't allowed to substitute their own house rules if they don't like how the author presented the challenge.

I play a bit looser in my home game, but I still try to keep to the rules as much as I can. None of us (including me) has mastered every part of the rules. Keeping it "by the book" helps us all learn the rules better, and avoids having to make any major paradigm shifts between sessions of the home game and PFS (which everyone in the group does regularly now, too). By sticking close to the official rules, the two venues do a lot to help reinforce rules mastery for each other.

Finally, almost none of of my so-called "house rules" are actually new homebrewed game mechanics. Instead, they are guidelines to character creation, or they point out tweaks to available "crunchy bits" to better for the world's unique history. For example, in my "Time of the Tarrasque" home game, I have a Character Creation page that notes what sourcebooks are available for player use, what optional rules we're using (I recently introduced background skills from Pathfinder Unchained), which races have had their racial traits tweaked to better reflect my own world's unique history (some have altered bonus language lists, others have subraces with alternate racial traits, etc.).
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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Tim Baker » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:05 pm

Khedrac wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:08 am
And if your answer is "neither"? There can be multiple reasons for this.
Totally fair. I know this isn't a scientific poll, but I was just looking to get a sense of where I fall on the spectrum of GMs.
Giorgio wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:11 pm
I did not answer the poll due to its limited binary options; there are different degrees of rules adding, subtracting, modifying, creating, and “leaving good enough alone” that varies in every game system, GM & Player preferences, availability of source material, format (F2F vs. VTT), and time and frequency of play.
That makes sense. Based on feedback, it sounds like I should've spent some more time thinking of better options. For some folks, it seems that they see the question and immediately know what side the fall in. For others, the answer would need to be more nuanced, and that's completely valid.
Zeromaru X wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:56 pm
I guess I do both, but it depends. On my playing group (are they my friends or a new group), wheter the game is new or old, etc.
Sure, I can see that. I should've added verbiage to say "for your game system of choice" or something similar. Even then, it likely wouldn't have been enough to allow some of the detailed answers that others want to share. So perhaps an "other" category would've been a good idea.

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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Tim Baker » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:08 pm

timemrick wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:07 pm
Some scenarios include variant rules in order to speed up play within the fixed time span (one scenario we'll be playing next week uses simplified mass combat rules, for example).
I'm always interested in simplified mass combat rules. Are these available online? Or in a particular product? Would you recommend these rules?

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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by timemrick » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:28 pm

Tim Baker wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:08 pm
timemrick wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:07 pm
Some scenarios include variant rules in order to speed up play within the fixed time span (one scenario we'll be playing next week uses simplified mass combat rules, for example).
I'm always interested in simplified mass combat rules. Are these available online? Or in a particular product? Would you recommend these rules?
The mass combat rules for Pathfinder debuted in one of the Adventure Paths (KIngmaker, I think?), and were reprinted with revisions in Ultimate Campaign. (I own the latter, which also appears in the PRD here.)

The adventure we're playing next week is Pathfinder Society Scenario #5-24: Assault on the Wound. I haven't yet seen how its simplified mass combat rules compare to the full version. (I really need to reread that chapter in Ultimate Campaign before next Tuesday, so that one more person beside the GM will be at least passingly familiar with them...)
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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Baron » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:44 pm

I do both. To simplify, clarify, or less often to expand. As you probably know, gaming hobbyists have been tinkering with rules since way back in The Day. You wouldn't have seen all thise third party products, "new" games, or all the "osr" activity if folks weren't tinkering. You wouldn't have heard Gygax throwing a fit about folks not following the rules. It's pretty easy to type up a House Rules doc for your players. I tend to stick close to the rules, myself, bit I don't look at adding as being different from subtracting.

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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Tim Baker » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:51 pm

timemrick wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:28 pm

The mass combat rules for Pathfinder debuted in one of the Adventure Paths (KIngmaker, I think?), and were reprinted with revisions in Ultimate Campaign. (I own the latter, which also appears in the PRD here.)

The adventure we're playing next week is Pathfinder Society Scenario #5-24: Assault on the Wound. I haven't yet seen how its simplified mass combat rules compare to the full version. (I really need to reread that chapter in Ultimate Campaign before next Tuesday, so that one more person beside the GM will be at least passingly familiar with them...)
Thanks! If you don't mind, share your thoughts and then link to that post here, so I'll see how it goes.

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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Tim Baker » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:54 pm

Baron wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:44 pm
I do both. To simplify, clarify, or less often to expand. As you probably know, gaming hobbyists have been tinkering with rules since way back in The Day. You wouldn't have seen all thise third party products, "new" games, or all the "osr" activity if folks weren't tinkering. You wouldn't have heard Gygax throwing a fit about folks not following the rules. It's pretty easy to type up a House Rules doc for your players. I tend to stick close to the rules, myself, bit I don't look at adding as being different from subtracting.
Those are good points. I wasn't playing D&D in the early days, so I've only heard about the amount of tinkering that went on second hand. Adding or removing rules are like two sides of the same coin, I would say. But stylistically, I feel like there's something different about the way a GM approaches a game if they find themselves tearing content out frequently vs. adding content in. There's no right or wrong answer, and I'm sure lots of people fall somewhere in the middle (or don't do much if any house ruling at all). This was purely a question asked out of my own curiosity.

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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Dread Delgath » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:15 pm

Heh. Limited choices here, but I guess, if I do anything, I add house rules that sometimes affect existing rules as an ignore. More often than that, I supplant existing rules with my own.
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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:18 pm

I've never run my own game, but when I do, I like the idea of narrowing things down to the core 3rd Edition rules + converted core rules for Spelljammer conversions. That would probably already count as "house rules" from the point of view of your question.

But, even if converted 2nd Edition rules in a 3rd Edition game does not count as "house rules", I would also like the idea of having "special guest" extra house rules for entire crystal spheres (or individual celestial bodies - at a push).

One of the things that 3rd Edition does (that I quite like) is give Level Adjustments and Racial Hit Dice to monsters, and have rules so that they can be used as playable monsters, if a GM wants to include them. It's not quite a full system, as they don't all have Favored Classes (or an entire pantheon of gods - for Clerics PCs to pick from). So if I wanted to take an interesting monster race and turn it into a "special guess player race" for a certain place, I'd want to add some extra stuff to make that race feel as detailed as the standard PHB (and SJCS) races.
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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by zontoxira » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:17 pm

I was expecting to see options like "sadistic", "benevolent", "generous", "unforgiving" etc. LOL
Between those two, I lean closer to house rules; ignoring existing ones might unbalance the game. But what kind of rules are talking about? Minor ones I could accept going without, like no infra/low-light/darkvision to any race except for those that suffer from sunlight. On the other hand, major ones like spellcasting system, I believe can cause serious trouble to your table's gaming welfare.
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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by Tim Baker » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:37 pm

zontoxira wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:17 pm
But what kind of rules are talking about? Minor ones I could accept going without, like no infra/low-light/darkvision to any race except for those that suffer from sunlight. On the other hand, major ones like spellcasting system, I believe can cause serious trouble to your table's gaming welfare.
Yeah, the risk of unintended consequences increases as the "size" of the house rules increases. That could make another interesting poll: how much are you willing to stray from the rules in your own games? I'm not sure how the poll could quantify that, though.

Regarding the intent of my post, I was looking for generalities. Based on feedback here, it's pretty clear that most people's answer is "it depends." And for many, that's the best answer they could ever give. But for others, they've seen the pattern of more often adding vs. more often subtracting.

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Re: What type of GM are you?

Post by agathokles » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:59 pm

I like to tinker with rules (e.g., new skills, weapon masteries, and classes in BECMI), but in practice I tend to stick to the basic rules or even simplify them a bit (e.g., I usually drop the to-hit bonus associated with weapon mastery).

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