Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em: A look at a Ron Edwards explanation video/a rules first/fiction first debate

This is actually a reasonable explanatory video for deploying various extra rules – it could apply as much to D&D and when to give advantage or disadvantage. But to me it’s painful in how it avoids giving a rules first answer. It’d be much easier to just say that you have rules that make the effects better and you have rules that make things worse – you can just apply them like you might sprinkle a topping on a pizza if you want to. And that putting the nicer topping much more often than the less palatable one is a ‘spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down’ thing.

Like it’s rules first – you can add these things. Then it’s situation and social context – ie things that are suggestions for bringing in these extra rules. It’s so much simpler and straight forward to think in these terms.

And I would get if someone wants to try and consciously try and keep asking setting questions as if to answer should they add on a bonus or malus. Like they want to deliberately make it as if the situation that decides this – to treat it as if it’s totally the setting that decides if the gas blast can hit multiple people or if it’s totally the setting that means the gas blast is dissipated in the wind. To put on a show!

I don’t think Ron is doing the following here but gosh it gets close and yeah, I think he’s trying to reach people who do the following, BUT…

The video treats it as if the situation TELLS you whether to use the bonus or the malus. Not ‘as if it tells you’, not like make believing it tells you – but that situation just freakin’ directly TELLS you whether to use that bonus or malus and in an absolutely objective way.

Gosh that hurts my head to think about – to think about trying to game that way. Not only the subjectiveness of imagined worlds, but the largely intangible imagined space being treated as if it’s as reliable as a ruler, for goodness sake! When heuristic treats itself as objective measure.

Then again I’ve discussed about rule first/fiction first with Ron in the distant past at the forge forums and IIRC Ron went with fiction first. So maybe that is happening here – the subjective being treated an an objective way of running the game? Or if it’s ‘a bit of both’, well for once that doesn’t do you any good here, I think. If there’s any ill effect to trying to treat it that situation ‘kind of’ objectively tells you whether to use the bonus or malus rules, it’s still gunna be there. Smoking half a cigarette doesn’t somehow mean the ‘not smoking’ half nullifies the negative effects of the smoking half.

Maybe it’s reaching out to gamers who want to treat situation as objectively deciding rules deployment – offering half a cigarette to the chain smoker?

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