What it Means to be RAW

2022-Aug-23 -> from the this-is-not-what-it-seems department Tags: roleplaying dnd worldbuilding 

RAW is an acronym frequently used in tabletop role playing games that means “Rules as Written”. It describes any rules for a game, as they are written in a rule book or manual. This is how most people start with tabletop role playing games. You pick up a player’s handbook, read through the rules (or at least part of them) and then get a group of friends together, make characters, and play.

This is where things get murky, though. Almost nobody plays these games one hundred percent RAW. Groups are filled with little quirks or modifications to the rules. Game masters tweak the rules to their liking, or fill things in when RAW has a gap. The truth is, because of the frequent use of house rules in these types of games, almost nobody plays them RAW.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a rules lawyer. I’m the type of game master who leans heavily on RAW. I find that the more I stray from RAW, the greater the chance that I’m potentially going to make the wrong call or a controversial call on a rule while playing. I like to be fair with my players, and the goal, first and foremost, is to have fun. Consistent rules means that player expectations get met, and it’s rare that somebody is unhappy to see a rule as written in a book.

Lately though, there’s been a trend. I’ve seen heavy criticism against game publishers who don’t fully flesh out every nook and cranny of their rules system so that every possible situation can be handled. I think this is unrealistic and has the chance to make things un-fun very quickly. Too many rules in a game makes things overly complex. It means players spend more time hunting through rule books trying to find just the right rule to handle a specific situation than actually playing the game.

The goal is to have fun, after all.

I think if a publisher can give a framework for a system, and fill in some of the details, or give examples, it leaves a lot of flexibility open to the game master to decide how to handle things. So long as the game master doesn’t have to basically invent the whole rule system themselves, I think this makes for a decent system. Give the high-level overview of the rules, and enough detail to run a smooth game without getting mired in the details. Then let the game masters fill in the rest. In my experience, that’s what good game masters do anyway.

As a player, trying to insist that every game master adhere strictly to the rules as written can lead to arguments, and potentially robs the game of its fun. Most tabletop systems specify that it’s ultimately up to the game master to decide what rules they do and don’t follow, and many systems offer optional rules that game masters can choose to use. It’s about flexibility, because not every player and game master experiences the game in the same way.

One of the first questions I ask game masters when I join their group is: are there any house rules I should know about? I don’t like surprises, and finding this out up front means that I can be comfortable when I want to try something, or use a specific attack or ability, and won’t get blindsided by a house rule that could derail my attempt to play my character the way I want to play them.

Ultimately, players and game masters find a balance. Some groups are very strict with RAW, and others are very loose. Making sure your players have appropriate expectations means fewer surprises during game play, and less potential for hurt feelings when things inevitably don’t go their way. The dice are sometimes cruel.

Always remember: no matter what, the goal is to have fun, and if you’re a game master, to make sure your players are having fun. Whether you follow RAW, or make it up as you go, I hope all of your die rolls end up in your favor.

Thanks for reading!

I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.

Don't forget to join in on the conversation in the comments section below.

0 Comment,

Growing Up

2017-Sep-15 -> from the it-had-to-happen-eventually department Tags: personal writing 

This was going to be a very different post, but I'm not sure I'm ready to post anything like that just yet.

As a writer, I hold myself accountable for the work I do (or fail to do), but honestly, I haven't been doing that lately. Loads of people know that I write. Not everybody knows the honest status of my current projects.

Them: "How's the writing going?"

Me: "Oh it's fine. I'm getting through it."

Lies. I'm not getting through it. I've been having a lot of trouble focusing on writing, and part of it is just the nature of how my mind works. It likes to focus on one thing at a time. The sad curse of it is that it doesn't always focus on one thing to completion. Sometimes it gets distracted and decides it wants to focus on something else for a while.

I hate that.

What it means is this: all I can focus on is what my brain tells me it wants to focus on. Sometimes it's card games, sometimes it's a particular video game, and sometimes it's writing. But lately, it's been mostly not writing.

I have to work hard to stay focused on things that aren't what my mind wants to focus on. Everything is a distraction. Everything else becomes more interesting than what I'm choosing to work on, and then that's not interesting any more either, until I get back to what my mind wants to do. It's a genuine struggle.

So there hasn't been much from me lately.

There's probably a name for what I have. Ask my wife, and she'll express her frustration at a husband who can be so focused on something trivial like reading an article or playing a game, that nothing else penetrates that shell. But what's worse, is that a subconscious part of my brain tries to shield me from the outside world by providing meaningless responses to external stimuli.

Her: Says something important that I should really be listening to.

Me: "Okay."

Her: "Are you even listening?"

Me: "... OMG I'm sorry."

It requires effort to shift my focus, and then effort to shift it back.

Thing is, you... my loyal subscribers. My fans. The people who support me. You deserve better. My wife and family deserve better as well.

I'm trying.

NaNoWriMo is coming up soon. This will be my 8th year attempting it. Last year I barely scraped in, but I managed to finish. This year? I haven't the slightest idea what I'm going to write. I've barely even given it any thought. Heck, I've barely thought about the writing projects I have going on already.

So here's my commitment to you, as an author: There will be something new published by me in 2018. And it will be my best yet.

For your support, for your patience, and for all you've done for me, you deserve it.

Time to bleed.

Thanks for reading!

I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.

Don't forget to join in on the conversation in the comments section below.

0 Comment,

Breaking out of a Slump

2015-Sep-7 -> from the it-happens-to-all-of-us department Tags: personal writing 

I'm coming out of an epic two and a half year slump, and trying to recharge some of the things I used to do. This happens to everyone at least once in their life, and sometimes more than that. Slumps (or unproductive, often depressing periods of time) can be very demotivating, and require tremendous strength to pull yourself out of. Here are some of the things I tried when I was at the worst of mine.

Change the Scenery

Sometimes, something as small as a new paint color on the walls is enough to make you feel better about your work. For writers, it's important to do your work in a place where you're comfortable, and the color on the walls affects you and your mood more than you might realize. Other ways to change the scenery would be to go to a local coffee shop to work, or just change which room you're in. A change in scenery can make a big difference in your mood, and subsequently improve your productivity.

Work on Something Else

I know we all have projects to get done, but forcing yourself to work on something won't do you any favors, nor will it do your work justice. Writing (and other academic activities) requires a clear head, and novels require a certain mindset. The characters need to speak to you, and if that isn't happening, you'll frustrate yourself. So switch gears. Write a blog post, or do something non-writing related. I started playing Magic: the Gathering again, and though this does take up some time, I find devoting some time to a leisure activity can help bring your mind back to a productive place.

Take a Break

I released my last book in spring of 2014, and though I participated in NaNoWriMo last fall, I pretty much tossed everything I wrote then. I've also been trying to get The Spell Breaker done, but I needed to back away from everything writing and just focus on sorting out my life. This should definitely not be a permanent situation though. Taking a break from your work, and coming back to it when you start to feel better can help lift you up even higher, and you might just find that it was just what you needed in order to finish that big project.

Get Help

Talk to somebody about what's bothering you. I'm a very lucky person in that I have a very understanding wife who listens to me, and helps me through this stuff. I don't know what I would do without her. Find somebody to talk to. It doesn't have to be your spouse, or even a family member. It could be a friend, coworker, or even a complete stranger. Seeking professional help is also helpful, especially if you find yourself falling into a deep depression. Luckily, my slump never went that far, but it could have, and it does for some people. If this is happening to you, you're not alone; there are loads of people who are willing to listen. Give them a chance.

Don't Give Up

Whatever you do, don't ever give up on yourself. It's challenging to break out of a downward spiral, but it can be done, and you definitely don't have to do it alone. Keep telling yourself that you can do it, and keep looking for a way out of the depression. If none of the things in this post work for you, search for other answers, or try them again. Yesterday's setbacks can become tomorrows gains. Above all else, know that you and your work are worth it. Success leaves you with a very good feeling, no matter how small the success may be. If you've been having trouble just getting up in the morning, and you're out of bed now, that's a win.

If you have any other suggestions as to how to break free from the slump, please share them below in the comments. You never know when your suggestion could help get somebody else's life on track.

Thanks for reading!

I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.

Don't forget to join in on the conversation in the comments section below.

3 Comments,

Current WIP: approximate numbers only, working titles
The Spell Breaker:
65% (Writing... 64,860/100,000 words)