Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Less is More" or "More is Better" - How Do You Like Your Rules?

I touched upon this in a G+ D&D 5e thread earlier today, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this: "Less is More" and "More is Better", is in my mind at least, The Great Divide amongst games and gamers alike.

See, under Less is More, the GM is more of an Arbiter of the Rules. You have a framework of rules that cover (hopefully) all of the major points. The less common rules issues may or may not be covered. That is where The Arbiter of the Rules comes in. The GM makes a common sense ruling and the game moves on.

Obviously under the "Less is More" style of gaming, each group will evolve it's own set of houserules, so even groups playing the same game aren't playing exactly the same game (much like the early years of D&D and AD&D).

Under the More is Better approach to game building, the desire is to have an established rule for just about any event that may come up. I like to think of D&D 3x and even more so 4e as this type of game. In this case the GM is the Enforcer of the Rules. He's not there to make decisions or interpret, he's there to make sure everyone at the table is following the game rules.

More is Better is certainly geared towards organized play, as every group will be running with the same set of relatively unadulterated rules. This allows players to move a character from game to game and expect the experience to be fairly similar across tables.

I've used D&D editions for examples because they are an easy way to point out the differences, but it applies to all RPGs to some extent.

I suspect D&D 5e is trying to straddle the line between the two. It's a dangerous line to walk, as the two sides are not natural companions.

So, where do you lean? Do you lean differently as a player than you do as a GM?


  1. Less is More Better.

    At least when there is a GM. Because the GM becomes the rulebook.

    In wargames, without a GM or Ref, I prefer More. Because trying to mutually arbitrate gray areas of the rules becomes a matter of who has the more forceful personality or is a better arguer. Not qualities that lead to an enjoyable game.

  2. You know that you are arguing like Monte Cook?
    Have a look at this:

  3. I prefer a more DM as Judge kind of ruleset: in fact, I'm finding that ACKS is my preferred sort of game. Enough rules to run it, with enough flexibility and vagueness for me to make my own rulings.

  4. I'm experimenting with both playstyles side by side right now, with a revival of 4E at my game tables on one week, followed by C&C the next (and I'm phasing out Pathfinder, which being 3.X I have once again burned out on). There's merits to both....I admit one of the compelling "features" for me about 4E is that it allows for minimal prep time and an easy suite of tools to design fairly elaborate games; ironically of course, so does the less is more approach, which I'm getting from C&C (and possibly from DCC if I can coerce my players into trying it). So right now I'm focusing on two games at opposite ends of the spectrum that have the same net effect: letting me enjoy them with the very limited time I have right now to prep for games.


Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition