Monday, 10 November 2014

The Creator and Final Arbiter

"It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules, which is important. Never hold to the letter written, nor allow some barracks room lawyer to force quotations from the rule book upon you, if it goes against the obvious intent of the game. As you hew the line with respect to conformity to major systems and uniformity of play in general, also be certain that the game is mastered by you and not by your are the creator and final arbiter." 

- Gary Gygax, Afterword from the 1st edition DMG

These words hold true for (nearly?) all role-playing games, not just Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Rest well, Gary. You are missed.


  1. I love those words. It is a shame that he periodically slid to a place of "play exactly by the rules, do not add anything to them or take anything away from them." Alas, that just proves he was a human being and not always consistent (nor are any of the rest of us). He was a brilliant man and a great story creator. He shall be missed for many years to come.

    1. Yes, I never quite understand that contradiction in the way he wrote about running a game. But I do like the quote from the Afterword, which I suppose gets to the nub of things. Yes, the DM should interpret existing rules and produce house rules, but the DM should also aim for a 'uniformity of play', presumably in order that players can make meaningful decisions against a fixed (even if only for that table) 'world'.