Main Logo Jonny's House Rules
Contents Here it is, my personal list of rules, no-nos and general principals. I'm not saying that these are the way's people should play, merely the way I like to play.

If you disagree with anything I say, great! Drop us a line on letters@criticalmiss.com and let us know your thoughts.

Play In The First Person

This is a fairly simple one, and I think that nearly all groups play it this way, so I won't labour the point. Which of these sounds the most natural and flowing to you?

"Jarvik walks over to the alter and picks up the sword."

"I walk over to the alter and pick up the sword."

Me? I prefer the latter.

Dialogue Stands Alone

When a player says something, he or she is generally doing one of two things:

Describing what his or her character is doing.

Saying what his or her character is doing.

Some people might like to explicitly distinguish between these:

Games Master: "You enter a dark crowded tavern. A barman stands behind the bar cleaning tankards."

Player: "I walk up to the barman and say: 'A tankard of your finest ale good sir!'"


However, I'd say that in about 99% of cases, especially where people are making some effort to act out a role, it is completely obvious whether they are describing an action or speaking a line of dialog. You therefore don't need to speak in such a structured, "written", fashion.

The above example then becomes:

Games Master: "You enter a dark crowded tavern. A barman stands behind the bar cleaning tankards."

Player: "I walk up to the barman." [Switches to his character voice] "A tankard of your finest ale good sir!"


WARNING:- It is important if you follow this house rule that people make some attempt to have a "player voice" and a "character voice" otherwise it can get confusing. What I am about to describe, actually happened in a game that I played in (in this case it was the Games Master that failed to "distinguish between action and speaking):

We were playing in a city adventure. Someone had been killed, and we had managed to corner the man we believed to be the killer in an alleyway. We began to question him:

Players: "Why did you kill him?"

Games Master: "He walks backwards."

Players: [confused] "You killed him... because he walks backwards?"

Games Master: "No, no. When you asked him the question, he started to back away from you."


If You Said It, You Said It

One thing I particularly dislike is players ruining the atmosphere of the game by making smart arse comments out of character. To stop this, I use the "If you said it, you said it" rule. By this, I mean that if you as a player say something that sounds like a line of dialog, and is made in response to something that has just occurred within the game - I treat it as something your character has just said.

(This really follows on from the previous rule).

Initially this might cause some unpleasantness within the game:

A team of noble paladins draws up outside the locked doors of an ancient temple. An old monk emerges from a shack beside the doors.

Games Master: [In old man voice] "I am the keeper of the Doors of Enlightenment. Only those who pass the Riddle of Truth may receive the keys I hold. Do you choose to take the riddle?"

Player (playing Sir Jenn the Good): "Fuck off Grandad and hand over the keys or we'll do ya!"

Games Master: "The old man looks up in horror." [Switches to old man voice] "It is clear you ride with the Dark Ones in your heart. You shall not enter!"

Player: "I was joking! My character didn't actually say that! Paladins don't go around threatening to mug old geezers!"

Games Master: "You'd think..."


You Don't Need To Interrupt Me

There should never be a point where you will gain an advantage in interrupting me. If I am describing something, I am telling you, the player, what your character instantly perceives. In other words my several seconds of description occupy only a few tenths of seconds of game time.

I might say, for example:

"Suddenly, from the upper end of the sloped corridor you hear a deep rumbling boom. Turning you can see a huge boulder hurtling down towards you, its diameter such that it almost entirely fills the tunnel's width and height."


That is what your character perceives and understands almost instantly.

Of course, once I stop talking in my "descriptive" voice, and, switching into my neutral GM's voice, ask: "What do you want to do now?" there is everything to be gained by immediately speaking. The characters of those players who immediately scream: "I JUMP SIDEWAYS!" may well be regarded as moving before those whose players just stayed quiet!

But don't interrupt me when I'm trying to paint a mental picture of the scene.

That covers the mechanics of roleplaying. Let's now look at characters.

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