Shawn Fisher, co-author of GURPS High-Tech and GURPS WW2: Hand of Steel (among other published works) posted a comment to the thread on rules-lawyering that somehow bounced from Blogger. He contacted me offline with the comment, which was fairly extensive – too extensive to be buried in the comments!
So here’s more fuel on the fire. I anticipate restrained and level discussion.
The very point of rules is to help narrate an adventure game. No GURPS writer will ever be able to write rules that are perfect: That’s an impossible standard. In addition, GURPS authors aren’t trying to do that anyway. GURPS has an official play style that is very important.
On Basic Set p.492 it says a GM listens
“to the players describe what they’re doing, then use the rules of the game to tell them what happens, so they can describe what they want to do next . . .the sections below will help you, as GM, determine “what happens next” in a variety of situations. But the most important things are not “rules” at all, but guidelines for good GMing. Use common sense. When any rule gives a silly result, follow common sense instead. No matter how much we playtest, no rules are perfect – including these. Don’t let the players turn into “rules lawyers.”
So the rules are intended for mature people, playing a cooperative game, who are willing to use common sense to fill in the gaps – or fudge results – and who can handle their own problem solving. It says that right on the tin. If you are unhappy with that purpose, play another game: GURPS will never make you happy.
Robin Laws, in his book published by SJGames, says,
“What really makes a difference in the success or failure of a roleplaying session is you. Your participation, whether as GM or player, has much more influence on the fun your group has than all of the game products in the world. Rule books are not roleplaying games, any more than a screenplay is a movie.”
So, yes, if you like a particular play style that is at odds with what GURPS writers are doing, according to company editorial guidelines, you are “doing it wrong.” If you expect the rules to provide “the fun,” Robin Laws thinks otherwise. Ken Hite and many others will likely agree with us, and not with you. That’s fine. Ignore us all. But do not come and bang on our door and whine and cry and hair pull that it’s not working for you. It’s never going to!
Also, understand that no amount of thinking, writing, editing, thinking, playtesting, re-writing, editing, will produce a set of rules that cannot be misunderstood. Rules are not objective – they are by their nature subjective. Ever read a grammar book, and then the commentary on grammar styles? Game rules are no different. People will inevitably misunderstand the rules. It’s the nature of language. GURPS authors aren’t paid to answer questions on the forums. If we do show up, it’s out of a sense of love for the hobby, and nothing else. I can’t tell you how much “fun” it is to be chided on the forums by people who don’t write books and who can’t read the rules. Or buy the products. Nothing in any of that experience is fun, I assure you.
Finally, let me say this. People that have a problem with game rules and playing in a cooperative game often have other problems in real life. This is not directed at anyone in this thread, but it has made me think.
I’ve been a gamer since the 1980s. I’ve never met a bad gamer who was a success in real life, or who didn’t constantly have problems with relationships and employment outside of gaming. I’ve met good gamers who were well-adjusted and had successful careers, but the worst rules lawyers and the most argumentative people to ever sit at my gaming table were not the doctors, lawyers, professors, teachers, engineers, and career police and military officers. The worst offenders were pizza delivery drivers, convenience store clerks, and stock room workers, or the unemployed. This is not to deride those jobs (I did those things, and worse, in my college years), but rather to say that there is in my experience some correlation between politeness, propriety, and group cooperation and the ability to hold down a steady job that pays a decent wage. Gamers that do not have real life success often game to experience success through escapism, and when that too is denied, the response can be vicious. Often the very same people who showed up without snacks, a character sheet, or even a character name (call me Bob) were also the ones most intent on misconstruing the rules, mis-adding character points, and generally being a nuisance in other ways.
Again, I’m not accusing anyone here of these things, only recalling my interactions with bad players. Make of it what you will.
Finally – and perhaps a bit tangentially – the point of a blog is to post one’s opinion, free from censorship of others. Doug’s blog is his place to speak. If a person comes here and posts, it’s like standing in his living room. Be respectful of his space.