I have been gaming since I was eight years old. I have always enjoyed the stories that are created throughout the experience of game play, the advancement of my characters as they gain wealth, equipment, and renown, and I have enjoyed the power of weaving my own tales as the Game Master, a.k.a. the GM. That is the focus of today’s topic: Rule Zero.
This is the first of a two parter on the main rules of being a GM. The first, and most vital, rule is Rule Zero. This is the be all, end all rule a GM exercises from the start of the gaming session to the end of the gaming session. Rule Zero is this: The GM is God of his/her game. You are the creator of the world to which your players are exploring. You decide when it is day or night, sunny or cloudy, summer or winter. You decide if your players are perceived as the heroes or the villains. You are the Lord Almighty; you giveth and taketh away.
What is it?
This is a very powerful rule that you, the GM, will wield and it must not be abused. Any game you choose to run will have a Core Rulebook. The Core Rulebook is the foundation of the game and contains within it almost all the answers to any question you, or your players, may have to a situation during game play. However, these rules are merely guide lines. You as the GM can choose to replace any given rule or add rules should you choose. But, and this is coming from an experienced game player and GM, you really only want to do this to one or two rules. You are not out to re-write the entire game. If that is what you want you may as well design your own game.
When to use it?
The main reason for Rule Zero is to remind the players that you, the GM, are in control of the game, not the players. When you make a ruling the players don’t like or immediately begin to quote lines from the core rulebook, and you will have players like this, enter Rule Zero. But, again, this is a very powerful rule and constant use will just upset your players. So, when do you use Rule Zero? For me, I have had to use it a LOT for a certain player in my games mainly because he comes up with the most outrageous ideas for magical items. Per the rules he can do it and has the gold to make it. But for him it is not about total enjoying the game, he just likes to break the game. The things he makes takes the challenge out of the game. Thus, I have had to use Rule Zero. One player left out of check can ruin the gaming experience for all just as easy as a GM.
This concludes Rule Zero. Stay tuned for Part Two.