Wednesday, October 13, 2010

M.A.R. Barker on Rules Lite

I came along this quote from M.A.R. Barker the other day about his next steps after dropping the needlessly-complex Swords and Glory second generation rules for adjudicating his wonderfully baroque Tekumel:

"After awhile, I began using the simplest possible system with my own gaming groups. As my old friend, Dave Arneson, and I agreed, one simple die roll is all that one needs: failure or success. The players don’t really care, as long as the roll is honest. Who cares if I hit with the flat of my shield, with the edge of my shield, or whatever? The story’s the thing!

A low score on a D100 roll denotes success; a high score signifies failure. A middling score results in no effect, or an event that is inconclusive. Thus, an 01 denotes the best possible result for the character, with perhaps more goodies than he/she bargained for: the foe goes down with one blow, the spell hits the exact target, the character easily swings up onto the mountain ledge. A 100 (i.e. 00), is a total, horrible flop, perhaps death or destruction: e.g. the opponent cuts our hero down, the poison works, the climber falls screaming off the cliff. A 45-65 = a natural result; the fight continues, the struggle to climb the peak goes on, and the like. A sliding scale from 01 to 100 gives all sorts of interesting ranges of success/failure."

There you go, no real rules just a ref and two ten-sided dice. Take that inveterate rules tinkers.


  1. Interesting quote. When is it from and where did you find it?

  2. @cyclo
    It's from the Runequest Con booklet of all things. A nifty little piece of nuggets on the beginnings of OD&D and the evolution of Empire of the Petal Throne over the various systems.

    I'll likely post some more savory bits from it tomorrow.

  3. I would love to get a copy of that. Thanks for the quotes. Looking forward to tomorrow.

  4. I know this is an older post, but that is a great quote. :)

  5. That's how it was done - I can attest to that from my own experience in Prof. Barker's basement.