Worst Rule Ever

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Nov 26, 2008

Filed under: Tabletop Games 191 comments

I’ve already made it clear which rule I think is the most annoying in tabletop gaming. (Aside from the rules preventing me from hitting other people at the table.) But I haven’t played that many game systems, and I have never sampled the gaming systems of yesteryear. Certainly there are worse out there.

Topic for discussion: The worst rule you’ve ever encountered. Perhaps it breaks immersion. Or starts fights. Or unbalances the game. Or leads to excessive paperwork. Or it’s just, you know, stupid. Please identify the worst rule “ever”, and why it ruins the fun.

I’m very interested to hear the responses. Yes, I’m sure this is a terrific idea for a discussion and won’t lead to any flame wars or rancorous debate. I mean, this is the internet, and everyone is so nice here, right?

If you need me, I’ll be in my bunker until this thread blows over.


From The Archives:

191 thoughts on “Worst Rule Ever

  1. I vote for the fact that in D&D, if you roll a 1 on a saving throw, you STILL FAIL. In fact, I’m not really all that fond of the idea of critical failures to begin with.

    This becomes especially annoying at higher levels if you’re playing either a spellcaster OR a class with insanely high saving throws (paladin). As a spellcaster, it’s annoying because they seem to have used this crit failure rule as an excuse to give everything saving throws up in the 30’s and 40’s, much higher than even a wizard with godlike intelligence could ever get their save DC’s. So, unless the monsters or NPC’s DO crit fail, they are going to laugh all over your stupid little spell.

    As a high-save person, it’s amazingly annoying when you SHOULD just be able to laugh off a given spell, yet you roll that 1 at the worst possible moment and wind up getting your entire team killed.

    I don’t mind crit fails on attacks so much because you get another attack or chance to attack shortly, but with spells you usually only get one go so I’d prefer that it be a legit one.

  2. McNutcase says:

    I don’t really have a rule I hate that way. I will admit to usually scrapping encumbrance rules, for leading to paperwork and lawyering; instead, I run a system of “be reasonable with me, and I’ll be reasonable with you”, and have had no major problems so far with simply ruling “that’s ridiculous” or “Yeah, sure”.

    Although I recently picked up a GURPS 3rd sourcebook, and that has numerous little bits of crunch that are causing “Wait, what?” reactions. Most amusingly, at character creation, “Mute” is a 25-point disadvantage. Meanwhile, Social Stigma (Dead) is 20 points. Yes, apparently being unable to speak is 125% of the disadvantage of simply being dead… and to think I used to vaguely want to run GURPS. Now I want the core books, if only so I can laugh at them…

  3. Heph says:

    I think I have to agree with the critical failure/succes rules. In D&D that can sometimes be annoying, but luckily, you’re still working with d20s, so they’re not all that common.
    I’ve seen the same rule – 1 always fails, or the inverse, a top roll always succeeds – in games using d6s. Needless to say, this is horrible. If I’m not mistaking, it’s used that way in Bloodbowl, amongst others.

  4. McNutcase says:

    On critical failures, I think Savage Worlds scores well. It DOES have them, but not as often as you might think. With a minimum PC roll, you’ll critically fail once in 24 attempts, assuming fair dice (d4 and d6 both coming up one). Develop your skills, and critical failures will become rarer as your dice get bigger, since they only happen when both your dice say 1. At a maximum PC roll, that’s a d12 and a d6 both coming up 1, and that should only happen once in 72 attempts.

    Savage Worlds doesn’t have critical successes as such, but it does have exploding dice which serve a similar purpose.

  5. Strangeite says:

    Without a doubt that honor would go to the 4th level Wizard spell Stoneskin as written in 2ed AD&D.

    There is nothing in the spell that says they can’t be stacked and they don’t expire until used. A ninth level Wizard would grant immunity to five to eight attacks per casting of the spell. Without intelligence bonuses they would be able to cast the spell 2 times a day. Have a party of four camp out for two months so that the Wizard can keep memorizing the spell and suddenly (hahahaha) you have a party where each character is immune to the first 150 to 240 attacks. In theory, you could raid an entire dungeon and never lose a single hitpoint.

  6. Dev Null says:

    I once played a game which was written by a design team of a martial artist and a military doctor. I have no idea what it was called now, but it was so hideously detailed that almost any rule in the game would qualify – which probably means I’m cheating by pointing out the worst game _system_ I’ve ever encountered, instead of the worst rule. Lets go with the one that let you calculate which organs each thrust of your sword passed through on every hit; both for the tedious number-crunching, and the “ick” factor.

    Worst game mechanic I’ve ever encountered has to go to the original Shadowrun’s system of determining the difficulty of any task from three different inter-related factors: number of dice rolled, target number, and number of successes required. Especially because it _seemed_ so cool right up until you tried to use it for anything…

    1. Will Rhodes says:

      I think you’re describing Stalking the Night Fantastic. Or one of the other TriTac games. It is truly the worst combat system ever. We refer to it as, “Ow! He got me in the duodenum!” Yes, the duodenum was on the hit location table. Also, a hit could become a miss, if the body part hit was missing. You could also miss by rolling a hand hit, then getting a location past the tip of the thumb. Completely bonkers!

      All that aside, each of the TriTac Games has an absolutely awesome setting! I have run Stalking the Night Fantastic in GURPS and was considering it for Savage Worlds.

  7. BarGamer says:

    Yeah, I hate the “1 is always a fail” rule too. Think about it: No matter how good you are, you could be a Grandmaster in your craft, but if that 1 comes up, well, you just blew up your workshop. An arbitrary 5% failure rate, no matter what. Which is why I really appreciate rules that say you only fail on two successive 1s. Not “roll to see how badly you failed,” I mean the nicer one.

  8. ShockedMonkey says:

    THAC0 from AD&D drove me insane. Your THAC0 score determined what you had to roll to hit an enemy with an AC of 0. So, you roll your D20, subtract the enemy’s AC, and compare it with your score. It was a convoluted mess that caused more trouble at my table than anything else, never mind trying to teach a new player. “Wait, so my weapon should have bigger numbers to be better, but my armor has to be negative? What?”

    – Matt

    1. Sudokori says:

      If every person who regularly plays 3.5 can go through the huge mess of rules in 3.5 I think it’s pretty simple to remember one simple rule in AD&D. So stop whining

  9. henebry says:

    Savage Worlds is great fun.

    But to respond on-topic, I’d nominate the shotgun system from GURPS. Except I don’t understand the rule well enough to describe it to you. Suffice to say, lots of recordkeeping just to fire a 12-gauge.

  10. ShadowDragon8685 says:

    In Exalted, the Limit Break rules.

    No, not Limit Break from Final Fantasy VII. In FF7, if you Limit Break, you get to do some awesome ass move that kicks somebody’s ass

    In Exalted, if you Limit Break, control of your character is taken away from you, and you do something ‘epically flawed’ (in the Greek Tragedy sense) like cry in your tent because your best friend stubbed his toe whilst your army gets slaughtered for want of good leadership, or flip out, go berzerk, and try to kill your friends or some shit like that.

  11. David says:

    For Stoneskin: Dump bushels of rocks on their heads :)

    For that matter, where are they finding that much diamond dust? Stoneskin was not among the cheaper spells in 2nd, as I recall – and it did require a very specific component.

  12. onosson says:

    Thank you, thank you for that link at the top of the post! I had forgotten just how funny DMOTR was! I might have to go back and read the whole thing… which means no more sleep…

    Curse you, curse you!

  13. John Callaghan says:

    Not quite the same thing, but the most ignored rule (which is in every rulebook of every system): “these rules are only a guideline! Ignore them if you don’t like them!”

    Also not quite the same thing, but slightly more pertinent, is the XP system in the old Marvel Supers game. If you’re not saving bus-fulls of nuns each session, you get about 7XP. And it costs 125XP to improve even the smallest thing. One can imagine the training camps where bus-fulls of nuns are repeatedly flung at walls so that people can rescue them…

  14. Illiterate says:

    5% chance of unexpected failure, 5% chance of wonderful success.

    I like that rule. I liked it better in 3.x when they added confirmation of critical success.. Makes it easier to justify true critical successes.

    I’ve always figured we should have some sort of “confirmation” roll for critical failure, to distinguish between a minor unexpected failure and a major one.

    One extra die roll. I know it’s D&D, not rolemaster. There is no “critical failure chart”, with “sword disassembles for easy storage” on there. Just a confirmation roll to say “yeah, the dice really boned you”

  15. Nilus says:

    There is the classic Palladium system(Rifts and such) armor rule that goes something like this.

    No matter how close your armor is to being destroyed, it always absorbs all of the final impact damage.

    So basically a guy running around in a mega damage diaper can survive a nuclear bomb blast because his armor will absorb the entire damage(even if its just one point or armor). Stupid rule in system full of stupid rules.

    Second choice would be the Palladium to hit rules. You always hit on a 5 or better, but then the guy gets to dodge. Then he can try to parry(sometimes) and then he can try to roll with the impact for less damage. Yep thats 4 rolls just to figure out if someone was hit or not.

    Palladium truly has the worst system out there.

  16. Jeysie says:

    Hrm. While I can certainly think of some rules that are annoying… (AoOs, Grapples, basically any sort of “paperwork/roll-heavy” rules), I can’t really think off-hand of a rule that makes me go, “God, I HATE this rule.”

    The gripes here about critical failures drive home how weird my group is… while we don’t exactly love failures, we do embrace/accept how entertaining they tend to make things as matters go hilariously wrong and we have to dig ourselves out again. Whenever the DM offers us a choice of what to do, the response is inevitably, “Which will be funnier/more entertaining”?

  17. vdgmprgrmr says:

    I really like THAC0 in AD&D… It seemed convoluted when I first saw it, but once I DM’ed a session with it (and taught my player to use it) it became very simple. The only problem is that my player at the time was very intelligent, and picked it up quickly. But when an average person comes along, trying to teach it to them is harder. Still doable, but harder.

    As for the rule I hate the most; I don’t know. I could be snarky and say third edition D&D is my most hated rule, but that would be snarky. In 2ed AD&D, I would say the worst rule is encumbrance, because every time you pick something up or drop something, you’re carrying more or less, and you might be carrying a light load now, or a heavy load, or maybe you can carry it over your head or drag it… So I house-ruled it into oblivion. My new rule? If you’re strong you can carry lots, if you’re weak you can’t carry much. Yeah. It sort of goes with the rule of awesome; If it’s totally cool, do it. You’ll succeed. Trust me.

  18. Sam says:

    not so much D&D but the old warhammer and warhammer 40K (so sue me) rules used to have an entire game devoted to magic.. sorting out 200+odd cards to cast a single spell was a pain – you essentially played a secondary round of poker every magic phase

  19. henebry says:

    Illiterate: I don’t think critical failure is a rule in D&D 3.5. If you roll a 1 you fail at whatever you were trying to do. That’s it. The idea that rolling a 1 means you stab yourself in the groin, well, that’s a house rule if I recall correctly.

  20. Woerlan says:

    Worst Setting-Specific Rule: Robotech/Macross (Palladium Games) – The rule which states that a missile volley of 4 or more missiles cannot be evaded/dodged. This is despite multiple instances when skilled pilots in the anime would be shown to dodge missile swarms containing many more than 4 missiles. My group thought this rule was so stupid we dropped it instantaneously, unanimously, and without debate.

    Worst Game System Rule: GURPS – Every combat round is ONE SECOND long. One. Fricking. Second. This concept, while realistic, results in so many combat complications that it bogs down fights to insane levels, especially in epic, large battlefield combat. Whole rounds can go by without your character doing anything but move, or aim, or load. Often, such actions would have to be repeated over multiple rounds in order to complete them. There’s got to be an easier way.

  21. Robert says:

    I hate to just echo Shamus, but AoO not working for bows is just asinine. I’m carrying a pike, someone charges me from 60 feet away, and I get to whack him with my reach weapon as he enters the adjacent square because he left a threatened square. But if I’ve got 500 archers sitting and watching the guy pound across the empty field, none of us can get a shot off as he crosses 12 “threatened” squares. Idiotic.

  22. Tom Jones says:

    I want to second the critical failure nomination (I hate critical successes too, just not as much), for all the reasons listed above, and more. I hate critical failures not just as a player, but also as a GM because it supposes that players will never be in a situation where failure really is bad, and ultimately can discourage risk-taking. If you ask me, not succeeding at whatever task it is the player attempts is usually enough of a disaster, especially in a game like Call of Cthulhu.

    (I should specify, pace henebry, that I consider any kind of “automatic fail on a 1” type of rules to be of a kind with critical failures, since they are all in effect failures that do not reflect the character’s skill or the circumstances).

    It’s completely unrealistic, too. 1 in 20 is still ridiculously frequent, even 1 in 100 is far too often. While we might think it makes sense that there’s always a chance to screw up in combat, in the real world such critical failures tend to be far between. Top-notch trap-shooters can hit 400 targets out of 400 with no jams, misses, malfunctions, or self-inflicted wounds, Olympic fencers can participate in as many as 1000 passes or exchanges in the course of a tournament without dropping their weapons, fighter pilots can rack up hundreds of kills in wartime without any mechanical errors or navigational miscues, and Grand Prix drivers can go for hundreds or thousands of miles and around hundreds of turns without ever rolling out and crashing, or even bumping their competitors. And that’s in a world without magic, enchantments, and bonuses!

    There are plenty of other rules that really annoy me, though. I hated the old Vancian magic system in D&D almost as much as I hate the 4E approach, and in general I hate anything that encourages min/maxing and munchkins, although that’s probably more an issue with the system gestalt focusing too much on one thing, such as combat, to the exclusion of other mechanics.

  23. Dave says:

    Spell resistance in pre-4e D&D and related d20 games. Why does the monster get a saving throw to determine if it has to make a saving throw again? If the thing’s especially magic resistant, can’t it just have better saves?

  24. Vegedus says:

    It doesn’t seem bad enough to really warrant “worst ever” but the only thing that comes to mind right away is randomised character stats.

    In DnD, that would be specifically be rolling your attributes and rolling for hit points at level up. I don’t believe something as signifigant as your characters overall capabilities should be left to chance. Sure, it’s fun to roll stats, but if any sufficiently extreme roll shows up, whether high or low, a lot of the entire game won’t be fun for some of the players. When rolling attributes, there’s a lot of bellcurve and various failsafes you can apply. There’s neither with the hit die, short of getting rid of it and giving out a consisten value.

    Especially jarring is that in 3.5, you don’t have a lot of survivability at level 1. You could argue it’s realistic, since a single well placed sword slash can make most fall. If you’re the tank of the group, warrior or barbarian and get a low number when reaching level 2 and 3, you’re pretty much screwed until you get some more levels with some better rules.

    On another note, Henebry is right. Rolling one on the d20 is always a critical failure, it’s not necessarily a fumble. Dropping your weapon, stumbling, hitting a comrade, that sorta thing is a house rule. A house rule that is mentioned in the DMG, but never the less not part of the core rules. It is very popular, though, to the point assume it really is in the book.

  25. As a GURPS player, I feel the need to point out that McNutcase seems to have misunderstood his example. What he’s looking at is the *social stigma* of being dead. That is, if the dead person is otherwise normally functional (e.g. some sort of undead, or with cybernetics animating the corpse, or whatever), it’s nonetheless a -20 point disadvantage because people look at you funny and sometimes try to have you burned when you walk around dead. While distinctly annoying and maybe dangerous, this is still probably not as much of a pain as being mute, although that’s a judgment call.
    Other advantages and disadvantages relevant to being dead vary a lot, and GURPS tends to put together packages of them for particular types (zombies, vampires, whatever) but the specific problems that go into those packages remain distinct, making it a lot easier to come up with homebrew critters.
    Not to say there are no annoying or stupid rules in GURPS, just that isn’t one of them.

  26. Derek K. says:

    FYI, there are no crit failure rules in 3.x If you roll a 1 on a saving throw, you fail. That’s it. The rest are suggestions or house rules or misunderstandings.

    Additionally, the take 10 rule means that masters never fail unless they’re at risk (can’t take 10) or trying for a better roll, which suggests they’re outside their comfort zone.

    You people decrying GURPS have never seen some of the truly awful systems out there.

    My most hated rule is the Wish spell. Either you do nothing interesting with it, which is useless, or you do something interesting and the DM is encouraged to hose you.

    Also, templates with an ecl. The only ones worth considering are erpowered. You can’t be a halfdragon wizard, ever, if you want to be ever remotely accomplished.

  27. brian says:

    Death from massive damage in 3rd edition D&D. What a terrible, terrible rule. There’s three kinds of characters:

    A) characters with less than 50 hit points who die outright

    B) characters that can’t fail the DC 15 fortitude save

    C) characters that have more than 50 hit points that can fail the DC 15 fortitude save

    Sucks to be C. The rule is just mean-spirited.

  28. Kris says:

    November 26th, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Yeah, I hate the “1 is always a fail” rule too. Think about it: No matter how good you are, you could be a Grandmaster in your craft, but if that 1 comes up, well, you just blew up your workshop. An arbitrary 5% failure rate, no matter what. Which is why I really appreciate rules that say you only fail on two successive 1s. Not “roll to see how badly you failed,” I mean the nicer one.”

    Just an FYI, in 3.5 a roll of one on skill check is not an auto fail. The 1/20 rule only applis to attacks and saves.

  29. Derek K. says:

    Robert: I hate to start this, but Shamus wanted flames, so….

    I rather enjoy AoOs.

    And the reason you don’t get AoOs with a bow is that turn based combat is a simulation of real time. If you have a bow, you can do one of two things: Make attacks, and not shoot people running at you at the same time, or hold your attacks, and shoot people running at you (ready an action).

    You have a number of times you can shoot a bow, based on time. You don’t have a number of times you can stab someone, as such. That’s why a pike wielder gets an AoO – that simulates the fact that they are moving about and swinging all the time, and they see a chance to hit this person because of what they do.

    Now, the fact that ranged combat and melee combat have two different systems might be an issue. Melee combat simulates all the swings in to a single roll (or multiples, if you have iteratives), where as ranged combat simulates each arrow as one roll. Using that as your base, it makes sense that bows don’t get AoOs.

    But overall, I love AoOs. They are a tremendously fun sub-system of the game for me. Figuring out when I can and cannot do things, and making the tactical decision to take an AoO or not, and then planning who draws the AoOs because they have the best of survival, etc are all very fun. But I’m a tactical combat gamer. I get annoyed when my friends won’t put the minis on the mat, and just say “You’re about 20′ away. You can move in a way that won’t draw AoOs.”

    And I again second Kris who says “Just an FYI, in 3.5 a roll of one on skill check is not an auto fail. The 1/20 rule only applis to attacks and saves.”

    In fact, allow me to provide you a key link:


    Note the last sentence of the first paragraph (which is the SRD): Unlike with attack rolls and saving throws, a natural roll of 20 on the d20 is not an automatic success, and a natural roll of 1 is not an automatic failure.

    Skill checks don’t auto-fail. Attack rolls auto-fail, but don’t crit-fail.

  30. krellen says:

    I’ve got two.

    First are save-or-die spells. An ability whose entire usefulness is based on whether or not the GM rolls low is a bad investment, and on the converse side having your PC or epic Villain reduced to a single die roll is anti-climatic and un-fun.

    The second are the damage type rules in Palladium/Rifts. The MDC/SDC divide is perhaps the stupidest, most needlessly harsh system ever devised, especially when you start getting into creatures with “MDC structures” themselves.

    And then there’s the “typed” strength, where someone with a 20 Supernatural strength is somehow stronger than someone with a 24 robotic strength. Stupid.

    Nilus at #14 is right; Palladium is the worst system ever.

  31. Strigoi says:

    I can’t really say I “Hate” any of the rules I think the ones that really brings the game to a hault or caused the round to go longer then it really should have for my groups has always been the AoO’s. People not realizing if a creature has a 5, 10,15 foot reach to choose the place there going to in the room. Also the Grapple Rules have always got on my nerves. Never understood the point to have a creature with a 60+ grapple check. A situation comes to mind where I had a 20th level fighter with a bunch of feats designed for grappling. I remember rolling, adding everything together and getting a 48 and feeling pretty good with that roll and then the DM doesn’t even have to roll to know I failed.

  32. mixmastermind says:

    I play paranoia, so I would say needlessly complex rules about laser beams.

    Or perhaps too-serious players. Not really a rule, but still.

  33. Groboclown says:

    For me, the most convoluted rule system that I could never understand was how armor worked in Twilight 2000 – all kinds of charts and modifiers. I studied the rule books trying to figure out just how to hit something with a gun, let alone calculate what it did. I ended up just tossing out those rules and coming up with my own.

  34. Roxysteve says:

    I think the rule that says that yer average D&D player must turn off their attention span once the game starts so that something as simple as the AOO rule* causes trouble out of all proportion to its importance to the game. 90% of the problems I’ve seen with AOOs come from people not remembering that combatants get ONE AOO per combat round (unless they have a specific feat or ability that says otherwise). It’s not like it’s something hard like the order of winning hands in poker or the binding order of operators in “C” fer cryinoutloud.

    * The very sensible and on-target comments about archery notwithstanding

  35. James says:

    I went to an AD&D game once where the DM said “No quoting Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at the table. I never went back.

  36. Zaxares says:

    brian: I always found that rule pretty damn silly too. One time I had the party face off against an Ancient Black Dragon with like 450 HP and was an absolutely brutal melee machine. The paladin won initiative, charged at the dragon, and used Smite Evil (with a critical) for 70 or so damage. Rules demanded that the dragon roll a massive damage save.

    He rolled a 1.

    The dragon keeled over and died.

    Even my players agreed that it was awfully anti-climatic.

    Since then I use a home-brewed variant of the massive damage rule:

    In addition to the 50 points of damage you must receive from a single blow in order to make a massive damage roll, you also get to add your level AND your Constitution modifier. So that same Black Dragon, with 24 HD and a Constitution of 32, would have had to received 85 points of damage in a single blow before making a massive damage roll.

  37. Apathy Curve says:

    Dev Null: “I once played a game which was written by a design team of a martial artist and a military doctor. I have no idea what it was called now, but it was so hideously detailed that almost any rule in the game would qualify – which probably means I'm cheating by pointing out the worst game _system_ I've ever encountered, instead of the worst rule. Lets go with the one that let you calculate which organs each thrust of your sword passed through on every hit…”

    Would that perchance have been the Phoenix Command Combat System? The one with all the funny quotes in the margins? Like: “Welcome to the Red Temple membership drive. Get weapons and armor from the pile of bodies on your left. Fight’s down the hall to your right.”

  38. Ethan says:

    I’m thirding Palladium as a terrible system. Whenever I run a Robotech or Rifts game, I modify the MDC/SDC rules so that 100 points of SDC damage = 1 MDC. It doesn’t make sense any other way….

    Well, without completely trashing Sembieda’s horrific rule system.

  39. kathleenb says:

    The combat rules (particularly the area effect explosion) for Cyberpunk 2020 always drove me nuts. It’s a great, if a bit dated, setting, but the combat rules kill the fun.

  40. JKjoker says:

    i never liked the method of regaining spells in D&D, you depend on the dm too much to stay useful.

    sometimes a dungeon crawl would extend several sessions where the fighter and thief were at the top of their game during the whole dungeon, the cleric spent most of his spells after the second part but could still heal spontaneously with his you-never-use-them-but-need-to-memorize-just-in-case spells and could handle himself in a battle, meanwhile the wizard became useless after the first third, forced to use his VERY rare wands and VERY rare scrolls to stay alive (the dm wouldnt allow for long periods of in game time to stock up and the world was kind of low on magic items)

    this thing also shows up in computer games, you either can memorize everywhere whenever you want without penalty (in that case the wizards rule the land) or you can memorize maybe twice during the entire game (making them useless compared with any other class).

  41. Casper says:

    “The ogre hits you with his battleaxe (again) and deals 14 points of damage. Ok, you now have 45 hitpoints left. Your turn now.”
    A 5 point hit is a serious injury for character with 10hp, while only a scratch for 50hp character. Newer game systems try to explain that hp represents more than just injuries, etc., but it still sounds very unrealistic.

    In my homebrewed system I use, PC has 2xStrength hitpoints (usually 20). A single hit with an axe or gunshot can be deadly. If the attacker wasn't aiming, you also roll a d10 and see where you are injured. If the injuries are not treated you continuously loose small amounts of hp. To be exact, hitpoints represent blood in my rules.

    As for the encumbrance rules- they are not that bad. I only calculate the weight of weapons and armor they bring in battle- we assume the PC`s simply drop their backpacks with loot when a fight starts.

  42. Kevonovitch says:

    well, no rule specifically, except ones that sound+look+act like they were left open to interpertation.kinda like that whole attack of opportunity thing.

    oh, and this may sound stupid, but, alignment restrictions, except the DM always allows me to get off it with a good backstory and the right diety.

    what? i like being a CN monk :D

  43. Craig says:

    I tried to come up with something to say for this earlier but then realized that any annoying rule I generally forget the details of and either just make stuff up on the spot, or relegate a rules nazi, if one is available, to figuring it out while it isn’t their turn. I will say that AoO and grappling usually cause the most confusion at my table, but it never lasts very long.

  44. locusts says:

    I am currently running Dark Heresy, the 40K role playing game, and the rules that are frustrating me are the firearms rules. The whole skill system is a target number and percentages, similar to Palladium. A semi or fully automatic weapon gets multiple hits, one extra for every full twenty points your number is under the target number. Easy enough to figure out. Shotguns have a rule called scatter, which does the same thing at close range. The fun thing is that there are semi and fully automatic shotguns in the game, but no explanation as to combine the effects. Why give the game the ability to do both and not give a rule to cover both?

  45. WindBlade says:

    In wargaming, I have to say 2nd edition 40k’s ‘jump-pack scatter’ rule. any model with a jump-pack or similar nominated their landing point, and then rolled a d6″ and a random direction to as to where they actually landed. Normally, your doing this with ten men squads… and you rolled the scatter SEPARATELY FOR EACH MODEL

    This slowed down the move a lot, led to lost models as people landed on impassable terrain (or each other), and could really wreck a carefully planned charge (these were mainly given to assault troops) leading to at times only one or two of your ten-man squad actually making contact with the enemy, or could find a carefully aimed leap into cover left you exposed to lots of heavy weaponry.

  46. Evlkritter says:

    I think AoO is an interesting idea, but I have only encountered a situation where it came up once in my gaming career.

    Worst rule, hmmm…I can’t think of any true abominations, but Thac0 frustrated me because it slowed down combat (only the DM has coherent 2E knowledge), and of course the “1 damage always passes DR” rule. It just bothers me that EVERYTHING and ANYTHING can be pennied to death.

  47. Eric says:

    The thing that breaks immersion for me isn’t a rule, though it should be: called shots. This was made even more prevalent to me during my brief(thank goodness)time with modern d20. A player’s character was a sniper, yet as a sniper he can’t 1 shot kill anyone by those rules. I also feel the same away about being able to call shot on enemies limbs. It always just bugged me, people can throw fireballs, but an archer can’t take a couple minutes, aim, and kill them, neither could a sniper I guess.

  48. Noumenon says:

    Also the Grapple Rules have always got on my nerves. Never understood the point to have a creature with a 60+ grapple check. A situation comes to mind where I had a 20th level fighter with a bunch of feats designed for grappling. I remember rolling, adding everything together and getting a 48 and feeling pretty good with that roll and then the DM doesn't even have to roll to know I failed.

    My answer is don’t add the defender’s BAB on grapple checks. Why should your base attack bonus help you on defense anyway? This gives a cleric like a 1-in-8 chance to escape a grapple (instead of 0.01%) and a fighter might actually want to stay in the grapple because he can actually do something when he’s the attacker (like moving the grapple or using the other guy’s weapon against him).

    My least favorite rule is the fascinate mechanic from D&D 3.5. My first character was a rainbow-themed wizard who took all the hypnotic patterns and stuff. Little did I know how useless they were! You can’t use them in combat, because the sight of your buddy holding a sword breaks the fascination. You can’t use them to sneak past groups, because one of them always makes the save and he can shake the others awake. And they don’t work on zombies or insects or plants. My wizard sucked for half his career, just because he assumed the spells in the PHB all actually did something.

  49. Shadowrun’s success system with its cascading dice remains very odd. For some reason it often works OK in practice, but . . . take the example of a +2 difficulty modifier.
    If the number you needed for success before was 4, you now need a 6; on 6-sided dice, you will succeed one third as often with a +2 difficulty. Big change.
    On the other hand, if the number you needed for success before was 6, you now need an 8. Now, on a roll of 6 you reroll the die and add–so technically you can’t roll 6, only 5 or 7+. You’ll roll 2 or more 5/6 of the time, so a roll of 6 will result in at least an 8 5/6 of the time. Very small change.
    At the high end, increasing skill just can’t compensate for increasing difficulty; you’re only going to roll a 12 one time in 36 on average, and getting enough skill + dice pools to be rolling 36 dice is kind of hitting the ridiculous end. Yet difficulties of 12 are not that unlikely; they don’t seem to represent the kind of tough that should require a superhuman to succeed. Skill just doesn’t scale the same way difficulty does, and at the high end it really breaks down.

    I have to admit that in practice, things always seem to work out better than they ought to. Dunno why.

  50. Character creation in Traveller has to be experienced to be believed.

    The fact that reasonably easy to die during the phase which in D&D would be called “rolling up your character” is actually the least of its problems.

  51. Germelia says:

    I’m really annoyed by the no-casting-spells-8-hours-before-you-prepare-new-spells-or-they’ll-be-substracted-rule in DnD 3.5. It really makes the work of a good cleric with a deity who associates itself with sundown impossible.

  52. Khizan says:

    D&D 3.x: Falling Object Damage

    To quote from the SRD, “For each 200 pounds of an object's weight, the object deals 1d6 points of damage, provided it falls at least 10 feet. Distance also comes into play, adding an additional 1d6 points of damage for every 10-foot increment it falls beyond the first (to a maximum of 20d6 points of damage).”

    This means that if I throw a sack filled with bowling balls out of a second story window, it deals the same amount of damage as a club. Likewise, this means that if I have a cunning trap above the door to drop a sack of bowling balls on whoever opens the door, that sack of bowling balls deals no damage, having fallen less than 10 feet.

    Also included: “Objects weighing less than 1 pound do not deal damage to those they land upon, no matter how far they have fallen.”

    This means that if I throw half a pound of lead out of a castle window, nobody below will be hurt by it.

  53. Meatloaf says:

    I found Shield Generators for droids in Star Wars Saga Edition to be more than a bit broken. Broken in a win-button kind of way. Here’s how they work:

    Each generator of increasing expensiveness, bulkiness, and rarity has 5 more DR. The limit to what a medium sized droid character could obtain is a 30 Kg, 7,500 Credit, 15 DR military generator. It’s not too hard to get one with a Scoundrel in the party, or anyone with black market connections. I don’t recall there being a level or class limit, so any droid could potentially wear it.

    It’s 15 Damage Reduction, making it good already. Thing is, the only way to dissipate any of the DR is to hit for more than 15 damage. This is easy enough, but it’s not going to happen every time. When it does happen, the shield only loses 5 DR, making it a 10 DR.

    Adding that up, it’s a free 30 DR at any level, plus anything under the threshold simply doesn’t affect the droid.

  54. McNutcase says:

    Purple Library Guy: not so much misunderstanding as “misquoting for humourous effect”. After all, it says right there that it’s a “Social Stigma”, but it’s still amusing that being followed by a constant smell of rotting meat and whatever your setting’s equivalent of Lysol is, is less of a handicap than an inability to speak.

    Also, the creature whose racial template I pulled my examples from also carries the “unliving” disadvantage for 50 points, so it’s clear that simply carrying the social stigma isn’t the be-all and end-all of being dead…

    Also, it’s been niggling at me for a while… the “10” die is actually showing a 1. It’s the top half of a percentile die!

  55. Hawk says:

    I like AoOs, and never found them difficult.

    Critical failures I find stupid, but they tend to be someone’s optional rule anyway.

    Grapple, on the other hand … at least that was a pretty good 4E fix.

  56. Kiwipolish says:

    The old White Wolf botch rules. If you rolled more ones than successes in your dice pool you botched, no matter how many dice you were rolling. Meaning when you were an expert at something, you would either succeed or fail explosively, with nothing in between.

    Also, the older versions of Shadowrun where the Decker was the only person who could get into the net and basically had to go off on a solo adventure to do anything while the rest of the party sat around. That doesn’t sound fun.

  57. Derek K. says:


    “The fact that reasonably easy to die during the phase which in D&D would be called “rolling up your character” is actually the least of its problems.”

    You have described what I feel to be the absolute best thing about Traveller.

    Honestly. You can DIE during CHARGEN.

    That’s just spectacularly awesome.

    And falling objects are neat. Thrown objects are better. If you haven’t seen the Hulking Hurler thread on the Character Optimization boards (or the non-hulking hurler), they are spectacular.

    One of them can create a character that has not yet been declared invalid, who AVERAGES over a trillion damage in a round.

    1 trillion.

    It’s so far beyond sanity, it’s hypnotic.

    The Hulking Hurler build that I typically see is in the 20k range.

    +4 fire.

  58. MrNiceGuy says:

    How about the basic premise in D&D that 1 round = 10 minutes. ONE ACTION took 10 MINUTES! Swing a sword?, Drink a potion?, Cast a spell (What, do they prep the scene with lots of spooky candles)? Those were all 10 minutes.

    Played hell if you tried to reconcile different player actions (in and out of combat). Walk 100′? That took you 10 minutes.

    I have no understanding of why Gygax thought this was reasonable or how it held up in play testing.

    We always changed this to one action = 10 seconds in my games.

  59. Ragnos says:

    Encumbrance in D&D is the only one I have any problems with, especially when concerning money. Instead of having the PCs convert their massive amounts of gold into gems or some such, I just assume they’re carrying it arround in some kind of convenient form instead of adding unnecessary paperwork that doesn’t really add anything to the game.

    I don’t use the standard XP system either, rather I decide arbitrarily when the PCs level up according to the progress in the storyline, encounters, roleplaying, etc.

  60. Jabor says:

    Regarding critical failures, we had what I thought was a pretty neat houserule.

    If you roll a natural 1, simply roll again with a -20 penalty applied at the end.

  61. Sempiternity says:

    Without a doubt, it’s old Storyteller’s “Golden Rule”, you know, the one that says that you can ignore all the other rules in your 30$ book for “the good of the story”, ie. the GM’s railroad.

    I’ve always liked Storyteller, but that “Golden Rule” has probably led to more misery around the game table than any other rule – even 3.0’s Attacks of Opportunity. ;)

  62. Sesoron says:

    Energy drain leading to level loss. I mean, come on! Level loss?! And its permanence is predicated on a saving throw, no less (see #1, Jennifer)!

    And what about the monsters who can slap multiple negative levels on you over the course of a single battle? That’s nonsense. What part of this is fun? “They do have a chance of outright killing you through huge piles of negative levels, but odds are you’re going to lose the last several sessions (a matter of months for many people, even longer in PbP) of level advancement if you survive.”

    Yeah, I know that the reality of consequences is what makes victory fun. But negative levels aren’t a consequence of losing, making poor choices, or building bad characters: they’re a consequence for being there and getting hit. Negative levels do two things: they reduce your chances of actual victory and they give you a terrible consequence even if you win. Even if you win! At some point, you may take enough negative levels that it’d be easier just to die and work off the *one* level. Or, depending on how attached you are to the character, to just die and roll up a new character.

    All you can do about level loss is 1. have a high enough AC to avoid being hit by what is often a touch attack (totally implausible), 2. roll high enough on all your saves to eliminate every negative level, or 3. hope your cleric prepared the right spells the right number of times. Those, or just stay home. If your cleric isn’t prepared to deal with negative levels, then there’s no way he can do something about it before they take their ultimate toll. Rolling out level drain against an unprepared group is more or less a big middle finger, probably directed at the fighters and fighteroids, since they’re the most likely to fall prey. And especially at the lower levels, you shouldn’t be expecting the group to be all that prepared.

    That, then, is one of the great things about 4th Edition: no level loss!

  63. TA says:

    I think the Drama Dice system in 7th Sea is fundamentally retarded. Fate Chips too, for much the same reasons.

    A limited pool of things you can spend for bonuses on rolls? That’s a fine idea, Void Points are a good system. That pool determines your experience? That’s bad, you shouldn’t be penalized in character growth for calling on a mechanical resource. Some uses of that pool are “balanced” by giving the GM extra resources? That’s insane. The GM doesn’t need black dice or extra chips if he wants to make things harder. The GM can and should make things exactly as hard as he thinks is appropriate, and “giving him an extra chip” makes no sense outside of a strict-encounter-balance zero sum game, where the players win by defeating the GM.

  64. Alan De Smet says:

    @MrNiceGuy, I think you’re blending several things. In older versions of D&D (2 and earlier, I believe), you had combat rounds (1 minutes) and exploration turns (10 minutes).

    In a combat round you get to do one thing. While a minute in combat is a long time, it’s supposed to represent the confusion and complexity. “An attack” might represent a long exchange of blows with feints, parries, and counterstrikes. “Drinking a potion” included finding a moment where you weren’t in too much danger that you could lower your guard to open a vial and drink it.

    Exploration turns, however, can encompass lots of actions. If your GM was charging you third minutes to pull some rope of out your backpack, tie it to a ledge, then climb down, you’re getting screwed.

    The ten minute turn is really intended to measure exploration speed; an adventuring party can cautiously explore 100 to 120 feet of cooridor every ten minutes. Sure, it’s slow, but you’re in hostile territory. Tt might be filled with pit traps, ambushers, and more. While you’re not “searching,” you are paying close attention to what you see, hear, and smell. You’re typically working with poor lighting. You’re keeping relatively strict marching order. In later editions, you also need to go slow enough races with automatic secret door detection to actually notice the little details that trigger their intuition. Compare this with the speed of someone visiting an art gallery, a situation where modern people go slow to pay attention to the details. I agree that 10 minutes is a bit overkill for this, but it’s not quite as wildly insane as you suggest.

  65. Wonderduck says:

    Just to expand upon what others have said before me, ANYTHING having to do with Traveller was evil and must be destroyed.

    Particularly when you think about things like a 100 ton starship was considered large for player characters.

    100 tons.

    Today’s main battle tanks weigh around half that. Your starship is about 10’x20′.


    (Though, to be fair, I’m glad I owned Azhanti High Lightning. Great reference material.)

    EDIT: Almost forgot… the entire game entitled AIR WAR. Any board game that required 10 minutes, three pages of rules and four pages of calculus to figure out if a F-15 was able to pull a 15-degree turn is just TOO complex.

  66. Dave says:

    sorry, MrNiceGuy.. D&D 1 round = 10 minutes is.. well.. wrong.

    Per the DMG First Ed.. the standard time breakdown is ten one-minute rounds to the turn, and six turns to the hour.

    AND.. it isn’t one swing of the sword in the minute.. it is one minute of trying to use your sword to hit the other thing.. It’s GURPS that is 1 actual action per round.. but in GURPS it’s one second.. hence rounds where you just ready something.. then next round swing..

    I understand being confused about the rule.. you have to dig to find answers to the First Edition stuff..

  67. BlackJaw says:

    Spell resistance in D&D.

    Does anyone miss it in 4ed? Even seen a need for it?

    All it did in 3ed was make some creatures completely immune to pillars of flame. A group of drow could walk through a hallway full of fire and and not even get singed? Not only does it not make sense, but by high levels, it’s forcing the party wizard to either learn a handful of spells that aren’t “spells” (IE: No SR) or be useless in combat against enemies within the party’s CR.

  68. Alan De Smet says:

    @Sesoron: Oh, Lord, yes! Level drain is effective in that it scares players because of the risk. But in practice the damage tends to be randomly distributed, and after the fact it’s no longer scary, just frustrating that you got the random screwjob. Is an hour of terror worth weeks or months of the player being pissed off that his character sucks compared to the rest of the party? Or the party has relatively easy access to Restoration, in which case it’s ceased to be scary and stopped having any value.

    @TA: Amen! The same goes for a frightening number of point-buy games ystems. When I ran Deadlands I ran into the very problem that my players would horde Fate Chips like water in the desert. They’d get used to negate damage or to increase their characters power. The “Improve your roll” rules might as well have not existed. I ended up giving XP (essentially Fate Chips, but no chip and could not be used for rolls or damage) and Fate Chips (could not use to power up characters). That helped a lot. I believe some versions of Shadowrun did the same thing; probably for the same reason.

    That ties into one of my least favorite rules: Spend “points” to improve a random result before you know if you succeed. Frequently tied to making points rare and also using them for improving stats. End result: hording to try and ensure you don’t “waste” them. And understandably, because spending points on an important roll only to still fail is deeply frustrating.
    Why is this so prevalent? The only advantage I see is that keeps the player unsure about the result, creating tension. I see two fixes: 1. Tell the player the result before he spends the points. Even better, tell them the target number they missed. 2. Make points reasonably plentiful so player’s don’t feel back when they are “wasted” and don’t link them to improving the PC.

  69. Xpovos says:

    So, I’m not the only one who noticed, but combat actions got subdivided. Actions like swinging a sword or drinking a potion take 10s max.

    That’s still a long time, so it’s not like your complaint is without merit. I’m not trained very well and I can still swing a particularly heavy sword three times in ten seconds without much strain.

    My personal peeve is hit points, which was mentioned above. Some systems handle it better than others, and it’s a necessary thing both for making a game fun and trackable. Ultimately, that’s a DM/GM thing. One GM I played with in D&D didn’t let his players know their own character’s HP levels. Made for an awesome house rule. You knew how tired you were, how wounded you were, and how much more you could take, or were likely to take from any attack purely based on his descriptions; not math.

  70. NeilD says:

    A couple of rejoinders for the sake of discussion:

    Strigoi: Maybe you just didn’t explain it well, but from what you said it sounds to me not so much that you have a problem with the Grapple rules themselves, but with an opponent being better than you at something you’ve put a lot of points into. You’re still going to be better than most opponents, but no PC should ever be completely unbeatable.

    Eric, re sniping: It’s a valid point, but our group unanimously (albeit regretfully) dropped called shots and the like when the DM made it very clear that anything that we can do, the NPCs can also do. We used to have a player that liked to go for the hamstring (okay, it might have been me), until the opponents started doing similar things against us. Insta-kills (or insta-disables) are a lot of fun until they’re directed against you. Yes, it sacrifices some realism, but that same realism would have the players rolling up a new character every 5th game or so, because he’s got us outnumbered and eventually one of them is going to get through. If anyone has worked out a feasible solution to that, by the way, I’d love to hear it.

  71. Marmot says:

    While Critical Failures comes close, the one I loathe most is ALIGNMENT. I’ve seen an incredible number of otherwise good games come down in flames over the cries of “no! he’s evil!” or “paladins can’t do that!” or even “that wasn’t neutral good enough, you should lose your class abilities”.

    Alignment could serve as an okay “shortcut” if it were severely weakened and changed so not to be related to game mechanics (kind of like in 4E but not entirely), but in its best known incarnation (3.5) it is a horribly thought out concept, stifling character ideas and removing whole dimensions of thought from roleplay.

    The fact that people have been arguing about it for more than 20 years now doesn’t mean that it’s a deep and inspiring thing like Edward Munch’s “The Scream” but rather that it’s a terrible idea that tries to rule over something that doesn’t need ruling and is best left to flowing interpretation.

    For further ideas on why alignment should be eradicated from the game, discuss the case of bards-can’t-be-lawful, monks-must-be-lawful, deathwatch and the true alignment of Batman, James Bond, Jack Sparrow, George Bush, Michael Jackson, Jesus Christ and Rodion Romanovich Raskoljnikov.

  72. James says:

    Pirates: Collectible Miniatures game by WizKids. A great game with easy mechanics, but with one fatal flaw.

    In starting the game, the rules state:

    “Starting with the first player, players take turns randomly
    choosing an island and placing it on the play area. Islands must be
    placed at least 3 , but not more than 6 , from each other”

    Then, you place the “home islands” or “bases” so to speak.

    “Choosing Home Islands
    The second player chooses which island will be the home island of the first player. The first player places his or her ships so that their bows (fronts of the ships) touch that island. The first player then chooses a different island to be the second player's home island,and that player places his or her ships so that their bows touch that

    So basically, Player 2 places Player 1’s base. Player 1 then places Player 2’s base. Player 1 can legitimately place his opponent as far away as possible, and get a head start, to boot. It says “no more than 6L away”. You can chose one action for each ship per turn, so moving is an action. My fastest ship moves 2L per action, so it would take my fastest ship 3 turns to reach another island, meanwhile, the other player may have moved, docked, and looted the island.

    That’s why I stopped playing this one.

  73. Aergoth says:

    Crit Fails and Crit Successes
    Also, Flaws. I hate flaws.
    Unearthed arcana introduced the equivallent of ‘gimme’ disadvantages that gave you a feat in exchange for two off set skill disadvantages. Compared to traits, which are both a carrot and an appropriate stick (Honesty, is a trait that gives you +2 to diplomacy and -2 to Bluff and Sense motive.) flaws leave too much open to power-gaming and epic cheese. Especially if you know you won’t be encountering certain things, or couldn’t deal with them anyways

  74. briatx says:

    I agree with Krellen, save or die spells have the potential to ruin what should be a fun, climactic battle by allowing a player to one shot the Big Boss. (No, of course I have never done that. Perish the thought).

    This is also one of the only contexts where I have a problem with a “1 is always failure” rule. Otherwise, I just think of it as a 5% chance of hilarity.

  75. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Aside from the rules preventing me from hitting other people at the table.”

    Never heard of that one.

    The worst rule I know of is wizard memorization in D&D.On higher levels this can amount to a wizard sleeping 8 hours and then spending the next week memorizing his spells.Although,since I use a custom system,any rule that I find is working poorly or not at all gets changed quickly.

  76. ehlijen says:

    Battletech (pre-Total Warfare, they changed it in that book):
    Partial Cover
    In certain situations you got a good defense bonus but if hit, locations for the damage were rolled on a much more brutal table (on which the chances for a headshot went from 1/36 normally to 1/6!). Using level 1 tech it wasn’t too bad as the defense bonus really was worth that and more. But as soon as clan tech became available being in partial cover became suicide! They usually had enough skill advantages or funky tech to negate the defense bonus and they had many more weapons that damage multiple locations, each rolled seperately. If you dared to be in partial cover when facing a LB20X autocannon (which can hit up to 20 different locations) you were dead (due to the fact that each time the head was hit, no matter the actual damage, one of the pilots 5hp was lost).

    Oh, and the fact that if the target is not in partial cover, a hit by a LB20X would have you roll up to 20 sets of 2d6 to see where all the damage goes, while the LRM20, which is rules procedure wise an almost identical weapon (but with different stats), has a max of 4 such rolls to make…

  77. Derek K. says:

    “If anyone has worked out a feasible solution to that, by the way, I'd love to hear it.”

    I like the Mooks and Bosses (may not be the precise terms) idea from Feng Shui.

    Mooks can’t make called shots. Bosses can. Mooks are disposeable – they’re 1-3 hit critters that attack in waves. Bosses are an issue. I like to add a third category of Henchmen.

    So in general, you don’t worry about called shots on you by opponents. When the Henchmen show up, you expect them to have a trick or two that will be hard, but not deadly. Bosses may well be as bad as a PC.

  78. Joshua says:

    AoO? Although they’re not flawless, there’s a reason why they’re there- to include some sort of tactical set-up and reason for formations. They also try to add at least a minor amount of realism in a game that has live combat simulated with turns. Imagine, if you will, a PnP Football game where the players rolled initiative. With no AoO or equivalent, if the defense wins the quarterback gets sacked every time, while the blockers just smile and wave at the defensive line casually walking around them and tackling their man.

    My problem with attacks of opportunity would mainly be that they’re too easy to get around. You can easily run away with the full withdrawal action. If you’re a spellcaster, archer, drinking a potion, etc. and you’re next to an enemy, you can just take a 5′ step and do your thing. If you’re a spellcaster over 5th level or so, it becomes ridiculously easy to just cast in melee anyways with defensive casting being a near certainty. So, the game introduces a rule to encourage tactics and then just nerfs that rule with a lot of cop-outs.

    Alignment? Probably the most destructive rule in D&D in all of the years I’ve been playing(almost 20). Nothing causes more arguments among players and the DM. 4th edition kind of addresses this, but only in a very stupid way.

    Vancian Magic? Check. I really wish they would come up with a better system. One that doesn’t screw magic-users at lower levels and then make them too powerful at higher levels.

    You think negative levels are bad? At least you have a chance to save against them. It used to be that you just flat lost your levels period. Also, save or die effects used to be MORE common in 1st and 2nd, and the chances of saving were lower.

    Apart from that, I have yet to see a magic-item creation system that worked really well. 2nd edition was horrendous, and created a disconnect with the nature of the game world. Basically, the rules encouraged wizards to make maybe 1 or 2 permanent magic items ever in their life, and to make them really powerful(75% to make a 1 Longsword, 71% to make a 5?)

    I think the 3.0/3.5 works the best, but if you have one player who’s making magic items for the group, they get screwed because they fall behind the rest of the party in level while they’re making items for the party! We house-ruled this to allow any person to sacrifice their xp to make items(so a player receiving an item would likely be the one to sacrifice the xp), but then you run into another problem where the party level stays the same but their magic item power gets higher. Perhaps they need a system that’s limited but doesn’t intertwine with xp and leveling.

  79. Claire says:

    2nd edition Stoneskin expires like crazy. Every mosquito-bite takes two attacks off (one bite, one slap). If it’s winter, fleas will take care of it. There’s gonna be SOME kind of parasite you can find an excuse to chew up attacks if the players try to bank stoneskin well in advance of encounters.

  80. Pat says:

    I remember fondly the first edition Shadowrun rules, which were so broken you could strap two grenades to your head, pull the pins and only be left with a moderate wound. They fixed this in second edition: now you can only strap one grenade to your head to get the moderate wound.

    More seriously, the “Attribute Auction” in Amber Diceless. Great game otherwise, but the character creation process literally had the GM auctioning off the stats to the players, paid for with non-refundable character points (i.e. you lost the character points even if you didn’t “win” the auction). GMs were encouraged to lie, nag and persuade the players to taunt each other, to try and provoke them into spending unwisely. Makes character generation more fun at the expense of trading a week of fun for an entire campaign of frustration and sulking because you didn’t get the character you wanted.

  81. Lain says:

    Well, most things are said already.
    So some news:
    Cybepunk 2020.
    You can have a chemical implant to get harder skin. I wont let up to 12 point sof damage through to your internals.
    A ladies pistol like an Derringer makes 1D6 Damage.

    But what really annoys, as good as the system is else with the rules of damage and firarms, the bad and ugly it is with martial arts and direct combat.

    In real life I learned WuShu, a bit Taek Kwon Do, Aikido and Muay Thai.

    Regarding the system I need 3xmore Skillpoints to learn Muay That. then say… learn shooting or wrestling or clobbering. While Aikido has a correct multiplier, Its seems to be more easy to learn KungFu then some stupid boxing.

    The damage is the same. There are no significant rules explaining the skillpoint difference.

  82. Adeon says:

    Well as a long time 40K player there are two rules that always bugged me.

    The first is the restriction on pre-measuring. As near as I can tell it is mostly a hold over from wargaming (where it does make some sense) but in 40K it just caused large numbers of problems. Most people I know ignored it and the ones who didn’t were generally people who still pre-measured they were just more circumspect (oh, I’m just measuring out how far these guys could move if their range was their movement)

    The second is the line of sight and cover rules. While using the model’s eye view method makes sense it is rather open to abuse (I hit him right in the heraldry!).

  83. Matt says:

    There was a book, long ago, called Murphy’s Rules, which had a collection of stupid rules from rpgs.. some here:


    My favourite, if I recall correctly, was the ability of Squad Leaders in the boardgame of the same name (and Advance Squad Leader) to give actions to other troopers. This could give someone carrying a flamethrower a speed of around 30 mph… on foot.

  84. kdorian says:

    I can’t believe it hasn’t been mentioned yet – one unofficial, but unfortunately common rule that crops up in some groups:

    The GM’s Significant Other/Best Friend Always Wins.

  85. Iudex Fatarum says:

    My personal least favorite in 4e DnD is the way criticals work now. Unless your using a high crit weapon, congrats you rolled a 20, now you don’t get to roll for damage at all. you do max out damage, but rolling a bazillion dice is so much more fun.

  86. David says:

    Definitely the negative levels in D&D; possibly also the heavy dependence on gear when you have a DM who notices all the rules for breaking it. You could have spent a year working on building up your character, getting a really nice sword, and then one evening you run into a rust monster and a wight, and you’re back where you started. When I was a DM, I ended up totally avoiding that section of the monster manual, even on Halloween.

  87. Elfa says:

    I’d have to agree that I hate called shots as you do, Eric, but for a few different reasons.

    1) They can’t be blocked. I’m sorry, but if you see someone aiming to stab you in the head with a spear, you’re GONNA move.
    2) They’re abused. One DM I played with had a “2 called shots per skirmish (from ANY character) and then they’re open for the enemies to do” rule because people would do nothing but called shots…even after this rule was instated.
    3) Sometimes they’re just impossible to pull off. If you’re using a claymore, it’s kind of hard to just simply “aim for the right eye” or something very specific such as that. This is mostly a player flaw, but oftentimes they’re just unrealistic.

    I do enjoy the fumble rolls where it’s a d20 to see WHERE you or your enemy gets hit and I wouldn’t mind seeing a system where something like that is implemented for, say, projectiles. My favorite example of this is one fight in Spelljammer where a Cavalier, oddly enough, fumbled nearly every attack he tried and did a number to his body comparable to the Black Knight.

  88. Michael Schmahl says:

    I never did like the 1 round=1 minute rule from AD&D 1st, either. Somebody once pointed out its complete absurdity like this:

    “You’re standing in an open field, and you have a sword. You’ve trained with, and know how to use the sword. Standing next to you is some other guy, and you’ve got one minute to try to hit him with your sword. In addition, he’s not even trying to defend himself (he’s casting a spell). What do you think the chances of you hitting him ought to be?”

    The answer, of course, according to AD&D, is 55%.

  89. ehlijen says:


    I have yet to see anyone ignore the ‘no premeasuring’ rule in 40k, and people trying to circumvent it are also rather rare in my epxerience. I certainly find that it helps keep the game moving as otherwise, everyone would constantly be measuring everything. I like that rule.

    And what do you mean by it being a hold over from wargaming? I thought 40k was a wargame?

  90. C. says:

    i’m fascinated by how many of these are misinterpretations of rules by people who self-admittedly don’t play the games in question. i mostly notice the ones for Traveller and GURPS, because those are two of my favorite trad games, but i’m sure that other games are seeing the same misunderstandings. the most recent is the misunderstanding about Traveller ships. a “ton”, for starships, is a “displacement ton”, not a mass ton. the ton represents the volume of a ton of liquid hydrogen (or about 13.5 cubic meters, in some editions rounded up to 14). so, a 100-ton ship is 1350 (or 1400) cubic meters in size (and, depending on the particular edition, weighs on the order of 684 metric tonnes (Traveller: The New Era), 916 metric tonnes (MegaTraveller), or 740 tons (GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars). remember, too, that this is a very small starship (100 displacement tons, in Traveller, is the smallest ship which can mount a Jump Drive).

  91. Arson55 says:

    I don’t get the complaints with mega damage in the Palladium system. Sure, overall, it’s not a great system (to my mind, nowhere near the worst however), but MDC/SDC did make sense to me.

    As for my least favorite rule…I guess, ultimately hit points in the majority of games. The whole set up is completely absurd. I understand why you would want something like that, and in some games, okay. But you can’t do gritty/realistic combat with a hit point based system.

  92. Conlaen says:

    Worst rule for me was for a Vampire campaign. No drinks and snacks allowed. “You’re character can’t eat and drink and if you eat or drink it ruins the immersion.”

    Can’t get my game on without something to wet the tongue and some nibbles.

  93. Patrick J McGraw says:

    1) The Pilot rules in Call of Cthulhu. A percentile roll of 100 on a Pilot skill check explicitly results in the plane crash, resulting in the death of “at least the pilot.” And you have to make a Pilot check every time you want to land a plane. Apparently, in the world of CoC, 1% of all flights end in fatal plane crashes.

    2) The 1-minute combat round in older editions of AD&D. Yeah, there’s all that business about how confusing combat can be, and how an attack represents an attack “sequence.” But those arguments fall apart when one considers that the Greatest Archer in the World can only fire three arrows in a minute.

  94. DM T. says:

    D&D 3.X ECL is probably the worst rule I’ve stumbled upon with the 1st runner up being Grapple and right behind it stands most of the other “Special combat moves” from D&D 3.X

    The amount of counter rolls is just a game stopping mechanism.

    We switched to Paizo’s Pathfinder beta rules (Free download) and it’s been a blessing ever since.

  95. Claire says:

    No drinks and snacks allowed.

    Thread winner. I’d rather drown in the blood of my firstborn. I’d rather organize and attend an Adam Sandler film festival. I’d… I’d rather design and play Carebears GURPS with a soda in-hand than play any RPG without… Actually, that last one sounds like a blast. Who’s in? :’P

  96. theonlymegumegu says:

    I just have to comment that I’ve never played Savage Worlds, but from the description given, I have to say I like the way they scale down the likelihood of auto failure while making it still possible.

    But one of the RPGs rules that has always bothered me is any kind of “if you fail, you must wait until you gain a level until you try again”. I can think of instances where perhaps further attempts might not yield much more effect (like knowledge checks or something, at least not right away, or with out some sort of memory jogger or other plot device in-game), but that kind of rule just doesn’t sit right with me.

  97. K says:

    When game-masters fail the most basic things that make the game work better, or worded differently, these meta-rules:

    – XP for everyone (even if someone has to miss a session), it’s not a tool to make people show up. If that is necessary, your game must be horrid. But if one guy has a lot of stress iRL, the game also becomes a lot less fun to him once he is behind in XP, since his character can’t do jack anymore.

    – Character sheets are set in stone after creation. You don’t like this disadvantage you took? That spell over there sucks but you didn’t know that before trying? Well, tough luck, make a new character. You having fun is not part of this game!

    – Outdated rules which the company does not want to fix because they fear their players will run away: Herosystem has dozens of these. Strength (and Constitution) is cheaper than 0 points (go figure). Dexterity is better point-per-point than combat skills (dex inflation is very common with exp). Killing Attacks vs Energy Blasts are not balanced, one is just plain better (see stun lotto). And so on.

    – Rules which add bookkeeping, “realism” and are not fun to use: DSA has only one parry-action per round. If multiple enemies attack you, you might parry the first one, and then you get hacked into pieces. Combined with the fact that everyone can switch their parry for an attack (at -4), this leads to idiotic “first one to go all-out wins” situations (two guys attacking twice each, you hit one of them back once. Assuming you are still standing with four swords sticking in your torso). Gurps 3rd was the same.

    – Gurps 3rd also takes the cake for most failed “this game does not have classes”-concept. Try to build a decent spellcaster with less than 150 out of your 150 points. Won’t work? Tough luck; Skills scale 1p, 2p, 4p, 8p, and so on to increase your roll, and you need a 15- in one or two spells to be effective. But it would be a lot cheaper to just buy “magic levels” for 10 points which affect ALL spells. And suddenly, you are a full caster again.

    – Critical hits in Midgard. You did those on a 20. You could only defend against it by rolling a 20. Or else the attacker would roll a d% on a “critical effects” table, where anything above around 60 was along the lines of “your skull fractures and you are comatose for at least 30 minutes”. Roughly a 3% chance of instakilling your opponent on every attack. Rarely any fight would not end with a crit.

  98. StingRay says:


    I couldn’t find any statistics for the percentage of flights that crashed in the 30s, but I did find a page that shows that 51% of crashes happen in the final approach and landing (http://www.planecrashinfo.com/cause.htm). Given the nature of new technology and potential lack of experience, combined with (I assume) relatively infrequent flights, I don’t have a problem with CoC’s Pilot rule. The part about the pilot always dying is a bit harsh, but I can see the point.

  99. unitled says:

    I don’t see what the problem with ‘critical’ failures are… We aren’t playing D&D, we’re playing WFRP, and we’re used to the concept of a failure on a 1 (or 96 – 00 in the case of WFRP) from the wargame. In most cases, we don’t roll unless there’s a chance of failure anyway…

    The old (as in, 2nd ed) close combat rules from 40k were hideous. They worked better in the small scale of Necromunda, but it was still a nightmare of addition. This is swiftly followed in the crapness stakes by Overwatch rules in ‘munda, which made any close combat gang almost entirely ineffective:

    “Wait, so you’re going to Overwatch JUST IN CASE a psychotic buzzsaw wielding Pit Slave comes running round the corner? Riiiight…”

  100. Claire says:

    Re: Call of Cthulhu’s flight rules…

    Doesn’t that make flying roughly the safest activity in CoC?

  101. Noumenon says:

    Regarding critical failures, we had what I thought was a pretty neat houserule.

    If you roll a natural 1, simply roll again with a -20 penalty applied at the end.

    So if that one ends up 1 or lower, then you have your critical faiure?

    Strigoi: Maybe you just didn't explain it well, but from what you said it sounds to me not so much that you have a problem with the Grapple rules themselves, but with an opponent being better than you at something you've put a lot of points into. You're still going to be better than most opponents, but no PC should ever be completely unbeatable.

    But the reverse is also true: no DC should ever be completely unbeatable. When you can have the best possible character for grappling, with size, feats, and strength, and buff him up with all the right spells like Grease and Bull’s Strength — he should have at least a possibility of making the grapple check. When he doesn’t, you just throw up your hands and say “this is silly.” Heck, even one of the creators of the game has a house rule about grapples (if the monster takes damage, you get an extra save; it’s in my link I posted earlier). Most of the rest of the game, an trained character has about a 50% chance of succeeding at most tasks. Grapple is a silly exception.

  102. Attorney At Chaos says:

    THAC0 a problem? On the character sheet put a row that has ACs from -10 to 10, beneath that put a row of the number you need to hit it. You do it once and it’s done until your THAC0 changes. Very small effort, game goes fast.

    2E AD&D STONESKIN stacking? Sorry, no. While the spell itself may not have included an explicit disclaimer on stacking, AD&D had pretty much the same general default rule of “continuing spell effects don’t add, take the best of all the rolls” that 3.X made more explicit (and more complicated, with all the different TYPES of bonuses). Spells to make you stronger didn’t stack, spells that made light didn’t stack, spells that made you bigger or smaller didn’t stack, same for faster and slower and better AC and so on. I’d have to do a lot of digging to find the exact references (might have been in Dragon’s SAGE ADVICE column, might have been from the customer service people or maybe somewhere else) but I do recall being shown the Official Rules about that sort of stuff that hadn’t been in the PH, DMG or MM. But come on – in any case where there are two possible interpretations and one is horribly broken and one isn’t, I think a little common sense should prevail. I will grant you that they left out the cost – they said it needed diamond dust, but didn’t say HOW MUCH. A later article noted that it was 500 gp worth, which would cut down on abuse. They also made a later addition that “Unless ended sooner by attacks, the STONESKIN spell expires in 24 hours” which again limits abuses. But if all you have is the 1st printing of the 2nd edition Players Handbook – it just takes one common-sense ruling by the DM to settle that.

    I’ll admit that the rules for Attacks of Opportunity were a nuisance to learn, but they come up often enough that you can keep a good handle on it once you’ve figured it out. The other special attacks (bull rush, sunder, grapple, overrun and so on) come up in our groups very rarely. They always send us back to the books.

    As for Death From Massive Damage – yeah, it does seem an anticlimax. The last DM who ran an epic-level game that I played in just ignored it – because while everyone could easily make the fortitude roll, there’s always the chance of rolling a 1 for auto-fail. It was admittedly a Power Game and damage was very high. It would almost have been “every time you get hit by an attack or a spell you have to make that not-a-1 roll.”

    As for auto-hit on a 20 and auto-fail on a 1 (not skills, just attacks/saves) – these are not intended to model how it ought to work in real life, these are rules to make the game interesting. If you are upset with FRP games because they don’t model The Real World (TM) very well – get over it. Repeat to yourself “It’s only a game, it’s only a game…” In Chess the King is the weakest piece and the queen is the strongest. Does that reflect the abilities of men and women in combat? Also, every attack always wins no matter the strength of the pieces (a pawn taking a queen even though a queen is about 9 times stronger). Don’t get mad – just accept that the rules aren’t intended to model reality. If they tried it would be incredibly complicated, full of errors and to top it off – damn dull.

    There have been plenty of rules that got deep-sixed by almost everyone. In 1E AD&D, I don’t know of a single gaming group that used the weapon speed factors or the AC Type adjustments on weapons. “Too complicated, it slows down the game, it’s more fun not using those rules.” They disappeared in 2E. Close behind those at around 99% of groups I saw was “No psionics.” The 1E system (where psionic combat went 10 times as fast as melee combat) really broke up the rhythm of the game. “OK, order in a pizza and turn on the TV while the psionic players play by themselves for 20 minutes.”

    Some of the other things mentioned were never a problem in our groups. Alignment issues? In perhaps a dozen separate groups (over 30 years), we had no problem with them to speak of. The SO of the DM always wins? This is a game where (done right) EVERYBODY wins. The SOs of the DMs didn’t get special treatment in terms of magic items/treasure found as far as I can tell – and since I never had a SO playing or DMing my games, I would have been on the short end if it had been happening. I think I would have noticed.

    I have dropped out of groups because the other DMs/Players were incompatible for various other reasons – but I never ran across blatant favoritism. I’ve dropped out because the DM was overly-generous, but it was across the board. (Your own abilities didn’t really matter in that campaign – the only thing that mattered were the super-artifacts in your group vs the super-artifacts that the enemy had. That was, essentially, the DM playing with herself.)

    Heck, I may drop out of the current group I’m in because the rest of the players are very heavily into the combat and very light on the actual role-playing, but that’s not a problem with the rules – it’s just being interested in different aspects of the game. I get to play with my old gaming group this weekend (started in 1983, so 25 continuous years even if it’s been only a few time per year for the last 10 years or so). It’s about a 4-hour drive away, but there will be a second Thanksgiving Dinner feast when I get there. So I’ll get to do all the role-playing (instead of roll-playing) I want this long weekend.

  103. Tedankhamen says:

    Oh Palladium, where do I start?
    AR ripped from DnD that does not fit at all into a system of Dodges and is quickly ignored? Or arbitrary skill levels and advances that are a pain to look up? Or SDC heaped on Hit Points so that it takes a submachinegun to “whittle down” characters? Or broken skills like Boxing that everyone takes do to its heap of combat bonuses while other sports like Football have none?

    Sigh. Gotta send my house rules to Siembieda and get Palladium 2e started…

  104. I mostly get annoyed by overall aspects of systems rather than specific rules, such as the way you can end up spending two hours in real life working out a 2 minute car chase because there are too many people all moving ridiculously fast.

    I also dislike Dark Heresy for keeping WFRP’s half-attribute-if-you-don’t-have-the-skill thing and then not giving anyone any skills to start with. To speak of, anyway. For months of play your characters will suck at practically everything.

    Most annoying rule would probably go to Promethean’s torment rules. It just never ever happens. You are rolling a pool of 7 (or more) d10s and just needing one to come up 8+. It’d supposed to be a fairly regular thing if there’s reason for it!

  105. I have to agree with the people who were complaining about the fate chips/drama dice = XP thing. It discourages players from trying cool stuff–especially the drama dice, whereas in Deadlands you really can’t get around using your chips if you want to stay alive.

    Much better is a system whereby only the ones you SPEND count toward XP. Reward what you want *more* of (cool stunts).

  106. Sesoron says:

    Claire (100): Safest? I can see the trailers now: Shoggoths on a Plane!

  107. Greg says:

    I think it was GURPs had that automatic weapons fire rule where you calculated the effect of each bullet individually. It sounds sensible and maybe just about works for a three round burst, but some of the listed weapons fired two-hundred shots in a fully automatic volley. That’s a session gone right there.

  108. Poet says:

    I’ll just point to the Expanded Psionics Handbook.
    As a whole.
    We had a player who minmaxed himself into a tactical nuke. Epic battles were reduced to one or two of us getting a turn, then him destroying anything in his path. If the GM tried to throw things out that could actually resist his attacks, he pouted about it, and ruined sessions.
    I suppose it was a mix of player and rules that made the problem, but honestly, most Psionic classes were a bit overpowered. I’m hoping 4E deals with it better.

  109. fuzzyillogic says:

    In D&D old editions (I haven’t played recent ones) try, without house rules, telling a high-level player that a guard sneaked is at his back and is keeping them under aim with a crossbow. Or vice-versa, a player sneaking on a high-level NPC… This is true for any high-level confrontation, there’s almost no non-thief in-rule way of dealing deadly amount of damage quickly. This make impossible replay classical dramatic situations, like a “mexican standoff”, giving guards any really menacing power to make unwilling players follow them, tasking somebody hostage (“Stand back, I’ve a knife pointed at her back!” “Right! 1d4 of damage! Let’s kick him!”) etc. etc.
    Some GM did deal with this sensibly, but this always required house rules and improvisation, and then there was always the idiot rule-lawyer that had the executioner going on for half an hour with their axe to cut off the head of some high-level characters, lumberjack style….

  110. NeilD says:

    Gotta say, as much as the 2nd edition 1-minute round made it hard to figure what the characters were doing for most of that time, the 3rd edition 6-second round has somewhat the opposite problem.

    The more characters involved in the combat, the more that happens within that 6 seconds. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except that it’s all so rigidly sequential. Character 1 moves from point A to point B and performs an action, then character 2 does the same, then character 3 does likewise, etc., etc., each one factoring into their actions what the previous characters have done.

    If you’ve got a party of 8 PCs fighting a dozen bad guys, that’s 20 characters moving one after the other. At the end of a round, go back over what happened and try to figure out how it all could have happened in six seconds.

    In 2nd edition (as far as my poor memory goes), things happened more concurrently — there were 10 segments of six seconds each, and as much as was possible, things that happened in the same segment were treated as simultaneous actions. As far as that goes, it seemed to flow much more smoothly to me. Also made spellcasting more of a nail-biter, as there was usually 3 whole segments there where opponents could interfere and disrupt the spell (which fortunately, worked both ways).

  111. Dev Null says:

    Would that perchance have been the Phoenix Command Combat System? The one with all the funny quotes in the margins? Like: “Welcome to the Red Temple membership drive. Get weapons and armor from the pile of bodies on your left. Fight's down the hall to your right.”

    Really not sure – all I remember is spending an entire Saturday afternoon rolling up two characters with a friend, and most of the Sunday night playing out a 1-on-1 duel between them. I believe I punctured his spleen.

  112. Yahzi says:

    I agree with Krellan: the MDC/SDC damage in Pallidum. You could actually buy a dual-barreled sniper weapon that was a rifle on top (3d6 damage to people) and a laser on the bottom (2d6 MDC, which meant 200d6 damage to people).

    Edit: Wonderduck says: Almost forgot… the entire game entitled AIR WAR.

    I loved that game! It was great (despite the fact that a 5 second turn took 10 minutes to do), right up until computer sims killed the entire board game sim market. :D

  113. Pyro says:

    Phoenix Command is a gigantic nightmare of a combat system. Not just for the overly complex damage tables, but its turn sequence as well.

    For those complaining about the GURPS 1 second turn; try a system that subdivides that 1 second into separate phases. The turn sequence looks like something from Microsoft Project: person A is taking up a firing stance taking three phases; one phase later person B takes an aim action that uses two phases; while that’s happening persons C and D are running away for three phases, meaning they have covered a distance of about 0.2 of a metre.

    The guy who GMs most of the games I play in adores the system, but I flat-out refuse to play it ever again.

    Wikipedia has a short article: Phoenix Command

  114. Simply Simon says:

    Some of the combat rules in Dragons & Demons is really overpowered or really dumb.

    Lets see:
    Nearly all weapons deal 1d10 damage
    if you crit you get one d6 extra damage
    And then every weapon has something called open hit
    a weapon with an open hit value of 10 gets an extra attack when you roll 10 on the d10.
    so if you roll 1 on the d20 you get a crit that deals 1d6 extra damage
    If you roll 10 on your damage roll you get an extra attack
    If you roll 10 on that attack you get ANOTHER attack

    In my group we had a fighter that had an axe with an open hit value of 9
    We were fighting a giant ghostly eagle on top of mount plothook and he rushed forward to it and took one attack
    he rolled:
    10, 9, 9, 5
    and then he got +2 because he was stronger than the usual persons.
    that’s 35 damage. In one hit. Wherever that hit would have landed it would nearly killed the bird, although the dm said the bird blocked that with its unbreakable beak.
    we are still carrying that beak around to make the dm eat his own words.

    And then there is the combat specialisation. you need a score of atleast 8 to take it (you can begin with that ammount)
    if you take it you can specialise in a weapon that you then get +5 to hit with, always.
    each turn you get a number of attacks decided by the weapon you’re using, and you get [your skill in combat] number of combat points each round to spend on your attacks each round.
    So when you get the skill, you can instead of one attack with 8 to hit, get (say) three with 3+5, 3+5 and 2+5.
    That means you are so useless without th skill you basically cant fight if you don’t start with it or get it later in the adventure.

    And then that the priests of thul have to stand one d6 weeks at a forge to learn a new type of spells.

  115. Talrogsmash says:

    The d10 system of botching, or “the better I am at fighting
    (brawl 5, dex 5, 4 crinos, 1 specialty)
    the more likely it is I will accidentally kill myself while trying to punch someone
    and it will be less likely that I actually land a punch”

  116. SteveDJ says:

    From 109:

    …and then there was always the idiot rule-lawyer that had the executioner going on for half an hour with their axe to cut off the head of some high-level characters, lumberjack style…

    That just painted a picture in my mind, and now I cannot stop laughing. :)

  117. Adeon says:


    It depends a lot on the style of group I guess. Most of the groups I played in were very casual groups that allowed pre-measuring for everything except guess range weapons (and were perfectly happy with the 4th ed change to how those worked). Therefore in general the people that we encountered who wanted to follow the no pre-measuring rule were the sort of gamers who bounce from group to group and do whatever they can to win. I’ve seen them use all sorts of tricks to get in additional measurements (overextending the ruler, using their forearm as a ruler etc.). Therefore over time I’ve gotten a (possibly warped) view of disallowing pre-measuring as a tactic used by munchkins.

    As for 40K being a wargame or not, that’s not an argument I’m going to get into. My point was more that in the types of wargames that attempt to faithfully recreate combat conditions no pre-measuring makes sense as a means of representing the fog-of-war. The early 40K rules were heavily influenced by this type of game.

  118. RibbitRibbit says:

    I second Sempiternity – WW’s “Golden Rule” is by far the worst rule ever. To be sure, there is a game SYSTEM from which I shirk in horror (the RPG equivalent of 2 girls 1 cup…), but it is best not to speak of it.

  119. ehlijen says:


    Whatever works for you group. It’s just not a view I’ve encoutered anywhere else yet (possibly due to the fact that the rulebook says otherwise and few people decided to houserule against that).

    As for the wargame thing: I just think that 40k (maybe not rogue trader, but later versions) is that type of wargame you spoke of and was confused as to what makes it not one. No argument, just curiosity.

  120. Rival Wombat says:

    Rules I dislike recently..

    Star Wars Saga Edition’s space transport HP. This is especially bad with the Starships of the galaxy book, where there are cheap, low tech fighters that retail for 15k used that have more health then the 250k ship billed as a poor man’s warship on the next page.

    (Citadel cruiser vs Cloakshape fighter. 120 vs 140 HP)

    Worst rule of all time?

    I’m going to have to give resolving a hit and damage in RIFTS another vote. It’s a mess.

  121. Brian says:

    I hate cursed items in D&D. There’s really no good reason for them. Since all it takes is a Detect Magic spell to figure out if they’re cursed or not, they don’t really make using a brand new magic item particularly dangerous, it just means your clerics and wizards have to give up a few potentially-useful spell slot to check things out. Not a threat to a group that takes even basic precautions, just a nuisance.

    Add to this the fact that it doesn’t make sense for a powerful wizard to spend months enchanting an item, unnaturally aging himself in the process, just to leave something behind to play a trick on careless adventurers, and you’ve got a really dumb idea.

    It’s not like cool cursed items in literature or fiction are as useless as their D&D counterparts, just think of the ring of the Niebelungs, the Shining Trapezahedron from Lovecraft’s Haunter in the Dark, the One Ring, the Silmarils, Stormbringer, even the Holy Grail in the third Indiana Jones movie had a sort of curse along with it. That is, if you want a cursed item to be meaningful to your PCs, give them something with really baleful effects that they can’t or won’t do without.

  122. tussock says:

    #51 Germelia: doesn’t like the very-long rememorisation time for high level Wizards in AD&D.

    I’m just the opposite. While the old rule was a bit fussy in it’s implimentation, it’s the quick replenishment of 3e Wizards that made them so overpowering at high level. Being able to cast all your high level spells every day is the worst 3e rule in the book.

  123. mrmurphy says:

    Anything from FATAL. Anything at all.

  124. Claire says:

    Brian at 121:

    D&D cursed item rant

    (Re: lameness, ridiculously easy detectability, inability to touch even minimally-cautious players) That’s just DMG-cursed items, though… and honestly, it looks like it’s just there to remind DMs of the possibility of cursed items. I mean, a -2 sword, a girdle of femininity/masculinity (by the way, run in the right circles and you’ll meet a lot of people who’d kill for one of those!), these are pretty lame cursed items, very true. … But, that’s because they’re just cursed items. The best cursed items have benefits and serious drawbacks that have to be managed… for example, the One Ring.

    Incidentally, here’s an idea for a “cursed” item: a girdle of femininity/masculinity… except it’s not cursed. It was created as a legitimate medical device for treating transgender people… so detect curse doesn’t catch it, but the players will almost certainly interpret it as such if they try it on… and it will obviously cause disruptions depending on what sort of relationships the characters have, and the norms of the society they’re attempting to navigate.

    Extra possible twists:

    1) The Kenneth Zucker (look it up) version of the girdle functions as a helm of opposite alignment, i.e. modifying the mind instead of the body. This could lead to problems if the characters were contracted to deliver a normally-functioning girdle, since changing someone’s personality in such a core way could be considered a sort of murder, and then the PCs could get into serious trouble. If a PC had wanted it, it could spawn a quest to acquire a “wish” to mentally patch the character up.

    2) Perhaps the creator of the girdle had a different idea of what constitutes a gender characteristic than the players or their employer. For example, a dwarven wizard might create a girdle that leaves a male-to-female transitioning character with a thick, lustrous beard… which would be a huge disappointment for an elven or human transitioner.

    Of course, I’ve never played with a group that could handle any of this crap even the least bit maturely, so now I’m just sad.

  125. Moridin says:

    #121: You got the spell wrong. In 3.5 detect magic doesn’t tell magic items function nor whether it’s cursed or not.Identify does reveal the item’s function but the text doesn’t say anything about revealing whether it’s cursed or not. Since Analyze Dweomer does neither, it’s a judgement call.

    Also, cursed items aren’t always deliberately cursed, they may also be malfunctioning.

  126. Wonderduck says:

    C says “so, a 100-ton ship is 1350 (or 1400) cubic meters in size (and, depending on the particular edition, weighs on the order of 684 metric tonnes (Traveller: The New Era), 916 metric tonnes (MegaTraveller), or 740 tons (GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars).”

    I’m afraid I was referring to the very FIRST set of Traveller rules, which came in a small box with three 6″x9″ rule books inside. In that set of rules, it doesn’t specify ANYTHING about ‘displacement tons’. Maybe it’s your favorite RPG rules now, but it was simply evil back then…

    Seeing ehlijen‘s comment about Battletech brought back memories of the only offical, printed rule that I caused. Mind you, this is back BEFORE Battletech had even been released… FASA was playtesting the game at various cons, and brought it to Rock-Con one year. I was playing an Archer, which had two LRM20s as its main armament, and I was on top of a hill, perfectly situated.

    At the time, LRM shots were not divided up into single damage points, or five damage points: you hit, you did 20 points of damage, no matter the range. In six turns, I killed six mechs. Nobody else on my team got to play.

    The next game, I did it again. Oh, it took 10 turns, and I “only” smoked five bad guys, but the Archer completely ruled the battlefield. Not the Warhammer, not a Marauder, not even a frickin’ Battlemaster, but an Archer.

    By the time the third game of the con came about, they had changed the damage rule for LRMs… and it stuck.

    EDIT: LRM = Long Range Missile. A “LRM20” did 20 points of damage, which was (and for all I know, still is) the most damage anything in the game could do. Only the AC/20 (AutoCannon) could equal it, and the LRM had almost three times the range.

  127. Octal says:

    Actually–for 3.5, at least–it’s explained (in the DMG) as “cursed items are what you get when something goes wrong in the item-making process, or when an item gets corrupted/decays over time”, so at least you don’t have to presume the “wizard spends a bunch of time, effort, and life force to create something with essentially no value to them” scenario. And some items, at least, say in their descriptions that detect magic (or, “every test”) will show them to be some other kind of magic item. So there’s that. I agree that most of them seem to be there for pure nuisance value, though.

  128. Octal says:

    (Whoops. Those other comments weren’t there when I made mine.)

  129. Swedish GM says:

    I play a swedish roleplaying game. Not sure if it’s reached outside of Scandinavia yet.

    The worst rule though is about magicians generating their powers. In EON (the game’s name) a magician must “draw” powers from a source. A fire-magician needs fire, a heat-magician heat, a healer (they are for the sake of making things complicated called “biomanticians” or just “biomancers”) needs energy from a live being, either oneself or someone else.

    Most of these make sense and seem cool, but it get annoying when the fire-magicians stand in the middle of a fight and stops to set something on fire – in order to set something else on fire.

    The magicians that break the tension the most though are the necromancers. They need the energy of dead things, meaning they are to butcher something to even use their powers. A user of these arts must therfore haul around corpses (they must be fresh also) and use them when the need comes along. Or they could of course buy themselves a zoo and slaughter some animals when they need the power.

    This really breaks the tension. In the end of my last campaign the players stood before a man who had absorbed the powers of a fallen god. They were up on a tower, surronded by a magical storm that was about to tear up the land itself if no one could stop it. Many people had already died trying to get through the hordes of mindless slaves protecting the tower where this man was waiting for something. (He wasn’t all powerful though, he couldn’t control the forces and stuff. It made sense in-game and was really tense)

    The party had a necromancer and just as the battle started he said:”Ok, what should I butcher? The bunny, the cat, or should I kill this slave?” It took some time to get back into the game after that.

    There are other ways for a necromancer to gain the power needed, but they are pretty expensive and not that usual.

  130. Matt P says:

    Re: 1 minute turns in DnD. It does sound bizarre, but only two minutes ago I was reading an article that goes a good way to explaining the reason it makes a lot of sense: http://monstersandmanuals.blogspot.com/2008/11/armour-combat-descriptions-and-one.html

  131. K (post 97) on GURPS 3rd spellcasters–um, no. Spells are mental skills; mental skills in GURPS 3rd max out at 2 points per level, not 8. Bumping a few to 15 is not that huge a deal.

  132. Derek K. says:

    Mr Murphy, who is briliant, said:

    “Anything from FATAL. Anything at all.”

    /signed x5.

    Read this link if you want to know why:


    Not safe for kids – either the game or the review.

  133. Bryan J says:

    My nomination: Serenity, DC, AD&D, and all games that allows you to spend experience points to create magic items, increase rolls, or get you out of trouble. A player shouldn’t have to choose between advancing your character in level or keeping your character alive.

  134. Dragonbane says:

    D&D, turn-based movement with NO rules for chase movement.

    It’s silly enough that you take your entire turn before the next character starts theirs, but it gets REALLY silly when you’re chasing someone through doors or around small buildings. Doors stop your movement, and take your non-move action to open – so instead of being able to run 60′, you might only be able to move 10′ up to the door, open it and be done. Opening doors should be easier and faster, I’ve run through more than one in my life.

    Chasing a miscreant around a 35′ building (without a ranged weapon, or with the intent to grab) is even sillier. You cannot attack if you moved more than your base move (usually 30′), with the exception of charging which must be in a direct straight line. Thus, if you want to evade capture, you just keep running around a 35′ building. Stand and wait to be able to see them, they might be able to run RIGHT up to you, but they can’t touch you – stick your tongue out and run 35′ around to the next building side. :)

  135. Khorboth says:

    It’s hard to pick the WORST one, but I think I’m going to go with the D&D style growing hit points. I’ve heard a few arguements about rolling with blows, turning attacks into less critical things etc. but it just doesn’t hold up. If the cuts are just less severe, then why does it take the same amount of magic to heal? How does your experience help you when you’re unconscious, in the path of a dragon’s breath (assuming a failed save), or falling from a high place? This mechanic also leads to what I call the Irish Boxing problem. High level fighters don’t miss each other. They just stand there taking turns hitting each other until one falls down.


    In the War Law supplement for Rolemaster, there’s a chart where you normalize the attack roll based upon the number of people in your unit. You actually roll and then look at a chart to see what the result of your roll is so that you can add it to your offensive bonus. You then use this number to check a chart to find out what chart you have to use to roll for damage.

    In D&D 3.0, concealment is more effective than cover against high level characters. It works out to be much better to hide behind a sheet than a wall if you’re going to peek out over it to spot the ranger.

    Experience points to level. Why? Really, why? It takes a bunch of extra bookkeeping and tallying and such to determine when your abilities improve. Then we have to balance the XP gains and needs of each class. Look at the D&D 2e methods of gaining xp. Thieves from this, fighters from that and wizards from other things. Why not just balance everybody of the same level and have everybody level at the same time? It certainly doesn’t add to the roleplaying since XP is one of the most often metagamed items I’ve come across. And if you think it’s bad in games like D&D try rolemaster. You’re supposed to track each attack in terms of what level of hit it was and the comparitive levels of the attacker and defender. I like Rolemaster, I play Rolemaster. I don’t track XP.

  136. Khorboth says:

    I was shocked to see people complaining about the rule that the GM can change rules. Seriously, this is a problem? I can’t imagine a game without it. So, I went and started grabbing every system I have on hand to see if any were actually missing this rule. D&D 3.5, DMG p. 14. GURPS 4e, Basic Set p. 486. Rolemaster FRP 1999 reformat, p. 83. RIFTS, couldn’t find anything on GMing. D&D 2.0, DMG p. 3. GURPS 3e revised, Basic Set p. 179. MERP, p. 4.

    I think my research has demonstrated 3 things. 1) The rule is ubiquitous. 2) RIFTS is among the worst organized RPGs. 3) I am a complete dork who owns too many systems.

  137. TeamNutmeg says:

    From Attorney at Chaos, #102: “In 1E AD&D, I don't know of a single gaming group that used the weapon speed factors or the AC Type adjustments on weapons.”

    My group used the weapon speed factors. In fact, I miss them so much that if I ever get a group going again with 3.x, I’m gonna house-rule them in. I liked how they made a lot of weapons (like the short sword) viable choices, or opened up interesting fighting styles (e.g. daggers-only), due to the initiative advantages. There’s just no reason to take a short sword over a long sword in 3.x, unless you’re a small-size creature.

    From Wonderduck, #126: “EDIT: LRM = Long Range Missile. A “LRM20″³ did 20 points of damage, which was (and for all I know, still is) the most damage anything in the game could do. Only the AC/20 (AutoCannon) could equal it, and the LRM had almost three times the range.”

    There’s now a Heavy Gauss Rifle that does 25 damage (at short range) that beats the class-20 autocannons for single-location damage; for 5-point-cluster weapons, the MRM 30, MRM 40, and the Hyper-Assault Gausses 30 and 40 all exceed it; and the Advanced Tactical Missiles do 1, 2, or 3 points per missile in launchers of 3, 6, 9, and 12 missiles for a potential of up to 36 points. The arms race and the need to sell sourcebooks is really making CBT pretty brutal.

  138. Cthulhu says:

    Prepared spellcasting, D&D third edition. You want to play a spellcaster? There’s two kinds: the ones that only know two spells, and the ones that know lots, but can only cast two a day, and they have to decide which ones at the start of the day, before they know what they’re going to need. As a result, everyone just takes fireball, because you can’t be sure of needing any specific utility spell, but you can be fairly certain a fireball will come in handy.

  139. Wonderduck says:

    TeamNutmeg, yeah, I know. When things like Omnimechs and Clans started showing up, I lost all interest in the game. I liked the concept of high-tech combat in a lost-high-tech world that the original game had.

    Of course, I was playing back when they still had Crusaders (now sadly gone due to copyright issues… seems that the never asked the creators of the Macross animes and others for permission to use their mecha designs), so… ‘get off my lawn,’ I guess.

  140. RHJunior says:

    well, critical success rolls and critical failure roles aren’t as big a deal if you’re using multiple dice to make the roll— because multiple dice produce a statistical bell curve. For example, if you determine a crit success/fail by rolling a d20, every number has an equal probability of coming up– so a 1 is just as likely as a 20.
    Use 3 d6s however, with 3 being a crit fail and 18 being a crit success, And both the high and low numbers are less likely, while most of your rolls will cluster around the middle range… what you’d expect from someone who’d actually trained as opposed to waving a sword at random. Very few disastrous mistakes, very few stunning lucky hits, just generally reliable competence.

  141. Claire says:


    That puts critical failure/success at a 1 in 216 chance (each), and requires some pretty severe rebalancing, though. It also risks making extraordinary rolls so rare that they almost never come up when it matters. (“You hit the orc and cut him.”x75 then… “You… totally opened the shit out of that lock. Goddamn. It is SO open. Hardcore. For realz.”)

    Other options:
    1d4 + 1d12
    Gives a number from 2 to 16, 4 and 18 each having a 1 in 48 chance of appearing.

    Gives a number from 2 to 20, 2 and 20 each having a 1 in 100 chance of appearing.

    Not saying the 1 in 216 spread isn’t more in line with the results we’d expect from the application of a skill, just saying that more extraordinary results is fun… but having the probability fit some sort of bell curve is much better, I agree. The BESTEST FIGHTAR IN THE WORLD! doesn’t miss the target dummy with his sword one time out of twenty.

    (continued, because I am apparently quite long-winded)

  142. Claire says:

    (continued from previous)

    Of course, even the modest 1d4+1d12 result requires some serious rebalancing. A PC with a +5 attack bonus is supposed to hit AC 18 35% of the time, because that’s how often 13 or higher comes up on 1d20… but with 1d4+1d12, he will only roll 13+ about 21% of the time… And AC 23, which should be a 10% chance, is hittable only on a critical success, about 2% of the time. So, yeah… it’s not a quick fix, by any means… assuming you accept that the game is at all well-balanced to begin with.

  143. Traska says:

    RIFTS, couldn't find anything on GMing.



    Rifts Ultimate Edition (the current game rules), p. 294:

    “…the role-playing experience is deeply personal and a little different for every group of gamers. That’s why there really is not any right or wrong way to play, or any one game system or approach that is truly superior to another. A good game is a good game, and a bad game can be fixed by a good Game Master. Ultimately, it comes down to what you and your fellow players enjoy and want out of a game. … I have found that at least a third of the Game Masters tweak and modify some aspect of the rules of any game they play. These changes are called “house rules” and as long as the majority of the players agree with and accept the changes, and the game is fun, then there’s nothing wrong with it. Rules lawyers need to grow up.”

  144. Khorboth says:

    @ Traska: Thanks for tracking that down. I have first edition RIFTS. I understand ultimate edition is MUCH better organized. I bet something like that is in the first edition, but I wouldn’t know where to begin looking for it. I suppose I should limit my comment about RIFTS bad organization to talking about first ed. Seriously, all it’d need is a reference to p. XX to bet the crown.

  145. Adeon says:


    It’s largely a matter of depth and elitism. Warhammer is very much on the lighter end of the war games spectrum (no logistics, no fog of war, minimal morale) so some people don’t consider it to be a “real” war game. Personally I tend to feel that it isn’t really a war game since it is much more enjoyable.

  146. ehlijen says:

    You might be interested to know that they have officially brought back all the ‘lost mechs’, including the crusader, with new looks (some better, some worse and all copyright issue free). They’ve also begun expanding the pre clan TROs a bit. The focus is still on more and more ‘funky stuff’, but the option of only playing preclan tech is still there.

    I agree, 40k is defintely a simpler ruleset than most wargames. And that is, I think, the reason for it’s success (and why I like it over most other wargames):
    Games are quicker, meaning you can play more often and it’s easier to play at all with a busy schedule.
    It’s more easily learned.
    No fog of war/other double blind rules mean that no game master/seperate advisor for new players is required.
    Less time spent on bookeeping and rules rereading means more time for fun (in most cases, there are exceptions).

    I know that 40k has it’s weaknesses, but it’s still a game about a war, so I’m just not sure what else to call it? Maybe ‘brawl-game’? ‘Scrap-game’? ‘Waaagh-game’?

  147. Wonderduck says:

    Ehlijen, no kidding? Well, darn, I might just have to take another look at it again. Wonder if I could find all my old lead figs?

  148. Viktor says:


    Also, grappling. Insanely complex and useless after 10th level(monsters would have abilities so far beyond what players could get in it that rolling wasn’t worth the time), and figuring out what you could do before rolling requires encyclopedic rules knowledge.

    AoOs are fine as long as you read the rules on what they mean. A full-attack is actually multiple parries and attacks that have no cance of scceeding, as wll as 1-4 that do. An AoO is the enemy leaving an opening that you can take advantage of seprately. Bows can’t be involved in a bunch of attacks like that because you can only launch a couple arrows in 6 seconds.

    Actually, Rapid Shot is one of the things that makes me crazy. The English archers launched un-aimed mass vollies at a rate of one arrow every 3 seconds. An 11th-level Warrior can double that, while aiming, in full armor.

  149. Derek K. says:

    Re: Weapon Speeds.

    I too miss them.

    The Everquest RPG used them, I believe (It’s actually a fairly interesting system overall – lots of tweaks on the 3.X formula).

    And when my friend and I created a giant home-brew, with an alternative ruleset, we added weapon speeds back in as well, albeit in a 3.x method – basically, your iterative attacks came at a point determined by your BAB *and* your weapon – daggers got them at +4, short swords and +5, bastard swords at +6, mauls +7, etc. We had to adjust damage and crit ranges some, and it was slightly unbalanced early on – we did something to fix that, but I don’t recall what (until you hit +4 bab, it was silly to worry about the speed anyway).

    I believe +4 was the fastest you could get on a normal weapon. +3 was available from some exotics, in place of losing crit range (Kukri was 1d4/x2, +3 iteratives). A few natural weapons were at +2. We also created a couple feat chains that could reduce your weapon speed by 2 max, and I believe a weapon property that was +3 equiv that reduced speed by 1.

    My group also ran through all the DLance modules using 2nd edition Skills & Powers a few years back.

    That was a freakin’ blast. Some of those modules are awesome. “The party can decide to help or not. If they do not, they are attacked by 5d4 draconians every 6-12 hours until they change their mind, or are killed.”

    That’s not verbatim, but that’s basically a quote from the first module. It was awesome.

  150. Doug Sundseth says:

    Original Traveller character generation – As mentioned, you could die in the process. What wasn’t mentioned (at least that I noticed) is that both initial character power and probability of dying rose with how long you took in the process — and there was no significant character advancement after the start of play. So, the smart thing to do was to take a high-risk, high-gain path over and over again until your character survived. (Fortunately, the chargen process was fun in itself.)

    Vancian magic (original form) – Wait, you mean that what separates high-level magic users from lower forms of life is that they can forget even more stuff in the course of a day?

    Space Opera character generation – Randomized races, with wildly different number of skill points, coupled with a byzantine set of skill prerequisites, made creating a new character a multi-hour job.

    OD&D movement and turn length – As mentioned, the exploration turn length was 10 minutes. And if you were wearing plate armor, you could move 30′ in that time. Try this in your own home for the full comic effect.

    Big stompy robots* – Hmm, I can take a 10-meter tall vehicle (which can only go hull-down behind medium office buildings) with an unfortunate propensity for falling down or spontaneously combusting at inconvenient times or I can take an MBT, like, say, an Abrams, that can hit that absurd robot at 5000 meters 90% of the time. Hmm, difficult decision.

    * Yes, I know they aren’t really robots. Tough. 8-)

    Chivalry & Sorcery magicians – But the worst was creating a magician character in C&S. It had most of the problems of Space Opera chargen, but then it added its own little quirks. Any decent mage in that system requires a focus. Each mage must create his own focus. Creating a focus takes about two game years. And creating a focus gives you experience. By the time you’ve built your focus, your character will be about 10th level.

  151. McNutcase says:

    Sure, mechs don’t make any sense whatsoever. Who gives a flying [expletive]? You are not going to tell me that a fifty foot tall anthropomorphic stomping machine isn’t cooler than a penguin’s toenails, which is what MATTERS.

  152. Omar says:

    … forget all the above.

    Rules about weapons in modern/scifi games.

    In fantasy it made sense: Just because you can use a spear doesn’t mean you can use a halberd, they have a different method of using the weapons. Different types of swords work differently (Shortsword != Greatsword).

    However, in many modern systems:
    “Ah! I’m out of ammo for my revolver, for which I have weapon focus, gunslinger, weapon specialization, greater weapon focus, greater weapon specialization, and proficiency. I shall pick up the pistol of the dead guard.”

    “Are you proficient with laser pistols?”

    “… isn’t it exactly the same except no kickback? Should I be better with the pistol?”

    “Are you proficient with the laser pistol?”

    “No… but I can fire plasma pistols…”

    “But not laser”

    “I can fire melta pistols, revolvers, bolt weapons, solid projectile pistols, flamer pistols… ”

    “But not laser? Sorry, you have no idea how to use it then”

    “Don’t I just point the barrel end at the thing I want to die?”

    “Not the point”

  153. Evil Otto says:


    Particularly when you think about things like a 100 ton starship was considered large for player characters.

    Well, in Traveller, tonnage was not a measure of weight but of displacement. One “ton” was a measure of the displacement of 1000kg of liquid hydrogen, which resulted in a much larger ship. A 200 ton free trader could hold 8-10 standard railroad boxcars of cargo.

  154. Evil Otto says:


    Nevermind ;-)

  155. Doug Sundseth says:

    McNutcase: “Sure, mechs don't make any sense whatsoever.”

    I’m glad you agree.

    “Who gives a flying [expletive]?”


    “You are not going to tell me that a fifty foot tall anthropomorphic stomping machine isn't cooler than a penguin's toenails…”

    Oh, I’m pretty sure that I am. And don’t even get me started on AFVs with giant axes. Anything more ridiculous than space orcs is distracting, irritating, annoying … in fact, not only do I hate them, but you have to hate them too. Now, if the giant stompy robots had giant bagpipes and giant (please make sure they’re actually giant) kilts, you might have a point.

    “…which is what MATTERS.”

    Umm, no?


  156. McNutcase says:

    Calm down. The mantra here is “It’s a game. I am here to have fun.”

    Big stompy robots are so much more fun than tanks. Accept the Rule of Cool, and treat it like the Saturday morning cartoons it ripped so much off from.

  157. Doug Sundseth says:

    Calm down?

    Ah, satire. You were such a good friend before you died.

  158. ehlijen says:

    True fact:

    If you cannot accept the idea that ‘battlemechs are the most efficient way of bringing a single soldier to a wide variety of vastly different battlefields with minimal equipment reconfiguration’ (which admittedly logic dictates is at the very least quite a stretch) then you will not ever be able to like battletech (or anything else involving robots).

    But then again, anyone who accepts audible explosions in space and slower-than-light laser ‘bolt’ weaponry shouldn’t be complaining about giant robots :p There isn’t a lot of good scifi that is completely accurate, scientifically speaking. Not even trek as most trek games add so many silly ‘tech toys’ it’s not funny anymore. And they still have audible explosions in space.

  159. Brandon says:

    @ strangeite

    http://www.fortunecity.com/rivendell/stonekeep/25/stone.html should answer any lingering questions about stoneskin. It’s a very useful spell, but it isn’t the end-all be-all.

  160. Oh, and the fact that if the target is not in partial cover, a hit by a LB20X would have you roll up to 20 sets of 2d6 to see where all the damage goes, while the LRM20, which is rules procedure wise an almost identical weapon (but with different stats), has a max of 4 such rolls to make…

    This is a feature, though, not a bug. The idea of the LBX guns is that you use them in “slug” mode until you’ve stripped a couple of holes in your enemy’s armor, at which point you switch to “shotgun” mode and maximize your chance of scoring a critical hit (or, even better, multiple critical hits). You *want* to be rolling all of those separate locations when firing in shotgun mode.

  161. Derek K. says:

    Hard science makes it hard to tell a good story.

    Sometimes, stuff just works.

    Besides, think about the world today vs the world 20 years ago, in terms of cutting edge science – things impossible then are doable now. Who’s to say?

  162. Stranger says:

    For me, part of the fun is making big stompy mecha fall over after taking a tank round in the cockpit.

    . . . what?

  163. ehlijen says:


    I am aware that it is a feature and a useful one. But it does slow the game down something fierce (and B-tech is already close to suffering from too many tables and things to note down) and the LRM20, which should work the same way, doesn’t for some reason that I can’t discern.

  164. Traska says:

    It’s simple.

    The LBX-20 rounds fire as a cluster. That is, they’re scattershot. The LRM launchers, though, have targeting computers. They don’t just spit missiles out at random, they group them, for maximum damage potential.

    Now, an LBX-style launcher could theoretically be possible.

  165. Talrogsmash says:

    I humbly submit that that line was not conceived or approved of by Kevin Siembada as he is genetically unable to admit any idea of his that has ever seen print was in way, shape, or form, “wrong”. Unless, of course, he was talking about what you do with “other peoples” rules systems.

    Don’t believe me? Just ask Kevin long.

  166. Bai Shen says:

    Uhh, Ethan, 100 SDC equals 1 MDC is already built into the Palladium system. Perhaps you meant a 10 to 1 ratio? That’s what I usually see people change it to.

  167. Strangeite says:

    To all of those pointing out the lunacy of using Stoneskin as written in 2ed: I totally agree, but logic was never a very highly valued commodity to a group of 12 year old min-maxers back in 1989. As for the component cost, having a little diamond dust was never a problem for a campaign run by a Monty Hall DM that ignored any and all encumbrance rules. I am pretty sure that if I dug up an old character sheet, I would find that we each carried on our person the combined GDP of ten kingdoms.

  168. Martin says:


    Just… F.A.T.A.L.

    All of it.

  169. Felblood says:

    I propose a new game, related to “The Game”.

    Every time you mention F.A.T.A.L., you lose.

    Everyone already loses whenever they have to think about it, you should be punished for inflicting that on them.

    If you don’t know about FATAL, keep it that way. You really are much better off.

    –unless you might be thinking about making a game like Fatal, and reading it or a review of it, might be enough to save the world from your vile creation. In which case, I doubt this is going to stop you from spreading your vile mind-poison, but we must try every possible method of stopping you.

    Seriously, that guy is a danger to humanity. Anyone who has read Fatal will surely agree, that anyone thinking about making a game like that should have their typing fingers cut off, if that’s what it takes to stop them.

  170. Eric says:

    No, Modern D20. Nuff said.

  171. Roxysteve says:

    I think, since people are nominating meta-rules (the ones that are in play but not actually written down), that I would like to nominate the unspoken rule that says that in any group of ten Wonkhammer 401k players, six of them have to be total d*cks.

    I stopped playing Wonkhammer 401k after the 2000 Baltimore Tourney because I finally hit the point of d*ck overload and they were becoming archetypical.

    The nitwit who can’t remember the six rules (or so) the game now consists of, and cries like a baby when you want him to use them, please (although women do play Wonkhammer 401k, the Rules Amnesiac tends to be male).

    The one who conveniently “forgets” all the negative aspects of the army he has fielded that day, along with all the advantages yours has, needing reminding on every turn. (the functional equivalent of the idiot who screams “I cleave!” every time he kills the only opponent anywhere near him, because he has the feat but can’t remember the one sentence it comprises in the PHB)

    The eldar player who screams like a banshee when one of the cheesy bolt-on rules they’ve been playing all year is declared not in use for that tournament, despite the fact they are labeled “experimental” in the copy of White Dwarf they appeared in.

    And I warn everyone to avoid the 25 year-old with a shaved head and an orc army. This goes double if he has painted his face green. This guy takes the art of being unpleasant and makes it a science.

    And would it kill any of them to bathe occasionally?

    It goes without saying that no-one with the good taste to read 20-Sided would fall into any of the above categories.

  172. Ruana says:

    In Nomine First Edition – the rule for sensing disturbances in the symphony.

    Allow me to explain. The In Nom rules are deliberately written to make angels and demons way harder than humans. This being the case, the designers added a mechanism to make it less of a good idea to take the brute-force approach to solving problems; harming a normal being or object, or using most angelic/demonic abilities, would result in ‘noise’ which could be ‘heard’ by celestials in the area, and so might attract unwelcome attention. Not unreasonable.

    However, the original version of the rules to determine the chance of a given being ‘hearing’ this ‘noise’ were a bit ridiculous, demanding as I recall that the GM use a complex (for RP rules) formula to figure out the size of the disturbance and the chance of it being heard in radiating concentric rings, the size of which varied with the ‘noise’s magnitude. I have no idea how a GM was supposed to use them as written without either making estimates in advance (and we all know how unpredictable players can be) or slowing things down badly – especially in a fight, where disturbances of varying sizes tend to come thick and fast, and where it often matters very much who ‘hears’ what. Reading that section of the rulebook, I knew that the urge to make it all consistent and fair had come off the better in a head-on collision with the need for playability.

    Neither I nor the other individual who ran games with that rulebook used the rule as written. Unsurprisingly, it was later officially simplified; but it still boggles me that it ever made it through playtesting at all.

  173. Wonderduck says:

    Elijen said “the LRM20, which should work the same way, doesn't for some reason that I can't discern.

    Yeah, that’s my fault. That’s the suggestion I made to the FASA rep at that RockCon… actually, I think I suggested 5 groups of 4 damage (so a headshot didn’t automatically kill a mech; I figured that, since the LRMs were unguided they might be hitting the head, but one or two would be glancing, yadda…).

    So blame the grouping on me. Mea Culpa.

  174. Kevin says:

    D&D 3.5… a hole in a wall of less than 11 inches diameter breaks line of effect. Arrow slits in castles everywhere suddenly turn into strangely shaped windows, and wizards can no longer shoot magic missiles through a chain link fence.

    Close second… -1 to spot checks for every ten feet over thirty. Eagles, hawks, and all other birds of prey who don’t have a +250 to their spot hidden start falling out of the sky, dying of starvation.

  175. Roxysteve says:

    Derek K.:
    November 30th, 2008 at 10:05 pm
    Hard science makes it hard to tell a good story.

    Actually, it doesn’t unless the would-be author doesn’t know any. I’ll refrain from quoting titles at length, but you could do worse than check out “The Cold Equations”. I also recommend “Mars” by Ben Bova.

    Rephrase that as: “Ignorance of the subject matter makes it hard to tell a story” and you’ve got my vote.

    Hard science does make life inconveniently dangerous though, which is why RPGs need to turn it off sometimes. My problem with that comes when the replacement laws of physics are inconsistent and change with the needs of the plot. A recent game had a DM extolling the nastiness of a pool of green, stagnant, leech-infested water that had to be crossed, then, eliding the aftermath as “you can clean up with no real problem” an hour later. How do you roleplay in a world where that happens (but but only sometimes)?

    Very interesting thread, people. Very thought provoking. Thanks.

  176. Octal says:

    Close second… -1 to spot checks for every ten feet over thirty. Eagles, hawks, and all other birds of prey who don't have a +250 to their spot hidden start falling out of the sky, dying of starvation.

    Yeah, but does the model pretty much work for humans? Of course you’d have to make a different spot check rule for eagles (or, I guess, give them a huge racial bonus, but that seems kind of unsatisfying somehow); their eyes are fundamentally different than humans’. It wouldn’t make sense to use the same distances; I’m sure the difference between a rabbit 1000 feet away and one 1010 feet away is rather less than +1 difficulty for them. You’d probably have to make it something like +1 for every hundred feet over a thousand or something like that.

  177. B. Wayne says:

    Re: Mechs, since this discussion is still going on…

    I actually came up with a future setting in which giant androids piloted by humans became useful, although it was only in space and not on the ground.

    Basically, the idea is that people fly around in space in big ships. Those big ships are protected in two ways: first, with thick metal armor plates (some fictional titanium alloy), and secondly, with energy shields. The physical armor protected against physical attacks such as bullets and bombs, and the energy armor protected against energy weapons like lasers. However, the metal plates were extremely susceptible to high-energy weapons, and the energy shields conveniently were useless against anything much denser than plasma (that’s atomic plasma, not blood plasma. But I digress).

    It was possible to devise a solid weapon that could create an energy field once against the metal hull, but if they travelled in a straight line they proved easy to shoot down. Therefore it was necessary to have someone on board piloting them (there’s too much signal lag to effectively control them remotely), and since pilots are expensive to train, they had to be reusable and recoverable. And since a slash works better to cut through armor just a spike, it needed an arm to cut with, and since it needed an armor shield with energy barriers to deflect oncoming enemy attacks, it needed another arm, and by this point you’ve basically built a mech. They carried swords and axes and things that sank through the energy shields and then powered up and reeked havoc on the now-defenseless metal.

    To make a long story short, mechs attacked capital ships, fighters attacked mechs, and capital ships brought down fighters, along with any number of utility pieces that flew about, like transports for marines and of course various non-military ships. It was a neat idea, but things like college and girls got in the way and I never did anything with it.

  178. Arquinsiel says:

    Traska, funnily enough LBX autocannon use the grouping rules for SRM launchers, the short-ranged bigger-bite version of the LRM. Or at least they did, last I checked (Battletech Compendium, Smoke Jag Timberwolf on the cover).

  179. Nilus: Dodge REPLACES parry, and roll with impact only occurs on some hits, so it’s 2-3 at most. The system is actually, IMHO, a lot more interesting as long as it doesn’t devolve into a dice fest. Someone announces their attack, figures out what they’re trying to do, then the person who gets attacked figures out an approach to deal with it, an approach that in your judgment can net bonuses or penalties, and then they get to react. Other elements of the melee combat system are also superior, though multiple melee attacks lead to the unfortunate phenomenon where the guy with 14 melee attacks spends 8 turns whomping while everyone else twiddles their thumbs.

    The M.D.C. armor rule is only from Rifts: Ultimate Edition, IIRC, and it’s gotten a lot more hate than it deserves. Plenty of abstractions become silly in extreme cases, but what the idea represents is that it’s silly that a ton of armor will just suddenly turn to dust when you get one last railgun shot through it. The armor still has some residual defense for that one last blow in all likelihood before it THEN collapses.

    What I disliked was the A.R. system disappearing at M.D.C.: It made armor only about M.D.C. it granted and helped make it an M.D.C. depletion war.

    My least favorite part, though, of Rifts: No good rules for multi-classing. We see NPCs who are terribly designed yet they have two classes? Why? It wouldn’t be that hard to devise a D&D-like system for it…

  180. Trae says:

    Roleplaying D&D 3.5 in a chatroom the way me and my group does changes the experience in how things work. We don’t simply rollplay. We actively RP and play out our characters as they are. During combat, it’s something of a houserule that if a limb is hit badly (the DM has her own table on where an attack is landed), it is used less effectively. Examples would be a leg attack would make the injured move slower, or an arm attack would prevent usage of that arm and two-handed weapons/two-weapon fighting.

    Hit points are somewhat similar, it represents more like stamina during combat, with a slight mix with physical damage. Someone at 50 out of 60 hp might feel the burn, but still be fine and dandy. When they’re at 10 hp, it’s played with things such as a stagger in the step, heavy breathing, and possibly holding to a bloody wound, but otherwise doesn’t affect direct combat capabilities.

    We don’t even keep track of EXP or the like, (though I do have a personal kill-count). The DM has set points along the story where we level up, primarily around ‘boss’ encounters. And we don’t even level right where it’s gained. For instance if we kill a boss, and we know there’s nothing going to be going on before getting back to town, we level there instead. Particularly since the DM has a special rule where we can do a “luck” roll and get extra training or the like during a period of relaxation in a city to get extra hp, skills, even a bonus feat if we get a high luck roll. Of course we have to have the time in-game to be able to do this training, like 2 weeks or so.

  181. Low-Level DM says:

    Ok, well, I’ll take someone else’s idea and do my “least favorite” plus a “runner-up”. Admittedly, I’m not that well versed in the horrors of all the systems discussed above, (or wasn’t previously…) but I will contribute these:

    Firstly – The D&D 4e Powers System. Ok, so it makes combat faster, cleaner, a lot less complex. Good. It makes spellcasters mechanically identical (in terms of attacks) to fighters. Bad. When all that distinguishes the one from the other is one says [W] and the other actually lists the dice… Maybe it’s a preference point, but I still think that sword swings and fireballs should be pretty distinctly separate, to use the classic example. To the Power System’s credit, though, I like the old Saves as Defenses, and the lack of (above mentioned) head-shake-inducing spell resistance.

    Second – Again, I have neither the time nor the cash to know enough systems to make this interesting, so I’ll stick w/4e. Maybe this isn’t a huge issue, but the death rules are kind of annoying. You can’t ever die from damage till you hit “negative bloodied” (negative 1/2 your HP), but you could die sooner if you successively fail 3 flat saves (10+ is a success, 9- is a fail). While this makes some sense in that it makes almost nothing in the system deadly at low levels, it makes it almost impossible for fighters and paladins with a lot of HP to die. FROM ANYTHING. For Death’s purposes they have 1.5 times their real HP value, have a ton of heals and ridiculous healing surge stores, and failing 3 flat saves in a row will almost never happen.

  182. Xandar says:

    the rule that i had a problem with is that in a wizards spellbook, a spell takes up one page per level. so a ninth level spell takes up 9 pages. what about the spell power word kill? its JUST. ONE. WORD! and yet, it takes up 9 pages! whats up with that?!?!?!?

    1. Sudokori says:

      Maybe th other 8 pages are just preparation for the power word so you can focus it so you don’t accidenLly kill everyone in hearing distance. Just imagine if all you had to do was say the word? You would hear it and die, yell it in a crowded market square while wearing ear protection and you’ve just murdered a thousand people.

  183. Astrolounge says:

    Worst rule ever? Probably the old rule about illusion effects that said if your character “disbelieves” a thing, and that thing is an illusion, then you get a saving throw Vs. illusion to realize that it’s not real. The reason this is stupid is demonstrated extensively in the webcomic “Another Gaming Comic” here:

  184. From a game design viewpoint, I hate 4th ed’s Solo monsters. See, there are a couple of tags you can fit to monsters which modify how much XP they’re worth, with the goal of allowing you to increase or decrease the scale of encounter without changing its difficulty. Minions are worth 1/4 of normal XP for their level and only have 1 HP, so you can use them to fill out an encounter for the lols. Elite monsters are worth double XP and are generally leaders of a bunch of monsters. Solo monsters are worth 5 times the XP and are meant to be “big bosses”. This is another thing that they’ve borrowed from video game logic; fighting through a nest of progressively bigger monsters until you get to the Big Momma. Now, since 4th ed is geared towards 5 adventurers per party, the logic is that if you throw a level N solo monster at a level N party, they’ll be roughly evenly matched. Problem is, it’s bollocks. There are three possible scenarios via which you can throw a solo monster at a party;

    1. A solo monster of level equal to or slightly greater than the party. 4th edition assumes that you have at least one wizardly type per party who specialises in ranged AOE attacks. Some melee characters can also be built specifically to attack multiple enemies. Problem is, these people will be utterly useless in a solo battle. The characters who are built for one-on-one will have a ball, letting their strongest moves rip into the solo monster, but the AOE/multi-target specialists’ strongest moves are bigger, not more damaging, which means they’ll most likely wipe out the party’s melee warriors too.

    2. A solo monster of slightly less level than the party, plus his henchfolk. A marginally better proposition than above; the AOE specialists can target the henchfolk while the one-on-ones can smash up the boss. However, it’s still not wholly practical. If the solo monster’s level is slightly too high, he’ll outlast his minions by miles, meaning that the AOE specialists are still going to feel unwanted. If the solo monster’s level is slightly too low, he’ll die before his henchfolk, leading to the embarrassing proposition of you having wiped out the dragon but not his kobold buddies.

    3. Solo monsters of much lower level than the party. A level N solo monster is meant to be a challenge for 5 level N protagonists. While it’s theoretically possible to replace level 5N monsters in a level 5N encounter with level N solo monsters, the party will be able to rip right through them, since they’ll have the same HP but way worse defences than the level 5N monsters.

    So I try to avoid using solo monsters whenever possible. Unfortunately, all the really good monsters (amongst them almost all dragons) are solos! I’ve yet to find a way of balancing them into my AOE-heavy team, so I avoid them altogether. My boss fights are big duels with bad guys who have class levels, thankyou very much!

  185. Rickles says:

    Dark Heresy (the ‘main’) WH40K roleplaying game is all in all a pretty good system; not great, but easy enough to fix when things start acting in stupid ways. Until you look at the rules for explosives.

    Explosives with damage that scales linearly with weight (of explosives).

    Explosives with damage and blast radius that scales linearly with weight. Meaning that area rises quadratically per kilogram of explosive.

    A mate of mine crunched the numbers for me. He reckoned that by those rules, filling a Valkyrie (a sort of VTOL light fighter/transport) to the brim with explosives and ramming it into the ground would be quite sufficient to destroy and shatter THE ENTIRE G*DDANG PLANET.

  186. Redingold says:

    A few months back, my friend got it into his head that we should make a Mass Effect tabletop game. From scratch. Not even adapting existing rulesets or anything. None of us had even played a tabletop RPG before.

    It was an awful, bloated, ridiculously over-complicated mess. I recall that the chance to hit an enemy with gunfire depended on at least 23 variables (and my friends said it was less complicated than he could’ve made it). There were then three layers of health, one of which caused a percentage reduction in damage taken based on the state of your armour. It was utterly unnecessary because he’d “balanced” the weapons in such a way that a single sniper shot would kill or nearly kill the target.

    He then got annoyed when none of us put much work into the thing. He said I should write the story, even though I’ve never written or even played such a story before, and I’m not good at writing.

  187. Sudokori says:

    This one game I went into I learned that there was a rule that arrows could be used as daggers of the same size category, but break after one use. So the fighter of the party buys 20 arrows and takes 10 in each hand and proceeds to 2 shot the BBEG by stabbing it with 20 arrows (20d4.

  188. Wade says:

    PHB+1 why limit creation, I’ll never play AL

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