I wrote about OSR play and the negative space of rules in a game.

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I don't think I've ever experienced a game where you didn't need to know some of the rules. I would love to know the games where you have experienced this!

I would also lump in 1e and 2e with your b/x assessment. Especially spells, for example.

I think some players knowing those rules can be a double edged sword. The other edge being munchkin-ism.

@presgas I mean any FKR game would be an example, by definition I suppose. We often play test Brendan's current iteration of his game, and no one knows the rules except him, mostly. Our friend Steve who plays with us never knows what we're playing or how it works before we play.


"In OSR play, I think it quite common that players are doing their utmost to avoid engaging with the rules of play! They often exist to model some sort of failure state: saving throws, combat, etc."

Yes and no! This category of rules I call symbolic mechanics (my favorite student, @lumpley, first identified the category [perennial teacher's pet as he is] but he confusingly [to me and my li'l pea brain] called it "dice" even though it includes stuff like HP and AC).

That leaves, in the "negative space" not well modeled by symbolic mechanics, a lot of other parts of the game to "design": traps, secrets, environments, locations, dangers, monsters, rewards, items, relationships. Well-designed diegetic probably better known as "prep".
@funkaoshi @lumpley

I'm talking design like "The figurine is hidden under one of the floorboards in the butler's bedroom, under the non-creaky one" or "She knows where the girl is hiding but is scared to tell because she doesn't wanna get mistakenly accused as being associated with the glitch-magic the girl dabbled in"

@Sandra @lumpley @Sandra @lumpley I love the Blorb principles! That's an interesting view on things as well. Originally I was thinking about this in terms of how players engage with a game—two groups can play B/X very differently depending on whether they are kicking down doors and fighting monsters, or doing something more stereotypically OSR—and then sort of pivoted to how people go about designing games. It's true that there is much more to the structure of play than HP and Saving Throws.

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