Subtle Rules

Subtle rules are a bad thing. Subtle rules are generally elegant and well worded, which is good, but their reason for being and their justifications are often hidden, which is where their weakness lies.

It is a sad fact, but people are more likely to ignore rules they don’t understand the need for, no matter how important these rules may be.

Obvious rules, with clear reasons for existence, will be followed most of the time. Try and make all of your rules obvious in this manner. The clarity with which they are conveyed is important, but if the reasoning behind a rule being present is not obvious, then it will often be ignored.

Sometimes, players will realise that one of the subtle rules with no justification is actually very important, and changes the game significantly once they realise this and begin to include it. I’ve seen that this tends to cause resentment amongst the players, even if the new rule is a good one that benefits the game.

Make your rules obvious, but don’t slip too far and patronise your players, they will not enjoy that other. Seek a balance when writing the rules, make sure everything in the rules document has a visible reason for being there, and make sure that the reason is not one only you can see.


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