DM Advice: Damn the Rules, Full Speed Ahead!

People are, unfortunately, predominately sheep. You see it in every facet of life. People are slaves to rules and mores. Oh, sure, they’ll cheat now and then, but by and large, they are comfortable within their little boxes, these artificial constructs.

It’s something that comes up often in gaming groups, this belief that because it is written in a rulebook it is somehow gospel spoken from on high.


I, as a DM, prefer to think of the rules as guidelines, with my judgement being the final word, because, frankly, sometimes the rules get in the way of telling a good story.

Thing is, the designers will more often than not agree with this assessment, but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get your players to think outside the rulebook.

If you find this to be true at your gaming table, I suggest open discourse. Discuss the world you’re playing in, and more importantly, discuss the players’ ambitions and how they visualize their character.

Wherever a conflict arises with the rules, hammer it out, make them bend (but not break) to your will.

As Gary Gygax so famously put it, “The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don’t need any rules.


Roleplaying for me has always been about storytelling first. Everything else is a distant second. Nothing can put the brakes on narrative flow faster than rules nazis and rulebook dependent sheep.

DMs are shepherds. Keep the story flowing by limiting the time your tups and ewes spend with their noses in the books while at the table. You’re the referee. Make the call and press on.


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