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Old 12-17-2017, 09:06 AM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default GURPS Hermeneutics

I spend a fair amount of time on the RPG Stack Exchange, and it's clear from the questions and answers there that the hermeneutics (methods of rules interpretation) of different RPGs vary quite a bit.

So it seems interesting to try to describe what hermeneutics we use here, given that we have considerable input from the line editor, his assistant and quite a few of the writers, on their intentions. There's also a refreshing willingness to admit mistakes and own up to lack of clarity.

First, we have Rule Zero: the game assumes that there is a GM, and that their rulings will be sensible, at least for their desired game.

We also have the principle that if you want benefits you should buy them, rather than trying to contort rules into giving them to you for free.

An appeal to reality, or at least Occam's Razor for things that are not real, is generally worth considering.

What else?
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Old 12-17-2017, 09:23 AM   #2
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Default Re: GURPS Hermeneutics

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
First, we have Rule Zero: the game assumes that there is a GM, and that their rulings will be sensible, at least for their desired game.
The biggest mental disconnect I've seen might be summed up as "it is not expected that everything from all published GURPS4e supplements, or even everything in the core rules, will be available to characters in any given single campaign".

This overlaps somewhat with Rule Zero but I think it goes usefully further.
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Old 12-17-2017, 09:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: GURPS Hermeneutics

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The biggest mental disconnect I've seen might be summed up as "it is not expected that everything from all published GURPS4e supplements, or even everything in the core rules, will be available to characters in any given single campaign".
Extending on this: "Some rules are mutually exclusive" - not only are they not really expecting you to do everything at once, you really can't do some things at the same time.
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Old 12-17-2017, 09:33 AM   #4
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Default Re: GURPS Hermeneutics

I'd argue that the "ABC" rule in Powers - that ability builds should first be Accurate (that is, model what you're trying to describe), then Basic (they should use the least convoluted build possible), and then Cheap (if multiple approaches are viable, use the one that costs the least points) is a pretty useful guideline for GURPS in general.
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Old 12-17-2017, 10:32 AM   #5
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Default Re: GURPS Hermeneutics

"If it doesn't limit you, it's not worth points" and the corollary for advantages and enhancements.
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Old 12-17-2017, 10:56 AM   #6
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Default Re: GURPS Hermeneutics

For rules interpretation, as opposed to use, I've always considered a central tool to be presuming that the rules say what they mean to say, and if they do not say a thing it is because they mean to not say it.

I have never thought of that as being GURPS-specific...
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Old 12-17-2017, 11:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: GURPS Hermeneutics

I think for most of us there's a lean away from semantic rules-lawyering. I usually try to interpret the rules as meaning what they seem to intend in simple English, in the context they are presented in. I occasionally see people trying to parse specific word choices from different rules, well separated in the books, in a way to support an interpretation that allows what seems to me far-fetched or contrary to what appears the intent of one of the rules. This kind of approach feels more appropriate to seeking out exploits and synergies between Magic the Gathering cards or D&D-type feats and talents.
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Old 12-17-2017, 01:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: GURPS Hermeneutics

I see GURPS rules as a giant toolbox (as Roger mentioned above), and that any good ruleset will contain the bare minimum rules from that toolbox to create the desired kind of gameplay. This ties into the ABC rule from Powers. A concise summary of this might be:

Use exactly as many rules as you need, and not one more.
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Old 12-17-2017, 01:42 PM   #9
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Default Re: GURPS Hermeneutics

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I think for most of us there's a lean away from semantic rules-lawyering.
Agreed. Despite having a passionate commitment to their fiddly rules, GURPS fans tend to be wide open to different interpretations, implementations, and play styles. The term "RAW" turns up on these forums, for example, but it has not been weaponized. Perhaps because GURPS is a toolkit and perforce every campaign must use a subset of rules, it's often assumed that every group will make different calls about how all the pieces fit together.
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Old 12-17-2017, 01:49 PM   #10
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Agreed. Despite having a passionate commitment to their fiddly rules, GURPS fans tend to be wide open to different interpretations, implementations, and play styles. The term "RAW" turns up on these forums, for example, but it has not been weaponized. Perhaps because GURPS is a toolkit and perforce every campaign must use a subset of rules, it's often assumed that every group will make different calls about how all the pieces fit together.
Moreover, I think that the toolkit approach leads to greater acceptance of house rules.
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