Vincent Baker’s key writings on how games work

“Periodic Reminder” — System, rules and principles

“How RPG Rules Work” — fiction, players and rules

“Rules vs Vigorous Creative Agreement” — Rules exist to force outcomes that no-one playing would have chosen

His use of “system” in those follows the Lumpley Principle / Baker-Care Principle — “System (including but not limited to ‘the rules’) is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play.”1

NB I generally don’t use that definition — it conflicts with the much more general use that I’m familiar with professionally, and it is unhelpful as a jargon term because it’s too easily confused with “rules” or “ruleset”. So I use a much more generic definition as sketched in Some meanings of some terms.



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