The discussion in another thread makes me wonder


Gamer Life General Discussion


Is there anyone who plays D&D ?e or Pathfinder who plays strictly by the book outside of PFS? What I mean is, absolutely no house rules, up on all errata, that sort of game? I'm wondering, because I've never played one as far as I know in 25 years. My groups have always been willing to fling conventions out the window when we didn't care for them, and every homebrew setting has its own set of restrictions on what classes/races exist there.

Does a pure version of any game exist with RAW only outside of tournament play? Do you think the majority of games are played this way? Or is the game better played while adapted to your own group's needs? And if the majority of games are mutations of official rules, what does that say about the rules themselves? Is the adaptability of an RPG a strength, or does it encourage further fracturing of the hobby?

The Exchange

Since what is or isn't 'strictly by the book' is a matter of opinion in a lot of cases, I'd imagine a 'pure version' of the game is impossible. Even PFS is a set of houserules (for a really big house...), as are any tournament rules you may encounter.

On the other hand, RAW includes 'The Most Important Rule' (core book, page 9) - so no matter what houserules you're playing under, you're still playing 'strictly by the book'! :)


Actually, I am attempting this with Pathfinder right now in a PBeM context.

In my experience, most "house-rules" are created to compensate for the problems caused by ignoring other rules. Encumbrance can be a pain to track, for example, but when every PC regardless of Strength score can carry 200+ lbs of gear and has "just the right thing" for every occasion, PCs become too successful. Other house rules that are created "because the core rules got it wrong" are themselves wrong - the creator usually mis-read or mis-interpreted the original rule.

I had a recent difference of opinion with another poster about the Pirana Strike feat from Heart of the Jungle.

The other poster's opinion: Because the mechanical effects are identical to Power Attack, then Pirana Strike can allow use of Cleave and Great Cleave with the attacks made using Pirana Strike instead of Power Attack.

My opinion: Because Pirana Strike uses a different basis (Weapon Finesse vs. brute Strength) for is effects, and the text says you cannot combine it with Power Attack, then it does not meet the pre-requisites for the Cleave and Great Cleave feats and they cannot be used with Pirana Strike.

My reading is "conservative", shall we say. The feat gives what it says it gives, and no more. If it was meant to be able to stand in for Power Attack, it would say so.

The other poster's reading is more "liberal". The mechanical effects are similar (same bonus and penalty to your attacks) and they are used in the same way. You can't use both at once to double your bonuses, but you can use other feats that build from the related feat.

Which is correct? I stand by mine, but I can see the reasoning in the other. I would consider the other interpretation a "house rule", and one that is not deliberately being added at that. THAT is the sort of house rule that I often see leading to more house rules later.. to "fix the problems".

So, for purposes of my current game, I am applying a "conservative" reading to the rules. There have been a number of small changes (ability damage and bonuses, for example), the "remembering how it was in 3.x" actually is more of a hindrance than a help. I find that checking the rules and applying a little imagination in the presentation is working fairly well.

When it comes to some things, like encumbrance, that are often house-ruled, tools like HeroLab that track some of these for you are immensely useful, and make house-rules like "no encumbrance" less necessary.


I stick as close to the written word of the rules as I find possible, using "rule zero," as little as I can manage - I've always been that way.

...of course, my interpretation of the written rules likely doesn't always match up to other people's interpretations - for example, I think stealth functions perfectly as written and have seen a few threads here and there claiming that it doesn't function at all.

I've always been motivated to try and stay to the rules as they exist in print (i.e. not adding a list of rules to the game not found in the book) so that any new players joining my group that have read the book have actually had a chance to learn the rules as I use them (if they interpreted things the same) without having to brush up on my list of home-brewed add-ons.


Until Weapon Finesse is tossed out of the official rules and is no longer a feat tax, we don't go strictly by the book.


HELL no...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
sheep999 wrote:


Does a pure version of any game exist with RAW only outside of tournament play?

Not even PFS play goes entirely by RAW. It's kind of like going to the speed of light. But I'm sure there are plenty of home games that are 95 percent plus RAW.

Liberty's Edge

My group tries to do what you're talking about. At least, we did before antagonize.


As long as im DMing its strict raw.


yes. but that lasted all of 2 hours.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I DM strictly RAW in all my games. Creating houserules just creates more work for me. The rule system was built already and, to me, does not need more rules built on top of it.


Pathfinder has some rules that are ambiguous enough to be interpreted in at least two ways. If you interpreted such a rule one way, it would be considered as a house rule by those who interpreted it the other way, and vice versa.

So my conclusion is that it's impossible to play "strict RAW" because such a thing doesn't exist in a game with ambiguous rules.

Dark Archive

hogarth wrote:

Pathfinder has some rules that are ambiguous enough to be interpreted in at least two ways. If you interpreted such a rule one way, it would be considered as a house rule by those who interpreted it the other way, and vice versa.

So my conclusion is that it's impossible to play "strict RAW" because such a thing doesn't exist in a game with ambiguous rules.

This.

Also, as a DM, there are rules that I've glanced at and know I'll never use because they'll continue the unfortunate 3.x trend of over-complicating things. (UC vehicle rules, I'm looking at you)

I don't think having a rule for every possibility is a worthy goal.


I'm pretty close, but I change 4 or 5 things. Most of my houserules are plug-ins like homebrew feats, though, which I don't really count as "changing the rules".

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I don't understand the question.


hogarth wrote:

Pathfinder has some rules that are ambiguous enough to be interpreted in at least two ways. If you interpreted such a rule one way, it would be considered as a house rule by those who interpreted it the other way, and vice versa.

So my conclusion is that it's impossible to play "strict RAW" because such a thing doesn't exist in a game with ambiguous rules.

This is a perfect explanation of why I stick to as little rule-zero use as possible, and don't add in other rules beyond my interpretation of the ones in the books.

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