Sometimes, the adherence to the so-called “Rule of Cool” can be detrimental to a game.
Having such a rule in effect in a campaign can result in players taking risks that they would have otherwise have avoided, but one has to be very careful about where to draw the line between “Cool” and “Stupid”. Perhaps this is me being too discriminatory, but I enjoy it when players take risks, or decide to apply non-standard solutions to a given situation in order to solve a dilemma. However, there are times when some ideas lean too far towards the argument of “But it’s Cool!” than actually being a workable plan.
So, perhaps to defend my position, let me present my little mental checklist when it comes to spotting Awesome but terrible ideas:
- Is there an actual objective? – This is the first step. Sometimes, I’ve seen players blather something about “Kicking the guard in the face” or some other wild action with no real intention in mind. Usually, this results in the said character getting beaten up, thrown into solitary and deprived of food for a few days.
- Are you making wild assumptions? – The first sign of a plan that wasn’t quite thought through, is one that runs on a boatload of assumptions. Once the player starts saying “And then this guy will do this, which will then cause this, and then this… it can’t NOT work!” then it’s time to start getting the bucket of ice cold reality ready.
- Are you lashing out? – Sometimes players just get plain frustrated and lash out. This is the rebellious action declaration, the passive-aggressive method of sabotaging a game. I’ll admit that I’m not immune to this sort of thing, and now and then a player will declare something absolutely reckless just to get me to react in some fashion. I try to spot this as early as I can so I can call them on it and bring the discussion off the game and into a conversation between friends. I’d rather not have it escalate into an in-game arms race of disruptive actions that will ultimately just ruin the game for everyone.
To put things simply, the Rule of Cool is a great idea, and I honestly accept it as a part of my games. However, the idea of abusing the Rule of Cool to let your players run roughshod over everything just because is lazy gaming. As with all things, coolness requires some measure of moderation. Too much of it, and the game feels thin and uninspired, going for a quick bang rather than actual, well conceived events.
Coolness has a place in my game, and I welcome it. But when Coolness tends to overstep its bounds and starts wailing on Good Taste, then it has to be shown to the corner. Key to any sort of GMing is consistency, and when the Rule of Cool threatens that consistency, then the Rule of Cool has to give.