I’ve recently been reading through the Q&A threads with Gary Gygax over at the DragonsFoot forums and I’ve been noticing a common theme running through his replies. In particular he seems to be constantly reminding people that the final word, indeed the only word that matters, in a D&D game is that of the DM (well, with the consensus of the players). Even though this is something spelled out in almost every rule book, it seems like so many GMs and aspiring GMs have a problem with this concept.
I think there are a number of reasons why this might be so, but ultimately I think they boil down to not trusting yourself. It can certainly be hard in the face of rules lawyer players and your own desire to be an incredible story teller and a master DM, to trust that a change you make to the rules, or a decision you make regarding an unclear rule, is a good one. Ultimately though, as long as the rule increases the fun that everyone is having, you really can’t go wrong. Even Gygax himself often ignored his own written rules in order to improve the fun.
So what is an aspiring DM to do? Well for one, if a rule is unclear, make a decision and run with it. It’s only a game, and if it winds up being the wrong decision you can always change it, no harm done.