I was thinking about the house rules I used to make for my games.
My house rules pretty much break down into two categories:
- simple, elegant rules that make something hard into something easy, or make something more fun.
- the rest.
I've had a lot in "the rest" category. Usually, they came about when I:
- had a desired end, and wrote rules to achieve that end no matter how I got there.
- replaced a working, simple rule with something complicated for no greater amount of fun.
- had no real idea what I was trying to add to the game, other than to simulate, replicate, or otherwise emulate something.
I still make house rules, but I keep trying to stick to a simple idea - make it easier, or make it more fun. Preferably both. If it doesn't make it easier, and/or doesn't make it more fun, it's useless cruft in my game.
So adding detail, if that detail gets everyone leaning in over the table to watch the resulting die rolls? Awesome! Good rule.
Simplifying something hard into something easy, so it takes less time to resolve something? Nice! Good rule.
Does both? Try to publish it.
Does neither? Probably dump-able crud.
Reality, complexity, verisimilitude? All unimportant if the game isn't running more smoothly or it's more fun to run.
I don't always achieve this, but I try to make myself ask that question whenever I come up with some "enhancement" to the games I play.