… Or What?

Coach and Sam in the Cheers episode "King of the Hill"

Coach and Sam in the Cheers episode “King of the Hill”

Sam: I mean how much for the whole thing?
Coach: Oh, six hundred bucks Sam, but the salesman said, the salesman said satisfaction guaranteed.
Sam: Or …?
Coach: Now, that would have been a good question.

I was reminded of that clip from Cheers when reading the rules for The Resistance. They include a restriction on “good” players not screwing up:

Note: The Resistance Operatives must select the Mission Success card; Spies may select either the Mission Success of Mission Fail card.

This kind of rule is not needed. It’s sound strategic advice (there’s no reason for the good guys to fail any mission, while there are instances where a bad guy might play a success card). It might be there to keep griefers from messing up the game, but then I reach my usual follow-up question for such direct, absolute statements: “… or what?”. What happens if the Resistance Operative plays a Fail card? The Spies are much more likely to win, that’s all. There’s no way to see the “foul” during play (unless more Fails are played in a single round than there are Spies in the game), so if you’ve got a griefer, you’re still stuck playing the whole game out before you can determine that this rule was broken. And you can just as easily ostracize a player who plays Fails inappropriately without this rule.

At work, we have agreements between departments, teams, and other groups. They are set up like contracts, except they aren’t always written by lawyers. When reviewing them, I frequently come across things like “so-and-so will do such-and-such within this amount of time” and I have to ask “… or what?” Are we just documenting goals and aspirations? If the   doing of such-and-such actually affects the business, we need to have the consequences listed.

Game rules and team interactions, if you are saying something has to happen one way, but it’s theoretically possibly for it to happen a different way, you need to have your “… or what?” answer, otherwise you’re relying on the good intentions of your audience.

—jhunterj

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