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* The English [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law common law]] system more or less functions this way, at least with regard to civil matters; in general, people are expected to conduct themselves ''reasonably'', and legal artifices or loopholes tend to be disregarded when making judgments.



* The TropeNamer for Rule Zero is ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', the first tabletop roleplaying game. Many other games take it from there, but it's OlderThanYouThink.
* ''TabletopGame/MutantsAndMasterminds'' is notable for having a game mechanic for Rule Zero called "Gamemaster fiat". The Gamemaster is permitted to arbitrarily create setbacks to keep his story on track (such as having a hero slip and fall if he's about to catch the bad guy long before the adventure says he should) but requires that the Gamemaster award the hero a hero point (which players can spend later on to perform impressive feats normally beyond their abilities).
** Players can go a step further with "complications" which are specific recurring dramatic setbacks that a GM can use on a player that fit the player's character concept. A common example is the secret identity.
* ''TabletopGame/{{OnlyWar}}'' directly specifies early in the general rules section that the Game Master should exercise common sense and discretion to make things work ideally and many rules refer to "Game Masters' Discretion" for things where any specific rule set would be impractical.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is notable in that it's one of the few tabletop games in which arbitrary use of Rule Zero is '''encouraged'''. The GM is allowed to fudge rolls, to let other plays fudge their rolls or fudge each other's rolls, and generally discard the rules as long as RuleOfFun is observed. The justifying reason for this caveat? Any player who tried to call the GM out on it would be acknowledging they have read the rules, which are [[MemeticMutation above their security clearance]]. [[note]]For reference, the rules are Ultraviolet-level, the top of the ladder, whereas most players are Red, just one rank above the bottom. Possessing knowledge above your security clearance is punishable by summary execution -- of the player's character, not the player himself![[/note]]
* B.A. From ''ComicStrip/KnightsOfTheDinnerTable'' averts this. He plays every rule for better or for worse. He eventually seized control of his game through the use of a GMPC and his control over non mechanical story elements (even in the PC's backstories.)

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\n[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* The TropeNamer for Rule Zero is ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', the first tabletop roleplaying game. Many other games take it from there, but it's OlderThanYouThink.
* ''TabletopGame/MutantsAndMasterminds'' is notable for having a game mechanic for Rule Zero called "Gamemaster fiat". The Gamemaster is permitted to arbitrarily create setbacks to keep his story on track (such as having a hero slip and fall if he's about to catch the bad guy long before the adventure says he should) but requires that the Gamemaster award the hero a hero point (which players can spend later on to perform impressive feats normally beyond their abilities).
''ComicStrip/KnightsOfTheDinnerTable'':
** Players can go a step further with "complications" which are specific recurring dramatic setbacks that a GM can use on a player that fit the player's character concept. A common example is the secret identity.
* ''TabletopGame/{{OnlyWar}}'' directly specifies early in the general rules section that the Game Master should exercise common sense and discretion to make things work ideally and many rules refer to "Game Masters' Discretion" for things where any specific rule set would be impractical.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is notable in that it's one of the few tabletop games in which arbitrary use of Rule Zero is '''encouraged'''. The GM is allowed to fudge rolls, to let other plays fudge their rolls or fudge each other's rolls, and generally discard the rules as long as RuleOfFun is observed. The justifying reason for this caveat? Any player who tried to call the GM out on it would be acknowledging they have read the rules, which are [[MemeticMutation above their security clearance]]. [[note]]For reference, the rules are Ultraviolet-level, the top of the ladder, whereas most players are Red, just one rank above the bottom. Possessing knowledge above your security clearance is punishable by summary execution -- of the player's character, not the player himself![[/note]]
*
B.A. From ''ComicStrip/KnightsOfTheDinnerTable'' averts this. He plays every rule for better or for worse. He eventually seized control of his game through the use of a GMPC and his control over non mechanical story elements (even in the PC's backstories.)



* Averted in ''World of Synnibarr'', which actually imposes limits on what the GM can and cannot do:
-->"Fate [the GM] has absolute control during the game regarding rolls and interpretation of the rules. Fate may not, however, deviate from the rules as they are written, for if he or she does and the players find out, then the adventure can be declared null, and the characters must be restored to their original condition, as they were before the game began."
-->"Players may attempt what is known as 'calling Fate.' This means that if a ruling is disputed by a player and he challenges Fate and is found to be absolutely correct, the player may receive double gaming points [XP] for the entire adventure."
* In ''Roleplay/DestroyTheGodmodder'', the GM always has the last word on if an attack, charge, entity, sidequest, or plotline can go through. '''Always.'''
* Dane from ''Literature/StatlessAndTactless'' agrees to give up rule zero in relation to a player to get him to bring a friend. It doesn't go well.
* American Football has a few rules against "palpably unfair acts", which function as this (The NFL has Rule 12-3-3 for players and substitutes, and Rule 13-1-7 for non-players--see below for an example). They're not used very often, and when they are, it's usually an obvious case (such as a substitute running into the field from the sideline during a play and tackling the ball carrier), when the advantage gained by the offending team was so extreme that a lesser penalty would not be sufficient to mitigate it. In high school and college codes, it's even possible for the referees to declare the offending team to have forfeited.

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[[/folder]]

[[folder:Sports]]
* Averted in ''World of Synnibarr'', which actually imposes limits on what the GM can and cannot do:
-->"Fate [the GM] has absolute control during the game regarding rolls and interpretation of the rules. Fate may not, however, deviate from the rules as they are written, for if he or she does and the players find out, then the adventure can be declared null, and the characters must be restored to their original condition, as they were before the game began."
-->"Players may attempt what is known as 'calling Fate.' This means that if a ruling is disputed by a player and he challenges Fate and is found to be absolutely correct, the player may receive double gaming points [XP] for the entire adventure."
* In ''Roleplay/DestroyTheGodmodder'', the GM always has the last word on if an attack, charge, entity, sidequest, or plotline can go through. '''Always.'''
* Dane from ''Literature/StatlessAndTactless'' agrees to give up rule zero in relation to a player to get him to bring a friend. It doesn't go well.
* American Football
UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball has a few rules against "palpably unfair acts", which function as this (The NFL has Rule 12-3-3 for players and substitutes, and Rule 13-1-7 for non-players--see below for an example). They're not used very often, and when they are, it's usually an obvious case (such as a substitute running into the field from the sideline during a play and tackling the ball carrier), when the advantage gained by the offending team was so extreme that a lesser penalty would not be sufficient to mitigate it. In high school and college codes, it's even possible for the referees to declare the offending team to have forfeited.



* Rule Zero is used often in games played by Mr Welch of Blog/ThingsMrWelchIsNoLongerAllowedToDoInAnRPG to protect the game from his more creative excesses. Usually, there is no rule stating he can't do what he wants to do. In general TheLoonie is a {{Player Archetype|s}} that will often require the exercise of this rule to keep the game on track (though knowing when ''not'' to crush a Loonie's creativity with Rule Zero can be just as important).
* This is one reason why ''MagicTheGathering'' has LoadsAndLoadsOfRules: all official tournament referees are allowed to invoke Rule Zero if there is no precedent for how certain cards interact. Their decision then gets stuck in the big ol' list of errata/clarifications.
** More prominently, in tournaments, the head judge specifically has the power to make any ruling he wants, and his word will be final, even if he turns out to be wrong (ie. the ruling was actually against the official rules of the game). The only recourse a player has for this is to make a complaint afterwards. Fortunately these types of wrong rulings happen very rarely (but there are cases).



* Most countries have laws against very vague crimes like "disturbing the public peace". They function the same as the other examples: when you're obviously doing something wrong without breaking any other laws, you're breaking these.
* ''Panty Explosion Perfect'' averts this. The GM's role is ''very'' strictly defined and delimited. The GM can even have their own PC, with the only rule mod necessary to keep them from manipulating things in favor of their character being that someone else has to GM scenes where the GM's PC is the focus.



[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The TropeNamer for Rule Zero is ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', the first tabletop roleplaying game. Many other games take it from there, but it's OlderThanYouThink.
* ''TabletopGame/MutantsAndMasterminds'' is notable for having a game mechanic for Rule Zero called "Gamemaster fiat". The Gamemaster is permitted to arbitrarily create setbacks to keep his story on track (such as having a hero slip and fall if he's about to catch the bad guy long before the adventure says he should) but requires that the Gamemaster award the hero a hero point (which players can spend later on to perform impressive feats normally beyond their abilities).
** Players can go a step further with "complications" which are specific recurring dramatic setbacks that a GM can use on a player that fit the player's character concept. A common example is the secret identity.
* ''TabletopGame/{{OnlyWar}}'' directly specifies early in the general rules section that the Game Master should exercise common sense and discretion to make things work ideally and many rules refer to "Game Masters' Discretion" for things where any specific rule set would be impractical.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is notable in that it's one of the few tabletop games in which arbitrary use of Rule Zero is '''encouraged'''. The GM is allowed to fudge rolls, to let other plays fudge their rolls or fudge each other's rolls, and generally discard the rules as long as RuleOfFun is observed. The justifying reason for this caveat? Any player who tried to call the GM out on it would be acknowledging they have read the rules, which are [[MemeticMutation above their security clearance]]. [[note]]For reference, the rules are Ultraviolet-level, the top of the ladder, whereas most players are Red, just one rank above the bottom. Possessing knowledge above your security clearance is punishable by summary execution -- of the player's character, not the player himself![[/note]]
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'':
** This is one reason why MTG has LoadsAndLoadsOfRules: all official tournament referees are allowed to invoke Rule Zero if there is no precedent for how certain cards interact. Their decision then gets stuck in the big ol' list of errata/clarifications.
** More prominently, in tournaments, the head judge specifically has the power to make any ruling he wants, and his word will be final, even if he turns out to be wrong (ie. the ruling was actually against the official rules of the game). The only recourse a player has for this is to make a complaint afterwards. Fortunately these types of wrong rulings happen very rarely (but there are cases).



* Played with in Arcanik. While Rule Zero still applies, players are capable of using the "Ingenuity System" in response to it. The system allows players to combine skills, attribute scores, and so on to create a ridiculously high skill roll that is almost guaranteed to succeed at whatever the problem is. The catch is that all of those numbers must be combined into a stupid plan that has no chance of working otherwise.

to:

* Played with in Arcanik.''Arcanik''. While Rule Zero still applies, players are capable of using the "Ingenuity System" in response to it. The system allows players to combine skills, attribute scores, and so on to create a ridiculously high skill roll that is almost guaranteed to succeed at whatever the problem is. The catch is that all of those numbers must be combined into a stupid plan that has no chance of working otherwise.otherwise.
* ''Panty Explosion Perfect'' averts this. The GM's role is ''very'' strictly defined and delimited. The GM can even have their own PC, with the only rule mod necessary to keep them from manipulating things in favor of their character being that someone else has to GM scenes where the GM's PC is the focus.
* Averted in ''TabletopGame/WorldOfSynnibarr'', which actually imposes limits on what the GM can and cannot do:
-->"Fate [the GM] has absolute control during the game regarding rolls and interpretation of the rules. Fate may not, however, deviate from the rules as they are written, for if he or she does and the players find out, then the adventure can be declared null, and the characters must be restored to their original condition, as they were before the game began."
-->"Players may attempt what is known as 'calling Fate.' This means that if a ruling is disputed by a player and he challenges Fate and is found to be absolutely correct, the player may receive double gaming points [XP] for the entire adventure."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Roleplay/DestroyTheGodmodder'', the GM always has the last word on if an attack, charge, entity, sidequest, or plotline can go through. '''Always.'''
* Dane from ''Literature/StatlessAndTactless'' agrees to give up rule zero in relation to a player to get him to bring a friend. It doesn't go well.
* Rule Zero is used often in games played by Mr Welch of ''Blog/ThingsMrWelchIsNoLongerAllowedToDoInAnRPG'' to protect the game from his more creative excesses. Usually, there is no rule stating he can't do what he wants to do. In general TheLoonie is a {{Player Archetype|s}} that will often require the exercise of this rule to keep the game on track (though knowing when ''not'' to crush a Loonie's creativity with Rule Zero can be just as important).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other]]
* Most countries have laws against very vague crimes like "disturbing the public peace". They function the same as the other examples: when you're obviously doing something wrong without breaking any other laws, you're breaking these.
[[/folder]]



* Subverted with ''TabletopGame/{{Munchkin}}'', which has a Rule Zero, but that rule reads "Disputes should be settled by loud arguments among the players."

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* Subverted with ''TabletopGame/{{Munchkin}}'', which has a Rule Zero, but Zero that rule in the rulebook that reads "Disputes "Any other disputes should be settled by loud arguments among arguments," followed by a DoubleSubversion, adding "with the players.owner of the game having the last word."

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* In ''Roleplay/DestroyTheGodmodder'', the GM always has the last word on if an attack, charge, entity, sidequest, or plotline can go through. '''Always.'''


** This is prevalent in UsefulNotes/MixedMartialArts, still a very young sport that's trying to tweak rules as the years go by and fighters look to abuse looopholes in the Unified Rules, or clarify exactly what is legal/illegal. This is often left to the referee to make split second decisions during a fight based on their understanding of the rules:

to:

** This is prevalent in UsefulNotes/MixedMartialArts, still a very young sport that's trying to tweak rules as the years go by and fighters look to abuse looopholes loopholes in the Unified Rules, or clarify exactly what is legal/illegal. This is often left to the referee to make split second decisions during a fight based on their understanding of the rules:

Added DiffLines:

** More prominently, in tournaments, the head judge specifically has the power to make any ruling he wants, and his word will be final, even if he turns out to be wrong (ie. the ruling was actually against the official rules of the game). The only recourse a player has for this is to make a complaint afterwards. Fortunately these types of wrong rulings happen very rarely (but there are cases).


Rule Zero is simply a reminder to the players that the GM has to exercise some common sense and is permitted to supersede the rules when the rules would ruin enjoyment and fair play. While a GM has fiat to exercise Rule Zero at their table at will, they are reminded that excessive arbitrary use of this rule will eventually lead to an empty game table.

to:

Rule Zero is simply a reminder to the players that the GM has to exercise some common sense and is permitted to supersede the rules when the rules would ruin enjoyment and fair play. While a GM has fiat to exercise Rule Zero at their table at will, they are reminded that excessive arbitrary use of this rule will eventually lead to an empty game table.
table - also known as "Rule -1: The GM is not always right, but what the GM says goes. If they say enough stupid stuff, [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere the players go as well."]].


* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is notable in that it's one of the few tabletop games in which arbitrary use of Rule Zero is '''encouraged'''. The GM is allowed to fudge rolls, to let other plays fudge their rolls or fudge each other's rolls, and generally discard the rules as long as RuleOfFun is observed. The justifying reason for this caveat? Any player who tried to call the GM out on it would be acknowledging they have read the rules, which are [[MemeticMutation above their security clearance]]. [[note]]For reference, the rules are Ultraviolet-level, the top of the ladder, whereas most players are Red, just one rank above the bottom. Possessing knowledge above your security clearance is punishable by summary execution.[[/note]]

to:

* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is notable in that it's one of the few tabletop games in which arbitrary use of Rule Zero is '''encouraged'''. The GM is allowed to fudge rolls, to let other plays fudge their rolls or fudge each other's rolls, and generally discard the rules as long as RuleOfFun is observed. The justifying reason for this caveat? Any player who tried to call the GM out on it would be acknowledging they have read the rules, which are [[MemeticMutation above their security clearance]]. [[note]]For reference, the rules are Ultraviolet-level, the top of the ladder, whereas most players are Red, just one rank above the bottom. Possessing knowledge above your security clearance is punishable by summary execution.[[/note]]execution -- of the player's character, not the player himself![[/note]]


* RugbyUnion's laws has a long list of what is defined by "dangerous play and misconduct", one of which is that players must not commit "acts contrary to good sportsmanship".

to:

* RugbyUnion's UsefulNotes/RugbyUnion's laws has a long list of what is defined by "dangerous play and misconduct", one of which is that players must not commit "acts contrary to good sportsmanship".


* The TropeNamer for Rule Zero is ''DungeonsAndDragons'', the first tabletop roleplaying game. Many other games take it from there, but it's OlderThanYouThink.
* ''MutantsAndMasterminds'' is notable for having a game mechanic for Rule Zero called "Gamemaster fiat". The Gamemaster is permitted to arbitrarily create setbacks to keep his story on track (such as having a hero slip and fall if he's about to catch the bad guy long before the adventure says he should) but requires that the Gamemaster award the hero a hero point (which players can spend later on to perform impressive feats normally beyond their abilities).

to:

* The TropeNamer for Rule Zero is ''DungeonsAndDragons'', ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', the first tabletop roleplaying game. Many other games take it from there, but it's OlderThanYouThink.
* ''MutantsAndMasterminds'' ''TabletopGame/MutantsAndMasterminds'' is notable for having a game mechanic for Rule Zero called "Gamemaster fiat". The Gamemaster is permitted to arbitrarily create setbacks to keep his story on track (such as having a hero slip and fall if he's about to catch the bad guy long before the adventure says he should) but requires that the Gamemaster award the hero a hero point (which players can spend later on to perform impressive feats normally beyond their abilities).


--> Rule 1: The GM is always right.
--> Rule 2: If the GM is wrong, refer to rule 1.

to:

--> -> Rule 1: The GM is always right.
--> -> Rule 2: If the GM is wrong, refer to rule 1.


* ''TabletopGame/{{OnlyWar}}'' directly specifies early in the general rules section that the Game Master should excercise common sense and discretion to make things work ideally and many rules refer to "Game Masters' Discretion" for things where any specific rule set would be impractical.

to:

* ''TabletopGame/{{OnlyWar}}'' directly specifies early in the general rules section that the Game Master should excercise exercise common sense and discretion to make things work ideally and many rules refer to "Game Masters' Discretion" for things where any specific rule set would be impractical.


** This is prevalent in {{UsefulNotes/MixedMartialArts}}, still a very young sport that's trying to tweak rules as the years go by and fighters look to abuse looopholes in the Unified Rules, or clarify exactly what is legal/illegal. This is often left to the referee to make split second decisions during a fight based on their understanding of the rules:
*** Grabbing the fence is illegal, but ''pressing your hand'' against the fence is not. Where exactly the point between grabbing it and your hands natural curl is left up to the ref. Additionally, the rule was thought for years to only apply to hands/fingers, not feet/toes, and it was a common sight to see someone grabbing the fence with their feet. Recently, many referees have started cracking down on this practice too.
*** It's illegal to hit the back of the head, but what point is exactly the back of the head can vary depending on head types and the referee's discretion. The general rule is anything past the "headphone" area, but with people punching fast and people moving their head to avoid damage, the ref needs to make a judgement call on whether or not a blow went to far or whether it was an unavoidable accident, etc.

to:

** This is prevalent in {{UsefulNotes/MixedMartialArts}}, UsefulNotes/MixedMartialArts, still a very young sport that's trying to tweak rules as the years go by and fighters look to abuse looopholes in the Unified Rules, or clarify exactly what is legal/illegal. This is often left to the referee to make split second decisions during a fight based on their understanding of the rules:
*** Grabbing the fence is illegal, but ''pressing your hand'' against the fence is not. Where exactly the point is between grabbing it and your hands hand's natural curl is left up to the ref. Additionally, the rule was thought for years to only apply to hands/fingers, not feet/toes, and it was a common sight to see someone grabbing the fence with their feet. Recently, many referees have started cracking down on this practice too.
*** It's illegal to hit the back of the head, but what point is exactly the back of the head can vary depending on head types and the referee's discretion. The general rule is anything past the "headphone" area, but with people punching fast and people moving their head to avoid damage, the ref needs to make a judgement judgment call on whether or not a blow went to too far or whether it was an unavoidable accident, etc.


* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is notable in that it's one of the few tabletop games in which arbitrary use of Rule Zero is '''encouraged'''. The DM is allowed to fudge rolls, to let other plays fudge their rolls or fudge each other's rolls, and generally discard the rules as long as RuleOfFun is observed. The justifying reason for this caveat? Any player who tried to call the DM out on it would be acknowledging they have read the rules, which are [[MemeticMutation above their security clearance]]. [[note]]For reference, the rules are Ultraviolet-level, the top of the ladder, whereas most players are Red, just one rank above the bottom. Possessing knowledge above your security clearance is punishable by summary execution.[[/note]]

to:

* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is notable in that it's one of the few tabletop games in which arbitrary use of Rule Zero is '''encouraged'''. The DM GM is allowed to fudge rolls, to let other plays fudge their rolls or fudge each other's rolls, and generally discard the rules as long as RuleOfFun is observed. The justifying reason for this caveat? Any player who tried to call the DM GM out on it would be acknowledging they have read the rules, which are [[MemeticMutation above their security clearance]]. [[note]]For reference, the rules are Ultraviolet-level, the top of the ladder, whereas most players are Red, just one rank above the bottom. Possessing knowledge above your security clearance is punishable by summary execution.[[/note]]

Added DiffLines:

* Played with in Arcanik. While Rule Zero still applies, players are capable of using the "Ingenuity System" in response to it. The system allows players to combine skills, attribute scores, and so on to create a ridiculously high skill roll that is almost guaranteed to succeed at whatever the problem is. The catch is that all of those numbers must be combined into a stupid plan that has no chance of working otherwise.

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