Tools for Rules and Rules for Tools

I’ve lost count of how many versions of our rule book we have made for All Rise. Currently on our drive it says version 8, but I can’t be sure of its accuracy. Most recently, we updated it to simplify the process of calling Surprise Witnesses to the stand.

I’m not the first person in the board gaming design world to say this, but most of the content in the first draft of your rule book won’t make it to print. In fact, I’d argue (again, not the first) that one of the most important aspects of creating a great game is trimming as much of the fat as you can from your game until you are only left with what matters. A balance that brings out the essence of what you want players to feel with a duration exactly as long as those feelings are most potent. Weighing a game down with extraneous mechanics or unnecessary complexity ultimately robs other players from the soul of the game that you originally set out to design. We wanted to create a lighter party game that was a catalyst for laughter and hopefully only lasts 20-30 minutes.

All that being said, our rule book was originally 1 page long and is currently about 3 pages long. We’ve fluctuated up to 5 or 6 pages, but we have long targeted 3 pages as the perfect balance of length and simplicity.

Why not a longer rule book? Our game is more so about the interactions and stories between you and your friends than the mechanics of the game. In fact, we dedicate a large portion of what precious page space we have to tell you to make whatever house rules you want for whatever aspect of the game you want. We have always intended for it to be a creative outlet, and even a tool for practicing and improving your ability to debate.

Why not shorter? We found out early on in our play testing that not everyone likes to go off the cuff. In fact, many of our play testers sought clarity after the game as to whether or not the defendant was actually guilty according to us as the designers. This was extremely fascinating to me, as we created purely hypothetical situations (a favorite past time of the RDG boys) without really caring what the outcomes of the cases were. I never would have anticipated that some players, particularly in the jury, would want closure on whether or not they made the right decision. We just wanted to make it tough. Sometimes it’s tough for the defendant, sometimes for the plaintiff, and (hopefully) usually for the jury, but the idea is to give players enough structure to let their creativity shine, but certainly not so much that it is in anyway subdued. That is the balance we have always sought.

As we inch closer and closer to launching on Kickstarter, the changes to the rule book are fewer and further between. Thankfully, that is a direct result of getting fewer and fewer questions from people after their first read through of the rules and during their first play through of the game.

Hopefully, that means we have struck the balance we sought from the onset of this journey.

If you want to read the rules yourself and tell me how wrong I am, please feel free to reach out to us via email at or via twitter @RoughDraftGames… we welcome any all feedback, but, fair warning, we’ll likely argue about it with you because we don’t realize that we actually agree. It’s in our DNA.


Jeffy [12:11 PM]
The character cards will also need to be changed cause we updated the turn order

oh nvm I think Tom cleaned them up and used something else

T Yung [6:39 PM]
They’re in the PDF too
Made my own based on your design

Jeffy [6:41 PM]
Yeah I know
That’s what I meant by you cleaned them up and used another program

Garrett [6:42 PM]
No he’s saying he redesigned them himself

Jeffy [6:43 PM]


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