Do I need any rules? That's the question I ask myself everytime i run the game. And now, when my gaming group is no more, I ask it when it comes to write down the ideas for something new, be it Perilous Frontiers, whY or something else. I ask myself even if I know the answer.
Please note that I speak for myself and everything depends on multitude of different aspects.
I do NOT need any rules. In fact, I ran game sessions for years (and we had them on a daily basis, back in the late 90s) without a single dice roll. Character sheets were used to track PCs belongings - and nothing else.
Did it worked? Yes. But you must remember one extremely important thing.
YOU MUST NOT BE AN ASSHOLE.
When there are no dice and no stats, you - the GM - are the only arbiter of any actions. And I guarantee you that it will work out for almost any GM/DM in 99% cases - except combat. During combat, things may get ugly really quickly. And they will get ugly if you are an asshole. And - most likely - no one would participate in your diceless / rules-less games anymore.
This is how I determined the results of combat:
- PCs are stronger than ordinary mortals. They are not ubermenschen but they are significantly stronger, faster, more agile and/or more skilled.
- Description of the actions means everything. It was the most important factor.
- Wounds were the most difficult part of the game, as descriptive nature of all damage caused many problems, such as bleeding, broken bones etc. It was extremely gritty but we liked it.
- As we were gaming in the more or less Sword & Sorcery setting, PCs were healing pretty fast - although there were portions of the game that were fast-forwarded (or railroaded, heh), when all the player characters were so fucked up that players decided to let it go for two or three weeks to let them heal their wounds. Also, even though there were little spellcasters, healing potions and/or healing items were relatively common.
Now - if I will be lucky enough to assemble a new group of players - I plan to go back to similar method of running games, except some addidtional features:
- Most likely, Diamond Diceless will be my weapon of choice, too keep track of the stats and abilities...
- ...but I will use the dice. Solely for the random content - I love random tables! I always add some randomness to the story / module, so I need the dice.
- I'm also considering to give players something in the shape of Fate Points from WFRP/40K RPGs, to allow them to cheat death - or, in some cases, my decisions.