This will be a wall of text, for which I apologize in advance. This blogging on my phone thing is still new to me.
So I raised an issue earlier in this very blog when it became clear to me that Rule Zero wasn't explicitly stated in the D&D 4e rule books. Some people asked what the big deal was, and that it still existed, just not in written form. After some digestion time, I have a little more insight on why it was such a big deal to me.
I was 11 when I read Moldvay D&D. I had moved around quite a bit, and I had very few social peers that I could hang out with. D&D was new. There was nothing else like it in my life, and for me it existed in a vacuum.
The rules told me they were merely a toolbox for whatever I wanted to do with them. These are the guidelines to get you started, but after that you'll need to find your own way. That struck a chord in me and started unlocking some of the creativity in me.
For me, D&D was and is important as a creative outlet.
Sure, there are other games out there with other approaches to the rules and different advice for GMs. But I keep going back to 11 year old me, reading that staple-bound red rule book in my bedroom. And I keep asking myself if whatever game I read now can holds up on its own without all the history and unprinted guidelines and years of experience.
Yes, gaming is a social activity, but I didn't always understand that. I look for rules that will work as a first introduction to role-playing, and I respect rule books that show you ways to extend the rules into areas that nobody has ever considered.
Things are different now; I get that. I grew up before email was anything more than an annoying text-based work tool. Today's online RPG community is great, but not everybody has access to it or even knows it exists.
And for them, and for 11 year old me, I'd like to read about Rule Zero in my rulebooks.
And now you know.