Rule-lawyering is a tricky problem. To the player, in their mind, they are only doing the game a service by trying to encourage "consistency". Unfortunately, if the act of rules-lawyering is overpowering the GM's ability to maintain the pace of the game and interest of the group, it can be a distraction at best and a fun-wrecker at worst. The player is not the one given the role of adjudicator for the game. That is the responsibility of the GM. It is the GM's duty to decide which rules to follow strictly, which to overlook and which to make up when needed.
Now, as GMs, we've got a lot on our minds. NPCs, statistics, background developments, plots and subplots to weave. GMs forget things too...sometimes even obvious things. While the players should remind the GM of obvious oversights, they need to leave the final decision about a ruling to the GM. If there is concern over a ruling, that concern should be quiety recorded in some way and address at some point outside of the game. It could be before or after a game session, during a snack or bathroom break, via e-mail or phone call at a later date...whatever. But the game should not be burdened with arguements simply because someone doesn't think that a rule is being interpreted correctly or that they are forgetting about special circumstantial modifiers, etc. It is one thing to draw attention to these things, but it is another to stop the flow of the game because of them.
The Star Wars Role Playing Game Second Edition Revised and Expanded corebook gives the following advice and details the following about the role of a Game Master:
"The game is about having fun...the rules are only as important as you think they are. Ignore the rules you don't like and get on with the game. Have fun. Make sure your players have fun. And if it takes throwing out the rulebook to have fun, hey, that's your call. That's why you're in charge of the game..."
"The GM as Referee: Never Let the Rules Get in the Way of a Good Story...Keep the Game Moving Quickly...Use Your Judgement...Interpret the Rules...Be Fair and Impartial...Your Word is Final."
The idea is that the GM should make a rules decision based on what is best for the integrity of the game and the fun of the group. I have no problem with players reminding me on occasion of rules that I've forgotten or overlooked, but when a player takes a "rules-reminder" past the point at which I've already announced a judgement call, that is where the discussion belongs away from the game table, or at least, away from the game.
As S. John Ross once wrote: "The GM is not God. God is one of his little NPCs."
Last edited by Webhead; 07-09-2008 at 11:50 AM.
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