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  Click here to go to the first special guest post in this thread.   Thread: Ask a GM [07/15/08]: Handling Rules Lawyers

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaeljearley View Post
    Being a bit of a rules-lawyer I'll throw my two coppers in.
    I agree with Grimwell and Farcaster. Use us. If we are anal enough to read and remember the books that well, using that knowledge is like getting paid.
    Rules manipulations are different however. Varients and such should not be introduced mid-stream.
    I concurr-I tend to be forgetful, so I do appreciate it when someone is being helpful and reminds me of what I'm talking about (or what I think I'm using) is suppose to be. :P
    There's nothing to fear except fear itself and, of course, the boogeyman.

    Co-Organizer of NEPA D&D and Stroudsburg Geeks. Member of Stroudsburg Area Gaming Association.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplmac View Post
    Fortunately, I have never had to deal with this problem.
    You know, if you look around the table and cannot pick out the rules lawyer...
    "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." - JFK

    "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."
    - Noam Chomsky

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    Quote Originally Posted by Engar View Post
    You know, if you look around the table and cannot pick out the rules lawyer...
    Well, I'm not sure thats entirely true. There might be games that don't have a rules lawyer.

  4. #19
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    Rules lawyers are like a lot of other player types...with proper handling, there's a good chance you can turn their proclivities to the advantage of the whole table. So long as you can reach an agreement with them on who's the GM, you have a chance.
    I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable, and I'm not going! (But I'll happily be the GM...)

  5. #20
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    Just depends on how clear the DM/GM is when they set the parameters of their game. If you set the standard that would be acceptable to stop the flow of the game, then there should not be any question as to when rule questions will be addressed.

  6. #21
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    clear parameters are a boon. can always point back to them. as an added bonus, it's kinda hard for them to argue interpretation when it's your own words and not just a name on a book. =D
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    Rules Laywers

    Rules Lawyers can be a hazard to the game if you let them get out of hand. Fortunately the group I play with has been together for a long time and out of the 7 players 5 of them know the rules inside and out. So we rarely have a stoppage of play because of a rules dispute. But in the case that we do I have a general rule in place. The DM is always right until he chooses to be wrong. What I mean by that is, go with the ruling and let the GM look it up later (If it's something that will take more then a minute or two) and he will adjust things if necessary. Also I usually try to rule in favor of the PC's most of the time. Again, because I have long time players I know they aren't out to "bend" the rules to gain something.

    If I had someone in my game that was just being a jerk and stopping the game every few minutes to argue something, I would have no problem to ask him to step away from the table and find another game. In the end, the game is about having fun and I won't let one person ruin it for everyone else.

    Jeff

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    I used to be a bit of one, so I have some tolerance, how much depends upon the following:

    a) How trivial is the error.
    b) Does he speak up when correcting the error is to his detriment?

    However, if the situation doesn't involve PC death, I much prefer that we wait for a break, or discuss this stuff after the session.

    Sometimes, you can let the player assume a co-GM position for the more complex sub-systems.

    If it is persistent, trivial and breaking flow and train of thought and you've asked the player to stop: "There are situational modifiers of which your character is not aware."

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    As a rules lawyer I like to be as objective as possible, so if our GM has made an error that favors us the players i still make him aware of it, fair is fair.

    Not to toot my own horn or anything but I think that can be a redeeming quality of a rules lawyer. To make sure we all are using the rules correctly and accurately.
    "I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. About a great, many things."

    "It is not the rules that make or break a game, it's the GM and the players."


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    I agree with the sentiment that there are good rules lawyers and bad.

    Good rules lawyer behavior:
    The DM asks you what a specific spell, power or condition does. You quote him chapter and verse from memory thus saving a delay of game to look up that ability.

    Helping other PCs create their characters so they still match their concept but avoid any serious mechanical missteps.

    Becoming the record-keeper of any and all house rules that develop during the game.

    Bad rules lawyer behavior:
    Correcting the DM in game repeatedly because a spell, power or condition particularly from an NPC isn't working the way you think it should.

    Creating PCs that while technically legal pervert the spirit of the game and eradicate fun.

    Trying to take over other peoples PCs because they are not, in your opinion, optimizing their character.

    Basically difference between the good rules lawyer and the bad is the difference between an assistant and a bully.

    Gary

  11. #26
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    Tell them that all the rules are optinal and the chagne small things up to trow them off. Nothing is worse then a player that can pick out a creature or monster and how to defeat it just buy its decription.

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    Indeed, I think I'm sort of in the same catagory as Inquisitor Tremayne. When I started GMing I made more of an effort to learn as much of the rules as I could, so that the game could keep flowing smoothly and the players wouldn't be able to outsmart me.

    Players as rules lawyers haven't been a problem for me, mainly because I haven't run into many people who knew the system better than I did. But, I usually try to follow the rules by the book as much as possible, so that there's something to fall back on when there's an arguement, so if a player brought up a rule that I had overlooked, I imagine I would find it useful and concede the point to the player if it was appropriate.

    I also feel like its important to follow the consistency of the rules, so that the players have something they can rely on. If the rules are constantly being bent by the GM's power of fiat... you'll have sense of unfairness real quick. Maybe one of the reasons I've never really had an issue with it is because the players know I'm being fair about the rules and will give the players their way when they're right, so they'll never feel like I'm trying to cheat them when something doesn't go their way.

    I think I've probably been more of a pain for one of my GM's being a rules lawyer myself like Tremayne. One of my players took over GMing for a few adventures so that I could be the player. At one point, he tried to pull a blatent rule bend on me. The ability in question that I had was an invented one that wasn't in the original rules, but we had mutually agreed on how it would work. Several adventures after the ability had been acquired, he tried to say that it was unrealiable and wasn't functioning at the time. When I pointed out that we had never discussed that before, and considering the amount of points I paid for the ability, it should be pretty reliable he changed tactics and said a particular peice of equipment was able to nullify the ability...

    Without getting too far into the nasty details, I was able to finally convince him that forgetting that I had the ability was no excuse to invent lame ways of defeating it.

    I'm sure at the time I had ruined the way he was expecting the adventure to turn out, but I know he's thankful after the fact, because now that he's the player again, he gets some indirect benefit my character as an NPC friend of his having that ability.

    So in conclusion, I think rules lawyers have their place, as long as they're not arguing every trivial point just for tiny gains. I also think Grimwell had great advice about how to deal with them when it starts to get out of hand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Holocron View Post
    At one point, he tried to pull a blatent rule bend on me. The ability in question that I had was an invented one that wasn't in the original rules, but we had mutually agreed on how it would work. Several adventures after the ability had been acquired, he tried to say that it was unrealiable and wasn't functioning at the time. When I pointed out that we had never discussed that before, and considering the amount of points I paid for the ability, it should be pretty reliable he changed tactics and said a particular peice of equipment was able to nullify the ability...
    In bold, is the part of the text that says it all : it's not a case of rule lawyering at all, it's you calling your GM on an abuse of social contract. The abuse is : if a player describe his character as being good at doing something and thus invest creation points in it, it's going to be perceived as very frustrating from the GM to temper with this aptitude.

    Without getting too far into the nasty details, I was able to finally convince him that forgetting that I had the ability was no excuse to invent lame ways of defeating it.
    The picture is clear. He was a beginner GM, felt his capacity to lead the game would evade him because of your character's talent he had forgotten. The challenge he designed suddenly was too easy for you to overcome. The good point is, he admitted the truth and this honesty makes me think he could be a decent GM actually.

    I'm afraid some people might call "rule lawyer" any player who confronts his GM. It's legitimate to call a GM on a point that isn't working for you. Not just about the rules, but even an aspect of the game which is spoiling your fun. If you don't speak how would he know ? After all the game is about enjoying the adventure/story created together.

    Now a player breaking the flow several times during a session and raising minor points that nobody else at the table really care about... you get the picture.
    Au gibet noir, manchot aimable, dansent, dansent les paladins
    Les maigres paladins du diable les squelettes de Saladins.

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    Thanks for the comments Boulet, its encouraging that a fellow gamer can see my point of view.

    Indeed, I think he's got potential to be a pretty good GM. This is just the most extreme instance that I've had beef with, and I found it shocking that he'd try to get away with something like that.

    I think he prefers to be the player though, and I don't mind GMing because we game so infrequently that my stockpile of story ideas has built up so much that I don't know if he'll ever catch up to everything I've come up with. For now anyway, I think he's content to continue as a player for a while since he knows I've developed so much content for the campaign.

  15. #30
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    one should never take away toys that the player has sweated for, or that the character has earned in some fashion-even if via character creation methods; without some seriously well-thought out and developed reasons. ^^
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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