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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. #31
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    New to the forum but this is a button pusher for me so here are my 2 copper coins.

    Two kinds, one knows the game and takes players under his wing and guides them in their choices and can explain why a choice may be good or bad. He aids the DM.

    The other knows the rules, doesn't help the other players and browbeats DM into favoring his character because he thinks the game revolves around him. I don't mind dominant players because they can keep the game going while everybody else is scratching their heads but when he tries to dominant the other players he's outta here if I am the DM or I am outta there within a few sessions if the DM cannot or will not rein him in. Game is supposed to be fun for everybody not just the chosen few.

  2. #32
    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Played with both kinds. The actions of the second kind you mentioned caused me to quit a campaign i was involved with a while back, and i never looked back.

    Dnd is great with great players. Life is too short to waste time with players that are jerks.
    Last edited by Arch Lich Thoth-Amon; 09-20-2008 at 12:16 AM.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

  3. #33
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    Indeed... I don't think I've really run into serious problem players though, maybe because I only really game with my closer friends and family...

  4. #34
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    Every group need at least one person who can quote the steps for grappling or tripping without having to look it up every time. However, recently I had to do some rule lawyering because it would have a) caused the death of the entire party along with half a city block and b) I believed the DM was wrong in doing so. Basically, I had to make a case that there was no way that everyone on the board was going to take 100d6 of damage from an explosion. Eventually, I talked him down to 25d6 and reduced the radius of the blast. Later on, I looked up the rules on the said explosion and it turns out that he was about 10d6 over, but the radius of the blast was about right. My problem was that the DM was willing to kill the entire party for no good reason and also give a mundane item some serious power. Normally, I let the rules bend, stretch, and disappear altogether if need be, but this one time, I just couldn't see a barrel of gunpowder being so powerful. Rule lawyering can be annoying, but sometimes it needs to be done to save the party.
    Go Fast, take Chances, and for Tier's sake, Don't Wear a Helmet!

  5. #35
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    I ended up countering a variant of this, a party of seen-it-all, done-it-all characters including the DM of most of the games at the location. Used to the way things are supposed to work, and enemies are supposed to be, I changed a decent number of rules, created differing backstories, wrote new game mechanics (Evasion is broken as hell) and so on. I didn't rewrite the game, but it was 'significantly modded'.

    In the beginning, this messed with the players because their knowledge of the rules no longer applied. Many corrections were batted down with a 'not anymore, it works THIS way now'. Soon, though, they got the point. The game had changed enough to be new, interesting, and best of all, a SURPRISE.

    Point being, you should master your rules in your world in your game. Everything else is just tools and support for your story.

  6. #36
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    It is for this very reason that I have the "Two Minute Rule," in my games. Often, if a player points out a rule that I didn't realize, I'll adjust my ruling. However, sometimes I just don't agree with the player's interpretation or the rule itself. If that happens, I give my players two minutes to argue their case. After two minutes, I make a judgment-call one way or the other and we move on. The one exception I make to the "Two Minute Rule," is if the disputed rule literally means the difference between life or death for the character. If that's so, I'll take the time needed to make sure we get the ruling right.
    This is exactly how I do it, even to the point of the "two minutes of petition by players." If it's life and death, I'll look it up, and go with "exactly" what the book says, since most cases like that are clearly defined.

    Back in the day, I used to referee city-wide unit Battletech tournaments and Traveller RPG sessions in San Diego, at a local hobby chain, so much so that if i hadn't been on active duty at the time the store owner offered me a permanent job, working for his store running demos of various games, since when I ran them "The stuff flew off the shelf, and great sales every tourney day."

    So, I had to make sure I was up on the rules, especially for Battletech, to the point of re-reading them, once every two weeks, cover to cover, to where I could quote "page 46, left side, paragraph 3" pretty much verbatim.

    So, as often happens in battletech, people come to tournaments with a sense of what the rules say, but only in the amount that it applies to whatever move or technique that they want to use, used or excerpted out of context of a whole paragraph.

    More than once people challenged me on the rules, since the whole game is pure combat, and nearly any attack can end in the destruction or serious damage of the vehicle, or death of the pilot...thus ending the game experience...So, it's pretty dramatic. And these were pay to play tournaments.

    I'd briefly stop the game, and say, "What do you think the rule says?"
    the guy would then say something mushy, not really sure, and I'd pretty much quote from the book from memory.

    If that wasn't sufficient to satisfy him, then I'd have other people complete their turns, while a third guy looked it up and read it aloud. After a few times of third party reading it, pretty much as I had said, I got a reputation as a referee who knew his stuff, was fair and impartial, and lived to the letter of the rules if not the spirit, whether it was a call that screwed the good guys or the bad guy NPCs.

    That's all most good players want, is a fair chance.

    When I am in a game, as a player, before I join, especially fantasy, which seems to vary a lot between games, I ask up front is it rules as written or house rules or what, what the setting is, is it low magic, or high magic, etc. BEFORE I join, so that I know what I like, and can self filter out if the DMs style is something I don't want to deal with.


    I have DMed so long, I know what it is to be called upon to make rules judgements, and how it can get stressful really quick. I don't push my DMs. I might remind them about a rule from core, like "Have you considered...X?"

    If I see people counter-railroading a neophyte DM, I'll help him out, if he asks, acting as the "Guy that knows the rules pretty well" to help out the DM, without taking over the game. Sometimes, Instead of quoting, I'll just simply say "Dave, it's up to you, man, make the call, and let's get back to playing."

    I figure, it's his/her game, not mine, run it the way he/she wants. As long as the story is good, and I'm having fun, run it rules light or rules heavy up to the specific DM. If it gets intolerable, I can always disinvite myself, but I have rarely needed to in over 30 years of gaming.

    As a DM / Ref, I have asked about a half dozen players to depart, of the maybe a hundred plus I've known over the last three decades, when they just wanted to keep arguing, and the rest of the group wanted to move on.

    If I'm wrong, and a rule is pointed out to me, I thank the player, because I want to know the rules, cold.

    But a player getting all in my face, with "You're killing my PC, you're screwing me over!" No thanks.

    Games like 3.5 and GURPS are hard to run, for the sheer number of books. I like to know the whole system. I just really enjoyed 1e, all in one book, and a lot of it is on the DM.

    Ditto for Classic Traveller. The rules are simple, but with that framework, you can get great depth of setting, and conflict resolution.
    Last edited by Etarnon; 12-02-2008 at 02:50 PM.

  7. #37
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    I admire your dedication, man. Re-read the rulebook every few weeks? Nice
    Games: Exalted 2e pre-errata (hiatus), Recruiting for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy game (System TBD) in SF south bay area
    The Dolling Blogs (1, 2, 3 & 4)

  8. #38
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    Not these days. But yes, I used to. Because I was unofficially representing the store...I was in charge of one of those units playing, and I was on active duty, and hads to be above reproach, since it was a paid tournament.

    Nowadays, I don't have the time to do that, but that was 15 years ago.

  9. #39
    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Thumbs up

    I remember the days of old, where we had every rule and chart memorized by page. If we found that we were unable to quote a paragraph found in the PHB & the DMG, we sure as hell could paraphrase it. I remember talking with other players one day, way back when, that if ever the xians burned our books, it would be of no consequence to us for we had everything memorized. Nothing could stop DnD from perverting our young little innocent minds to be drawn into witchcraft(kidding).

    1st edition good times. Thoth remembers fondly of his yonger years.
    Last edited by Arch Lich Thoth-Amon; 12-10-2008 at 01:23 PM.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    XiANS, I LIKE IT.

    All you guys that play 3.X



    Thanks for a new word.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Etarnon View Post
    XiANS, I LIKE IT.

    All you guys that play 3.X
    I'm pretty sure that the reference was to these people:

    http://www.chick.com/articles/frpg.asp

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Etarnon View Post
    Not these days. But yes, I used to. Because I was unofficially representing the store...I was in charge of one of those units playing, and I was on active duty, and hads to be above reproach, since it was a paid tournament.

    Nowadays, I don't have the time to do that, but that was 15 years ago.


    So what branch of the service were you in?

  13. #43
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    I was a Torpeodoman's Mate, Technician. Deployed on both Ship and shore, USN. Mostly San Diego.

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    "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."


  15. #45
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    Etarnon, did you have much of a problem with rules lawyers back when you were in charge of that paid tournament? How many times did you have to actually show the paragraph in the book that proved you were correct before the rules lawyer would finally conceed that they aren't remembering something right? Luckily, I haven't had to deal with a rules lawyer in my games. Now I have had some players lobby for their interpretation of a particular rule. I will admit that there have been a few occaisions that I have went with their idea, mostly because they had a good explanation for their thinking.

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