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> Rules lawyers, Something to think about
masterofm
post Mar 22 2009, 11:37 PM
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This will probably be my last post, but I thought it was an interesting observation.

I was looking over different forums and it seems like rules lawyers get a lot of flack for being way to anal or uptight. It seems like quite a few cases are taken in the extreme as generally those people are the most memorable when you are in a group.

However I thought that rules lawyers are not all bad. For instance I am a rules lawyer in my game. I like to play by the rules, but in the end I am also the go to guy when it comes to making game happen. Generally they are the people who will call everyone to make sure that games happens every week or every other week. They are also good at bean counting like keeping track of IP's, initiative, wound penalties, and house rules. The rules they remember can help the other players as much as hurt them, but generally the good thing is they are generally looked upon to remember who went off last session, and the general rules that can apply to certain situations.

All extremes suck, but I just think maybe not all rules lawyers are bad.
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Stahlseele
post Mar 22 2009, 11:56 PM
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no, we are not all bad.
and why the last post?
see my purely academic example of binky.
see things like the pornomancer and ultimate mundane climber.
or the character that can fire long burst from 4 sMG's.
we are just trying to see what the system can do.
kinda like hackers do with hard/software too.
and this also helps other people find ways to circumvent those things.
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PBI
post Mar 23 2009, 01:35 AM
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There's nothing wrong with rules lawyers in general. Another way to say "rules lawyer" is to say "I want to play the game by the established rules".

What's so bad with that? If the rules say that if I do X, then Y is most likely to happen, I would tend to play my character a certain way and if Y consistently started NOT happening when I did X, I'd be pretty miffed.

The biggest mistake I used to make was forgetting Rule 0 (to borrow an AD&D term). Once I remembered that Rule 0 was, in fact, a Rule, all was well.
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toturi
post Mar 23 2009, 01:49 AM
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People tend to use the term "rules lawyer" in a negative fashion. I have seen quite a few people do not differentiate between "powergamers", "munchkins" and "rules lawyers", and lump them altogether to mean a generalised "people who make the game unenjoyable for other people". However, it is interesting to note that these people often leave "roleplay nazi" out of the same categories. I have most often come across the term used by "roleplayers" to denigrate those people who insist on playing by the rules instead of by the fluff(despite fact that fluff is a result of a multitude of other factors).
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eidolon
post Mar 23 2009, 01:56 AM
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In and of itself, I suppose being a "rules lawyer" could be fairly neutral, until the person whom the label fits makes it otherwise.

Generally, however, the title is negative. This is because the person to whom it is being applied is generally using their knowledge to be an ass. So yeah, know them inside and out, backwards and forwards, and upside down if you want, but know when and how to apply that knowledge and you're golden.

What I mean is that it's fine for a player to be extremely well versed in the rules of the game, but the minute that said player starts arguing with the GM or another player for not following the rules to the letter even when the GM is being clear about what is going on, they are giving the title its negative connotation.

Knowing the rules: good.
Thinking that you are the sole arbiter of how the game should be played everywhere by everyone: bad.

Also, it becomes an issue when the rule in question is open to interpretation and the rules lawyer thinks that their interpretation is the only "correct" one.

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Draco18s
post Mar 23 2009, 02:00 AM
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QUOTE (eidolon @ Mar 22 2009, 09:56 PM) *
Generally, however, the title is negative. This is because the person to whom it is being applied is generally using their knowledge to be an ass.


Rules lawyers will be very correct about the rules when it benefits them. Otherwise, no, they stay silent on the subject.
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Zurai
post Mar 23 2009, 02:01 AM
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QUOTE (eidolon @ Mar 22 2009, 09:56 PM) *
Thinking that you are the sole arbiter of how the game should be played everywhere by everyone: bad.


This has nothing to do with being a rules lawyer. Indeed, it's just as applicable to the aforementioned "roleplaying Nazis", which are generally regarded as the opposite of rules lawyers. It isn't a quality of rules lawyers, it's a quality of bad players. I've known just as many bad players to which NONE of the usual bad player titles applied as I've known bad players that were rules lawyers.
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Zurai
post Mar 23 2009, 02:03 AM
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QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 22 2009, 10:00 PM) *
Rules lawyers will be very correct about the rules when it benefits them. Otherwise, no, they stay silent on the subject.


Incorrect. Bad players will be very correct about the rules only when it benefits them. An actual, honest-to-God rules lawyer will always be correct about the rules. Ask the people I play with; I just as frequently rules lawyer myself into a hole as I do out of one.
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WeaverMount
post Mar 23 2009, 02:05 AM
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IMO the term rules lawyer is from an older age of gaming where DM vs. Player was the assumption. These days if you want that style of gaming you play WOW, and the table toppers are being social and telling a story. Now think about how something one with a really good comand of the RAW will operate under those two context, and I think you can see the shift from rules lawyer as antagonist to rules lawyer as facilitator like all players and player types over the last decade
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eidolon
post Mar 23 2009, 02:13 AM
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QUOTE (Zurai @ Mar 22 2009, 09:01 PM) *
This has nothing to do with being a rules lawyer. Indeed, it's just as applicable to the aforementioned "roleplaying Nazis", which are generally regarded as the opposite of rules lawyers. It isn't a quality of rules lawyers, it's a quality of bad players. I've known just as many bad players to which NONE of the usual bad player titles applied as I've known bad players that were rules lawyers.


Being just as applicable to a second group doesn't render it inapplicable to the first. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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Ayeohx
post Mar 23 2009, 02:14 AM
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It depends on what you mean by "rule lawyer". Usually it's meant as a negative (see wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rules_lawyer).
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Zurai
post Mar 23 2009, 02:17 AM
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QUOTE (eidolon @ Mar 22 2009, 10:13 PM) *
Being just as applicable to a second group doesn't render it inapplicable to the first. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)


It's only applicable to one group: bad players.

Some rules lawyers happen to be bad players. Some roleplay Nazis happen to be bad players. Some schoolmarms happen to be bad players. Doesn't mean that any of those three groups have anything to do with the wanting to run your game their way flaw.
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eidolon
post Mar 23 2009, 02:24 AM
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Thinking that you are the sole arbiter of how the rules of the game work everywhere for everyone: bad.

Better?
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Degausser
post Mar 23 2009, 02:24 AM
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I have a tendancy to rules lawyer in my games, but i have managed to control it fairly well. I just remember that rule 1 in any RPG is "The GM is right, because what he is doing is for the fun of all." (Or, at least, that is supposed to be the case.) So, if a GM or player suggests something that is not in keeping with the RAW, I just say "Well, the rules as written are X, but if you feel they don't apply in this situation, that's fine." or something to that effect. That way I inform the GM if he is struggling for the rule, but if he is implimenting a house rule for a unique situation, then that is fine.
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Draco18s
post Mar 23 2009, 02:26 AM
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QUOTE (Zurai @ Mar 22 2009, 10:03 PM) *
Ask the people I play with; I just as frequently rules lawyer myself into a hole as I do out of one.


To which I dub myself a Rules Corrector as I've frequently looked things up to find out I was wrong, and sometimes I'm right. Sometimes I hold no opinion on the matter and look it up anyway. Such as when I found out that Full Defense did not, in fact, last until the end of the Combat Round (as my group has been playing under the assumption of since...ever...in an attempt to justify buying Dodge).

I'm very frequently wrong, as I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, but I prefer playing when the rules are being followed, except when logic goes "WTF?" and a houserule is made (our group is now now conforming to Chunky Salsa as one grenade kills far too many people on both sides).
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Heath Robinson
post Mar 23 2009, 03:17 AM
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Perfection is uniform and, therefore, all good players converge towards a single point. The extremes are the bad players, and their defining characteristics are clear cut - we can name them according to where they fall in the phase space.

Simply put, we call them "rules lawyers" because they are bad players and are sticklers to the rules. A good player who knows the rules is just a "good player". This is the way we work.
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WeaverMount
post Mar 23 2009, 03:31 AM
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QUOTE (Heath Robinson @ Mar 22 2009, 10:17 PM) *
Perfection is uniform and, therefore, all good players converge towards a single point.


wow, just wow. I didn't think a position like that was defensible in the last 50 to hundred years
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The Monk
post Mar 23 2009, 03:49 AM
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When I call someone a "rules lawyer" it is because he likes to argue about the rules. He often knows the rules well, but this is not always the case.

Someone that knows the rules very well I call a "rules guru."
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Heath Robinson
post Mar 23 2009, 03:58 AM
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QUOTE (WeaverMount @ Mar 23 2009, 03:31 AM) *
wow, just wow. I didn't think a position like that was defensible in the last 50 to hundred years

Let me rephrase in a longer manner that doesn't make so many assumptions about the way that you'll interpret it.

Every person defines perfection differently. However, perfection is always defined as an ideal point in phase space that you rate all gamers against. There is a universal maxima of your appreciation of a person. You will accept, and enjoy, people who fall within a large region around this point but, ultimately, there is only one point that is perfect. Your definition of how good players are is defined in terms of how close they approach that point. Increasingly good players therefore coverge towards a single point and become indistinguishable from each other in terms of the factors that form the axes of the phase space. The distinguishability of two points is defined as the length of the line between them.

Bad players are more distinguishable than good players, because they are further from your point of perfection. This means that we can categorise them easier. We assign more names to failings that we do to virtues because of this. A man who fails to control his appetite is a glutton, and a man who fails to control his love of money is greedy. All men who keep their wants in check have only one name, despite each possessing many virtues.


The axes of the phase space map an arbitrary limited set of values that you actually distinguish on. If you don't care what archetype people play, then it is not a factor in this phase space. Don't care about hygiene? That, too, is not a factor. The degree to which someone values the rules is likely one of the values that makes the phase space, as is the roleplay "skill". One can map complex determinants to some simpler determinant through mathematical function.

You will likely come up with arguments along the lines of there being multiple equally "good" players you know of. My preemptive response is thus; wouldn't it be better if all their good characteristics were combined into one person? Answer yes to that question and you have provided evidence that there is a single point by which you rate your gaming companions.
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TBRMInsanity
post Mar 23 2009, 04:05 AM
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There are certain games where it pays to be a rules lawyer. Hackmaster is the biggest one that comes to mind. I tent towards storytelling so usually I'm the person that gets pissed off by the rules lawyer, that being said I'm usually the one that (as you put it) goes to the rules lawyer if I have a question about the RAW.

I do notice that there are two types of rules lawyers though. There are those that try to be as true to the rules as they can be (more on RAW then RAI), and then there are the munchkins (who I despise) that try to take the rules and find loopholes to give them an advantage in the game.
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masterofm
post Mar 23 2009, 04:43 AM
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In my opinion munchkins and rules lawyers are fairly different and although there might be some similarities that can cause some overlap they are totally different. Someone who is a stickler for the rules can have their good sides and their bad sides. Sometimes a GM just doesn't want to have to explain why they are pulling out this new and wonderful thing that has nothing to do with the rules and totally breaks them. Maybe it is a good story element, but maybe the GM could use a RAW reality check. Again a good example of why rules lawyers can be good or bad.

Munchkins however only use the rules when it suits them, twisting them in a way that the rules did not intend. A big munchkin arguing stance generally starts with "Well since the rules don't specifically say you can or can't...." the assumption is that the rules should always work to their benefit no matter what, and will present a paper thin case on why they can have the uber character of doom. Vaguely worded rules, linking different rules to come up with the assumption that the rules were supposed to be a certain way, ext. That or they will only want to start a game at the point of character advancement where they can create a Pun Pun. What is worse though is the attitude that they need to have a character that is just always better then the rest of the party or it will upset them.

Honestly a rules lawyer is generally not a munchkin. They are almost on opposite sides of the spectrum although again there can be some overlap. I think many GMs or players can be annoyed with a rules lawyer is because they are the first to point out a character's flaw or GM's mistake. Sometimes this is helpful, but most of the time people just want to have fun playing a game and find that it can detract from the RP or can break up the flow of the game. However someone who is generally a stickler for the rules is generally that same person that makes the cogs work in a gaming group. That same annoyance can serve as the person who will nag all of the other players to make sure game happens every week.

I just came to the realization that generally in group game dynamics to have a long term game you need at least one person who is willing to make sure it all happens. Generally though it is the rules lawyer who will call, and call, and call each and every person to make sure game happens.
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ornot
post Mar 23 2009, 09:14 AM
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@ Heath.

The problem with that argument is that the "point of perfection" is not necessarily in the same place for all players. Some might attribute always playing by the RAW as closer to their "point of perfection", while others would place their "point" towards follwoing the GMs guidance over the rules. The former would be more likely to regard rules lawering as a good thing, the latter would consider it an offense towards the GM's judgement.

Of course, I could have entirely misunderstood your point.

IMO Rules Lawering becomes a problem when a player exploits loop holes in the rules, or when they interrupt the game with arguments about how particular rules should be intepreted or implemented, especially in a belligerant manner. In my game I have a complete SR newb, and it can be helpful if my resident rules expert tells her which dice she needs to roll to do whatever she wants. Where it's a problem is when he tells her what the best thing to do is, effectively playing her character by proxy; although to a certain extent it can be a problem if he doesn't since she is uncertain what precisely she can do, and I, for my sins, have an unfortunate tendancy to dazzle her with options.
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toturi
post Mar 23 2009, 12:12 PM
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QUOTE (masterofm @ Mar 23 2009, 12:43 PM) *
Munchkins however only use the rules when it suits them, twisting them in a way that the rules did not intend. A big munchkin arguing stance generally starts with "Well since the rules don't specifically say you can or can't...." the assumption is that the rules should always work to their benefit no matter what, and will present a paper thin case on why they can have the uber character of doom. Vaguely worded rules, linking different rules to come up with the assumption that the rules were supposed to be a certain way, ext. That or they will only want to start a game at the point of character advancement where they can create a Pun Pun. What is worse though is the attitude that they need to have a character that is just always better then the rest of the party or it will upset them.

I have not met such a person yet. Most of the time, the people I would think as munchkin have the attitude that they need to have a character that is just always better than what the GM can realistically throw at the whole party. Which if you stop and think about it is actually quite fun, even(I would say, especially) as the GM.

QUOTE
IMO Rules Lawering becomes a problem when a player exploits loop holes in the rules, or when they interrupt the game with arguments about how particular rules should be intepreted or implemented, especially in a belligerant manner.
IMO there is no such thing as a loop hole in the rules. It is either the rules or it is not. Calling a part of the rules a loop hole simply generates bad blood.
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ornot
post Mar 23 2009, 01:18 PM
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I have known players that will use the Munchkin argument posited by Masterofm. Even if they do it in a good natured way, and fully expect to get shot down. You are pretty fortunate if you have not had to simply say "No.The rules do not say that."

I'm really not sure how you can say that there is no such thing as a loop hole. Something as complex as SR will always suffer occasional oversight. A GM must either rule on such things (and endeavour to do so consistently) or seek clarification (which can be pretty slow). A prime example is the new drain mechanic for Direct Combat Spells. I was not alone in thinking that a mage must gamble how many hits they expect an opponent to generate, and thus how many of their own hits they must keep, rather than choosing how many hits to keep after the resistance check, thus determining damage inflicted and drain to be resisted. Synner has stated the intention was the second interpretation, but until it was made explicitly clear, that fuzziness could be described as a loop hole.
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toturi
post Mar 23 2009, 01:38 PM
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QUOTE (ornot @ Mar 23 2009, 09:18 PM) *
I'm really not sure how you can say that there is no such thing as a loop hole. Something as complex as SR will always suffer occasional oversight. A GM must either rule on such things (and endeavour to do so consistently) or seek clarification (which can be pretty slow). A prime example is the new drain mechanic for Direct Combat Spells. I was not alone in thinking that a mage must gamble how many hits they expect an opponent to generate, and thus how many of their own hits they must keep, rather than choosing how many hits to keep after the resistance check, thus determining damage inflicted and drain to be resisted. Synner has stated the intention was the second interpretation, but until it was made explicitly clear, that fuzziness could be described as a loop hole.

No, the fuzziness would IMO be just that. Not a loop hole. It just is. The GM could call it either way or decide in any other means he deems fit. What I did when presented with a not-specifically stated argument was to preserve that fuzziness - "Each time the situation comes up, I will toss a coin, and you can call it. Call it right and you get it in your favor. Call it wrong and it won't. It would be your call."
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