Have you ever felt cheated by your GM? Perhaps they misinterpreted what you wanted you character to do. Maybe they didn’t have a good understanding of a rule and were unwilling to alter their decision as it had already occurred. Perhaps they were bending the rules in order to suit their version of the story. Possibly they were just completely out of touch with reality. Regardless of the reason, everyone at one point or another has suffered what they feel to be a bad call. Many players are inordinately gifted with an ability to gracefully accept such decisions and get on with the game. Then there are the rules lawyers, who feel they must protest whatever injustice has been inflicted upon them in order to change the GM’s mind. It is to you that I write today: regardless of the rightness of your cause, your behavior is unacceptable. It holds up everyone’s game and is just plain rude. By all means, let the GM know if you disagree with one of their calls. However, if the GM is unwilling to alter their decision, do not attempt to:
Prove your point using logic, reason, reality, and/or cold hard facts: when a dispute arises, stop the game while you look for indisputable evidence in any rulebook (does not need to be a core book) in support of your argument. Once you’ve presented your evidence, deliver a brilliant speech detailing conclusively why you are right and the GM is wrong. Finish with an explanation of how the scenario should have played out, if the GM would but agree that you are correct. If the GM rejects these proofs, go back to the rulebooks to find another rule in support of your point of view and repeat process until you get the desired results.
I understand how tempting this is, really, I do. However, it is a very simple and quick way to irritate everyone with which you are playing. Fear not, my good lawyers, for I am here to help you. I present to you some tips that you can use to distract yourself from the injustice at hand. Note that I said distract, not justify the GM’s decision, as I do think you’ve been wronged in some way, as rules lawyers typically base any opposition to the GM in either rules or reality. However, for everyone else at the table, the following behaviors on your part will be largely preferable to rules lawyering:
So, as you can see, there are plenty of perfectly suitable responses to disagreements with the GM that don’t involve rules lawyering. Choose your favorite(s) and employ them the next time the GM botches a call; your entire group will thank me. Happy gaming!
Jake is a rule fanatic and recovering rules lawyer. He typically employs numbers one, seven, and ten when tempted to be a rules lawyering (and number six when no one’s around).
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.