1569 Rules Lawyer.

I’ve only ever heard the term rules lawyer in the context of Dungeons & Dragons, but it’s something that exists across most games where a human is in charge of the game’s rules. I know I met some who played Magic. I’ve argued the rules of Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Mall Madness… Even though I don’t know the rules very well. The key really is that you know the rules better than the person in charge of the rules and make them believe they are wrong. Some dungeon masters will tolerate no questioning of their authority. Generally speaking it’s understood that the DM is the final say regardless of the rules… but if a player makes it look like they are being unfair, well, a group can still apply pressure effectively that way. Rules lawyers are annoying when they aren’t on your side, and fantastic when they are, but they slow things down and eventually everyone gets tired of the constant bickering. Like most things in life moderation is key.
The memorization of rules is hardly uncommon. No matter how complex a rules system is there will be people who devote massive amounts of time to putting them to memory. This usually comes down to it being very important for that person to win arguments. Much like how people quote bible passages. The more they memorize the more important the feeling of being “right” is to them. Fairness as a concept is weirdly important in our culture in spite of how little it’s actually supported. Things need to seem fair to the parties immediately involved, or the ones in power at any given time. Typically fairness is touted by people in control while not actually being practiced. A veneer of fairness is important to keep people in line, which is why a rules lawyer agitating situations eventually becomes a problem for a system. Either the system has to change, or the agitator has to be disposed of.


I think Mike wants to play a role in Patricia’s life, but will she rue letting him in?

Instead of playing a role, I’d rather play a cupcake.

… so … does that mean you want her to eat you?

But I have to watch out…I’ve met some [female] cupcakes that were too hot to handle! :D

Maybe I forgot to add a pun to my last reply.
…Did I mention that I think that Rulette is my idea of a REAL crumpet?

Perhaps you were mistaken and they were in fact hot cross buns?

But if some guys grabs Rulette’s hot buns, without her permission, I bet she’ll be VERY cross.
[In fact, she’ll probably knock him flat.] : )

Shoot. That didn’t last long.
My puns are being a bunch of cream-puffs, today. : )

Sorry, that was me failing to rise to the occasion, I was too busy loafing around to come up with any more half-baked goods (actually a high fever left me `un pain` ;-)

Heh heh heh heh! No problem. : )

Your comment, there is comedy GOLD, in my book! Really, it is. : )


I’m never sure whether I’ve cooked up something at yeast a little tasty or if I got a flatbread and I should have leavened things alone …

“Patricia’s” would have gotten her the wrong sort of attention and a bunch of confused patrons. It’s the name of an “adult toy store” chain in Oklahoma.

Our government seems to choose the latter when it comes to rules lawyers who are whistle blowers. Wall Street too, being that the only guy in jail over the 2008 market crash is the guy who blew the whistle.

I remember when Patricia’s used to be Priscilla’s on the radio ads. Also, they’ve got stores in Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, so more than just an Oklahoma chain.

Oh man, rule lawyers can be the bane of a D&D session, and she looks like such a nice person.

They sure are the worst.
But most of the time, they tend to be kicked out of the team pretty fast

I don’t know what kind of groups you have, but in mine rules lawyers are kind of essential for keeping the new and rusty advised, and the GM can always overrule the rules as written.

I was the DM and the rules lawyer. That worked out very well for me. It worked even better when I dropped the absurd D&D rules and made my own system.

I’m not terribly against Rules Jockeying, but it’s the min/maxers that annoy me most. I understand trying to get the biggest bang for your buck, but many times they aren’t the best at character development. So you got a character that is REALLY good at what they do, but don’t say much or contribute much to the story. Rather boring.

I have a character, back in my mum’s DnD group that I made as a joke character. Fletch, the flaming gay arcane archer. Normal elf but had hot pink hair. I gave him a lilting voice and made him a man whore. Wasn’t expecting him to live long, just long enough for them to resurrect my main character (for whom I happened to have named my user name, but that’s a different story). Due to the dice rolls and some items and feats I garnered over the long time I played Fletch, he became my best, and favorite, character. He ended up with a Distance Bow, all the archery based feats, and a Dex of 22. I could actually (and accurately) hit foes from over a quarter mile away. 5+ range increments. It was absurd. We’d fight hordes of monsters in the wastelands or fields, the group (and NPCs) would go charging in to fight, while I snipe from SO VERY far away.

I bring him up because he wasn’t just numbers on a sheet. He always had an opinion on what was going on. Very eager to help others in need. Painfully loyal to his allies (ie: blindly trusting the rogue when he said he didn’t steal something). Gave money to towns to aid in their rebuilding after incidents of disaster. Was a great character. A great *character*! Sure he was good in battle, sure he was capable of taming wild animals and persuading people to aid him in whatever he needed, but he was also a laugh riot for all of us. A genuinely fun character to have around.

Rules lawyers are the worst and for some reason they think it’s something to be proud of.

See, you say that, but only insofar as there’s no one in the party blatantly trying to “win” D&D instead of playing it. If it weren’t for rule lawyers, a lot more people would fudge things in ways they aren’t designed to be fudged, which drags down the experience for everyone.

I’m not saying DM doesn’t have discretion to do as they please, but at the same time, my DM has a penchant to mention Terasques as a fucking joke to his party of level 3s and loves to create his own unbalanced creatures. Sometimes, Rules lawyers are needed.

You don’t have to tell us, man. If there’s such a thing as control freaks in reality, then they will definitely leech into the Dungeon Mastery club. Worst yet, they will either break the rules or follow them so rigidly that the fun is strangled from the game. Rules lawyers, as loathed as they can be, are a necessary evil to balance the evils of unscrupulous DM’s and players alike.

Yeah, I say that, because half the time they have misunderstood the entire thing or try to press the issue over something that is A CHOICE rather than something detrimental to the game (“you should do this because I’m better at your character than you are”), they ignore the DM caveat, they drag the game out adding time (I don’t know about you, but I gotta go to fucking work most times after I play and “someone was rules lawyer in so the game ran long” is not a valid fucking excuse), disrupting it, causing for the suspension of the game until the oh-so-important rule is figured out (“just let it go for an hour! For fuck’s sake, can we just move on?”), ruining your suspension of disbelief, wrecking the flow of whatever was going on, they’re goddamn insufferable about it when their right, they will argue to the point of ridiculousness (“IT SAYS IT RIGHT HERE!” “YES, I KNOW! BUT IF YOU GO TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH, IT CONTRADICTS ITSELF SO THEY ADDRESSED IT IN THE FAQ!”).
It’s not fucking FUN and if it’s not FUN, what the fuck is the point? Move thd fuck on.

And I will not give you my shotgun, I will let us all die first.

And I didn’t.
And we did.

And there’s a bad “their” in there, but there’s no way to edit and it’s hard to see this on my phone… but that is more embarrassing than the “thd”.

Rules lawyers are in the worst in warhammer 40k and what used to be warhammer fantasy. Also is it just me or is Mike wearing his heart on his shirt so to speak

Rule 0: All other rules hereafter are strictly recommendations to your DM, who has the final say.

Those who do not understand Rule 0 will be excluded from the group in future sessions, lest a suitable penance of pizza is offered upon the session following the actions stemming from a lack understanding thereof.

Regarding fairness: as a character in ‘Yes, Minister’ once put it: “The less you intend to do something, the more you have to keep talking about it.” ;)

Rules Lawyers are different from someone who just memorized all the rules. Myself, I couldn’t help knowing all the rules. I read them, ergo I remembered them. Handy charts helped, too. During play, however, I tended not to mention any discrepancies (the DM knows behind the scenes info that the players don’t, he could be applying something I don’t know about), but gladly cited both rule and page if asked.

As a DM, I’ve had a few people try and rules lawyer. Having a number of actual real life hunters the group was tracking a thief when the trail just ended. I was informed how impossible it was, that traces have to be left, and how unfair I was being. I held my ground and got nowhere in the game for almost fifteen minutes before I started pulling out various rules explaining multiple level appropriate ways for the trail to just stop. Later on the group was supposed to be arrested (on false evidence) and they started arguing U.S. laws on why they shouldn’t be arrested… In a fantasy game that had never heard of the U.S. I couldn’t speak for nearly half an hour of trying to formulate an argument against… Let’s call it ignorance.

See, this. This is actually what a rules lawyer is. Rules lawyers refuse to be wrong about the rules. You can NOT know the rules well at all and still get the title of rules lawyer. It’s basically because you argue an objection to the ground.

People who know the rules and can assist when the gm or play group is lost is helpful. Rules lawyers are not. They’re different things.

Exactly, and this is why they are the worst to play with. Learn to adapt, learn to bend, or learn to function in another group.

That said, I maintain that Rules Lawyering has its time and place.

Currently I have a friend whom I argue with after every game session. Neither of us wins (and yet we are both certain we have won), but the point of the argument isn’t that we win, but that we have fun yelling at each other for a half an hour and then go home still friends after.

It’s the slightest bit codenpendant, I admit, but I like it…

If you’re both having fun, then it’s fine. Also, you’re arguing AFTER the session. That’s a subtle difference that most rules lawyers don’t take into account and it makes all the difference in the world. ;)

Odd… I’ve booted and cut every rules lawyer from my gaming group over the years, and I’m not even the DM… But it has gained me the title of Gatekeeper of my group. No one gets in or stays in without my approval or testing.

Our rules lawyers have either chilled out or been asked to leave. If it’s affecting the group’s enjoyment or holding up the game, it shouldn’t be happening.

As a DM, I found it easy to thwart rule lawyers: just point to the passage in the beginning of EVERY Player’s Handbook that states, “The rules in these books are not absolute; they are intended to only be guidelines.” It creates an infinite logic loop, since if they insist everything in the book should be followed, then THAT statement must be true, and thus none of the others can be absolute, rendering their entire argument moot.

And if they say that part’s not true, then the same could be said of any other rule they come up with. Shuts them down every time, and those that tried to argue further end up getting ousted by the rest of the group. Or they have their characters commit suicide and expect you to care.

I’ve been dubbed ‘Rules Monger’ by most of my gaming friends, so you can guess which direction I tend to lean, but I learned a long time ago that there’s a time and place to argue minutia, and the middle of a session is rarely that place. I try to keep it to a minimum and act more like living crib notes rather than the voice of authority.

Being able to quote chapter, paragraph and verse of the rules is mildly impressive to some people, but I find it’s a lot quicker, easier, and less annoying to give a general overview of the ‘rule’ and then gently (at least the first dozen times) remind the GM that it’s their universe, not mine, and nothing I just said is unbreakable cosmic law.

Indeed, a good way to approach. I wasn’t a dictator, and I was willing to discuss ANY rule they wanted to argue… as long as they only brought it up after the session. The moment they interrupted play to complain about a rule, they automatically lost their discussion privilege. That tended to silence most rulemongers after one or two sessions, while the rest left for greener pastures.

Mind you, I had far more control and leverage over my games, as they all took place in my custom campaign world… most of the time, the basic guidelines were all I ever used from the original material, and it’s hard to argue statistics against the guy who makes them.

I rules lawyer on occasion, but only for things that are going to negatively affect the party in total, for example, i beat a creature to death with another creature [some kinda bird thing] while the one i was using as an improvised weapon was on fire. Normally that would affect my, and the party’s alignment, mine for doing it and the party for not stopping it, HOWEVER i was in a berserker rage, which qualifies as a “state of insanity” due to this, my alignment remains unaffected, and it was too dangerous to attempt to restrain me or stop me, saving the party’s alignments.

Oh dear… so pitiful. All this bashing because you munchkins are too lazy to learn the game you are playing and your sloppy ego can’t handle when others do put in a bit of effort.

In reality however, a rules lawyer, or rules advisor, can be the most useful person at the table. They can immediately solve any conflicts between players that arise from their lack of knowledge.

Take a look at the comprehensive rules for Magic the Gathering, for example. It’s a huge amount of information that allows to rule on countless special cases, as is necessary for a game where thousands of different cards can interact.
You want to learn all that? No? Then show some respect for the guy who is taking up that task so that you little munchkin can enjoy the game without fear of being cheated, or having perfectly legal plays denied by some other ignorant player.

This glorificaton of ignorance and condemnation of dedication to being informed and capable is, to keep it civil, disgusting and ashaming.

I honestly can’t tell if this is satire or not. if not then I think you’re taking this weirdly personally. You’re arguing a point that nobody is really trying to make.

I am not taking this personal, but I do take offense in the way you are making negative, presumptuous claims about people. Statements like “This usually comes down to it being very important for that person to win arguments” or “The more they memorize the more important the feeling of being “right” is to them” are of such libelous nature that I hope against better knowledge that those are in fact satire.

The rules lawyer is also not defined by making people think they are wrong about the rules when they aren’t, but by the fact that he values the rules as a tool of keeping the game fair and will not hesitate to speak up when people break them.

Most of the time “rules lawyers” are just annoyed by people who actually are wrong and keep making invalid plays. That devalues the game too, you know? Would you enjoy a party of chess where your opponent tries to pull off stunts like switching the King and the Queen while trying to keep a straight face or who doesn’t know the “en passant” rule? You’d tolerate it at most. And you would not feel like your victory has any value if your opponent doesn’t even know the rules of the game.

You considered that someone would learn the rules to ensure a fair and meaningful game, did you? For example, when two players go into pvp, you’ll either have to trust that the DM enforces fair play – or know for sure if he is. You’ll have to trust the DM to know the rules well enough to ensure fair play and not be fooled by your opponent – or prevent that by being able to refute bogus claims.
I’ve always preferred protecting myself over complaining about being cheated.

You say I missed your point? I don’t think so, and the first paragraphs should show you which parts of your rant I’ve been adressing. But are you maybe also making valid points? Scanning over your rant, the only halfway decent complaint is about disruption.

It is not caused by the rules lawyer, but by the person not playing the game properly. It’s like complaining about the police because their investigations are holding up business, instead of the guy that robbed your store. If there’s any disruption over a rules question, it is always caused by lack of knowledge or fowl play. Attempts to fix the game state are only the consequence of sloppy playing.

The same goes for trust in the system. Either it’s fair and by that quality worth trusting, or it is unfair and by that quality worth being rolled up and force-fed to the DM. Blaming someone who speaks up about flaws in the system instead of improving the flawed system… Well, that’s a table I wouldn’t want to sit at.

Dear goodness, this got long. I would have made it shorter, but I didn’t have the time. Sorry.

I once thought of writing a random rule generator just for the delight of rules lawyers. They get together, generate a set of rules, and figure out how to play the resulting game.

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