I know what I am, and I know that you hate me. Admitting the truth is the first step to recovery they say, so here goes: I am a rules lawyer.
Why I’m a Rules Lawyer
I love rules. I like playing with them and fiddling with them. I spend time considering how my character can function within the confines of the rules. I’ll take the time to read a rulebook from cover to cover, and then reread sections so I know how things work.
And I hate when other people break the rules. It drives me crazy, because I know how it’s supposed to be done, and if you break the rules I can no longer trust the game.
So apparently I have trust issues too.
Why Most Players Hate Me
Most players aren’t playing a game for the rules. The rules are just there to facilitate a complex game of make-believe. When I start to comment on the rules, the game that they enjoy lurches to a halt. Arguments ensue. By pointing out that the rules are being handledincorrectly , I’m also telling the game master that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Even if that’s true, he doesn’t want to hear it, and neither do the other players.
Why the Rules *Do* Matter
The rules of a roleplaying game exist to protect the players from the game master’s whims. When you were a child, playing any sort of make believe game, at some point an argument would always break out. “I got you!”. “No, you didn’t!”. And soon enough the game was over and everyone was mad at each other.
So, rules are created. Even in a roleplaying game with a game master, the possibility exists that the game master will favor one player over another. A ruleset, when followed, provides protection against this.
The Compromise: Keep the Game Moving
The first rule to being a good player is don’t be selfish. I have learned that it is important for me to not interrupt when other people are enjoying themselves. Usually, I try to talk to my game master away from the table, and make it clear that it’s important to me that the rules be followed properly when possible, and that if he isn’t clear on something that he can ask me for assistance.
These days, if we’re at the table, and I see something being done wrong, I might quickly mention that it’s incorrect, but that we should “go with it for now”. Then, when it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the game, the game master and I might discuss the actual rule.
There is an exception. If breaking the rule is grossly detrimental to anyone involved, I will let this be known. But in this case, I talk directly to the game master, and as politely as possible. Even so, I try to keep this to a minimum.