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Old 05-07-2020, 12:27 AM   #51
pestigor
 
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Default Re: Rules Lawyers: The Most Important Rules in all GURPS

I was the kind of rules lawyer that could cause a TPK because most of my youth was spent obsessively trying to make sure things we're "by the book"...Many years later I was diagnosed with ASD (AKA Asperger's syndrome) and I realized why I was so insufferable for so long.

I have since figured out "By the book" can be what ever a group decides it is, the problem I had was I would get very technical and pedantic about stuff because of some kind of obsession with "doing it right" instead of "lets just have fun".

It's difficult to try and be less insufferable when you think, "I'm fine and what the heck is everyone so uptight about."

I'm not implying that ALL rules lawyers have autism, I'm just saying, I was a rules Lawyer and it made me insufferable to game with (Which is why I ended up being GM so often because I always had the rules squared away).

I'm also not saying playing by RAW (rules as written) is bad, I'm just saying if one obsessed more with the rules instead of having fun, usually no one is having fun.
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Old 05-07-2020, 05:42 AM   #52
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Default Re: Rules Lawyers: The Most Important Rules in all GURPS

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I'm not implying that ALL rules lawyers have autism
As a data point: All the worst rules lawyers in my life have been allistic people – the sort who went on to become lawyers, corporate directors, politicians, etc., steamrolling everyone in their path to power. If they were neuroatypical in any way, they were high-functioning sociopaths and high-functioning narcissists. So when I see rules-lawyering, I have to stop myself assuming the rules lawyer is utterly unempathetic, self-interested, and possibly being a rules lawyer to win some advantage over me.
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Old 05-07-2020, 10:27 AM   #53
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Default Re: Rules Lawyers: The Most Important Rules in all GURPS

There has been a lot of the right things already being said, so I wont reiterate them beyond saying "Yes, I have seen good "rules lawyers" help a GM, and I have seen bad ones destroy the entire experience and turn multiple people away from RPGs"

I think its important to realize why those of us, that use GURPS do. Its very different from D&D, so different its barely able to be considered the same game. Long time GURPS users will recognize that its because the large portion of these other systems are far more rigid in the application of limitations. This flexibility in GURPS can be daunting to new players/GMs, especially if they only have D&D as a reference (which is common these days).

Some players don't adapt well to this amount of uncertainty, as in "am I selecting the right skills to advance? I have so many choices I don't want to make a wrong one". This can turn into rules lawyering because they feel like they have lost control of their character, which is more a communication problem between the GM and the Player or maybe the Table as a whole. Some players are quick to point out something to their advantage that falls into the grey area of interpretation or something we just aren't using at the table. My usual response to that is one of three questions. Do we need to stop game play and resolve this or risk needing to roll back to this point? If I allow this, you do realize that my NPCs will be taking advantage of it in the future? Is this something we have overlooked for a reason, IE using this doubles or triples every combat encounter and eats a lot of our play time?

Sometimes the table agrees that its worth the discussion, so I call a bio break and then we take 10-15 min to try and work out the long term possibilities of the rule application in question. Most of the time its either a rule that we don't use for the sake of brevity, OR some over powered combo that is politely overlooked because the NPCs could also do it but don't, OR "house rule(s)" (clarified before hand) to allow what would be a more cinematic success rather than a mundane failure, (just about anything archery related in Med Fan settings comes to mind).

If the person is intent on trying to turn it into a board game (I really likes Kromm's mathematical explanation) then you just have to agree to disagree and ask them politely, and best privately to leave. If your opponent keeps flipping the chess board every time you move a bishop more than 2 spaces, you dont continue playing with them, why would an RPG be any different.

I played and GMed several other popular systems and some very niche systems, including a couple decades with D&D in various editions. I stopped GMing them because I didn't like the "hand-wavy" rules (RAW) that broke the "role play", by the system design. In an effort to create a sense of growth there is the tendency to scale powers/abilities from mundane to god like, so far beyond the Village Tavern Owner that its impossible to create a situation where an 18lvl Anything could/would interact normally. This has appeal to some people, if nothing else you can see where you start, how you progress, and where you end up before you even set down at the table. As I got older I grew to despise that idea as "character development", that's following a recipe not developing, that's how you make bread not a character.


My personal take on this is from the point of view of why I use GURPS.
Its exactly because I like the flexibility and decently logical progression for characters while giving me (as GM) a basic framework for them, so I have some pretty good ideas of 'boundaries' and simple tools to control game flow. These boundaries are soft, squishy, pliable... but that's fine as long as the table is prepared a little and the GM has given some thought to world building. Which brings up the point of "Adventure Modules" and the inherent problem with making them for GURPS IMO, there is so much inherent flexibility in the system that its hard to be able to pick one up and just use it without some thought to how you fit it to the table. How ever with a little thought, you can easily fit any module from any system into your GURPS game.

I use GURPS because it does what *I* need as GM and what I want as a player. I explain to my players that there will be times they have to trust me to navigate grey areas or to withhold bits of the books because that's how the game works sometimes. I also tell them that I will only allow things to the NPCs that the PCs aren't allowed, if there is a specific narrative reason. Sometimes this is as simple as saying "You can use anything in Basic/Magic/Lowtech or Basic/HighTech/Traveller:IW minus anything that references magic". Sometimes it requires specific clarification for a setting, "This is a Mundane world (no actual magic/Psi) similar to our New York, circa 1925, any tech 5 years in either direction will be allowed without need for approval. The sole exception to this is that you may use advantages that enhance/target time sense, based on my pre-approval". Sometimes I give the PCs limits that I don't give the NPCs but its based on the larger story setting not a mid campaign change. Psi is a good example, I have used a Psi "alien" as the big bad in an otherwise mundane game world and it was a wonderful experience for all. I had one observer of the 'Psi reveal' say "that's not fair, because the PCs weren't allowed to take Psi advantages/skills" but none of the players thought it was anything but cool, and the BB was designed from the beginning to be the "End Boss". A bunch of stuff that wasnt making sense for the PCs suddenly all fell in place the moment they had this info.
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Old 05-07-2020, 01:50 PM   #54
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Default Re: Rules Lawyers: The Most Important Rules in all GURPS

A problem I've run into as a GM and player is that each player's knowledge of the rules are different. I have a couple of hyper-intellectual players who are engineers and love all the optional rules, and understand probability so they can take advantage of these rules. But then I also have players who don't know the rules well, never think to do things like Deceptive Attacks, Telegraphic Attacks, or invent new Techniques, use Extra Effort (or try to use it too much) and only like the roleplaying aspects and hate the technical play. Balancing the experience of gaming for these players is difficult. Some players hate it when other players make suggestions on what specialized technique they should use in a situation, and just say, "Shouldn't my character know what to do in this situation?"

It's a genuine problem, and the GM has to be sensitive to not stifle rules lawyers too much so they don't feel picked on by other players or the GM any more than the rules-light players just want the GM to pick whatever option gives them the best odds of success.

Now I'm usually all for the "GM's has the final word," but I've left a few groups because of heavy handed GMs overruling game rules willy-nilly to tell his story, no matter what the players do. Explicitly stating that the "GM has the final word" I think is not always productive. Even the terminology of Game Master promotes this mentality, and egomaniacal GMs are scarier than rules lawyer players.
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Old 05-07-2020, 02:08 PM   #55
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Default Re: Rules Lawyers: The Most Important Rules in all GURPS

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But then I also have players who don't know the rules well, never think to do things like Deceptive Attacks, Telegraphic Attacks, or invent new Techniques, use Extra Effort (or try to use it too much) and only like the roleplaying aspects and hate the technical play. Balancing the experience of gaming for these players is difficult. Some players hate it when other players make suggestions on what specialized technique they should use in a situation, and just say, "Shouldn't my character know what to do in this situation?"
I've seen this situation as well. If a game requires a certain level of knowledge of the rules that a player is not willing or able to acquire, that player will simply not enjoy that game. Not every game of GURPS requires such knowledge. When I run games, combat is present but light, and when there are players who don't know the combat options, I or another player can interpret their combat intentions for them, and everyone is satisfied with that. But in a game that features combat as a central, tactical challenge, such a player simply cannot enjoy themselves, and they really shouldn't be playing that game. Their characters would just be puppets run by someone else.
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Old 05-07-2020, 02:58 PM   #56
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Default Re: Rules Lawyers: The Most Important Rules in all GURPS

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
As a data point: All the worst rules lawyers in my life have been allistic people – the sort who went on to become lawyers, corporate directors, politicians, etc., steamrolling everyone in their path to power. If they were neuroatypical in any way, they were high-functioning sociopaths and high-functioning narcissists. So when I see rules-lawyering, I have to stop myself assuming the rules lawyer is utterly unempathetic, self-interested, and possibly being a rules lawyer to win some advantage over me.
There is, of course, a distinction between people who honestly believe their interpretation of the rules is correct and will argue the point, even to the detriment of their own character, and those who purposefully try to twist the rules (or selectively pick rules) that specifically benefit their character, even to the detriment of the party (and table as a whole). I would not be surprised at all to find that the former (which I tend to be much more similar to) are often somewhere on the autism spectrum, while the latter are often somewhere on the sociopathic spectrum, but I've seen "rules lawyer" used to refer to both.
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Old 05-07-2020, 03:45 PM   #57
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Default Re: Rules Lawyers: The Most Important Rules in all GURPS

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There is, of course, a distinction between people who honestly believe their interpretation of the rules is correct and will argue the point, even to the detriment of their own character, and those who purposefully try to twist the rules (or selectively pick rules) that specifically benefit their character, even to the detriment of the party (and table as a whole). I would not be surprised at all to find that the former (which I tend to be much more similar to) are often somewhere on the autism spectrum, while the latter are often somewhere on the sociopathic spectrum, but I've seen "rules lawyer" used to refer to both.
Where I entered the hobby, we used "rules lawyer" specifically to mean a person who engages in twisting the rules for the gain of their character or to serve their personal sense of fun, regardless of the loss of time or goodwill around the gaming table. By analogy to actual lawyers: The kind of lawyer who goes into law for the money alone, ready to argue anything for anyone if it pays well, rather than the kind of lawyer who goes into law out of an interest in justice or public service. We called the latter "rules geeks," usually.
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Old 05-07-2020, 04:18 PM   #58
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Default Re: Rules Lawyers: The Most Important Rules in all GURPS

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I was the kind of rules lawyer that could cause a TPK because most of my youth was spent obsessively trying to make sure things we're "by the book"...Many years later I was diagnosed with ASD (AKA Asperger's syndrome) and I realized why I was so insufferable for so long.
This mirrors my experience quite closely. Though in my case I discovered THAT I was insufferable, not why.

To me, the rules WERE the game. The bit at the beginning about rule zero was fluff to keep questions away or to determine the ultimate arbiter of the rules. I mean... If there were no hard rules, why write a book? It wasn't adversarial, and I wasn't trying to "win" an argument. I was just trying to make the game better by getting everyone to follow THE RULES which, remember, are synonymous with THE GAME. I didn't understand for quite a while that others could feel differently. (and this was not limited to RPGs)

As a side effect of this, I wanted to find the "best" build in an RPG. the "best" class/race/stat combo in D&D. The "best" advantages in GURPS. The "best" weapons to use etc. Because when the rules ARE the game, winning is objective, not subjective. I'm not sure where this put me in the rules lawyer/geek spectrum. Probably Lawful Evil.

I understand better now with hindsight and maturity. The rules are the medium which perpetuates the experience, and the goal is enjoyment for all. Anything which hinders the goal can be cast aside and anything which enhances it can be mixed in. But at the time... The rules and the game were inseparable concepts to me. Therefore, arguing about the minutia was the path to greater understanding and enjoyment.

I still like to know the rules. I like to know when I'm breaking them and when I'm following them. I like to know that they are well tested, balanced, and managed overall. But... I have gained a good idea of things like the rule of cool and when to roll & shout for the sake of moving the story along.

Man, I haven't fully dived into my rules-lawyer headspace for a while. It makes me realize how far I've come. And wonder how much I will have changed in another 25 years.

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Old 05-07-2020, 07:57 PM   #59
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At our table we have a 1 argument rule. If a player thinks that something is not correct, they are free to bring it up, it is then discussed if necessary and then the GM makes a ruling. This ruling is final, at least for that session. If there is still a problem then the player and GM can discuss it outside of game time for the next session.

Now, I have the huge advantage that my group is very reasonable so such arguments don't come up very often and are solved amicably. I've played in groups that weren't and I didn't like it very much. Not everyone has this option and I feel quite a bit of empathy to those that don't.

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Old 05-07-2020, 11:25 PM   #60
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Default Re: Rules Lawyers: The Most Important Rules in all GURPS

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Where I entered the hobby, we used "rules lawyer" specifically to mean a person who engages in twisting the rules for the gain of their character or to serve their personal sense of fun, regardless of the loss of time or goodwill around the gaming table. By analogy to actual lawyers: The kind of lawyer who goes into law for the money alone, ready to argue anything for anyone if it pays well, rather than the kind of lawyer who goes into law out of an interest in justice or public service. We called the latter "rules geeks," usually.
A rules Layer will laugh at "the most important rule in Gurps" and "die on that hill." A rules geek will go, "Oh, okay we're doing it that way...never mind."

If the former isn't a teenager or young adult (which can be salvaged), I tend to avoid them. I never have a problem discussing rules with a rules geek, I'm always trying to find something new. Those discussions take place before or after the game though which most rules geeks respect the table.
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