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""Breaking" rules" Topic

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tsofian26 Apr 2020 10:05 a.m. PST

In a board game or even miniatures games, I understand the idea of rules that can't be broken by ambitious players. In RPGs I don't. I know well that there are players that will seek to do this in an RPG setting, looking for every rule that can be bent or exploited for an advantage in game play.

My question is why do you game with people like that? How do you get them to stop?

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2020 11:06 a.m. PST

Rule 1: The DM is the rule book.
Rule 2: If you have a disagreement with a ruling, see Rule 1.

evil grin

Okay, more seriously, I avoid RPGs that allow that sort of structure. But I also have rules:
1.) All character choices, stats, abilities, possessions and backgrounds have to be developed subject to approval and alteration by the DM.
2.) Players can only use the Player's Handbook (or manual), and cannot consult it during play except to look up specific details of a spell.
3.) Players may NEVER look at any DM's book, including monster descriptions, magic item descriptions, etc., etc.. All such things act the way the DM says they act.
4.) The DM promises to be fair and to allow for reasonable clever choices by the players.
5.) If a player takes actions that are out of hand (or out of character), Bad Things Happen.

Finally, munchkins make good dragon fodder. They can't twist a rule that I can't slam ‘em with something worse, if necessary.

Vidgrip26 Apr 2020 11:50 a.m. PST

I don't game with people like that. If they view an RPG as something they can "win", rather than an interesting story with an unwritten ending, then I don't invite them to my table. Certain games with crunchy combat systems appeal to those people and I seldom encounter them because I play RPG's with simpler mechanics. My suspicion is that you can't get them to stop. It's a matter of personality. To be honest, though, I have never really tried.

I have more difficulty avoiding them in tabletop miniature games. Whenever possible, I present scenarios for coop play. Most of the gamers I don't get along with are only interested if competition is involved.

darthfozzywig26 Apr 2020 12:18 p.m. PST

Certain games with crunchy combat systems appeal to those people

Some games demand you scrape for every bonus. FFG's 40k universe of RPGs (Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, et al) are very crunchy and have a high whiff factor if you don't pour through the rulebooks looking for every weapon/equipment modification or tactical boost.

D&D3 and 4 similarly had systems that rewarded stacking abilities and bonuses in ways that effectively penalized players who didn't.

So yes, some people will grub for every edge, and some systems actively encourage people to do so, so choosing your players and rules can be pretty important.

Thresher0126 Apr 2020 12:42 p.m. PST

Yep, Rule #5 should be able to quickly solve the problem, as their character(s) suffer a series of "accidents" or Karma induced setbacks, or die a quick/slow death.

Personal logo Dentatus Sponsoring Member of TMP Fezian26 Apr 2020 1:57 p.m. PST

I think it's the difference between a competitive mindset and a narrative one. (for lack of better terms right now)
IMO, RPGs are for collective adventure and story telling, not 'winning'. Then again, I'm not a cutthroat competitor at any wargame really.

I agree with darthfozzywig in that some games definitely lend themselves to competition/squeezing every possible advantage, loophole, and combination. They survive and thrive because they appeal to that kind of gamer. Horses for courses.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2020 6:04 p.m. PST

I explain to them that their style is not mine, and that they will be much happier finding another game, as mine is not compatible with their style, and they will not enjoy my game, nor will I enjoy them as a player.

If they do not take the direct hint, I say it more firmly. Telling them I do not want them in my game. It can be uncomfortable, but the first approach usually works well enough. Cheers!

USAFpilot26 Apr 2020 10:04 p.m. PST

It doesn't matter what the players attempt to do; the Game Master is the supreme god of the RPG universe.

As a DM playing the old AD&D, I had to sometimes cheat just to keep the players alive. Such as hidden combat rolls in which I pretended that the monster missed even though I rolled a 20. It is very easy for the DM to kill the players anytime in numerous ways. The trick is to challenge the players just enough to make them feel that they had to really struggle and just survived. The DM has to make the players think that they are in control, but really the DM is in total control.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2020 10:34 a.m. PST

Here is how I avoided this situation, in the past…

I posted a notice, discussing my campaign which was about to start. I gave some details on it, which strongly suggested I was into role playing, not min-max'ing style of play. They had my phone number to call, for an interview, if interested.

This was in the mid-1980's, so e-mail did not yet exist for the masses, nor was the Internet available to the masses.

During the interview, I followed a questionnaire. I rated them, making notes on their comments, and how I thought they would fit in with my style of gaming.

If they did fit my style, based on their answers to my leading questions, I would schedule a game meet-up with them, and give them my address to my apartment.

If they did not sound like my type of player/person, I thanked them for their interest, telling them that all seats at the table were filled. But, I would like to retain their name and phone number, in case things did not work out with someone who had made the cut. That way they did not feel insulted, or disappointed that they did not make it through the selection process. I never called them, of course.

I had great success, with the first round of players who went through the interview process. The second round, I got a couple of players who were really not my style -- I went soft on my reaction to their answers, when I should have known better. We gamed together for a while, then I moved two hours away, so I ended that group, entirely.

I ran the same process in the new city I moved to. It worked perfectly. I gamed with those players for over five years, and we all enjoyed our games together.

I try to screen incompatible player types out, before we sit down at the table. Not being snobbish, just being practical. They will find a game to play in, or they will change their style, or they will quit gaming. Their choices. By screening them out, before we game together, I save all of us, including them, a lot of hassle, and sadness. Cheers!

HostileContact27 Apr 2020 3:18 p.m. PST

Quite honestly I try not to game with these types. I , unfortunately have had these experiences, but for the most part do try and avoid them.

I also tend to follow Parzival's rules as a GM.

On a side note, I am not famous for anything I've every done; but I do have a reputation, in the community I grew up in, associated to something linked to a number of these sort of instances. That reputation is for "Blue Lighting". Blue lighting is the what spontaneously happened to a particular annoying player that was given more than one chance to correct his behavior / interactions. After one such incident I asked to see his character, and upon having it in hand, I declared that a bolt of "Blue Lightning" fell from the sky striking his character reduced to ash on the spot. I tore up the character sheet while telling him, and the party, that what little was left was now blowing away in the light breeze ad therfore there was nothing left to resurrect.

Oddly, he never asked to come to a game again. Since that we had a few other problem players, but most (not all, there were a couple of other Blue Lightning strikes over several years) corrected when people told the the story.


jamemurp12 May 2020 7:59 a.m. PST

Cripes, some of these GM=GOD are just as obnoxious as rules exploiters. Smiting is one of the worst GM behaviors and generally a very bad sign.

RPGs are a social games and different players have different expectations. It's a big catch all for alot of different styles. The GM is not a god to be worshipped- he is a facilitator. The GM should be very clear about what the game is about and, hopefully, incorporate what players are looking for. Players expecting and RNG fest crawl, for example, probably won't be super happy with a game focused on character development and relationships.

Sgt Slag has a very good approach. As adults, you should be able to sit down and talk. It may turn out that not everybody is on the same page and some players may have expectations that cannot be reconciled with the game the GM is running. That is fine. Not every game is for every player.

>The DM has to make the players think that they are in control, but really the DM is in total control.

It is a balancing act. But don't try to manipulate players! The DM is in control in the sense that their job is to run a fun game and keep everything moving, much like a host. But a party with no people is no party at all. Your points about not letting dice get in the way of a good game are spot on- let the players play. Now if they want a hardcore game, that's fine- do all rolls in the open and they are what they are. However, don't be surprised when they get frustrated with the game. Which goes back to communicating expectations.

Parzival- That sounds like a very "old school" D&D approach. It also tends to be the motto of some of the worst, most arbitrary GMs. Not wanting players to have access to the actual game rules and the GM is unquestionable seems to be building in problems. I get that the goal is to speed play and minimize squabbling over rules, but playing "DM may I" isn't great either. Players are not toddlers or idiots. Don't treat them as such. Respect is a two way street and if a problem develops, it isn't hard to just talk to them and try to find out what's going on and see if it is something that can be worked through or if you need to part ways. It's a lot more productive than coercive game actions or trying to "punish" someone. In game (fictional) actions are an inappropriate (and ineffective) remedy for out of game (real world) problems.

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