D&D’s Illiterate Lawyers .
The players Who are certain they are right , But have never read the hand book .
So we all know that one guy who is playing , or in the rare case running a game , and they hit a point where the rules fluctuate , and when questioned they explain a rule …. that isnt in the book .
I know this is frustrating , and it happens to the best of us . Honestly i know guys who haven’t read the Dungeon masters guide , i used to be one of them .
Bear in mind though , people at a table with you all share the same goal . They are escaping into a world where their actions matter on a grand scale , and that sometimes gets the better of us . I tend to sit down , hear them out , explain the narrative , and decide whether that explanation will work in this instance . At our first break , i look up the ruling and have someone else help me find it . We discuss it , and move on from there .
I do not however stop the game unless they are relentless , and then , i tell them they cant stop the game every-time they disagree with me . I will explain what i did and why in a break or after the game . and i have moved monsters to different rooms , not allowed someone to demand a magic item because of a future build when someone in the party can use it . Moved a trap , added one , a great deal of little things i have changed in games because i have known players that have run an adventure before and begin marching to things with player knowledge , and not role playing them .that can get out of hand if you let it , and derail the game , or even you .
I have been wrong on these plenty of times . I have dyslexia , and the rules are difficult for me to read through because well , they are rules , and not a story . That being said , i make the time to get a couple reads through it so i can at least have a firm grasp on them . I do the same for adventures , and supplements , let me tell you , memorizing all of the sword coast book , was rough , but worth it . Memorizing portions of books , is how i deal with my dyslexia , it wont work for everyone , but i love D&D , and storytelling and the more i can pull from my memory the faster i can move through things .
So how do you deal with it ? I always start with assuming i may be wrong . Now this may not be an approach that works for everyone , and i have had people at the table exploit it , so there are some people that i will stop a game and ask one of the other dms playing in my game help me look a ruling up .
An example was i had someone , use a wand that conjured a creature . They argued the creature , was allowed to use their bonuses and abilities in a fight . a side note i read a very humorous response about someone having the similar problem , he suggested that if they would like to club the target with said wand , it would in fact , in that case , have all those things .
At the time i made a very similar observation , and pointed out the summoned creature had its own stats .
I was amused both times.
However , i have in many cases allowed for , legal but narrative flexible , options , that are creative and help move the story along . I once allowed a druid for instance in a fit of rage , pop a bears head when he began yelling at an npc because he rolled a 20 on an intimidate . He apologized several times to the tavern owners , and role played embarrassment . it was a memorable moment . Afterwards i let him know i allowed it , but he cant shift single parts or speak in animal form .
I handle rules lawyers like disruptive players , my goal is to keep them from derailing the tempo of the game , and people that make mistakes , i do the same .
That is because in all honesty they are the same .
My opinion is this , Right or wrong , Rules lawyering is disruptive , being disruptive is a mistake , most people dont mean to make a mistake , and that makes this an innocent misunderstanding .
As a Dm your can use a screen , hide every roll , fudge dice , change hit points to make encounters harder or easier .
So in a case where arguing with you , is always a mistake because your stopping the game for not you and the dm , but for everyone .
If they are making this a habit , well then we have a different problem , and it may end in one of us leaving the game . i dont take stealing the evening of fun from people lightly , but i have only in 20 years , and dozens of Campaigns , only had to do this 4 times .
Now as a dm your number one goal should be fun , all of you having fun , it is after all a game . Next , however , should be the tempo of your narrative .
Rules are a guide line , the adventure is the setting , the players are the editors , and you direct the narrative of blending all those things together .
So i cant stress enough , know your stuff , read your books , accept , and even expect , others wont . Keep the game engaging , and if you feel like someone is exploiting your good graces , be less good , but always remain graceful .
In life you cant control what others do , you can only control what you do . So do the best Dming you can , and dont get pulled into debates , or side-chats while your playing because it robs the other players , just keep your game going , keep it fair , and allow a little budgeting of good will while you play if it helps the story . You can always address it after wards , or even before the next game.
Believe in yourself , and your game , and your guaranteed to have a good time . all of you will .
Thanks for taking the time to read this , as always …
Listen to them tell you , the story , all you do, is show them the road .
Have fun , and may your adventures live forever .