Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just A Thought...

How much campaign and session time would be saved or more productive if Game Masters stood up during rules arguments and said, "Hey, this is how it's going to be, we'll review the rule between sessions, now move on".  That's such a small thing and a simple piece of advice, but it seems we often let our games devolve into 10 minutes of page-turning here, or 15 minutes of arguing over the meaning of rule 1.2.3 there.

A Game Master is there to adjudicate or referee as needed.  That's what we should be doing.

13 comments:

Tim Shorts said...

Agreed Zack. Rob is our main GM and for a while he was a hunt for the rule for 10 minutes GM. After several years of me whacking him in the back of the head saying "Just make a ruling. I'll deal with what you say. We can look it up after the game if we need to." I think that's why he likes GMing over the internet these days, so I can't whack him. But he much much better at making rulings on the fly now.

clash bowley said...

Agreed entirely. This is how I have always addressed such problems. I'll always talk about rules problems between sessions, but not during. During, I make a temoproary ruling and we go with it.

Oz said...

That's how I handle it. The only time I'll stop the game to look it up is if it means life or death for the character. Otherwise, I make the call and we can rehash it between sessions if they don't think it was right.

My rules lawyers have learned not to halt game play. If I find out that I wasn't right, I'll admit it, though more often than not I turn out to be right.

Butscharoni said...

You know, I think it actually depends. While I agree with you, that interrupting the game is bad, there were also times when we played RMFRP with a group of more experienced players and we actually enjoyed all the rules discussions that happened. Sure, it stopped the game, but it was also fun to explore the possibilities and subtleties of the rule set. So, there is also that to consider.

adeptgamer said...

I think this is really more just an aspect of who is in the group. The people I play with right now has an individual who will argue anything. It isn't really about the rules, it seems more about the desire to be right over the game master no matter what.

Aaron said...

Following up on adeptgamer, sometimes it's about the maturity level of the players, especially if the "victory condition" for them is their character's continued success. I've found that the best way to avoid arguments at the gaming table is to select players that don't become invested in the individual outcomes of any given event, as long as the big picture is rewarding for them.

Greg said...

I already do this.

I guess that begs the question. Am I a great gamemaster or the greatest gamemaster? You decide.

ROFL

Zenfar said...

Give whoever is right about the rule 250 XP in between sessions?

Yong Kyosunim said...

It all depends upon what's at stake. If it's something as to whether a bonus stacks or whether an action was performed correctly, I can see the GM just ruling and saying it's time to move on, but when a character is killed because of an action that is questionable, time to get those rulebooks open and find the correct rules.

I GM at my games and I'll pretty much rule things this way, but I'll allow the players to flip through the rulebook if their character gets crunched.

Carpe Guitarrem said...

I like it! I'll pass this post along as a reminder to DMs. It actually makes me want to write a post about strong DMs, and how to avoid being a jerk when you use stronger methods of control.

I think that a lot of DMs are probably afraid to stand up to their players, because of the stigma of bad DMing.

Swordgleam said...

That's what I do. My players have liked some of my "wrong" spur-of-the-moment rulings enough to adopt them as houserules rather than go by the book. The important thing, as with most gaming issues, is trust - they trust me to make a good ruling that is in the interest of fun, not in the interest of my monsters winning or on PC being stronger than another.

Shawn Merrow said...

Had a real bad experience at a con with rule-lawyers. It was a large game of Battletech and there were two of them in the game. It was so bad players were doing suicide runs with their mechs just for a reason to leave. I was one of them.

I will allow brief discussion of rules but not long drawn out arguments. At about five minutes a ruling will be made and any further arguments will be after the game. The same goes for looking up something in the book.

If the ruling hurt the player it can be fixed after the game. I'm more likely to rule in the players favor anyway.

John Morrow said...

I don't like this for the same reason why people are unsatisfied when, in sports that don't allow instant replays and let a referee's field call stand, it turns out through instant replay or later analysis that the referees call was bad and that everything that happened after that call feels illegitimate. What happens in a game gets built on by things that happen after it, and if that foundation isn't solid, that everything that gets built on it isn't solid, either. That's not to say that everyone can't agree to wing it, especially if there is strong agreement about how things should play out, but if someone wants to talk it through to get it right, I'd rather get it right than shut the debate down and have the GM rule by fiat.