GM's Knowing the Rules - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    As a GM, it is far and away more important to me that my players know the rules, rather than I know the rules.

    Seems odd I guess, but I find that the GM knowing the rules often seems to come across as a very top-town authoritarian feel to things, but when players know the rules, other players seem to roll with it easier than the GM telling them "this is how it is".

    I will often recruit whoever turns out to be the rules lawyer in the party to co-DM. It fulfills their need to be final arbiter of the rules and it saves me a whole lot of trouble fighting with them when I deviate, instead they get to enforce my rule deviations! MAWHAHAHAHAAA!!!

    I mean, ideally everyone knows the rules, but the reality is that everyone has their own homebrew ideas, everyone has played at different tables that do things differently.

    At the very least, the DM should know their rules, the official ones they're interested in enforcing and the ones they've made up and keep their rule deviations consistent.
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  2. #22
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    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)



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    Quote Originally Posted by uzirath View Post
    As a player, how important is it to you that the GM gets all the rules right?
    (shrugs) It depends upon the amount of fun that was being had.
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  3. #23
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    Mastering the rules is but a single component of the GM skill set. But the GM is not designated Master of the Rules; he is Master of the Game. Games are meant to be Fun, and the final arbirters for Fun will always be the Players who are involved. So if the GM knows every rule and every detail of a system but cannot deliver a fun and entertaining experience for the players at his table, then what is the point? (Unless following every rule and showing off your expertise is your idea of Fun, of course. You know who you are!)

  4. #24
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    Rules mastery is a thing, and is important from creating encounters to world building; however, to err to benefit the players is better, and often that's where I see a question of the rules is usually being discussed.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by HJFudge View Post
    Very serious.

    Think of it this way. Making a goal of 'my players should have fun' is like hosting a marathon with the goal that the participants will run. I mean...yes. Running is assumed to happen, and if that is where you end your aspirations, its probably not going to be the most interesting of marathons. Which is fine, if all the participants wanna do is run. Nothing wrong with it. Perfectly servicable.

    But we can do better, can't we, then just the literal bare minimum bar for a successful experience?

    If you are concentrating on making the experience enjoyable to your players, you are missing out on a lot of the nuance that can maximize the experience and the entertainment value of this luxury we call Tabletop RPGs. Think bigger than fun. Fun should happen, regardless. How can we achieve 'more fun' or the ideal 'most fun'?
    I think your Minimum Viable Product for fun is much lower than others.
    The goal of ensuring your players have fun is much more complex than hosting a marathon.
    Each player has a different idea of fun and you game has to work across multiple player types as well as work with the characters they have.

    You might want to look at Raph Koster's Theory of Fun.
    https://www.theoryoffun.com
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  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by doctorbadwolf View Post
    Also, I know the rules very, very well, as do some other players. Dont let your ego stop you from listening to your players. If you cant trust them, dont play with them.
    Quote Originally Posted by cmad1977 View Post
    I dont really hold it against DMs that are wrong or unclear. If theres something I know better Id hope they would accept my input.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralif Redhammer View Post
    Same if I make a mistake with a ruling Ill totally cop to it next session. Sometimes Ill even tell the group this is my ruling right now, but I will do some research and provide an authoritative one next session.
    <snip>
    Now, when Im running, if I get a rule wrong, Im totally open to being corrected. If Im in the wrong, I want to know and be able to learn from it. There are also some grey areas in many RPGs, and a short discussion can help with the ruling I have to make.
    These quotes connect to a strand I've seen here about GM ego and how to handle mistakes. (I may have missed some.) I agree with this. It's been many years since I've played in a game where the GM made all the calls without any input. I didn't enjoy that feel. Indeed, I'm much more likely to be grumpy about GM mistakes when the GMs deify themselves.

    There is also the element here of etiquette around corrections. When we're in the midst of an action scene, I don't want the GM to stop and look up rules. Nor do I want players (including myself) making pedantic corrections. Just make a plausible call and let's keep the action moving! This can be subtle. If a PC's main ability is being inadvertently nerfed, then it makes sense to have a quick OOC discussion. But I dislike it a lot when the action grinds to a halt for a lawyerly discussion about stacking modifiers, range penalties, whether or not my hobnailed boots would count or not, etc. Bleh. This is particularly true if magic is involved. I often long for the GM to just say, "It's magic already!" and keep it moving. Maybe the enemy wizard has a variant spell that works a little differently. Maybe the mana field is having an off day. Maybe my wizard had a pinky tic while he was casting his spell. I just want to find out what happens and proceed from there. I enjoy hearing about the "correct" ruling later, if the GM looks it up or tracks down a relevant Sage Advice column or GURPS forum post about it, but it doesn't hurt my enjoyment of the game for them to make an incorrect call in the moment and move on.
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  7. #27
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    In one of the games I play in, the DM started out a lot more familiar with 3.5 then 5e. Myself and one other player were his resource for rules, and we pointed out if he missed a 5e rule (like Concentration) or was pulling out a 3.5 rule. With his blessing.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by uzirath View Post
    As a player, how important is it to you that the GM gets all the rules right?

    <snip>

    In my experience, when I play with a beginning GM, mistakes and errors don't usually bother me.

    <snip>

    If she handles situational modifiers differently than the book, I'm good as long as it doesn't shatter my suspension of disbelief.
    I think that last sentence makes more sense for an 80s-style game like D&D, RM, GURPS, HERO etc, than for some more modern games.

    I'm hoping/planning to run Apocalypse World some time soon. It doesn't use situational modifiers. I'll want to be on top of the rules before I run it, because they're pretty carefully designed to yield a particualr experience.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    I'm hoping/planning to run Apocalypse World some time soon. It doesn't use situational modifiers. I'll want to be on top of the rules before I run it, because they're pretty carefully designed to yield a particular experience.
    Yes, my example was tailored to the games that I have the most experience with. I haven't played or read Apocalypse World, though I'm curious to check it out. I have a copy of Dungeon World, but haven't had a chance to play it. As a GM, I'm sure I would try to be on top of the rules too, because that's the way I do things. As a player, though, I have been surprised that I am not really bothered at all when the GM gets things wrong. I'd be happy to play Apocalypse World with a GM who had only had time to read through things once and was going to have to wing it quite a bit. After the session, we could all discuss the places where we got it wrong and I'd be good to give it another go. Unlike some who have posted, I don't care too much about rules consistency across sessions (within reason). I would be more frustrated if the fiction itself wasn't consistent or if the GM seemed to switch up genre expectations randomly.

  10. #30
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    Magsman (Lvl 14)

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    Quote Originally Posted by uzirath View Post
    In the How do you get to GURPS? thread, @DMMike brought up an issue that intrigues me, but strays enough from the topic to deserve its own thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by DMMike
    There are also the players (like me) who will want to know and use the rules without GM assistance, because there's the possibility that the GM says he knows the rules, but doesn't.
    As a player, how important is it to you that the GM gets all the rules right?
    As important as it is to the GM that ANY player get all the rules right.

    Nobody gets a pass on learning the rules. As a player, even if your character is not a spellcaster you should be learning ALL the rules a player should know regarding spellcasting. As a player you don't have to know the GM's side of the game well enough to be the GM, but you damm skippy better be knowing it well enough to appreciate what the GM's job IS, how difficult it can be, and thus be ABLE to appreciate the effort DM's put into it. The point of knowing the rules isn't that the GM must stick to the rules (whether you believe that the GM must indeed stick to the rules or not). The point is simply that the players and GM ALL know what the rules are (even if different from GM to player) and that they are all on the same page.

    If the GM gets to play by different rules there is EVERY REASON that the players should know that too. It is not a secret. NOTHING the GM does is ultimately secret except that it's more fun when as a player you get to deal with unknowns. After any game the GM could sit down with players and explain just WHY he ruled this way instead of that, show players the stats for a monster, show them the encounter key and notes for an adventure, explain why they had an NPC be uncooperative, describe all the things you thought the players MIGHT have done but didn't. IT ISN'T SECRET. But if players demand that the GM abide by the same rules that their PC's do and PROVE that they not deviate, you're doing it wrong. It's not a competition of players vs. GM and everyone follows the same rules to secure that win. Winning at D&D is simply playing and enjoying the game whether PC's win or not, whether the rules are followed to the letter or not.

    There are no tests that anyone, GM or player, must pass to verify that they know rules by heart, nor that they never deviate from rules, nor that they never make mistakes about rules. None of those are the purpose of knowing the rules. Everyone knows the rules so that the gameplay can be about something other than the rules.

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