"A few things that frustrate me as a player and as a DM is when people are hypocritical about it [the rules] or pretend to forget a penalty, or arguing specifically to get some kind of advantage on the table. When you think about a lawyer, when people complain about lawyers, they are just saying whatever they have to say to get the thing that they want. They don't actually care about the rules at all. If, let's say, someone wanted to make 12 attacks on their turn ... if there's some home brew rules that lets them do that, those are the ones they're going to be using. If it's the 'rule of cool,' that's what they're using. I've even seen people argue for rules that would completely break the game just to get some bonuses. And that's a big part of the reason why people get frustrated with home brew rules. Which I love, but you got to be very careful about it, because you can lead to this spotty, sometimes-we're-doing-it-this-way, sometimes-we're-doing-it-another-way, where players have to ask permission before everything. Or they have to ask, 'How are we doing it this time?' It's confusing. They don't know. So they have to ask."What you have to understand is that any time you as a player are asking for some exception to the rules, you're giving the DM more work to do, because now he has to think about the long-term ramifications of the 'new system.' Which most DMs are happy to do, because we like having new things that the players are creating and introducing it into the system. But then, you also get into rules haggling, where the DM thinks that your flaming hands should really be five extra damage and the player thinks they should be 50, and we have to slowly haggle our way down to 25, and that now the DM realizes that he's made a horrendous mid-game call, 'What was I thinking!' ~ and wants to retcon it, but the player's pissed off because he's managed to finagle out of the DM this broken ability, and it gets taken away from him. It's like reversed Christmas, and now he's not happy, the DMs not happy; now everyone's not happy."There's other debates that come up when it comes to mistakes. How do you fix problems when they come up? Do you fix problems? Let's say that someone rolls an attack, and they miss. Then ... just after they attack, they see that they had Advantage. Some players will see that it's a miss, and then pick up their dice and then roll again, therefore getting three rolls, when really if it was a Reversed, if they had hit, and it was an Advantage, they just keep the hit. Something like that is really hard to catch, because you as the DM have to be really observant at keeping an eye on the players, and you already got a lot of stuff that you're doing to keep track of! You don't want to be watching the players dice rolls!"Or let's say, I'm the DM, I roll an attack. It's a hit, does damage. Three turns later, the player sees that I had Disadvantage on the roll. Do we retcon that hit three turns ago, re-rolling it, or do we play it as is? Whatever you decide is fine, the issue comes in when there's hypocrisy ~ where if the situation were reversed, the player wouldn't want to re-roll all the hits. It can be really frustrating when the player rolls, it's wrong, you correct them, and they just shrug and go, "Oh well, maybe next time." And it's literally their turn. Okay, you can fix it right now! It's hard to catch exactly because it's inconsistency that's the issue, and it doesn't come from one encounter. It comes from multiple encounters, and the discrepancies between them. And it sucks, because you as the DM find one problem, and you fix it and then nine others crop ... and it's ... it's tiring to keep on top of it."I came here on a Friday night to roll dice and have fun. I didn't sign up to be 'The Dad.' And a solution, if its really bad, is sadly, 'Maybe not play with that group?' Because if you correct them and it just gets worse, it's impossible to keep up with it. You can never compete with that. It can get pretty bad at times. There was another group I had where they wouldn't tell me stuff, like if their character was poisoned, or if an effect had ended, and we'd find out, and they don't want to retcon that stuff because they didn't want to get hurt, or they didn't want to have some kind of a penalty, and sometimes, there would even be people who would blame the DM as well, in order to kind of get out of trouble, and be like, 'You're supposed to be keeping track of my h.p. and spell slots and stuff as well!'"Sometimes it's an honest mistake. You know. It's tough. I get it. You got a lot of stuff going on. Plus there's inconsistency between the player and DM. That can be a nightmare, like with the 'rule of cool.' The player wants to jump up 500 feet in the air and punch the dragon in the balls three times before ripping his head off. Okay, fine. But if the DM wants to have an enemy jump over to him? Oh, no! Suddenly, we're rules-as-written and we gotta stop the game to look up long jump and high jump limits for this bugbear ~ and what about the ceiling? You can't long jump if the ceiling's short ..."
Puffin Forrest, D&D Discussion: Rules Lawyering Video, 02:12 to 06:45
Feel free to carp at my decision to copy out all this. I really felt the thing needed to be viewed as a whole. As a monolith, if you will.
My first thought was to write this out, then write a paragraph pretending to quit D&D, publish the post and not say anything for a day.
My second was to put a number (*) next to everything that I find toxic in the rant, and then deal with those things one by one. But I could write a thousand word post on about 40 things here ... so I won't do that, either.
Gawd. Just look at this. The video, published in Mar 2020, has 459,447 views as I write this. It has 3,234 comments, most of them positive and liking the video. There are 27K likes. There are 251 dislikes.
This is the state of D&D.
People (including readers here) like the above because they identify with it. As they listen to the video, or read the above, they're thinking, "Shit, I hate when that happens," and "Oh yeah, oh yeah, that's a thing." And they relate to Puffin when he sounds tired and exhausted with it all, and expresses his empathy, since he and the readers have All Been There and there's a powerful sentiment of "Hey, what are you going to do? That's what it's like."
On the other hand ...
I relate to none of it. None. My players don't act like this, my rules don't work like this, none of these issues ever arise in my game (except, maybe once every three or four sessions, the retcon thing, but it's a two-second fix and no one cares). I experience none of this angst, frustration, feelings of something being impossible or even hard. And watching/reading the above, I feel like a particle physicist in a room with 4th graders heatedly arguing the structure of the atom to where they're coming to blows ... and I'm thinking, "Don't say anything. Don't say anything. Don't bother. They'll get older. They'll understand later."
Except, in this case, they won't. These are adults.
Think about it a moment. Suppose you could make All of the above just "go away." Fingersnap. Gone. What would your game be like then?
I stopped watching P.F.'s videos a couple of years ago from exhaustion. In tone, voice, choice of words, apparent empathy, he seems like a somewhat nice fellow. In terms of D&D, he is a complete fucking idiot. As are the people who subscribe to his videos and approve of his content ... solely because they have bought into a premise that D&D works according to the dictates and structure presented in P.F.'s videos ~ which are a reflection of tens of thousands of gaming tables, influenced by an equal number of dictates, sentimentalities, creative decisions and corporate interventions that have been ongoing for 40+ years. People, by and large, truly believe that the maelstrom described by P.F. is impossible to avoid. Rules always suck, management of the rules is always beyond the DM, players are cats and can never be herded, etcetera. You just have to suck it up, put up with all the shit, deal with it as best you can, get a hug when you need it and ~ when the time comes and you're ready ~ you'll just put it down, turn your back on it and probably never play the game again.
My frustration is that all of that is bullshit. P.F.'s struggles are the results of bad choices, enabling, incompetence, cognitive bias, egregious organizational design, a resistance to processes and a host of personal failings related to poor self-esteem and an unwillingness to accept responsibility over and for other people. These are deeper problems than the game. P.F. lives in the house that P.F. built ~ and instead of looking at the disastrous catastrophe of a living space that it is, his guiding principle is to rant and rave that this is the only kind of house that can be built. So says the numbers-popular youtube expert, talking to other people with the same basic problems. Jeebus ... this post ought to be called the Pied Piper.
Rather than holding up examples of shitty, shitty gameplay and seeking counselling from the mob on all the personal problems associated with bad rules, bad design, bad running, bad players and bad thinking, I'd far rather see an example of something to strive towards. Gawd knows I've tried. But I'm just a miserable curmudgeon arguing my "one true way" in a swamp of people who don't hesitate to tell me how they "know better," as they defend people on the internet who cry in their beer about how sad and difficult and trialsome it is to be an unappreciated DM in an unappreciated game.
A curmudgeon with a game that works exceedingly well, with behaved, excited, anxious players who unerringly come around to play and have fun.
What the hell do I know?