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Thread: Rule -1

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    Default Rule -1

    We all know rule 0: the DM has ultimate power over the game. But I think it should be noted that there is a rule beyond this, that all players, including the DM, should follow. Rule -1: Don't be a jerk.

    I struggled for a while with balance issues, where players could abuse the rules to make overpowered characters that, though legal by the rules, are terribly cheap (see also Pun Pun). I tried to enforce rules to limit prestige classes, minimize cheap combinations, etc., but there are too many to find and fix, and it's too much work to do. So I started using rule 0 to fix things. If a player did something cheap, I would tell them no. But I have now realized what I was invoking was in fact rule -1. Even though no other rule disallows something, if doing it is being a jerk, you can't so it, and that goes for the DM too. Even if rule 0 lets you do anything, you still can't be a jerk. Rocks fall and everyone dies is not okay.

    Note: the actual rule is more explicit, referance part of the male anatomy, but this board doesn't like the d word, so jerk will do.
    Last edited by Goober4473; 2007-12-08 at 09:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by Goober4473 View Post
    Rocks fall and everyone dies is not okay.
    Unless you're playing a hulking hurler.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by Sstoopidtallkid View Post
    Unless you're playing a hulking hurler.
    I don't know... most Hulking Hurler builds fall under the "Jerk" clause in and of themselves...
    Of course, by the time I finish this post, it will already be obsolete. C'est la vie.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Every absurdly powerful character has their own kryptonite. You can use these weaknesses against these players, but don't overdue it because then they'll realize what you're doing. And do forget about the greatest teacher of humility, the Tomb of Horrors (also known as The House of oh my god what happened to my arm?.)
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    Default Re: Rule -1

    I know how you feel. Threats on character safety is not fun
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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Didn't a DC for falling rocks (Of assumed meteor size) exist? That should serve as a counter to most attempts to kill cheese chars.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Rule -1: Your goal is to have fun.

    I think that includes not being a jerk along with many other things.


    Quote Originally Posted by dragonprime View Post
    Every absurdly powerful character has their own kryptonite. You can use these weaknesses against these players, but don't overdue it because then they'll realize what you're doing.
    Levels 5-10 are the levels where the character's name and actions begin to be recognized by people.

    But fame and reputation has it's price. As the stories spread, enemies will know a lot about the character's strengths and weaknesses, and it's only reasonable that they will try to use them.
    So, a wizard famous with fire spells will suddenly encounter more people with fire protection, a famous warrior will be attacked only from long range, and if there is any special weakness, be sure it will be used as long as it exists.
    Last edited by random11; 2007-12-09 at 01:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Azerian Kelimon View Post
    Didn't a DC for falling rocks (Of assumed meteor size) exist? That should serve as a counter to most attempts to kill cheese chars.
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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by .... View Post
    Anurisms have no save.
    Wow. Best post ever.

    Another good version of the rule

    -1: If you play cheese, never complain when you are killed by it.
    Last edited by turkishproverb; 2007-12-09 at 03:05 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dragonprime View Post
    Every absurdly powerful character has their own kryptonite. You can use these weaknesses against these players, but don't overdue it because then they'll realize what you're doing. And do forget about the greatest teacher of humility, the Tomb of Horrors (also known as The House of oh my god what happened to my arm?.)
    Well, Pun-Pun and the Omniscifier, among others, do not, in fact, have weaknesses, but in general rule zero prevents people from doing either.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by turkishproverb View Post
    Wow. Best post ever.

    Another good version of the rule

    -1: If you play cheese, never complain when you are killed by it.
    Actually, I saw a very good definition of what made a munchkin tick over on the Palladium boards a couple days ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Killer Cyborg, on the Palladium Boards
    ...Munchkins game because then they can pretend that they are bigger than they are.
    Now don't get me wrong; we all get a kick out of pretending we're cooler and more powerful than we are. There's nothing really wrong with that.
    But Munchkins take it to a bad place.
    They don't want to be heroes, or even anti-heroes. That's not their fantasy.
    They want to be bullies. Sometimes they enjoy the fantasy of being a "bully for good", sometimes they enjoy the fantasy of being a "bully for evil", but they are always bullies (or they get really upset).
    Basically, they role-play so that they can pick on NPCs (or other player characters) in order to feel good about themselves.
    They beat up on imaginary people in order to meet their own ego need.

    Here's how you can identify a Munchkin in the wild:
    1. He always has to be the BEST at something (preferably everything). Combat in particular, but depending on the game they may go with something else; a Cyberpunk 2020 munchkin might play a Netrunner, for example, but only if he's more powerful than any other Netrunner (or, for that matter, any AI).
    2. He has no sense of proportion. He doesn't understand that power comes at a price and wants everything for free. When playing GURPS, he will min-max to an insane degree an argue with the GM about it "So I have a 20 point flaw of 'hang-nail'.. So? It's legit!". He will go online and brag about his TW Ninja Glitterboy armor (with Synchro-Boom-Gun) that he made, then say "It's reasonable! The 8000 MDC is offset by the fact that that you get a -1 penalty to dodge in the rain..."
    3. He's lazy. He doesn't want to work for power, he just wants to have it and use it like a club on anybody who gets in his way. He wants everything for nothing and he wants every victory to be effortless, so that he can brag about how tough he is "Pfft! Splyncrith is Nothing! I took him out in one hit!" Basically, he doesn't want to play a role-playing game, he just wants to jerk off to a fantasy of power. In games, you can lose.
    4. He Whines. If the GM stands up to him, he pitches a fit. He can't stand to lose. If he can't get a super-rare, super-powerful piece of equipment that he character shouldn't have even heard about, much less own, he pitches a fit. If you call him a Munchkin, he pitches a fit.
    5. He doesn't usually know that he's a Munchkin. He's in denial about it. He'll claim that he's a Power-Gamer and that there's nothing wrong with that. He's lying.
    The difference between Power Gaming and Munchkinism is this:
    -A power gamer will want to play a Cosmo-Knight in a party of Cosmo-knights (or like characters) and go up against equally powerful foes.
    -A Munchkin will want to play a Cosmo-Knight (usually with extra powers and/or special gear) in a party of characters from the Main Rifts book (Or BtS...) and go up against Coalition Grunts or Skelebots. Or Floopers. Anything that isn't an actual threat.
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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by turkishproverb View Post
    If you play cheese, never complain when you are killed by it.
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    If you play cheese, never complain when you are killed by it.
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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by Goober4473 View Post
    Rocks fall and everyone dies is not okay.
    However, if, by some chance, a gigantic flying bird comes crashing to the ground on top of your least favorite player character, that is perfectly fine.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    [QUOTE=random11;3635479]Rule -1: Your goal is to have fun.

    I think that includes not being a jerk along with many other things.
    /QUOTE]

    Well, if you have fun being a jerk...

    My Rule -1: The goal of the game is to ensure fun for all players. Do not inhibit that.
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    Default Re: Rule -1

    I would say it has to be fun for all the players and the DM, too. Otherwise your game won't last long.

    And some amount of being a jerk is permissable, especially in roleplay as a villian. No one likes a jerk, but that's the point. It's a great method of channelling dislikability. As far as interpersonal reactions, there are even people that *like* dealing with jerks. They just usually aren't gamers, is all!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tokiko Mima View Post
    And some amount of being a jerk is permissable, especially in roleplay as a villian. No one likes a jerk, but that's the point.
    I'd counter that there's a difference between roleplaying a jerk and being a jerk. If your character is a jerk, that's one thing. If you're a jerk, well, don't be surprised when people don't want to play with you anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrNexx View Post
    Actually, I saw a very good definition of what made a munchkin tick over on the Palladium boards a couple days ago.
    That's a great quote Nexx.

    Interestingly enough, I've been able to convert a few munchkins into normal players by using roleplaying games where its not possible to optimize. Murder Mystery games, in particular, are a good choice. But I think Amber also worked well (it's been a decade since I've played it, so I might be miss-remembering it).

    I've also done "Let's just roleplay our characters, and when we fight, we'll just use Mage Knight rules or something similar." Once they've learned to take the roleplaying more seriously, then you can switch back to D&D.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleet View Post
    I'd counter that there's a difference between roleplaying a jerk and being a jerk. If your character is a jerk, that's one thing. If you're a jerk, well, don't be surprised when people don't want to play with you anymore.
    Right. That shouldn't come as a surprise, though. Why would a person be playing a social game when they are being antisocial? Nevertheless, people do sometimes do exactly that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tokiko Mima View Post
    Nevertheless, people do sometimes do exactly that.
    Yes - I can't count the number of times I've seen a player confuse the two. Being a jerk with the defense "But I'm just playing in character!" is still being a jerk.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    This is a dangerous trend; trying to codify common sense. Simply put, there is no such thing as Rule -1, there does not need to be a Rule -1, and we shouldn't use such terminology because it lends credence to the fact that unless it is written down it is not a rule or is not official. It also tries to get into a powerstruggle with Rule 0.

    This is not directed at anyone in particular, but if you need to have a rule in a book that tells you to treat your fellow gamers, i.e. your friends with respect, you aren't mature enough to be playing roleplaying games.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Rule -1 transcends all games and amounts to "We all agree to play a game for fun."
    In some cases we need Rule 0, in situations not covered by other rules, a referee shall dictate the outcome of the situation.

    Note that some games have all situations covered, and thus no need for rule 0. I.e. tic tac toe has an exhaustive ruleset that covers all situations. Of course, if you go outside the bounds of those rules (like breaking the other guy's pencil) you breach rule -1.

    Note also that rule 0 is best applicable in an impartial referee manner. Unfortunately, that is difficult in DND since the adversaries, scenarios and rules interpretations fall into one person's hands. I suspect that, if rules interpretation and scenarios were handled by the referee, while the actual adversaries were handled by the adversary player, then fewer disputes would occur.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dragon View Post
    Well, Pun-Pun and the Omniscifier, among others, do not, in fact, have weaknesses, but in general rule zero prevents people from doing either.
    Which makes the DM Pun-Pun's only weakness! Quick to the char optimization boards, we'll find a way to defeat that sneaky above the rule fellow!

    Edit: Should say something on topic too hmmm
    Well I think rule -1 applies in real life too, sadly too many break it
    Last edited by Redpieper; 2007-12-11 at 08:56 AM.
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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    That's a great quote Nexx.
    Seconded. Rang very true with my experience.

    Munchkins love optimisation, too, especially the 'campaign smasher' sort. Interestingly, the players who usually invent the really broken builds aren't munchkins at all - they're the powergamer or creative types with a lot of spare time on their hands, who come up with builds like The Hive because it's fun. However, once the build is out there, the munchkins pick it up and use it whenever they can (or just brag about it if they can't). It's one of the reasons I tend to steer clear of the Wizards boards.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen Joe View Post
    I suspect that, if rules interpretation and scenarios were handled by the referee, while the actual adversaries were handled by the adversary player, then fewer disputes would occur.

    That is a really interesting idea. I think I'm going to start a separate thread on it so I don't derail this one.
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    Default Re: Rule -1

    What's better than the much less used
    "Rocks fall and...see you guys next week" :)
    If it's all gonna go down a bad road, end the session, send the players away with an growing sense of curiosity and dread as to what you're going to put them through next week. Then take the time to calm down, restructure your machinations so its fun and you've circumvented the annoying rule-lawyering that someone has pulled to derail your campaign. Rule -1 should not be "Don't be a jerk". It should be "Using your jerk in a creative fashion to further the fun". The players prefer to have beaten you in an honest fashion than to winning with a cheap trick, so cunningly maneoveur them into doing this. Everyone has a set of strings that you can pick up and make them dance with.
    Fortunately most of my players in the past have been relative newbies and were still coming to terms with working within the ruleset, let alone building a world-breaking build.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    You can ban, or otherwise disallow, anything you want in a campaign you run - there are so many areas where it's just rational and reasonable to do so. It's best just to stay as transparent as possible during the character creation process, the introduction to the campaign, and over the course of the game. Do this as DM, and your players will tend to act in the same manner - as a result, there's a profound lack of 'jerkiness'.

    For example, I make it clear to my players the things that I don't use, on the grounds that many things that are 'possible' in D&D aren't necessarily 'fun' to resolve or interact with. We stick primarily to core (DMG, PH), and occasionally delve into the 'Complete X' books, but not often. I stay away from using 'save vs. death' effects on my players, as well as most 'save vs. lose' effects. They're meaningless if they fail, and anti-climactic if they succeed - for the most part, if I don't pursue those effects, the players won't either. As a result, encounters are longer, balanced, and entertaining for all the players involved - no more fighters standing and watching as a 'mass hold person' on round 1 determines the victor. If you develop a reputation for being fair to the players, they'll behave in a similar manner over time, because they'll probably be having more fun as a result. Players tweaking their characters to the theoretical limit of reasonability, in my experience, is a reaction to DMs overstepping their limits, and making encounters or situations more difficult than need be by fiat or abuse of information - not a cause.

    This is why I don't agree with the 'DMs shouldn't have a problem with using encounters that play to the PCs weaknesses due to reputation gained over the course of a campaign' argument. Only major villains should ever come even close to that possibility, over the course of a major story arc - not out of the blue, with a simple justification of "You're famous, get used to it." This just encourages players and DMs to spend far too much time trying to out-think eachother. While this is fun for some, it probably isn't for at least one guy at the table who has the misfortune of playing an un-optimized character, while being surrounded by 'broken ones'. That being said, if there's a point where not everyone is actually 'enjoying the game', then it probably shouldn't be played - in the end, that should be the only issue at hand for the DM.
    Last edited by Kagan; 2007-12-11 at 11:52 AM.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by Tormsskull View Post
    This is a dangerous trend; trying to codify common sense. Simply put, there is no such thing as Rule -1, there does not need to be a Rule -1, and we shouldn't use such terminology because it lends credence to the fact that unless it is written down it is not a rule or is not official. It also tries to get into a powerstruggle with Rule 0.

    This is not directed at anyone in particular, but if you need to have a rule in a book that tells you to treat your fellow gamers, i.e. your friends with respect, you aren't mature enough to be playing roleplaying games.
    There is no "rule -1." It's not written anywhere in the rules and it shouldn't be. Calling it "rule -1" is just a joke, really. It's a concept, and calling it a rule is a way of explaining it to people. Just because the DM has ultimate power over the game doesn't mean they get to be a jerk about it, and just because the rules say it's okay, and the DM doesn't know any better doesn't mean it's not being a jerk.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by Goober4473 View Post
    Just because the DM has ultimate power over the game doesn't mean they get to be a jerk about it, and just because the rules say it's okay, and the DM doesn't know any better doesn't mean it's not being a jerk.
    Right. That's called "Common Sense". Or "The Golden Rule". But when you make a thread specifically for the purpose of calling attention to something called "Rule -1" you're implying that Rule 0 is abused often or perhaps more in general that DMs can be jerks.

    Reread your first paragraph:

    Quote Originally Posted by Goober4473 View Post
    We all know rule 0: the DM has ultimate power over the game. But I think it should be noted that there is a rule beyond this, that all players, including the DM, should follow. Rule -1: Don't be a jerk.
    Unless you just have some kind of complex where you like seeing your name in print, you must have had a purpose for this thread.

    And when you say:

    Quote Originally Posted by Goober4473 View Post
    It's a concept, and calling it a rule is a way of explaining it to people.
    What makes you think we need the "Don't be a jerk" rule explained to us?

    If you want to gripe about what a DM did to you, just make a thread about that and tell everyone all the bad things that the DM did to you and we will all respond with "Leave that group" and "Your DMs a jerk" and "Feel Validated in your choice" and then you'll feel better and all that.

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    Default Re: Rule -1

    Quote Originally Posted by Kagan View Post
    For example, I make it clear to my players the things that I don't use, on the grounds that many things that are 'possible' in D&D aren't necessarily 'fun' to resolve or interact with. We stick primarily to core (DMG, PH), and occasionally delve into the 'Complete X' books, but not often. I stay away from using 'save vs. death' effects on my players, as well as most 'save vs. lose' effects. They're meaningless if they fail, and anti-climactic if they succeed - for the most part, if I don't pursue those effects, the players won't either. As a result, encounters are longer, balanced, and entertaining for all the players involved - no more fighters standing and watching as a 'mass hold person' on round 1 determines the victor. If you develop a reputation for being fair to the players, they'll behave in a similar manner over time, because they'll probably be having more fun as a result. Players tweaking their characters to the theoretical limit of reasonability, in my experience, is a reaction to DMs overstepping their limits, and making encounters or situations more difficult than need be by fiat or abuse of information - not a cause.

    This is why I don't agree with the 'DMs shouldn't have a problem with using encounters that play to the PCs weaknesses due to reputation gained over the course of a campaign' argument. Only major villains should ever come even close to that possibility, over the course of a major story arc - not out of the blue, with a simple justification of "You're famous, get used to it." This just encourages players and DMs to spend far too much time trying to out-think eachother. While this is fun for some, it probably isn't for at least one guy at the table who has the misfortune of playing an un-optimized character, while being surrounded by 'broken ones'. That being said, if there's a point where not everyone is actually 'enjoying the game', then it probably shouldn't be played - in the end, that should be the only issue at hand for the DM.
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