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    Default How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    I'm not normally a rules lawyer but my DM came up with an instance that got to me. My character was great at melee with a 20 AC. She consistently hit creatures with a lot of damage (Battlemaster). She had weaknesses like low constitution and wisdom. My party had split in town at night and my character was walking down the alley when she was attacked from behind by an assassin sent by some bandits (she had gotten the nickname Ibalalia the Decapitator after a few run-ins.). I did not see the assassin (low wisdom). Dm rolled straight hit because surprise round with no initiative, no contested rolls, or attack rolls. I spoke up and asked if the assassin had to roll to hit because I was confused. He said it's an autocrit because of the surprise round. I argued against that and said you still have to roll to hit. Autocrit does not equal Autohit. He ended up doing Sneak attack multiattack no roll to hit so it was something like 6d6+6 piercing and 7d6 poison (halved because I somehow made the save). Ibalalia survived and knocked out the assassin. What do you do in the instance where it's obvious the DM wants you to die?

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    You were in the right to bring up the correct ruling.
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    "Hold up, can we stop the game for 5 minutes, thanks.
    Okay DM it's obvious you're trying to kill my PC, did I do something to offend you, can we resolve this like rational, reasonable adults
    ".

    If that doesn't work then I don't know what will.
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    "Hold up, can we stop the game for 5 minutes, thanks.
    Okay DM it's obvious you're trying to kill my PC, did I do something to offend you, can we resolve this like rational, reasonable adults
    ".

    If that doesn't work then I don't know what will.
    This. Arguing about the rules may help you temporarily, but the DM will eventually be able to come up with a way of killing your character that isn't against the rules.

    You have to address the real problem. Whatever it may be.

    Less severe cases of DMs breaking the rules can be explained by lack of experience and unsubtle railroading, but in this case, the intent doesn't seem to have been to get your character back on the rails, but to kill her.

    Do you know the DM well? Any suspicions what he has against you?

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Why is your DM out to get you?

    I'm not sure why your DM would think being surprised (typically meaning just flat footed) would make for an auto-crit, or a hit at all.

    IME the best you can do is:
    DM: An assassin jumps out and stabs you for *rolls damage* lots of pain!
    You: Uh, wait, did you roll to hit me?
    DM: No, you're surprised, that means it's an auto crit!
    You: That's not how surprise works. It just means I'm flat-footed.
    DM: Well I already rolled the damage so there!
    You: Uh...okay....

    I mean, I play with a guy who's a little...loose with the rules. He'll usually accept correction, but not always, so sometimes you just gotta grin and bear it. If it becomes a problem where you keep finding yourself facing assassins doing ridiculous damage without any attack rolls, you're gonna have to take a time out and ask your DM what the heck is going on.

    Again IME: if your DM can't give you a straight answer it means they're probably doing something they shouldn't with the goal of killing you. Shifty answers like "I pre-rolled." or "They've got a really high to-hit so there's like a 95% chance they won't miss." aren't really acceptable if this is happening on a regular basis.

    Ultimately, as others say, if your DM wants to kill you, they'll figure out how to do it within in the rules, it's not hard, I never understood why a DM would fudge to kill someone.

    Advice: pop over to the build forums and put together the most broken, ridiculous, OP character you can within whatever build rules your DM has and have that ready for the next time "an assassin pops out". Make your DM beg for your old character back.
    Last edited by False God; 2019-09-21 at 07:58 PM.
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    The only viable solution is to create a Simulacrum of the GM, and have it run the game. Bad GM is bad.

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    The DM in this game is my husband and he doesn't have anything against me and I didn't take it personally. He legitimately thought autocrit is autohit and was going to (what he thought was stategically) take my character out. What he had in mind I'm not sure but my best guess is he was going to take her out for story. He's an amazing DM, it was just this instance that gave me pause. I keep my mouth shut on fudged rules but this one felt very unfair and as I don't jump in to correct normally I had no idea how to approach this.

    Note: Assassins in 5e get autocrit on surprise rounds on a hit.
    Last edited by ladyhighlander; 2019-09-21 at 08:44 PM.

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    This sounds like a legitimate mistake to me. He's wrong, but it doesn't seem malicious or anything. Say "I think you're wrong and here's why".

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    also, i don't know 5e, but if this assassin got a surprise attack with autocrit and your character had low healt due to low constitution, then the dm probably wasn't trying to get you killed. if he was, you'd be dead. making an assassin that can one-shot someone with low CON on favorablle conditions shouldn't be hard. if an assassin can't do that, he's not an assassin.
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by ladyhighlander View Post
    What do you do in the instance where it's obvious the DM wants you to die?
    You leave the group.

    You can do a bit of foreplay - talk to the GM, talk to the players. But if that doesn't resolve it somehow, and in my experience it doesn't, you leave the group. Hopefully you have other people to play with.

    Clearly this isn't something that I've seen happen a lot - but there have been instances. I had a GM who got vindictive because a clever idea meant his villain died at a time he hadn't expected, rendering void the entire rest of the campaign. Same deal as yours: Assassins came out of nowhere to kill .. someone. I don't recall if it was my character, or a friends. But I know we never played with the guy again (as in, we all left his group).

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by ladyhighlander View Post
    The DM in this game is my husband and he doesn't have anything against me and I didn't take it personally. He legitimately thought autocrit is autohit and was going to (what he thought was stategically) take my character out. What he had in mind I'm not sure but my best guess is he was going to take her out for story. He's an amazing DM, it was just this instance that gave me pause. I keep my mouth shut on fudged rules but this one felt very unfair and as I don't jump in to correct normally I had no idea how to approach this.

    Note: Assassins in 5e get autocrit on surprise rounds on a hit.
    If his attempt to kill you isn't an attempt to ruin the game then it's possible he's not trying to kill you, and by preventing what he had in store you avoided a big plot hook.

    I'm revising my advice to this: let him "kill" you, either it leads nowhere and he learns to not do that or it leads somewhere interesting filled with story and character growth
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    If your query at the time is rejected, the best answer is usually to ask if we can revisit the specific rules after the session so that it does not hold up play.
    That way you appear reasonable (and if the DM rejects it then he or she definitely does not) and the ruling can be properly checked without pressure from other players wanting to get on.

    If the GM does reject your request to discuss the relevant rules, then is the time to ask if the GM si trying to kill your character and why.

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by ladyhighlander View Post
    The DM in this game is my husband
    After you guys are home alone, pull out the rulebook and show him his error. Easy peasy.
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    After you guys are home alone, pull out the rulebook and show him his error. Easy peasy.
    This. The sacred cow about the DM being master of rules is mostly for during play rulings. If you have issues regarding their rules interpretations, bringing them up outside of table time is the polite way to go about it.
    Something I made a big point with my players for this year's campaign was for any detailed rules questions or disagreements I encourage them to talk with me outside of the game so we can come to an understanding, either so I can explain why I do what I do, or understand why their interpretation is the more reasonable one. As long as the discussion is not chewing into everyone else's play times, then it's not carrying the negative aspect of rules lawyering.

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by ladyhighlander View Post
    The DM in this game is my husband and he doesn't have anything against me and I didn't take it personally. He legitimately thought autocrit is autohit and was going to (what he thought was stategically) take my character out. What he had in mind I'm not sure but my best guess is he was going to take her out for story. He's an amazing DM, it was just this instance that gave me pause. I keep my mouth shut on fudged rules but this one felt very unfair and as I don't jump in to correct normally I had no idea how to approach this.

    Note: Assassins in 5e get autocrit on surprise rounds on a hit.
    This is not an RPG question. If it bothers you to the extent of making a thread about it...talk to your husband, obviously.
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    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    I usually recommend halting play, telling the DM "I thought it worked this way:" and spend maybe 60 seconds stating your case. Then accept the DM's ruling. If you still disagree, bring it up with the DM after the session. As the DM in question is your husband, this should be relatively easy to do.
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    A. I will not give you any advice on how to try to correct your husband. You and he need to work that out in general, without any input from anybody else.

    B. I suspect that he's not trying to kill you. He's trying to use the story elements that exist so far, and made a mistake about the rules. Given the only elements we know (high AC, good at melee, backstab with poison), my guess is that he thought your character wasn't being threatened in combat, and was merely trying to inject some actual tension.

    C. If a DM wants to kill your character, he will eventually succeed. If you ever actually believe this, I recommend some version of the following, after a session:

    "I'm thinking of retiring my character. She just doesn't seem to fit your world well. What kind of character would you like to see me run?"

    The DM's response will tell you a lot, and probably answer several questions, some of which you would never have thought to ask.

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    find a better DM
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Never apologise for being the rules-lawyer!

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Sounds like you already handled it the way I do.... Make a character better than the DM can handle.

    Me: can I play a mystic?
    DM: no
    Me: welp munchkin barbarian it is then.
    DM: please no....

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Thanks for all your advice! Obviously its easier to talk with my husband about the game afterward but I have another DM and I wasn't sure exactly how I would have handled this situation if it were him. My priority is fun and story over everything else and I don't like interrupting the flow of the game to take the wind out of the DM's sails.

    What I took from this is to ask for quick clarification during game and if it wasn't a satisfying conclusion reach out to them after game.

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    https://youtu.be/6FOUqQt3Kg0

    As long as someone is respectful? It is hard to feel rules lawyered. I was a challenge course facilitator though. So I actively encourage people to look for loopholes.

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    I give this advice often, but you should always strive to be seen as a trusted "rules guru" rather than an annoying "rules lawyer." People should be eager to seek your knowledge and advice, not roll their eyes whenever you speak up. EQ > IQ; all the expertise in the world won't matter if nobody wants to come to you for any of it. Prioritize game flow and interpersonal relationships over "winning" a dispute in the moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
    Cheers to Psyren the MVP "naysayer".
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Its fine to be a rules lawyer, under two provisos.

    1) You are a law professor, not council for the defence. (the latter type of rules lawyers are the ones that give rest a bad name)
    2) When the DM says not now, wait till later.

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by Evil DM Mark3 View Post
    Its fine to be a rules lawyer, under two provisos.

    1) You are a law professor, not council for the defence. (the latter type of rules lawyers are the ones that give rest a bad name)
    More like amicus curiae. Which may be a law professor, but not necessarily so.
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Never apologise for being the rules-lawyer!


    I don't mind them when I DM, as long as the sidelining is kept short. I kind of am one myself, and while I do use a few houserules, they are all player-friendly ones and spelled out to players in advance. To that end, most rules-lawyering I have been confronted with as a DM has not been significant enough to derail play, and we've delved further into it after sessions (which is best for that kind of thing). I don't mind being wrong, as long as my ruling is fair. I've even retconned things for players a few times after being proven wrong. but in the interest of expedience, I usually make a temp ruling after a few minutes of the discussion in-game, with the promise to review the issue later.

    That said, in the 5e game in which I am currently NOT the DM, I know the rules better than the DM does. He frequently asks me questions in advance, and I answer. Sometimes, if he makes a ruling off-base with the RAW, I try to keep quiet and respect his DM-autonomy, but I guess I'm very expressive and it shows in my face that I think he ruled on that "wrong", and he'll ask me about it. But I still don't volunteer my input unless he asks.

    Short version is: it's usually okay to bring up a rules question with your DM, but try not to take up too much of session time with it, and accept the DM's ruling. If you feel the need to discuss the matter further, make that in-depth discussion something for before or after sessions.
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    I give this advice often, but you should always strive to be seen as a trusted "rules guru" rather than an annoying "rules lawyer." People should be eager to seek your knowledge and advice, not roll their eyes whenever you speak up. EQ > IQ; all the expertise in the world won't matter if nobody wants to come to you for any of it. Prioritize game flow and interpersonal relationships over "winning" a dispute in the moment.
    Good DMs see me as a trusted rules guru, bad DMs accuse me of being a rules lawyer.

    My "objections" usually sound like this.

    DM: you can't quite make out the robber.
    Me: shouldn't my dark vision allow me to see?
    DM: no, it's too dark.
    Me: well, there's actually no distinction on complete darkness unless it's magical darkness.
    DM: you just don't make him out.
    Me: alright, then I'll (move on with game action).

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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by Drache64 View Post
    Good DMs see me as a trusted rules guru, bad DMs accuse me of being a rules lawyer.

    My "objections" usually sound like this.

    DM: you can't quite make out the robber.
    Me: shouldn't my dark vision allow me to see?
    DM: no, it's too dark.
    Me: well, there's actually no distinction on complete darkness unless it's magical darkness.
    DM: you just don't make him out.
    Me: alright, then I'll (move on with game action).
    Your DM has a lot of options besides "it's too dark for your darkvision" though. They can put {thing} out of your darkvision range, use supernatural darkness (in PF anyway, not sure if there's a 5e equivalent) or simply have {thing} be using cover to hide or a disguise instead of relying solely on the ambient darkness, and all of those approaches have some form of counterplay. "Your special ability fails with no explanation" is just lazy DMing, and would pull me right out of the immersion.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
    Cheers to Psyren the MVP "naysayer".
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Sadly, as with many other "asking for advice" threads, this one is seeing some jumping to the worst possible assumptions about the situation, and arguments made based on those assumptions even after the OP has cleared up the detail in question in such a way that makes it clear the assumption was incorrect.

    The good advice I'm seeing is:
    * Don't be confrontational or accusatory, don't say "You're wrong!" Phrase it as something like "This is how I thought this rule worked, can we stop for 30 seconds to look it up?" or something along those lines.
    * Look it up, explain how you read it, give your point of view.
    * Be willing to move on and not hold the game up either way, revisit after the session.
    * By remaining calm and conversational about it, you let an unreasonable, clearly wrong but uncompromising, or ulterior-motivated DM demonstrate that they're the one causing the issue -- and you give a reasonable DM space to consider the question without it being a confrontation.

    It's a game, and the DM is probably trying hard to get it right and be fair, most people aren't deliberately being jerks at the gaming table.
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    Default Re: How to contest a DM without being the rules lawyer

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The good advice I'm seeing is:
    * Don't be confrontational or accusatory, don't say "You're wrong!" Phrase it as something like "This is how I thought this rule worked, can we stop for 30 seconds to look it up?" or something along those lines.
    * Look it up, explain how you read it, give your point of view.
    * Be willing to move on and not hold the game up either way, revisit after the session.
    * By remaining calm and conversational about it, you let an unreasonable, clearly wrong but uncompromising, or ulterior-motivated DM demonstrate that they're the one causing the issue -- and you give a reasonable DM space to consider the question without it being a confrontation.
    One more piece of advice, not stated here. If your plan relied on a rule (such as, I dunno, being able to case Hold Person on someone to detain them for questioning, only for it to turn out the DM says they can't be Held) say "OK, can you give me a minute, what I wanted to do won't work anymore." Its moments like this where a lot of people slip into Council for the Defence mode, desperate to save their plan/advantage/idea and start arguing for whatever reading of the rule that supports them, no matter how daft, which is why rules lawyers have a bad rep.
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