TL:DR question is at the bottom.
I'm pretty new to being a DM (2nd run) and started with a party of 6 (I know, it's a tough way to start) players who are all incredibly inexperienced. We had a session zero where I outlined a bunch about the world and how I would be handling things. I asked everyone for their expectations and took them all into consideration.
Now I have two gamers who like to dig through the rules and find loopholes. I knew they were going to be tough to deal with, but I didn't realize they would be this bad. It's quite stressful.
Here's an example of a ruling I made outside of the game session — it's not the worst that's happened, just the most stressful. (The TL;DR for this paragraph is we spent a lot of time and made a ruling that he agreed made sense.) This ruling involves the darkness spell. The wizard wanted to have it up, cover it then take his turn and uncover it at the end to basically sit in a darkness spell whenever it wasn't his turn and then be completely unaffected by it whenever it was his turn. I decided that I didn't want the spell to be working that way as it felt wrong (because all of the turns in turn based combat are actually simultaneous, not consecutive). I ruled that I would only be ok with him covering or uncovering it on any given turn. This is how darkness would work. I should mention, we talked for almost an hour and we were sending links from research back and forth. Ruling made and done, right?
Fast forward 2 weeks:
Player: "Can my character have lip piercings?".
Me: What? I mean, yes... Of course. Weird question...
Player: Ok, so I could cast darkness on the lip piercings and just put them in my mouth and not have to...
Me: No, we already made a ruling on this. This spell will work this way for the campaign.
Player: But what if we change the spell?
Me: We already made a ruling. I am standing by it. I'm not changing how the spell works for this.
He keeps giving more and more random arguments, completely ignoring that I said I wasn't going to change my ruling, then gets the other rule lawyer player to try to help him. Once he contacted me, he opening claim was that he and the other player looked at some stuff and figured out what the ruling should be. Keep in mind, I have reruled the same way after extensive research six times now, and have told them the issue is done. I tell him I am not listening into any more arguments as I have literally spent the entire morning before work doing nothing but that.
One of the two players chose to leave because I wanted to sit the two of them down to talk about how I am not going to have all rulings up for argument indefinitely.
Now, I understand I could have just let them have their way and then used in game mechanics to rain on their shiny new darkness tank, but that would be setting multiple precedents that I wasn't ok with.
- The spell is changed to work that way, which I felt defied how the world of turn based combat works
But much more importantly
- The DMs ruling lasts only as long as it takes you to argue with him enough that he will cave in and give you what you want
Question: regardless of the ruling, how do you deal with players that refuse to respect the ruling you are making and will continuously bring up old rulings with new arguments (not the rulebook says I can. More the rulebook doesn't say I can't) forcing you to have to keep defending things that should have been left alone forever ago?
Update: convinced them to have the chat, finally. Used a lot of the stuff here to make an outline to help move the conversation along and stay on point. For the discussion I had these notes. They listened and agreed to follow the guidelines and we are meeting again tomorrow. I used a lot of points from here to help.