I am a player in a group with a DM who does not fully understand the rules of the system. Also in this group is a player who, so far as I can tell, is consistently breaking the rules, and giving other players bad advice which results in them doing the same.

This situation presents a number of problems for me, for the following reasons:

  1. This is a group I began the campaign with, but had to leave and come back in later. The trouble player joined while I was away, and in total, has been part of the game longer than I have.

  2. I have a history with this player, and other members of the group know this. In short, it is known that I have a reason to distrust anything he says.

  3. He's not directly benefiting himself with his actions. Each instance of him breaking the rules has resulted in a boon for the other players, and not himself. Anything from giving other players bad advice about the rules which don't function as he says they do, to him granting other players bonuses he shouldn't be able to.

  4. I'm not certain he's doing this on purpose. In each instance, a poor understanding of the rules could result in these problems. In which case, the problem is less that he's cheating, and more that he has a horrible understanding of the rules system, but believes he has a very good understanding of it.

My question is; How should I handle this kind of situation?

I'm not the DM, but the DM doesn't know what he's doing is wrong. I could tell the DM, but others might see it as me being mean to someone I don't like very well. I could confront him, but my history with him assures me that he will not listen to me. Mostly, though, my biggest road block is that 'fixing' the trouble he's caused would really only hinder the other players, and not actually help anyone, except maybe the DM who's struggling to find appropriate encounters.

I enjoy playing in this group. The primary reason I'm in the group is because it's available. However, it also contains people I find enjoyable to game with, as well as taking place in a generally friendly atmosphere that promotes good gamer etiquette.


First I would take note of specific situations where you know the rules are being broken. Then, ascertain if they are being broken the same way consistently. Talk to the DM alone after the game and tell them your concerns, after all its everybody's game and you have the right to try and make it more enjoyable for yourself.

The DM might thank you for pointing out the correct wording in the books, or (if the rule is broken the same way all the time) might suggest you accept it as a house rule. Either way you have expressed your concerns to the "man in charge". Hopefully, at the next session the DM will address the system concerns you have. This would also be a good time to agree on how to handle these things in the future. For example, when we are unsure of a rule, my group freely questions my calls as DM and if we can't find the rule with in 2-3 minutes using the glossary, I make a call on how to solve the situation for the game session. Then, I make a note and look up the rule at home and then let the players know the correct rule at the start of the next game.

If, however, the DM doesn't address your concerns, you may wish to bring it up at the end of a session, trying your best to nurture a calm discourse about the topic (especially if the problem player is prone to arguments). You can tell the group about the specific situations and then decide together if you play RAW or house rule certain things.

But, truth be told, the main thing it comes down to is the DM needs to learn the rules. They act as a referee as well as narrator and NPC-bot. The only way you can effectively referee is to know the game.

And one final, least favorable option: Find a new group. It sounds like you might be long time friends with these people, so this might not work, but if worse comes to worse and there is no way to reconcile differences, you might just ditch the group for a better one.

Or if just plain old leaving isn't your style, you seem to know the rules well enough to claim the others are breaking rules... Maybe you could offer to DM a campaign once the current one ends. Then, as a DM you can confidently correct their misunderstandings of rules!

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "After the game" is IMO very good advice for correcting rules problems, unless your group truly enjoys debating rules at the table. I would add 1) Pick your battles - choose just one specific and most-obviously wrong thing to correct. 2) Contact whole group with a polite, neutrally-worded email, with the correct rule that you looked up (systems like Pathfinder are handy here due to references being available online or cut&paste from sources). \$\endgroup\$ Jun 6 '15 at 7:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Pay atention when DMing. Them having expectations about rules working in a different way might make you look like a bad DM when you start your campaign. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Jun 6 '15 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel not sure how your comment applies to my answer. I was merely stating that I am a laid back DM and if/when my players think I am making a bad call I allow them (infact encourage them) to ask if I am making the right call. I then source the rule using the index/glossary and if i cant find the exact rule in a reasonable amount of time (2-3 minutes) I make a ruling as a DM so we can continue play, then we look up the rules after game. But beyond that the answer is to reflect what a player can do when they think another player is cheating. I wasnt imparting DM advice. \$\endgroup\$
    – MC_Hambone
    Jun 7 '15 at 1:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ What I wanted to convey is that, if the player goes for the "next game, I want to DM" he needs to pay some special attention (I happened to have a DM who changed the rulings and my character building assumptions made for a bad character) \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Jun 7 '15 at 12:31

First, assume that he is acting in good faith because if you assume the opposite a) you can't prove it and b) you can't resolve it.

When he says a rule works in a given way that you think is wrong, raise it in a non- confrontational way. Always make it about you, not him. "I thought it did ...", "I must have played it wrong when I did ..." Etc.

Providing you are right more than you are wrong (you should be open to the possibility that he is right and it is you that are mistaken) then the DM and the table will start to defer to you rather than him.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Exactly this - you could flesh it out a little. Just prepare some reading after a rule break. At the start of the next session just say "I still have a question about X we played last time, I thought the rules worked different and am a little confused. - Maybe you all can help me to clarify this, so we're sure.... On page 123 it says Y which I feel contradicts X so I'm not sure what I missed. Can we look it up together? \$\endgroup\$
    – Falco
    Jun 6 '15 at 12:08
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Good first guideline. But I disagree with the last detail. If you know enough to know it's being done not according to the rules, then don't make it worse by saying, "I must have played it wrong when I did", or else you'll be making the problem you're complaining about, worse. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dronz
    Jun 6 '15 at 15:40

It seems to me like he isn't doing it on purpose, it seems to me like he's just telling the GM what he believes the interpretation of the rules should occur, and that its just happening that way because the GM lacks the in depth knowledge of the rules necessary to argue the case.

Which would mean this as an instance of ignorance instead of an instance of intentional rulebreaking, if you can reference an instance in which you're sure that he is misreading the rules and you feel like its negatively impacting the group because of it, don't hesitate to pull the GM aside and let him know that this action might be occuring or to send the GM an anonymous mail or pass him a note during the game, something that wont necessarily single the person out during the game and make it feel like a vendetta.

One thing you should ask yourself however is are you and the rest of the players having fun despite the rules being miscommunicated? If so you should ask yourself if you should bother reporting the person misrepresenting the rules at all. If everyone is having fun what does it matter if a few rules are being misconstrued here or there. As long as it doesn't get to the level of blatant rules lawyering it may be better to just let it be and point out any serious rule infractions as they come.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Here's the problem with this attitude; I know this group can have fun playing by the rules. The rules are extensively tested to be balanced and fair, and the group has already had fun playing by them. When people cheat, however, it can have unforeseen side effects. Until we have completed the game, and seen the full ramifications from start to finish of allowing those rules to be broken, we don't know what will happen. It could be fine. It could be a disaster. Like the old saying goes, better the devil you know than the one you don't. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zach
    Jun 6 '15 at 9:33
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Zach Doesn't that fall under paragraph 2 of this answer? i.e. What you're saying counts as a negative impact. If you see a mistake with a negative impact, call it out. If you want to avoid seeming to get into a confrontation with that player, talk to the GM outside the game, and bring rule references. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dronz
    Jun 6 '15 at 15:45

Be honest about it

As it usually happens, being clear about your intentions and not hiding information to your friends might prove crucial to scoring a point.
So, if it was me, I'd start by talking to all of them, possibly outside game-time.

"I know this might just sound like me trying to upset -friendname- here, but something is bugging me with the game and I'd like to see if we can find a solution - togheter."

So, you need to say it's probably not like this guy is intentionally cheating on the DM and that you know it's detrimental to the whole group, but you noticed that some things you (include yourself, since you probably got those suggestions too) did were not right according to the rules.
Ask if your fellow players would like to play according to the rules, for a fair challenge or what your gaming system uses them for, or if it is ok for them to talki togheter, maybe after a DM ruling has been done and the session has ended (again, not to take precious gaming time) to see what the rules actually say.

By asking if they want to do it, you'll probably get told if rules lawyering is not welcome and if it's not, well, that probably means there's no reason to worry, unless you feel lost when not facing hard and consistent rules (I know I do).

I have sometimes done this in play by chat roleplaying groups, with mixed results. But most of the time we had better rule-lawyers than me and everybody was up for discussion in the site forums. On the other hand, we were not friends, so people feeling that you just wanted to be the know-it-all were frequent. Your mileage may vary.


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