Wednesday, January 12, 2011


If an argument concerning the rules is going on (2 players, a player arguing in the face of a GM ruling, etc.) and it begins to bore any person at the table or watching the game, that party may call Shenanigans.

When Shenanigans is called, a stopwatch or timer is started. Parties involved in the dispute have 3 minutes to state their case and come to a mutual agreement. After that, the decision is made randomly. The decision of the dice must be obeyed, even if someone believes it directly contradicts the official rules.

If a party is painfully aggrieved by a decision made during the game, s/he will receive a "playing in protest" coupon for a metagame reward after the game at the expense of the other players--usually in the form of beer, ice cream or shots of Jager in whatever quantities will get him/her to shut up and roll. However, thereafter the other players are entitled to mock the player during the next session (only), though the rate must be no higher than a single one-liner per player.

A version of these shenanigans rules has been added to Gigacrawler.


John Evans said...

I think I understand what you're trying to say here, but I'm not sure I completely agree...The basic "Shenanigans" idea is good, because what it seems to be saying is "Boring your fellow players is bad". I can see that people might need to be reminded of that every now and then. When you call Shenanigans you're just giving a friendly reminder: "Guys, we're supposed to be having fun and not arguing about rules, right?". (That's how I see it, anyway.)

However, I can't agree with the rest of it. If you find someone that will argue about a game decision for 3 minutes...Why are you playing with them? Isn't it a sign that there's some sort of personality conflict in the group? Especially if they're "painfully aggrieved" by a game decision. That sounds like they're not enjoying the game...or perhaps what they really enjoy is arguing and disrupting the game for everyone else. Don't bribe/mock them; ask them what their problem is, or just don't ask them back to the game.

Zak Sabbath said...

@John Evans

This blog isn't called "Playing D&D With Mature, Emotionally Stable People Who Were Selected Because Of Their D&D Prowess" for a reason.

Gabriel Harley said...

This is BY FAR the greatest innovation in the recent history of RPGs. IMX, even the most sociable (and socially well-adjusted) gamers will still gripe and niggle over petty points on occasion. Mostly because, hey, we're smart people and we like to show off how clever we are. Plus, I've played with more than one philosophy major. All of those guys are just seconds away from whipping out their proverbial penises and laying them on the table. Sheesh. On a not-unrelated note, I see this rule being especially effective in the mostly-female games that I run. Whereas--and I know I'm generalizing here--most male gamers will happily rules-lawyer stuff all day long, most women seem to just want to get on with the game, story, etc.

You're a frakkin' genius, Zak.

Velocity DeWitt said...

I have a metarule that if you can't find a rule in the book in five minutes, it doesn't exist. It's distressing how often that rule has had to be invoked to end arguments.

I guess that's partly because arguments tend to take longer than five minutes and partly because RPG indexes have historically been lousy.

ze bulette said...

I was thinking of something similar recently - a parody of WotC's new cards to be called "Unfortunately Cards". Example: "Unfortunately, you've been accused of railroading. You must randomly generate dX amount of random encounters/game hooks by the next session." or "Unfortunately, this player is a rules lawyer..." etc. I like the idea of tools like these to resolve such issues - it might take the sting out of criticism and get people playing again. Though I suppose there's the danger of some freak metagaming the metagame somehow.

Anonymous said...

Zak, as a player I'd manipulate your "playing in protest" rules for all of the free beer and one-session's ful of ridicule I could stand. You'd only be incentivizing my poor behavior.

Zzarchov said...

I always use the "if you didn't remember how the rule works (no looking up), then it obviously didn't matter that much to you in the first place, go with it". This applies to players and GM's.

If this is a case of an interpretation "This can stack with this and do yadda yadda yadda" then enters the bid off.

One will make a bid to have the other shut up and go with it, the other person can counter or raise.

"I'll give you a beer to shut up"
"I'll give you TWO beer to shut up"
"I'll give you THREE BEER just to fucking go with it"

Often (being cheap or already intoxicated/full of snacks) we will bid awesomeness points (they do have a mechanical purpose)

Resolved much quicker than 3 minutes.

SirAllen said...

This is delightful. As I like to say, Metagaming is still Gaming, Characters have Stats not Feelings, and the guy who brings the whiskey is probably right in the D&D argument.

Adam Thornton said...

@Gabriel: proverbial?

Or maybe it's just my gaming group that has exchanges like:

Player 1: Suck my balls!
Player 2: Present them.
[ Player 1 DOES. ]
[ Player 2 DOES NOT. ]

Oddly, Player 2 *was* a Philosophy major.

Ed said...

Reminds me of a tactical scifi game I used to have called, I think, delta V. Very hard science.

You were only allowed to try to ram another ship if you stood up and made an inspiring speech that unanimously convinced everyone else at the table that it was a noble thing to do.

This has nothing really to do with player/DM arguments but I think they are both pretty cool and off the wall rules. ;)

Anonymous said...

Excellent. I have had fewer *rules* arguments in the B/X game than my brother gets running more complex games but if I apply this rule about general arguments at the table about things like the ethics of torture and the creature's rights of kobolds, I think I'll have a lot more fun.

mordicai said...

I strongly encourage incentivizing players screwing themselves. That is-- if you invoke some flaw or reason why your character falls down the stairs/runs away in terror/whatever/as a player make a choice that harms your character but is dramatically appropriate-- then you should be rewarded.

Possibly with shots.

Delta said...

I feel compelled to call Meta-Shenanigans. :)