Game: The Slayer’s Guide to Rules Lawyers
Publisher: Mongoose Publishing
Review Dated: 22nd, July 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 5/10 [ Perfectly acceptable ]
Total Score: 15
Average Score: 5.00
Ah yes. The dreaded Rule Lawyer. The inside cover of every Slayer’s Guide is given over to a quick biological study of the creature in the guide. This is what the researcher has discovered about this infamous fiend.
1) Note the mimicking of the humanoid.
2) Paper thin skull provides extra room for useless facts.
3) Sticky fingers adapted for page turning, note the clammy handshake.
4) (on dice – always found nearby) Perhaps some kind of symbiote? Maybe the true intelligence behind the fiends!
5) Feet, soft and vulnerable through lack of use. (the researcher speculates “Caltrops?”)
The Rules Lawyer gains d4 hit points per level, has access to the new feat “Harangue” and such spells as the Necromantic “Leech The Fun”.
It’s humour. It’s British humour, in fact, but it is widely acknowledged that the whole world understands British humour.
The front cover to this Slayer’s Guide really caught my attention. It’s the usual scene of players and a DM around a table, miniatures, snacks (Popsi cola, Mountain Spew and Generic chips) and dice scattered everywhere and a clearly heated debate going on. One book on the table is clearly Mongoose’s Stormhaven and the three pictures on the wall are covers of other Mongoose books. You have to wonder whether a cheeky cover artist (Brent Chumley) has attempted to catch the actual Mongoose team at play. In fact, the miniatures on the table and some of the dice are photographs rather than drawing.
The inside art, generally pencil sketches, depicts rules lawyer games in various poses; sitting on a giant tower of rule books, clutching The Rules or armed with dice-shields and other such things.
The book is broken up into chapters similar to the other Slayer’s Guides: habitat, society, methods of warfare and even role-playing with Rules Lawyers. Inside you’ll find some genuinely funny stuff. I particularly liked the sub-section on the origins of the Rule Layers, it is theorised that some form of parallel evolution might be to blame, possibly some awful infection or perhaps even as a Chosen Race of the Gods.
Here’s a snippet from the Infection Theory; “… a correlation has been found between the ownership of certain Role-Playing game products and Rules-Lawyerdom. It is a chicken and egg affair, hard to distinguish. Does ownership of Rulesmaster or Delvings & Dingos cause Rules-Lawyerdom, or does Rules-Lawyerdom cause ownership of these products? Do the products carry the pathogen? Is it deliberate? Why does it only affect some people and not others?”
The page after the discussion on Rule-Layers origins is home to the Wandering Poontang Chart.
In the Habitat chapter we’re introduced to places where you might encounter a dreaded Rules-Lawyer. The dying breed of “Games Shops” is one such possible location and is where the horrors of Rule-Lawyers story telling might be experiences. Conventions are another place on the list, especially at Tournament Games, fortunately hope springs eternal and the book introduces the Fantasy Cliché Drinking Game and this seems very much like a possible Rules-Lawyer deterrent to me.
Who writes this stuff? That would be James Desborough. The Slayer’s Guide to Rules-Lawyers is a 32-paged book (as are all Slayer’s Guides except the special The Slayer’s Guide to Dragons), is full of this rather tongue-in-cheek yet sarcastic humour and costs just under $10 US. If you’re suffering a case of déjà vu right now then it’s because the name James Desborough is on the author list for The Munchkin’s Guide to Power Gaming. That’s good though, its confirmation that the author knows his stuff. A Guide to the awful Rules Lawyer is too important to be left to any rank amateur to write.
Who buys this stuff? I don’t think any Rules Lawyers will; there aren’t any helpful new gaming rules in the whole book. None. Not even a new prestige class. However, for a gaming group with a sense of humour I think this Slayer’s Guide really could be whipped out for a bit of a laugh. I also think, given the fairly low price, it’ll make a great birthday present for any role-player you know. My plan is to keep it ready and whenever any player dares quote too many rules at me, to hand the book over to him and get him to double check the rule in the Guide first.
I had a laugh at a few places in this book. The joke also began to draw a bit thin at points. Some people whinge that 32 pages is too short for any RPG supplement to be helpful but I don’t think they could claim that this Guide should have been longer (I don’t think they’d say that this supplement was helpful, either). If you’re a deadly serious gamer then don’t buy this book. I read (in the section where the Rule-Lawyers relations to other types of gamers are discussed) the description of the “Pretentious Art Whore” and thought “Hey! That’s me!” but didn’t mind the title. I suspect there’s a fair chance you’ll find yourself or someone you know fitting nicely into one of the stereotypes of gamers mentioned in the book and if you’re quick to take offence then you’ll probably take offence. On the other hand, the no holds bared (well, okay, only a few holds bared) sense of humour then you’ll settle straight into the book’s style. If you’re looking for something entirely different to slide into your collection of RPG books or, as said above, as an original gift then this particular Slayer’s Guide. The result is neither a “must have” book nor a complete waste of paper. I’m pretty much on the fence on this one but am expecting to see different people love and hate this offering.