You may or may not follow the Spoony Experiment, but I do — mostly for his video game reviews, but also for his anecdotal “Counter Monkey” series.

Spoony Experiment: The Squirt Gun Wars

I recommend that you watch the video at some point, but I will summarize some of the information presented and share some of my own experiences that relate to Spoony’s video — particularly my rule regarding “reciprocity” in my games.

Being a recovering rules lawyer, I sympathize with players who try to “game” the system. Roleplaying games aren’t about winning though, they’re about telling a story together. The story might be about murdering people and monsters at random, and looting everything in sight, but that isn’t what the game is about.

When the shenanigans start to get out of hand though, I open with threats that “Anything the players can do, the monsters can do,” and I emphasize the futility of trying “beat” a game that is not only cooperative, but also largely improvised.

This is usually enough, but I’ve had a few players take this as a challenge — I might run one or two sessions where attempts to “beat” the game fail because the outcome of a situation is mutable, at which point I usually have a sit-down with the offending player and have, on a few occasions, asked them to leave.

I don’t think anyone really likes to think of “players behaving badly.” Cooperation is paramount to the roleplaying experience, and one or two players misbehaving spoils the game for everyone. I’ve called off or dropped out of a number of games on the basis that players believed they were justified mistreating others.

It just isn’t fun — and despite the fact that “their powers used for good” can dramatically improve a roleplaying experience, I’ve found the power-gamer and rules-lawyer archetypes are often the source of the most grief in a game.

I’ll probably have more to say about this at some point, but I’m going to see if I can go down the list and write a response to more Counter Monkey.