“Gentlemen’s Agreement”

The post I’m now gonna look at… It’s bad, alright? The name is “The Gentlemen’s Agreement: Making it more precise“. So first of all, if you make a written version and make it as precise as possible, how is it a Gentlemen’s Agreement? Ugh… Let’s just get this show on the road… I’m getting a headache already.

These principles are intended as broad guidelines for D&D games, and should be interpreted by their spirit primarily. This list is not intended for use in arguments or disputes, but as precepts to prevent such disputes from arising in the first place.


Yeah, if we follow this guideline, I wouldn’t dispute anything, I’d just leave the table.

Players should endeavor to make characters that are reasonably useful to the party in a mechanical sense, reasonably acceptable to the party in a roleplaying sense, and reasonably compatible in playstyle.

…And here we have the first problem. Wanted to make something precise, huh? So what is “reasonable”? Where are the precise stats and charts for that? “Reasonably” compatible, huh? Okay, what I THINK is meant is that everyone should play the same tier, same alignment and… compatible in playstyle? Ok, I’m gonna hope you mean complementary there, otherwise you’ll end up with a party of only a single type of class.

Players should not optimize their characters or tactics beyond the capacity of the DM to produce reasonable encounters and antagonists, or beyond the capacity of other players to meaningfully contribute.

“Reasonable”, huh? Riddle me this: If I were told to play in a game where I’m supposed to play bad and constantly gimp myself, would I continue to play it? No. No I wouldn’t. The capacity of the DM… The DM has pretty much unlimited power. You can concievably beat a Dire Bear at level 1? Huh, guess the DM is now entirely stumped and cannot just, I don’t know, throw in two Dire Bears? I’m just gonna go on now and don’t comment on the fact that “beyond the capacity of other players to contribute” should be meaningless if someone actually uses this, unless the writer consider someone beyond the capacity of others to meaningfully contribute “reasonable”… Which I’m actually starting to believe.

The DM is to provide dynamic, active, and challenging encounters for the players, and should seek to maintain player engagement as much as possible in the encounter, usually and in most cases by ensuring that no character is effectively removed from all or most of the combat.

What? Just… what? Ok, the writer had to realize that he already pushed it onto the players to have the encounters be challenging, right?

You know, you have two options: You either say “the players must make their characters so weak the DMs encounters are challenging” OR you say “the DM must make encounters that are challenging to the players regardless of  their strenght”. If you have both, then no one has a guideline and it turns into chaos. One could assume that everyone orients at the weakest player, but if that is the case, then the only one who has to provide is the DM, because all players are bound to gimp themselves due to rule 2’s second half, rendering the first one pointless.

One could say that everyone is supposed to be in the same Tier, but in that case, why not just SAY that?

Players are expected to comply with such railroading as may be essential to a smooth game. The DM is not to use excessive railroading.

Oh, so one could say that the other railroading is “reasonable”?

The DM should familiarize himself with the rules as much as practical, and when a rapid decision is necessary for smooth play, should consider revisiting that after the session to be sure it’s correct and sensible; houserules should be used with care.

…Alternatively, just have the rules handy and DON’T do that.

Neither players nor DM are to use inherent flaws in the rules to break the game.

Oh god, where to begin with this one? What is an inherent flaw? Would you need this if there weren’t inherent flaws? Is character-disparity an inherent flaw? If no, why not? If yes, then what do you even need the other rules for? Is CR inherently defective? Should we abandon CR then? If no, why not, afterall, the CR system comes from the system, but quickly stops working later on, right?

I’m just gonna say this is redundant, especially as abusing a rule or situation would be quite a tactic, and we are forbidden from having tactics, aren’t we?

Players are expected to avoid providing the DM with easy hooks with which to render their characters irrelevant. The DM is allowed to use any of these hooks so long as they are not mandatory class features, but only a few times, unless the character has already had ample opportunity to develop reasonable protections for them.

So let me break this down for you: You are not allowed to have a weakness. If you do, the GM is allowed to use that against you, except if they are part of your class, but he’s not allowed to do it all the time, unless you could not have had that weakness.

Why. The hell. Do you need. That second damn part? If you make a rule that no one is allowed to have a weakness, why invent a ruling for a scenario where it occurs? Why excempt Paladins from it if one could just NOT PLAY A PALADIN? And if no one has a weakness, then how are you supposed to beat them? Player characters need a weakness, otherwise you cannot challange them. Heck, it outright conflicts the “all characters have a mandatory level of suck” part of rule 2, no? What the hell?

Players should be allowed to define and control their characters in all ways for the most part, barring such interactions as the DM or group may consider unfitting for the world or the game; likewise, the DM defines and controls NPCs, even those the player characters may be closely connected to, subject to reasonable suggestions.

The player is allowed to control their characters… Except if a different player/the DM decides otherwise. Likewise, the DM may just screw you over by having your familiar commit suicide, costing you XP in the process, and have your characters mother, who lovingly got you through childhood, sell you for a copper piece. No, no, no. Control, alright, that’s absolutely fine, but DEFINING them is a different beast altogether.

A reasonable effort should be put forward by each player and the DM to accurately present their own desires and expectations for the game and to understand the others’ expectations and desires of the same; compromise may often be necessary to make the game fun for all.

Fun for all, huh? How? My character must be incompetent, my enemies must be incompetent, I must be incompetent and I can neither control my character nor count on any friendly NPC to not cut me apart at random.


I’m sorry to say, but to me, it is a trainwreck, from start to finish. I’ll be continuing to use the Manifesto for reference.

I wanna be fair though: The person making this KNOWS it and stopped developing this agreement January 2013 and started it the same month. This isn’t to attack that person, this is just as a reminder to show that “with power comes responsibility”… And the person with power at the table isn’t a player, and that’s where the biggest part of the responsibility has to lie too.


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