Are Rat Swarms Swarms?

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I have a player who is a rat swarm and the other day he was arguing that he couldn't be slid/pushed/pulled due to the swarminess of his rat swarm.

Now, if we go strictly by the Origin, there is nothing in the powers or traits that says this.

What do you guys think? Strictly by Origin or allow the Swarm keyword from D&D 4e to also apply?
Strictly by origin. 4e, and by extension GW, uses exception-based design. Unless something tells you that you have something, you do not have it.
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I've mentioned this before, but whenever I have a rule question, I always answer it according to the "Amazon Tribe" scenario.

Everyone knows that GW was based on D&D rules, but it was designed to stand on its own. That is, 4E knowledge isn't necessary to learn or play GW. So if you gave the game to the members of an Amazon tribe (or any other non-D&D players for that matter), they should be able to play without any D&D knowledge.

When there's a rules conflict, I always opt for the answer that doesn't involve assumed D&D knowledge. So here, I would ask myself, "Would the Amazon tribe know about the Swarm keyword?" The answer's no, because it's not defined in the game.

I don't know if that's the correct paradigm, but I've found that outlawing all "extra" D&D knowledge puts everyone on a level playing field (particularly new players, who can feel like there's a secret rulebook they don't know about).
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That's my viewpoint. GW is supposed to stand on its own and if there are issues with missing rules, it's up to the DM to do what he/she deems necessary.

In this case, the player was upset because a monster attempted to push his character into radioactive lava that kills on a failed save (house rule for heroscape lava).

The player is a total rules lawyer and will try his damnedest to set the rules against the DM. I think he may have quit the game though so this issue might not show up again. It might be that he got ticked off with me when I told him to stop telling the other players about the Encounters reports online since what the players at my table did does not match up with what other players did. So he'd come to Encounters talking about all the stuff they should know about if they'd negotiated, intimidated, etc. and I got tired of him screwing with the "surprise" factor.
Strictly by Origin or allow the Swarm keyword from D&D 4e to also apply

I don't think the keyword would apply, since the swarm as defined in the origin is much more solid then what normally would pass for a "swarm".  A bunch of locusts aren't normally strapping on heavy armor and waving around a two handed sword (which this origin permits) so to me the origin is more a being that can temporarily break apart then an actual discorporate thingy.

In this case, the player was upset because a monster attempted to push his character into radioactive lava that kills on a failed save (house rule for heroscape lava).

Rules lawyer or no, I'd be a bit upset about a save-or-die trap myself.  Usually I expect damage rolls or ongoing effects requiring a few failed saves before death in 4E based product.
That's my viewpoint. GW is supposed to stand on its own and if there are issues with missing rules, it's up to the DM to do what he/she deems necessary.

I am also a total rules lawyer. In fact, I'm one semester away from becoming an actual lawyer. But instead of trying to exploit the rules to my advantage (like most rules lawyers do), I try to figure out what the rules actually are, even if they're to my disadvantage. In that way, I like to think that I'm more of a rules judge.

The player you described was trying to use a perceived loophole to his advantage. He wasn't interested in having fun; he was more interested in "winning" a cooperative game. In a situation like you described, I like to offer some perspective. For example, you could nicely remind the player that people will still like him, even if his character dies. Or suggest that his character's death will fuel the rest of the party's instincts for revenge. Reminding people that they're playing a game (and that the point of the game is to have fun) usually helps mellow everyone out a bit.
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The players were warned well in advance by verbal ruling and by character observation (a lizard slithers out and falls into the lava. All that's left is a brief bit of smoke from where it was vaporized).

They all did well to avoid the stuff except for this player. All he cared about was swarming the monsters so when they started positioning themselves to push players into the lava, he fell for their trap.

The players in the groups around here tend to run up and bash or twin strike to death any enemy regardless of what's going on. There is zero tactical or strategic planning/foresight from these guys so it wasn't a surprise when he got cornered.

He made his save to keep from being pushed over a ledge so no harm done. The thing that irritated me was that he started combing through the D&D 4e rules looking for advantages that don't exist in GW but might be implied by origin titles and such.

Thanks for your input, guys, that's pretty much how I was looking at it too: "Since the origin doesn't provide that particular power, the character does not have that power."

If he shows up, I'll be sure to let him know that's my ruling and also ask him to not go to D&D 4e for rules since all he needs is in his GW book.
If he shows up, I'll be sure to let him know that's my ruling and also ask him to not go to D&D 4e for rules since all he needs is in his GW book.

That's my #1 rule of Gamma World. You don't know how many rules disagreements this has solved.

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The players were warned well in advance by verbal ruling and by character observation ...
They all did well to avoid the stuff except for this player

Oh.  Well in that case crispy frying him is a perfectly reasonable training exercise. Players who stick there hand in a stated guillotine should always be rewarded accordingly.
To be fair to Rules Lawyers everywhere, trying to make up rules to avoid negative consequences is NOT Rules Lawyering.

We (that is, Rules Lawyers) take the craft (that is, the rules) very seriously here (that is, in Rules Lawyer Land). 

So yeah.  Rules Lawyer agrees with the above: if the origin doesn't state it, the character doesn't have it.  Note that some origins HAVE traits that decrease or avoid forced movement.  Note that the Rat Swarm is not included in this list.
Based on D&D doesn't mean it IS D&D. Plain and simple.

Things WORK DIFFERENTLY. Weapons can use FOUR different abilities instead of one. No feats. Etc etc.

A rat swarm IS a swarm, but it does not have the Swarm keyword.

It's a NON-STANDARD swarm, and has the traits listed.

If something is not in the GW books, it doesn't count.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
If something is not in the GW books, it doesn't count.

I agree with everything you said except that. From the forum FAQ:
"Can you crawl or charge in Gamma World? Although these options are not in the D&D Gamma World rulebook, some powers or effects utilize them, so normal D&D rules can be applied if desired:"

"How do mounts work? Although this option is not detailed in the D&D Gamma World rulebook, some creatures mention being used as mount, so normal D&D mounted combat rules can be applied  if desired:"

There are also a lot of other D&D clarifications that can be applicable to GW. Indeed, the game is even called "D&D Gamma World". Don't discount everything outside the book.
My theory is this:

If there's not a rule, the GM has to house-rule it.

If she knows what the existing D&D rule is, then the GM might choose just to use that since the work's already done for her.

However, the D&D rules aren't any more or less binding on her Gamma World game than her own solutions.

So when we say, "this is how D&D does it" we're basically adding on "... if you want go that route." The GM doesn't have to do it -- it's not part of the official rules of D&D Gamma World -- but it gives her some sense of direction and context.
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the D&D rules aren't any more or less binding on her Gamma World game than her own solutions.

Well... that statement could apply to the Gamma World rules themselves. But some clarifications of basic rules that GW uses have been published in various WotC FAQ's and supplements. If those clarifications are available to the players and DM, it would seem like a reasonable player expectation to try to use them.

The player in the OP's situation simply didn't realize that Rat Swarm PC's do not actually obtain the [Swarm] keyword (just like a giant PC doesn't get the [Giant] keyword, and even assuming those keyword exists in GW, they can have a different definitions). Even a D&D rules lawyer could see that the OP's player was wrong. That doesn't mean we would want to say, ignore the D&D Rules Compendium clarifications about 3-D combat if it's available.
My theory is this:

If there's not a rule, the GM has to house-rule it.

If she knows what the existing D&D rule is, then the GM might choose just to use that since the work's already done for her.

However, the D&D rules aren't any more or less binding on her Gamma World game than her own solutions.

+1,000,000

I've never said that D&D rules shouldn't be used to gap-fill. They are, of course, always going to be a ready analogue. But before I look for answers somewhere else, I always try to see if there's a suitable solution within the written rules of GW. There are a number of situations where the rules are insufficient (the felinoid's charge power, for instance), and of course a ruling would be necessary in that case. But I don't get to that point until I decide that there isn't a suitable answer within GW. If I assume everyone knows about charging because everyone plays D&D, I'm doing a disservice to those players who don't play D&D. Trying to keep all the rules in one book keeps everyone on a level playing field.
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Of course, I would use D&D rules to fill-in what I felt was missing (charge, crawl, etc.) since it makes sense.

My issue is with the player who is telling me (his DM) what his character can and cannot do and that a ruling I made was wrong because he was a rat swarm.

I believe the player has since quit playing, which is unfortunate, but makes things easier on me at least.

Thanks for all of your opinions on the matter, guys
If something is not in the GW books, it doesn't count.

I agree with everything you said except that. From the forum FAQ:
"Can you crawl or charge in Gamma World? Although these options are not in the D&D Gamma World rulebook, some powers or effects utilize them, so normal D&D rules can be applied if desired:"

"How do mounts work? Although this option is not detailed in the D&D Gamma World rulebook, some creatures mention being used as mount, so normal D&D mounted combat rules can be applied  if desired:"



There's a recurring phrase there.

"can be applied if desired"

Can - Optional. Able. Not automatic or default.
If desired - Discretional. Optional.

Here's one thing that's not in the book.
The Rat Swarm origin does not say "You gain the Swarm keyword and associated traits"
Meanwhile, it DOES give you a very specific list of traits inherent in being a swarm.

Stop and think about the logic here.

"You gain Power A, Power B, and a bunch of other powers that are printed in another book that WE NEVER EVER MENTION. Except we aren't going to tell you that you get those powers, you just have to have the other book and then justify using the rules for a different, incompatible game in this one."

(For everyone rushing to assert compatibility... there's less compatibility between GW and 4E than there is between PHB and Essentials. PARTS of 4E are compatible, and the majority of it is NOT)

And therein lies the difference.
GW mentions charging, crawling and mounts. Those terms are INCLUDED in the books. So they count, as per my original post.

"Swarm keyword" is NOT mentioned in the Rat Swarm origin, so it doesn't count, as per my original post.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
There's a recurring phrase there.
"can be applied if desired"
Can - Optional. Able. Not automatic or default.
If desired - Discretional. Optional.

Note that I am the author of the phrase.

The Rat Swarm origin does not say "You gain the Swarm keyword and associated traits"
Meanwhile, it DOES give you a very specific list of traits inherent in being a swarm.
...
"Swarm keyword" is NOT mentioned in the Rat Swarm origin, so it doesn't count

Note that we are in complete agreement.