A rules lawyer is a participant in a rules-based environment who attempts to use the letter of the law without reference to the spirit, usually in order to gain an advantage within that environment. The term is commonly used in wargaming and role playing game communities, often pejoratively, as the "rules lawyer" is seen as an impediment to moving the game forward. The habit of players to argue in a legal fashion over rule implementation was noted early on in the history of Dungeons & Dragons. Rules lawyers are one of the "player styles" covered in Dungeon Master for Dummies. The rules of the game Munchkin include various parodies of rules lawyer behavior.
- In the US military, we find "sea lawyer" in the Navy and "barracks lawyer" in the Army.
- The term "language lawyer" is used to describe those who are excessively familiar with the details of programming language syntax and semantics.
- Fine, Gary Alan (1983 ). Shared Fantasy. University of Chicago Press. pp. 109–113. ISBN 0-226-24944-1.
- Beattie, Scott (2007). "Voicing the Shadow: Rule-playing and Roleplaying in Wraith: The Oblivion". Law, Culture and the Humanities 3 (3): 477–492. doi:10.1177/1743872107081432.
- Kaufman, Daniel; Kestrel, Gwendolyn F. M.; Selinker, Mike; Williams, Skip (2002). Book of Challenges: Dungeon Rooms, Puzzles, and Traps. Wizards of the Coast. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-7869-2657-2.
- Swanson, Mark (January 1979). "Trapped: Four Years in the Gilded Hole". Different Worlds (1): 15–17.
- Edwards, Ron. "A Hard Look at Dungeons and Dragons". The Forge. Retrieved 2008-09-19.
- Slavicsek, Bill; Baker, Richard; Grubb, Jeff (2006). Dungeon Master for Dummies. For Dummies. pp. 135, 136. ISBN 978-0-471-78330-5.
- Garner, Bryan A. (1995). A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage. Oxford University Press. p. 512. ISBN 978-0-19-514236-5.
- Herbert, Don (2007). 63 Days and a Wake-Up: Your Survival Guide to United States Army Basic Combat Training. Basic Training Book. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-595-42511-2.
- Alex Loke. "Immoral Gaming". Places to Go, People to Be. Retrieved 2005-12-30. — Loke advocates Games Masters using rules lawyers to their advantage, by turning the other players against them.
- "What Should I Look Out For When I'm Playing?". What is Role Playing?. Retrieved 2005-12-30. — a description of two “rules-lawyer traps": always insisting upon following the rules and believing that there should always be a rule to cover every situation
- "The Rules Lawyer". Meta-Gaming Strategies. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2005-12-30. — which lists the rules lawyer's two weapons as “an onslaught of evidence, textual readings, precedent, and reasoning” and the “dreaded filibuster”.