580 – Gorch • 07


Trying out yet another new bloggy thing here at HOLE called “Dear DM”. The idea is that you, the reader, will ask me, the DM, questions about any old thing that pops into your head, gaming related or not, and I will answer it. So, you guys ask your questions to the DM below, and I will pick from them for the next time I do this. To get the ball rolling, I will start with this fabulous group of fake questions I have right here…

1. (@Rattlesnake) Dear DM, I have a person in my gaming group who is loud and obnoxious. I have asked him to be quiet so the rest of us can hear what the DM is saying, but he won’t shut up. He’s not that great a friend but he also gives me rides to gaming so I don’t want to yell at him and piss him off.  What should I do?

Dear Rattlesnake: Dude, you’re a freakin’ rattlesnake! How stupid is this turd that he’s willing to piss YOU off? But okay, I get it. If you bite him and kill him he can’t drive you to gaming. So here’s what you do.

First, find yourself one of those squirt bottles, like the kind the Windex comes in. Fill the bottle with vinegar, and take it with you to gaming. When your ride starts gabbing, immediately spray him in the face. It is very important not to tell him WHY you are spraying him… he has to figure it out on his own or else the training won’t take. Don’t worry about him getting mad at you, vinegar in the eyes hurts like fire, and he will be so blinded by his own tears that he will be unable to pinpoint who just sprayed him.

2. (@Jehosesplat) Dear DM, I have been playing D&D for two years now and my character is 6th level. I’m beginning to get a little frustrated at the pacing of my progress. I started playing D&D for the devil worshipping, and all we ever do is play with little plastic figures on a map our DM draws out. How long do I have to do this for before being initiated into the Dark Cult?

Dear Jehosesplat: Like a ninja who must pull a bow for a year before ever picking up an arrow, you must accept our ways of selecting new members if you hope to be chosen. Be patient, persevere, and do not question your superiors.

Of course if you want to jumpstart the process you can always sacrifice a few cats to the dark lord. Satan likes the way cats taste AND you’re helping out your neighborhood by keeping the feline population down, which in turn helps keep certain vectors for disease at a minimum. A few tips for early entry into the Minions of Darkness: 1) Always bring beer and chips with you. Any satanist will appreciate a bag of Doritos! 2) Make a list of names for the DM to use for his PCs. The Fell Horde likes a proactive thinker! 3) When sacrificing your cats, sacrifice some barbecue sauce too. Most people don’t know this, but Satan is from Texas.

3. (@Hornyandbeautiful) Dear DM, I read that while you have based the physical look of Bunker on yourself (though he is not quite as muscular) you have resisted showing him to us in the nude because you felt our collective suspension of disbelief would be broken by the spectacular size of Bunker’s penis, modeled as it is on your own. I don’t really have a question.

Dear Hornyandbeautiful, What a deeply insightful observation! Hey, can you cook?

So there you have it, the first installment of Dear DM. Ask your own questions below, and I’ll answer the best ones next week!

40 Responses to 580 – Gorch • 07

  1. Well, my personnal favorite sacrifices to satan are usually chicken. Frozen ones. After all, contrary to live ones, they’re available in any supermarket, and don’t run away or struggle when you try to skewer them. They also don’t spray blood on your clothes and kitchen, which is always a plus.

      • That’s funny, cause I was gonna ask a very similar question. I just got out of the Circle’s tower and got to Denerim. So far that game’s pretty damn good, and it’s making me want to play D&D again.

        Dear DM: How do you convince someone who has moved on from Dungeons and Dragons to other RPGs to come back and play the classic?

        • In my opinion, Bioware was very very clever in designing Dragon Age. They took the main elements of D&D character progression, simplified the gameplay à la World of Warcraft (Cooldowns anyone?) and built a compelling role-play story and world around that mechanism. Hard to go wrong mixing prime quality ingredients.

          I’m a mage as well and just made it to Redcliffe. I keep getting in trouble with Morrigan’s reactions, personally I think she’s awesome but since I tend to follow good aligned paths in electronic RPGs my decisions and her attitude have been clashing like two cats on coke. 😕

          • I’m actually playing a warrior. I like to smash things in the face with my shield. Morrigan and I don’t get along well either cause I’m a total do-gooder. Weeeeelll, most of the time. I did get her to kiss my dude though.

  2. Ok, a serious question:

    Dear DM: When I am assuming the honorable mantle of DM, my players consistently get hung up on some part of a description that I merely added as a side detail to a main description. This results in quite long (And unprepared for) side quests.

    Other than outright telling the players not to do this, or using NPCs to tell characters not to do this, I am not sure what to do.

    Yours concerned,


    • It’s called “rail-roading”, and is a vital DM skill. This happens to H.O.L.E. every now and then, from which we can surmise that the DM is either very experienced, or has no imagination.

      To “rail-road” your players, simply present them with a situation where they have no options but the one(s) you want them to choose. For example, let’s say you’re describing a valley in front of them, and a player decides to get side-tracked:

      DM – You see a shadowed valley, with tall pines and a winding river. Standing on a glistening rock, you…
      Player – Ooh, the rock is glistening, must be gold! I smash it open.
      DM – What? No, um, you find nothing. So, standing next to…
      Player – I search the rubble.
      DM – You find nothing! There’s nothing there!
      Player – It must have been a magic shield I saw. Let’s camp here and try to break the shield!
      DM – Suddenly, a group of 5 trolls approaces from behind.
      Player – Giants! Crap, ok, we need to fight them if we want to figure out this shield.
      DM – Then 10, no 100, more trolls appear. And giants. In fact, the giants just bend down and flick you over the edge into the valley. And there’s no way to climb back up.

      See how the DM gently guided the players along the proper path? Magic is also your friend: “You can’t climb over the wall because… it’s magically slippery. Cast by a level infinity wizard, so you can’t break the spell.” Whatever happens, it’s the DM’s job to ensure the pesky players stay on the path he/she has spent the previous week creating.

      Whatever you do, make sure you have fun, at the players expense. 🙂

  3. Dear DM: How do you encourage cooperative playing in the group? Many players don’t realize that it is partially their role to go along with the story line to keep the quest progressing and the plot developing. All too often they are focused on reaping XP and lewt rather than tracking down that villian you have set up. Truth be told, in most games I have played if I was the villain I would have taken over the world just by distracting the would be heros with shinies and damsels in distress.

  4. Dear DM,
    One of the players in my group recently told me that her definition of a RPG session is like “being in a movie”. The problem is that it fits perfectly the campaign we are in as, like actors in a film, we have almost no liberty whatsoever in the scenario and the will of the director is the only law. How can I subtly make the GM understand that, rather than insisting on playing Uwe Boll, he ought to let us have some freedom?

  5. Dear DM,

    2 questions:
    1.) I’m in a very relaxed fun loving group that happens to all be a decade or more older than me. We spend about half our gaming session joking around about stuff with no relation to D&D. This is fine when I understand what they are talking about, but when the conversation strays to something that happened before I was born I lose interest. How do I subtly nudge the group back into the D&D game?

    2.) Two of our players have a “Wand of Wonders” that they use every chance they can. While it’s fun and interesting occasionally I find it annoying to have a new random event happen EVERY round of a battle. How as another player, not the DM do I teach them to use the forces of chaos in moderation?

  6. I don’t really have any more questions (I left one up there somewhere) but I just wanted to say I am REALLY looking forward to next monday’s blog. After reading these questions I’m looking forward to seeing how you answer them.

  7. Dear DM,

    I like playing D&D, been playing it since I was 5. Now I just started in a new group and they use the new 4.0. I don’t know about you, but it’s about as fun as watching grass grow for me. Any suggestions on how to lure them back from the “Dull-side”? And finding another group is very unlikely. Took me 6 months to find these guys. Small cities , gotta love em. 😉

  8. I’ve got a couple questions:
    1) I play under a DM who LOVES melee combat, and does nothing but. He consistantly fudges die rolls, disrupts spellcasting, creates 1 or 2 HD monsters with 300 HP, and dishes out massive damage to parties of 1st-3rd level adventurers. After such a gruelling battle, the loot only amounts to a handful of copper and a +1 shortsword! How does a player get a bloodlusting DM to lighten up and move the story along without having to use up a dozen healing potions after each fight? And shouldn’t the treasure approximately equal the challenge?

    2) How do you stop a DM from making up stupid stuff and ruining adventures? Stuff like sci-fi guns and computers in treasure hoards, or movie fantasy heroes popping in and being a nuisance, or novel-plotline ripoffs taking over an otherwise sensible campaign? Is there a limit to how much crossover and idiocy is allowed before the players are required to kick a DM’s ass?

    • 1) Not sure how Kevin’s going to answer (looking forward to reading it!), but you might suggest encounter tables and loot tables to your DM. Maybe he’s just running low on ideas (trust me, it’s hard to come up with encountes and loot on the fly!)

      2) Had to laugh – not sure you can fix that one! Maybe you can count the sci-fi weapons in the loot you collect? They’d have to be worth several million gp each! That should make the DM pause a bit the next time…

  9. Dear DM,
    Is there any way to run a solo campaign in 4e without having my player or myself run extra characters?
    Any suggestions for solo campaigns to run?

  10. Dear DM;

    In your experience, at what point does the size of a gaming group max out? Six? Eight? Thirteen?

    Also, Satan isn’t really so bad. He just wanted to play with a little creative freedom and his DM was railroading the plot.

    Thank you.

  11. dear dm
    how do you handle a rules lawyer that constantly exploits loopholes to his own benefit and makes the game pretty much his own playground to be able to do whatever he wants to do even though its technically legal?

    heh violet is gonna “has conjugal bliss” caveman style. thats too funny

    i remember when the church tried to get dnd banned in the late 70s early 80s even wrote a song about it. we were all “satan worshippers” and conducting satanic rituals at game tables

    as for satan being from texas: well its hot down here but not

  12. Dear DM,

    1) There’s this cool webcomic I read which has an interesting blog/thing going on. It recently started a question/answer thing for some undisclosed reason. The problem is, I’m already really smart and all the questions I can think of I can answer myself! How do I jump on the bandwagon in a clever but not obvious manner?

    2) Right, so, I have this band. Only my bassist’s being a dick and has disappeared. He did not show up for practice, we could not get ahold of him, blah blah blah. Since the band is actually very, very new, the drummer (keep in mind we’re currently a 3-man project) is talking about replacing him with this other bassist he knows. How do I punish the bassist for being an apresent dick without driving him away from the band completely?

    3) Should I play World of Goo, Champions Online, or Dwarf Fortress this week?