For the first real installment of Dear DM, I have chosen questions asked in last week’s comments. My hope is to get more questions every week and to keep this going indefinitely. If you don’t see your question below, don’t fret. I’ll be cataloging all the questions and picking some by relevance and some just for fun each time out of the whole pot.
Thanks TONS for all the great questions last week, and I’ll keep doing this as long as you keep giving them to me. Questions can be about anything, not just D&D or the comic.
“Dear DM”, always 100% accurate… ish.”
1. @Lord Clavdivs: 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?
Dear Lord Clavdis, there are a few tried and true methods to dealing with a player like this. The most effective is to wait until he is taking a large drink of Mountain Dew and throw a blanket over his head. Wrap the lawyer up in the blanket, drag him into the back yard, and have the rest of the players beat him with either bars of soap in socks or oranges in pillowcases until the blanket stops moving on it’s own.
If you do not have enough soap or oranges to go around, you can always try honesty. Many players feel that in-game behavior needs to be addressed with in-game correction. This is actually the worst way to handle it, since a committed rules lawyer is going to immediately seek a way to “game” your response. The best way to deal with this is to have all your players (or as many are comfortable) discuss with the lawyer before the game. Be patient with him, because he’s likely to be defensive right out of the gate. Ride it out, and explain that his play style is really affecting the enjoyment of the other people at the table. Be as understanding as you can, but stick to your guns.
Now if being honest with him and treating your lawyer like a decent human being doesn’t work, you can either replace him with someone who’s play style meshes better with your group, or call a quick time out for a run to the grocery store.
2. @Jesse: Dear DM, 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?
Dear Jesse: Also a super-common problem, when DMs are designing worlds entirely for their own amusement without regard for their players. There are two solutions, one is easy and mostly works, the other is difficult to accomplish but 100% effective.
The first solution is to poll the other players to make certain you’re not the odd man out instead of the DM. (That’d be embarrassing!) Once you’re sure of your footing, talk to your DM, preferably right after a session where he’s been being a doofus. Make sure he knows you appreciate his efforts, but also make sure he knows what it is you guys really want out of a game. Most DMs actually do want their players to enjoy what they have spent their time and energies creating, but unless you give them some kind of feedback, they may be shooting in the dark.
The second solution is a lot harder, but the results are always worth it. First, lightly kill your DM, being careful not to muss the skin, hair, or fingernails. Carefully skin him, (a taxidermist may be required if you aren’t experienced… use your best judgement) and cure the hide without tint. Take the finished DM hide to your local supervillain and obtain a robot double of your DM, which you can then cover in your old DM’s skin and hair, Next, plug him into WotC’s website, so he can instantly absorb the rules and the online adventures published there. Tell him what kind of game you like, and viola! the perfect DM! (Be sure to ask for a secret remote though. Robot double DMs do occasionally try to kill all their players and cleanse the world of it’s foul human corruption. It’s always best to be prepared!)
3. @Oscar: Dear DM, Have you hugged a monk today?
Dear Oscar: No. They are too loud, too hairy, and their hands smell like poo.
4. @Matt: Dear DM, How far are you into Dragon Age: Origins?
Dear Matt: Far enough to start questioning the wisdom of purchasing a Wii instead of a PS3.
5. @Starbuck: Hey DM, Can you cook? Also Why did Monks never get full BAB in D&D?
Dear Starbuck: Let me begin this by saying you were totally hot in the new series. I love badass chicks who can take command. I am a completely awesome cook and I enjoy vacuuming and giving footrubs.
Monks never got full BAB in 3.x because of legacy issues. Way back in “1st edition” AD&D, every class had a list of special abilities except the fighter. The only thing the fighter had to balance this out was a bigger hit die and a faster progression on the “to hit” charts. (That’s what we called them back then.) This became the fighter’s defining characteristic, and to keep anyone else from stepping on the fighter’s one and only toe, everyone else was held back.
Second edition saw some improvements to the fighter like specializations and such, but in truth it was a half-measure, and still didn’t bring the game out of it’s philosophical rut.
3.x almost did the trick, introducing feats and skills in a meaningful fashion… but everybody got them, so it didn’t really help. Monks and everyone else non-fightery had to stay low on the BAB tree in order to assure the fighter’s martial superiority. Unfortunately, in higher level games, this meant that wizards who often didn’t need to roll to hit, and fighters who had bigger bonuses, eclipsed the rogues and monks, bards and druids, all of whom ended up trying to be support.
4th edition did away with BAB, giving all classes a +1 to hit every other level, with ability bonuses based on your class. (Strength for fighters, dexterity for rogues, intelligence for wizards, and such.) All classes have a list of special powers and tricks they can accomplish which are unique to them, yet balanced against each other. A 4th edition monk can therefore kick just as much butt, (like Starbuck herself) as anyone else on deck.