586 – Da Boss • 01


It’s the second installment of Dear DM! Enjoy, and don’t forget to post more questions below!

Dear DM

@Draad: 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?

Dear Draad,

We used to have a DM back in High School named Ray Sox. Ray liked to run games…but only as long as the game followed his tightly plotted script. His most infamous quote was “Your character wouldn’t do that”. Often someone during the game would wryly observe that we weren’t playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, but Remedial Ray Sox.

We never figured out how to break Ray of his habit, though I’ve given it some thought since. Personally, I think the best way to go is the remote shock collar for training dogs. On dogs I think this is inhumane, but on Ray I think it’d be the right speed. (Just put plastic down under his chair first. Shock collars have a profoundly more dramatic effect on people than they do dogs… how I know this is not important.)

Oh… and if you wanted to be more subtle about it… run a game for him. Do it the way you want your game to play, and point out the differences. Most controlling DMs don’t realize they’re doing it and lack a reference point to be able to stop. But leave the shock collar on the table.

@Jesse: Dear DM, When a Paladin falls from grace and loses his powers, are there any recommended special effects, or is it just “poof, they’re gone”?

Dear Jesse,

The official Wizards of the Coast listing under special effects related to the loss of Paladin status relates thusly: “Read the following to the player: You feel a sudden hot wind at your back that instantly tears the church’s armor from your body and leaves you sprawled in the dirt. You feel the physical rejection of your god, the heavens, your paladin’s sword, your family, the other kids at school, and porn models the internet over as wracking sobs shake your frame like a pansy girl. You pee yourself while the lights of heaven leave you, TV becomes all commercials, your mom leaves your comic book collection out in the rain, and your hands turn into giant lobster claws so that you can never masturbate again. Finally, a host of angels hike their skirts and poop on your head, and you are left by yourself in filth and lonely squalor, like the virgin-loser-geek you are.”

That’s the one I always use anyway. I might have made some of that up.

@TSED: 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) It’s crunch time at college. Only I’m not crunching. I don’t have to. I’m cruising, it’s easy, blah blah blah.

IT IS DRIVING ME MAD. All my friends are busy working their butts to the bone, and I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs and reading wikipedia pages on Archimedes while maybe thinking about this one essay that’s due in a month or so. My video game tolerance has been played out. How do I escape this mind-crushing boredom?

Dear TSED,

The common thread in both of these questions is that your advanced intellect has moved you right out of the realm of standard interactions with normal people. You’re too smart. This is one of several instances where too much brain power is a bad thing, since it results in you being less happy than you otherwise might be. The cheapest remedy is to find a nice, quiet spot far away from any interfering passersby with their “cell phones”, or their “ambulances”, and hit yourself in the side of the head as many times as you can with a brick. When you come to, you can start in again on the other side.

After just a week or so of this, you will find that you cannot even comprehend how any of these problems could ever have bothered you.

@Tim: Dear Dm: Do you ever play any other role playing games besides D&D and if so which ones? Also, how do you convince someone else to DM for a while and let you actually enjoy being a player for a change. I’ve been playing RPGs for about 15 years and for about 13 of those I’ve been the DM. Sometimes I just want to sit back and play, not be the guy in charge.

Dear Tim: I feel pretty comfortable saying that I have played most role playing games on the market. The ones I keep coming back to however are (non-D&D) Legend of the Five Rings, Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, Villains and Vigilantes, Champions, and the White Wolf games.

If you want to keep within your group, try to get a player to run a short, one or two session game to get their feet wet. Many players will be WAY more likely to dip in a toe if they know it’s temporary. If being inside the group isn’t a problem, try your local game store and ask the owner if there are any games running that are taking players. It seems obvious, but many folks don’t think about it.

I also find that MMORPGs scratch that same itch for me, though your milage may vary.

Oh, if you do end up at the game store, DO NOT invite any of these people back to your house! They WON’T leave and they WILL eat your food and drink your beer! The only upside at all (if it can be called that) is that no one will miss them when you eventually murder one.

@Carl: Dear DM, (What is the) recommended action for when one of the players keeps blowing the DM during game time?

Dear Carl,

I can only assume since you are even asking this question that you are not the DM.

As for your recommended action… that really depends. If you’re uncomfortable with watching your DM get blown then say something about it. If it’s important enough to you then stop showing up. Don’t stop going to gaming just to make a point though, make sure you really mean it. No one is going to pick one player over getting blown at the table, especially not someone who plays D&D. If I was ready to play and NO ONE showed up but I got a blow job it’d still be a successful night.

Of course there are a few extenuating circumstances. I’d explain here… but really it’s kind of complicated. Tell you what I can do for you though. If the player is a girl, (if it’s a dude this is way less complicated) get some digital video of her blowing your DM… don’t be afraid to get up close… and send it to me. I’ll judge your situation and advise further.

49 Responses to 586 – Da Boss • 01

  1. Dear DM,

    I tried your advice, but it didn’t work! The specific contours of my heavily-evolved (over millions and millions of years!) skull and the awkward angle caused by the lack of evolutionary advantages with having muscles that exert force directed at your own head plus my amazing con score reduced the lobal damage to negligible!

    I suspect I may have better luck informing women with large boyfriends that they have caught a bad case of ‘the obese’ and informing persons who are not middle-to-upper class Caucasian heterosexual males that I am a member of the infamous political regime that took took specific germanic countries out of financial ruin and into war during the late-early 20th century.

    Or, I could go and start flame wars on the internet by finding the patron saint of black metal and mentioning Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir.

    Thanks for trying, but it appears I have solved my problem myself anyways. The real point of this is, “Do I still have to pay you the royalties?”

    (We both know the real answer to that one, which includes frivolous counter-lawsuits, a decade of our lives wasted, and simultaneous economic collapse. The REAL real point of this question is to laud you on your insight with DMs-getting-blown advice.)

    • Dear TSED,

      if you still feel not not challenged intellectually and in regard to work-load by your college courses, move to South Korea (or China, or anywhere where the middle class knows their children’s only path to economic survival is to outcompete against millions of other future workplace drones) and try your luck there. Soon you’ll be taking stimulants and antidepressants to deal with the relentless crazy emotional family/social/peer pressure to succeed, and passing out from lack of sleep after studying day AND nights with no time off for silly things like computer games or food, and committing suicide like all the other Korean school kids and students.

      Unless, of course, you take the other route availabel to them and crack and secretly abandon all your study responsibilities to flee into online addition and non-stop MMO computer games. Of course, if you moved to China, the authorities will simply have you declared insane and lock you up in a re-education work camp for your “withdrawal from computer addiction” treatment. (Google for it if you don’t believe me.)

      The alternative is to invent a time machine and go interview ol’ Archimedes himself for your term paper.

      • The sad thing is, in 10 or 20 years time we Europeans and Americans will probably be looking back and saying, “Damn, those Asians did it right. Harsh but they got somewhere, while we’ve become the economic backwater of the world.” Unless of course I (as a jobless German ecologist, jobless thanks to chronical crippling autoimmune illness thanks to a tick bite) can get a job telling the Chinese how to spend billions to clean up the ecological mess they’ve made of their country (and surrounding countries that get air and water pollution imported for free) WHICH THEY COULD HAVE AVOIDED IN THE FIRST PLACE by not dumping all that poison into rivers, and stripmining, etc. Actually, when I look at the ecological disaster areas that exist in the West, esp in the USA, and in Africa, and in Russia, and in South America, and radioactive dumping in Germany and France… I’ll just be over here and have a cry. I don’t believe in Hell, but who ever invented “Mountaintop Removal Mining” in the US should burn in it. Or have their own skulls drilled for oil. 👿

        At least the Chinese legislated that there should be only one child per couple (which some people manage to circumvent, but it’s the idea that counts) to combat exploding population numbers. Unlike the German government who keeps telling us, the citizens, that we should crank out more babies to combat declining population numbers. Or US American families with their 3-12 children. Here I had hoped gross obesity and artificial additives would do their work and depress fertility enough to stop people from breeding. No such luck. 😡

        • I’m actually quite terrified that my country (Canada) has basically sold its vast untapped resources to China (along with a few other countries) for what amounts to pocket change.

          My country has the capability of being an economic superpower, and because of poor economic decisions by politics, never will.

          By the way, China’s removed the one child law for a while. They’re likely to re-instate it, but for now, the ‘next generation’ can have as many babies as they’d like. Or so I heard.*

          * Heard secondhand, has not attempted to verify.

        • Just to let you know, most families in the US have only one or two children. The families that have more are usually connected with religious reasons (Mormons or Catholics for example) or emigrants that are so happy that they can actually afford more than two children they go wild . That being said I have no good defense on the ecological damage my country has used/invited/perfected.
          I live in Idaho (Not IOWA) and we are constantly fighting off many groups that want to do these same things in our state. Not all of them can we stop (radioactive dumping by the government), but many mining ventures are in litigation over how they want to mine said minerals and metals. Many mines that could be opened are being stopped until they can prove they can do it safely, not only to humans, but the environment as well.
          Our local trash services have revamped the recycling program we had and have been using bio-diesel for years. No, it’s not perfect, but things are changing at the local level, which is where it all starts. I am sorry things are bad in other parts of the world, but we as people of the Earth need to decide to clean things up, not just our governments. Sorry Kevin for the soapbox. I am good at that, lol.

        • The Chinese “1 child per couple” is only for one area and for a certain type of people. As one travels from province to province the the rules change, even reverse, depending on how multi-cultural the local population is. Apparantly they want to preserve an even population (instead of doing what they did in the past and just declaring certain family names as “outcast” and demanding the local population kill them – or sending large numbers of them off to fight someone)

      • Archimedes isn’t going into the term paper.

        It’s on applying moral theories, not famous and influential greek philosopher/inventers.

        If I moved to China, with my major in English I’d be a shoe in for teaching English. My career and life would be set, forever, until my skull gets bashed in by some Chinese neo-nazi-equivalent movement.

        • Heh. According to a book written by a German engineering student who lives and works in Japan (and who speaks Japanese fluently or at least good enough to be a permanent guest at a talk show that invites foreigners to talk about their experiences in Japan), if you’re a Westerner, male, blond and have blue eyes, you can easily find a job as a teacher of English or German in foreign language evening courses for Japanese, and all the girls and grown women will come to attend to see your exotic blue eyes. The depressing thing is, he wrote, that when he wanted to pay for a course in German for his Japanese girlfriend and decided to check out these language schools beforehand, he found to his dismay that many of those “teachers” are not in the least qualified or competent to teach their own mother tongue, because most of them have no idea about grammar rules, linguistics, or teaching, and most of them don’t even speak Japanese, so how are they supposed to teach their own language to Japanese beginners who can’t understand the teacher’s instructions?

          But apparently you can have lots of girlfriends there, if you have blue eyes and a tattoo or piercings. Because then you’re an exotic. :mrgreen:

          • I’ve heard from a couple of internet friends that have lived in or visited Japan that it’s easier to get a girl to sleep with you than it is to date you.

            Because, you know, Japanese culture looks down on persons who are not Japanese.

            Word of mouth, hearsay, etc. etc. etc.

      • Yeah, I have. You specifically.

        So, uh… “CoF and DB are teh best bands evar.”?

        (pssst don’t look at how that pained me to declare)

        • Hum… Well, I actually mostly like DB, although there are some albums I dislike.
          Cradle did one listenable album a long time ago (I don’t remember which one), but I think they’ve been doing crap for… About the last 10 years.

          I remember this show, napalm death + cradle of filth, cradle was totally eclipsed by napalm, but we were so excited, we continued to pogo and all 😆

          • Wth was CoF doing with a grindcore band? Seriously?

            That’s like Dragonforce touring with Decrepit Birth. Asdf!

            So, are you a Venom or Bathory disciple?

          • Well, napalm were putting on a great show, and cradle was cashing on it to have people actually have fun at their show 😉

            And… Well, I listen things like merrimack, arcturus, hegemon, opeth, therion, Depresy, Blut Aus Nord…

          • But that doesn’t answer if you’re a venom or bathory disciple. How am I supposed to troll you black-metal-wise if you don’t know your roots?

  2. Is there a way Enkidu can get any grosser? (If so I don’t want to know about it.)

    On the other hand, perhaps Violet will twist Enkidu’s head off if he tries anything. Joy!

  3. hello i am only 12

    can you tell what is happy belly?

    why was violat sittign on bunker lap with no cloths one it not comfrtabl a coupl of pages bak?

    who is orctongue is it endiku secret identiy?

  4. Dear DM,

    What’s the CR on a Gelatinous Unicorn-Mounted Cancer Patient?
    A Garlic Scented Lesser Grue?
    An Unusually Acrobatic Mechanical Toilet?
    A Hive of Rhinocerases?
    A Lovecraftian Meat Fairy disgorging Castles Made Out Of Internet Memes?
    A Nirvana-Approaching Magic-proof Goldfish (in a fish bowl)?
    A Larva-Infested 4 kilometer tall Victim of Spontaneous Combustion?
    An Anime-Styled Caffeinated Mr. T?
    A Despicable Everflumphing Blood-drinking Treasure Type XXX?
    An Unusually Short Reptilian Hobo That Is Currently ON FIRE!!?
    A Lantern-Headed Two-dimensional Art Major?

  5. Dear DM,

    As our group is chronically short of people willing to GM/DM, I am sometimes placed in the situation where I must do it.

    However, while I tend to write encounters which are fairly balanced, I have a tendency to actually try and kill of the players.

    Is this normal?

    If not, what do I do about it?

    Yours, concerned,


  6. Dear DM,

    what to do if a group of adventurers finds out their cleric has secretly subtracted 10% off of EVERYONE’s share of the loot for tithing purposes to his own deity for months, before the money was handed out? Claiming that if we dare complain about this involuntary tithe to his deity he would stop healing us for free. Which resulted in the pissed off wizard/rogue (who followed quite a different deity) threatening to write an invoice for every spell he cast for the group in the future.

    Problem was, the cleric was the gamemaster’s own, former player character who was now acting as a semi-GMNPC.

    In case you wonder, I played the wizard/rogue.

  7. Thanks for the reply Oh Sagely One.

    Unfortunately I left the group years ago and have wondered whether there was a good way to handle a rather (un)touchy situation other than the walk solution.
    You have summised correctly that I was not the DM (or the acting player, for that matter!)

    Fortunately I left for creative differences more than the floor show. I also note for those with very high level characters the latter seemed to be an effective bonus to saves vs traps/poison/petrification/etc after having failed an important quest/life-ending career of said character. The number needed linked to the concentration limit of the DM.

    The main difficulty with the show was one of game continuity. Inititally pauses in game play, then latter gaps in the plot which for some reason appeared to be getting constantly shallower. And we’re not exactly talking “whodunnits” to start with!

    However, I have taken on board your recommendations as they would be highly efficacious in future events. For example should similar events re-occur we could play it on a nearby computer or TV for a distracting stereo effect. Or now said DM has a new girlfriend, possible hints to said DM regarding replays. (Or more seriously minded, DM’s possibility of sending upstairs to their Mum). These latter two option seem very thoughtful of you, as they will provide all the benefits of distracting the DM, without further delays or graphics of having an actual distraction occuring!

    Muchly appreciated!

  8. Thanks a lot for answering my question : )

    I am actually running a game tomorrow (original system) but our very own Uwe Boll won’t be there exceptionnaly.

    Too bad for him… If he avoids the painless treatment I guess I will have to try the shock collar !

  9. Dear DM.

    Are Centaurs herbivores or omnivores?

    and a bit of a linked question…

    As they have arms but can’t reach their own backsides do they have complicated social rituals for who wipes?