598 – Chorka • 07

598 - Interrogating the Pope.

Dear DM…

@Woohoo: Dear DM, I live in the UK but am going to the US over Christmas and have arranged to game with some people while over there. It’ll be the first time I’ve done tabletop with a US group. Assuming they don’t just drag me out in to the garden and pummel me to death with a shovel, what differences between UK and US gaming should I expect to find?

Dear Woohoo,

First off, don’t expect anyone to know what the hell you’re talking about whenever you bring up food, automobiles, or sports. Maybe bring one of those little translator books. A biggie is a meal at Wendy’s and arseholed is probably a gay thing. Everyone will have a gun and will want to use it on you when their girlfriends are all giggling at how cute your accent is.

As far as the gaming itself goes, the American version of medieval Europe plays a lot like the Wild West with trebuchets, only no one here knows what a trebuchet is and everyone thinks it’s a catapult. Think Clint Eastwood and you’ll be okay. (Not the more modern Eastwood films where he finally got cash and started producing here in the states, but the old ones shot in Italy pretending to be in America if you want to know how Americans think Europe really was.) Also, everyone will probably be expecting you to be really funny, since their primary exposure to British culture comes from Monty Python. If you can run with this, definitely play a bard, and folks will be talking about how awesome a player you are for years.

By the way, most people with back yards don’t have gardens, and some with gardens don’t have back yards. If you have a garden in your closet you’re a drug dealer, and if you have a garden in your front yard you’re a farmer. Also, don’t say “Blow me” unless you really mean it.

Whenever you are in doubt at the gaming table and think you may have committed a faux pas, just excuse yourself and tell everyone you’re looking for the Mountain Dew. There are some things that transcend all boundaries.

@Alan: Dear DM, this question is about dice, and dice results. Is it ok to occasionally fudge dice rolls? I refer to times when in character generation, players sometimes have characters that are severely underpowered due to the lack of randomly generated stats, or rolling several fumbles in a row causing death to the character through sheer bad luck rather than bad ideas, or have a low level monster rol critical hits against a player. Is it ok to occasionally fudge the dice rolls to stop this game imbalances happening?

Dear Alan,

I’m gonna get all zen on you here and answer your question with another question. (Is that zen, or is that being a dick?) Why do you and your home boys play D&D?

Possibility #1: You cats all got together one day with all the rules and minis and material necessary to play D&D and someone said, “Hey, I’d sure like to roll a bunch of dice and write down what all the numbers are for a few hours!” and then everyone else was all, “Hells yeah, sounds like a party!” and then there were beer runs and tequila shots and escort services in the Yellow Pages and one dude got divorced and all the other wives made you guys get rid of your dice except you still have an emulator on your iPod that she doesn’t know about and you still roll eight twenty-sideds on it at once sometimes in the bathroom with the sound turned all the way down…

or possibility #2: You wanted to have fun.

If it’s number one, then play the dice the way they’re dealt and check yourself into rehab. If it’s number two, then fudge all you want, as long as it results in everyone having more fun.

@Chris: Dear DM, For very old established characters that have been intertwined into different campaigns and now have an effect on even sub quests what is the best way of letting that character die, but as in a way that does not break its long history.

Dear Chris,

You have several worthwhile routes to take here. A big, important character like that would have plenty to worry about other than what’s going on around the vicinity of the PCs, and could easily get called away or simply leave to pursue other matters for as long as needed, or even permanently. Like if instead of getting killed at the end of Braveheart, Mel Gibson had met this totally hot chick from Portugal and left Scotland to go work in her dad’s ceramic chicken shop, leaving Neville the cow-wiper to shout “FREEDOM!” while being wracked until he got an asthma attack.

If you DID decide to whack the character you could bring him up again when one of the PCs does something super-stupid and dies, and meets the character in the afterlife. The important character is now in the service of the gods, and tosses the PC back into the game on a one-time-only free pass. The PCs could even pray to your character sometimes, like “Oh most holy and righteous Saint Steve, savior of humanity and returner of life, can you help me find my underwear before my wife gets home and thinks I lost them when Alan called the escort service at that totally lame ‘no-fudging-the-dice’ game of his? Please?”

The BEST way is probably to let the main villain kill the important character in some cowardly and underhanded way, so that the PCs will have just one more reason to want to paste this guy. Not that most players NEED a reason. Hell, just give them a sword and see if you can STOP them from killing everyone in sight. Like, take a party of Lawful Good players, and let some old woman say one of them smells funny. That old lady is totally gonna be dead before you can say “Roll initiative”. That’s why all the old ladies in my game are really evil gypsies in disguise, just waiting to be killed so they can curse someone with dysentery or dropsy or peeing aquarium gravel or something awesome like that. Yeah… just you TRY and kill that old lady. Just you try.

@Gary: Dear DM: How do you respond to player challenges to an encounter that includes someone who “shouldn’t” be present?

Dear Gary,

I think you mean when someone is present that the players think shouldn’t be there, because they don’t get the newsletter from the main villain listing all the evil shit he’s up to and all the minor thugs he’s raised from the dead. When I get crap like that from my players I fix ’em with the old deadeye stare and say in a gravelly, Alec Baldwin voice, “Listen here you whiney little piece of shit, I’M the goddamn DM here, you got a problem with that? Tell it to your fucking mother you candy-ass momma’s boy. Ooo, look at the momma’s boy cry! Crybaby, crybaby! Little crybaby momma’s boy!” and then on like that for another ten minutes or so.

D&D is so awesome.

@TSED: Dear DM, Can you give me some advice on purchasing a shovel? Make, weight, what kind of wood in the haft? All-metal? Steel or iron? Etc. etc. etc. I may need one thanks to your earlier advice (which seems entirely sound and are impregnable bastions of wisdom and common sense).

Dear TSED,

Look for a six-foot, steel pointed blade, wooden handle shovel. If you buy it at Home Depot and keep your receipt, they will replace that shovel now matter how you break it, how long after the purchase you break it, or who’s head you break it over.

This is a policy of Home Depot’s and always has been, and it’s one that they do NOT want knowledge of getting out into the general public, as it could become quite costly to them if enough people fond out. For that reason I like tell anyone I see whenever the subject comes up… which has nothing to do with getting rejected for a job once at the Home Depot in Gainesville. In the same vein it has nothing to do with the “Honesty Test” they made me take, after which I was not allowed to shop in Home Depot without a company escort. It is only because Home Depot is a bunch of stupid douche bags.

Remember to ask your questions for Dear DM to answer next and future weeks! See you then!

27 Responses to 598 – Chorka • 07

  1. @chris
    You could also just have the character die, period. Whatever the time and place, whether it’s convenient, or epic, or not.
    IRL, military and government leaders don’t wait the right time to die or get out of office. Shit just happens. Think churchill there.
    So have this character die, in an unexpected fashion, and work out the consequences.

    This should surprise your players, and make the world all the more real to them.

    • Wrong kind of “realism”. It’s a game, a fictional story. A fictional story has to follow certain tropes. If it’s basically random, and characters die a pointless death 5 minutes before the big finale, what’s the point of playing.

      • This is a NPC 😉

        And not all games are epic or else. Even then, it may be pretty interesting, as his NPCs are important to many plots. So, their sudden absence will throw these in new directions. Then again, look at real history and WW2.

        If, say, one of those NPCs became king of an important country, and will soon lead an army against some evil sorcerer lord, all to die of old age. What happens to the war then? The country is in disarray, at least for some time. Maybe the inheritors compete? What if there are none? And what will the necromancer do?
        IMO, that’s better than having him die heroically while fighting the evil witchking.

        Tropes can be fine, but too many tropes make the story predictable, and thus boring.

          • So I just finished the 3rd book in the Inheritance Novels by Paolini. There is a similar character(s) that resemble the situation my character is in now. If you know what I am talking about I think I might follow this route.

            For everyone else… without revealing the story too much this character hides for a while, comes out to fight and gets whooped by a younger less experienced enemy forced to fight against his will, that wins because he cheats in battle.

            Seems like an effective way to let a character end and cause enough emotional rage to want to smash an enemy.

    • Good question!

      BTW, Lena and I saw Avatar last Saturday. Just wanted to mention that we both really loved it. If you’re on the fence, take this as a recommendation.

      • Entertaining movie, amazing landscapes. The story is really a mixture of “Dances with Wolves”, Alan Dean Foster’s Homanx-novel “Midworld”, and the 1957 novel “Call me Joe” by Poul Anderson, but what the heck, as the saying goes, there’s nothing new under the sun. It’s like baking, it’s how you mix the ingredients.

          • But there is, of course, the Evil Corporation.

            we should invent a business model that allows businesses to survive the deaths of the founders without becoming a corp, as it is an established Trope that all Corporations are defined as Lawful or Neutral Evil.

  2. “Alan called the escort service at that totally lame ‘no-fudging-the-dice’ game of his?”

    Hey that isn’t me!

    I only call the escorts out when we are playing the fudged dice games 😉 .

    Dear DM,

    In suitable roll-playing terms, I have an average of about d4+2 people come to any role-playing session. This is because I have a circle of people who are interested in playing, but due to work / drunkeness / chores / family not all of them can make it to any particular session. Barring tying people down / necromancy, do you have any advice to improve the consistency of games?

    Yours Concerned,


    P/s for the record, I used to fudge the dice (With no hookers), but my players were upset by this because they were of the opinion that because of the fudging of the dice, their actions meant nothing, so stopped, but wanted your opinion on this.

      • I second Ron’s display of duplicity. The truth is, I almost never fudge a die roll. If I sense things are turning south, I’ll whack a hundred hit points off of the big baddie or just have him do something shortsighted, like turn and run away at his blistering speed of four. For some players, knowing that you’re coddling them is insulting, but taking advantage of your “big mistake” will keep them laughing and having fun all night. My concern is that if you’ve let them know you’re fudging rolls, are you going to be able to let them think they were smarter than you?

  3. Regarding the comic:
    Vorpine is powerless. I so called it!

    “I’m a spitter!”?? How the mighty have fallen…

      • Depends on if he spits acid or poison.
        Wait, you mean he never took that feat? For shame! 😉

        There should totally be a class or prestige class called “The Arcane Spitter” :mrgreen: , which derives its mystic powers from some noxious totem beast, like a dire spitting cobra or an acid-spitting monstrous slug.

        First level powers: natural weapon (spit), +10 feet to spitting range every second level, and Point Blank shot (saliva only). At higher levels, the saliva becomes a magical weapon and can be enhanced with various special effects, i.e. caustic spit (acid damage), burning spit (fire), paralysing spit (what it says on the tin), slick slobber (like a Grease spell), and exploding spitballs (area effect).

        Like a cross between the superhero comics villain Bullseye and Jeff Goldblum’s character in The Fly (who would vomit stomach acid and digestive enzymes on people).

  4. Dear DM,

    How can I get my DM to add more fun “girl” stuff into the game like shoes, handbags, and miniature pink horses? I also would like to encourage more break time to talk about shoes, handbags, and miniature pink horses.

  5. well at least i know what a trebuchet is……cant wait to see where this ends up. happy holidays yall