610 – Chorka • 19

Dear Everyone,

I got news yesterday that my uncle in Georgia died in bed, early in the morning. He went peacefully and quietly, for which everyone was grateful. He was one of the patriarchs of our family and was a generous and very funny man. I cared for him greatly.

My sister and I are going to the funeral, so I am afraid there will be no Wednesday strip. I apologize hugely… I’ve never missed a strip before… but this one caught me with my pants down. I’ll see you all again on Friday.


Dear DM,

@Oscar: Dear DM, with the Edition change, what is your opinion about the changes in the classes? Please give several well-explained examples of your thoughts about the matter to aid my fellow readers and H.O.L.E fans.

Dear Oscar,

The changes in the classes for 4e were the result of the designers refining roles so everyone at the table has a roughly equal role to play. Roles in the group were nothing new, but 4e formalized those roles and did a MUCH better job balancing them against one another. Defenders attract bad guys and absorb punishment, strikers do piles of damage, controllers hamper the enemies’ movement and plans, and healers keep the good guys in the fight.

As an example I would describe a kindergarten trip to the beach on a hot summer day, during a shark attack. So you’re swimming about 15 yards offshore when you spot the fin coming right at you. The first thing you should be doing is looking for the chunkiest kid (your defender class) to pitch at the shark, both because it will take the shark more time to chew through him, and because the weight of his fat (armor) will keep him from outswimming you back to shore.

While the shark is chewing you start pitching smaller, bonier kids directly at him. (Strikers.) Once the shark is killed you may make your way to the shore and look for the biggest pack of crying kids. They will likely be congregated around the parents’ and teachers’ cars, where everyone’s lunches were. Which is a good thing, since you now require great refreshment after all your exertions. (The moms who made the lunches — probably busy talking to the cops or something — are your healers.)

After eating all the lunches you want, you, the controller, may take any car you like and drive to the next exciting adventure opportunity.

@TSED: Dear DM, what is the best way to attract people who’ve never played D&D before and have negative stereotypes of it to your game? ESPECIALLY if your game is not stereotypical at all (insofar as to have a pizza delivery specialist moogle as a player character, for example)?

Dear TSED,

I’m glad you asked this question, because in a larger sense it concerns the future of our hobby. New blood.

The only people in the world who do not play D&D are people with a specific aversion to awesomeness and terrific fun. Like Baptists. Therefore it is extremely easy to tailor an experience that will gratify these sensibilities.

First, eliminate all references to alcohol, dancing, or gambling from your game. You are going to have to throw out your dice as well. All characters are Lawful and Good, and all monsters are either inner city Democrats or Mexican immigrants.

Once you have designed your new game for non-gamers you are going to want to advertise it to the people you wish to attract. I’d suggest standing in front of a Cracker Barrel restaurant with a clapboard reading, “GOD HATES FAGS — COME KILL SOME AT MY HOUSE — BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS.”

@Alan: Dear DM, Do you use / do you think that props are useful in a game? I don’t necessarily mean minatures, but having an item that the player has to do something with it to fulfil the obligations of a quest, eg a crystal that the player has to say magic words in order to operate it’s properties.

Dear Alan,

I love props. Whether it’s a torn and crumpled map on tea-stained paper or a midget I paid to dress as a stirge and bite a player on the leg under the table, nothing focuses players’ attention better than physical props.

I use three main types of props in my game. The first is small set pieces I place with the minis to show some type of threat or scale that the characters see. Aquarium columns or doll paintings or that sort of thing. Dwarven Forge has some great stuff… and WotC’s Dungeon Tiles also fall into this category.

The second type is the stuff you put in the players’ hands. The maps and fake gemstones and vials of virgin’s blood and a bell made from the skull of an innocent banker. (VERY rare.) Halloween was a good time for this… I had candles and a soundtrack that played in the other room that sounded like a person opening and closing doors, clearing their throat, sharpening knives and walking up and down the stairs at very random intervals, while the party played through a haunted house.

The last type are the things that serve double duty. Fake golden doubloons that we use as action point tokens, or candies that resemble the monsters so that players get to eat the miniatures when they kill the monsters. In all, I am definitely in the camp for props.

Don’t forget to post your OWN questions for Dear DM in the comments below! See you laters!

19 Responses to 610 – Chorka • 19

    • Thanks… again. All the older members of my family are starting to go all at once. I think the next few years are going to bring more.

  1. I’m sorry about your uncle Kevin. Just got home from a funeral myself, oddly enough. My wife’s grandma. Guess we’ll see you on friday, and great info today in the Dear DM. Been looking into props lately myself so I’m all about that right now.

  2. My condolences also. At least your uncle died peacefully, the way we all hope for when it is our time to go.

    • As long as he didn’t go like the old joke: “My grandpa died peacefully in his sleep, unlike his passengers screaming in the backseat.”

      Take as long as you need Kevin.

      Dear DM,
      Why aren’t there any clerics with a resurrection spell in real life?

  3. Dear Kevin,

    Family always comes first. Having recently suffered a bereavement, I know that there aren’t really any words that make it Ok, so you just have to remember the good times, the good memories, and spend time with the family and work through it.

    Dear Dm,

    Why don’t you take a day or two off?

    Yours concerned,


    • And let me tell you, there were LOTS of good times. This particular uncle was an amazingly sensitive and humorous man. I think the total count at both of the visitations and the funeral was well north of 500. He touched a lot of lives, and he loved me. I will always remember him well.

  4. My condolences,

    I am glad such a man has been a part of your life, families are becoming so delicate. 🙁

      • I know right? My best friend had this same thing happen when we were in high school. Seemed like every month one of his elder family members died and he had to go to a funeral. I guess it just happens sometimes that way, but it still sucks.

  5. I wish I had something to say, but I am terrible at consoling. Know that you have my sympathies.

    Instead of that, how about a question:

    Dear DM,

    What’s your favourite candy?

    Why don’t you go help yourself to some?

    • Honestly, just knowing you care enough to try is enough. For me anyway, what I don’t want to feel is that I am alone and stuck with my feelings. You guys make me feel like I’m never alone.

      This is the fourth close family death that I have shared with you guys over the last four years since HOLE started. Some of you have shared deaths, divorces, lost jobs, and bad meals as well. But what sticks is all the good news and rollicking conversations. This place is about fun and — in my case anyway — learning. I have probably gained as much knowledge researching blogs and discussing with you folks as I did my entire formal education.

      So thanks, and here’s to many more.

      • Might seem kinda odd, but I actually consider you a friend Kevin. Albeit one I’ve never met face to face, but one nonetheless. Guess the internet’s good for something after all.