As always, if YOU want to ask Dear DM a question, put it in the comments below and he’ll answer it next week!
@Terran: Dear DM, Given a married couple fortunate enough to game together; is or is not D&D the proper environment for resolving that little disagreement about (say) that scratch on the walnut cabinet that used to be her grandmothers? I mean, roleplaying could actually aid a fellow in explaining why it’s not my…I mean “his” fault.
Nothing cures a stupid woman of being stupid faster than calling her out on it in front of all her friends and peers. The more stupider you make her look, the more she’ll love you for it afterwards… if you catch my drift… wink wink, nudge nudge… y’know, in the bedroom… sex, dammit! I’m talking about sex!
See, women are simple creatures, much like dogs. (Do not have sex with your dog.) The like it when they know their proper place, and it makes them feel secure and comfortable knowing that you’ll be making all the decisions for them. Public humiliation, like being reprimanded in front of the gaming group or getting peed on in the parking lot at the grocery store, is a useful training tool, but it is just a tool. You yourself are the ultimate tool, and a failure on her part is really a failure on yours. (You should still punish her though!)
@TSED: Dear DM, How long will it take China to dominate the economic landscape on a world basis? What should we do to prepare?
China already dominates the planet’s financial scene, as is only proper for a people who are intellectually and culturally superior to the western world. (Build robot fighters, lots and lots of robot fighters.)
We should welcome our new Asian Overlords with flowers and candy in the streets. If you really want to prepare, I’d suggest going out and getting yourself a foot-washing station, so you can correctly wash the feet of your new master. Your foresight will be richly rewarded with an extra portion of rice! (Hide the robot fighters under a crucifix. The Chinese are naturally repelled by holy artifacts.) Google will be turned over to the State, and everyone will be able to wear beautifully drab pajamas… all the time! It’ll be like Christmas every day, only there won’t be any more Christmas!
Learn how to listen in all dialects of Chinese, (you won’t be required to speak) and to bow often and obsequiously. You will probably be kicked around a lot by villains who are seeking to prove that their Kung Fu is stronger than your master’s, so a solid health insurance plan is a must. (Teach your robots Miyagi-do, like in the Karate Kid, if you want win the rebellion and the All Valley Karate Tournament.)
Finally, you must not build robots or forment thoughts of rebellion against you kindly and beneficent Asian Overlords. That would be wrong. (Wink!)
@Alan: Dear DM, food. Lots of it. How do you keep track of what characters eat? I don’t really want to draw up menus for them, but on long journeys, what easy ways are there to keep track – eg, number of days of food to wander about in the wilderness with. Essentially, how do you keep track of stuff like that without it becoming an exercise in accountancy?
This is simple. I don’t. If the characters are in town or in the wild with someone who can take ten on a Nature check I just give this a hand wave and move on to the fun bits. I might address it if I can make it part of the game… say if characters are broke or in a hostile environment… but otherwise who cares? They’re there to fight dragons and save the world, not manage backpack space.
I generally treat encumbrance rules the same way. If it takes away from the fun, toss it out.
@Tim: Dear DM, what’s your opinion on gaming with strangers? My wife met a lady at the store the other day who is a gamer and whose boyfriend is a gamer. They hit it off pretty well and we may invite them over to play. (I’m actually really excited to play D&D for a change. It’s been so long.) But there’s the leariness of having a stranger in the house. What do you think? Gun under the table, just in case? Or am I just being paranoid?
I used to feel similarly, but I got over it. If you’re worried, ask around. If this is a guy who hangs out at the game store, someone there is going to know something about him. Otherwise I’d say trust your first impressions. There’s no need to make him a key, but gaming is pretty much supervised activity, and most people are not crazy axe-murderers. How does anyone make friends? Be nice, show a little trust, and see what happens. Couples are a little bit safer bet anyway because they can serve to temper each other’s more irritating behaviors.
I’d advise giving it a shot. (Not with the gun… just, um… you know what I mean.)