I’m certain I mentioned this before, but I was a pretty awkward teenager. I never really knew where I fit in and making friends was always problematic for a lot of reasons. But that got marginally better in high school and better still about a year after that. That’s around the time my brother came home from Europe (along with my future brother!) and he started re-integrating me into society (more on that another time perhaps). This was a great time in my life and I remember it fondly. I had a girlfriend, I had a regular job, a graphic design company was trying to poach me from college; things were pretty decent. But still a holy grail eluded me. See there was something my friends all did that I always wanted to do, something I yearned for. Something… icosahedranic! — might be a made up word. I am of course referring to Dungeons & Dragons.
For those of you who are new to this; a primer. Enter a story where you control the actions of one of the protagonists — or antagonists if your DM rolls like that. Who is the DM? He is the Dungeon Master, he helps craft the world around you, he is in absolute control of the environment. The bar you walked into? He just thought that up. You want to flirt with the wench? He decides if your flirting skills are up to the task. Turns out you’re bad at flirting. You’ve pissed off the wench and she called the town constabulary? He controls the soldiers who would see you dead. The DM is neither your friend or your enemy, he’s just some sadistic F*@$ who decides the consequences to your actions. Choose from potentially hundreds of different classes and races. Maybe you’re a Draconian Bard, singing happy tunes as sort of weird medieval Barney, or maybe a suave human rogue, the fantasy version of James Bond. Or maybe you’re Bill, a wizard college drop out who just wants to find true love and score the biggest bag of halfling weed EVER. The game is whatever you want it to be, it’s what you make of it.
I love D&D. We at the channel have been trying to get a D&D podcast off the ground for some time actually, but scheduling has been difficult to say the least. We’re hopeful though. Regardless, what brought this up was actually an old player of mine from the very first campaign I wrote and ran. I found this on my wall today:
(The Dungeons and Dragons system is split into two separate yet equally important groups:
The players who are A*@holes and the DMs who are equally douchéé. These are their stories)
And that story might seem silly, but I can personally attest that it is absolutely indicative of the game (trust me, that’s a good thing). So with that said, I will now share my three favorite D&D stories.
When I did finally get to play D&D with my friends for the first time it was at my future brother’s house. Apparently one of their guys dropped out and — as a rule — if you miss one too many sessions, or really even just one session, your group reserves the right to A) screw you over or B) give your character to a player who has never played before and let them screw you over. I was the punishment of B on this particular night. These guys had actually been at this for several days as I would later find out. Well actually the house stunk pretty bad and there were food wrappers everywhere so I found out pretty much right away. They were coming up on the end of their adventure though and this well oiled group had made their way into a very dangerous dungeon. I had been handed a Rogue character. These characters are adept at subterfuge, stealing, and breaking into places having very little ability to withstand a physical assault. They are meant to sneak and fight from the shadows for the uninitiated, like past me. We entered a room where a beefcake monster resided and a I meekly announced I wanted to attack the monster. The DM’s reponse, under his breath, was “F*&%’n n00b.”
“What!?” I asked defensively. “What am I supposed to do?”
“Proclaim it you pussy!” He shouted back.
So with gusto I yelled “I stab at the monster!”
“Good, you roll a 5 and he murders you.”
One of the first campaigns I ever created was an epic tale of the invasion of Europe into China and Japan. China and Japan had at the time been at war with one another and were caught unprepared for the onslaught. A High Lord of the Japan/China Alliance has assembled a team of warriors to go on select missions behind enemy lines to destabilize the hold the Royal Coalition has on China. The group was comprised of my future brother, one guy I briefly met for 5 minutes through my at the time ex-girlfriend and 3 random strangers. One of these strangers is actually the guy who shared the above re-blog. Which is fitting. Because this story is about him. The team — I should mention when I told them to come up with a team name and offered bonus gold for doing so, the team voted unanimously for “Rike White Guys Onry Not” — decided it was important to gather supplies. The Orc, the crazy magic fox thing, the samurai, and the monk all took off to find various things in shops while the subject of our story, a Sorcerer played by Mark McCue, stayed in the wagon… But as everyone left he did something to kind of “guarantee” nothing would happen to him. He turned himself invisible.
Business idea: An airline that purposely crashes 1 out of every 10 flights just for people who need something to make them feel alive again.
— Mark McCue (@MarkRobertMcCue) November 16, 2017
I do not allow bystanders.
At this point I decide that a group of street hooligans has come upon the wagon and looked inside. Seeing no-one, just a bunch of random supplies including several casks of Dwarven Oil — think jacked up Kerosene. At this point I notify the sorcerer that the kids are talking about stealing the horses and wagon, and ask him what he would like to do?
“Uhhh,” I’m fairly certain he just randomly picked a spell from his list, “I cast ray of frost.”
I ask him if he’s sure, and he insists he is. I tell him to roll for hit and damage at which point I reveal he has killed the child and in the process freaked out the other children who are just simply mortified their friend has died, which in turn freaks out the horses and they begin careening down the street. At this point the rest of the group realizes that something is happening and their attention is now glued to the child killer. The problem is, he freezes (PUN!!). “What do you do?” I ask.
“Uhh… I cast ray of frost again?”
“Ok you rolled a one, you end up blasting random pedestrians on the side of the road.”
“I should try ray of frost again, right?”
At this point I take pity on him and mention that the reigns are clanking against the side of the wagon as it continues down the street getting faster and faster.
“I should freeze the horses, right?”
To add urgency I then let him know two things; One as he looks down the road he can see an orphanage. Second, there are now flaming arrows flying into the wagon. So clearly now I’m just handing him an exit to this situation. He’ll put out the fires with ray of frost, and we’re all good, right?… Right?
“I jump out of the wagon!”
“You’re going to jump out of the wagon, full of Dwarven Oil, that is on fire, and careening towards an orphanage?”
“Well I don’t want to die.”
So he leaped to safety and let 30 kids die.
At this juncture I’d like to mention a few other things; First, only he and one other person would go through the whole campaign without dying. Everyone else had a character die and they had to re-roll. Second, he lost his arm as he tried to escape his execution and as a penalty I told him that for the next 5 sessions, until his character learned to cast with only one hand, that he would suffer a penalty on every spell. Third he decided to seek out someone who could grow his arm back. I gave him a list of ingredients including a dragon’s tale, the wing of a giant bat, the eye of a beholder, a frog, and a gryphon (giant lion with the head of an eagle) feather. He found and killed a lizard and a regular sized bat and used magic to enlarge both appendages. He did legitimately catch a frog, but the gryphon feather was the feather of a budgie that he also enlarged, and the eye of a random person he killed in the street but that he didn’t bother to enlarge. I then told him he would have to roll a d100 — that’s a 100 sided dice — and if he got anything other than a 14 he’d end up permanently replacing his arm from a list of useless and screwed up things like a dog’s paw or a kangaroo’s foot.
He got his arm back, good as new and he celebrated loudly, mocking everyone he could in the game by having his character flip people the bird with both arms. So we renamed him to Jihad and I still refer to him that way in conversation by accident. Or is it?
Gender Identity Problems
One of the last campaigns I ran is actually a campaign I’ve tried to run 3 or 4 other times before with different groups. By random happenstance however, no group has ever finished it. Regardless this group was actually pretty stellar. Mostly because they rolled with their screw ups so well, and spent much of the campaign trying to screw each other over in a very friendly way. See one of the things I like to do in my games is if you are trying to convince another player of something that the player knows not to be true, I might still tell you that there’s no way your *character* knows that, and force you to pretend it’s fact. Roleplaying is a ton of fun and I thoroughly enjoy forcing players to do roleplay silly things… which is perhaps something that one of my players hadn’t considered.
This particular player had never really played D&D before and when making his character seemed kind of bummed out. When I asked him why he eventually admitted that he wanted to play as a girl… a girl with really big boobs and red hair who was super hot. Who was I to crush his dreams? I told him go for it. Now the thing is in our player’s mind, this meant that his hotness combined with his high Charisma score would give him the absolute ability to flirt with anyone, including girls. So he would walk up to random women and try to execute the “guy fantasy” and use feminine wiles to get other girls to give up information, or just kisses. And me being of the Mass Effect 3 line of thought, I figured everyone could potentially be gay, so why not? The thing is our player is pretty conservative, and while he might have been OK with girl on girl privately, expressing that with other players around was not something he felt like he could condone. So once things reached a level of seriousness, without explanation he would just walk away from whomever he was flirting with. So then he decided it would be better to flirt with dudes for information and kisses. Problems solved right? He doesn’t have to condone same sex anything in front of people, and he still gets a super hot sex scene. It’s fine… Except, as previously mentioned, I like to force players to roleplay whatever it is they’re doing. It’s not enough to tell me that you’re going to flirt and roll the dice. I want to know how you’re going to do it, what are you going to say? So no long does this player see it as his girl character trying to bone a male character for information, he now sees it as himself, a male player, wanting to bone me, his male DM. So as before, he would just walk away from the engagement without any reason given. So then he’d decide to flirt with girls for information and… and this would go on like this back and forth for basically the entire campaign.
And that’s how this player’s character — named “Tits McGee” (he picked the name, not me. Not even joking) — would become known throughout the Kingdom of De’Leonehearte; a Bisexual tease that flirted with everything on legs and would then just walk away.