Saturday, December 28, 2013

True D&D

I have a running in a few hours, and I thought I might outline some of the things my players expect on a regular basis from someone who hates 'fun' as much as I do.

To begin with, I insist the players do not speak to me or each other as they enter the gaming space.  Like monks, they have taken a vow of silence and they must adhere to it absolutely or be cast out into the darkness.  Normally at this time the players, silently, bow respectfully to each other and to me, then quietly take their seats and unpack their books and gaming equipment in readiness for the game.  They also frequently give me gifts at this time, nothing extravagant, merely little things worth twenty or thirty dollars, to gain my approval and beg my consideration when the game actually begins.

Then, just prior to starting, the players stand around the table and sing a song, together, in two-part harmony. This is a little work that I wrote, which I'm afraid I can't share with the reader, as it is private and only heard in the bowels of my living room.  Rest assured the song has no pleasant or 'fun' lyrics of any kind, but is instead mournful and affected by the death of characters in the past.  There is one verse that heaps disdain upon players who have not lived up to my expectations and have been dismissed from my world, but the remainder addresses directly the players who are about to play.

After the fifteen-minute song, then, we are ready to begin.  I set out my dice, ready my walloping stick, and begin to run the campaign.  Usually this involves my giving a 45-minute speech about everything that the party did wrong at the last running, wrapping up with a sincere admonition that they'd better do better tonight ... to which the party nods vigorously, not wishing to invoke my wrath.  If need be, I threaten one or all of them with the walloping stick, and then we get down to it.

The party states their intentions in cold, emotionless tones, intended to be very clear and wholly focused upon the part of the adventure at hand.  No one is ever allowed to make a useless or otherwise unimportant side-comment, else the walloping stick will be brought into play.  I try to apply the stick primarily to the softer, fleshier parts of the body, as this will raise bruises that will remain for three to five days.  A sharp strike on the knuckles hurts much more, but the hands tend to be resilient and cease feeling the pain within a few hours.

Once the party has stated their moves, we usually have some kind of combat.  This is a highly organized, tactical affair, very unforgiving and pedantic, where any player who fails to use the correct parlance automatically suffers the loss of three levels and is rendered ineffective for two combat rounds.  If this results in the death of the character, so be it.  Players have to learn.  Combats tend to run for a very dull hour, hour and a half, and at the end I dole out ten or twenty gold pieces in treasure, IF the players win.  Most often, I explain that the game is about trial and error, and not treasure, and this usually requires twenty minutes explanation from me.

The combat done, the players are given a break, during which time if they wish to speak to one another they must move out of earshot ... preferably completely out of the building.  This is so my zen-like state of Dungeon Mastering brilliance is not disrupted.  The players are then let back in after half an hour, regardless of the weather, and play resumes.

After a requisite period in which the players express their gratefulness to me for running them in one combat, I consider if they deserve another similar experience during the second half of the game.  If not, then everyone draws out their character sheets and settles down into some rigorous and enlightened accounting, adjusting their characters for how much weight they're carrying on which sides of their body, recording carefully how many crumbs of bread they have in addition to loaves, whether or not they have achieved their daily intake of iron and magnesium, that sort of the thing.  This can run for a few hours, during which time the players are allowed to ask me humbly for information.

When it is done, the players express their gratefulness for playing in my world, and when I dismiss them they are allowed to go.  I remind them that they will be expected to return next week, and that I know where they and their families live.

I reassure the reader, all this effort on my part ensures that I run the best possible world that can be run.


  1. Clearly, in addition to your aversion to fun, you lack a sense of humor.

  2. I know it's a joke, but I kinda wish my games could begin with a dirge for the fallen.

    Just a little atmosphere.

  3. Nice! And sadly I know a few people that want to run games like this... they usually run one game.

    Just one.

  4. Since I am practically accused of running games exactly like this - thus the parody - I tend to believe you only THINK you know people who want to run games like this, Spazalicious.

    I bet they don't, really.

  5. You really have come back to posting. Some time since you chained so much bile, irony and critique all together. You're still very good at it.

    So... I'm still here. I'm still reading. I hope you're still well, that you've had a very nice Christmas and an even better New Year. Cheers!


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