Thursday, August 13, 2015


"As a new DM who had his first session last night even I can tell a lot of this advice is shit. Last night playing 5e a fucking bug-bear got 2 fucking nat 20s in a row and rolled max dmg on both. I'm playing a the first session of a campaign and I'll be damned if im going to let 2 of my players take 36 dmg each before the can even make a dent for the third player. So hell yeah I fudged the fuck out of it. Both attacks still hit but instead of being one-shot they were brought close to death and had an intense encounter that had them sweating."

I feel a warm glow - and at the same time such a deep sense of loss that I crumble.  It is such a terrible shame that I cannot play in the campaign described above.  For the record, however, reversing the words, "fudged the fuck," precisely describes how I feel about Reddit.

Once upon a time I tried posting blog links to Reddit as a way of building up readership.  Then I found that everyone who found me through Reddit was . . . challenged.  So I stopped.  But now and then, if I write something truly heinous, someone does the linking for me.

Yesterday's post was fairly harsh and was a cold stab at humour, but I do feel all the advice given was accurate and useful.  It does not surprise me that many people would feel that getting rid of the screen or not changing the campaign weekly are meaningless adjustments to their weekly gaming session - I can assure the reader most wholeheartedly that would-be homebuyers do not research their target suburb, they don't check access to public transportation and shopping, they don't consider surrounding neighborhoods and they don't talk to experts.  People don't follow advice.  That's what makes advice columns such a mainstay in virtually any trade magazine/webpage in existence.  It doesn't matter how many times we tell the reader the advice . . . they didn't hear it last time and, like a goldfish, they will think it's new.

[I have no idea what the poor author of the realestate page thinks, this being the second time I've linked to her; Vanessa's woopra is probably having a fit]

Nor does it surprise me when people think I've made grand assumptions or gone off the handle without, apparently, realizing it.  This is something true about the internet.  When your close friend in the state department makes a huge, grandiose joke about the idiocy of the government in a fit of frustration, you're pretty sure he's staging his remarks with plenty of irony.  Put it on the web, however, and that shit is real.  "Jeez, the writer must have escaped his straight jacket, jimmied the door, beaten a guard with his own nightstick and locked himself in the ward's office to write this fucking post.  He doesn't know anything about D&D!"

Blogs famously having exactly one post.  No others.

I could probably repost something I put up a month ago and 90% of the readers wouldn't notice.  I am reminded of Yossarian challenging his comrades that he could show up at formation naked and no one would notice.

As it happens, they do notice.  They just don't care.

For example, the response to this proposal (sorry, Michael, but this post was just full of goodies):

"My rule of thumb is geared towards something that Jeff Berry/Chrine said during GaryCon this past April 2015... that the EPT campaign he'd been in didn't revolve just around the concept of advancement based only on monsters killed and treasure kept, but also revolved around how the players worked themselves into various organizations and power structures within the world. If someone has been affecting things for their chosen religion, or for their city, or is known throughout a region, they're not "2nd level" anymore, no matter what the spreadsheets say."

A sentiment supported by Carl Nash in the comments:

"At the end of every session I tell the players what I see as the accomplishments they made and write them down in the session log in decimal format (so if the players just turned level five last session and had three accomplishments I would notate it thusly "5.1 defeated the were-unicorn, 5.2 negotiated with the toad demon to keep the unicorn horn, 5.3 found a buyer for the unicorn horn and sold it). I let the players have a chance to talk it over with me, sometimes I overlook a significant accomplishment and if they can convince me they did something that I missed I will include it. It usually works out to level up every 2-3 sessions. A bunch of high level PCs killing goblins wouldn't count as a significant accomplishment - I use common sense and have an open dialog with the players and I have never ran into problems."

Sometimes I'm not sure if, like some people, they're not seeing the issue here because they can't see that Yossarian is naked . . . or if they're well aware that Yossarian is naked and they just don't care.

I'm committed to change in habit, so I don't want to go after either of these guys - they used to both be regular readers.  Hell, I've had Michael in my online campaign and he's a damn good player.  That said, however, I am just baffled.

If I take Carl's last words as absolutely true - and I have no reason to doubt that they are - then I truly wonder why it is that any table, anywhere, ever argues about anything.  Because all I can see from both statements above is the question,

"What if I, as the player, think I've done something noteworthy and you, as the DM, do not?"

Presumably, as Carl says, it is talked over and negotiated.  I am wondering how.  I am wondering how that looks.  I am cracking my brain trying to figure out how defeating the were-unicorn and selling the were-unicorn horn are both equal to 10% of my way to 5th level.

Still, my incomprehension over that is nothing compared to the relative stupefaction I feel over a whole audience of readers who feel no reason to scream that Yossarian is naked.

But that was Heller's point, wasn't it?  People don't point it out.  They ignore it.  It's too out there.  Too far gone.  Too nuts.  On some strange whacked out level, like an RPG-22, it sounds reasonable, there's precedent, the rules are written down and that is just how it is.  The only problem with Yossarian's lack of clothes is the lack of anywhere to pin the medal.

". . . it was even possible that none of what he thought had taken place, really had taken place, that he was dealing with an aberration of memory rather than of perception, that he never really had thought he had seen what he now thought he once did think he had seen, that his impression now that he once had thought so was merely the illusion of an illusion, and that he was only now imagining that he had ever once imagined seeing a naked man sitting in a tree at the cemetery."
Joseph Heller, Catch-22 


  1. @ Alexis:

    Where'd the "warm glow" come from? The link on Reddit (in spite o the disagreement)?

    I have to say that I agree with every one of your 8 Steps though, to be honest, the baseball cap is the hardest habit to break...I'm a bit vain about my receding hairline.

    I really don't get the fudging thing. Maybe I understood it once before (hell, maybe I could have had empathy for it even), but I can't for the life of me remember why such a precedent would ever be a good idea. Like, ever.

  2. For the record I am still a regular reader; I pretty much read every post you write. You rarely fail to make me think, which is more than I can say about most other D&D bloggers. I just don't comment much any more :)

    I have no problem killing PCs and do when the dice fall that way (I am a roll in the open kind of guy, it really is the only way to roll).

    As far as the other thing - I don't care too much one way or the other about rate of PC level advancement, but my players do... and it is not uncommon at all for several sessions to go by without a combat as the PCs are busy doing all kinds of other things in my world. With our schedules leading to infrequent sessions, if I leveled up by the book there would be basically no advancement at all for years of real life at a time. Several of my players come at this game from a computer game background and truly enjoy the outside of session metagame of planning out character advancement. They are very much into their "character builds". I don't want to deprive them of that fun between sessions by never leveling them up.

    I know that you in your own campaign have modified the XP rules quite a bit, something to do with getting XP for damage dealt and damage taken if I remember correctly from past posts. Can't remember if you give XP for non-combat stuff - is XP solely based on combat for you? Are you a XP for gold guy? IMO, one way or the other there either has to be some kind of system to give XP for non-combat situations, or the XP/level advancement system makes no sense at all for every class except fighters.

    By the way, I like your CAPTCHA - nice and easy to negotiate. I am not a robot but I have repeatedly failed some of the more byzantine spam comment guarding systems out there to the point that I just gave up instead of leaving a comment.


If you wish to leave a comment on this blog, contact with a direct message. Comments, agreed upon by reader and author, are published every Saturday.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.