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Why You Don’t Want to Play in My Dungeons & Dragons Game

5 May

Why You Don’t Want to Play in My Dungeons & Dragons Game

I was talking with a player in my game yesterday about getting together again after a hiatus, since school will be over for me in two days (YAY!)

Here is how the conversation went:

Jeff: We should get a session going in a week or two, since I am done with school soon. You guys were on the sea voyage home… I guess I could say you were blown off course to the South polar regions. I hope you guys like scraping lichen off of rocks with your teeth. Roll a twenty-sided die to see if you break your teeth on the rocks.

Steve: I know you, you will say I broke them no matter what I roll. But I have a “Stone Teeth” spell, so I’ll use that.

Jeff: Yeah, but you didn’t say what kind of stone, so roll to see which type of stone your teeth become. I hope you get Granite!

Steve: Oh darn! I got Sandstone!

Jeff: I can see it now, your Ranger is breaking his teeth on rocks trying to be all Ranger-like in the Antarctic and the Barbarian will be eyeing the NPC Rogue saying: “He looks tasty. I know he eats well!”  Hmm, I wonder if the Rogue has “Lichen Scraping” as a survival skill.

At least it won’t be like some other game systems, where you just sit around the whole time battling a single Skeleton.

Steve: Yeah, we will just be figuring my teeth out the whole session!

Tasty Lichen

Just in case I am mean enough to send those guys off to the bottom of the world, I did some quick research on lichen, some of which ARE edible:

          “Of all the plants, lichens are best adapted to survive in the harsh polar climate. Some lichens have even been found only about 400 km from the South Pole. Lichens have proliferated in Antarctica mainly because there is little competition from mosses or flowering plants and because of their high tolerance of drought and cold.    

          On icy rock, lichens have the same strategy as plants have developed in the sand of the Sahara: they form an “oasis”. Like in the desert they miss water. They have only a chance to survive, if they settle in an area with a convenient, damp microclimate. Since what stops lichens to spread over the whole of Antarctica is not so much the big cold as the lack of water. For this reason they don’t settle in a place with the most sunshine, but in recesses and cracks between rocks. They like scanty soils, created by weathered rocks. They often quicken this process with secretion of acid.

   Snowflakes are captured in the cracked rock and melt on the dark lichens, so they can absorb the vital liquid.”

mmm… I am thinking of a Lichen Soup recipe as I read this. Unless the players have their characters trap penguin or they do some fishing, it seems it may be a long Winter ahead for them until the birds come to breed along the shores of the South polar region in the Spring!

I am such a mean Dungeon Master.



Love, Romance & Fantasy

14 Apr

Love, Romance & Fantasy

There are lots of books and movies that combine romance and the fantasy genre. One could easily have chosen Labyrinth and gotten extra points for mentioning a movie that has an “L” name, but I had to “go with my heart” on this one. So, I chose to star this post with my favorite romantic fantasy/comedy: The Princess Bride.

Every time I watch it I want to engage in a Chatty Duel, storm the castle and do inconceivable things! I laugh, I cry (manly tears, of course!) and the tale never gets old. Other stories have hilarity, lovers’ spats, adventure and obstacles to overcome in pursuit of True Love, but none intertwines Fantasy in them quite as wonderfully! The tale feels like a romantic D&D adventure. 🙂

(Note: The videos – except the last one – have “embedding disabled by request”, like half of the things on YouTube these days, so double click on them if you wish to watch them in YT, sorry)

I could go into the characters in The Princess Bride, but the romance and tension between the main characters, Westley and Buttercup are really what makes the movie a Fantasy Love Story. I guess I am a romantic sap or something, because even though I know the “Real World” doesn’t always quite function this way, I still believe in the mushy ideals of The Princess Bride.

My first serious girlfriend was a Roleplayer. I introduced her to D&D when I was 17. I would play my gritty hack-n-slash character with The Boys. I am sure my character in that game wasn’t very romantic at all. However, my girlfriend I and would take time to have intimate 1-on-1 sessions, where either of us would be the GM. My character in “Our Game” was romantic, playful and Roguish… the perfect Gentleman Scoundrel! I think it was just my teenager-almost-a-man ways coming out in my alter Ego, but it was a lot of fun. Our roleplaying sessions remind me a lot of The Princess Bride, in retrospect, but the movie hadn’t even come out yet and I was unaware of the book at that time.

"As you wish."

There is a place for romance in fantasy, however not every fantasy roleplaying game is going to have it. Because of the nature of the group and/or GM, etc. it might not be an aspect at all of many campaigns, but some do incorporate it.

When I got older, I was in one long-term campaign that had the element of romance as one of the underlying aspects. The group was composed heavily of couples that gamed together. It was funny to see how we, as couples, gamed when things were not going so well at the time in our relationships. Little jabs and such might happen across the gaming table, but nothing severe. I still laugh to this day about some of the things that happened. The dynamics of real life romances at work in our game – even if it wasn’t always sunshine and roses – was sometimes just like in The Princess Bride.

A little laughter, a little tears, a little romance, a little fantasy is good for the soul.

As I end this post, I wish to bring to your attention Storming The Castle. I own it and enjoy it very much.


Appendix J of the Dungeon Masters Guide

12 Apr

Appendix J

The Advanced D&D Dungeon Masters Guide contains a most unusual and either useless or extremely useful Appendix J: Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Vegetables.

Many character types could make use of the plants listed in it. “Woodsy Types” such as Druids, Rangers and Forresters could find these plants in the course of their normal duties. Such plants could be sold to merchants & Herbalists of the local populace, where they might enter the hands of other PC types, such as the alchemists of the Hermetic Order of Wizardry, Healer Types, and Rogues. Courtesans would desire many herbs as aphrodisiacs. The potential uses in a campaign are limited only to the interest and imagination of the DM and the players.

Some of the plants have multiple uses. Some will be reputed, but non-effective folk medicine placebos. The Uses And/Or Powers listed are for healing, but in larger doses some could be poisonous, therefore useful to Assassins and the like. As mentioned before, alchemists and Magic Users might use them in potions or rituals, etc.

I noticed that of the ones listed in Appendix J that a few had a question mark to denote unknown uses. I decided to take a peek at what the Wiki had to say about the uses of 3 of them that had a “?”.

Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying.

In the Elizabethan era, some people believed that pinning bay leaves to one’s pillow on the eve of Saint Valentines day would permit one to see one’s future spouse in a dream.

Bay leaf has been used as an herbal remedy for headaches. It contains compounds… which have proven useful in the treatment of migraines. Bay leaf has also been shown to help the body process insulin more efficiently, which leads to lower blood sugar levels. It has also been used to reduce the effects of stomach ulcers. Bay Leaf has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Bay leaf is also an antifungal and antibacterial and has also been used to treat rheumatism, amenorrhea, and colic.

Some members of the laurel family, as well as the unrelated, but visually similar mountain laurel and cherry laurel, have leaves that are poisonous to humans and livestock. While these plants are not sold anywhere for culinary use, their visual similarity to bay leaves has led to the oft-repeated belief bay leaves should be removed from food after cooking because they are poisonous. This is not true – bay leaves may be eaten without toxic effect.

So, we see that the lowly Bay leaf has many potential gastronomic, healing and (if an improper variety that could be quietly slipped in instead of the regular variety) a poison. Perhaps powdered bay leaf could be used to keep Shriekers from alerting wandering monsters to the presence of PC in a fungal forest in the Underdark.


The lotus tree (Greek: λωτός, lōtós) is a plant that occurs in two stories from Greek mythology:

In Homer’s Odyssey, the lotus (tree) bore a fruit that caused a pleasant drowsiness and was the only food of an island people called the Lotophagi or Lotus-eaters. When they ate of the lotus tree they would forget their friends and homes and would lose their desire to return to their native land in favor of living in idleness.

In Greek Mythology, the lotus-eaters… were a race of people from an island… dominated by lotus plants. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were narcotic causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the nymph Lotis was the beautiful daughter of Neptune, the god of water and the sea. In order to flee the attention of the violent deity Priapus, she invoked the assistance of the gods, who answered her prayers by turning her into a lotus tree.

Botanical candidates for the lotus (tree) include Diospyros Lotus, which is a sub-evergreen tree native to Africa that grows to about 25 feet and has uninteresting yellowish green flowers. Other Lotus plants are discussed in the Lotus-eaters article.

The lotus tree is also mentioned in the Book of Job 40:21-22, verses which refer to a large hippopatamus-like creature referred to as “behemoth“. The passage states: “He lies under the lotus trees, In a covert of reeds and marsh. The lotus trees cover him with their shade; The willows by the brook surround him.”

Ok, now we have a mythical type of lotus tree as well as the various varieties of real world water flowers we can inject into the game.
A quest for the fruit or flowers of the elusive “Lotus Tree” complete with a Behemoth guardian may be necessary for the PCs to successfully undertake. In the Arduin Multiverse, the infamous “Black Lotus” was extremely lethal and used as a poison (and perhaps a dangerous hallucinogen). Some lotus types might be needed to open the user to the Dream Lands in a campaign that has Cthulhian aspects to it. White lotus has been used as incense and other types as food.

Peppermint has a long tradition of medicinal use, with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago.

Peppermint has a high menthol content, and is often used as tea and for flavouring …It is the oldest and most popular flavour of mint-flavoured confectionery. Peppermint can also be found in some shampoos and soaps, which give the hair a minty scent and produce a cooling sensation on the skin. Used in this way, it has been known to help with insomnia.

Peppermint has promising radioprotective effects for cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Peppermint flowers are large nectar producers and honey bees as well as other nectar harvesting organisms forage them heavily. A mild, pleasant varietal honey can be produced if there is a sufficient area of plants.

Peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides…

I could see some weird Gamma World use for Peppermint, due to possibly having radioprotective properties. Giant Insects might be battled with the oils of the peppermint plant. It is certainly a pleasant flavor that would be valued in many foodstuffs, etc.

It really doesn’t take much to find a use for Appendix J in a campaign – just a little imagination and maybe some research into the plant’s possible alternative medicinal, magical and alchemical usages. It may be perhaps the least gleaned appendix of the Dungeon Masters Guide, but it can become more than fluff in the hands of a good DM.


Thieves Guilds

16 Mar

I was very much intrigued by the Save or Die! Podcast Adventure #27 that came out yesterday. I made a comment to the good folks at Save or Die!:

I have played mostly Rogues/Thieves and I was interested in your take on Thieves Guilds.

In some of the campaigns I have played in, in smaller cities and towns the “guild” is sometimes non-existent or just a few thugs that have loosely banded together for mutual protection. Sometimes they are associated with a larger overall Guild that spans many towns and cities.

Some of the best thieves have an alternate identity in “normal” society. They can even work for or have friendly contacts among the authorities.
In general, in games where I DM, those that try to take up the trade w/o being a member of the Guild are eventually visited and given “an offer they can’t refuse” to join the Guild. If they purposely try to run afoul of the local guild, they will be turned in to the local law enforcement or end up in floating in the sewers or something 😉

Not every game needs a fleshed-out Rogues Guild, but whatever one exists, unless it is a slipshod operation, the Guilds are very concerned with keeping a low profile, no matter how powerful they are. An exception may be openly corrupt cities or places where the Guild has grown more powerful tha[n] the official law enforcement.

It is really up to the DM, but these are some ways I have played such Guilds in the past. Just my two cents worth (actually, yours, as I just picked your pocket!)

See ya! 😀

“DM Retro”

Click here to access the Save or Die! Podcast Adventure #27 Cyclops Smash!

heh… I guess I am naughty ;)

12 Mar

I Am A: Neutral Evil Human Bard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:

Neutral Evil A neutral evil villain does whatever he can get away with. He is out for himself, pure and simple. He sheds no tears for those he kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. He has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make him any better or more noble. On the other hand, he doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has. Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies. Neutral evil is the best alignment you can be because you can advance yourself without regard for others. However, neutral evil can be a dangerous alignment because it represents pure evil without honor and without variation.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Bards often serve as negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies. They love to accompany heroes (and villains) to witness heroic (or villainous) deeds firsthand, since a bard who can tell a story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. A bard casts arcane spells without any advance preparation, much like a sorcerer. Bards also share some specialized skills with rogues, and their knowledge of item lore is nearly unmatched. A high Charisma score allows a bard to cast high-level spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

While I wouldn’t say I am EVIL, I did answer this quiz from the perspective of my Rogue, who has a complex and convoluted persona (actually, several of them!)

The Bardish part seems to be prominent, because he is more of a socialite than a thug, although his rapier is as quick as his wit! That is strange, because I was wondering if he wouldn’t make a good Bard, anyway.
An interesting quiz. Check it out!

and now… The Tale of the Dice

11 Mar

and now… The Tale of the Dice

Here is a little tale of how my character’s and my own personality blur whenever something “live” happens about Role Playing games. I have told other tales elsewhere on the Net better than this one, but I will relate it, because it is recent…

Today, I went back to my FNGS (Friendly Neighbourhood Game Shop) seeking to purchase the six-sided dice to go with that nifty Speckled Fire set in my last post.

:: Jeff enters hobby store ::
*grabs dice pack and browses the shelves after some small talk*

Jeff: “Excuse me, I am going to pick up the dice to go with that set I bought the other day, but I see you have two used copies of the old Forgotten Realms Campaign Book. They are marked at 25% percent off original price (note: $40). I would be willing to take one of them off of your hands for $20.”

Proprietor: “Twenty dollars?”

Jeff (now into character mode fully): “Yes, if you would give it to me for that I will take it. I don’t normally dicker about prices, but seeing that it is used (note: still in brand new condition, though) and you have two, I was wondering if that would be acceptable?”

Proprietor: “OK, I guess I can do that.”

Jeff: “Excellent! Thank you!”

*go to counter and as proprietor is ringing up sale at discount, I mention that “X” RPG is sold out before release to all pre-order customers and distributors only and mention I am glad I pre-ordered my copy*

Proprietor: “Oh, thanks. I better call my distrubutor and make sure my copies are set aside!”

*sale ends and shop owner calls distributor and is relieved that his copies are set aside and that the news is a small print run will be made before the official second one to boost copies*

Jeff: “Glad they have your copies. Thanks for the sale. I should come in here every day!”
:: Rogue leaves hobby store. Experience points earned: 1000, Negotiation Skill raised by +1 , exit with perfectly usable “old” book and FREE dice ::

*walks away smiling and leaves quickly, with a flourish of his cape*   😀

Actually, the store owner is a great guy and very nice, but it sure felt like I was in an urban campaign setting as my Rogue. LOL
I really like that hobby store. They do business the way it used to be! 🙂