The Evil DM

The Evil DM
The Evil DM

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Is Dungeons and Dragons a Whetstone for the Mind

tl;dr link to video:

Kym Buchanan wrote an article published by Pop Matters titled, “Dungeons and Dragons is Cross-Training for the Mind”. There is a link in the description below. In George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series, Tyrion Lannister said, “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge. That is why I read so much.”

How can you train your mind to be ready for a variety of mental challenge? General James Mattis, also known as “Mad Dog Mattis”, said, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” That warrior spirit can be embodied in table top role playing games. Many people deride players whose characters follow the mantra of “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet” giving them the pejorative of “murder hobos”.

Table top role playing games can prepare people’s minds by giving them puzzles to solve and threats to counter. Players need to think, communicate, and collaborate. These skills stimulate the mind.

Kym Buchanan’s article says the readiness to respond to a new challenge is called “transfer”. The article defines the steps for transfer as recognizing essential clues about a problem, correctly classifying the problem, accurately recalling a promising strategy appropriate to that class of problems, and effectively applying that strategy. This brings to mind two very different approaches to “transfer”. I learned the first approach in math and physics classes. In order to prove a theorem, you had to understand the problem, determine what proof technique is appropriate for the theorem, then applying that technique. A second, and very different approach is taught in the military during basic training. Combat situations require almost instantaneous responses. For example, if your weapons jams, you need to be able to field-strip the weapon, clear any jam, and reassemble the weapon even in the dark. Another example is to know how to apply first aid quickly to yourself and others. I have heard that people who work in emergency rooms need to follow the same kind of instantaneous response when someone comes in with a serious injury. Table top role playing games teaches players to quickly respond to different challenges.

The DM or GM can throw a variety of challenges at the players. The DM/GM can change the challenge to meet the changing situation and abilities of the characters. For example, the DM/GM can increase the number of monsters the players face if the players find a powerful weapon.

The DM/GM can add ethical questions to challenge the players. For example, the party kills a horrible creature. As they loot the creature’s lair, they find the young children of the creature. The party needs to decide what they do. Should they kill the children of the horrible creature, or should they make them pets, or should they just abandon the children, or should they capture them and try to sell them, or should they just eat them? Each approach has advantages and disadvantages.

Tabletop role playing games, like Dungeons and Dragons, can be a tool to provide stimulating situations to the minds of the players, sharpen their imagination, and teaching new approaches to problems.

Although I disagree with some of the points by Kym Buchanan, his article is well worth reading.

Pop Matters wrote an article titled, “Dungeons and Dragons is Cross-Training for the Mind”.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tabaxi in Dungeons and Dragons

If you only play Tabaxi characters in Dungeons and Dragons, does that mean you are a crazy cat lady?

The description of Tabaxi in Volo's Guide makes them similar to the Khajiit in Skyrim. They are not warlike Kzinti from Larry Niven's "Known Space" fictional universe. The description in Volo's Guide is vague enough to allow roll play a Tabaxi like either a Khajiit or a Kzinti. That was a tongue twister.

Dark Elf (Drow) and Lightfoot Halfling have the same stat modifiers as the Tabaxi. All three have plus two to dexterity and plus one to charisma.

You could argue the charisma to the Tabaxi it because they are cute.

Both the Drow and Tabaxi have darkvision; although the Drow can see 120' in the dark while the Tabaxi can only see 60'.

The Drow have the Dancing Lights cantrip and at higher levels the Faerie Fire and Darkness spells. Lightfoot Halflings have the advantage of luck. Tabaxi have Feline Agility, Cat's Claws, and Cat's Talent. Feline Agility gives the Tabaxi character the ability to move at double speed. Cat's Talent give the character proficiency in perception and stealth.

The Drow have sunlight sensitivity; Lightfoot Halflings can only move with a speed of 25. The Tabaxi have no documented disadvantages unlike the other two.

The Tabaxi have one significant advantage over any other race in Dungeons and Dragons. They are felines. That means the player can use all the cat videos on the Internet for inspiration on how to roll play their character. If a Tabaxi character likes another player character, does that mean they go out and kill a rodent and leave it beside the other player characters for them to find in the morning?

If the party finds a box or small chest, does the Tabaxi claim it for a sleeping place even though they can barely fit in it, with all their fur sticking out?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Response to Monstrous Tactics: Bullywugs by MikeThepiper

This is a Response to MikeThepiper video titled Monstrous Tactics: Bullywugs

Welcome to my channel. I focus on tabletop role-playing games, video games, and science fiction.

MikeThepiper's introduction is reminiscent of the croaking refrain from Aristophanes' play, The Frogs. That fits well with this entire topic.

TSR released The Fiend Folio In 1981 for first edition of Dungeons and Dragons. The Field Folio introduced the Bullywug. Not much has really changed in the Bullywug from the first edition to the fifth edition.

Right after the release of the Fiend Folio, I was given charge of running the gaming section of a local science fiction convention. I designed an adventure around creatures in the Fiend Folio. The result was Key to Druid's Gate. A friend did artwork for the module. I have a nicely bound copy. I even sold a couple of copies of the module.

Between January and February of 2015, I ran an updated version of Key to Druid's Gate on Google Hangouts. I updated the creatures to their equivalent in fourth edition. It took approximately eleven hours of on-line gaming to finish an adventure that was supposed to be completed in three. Much of the extra time was caused by the extremely slow combat of the fourth edition.

One of the creatures the party fought was the Bullywug. In the Key to Druid's Gate, the Bullywugs defended their territory. Their ability to blend into the background of the swamp was the key to their tactics. Even though the Bullywugs are low level monsters, the ability to do a surprise attack allowed twelve of them to draw a little blood from a vastly superior force of seven sixth level characters. In the end, the adventurers were able to dispatch the Bullywugs without much difficulty.

Bullywugs, by themselves, are not much of a challenge. The idea of having Bullywugs riding giant frogs is an interesting approach to creating a mobile cavalry.

Bullywugs have an advantage when they are defending their lair. Their croaking can be heard over long distances. This means Bullywugs can set up a network of guards that can warn of any party venturing into the Bullywugs' home territory. Bullywugs know the swamp. They know exactly where to set up the best trap. For example, although Bullywugs are not allies with Giant Crocodiles, they know where the Giant Crocodiles live. They can set up an ambush such that any party venturing into the Bullywugs's swamp, will end up alerting the Giant Crocodiles. While the party is fighting the Giant Crocodiles, the Bullywugs can attack from behind, assisting the Giant Crocodiles.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Let's Talk about Pirates and Plunder

Are you ready to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats?

Welcome to my channel. I focus on tabletop role-playing games, video games, and science fiction.

H. L. Mencken said, "Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."

In 1982, Yaquinto Publications released Pirates and Plunder. Being a pirate sounds like fun. Unfortunately, Pirates and Plunder is not a very good system. One of the biggest problem is the organization of the books. Pirates and Plunder attempted to create a training system where you learns some rules with each of the initial adventures. This means the rules are scattered all over the books. This makes the game almost unplayable, you end up searching through the rulebooks for almost every little detail. The typography is awful. There are three books. In book 1, they did not use different typography to show section headings. Instead, major section heads had two asterisk, and minor section heads did not.

Another problem with Pirates and Plunder is the combat system. The combat system is quick and brutal. With a single hit, you can lose a limb. You must meticulously keep track of the location and damage of each hit.

Then, after the battle is over, you have roll again for every wound to see how it heals. If the wound does not heal, you can get an infection. They could end up amputating a limb just because you got a scratch. Your character could die from the infection. If your character does survive, they can get a nice scar. There is no magical healing in Pirates and Plunder. You cannot drink a healing potion or cast a healing spell. The medicinal system is a primitive as the setting of the game. Getting medicinal help can make your chances of surviving worse.

Once you have seen how the combat and healing system works, you try to avoid all possible combat situations. This takes away a lot of the fun at being a swashbuckler.

The game does not include any rules sailing or ship combat. Another major disappointment with the game.

I did this video because season 4 of Black Sails starts tonight. Black Sails is as brutal as Pirates and Plunder. The difference is Black Sails is a lot of fun with a good story. Pirates and Plunder was not much fun when I played it.

Thank you for watching my video.

I look forward to learning what you think about this video. Let me know in the comments below. I appreciate all your comments. If you like the video give it a thumb's up. If you don't like the video give me a thumb's down. I appreciate both forms of feedback. If your new here and would like to subscribe you can click on the icon on the left. If you're interested there is more content on the right.

Halfling Hearth Review

I just had dinner at the Halfling Hearth and I am stuffed.

The Halfling Hearth just opened a restaurant in my area. They serve Halfling in a variety of ways. Everything from juicy burgers to succulent baby ribs to deep fried to pit roasted Halfling.

Their juicy Halfling bugers use a ratio of 80% lean and 20% fat. They liberally season the burger with their secret blend of spices then drop the burgers onto a smoking hot griddle. The result is a mouthwatering Halfling burger.

Their baby ribs are hand-rubbed with a secret blend of spices, then pit-smoked for 4 to 6 hours over a smoldering mesquite fire. Then slathered with sauce over an open flame sealing in the flavor with a crispy, caramelized coating.

They soak their cut-up Halfling pieces in buttermilk overnight to tenderize the meat. They remove the pieces and sprinkle salt, pepper, and their secret blend of spices. The pieces are coated with a flour mixture, then an egg mixture, and again back into a seasoned flour mixture. The key to the amazing flavor is they are cooked in rendered Halfling fat. This gives an amazing flavor that is hard to describe. The closest I can come to is fried rabbit.

The pit-roasted Halfling is the star of the show. The meat falls off the bone with a soft, moist consistency. The tasty meat is wonderful with a little of their sweet and spicy sauce.

They say the key to the wonderful taste is they only serve free-ranging Halflings. They don't use cage raised Halflings. All the Halflings are certified organic and antibiotic free.

The Halfling Hearth fills up fast. I recommend making reservations.

I give it five stars.

I hope you appreciate a bit of dark humor.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

D&D Essential Equipment: Chalk Script

A well-equipped party should always be ready to make its mark.

"Kilroy was here" was a piece of graffiti painted around the world during World War II. The origin of Kilroy is debated. What is not debatable is Kilroy went everywhere. Years ago, a character in my campaign walked up to a wall and wrote, "Julian was here". That started my interest in having my dungeons show that someone was here before.

Chalk is lightweight and common. Some of the earliest cave drawing are drawn in chalk. Throughout history, chalk has marked walls with graffiti. Chalk provides an easy way for a character to leave their mark on the dungeon, for example, "Julian kilt an ogre here". Which is a pun on the carving in Washington County, Tennessee which reads, "D. Book Cilled a. Bar on tree in the year 1760".

Chalk is invaluable if you wander into a maze. Chalk allows you to quickly and easily mark the path you took. This makes is much harder to get lost. The disadvantage is this allows other things to follow you.

Weightlifters, gymnasts, and rock climbers chalk their hands. Athletes competing in power field events, such as shot put, discus throw, and javelin throw, use chalk to aid in gripping.

Putting chalk powder on the floor is an easy way to see if anything passed that way, or to reveal an invisible creatures foot prints.