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Jim Felli - The Dice That Made Grithsdane

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24 Jun 2018 23:30 #276119 by xthexlo

Grithsdane was disposable. That's what made him so much fun.

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The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, Shellhead, allismom3, ChristopherMD, hotseatgames, Colorcrayons, Whoshim, BaronDonut

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25 Jun 2018 04:14 #276120 by Matt Thrower
What a wonderful article.

I was never a very good role-player. With my Grithsdane's, I couldn't bring myself to actually *play* their stats. Yes, my warrior might have abysmal scores for intelligence and wisdom, but as a player, I couldn't do it without slumming up stereotypes.

But I mostly ran games, and I mostly told stories and people had a good time and that was great. But my best-ever campaign was woven, not by me, but by my players. It was magnificent and it actually a nail in the coffin of my regular involvement in RPGs. Because none of the games I was involved in after could match it.

One of my fondest gaming memories is getting my first red box D&D set and spending a happy half hour colouring in the dice with the provided crayon. Kids don't know they're born.
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25 Jun 2018 04:55 #276121 by Erik Twice
Wow, that's a fantastic article, thanks!


I must ask a question, though: Did you actually have to put the numbers on the die by painting them on? Like, when you bought the die, it didn't have them on? Or is it just a special kind of die?
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25 Jun 2018 04:56 - 25 Jun 2018 05:23 #276122 by Colorcrayons

MattDP wrote: Kids don't know they're born.


A bit off topic, but that's a rather unique idiom to me.

And while I can interpret the meaning based on context, I had to do some etymological research on what turns out to be a seemingly distinct British turn of phrase.

I watch a lot of British tv, and have never encountered it, that I know of.

On topic, I agree. It's a very good article. I no longer play RPGs, but that brought back a lot of memories playing NPC henchmen who weren't quite expendable, yet weren't so needed that we couldn't do some rather unorthodox stuff with them that made their play more memorable than my carefully cultivated Archdruid.

Lots of stories that have meaning for those who were there, yet likely either bore the pants off the reader or be so unbelievable that they would turn away from the tale in the same way.

Spot on, xthexlo.

[Edit] I can't resist. This one is in honor of my recently departed former best friend at the time, Ray Dail.
Boat drinks, Ray.

It's 1996, AD&D 2nd ed.
We had a nasty habit of abusing teleport for convenience. We were in the middle of tracking down a great wyrm in the land of Iuz. This was a particularly intelligent beast and after a couple failed assaults, he found out tbeprecise location we would teleport back to, in order to harass him for his treasure.
So, he simply collapsed the cavern in that area, and we all teleported back intosolid stone.
Instant death. Make new characters...
Except for Ray's cavalier henchman, Buford. He was still back home and orchestrated a daring plan to excavate our bodies after auguries revealed we were entombed near the dragons lair.

We all took over some of our henchmen to play this out, as an attempt to recover the main party.
The dragon, again, rather intelligent, was able to surmise this plan, and counter stuck the party through a bottleneck where the henchmen were approaching.

The wyrm reached its head into the cavern to breath many many D6 worth of rock melting immolation upon us all, but Buford got initiative and was able to react due to wearing a Robe of Eyes. He dual wielded two vorpal swords, and struck at the dragon.

Buford. Rolled. Two. Natural 20's. In. Front. Of. The. Whole. Table.

The dragon's head fell to the cavern floor with all the grace of a dumpster being dropped on the ground.

There had never been a more decisive ending to battle before or since.

After trying for a couple months to dispatch this dragon, only to be constantly thwarted, we left that night from the game table knowing that such nights were why we sometimes tolerated the occasional grind such as that.

The type of legend nobody else besides those 7 people present would care about. But to us, epic.
Last edit: 25 Jun 2018 05:23 by Colorcrayons.
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25 Jun 2018 05:01 - 25 Jun 2018 05:03 #276123 by Matt Thrower

Erik Twice wrote: Wow, that's a fantastic article, thanks!


I must ask a question, though: Did you actually have to put the numbers on the die by painting them on? Like, when you bought the die, it didn't have them on? Or is it just a special kind of die?


Early polyhedral dice came un-inked. So they had recesses printed for the numbers and came with a crayon so you could work the wax into the recess and then wipe the excess off with a paper towel.

Colorcrayons wrote: A bit off topic, but that's a rather unique idiom to me.

And while I can interpret the meaning based on context, I had to do some etymological research on what turns out to be a seemingly distinct British turn of phrase.

I watch a lot of British tv, and have never encountered it, that I know of.


Divide by a common language and all that. It's probably quite old-fashioned which may be why you've not encountered it on TV.
Last edit: 25 Jun 2018 05:03 by Matt Thrower.

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25 Jun 2018 05:18 - 25 Jun 2018 05:19 #276124 by repoman
Another great article.

I always liked the idea of "play what you roll" but I always liked to let my players play whatever class they thought would be the most fun which meant they had to have the ability to manipulate that stats to one degree or another. Now sometimes this led to a min/max player but overall I think my groups had a better time.

Got to play in a game this weekend and had a great time. It was very casual and fun with lots of table talk. We have dubbed our group "The Worst Heroes Ever" being both somewhat despicable and inept.
Last edit: 25 Jun 2018 05:19 by repoman.
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25 Jun 2018 07:59 #276127 by hotseatgames
This really makes me want to play Dungeon Crawl Classics again.
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25 Jun 2018 08:27 #276129 by xthexlo

MattDP wrote: But my best-ever campaign was woven, not by me, but by my players. It was magnificent and it actually a nail in the coffin of my regular involvement in RPGs. Because none of the games I was involved in after could match it.

A great comment! It takes a confident and mature DM to allow his players to really shape the story. Sometimes, we never reach that level of maturity — not because it is not within us, but because we don’t stay with the same game or group long enough to develop the level of intimacy required to freely pass the reins back and forth. If the group isn’t right, there isn’t the trust; if the game is too new, it just doesn’t work.

My greatest lesson as a DM came from Princess Leia when she said to Grand Moff Tarkin, “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” It’s the same with DMing: the more bound you are to your own story, the more side-stories will fall by the wayside. You’ll have your meal, but at the cost of so much flavor.
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25 Jun 2018 08:29 #276130 by xthexlo

Erik Twice wrote: I must ask a question, though: Did you actually have to put the numbers on the die by painting them on? Like, when you bought the die, it didn't have them on? Or is it just a special kind of die?


We just used regular dice. Our collective suspicion was that those early dice weren’t as balanced as standard dice.

Hmmm... now I am wondering about our choice...

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25 Jun 2018 08:40 #276131 by charlest
Fantastic work, Jim. Really enjoyed this one.
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25 Jun 2018 09:42 #276144 by ubarose
Great article. Brought back a lot of childhood memories.
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25 Jun 2018 10:26 #276148 by xthexlo

Colorcrayons wrote: The dragon's head fell to the cavern floor with all the grace of a dumpster being dropped on the ground... The type of legend nobody else besides those 7 people present would care about. But to us, epic.


Thank you for sharing that story! It resonated with me in so many levels!

It would be so cool to have several TWBG members and old F:AT folks recount an epic tale from their old D&D days (complete with commentary), and publish it as a book.

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25 Jun 2018 10:42 #276149 by BaronDonut
Great stuff. It took a long time, but the best thing I've learned as a player/DM is that failure and weakness are inherently more interesting than success and strength.
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25 Jun 2018 10:48 #276150 by xthexlo

BaronDonut wrote: the best thing I've learned as a player/DM is that failure and weakness are inherently more interesting than success and strength.

Amen.

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26 Jun 2018 23:01 #276308 by Jackwraith
Excellent piece. BaronDonut is right. The best fiction comes from characters finding ways to achieve things despite their own weaknesses or failings. I was usually the DM, but two of the best campaigns I ever played in were 1. A barbarian fighter with moderate intelligence but very low wisdom. I decided to play him like Sir Lancelot from the Holy Grail ("Ha HAAAA!"), instantly charging in at the slightest inclination toward hostility by anyone or anything and completely oblivious as to why that wouldn't be the best course of action. Half the fun was my compatriots trying to steer me in a direction that would actually be useful to the rest of them.

And, 2. A high level campaign with Whisper, a mage/thief cum assassin, who was determined not to give any hint as to its actual identity to anyone around him/her/it. That involved backing out of a number of situations where we easily had the advantage, much to the occasional frustration of Michael Cabbagedragon, a very cynical cleric of Tempus (this was a Forgotten Realms campaign), and Gregarius, a thief who was quite convinced of the superiority of his own abilities, especially when they didn't measure up. The three of us kept the DM in a bit of a state during most games, since we never followed the most obvious path, but instead followed the inclinations of our characters. He rolled with it pretty well, but I remember him stopping and shaking his head while trying to adapt to our antics a couple times. One was when Cabbagedragon revealed that he'd come up with the best method of using the typically useless Command spell. With Command, you could say one word and the targeted individual would have to complete said action as well as he/she/it could for a period of time. People always tried "Sleep", but then they'd wake up when you went clanking past them in full armor; or "Run" but then the monster would run away for a few seconds and charge right back. What one word was capable of disabling a threat for the full length of time?

Why, "masturbate", of course.
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