Judge John Hodgman Episode 122: Reckless Endungeonment

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Ryan and Dan are longtime friends who have played hundreds of role-playing games together over the years. Dan's become bored with what he sees as "safe" gameplay recently and decided to shake it up, taking more risks with his character. Ryan says this type of play doesn't fit with their style and is ruining everyone's fun. Who's right? Who's wrong? Only one man can decide.

Judge John Hodgman is ably assisted yet again by guest Bailiff Monte Belmonte of the terrific WRSI The River in Northampton, MA. Thanks again to Monte and WRSI for helping us produce this show!

And thanks to Tavie P. for suggesting this week's case name! To suggest a title for a future episode, like us on Facebook at Judge John Hodgman! We regularly put a call for submissions.

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Comments

My new favorite quote for the impulsive party member

Hodgman: "Mellow him out... with death."
lol

Garrison Keillor with tentacle arms

After listening to the episode, I was inspired to draw this. You can see the image on my blog: sticksstonesandherringbones.tumblr.com/post/59147048836/it-came-from-lake-wobegon-garrison-keillor-with

Cheers!
Justin

Lion Cuts

Yes, Lion cuts are a thing. As others have posted, they are good for removing the clumps that can form on long-hair cats. We gave one to our cat Casey, as he is getting older, and was not doing as well at grooming as he had when he was younger.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/be01nk1pgon8ivq/BeforeAndAfterLionCut.JPG

Yes, he looks totally ridiculous. He required no anesthesia, and didn't seem to mind at all. Actually, he has become much more affectionate. Perhaps because he's trying to tell us he's cold. But it's August in Indiana. It's not cold.

Taz is laughing

Your other cat didn't take any time to start mocking Casey mercilessly, did he? He's in that crate laughing his head off.

Watership Down

Don't try and convince us you came up with the idea of Bunnies and Burrows first (Fantasy games Unlimited 1976.)

Character conflict is a route to deeper story telling

I played a years-long game of D&D (3.5) with a party who generally planned and planned. One character with "poor impulse control" provided an wonderful internal struggle. It was guaranteed that "Boldurin" would rush into conflict without thinking. It was up to the rest of the party to plan ahead to get him drunk or distracted if a bull rush would spoil the plan, or to count on it an enjoy the chaos that ensued.

Having a party that does not share identical philosophy and skill sets allows for deeper stories and interesting role playing. Player-to-player disputes provide another layer to the story telling, gives opportunities for the GM to exploit, and both lasts longer and is more memorable than most encounters (Garrison Kraken not withstanding).

This conflict need not be the beginning of the end of this group, but could spawn a refreshed beginning if the other players responded to Dan's character's actions in game rather than in court.

DMJason

You two aren't as incompatible as you think

You guys, Dan is totally correct that a character who acts first isn't necessarily a thin character; A bookish character is just as capable of being thin. It's the sum total of the character and their complexities, and their interactions with other PCs and NPCs that make for deep character play. Reacting to everything with violence CAN indicate a thin character, but it's not necessarily so. But having character flaws is an important part of deep character play. After all, part of deep character play is about the character learning how to overcome themselves, so that they can overcome their opponents.

As such, Dresden Files is totally set up to encourage characters who have personality flaws like this within the game. This is why there are aspects, compels, and self-compels. I have to assume that Simon has an aspect along the lines of "Poor Impulse Control", and as you both know, the game is set up to *reward* him every time he acts against his own interests in that way according to his aspects, by offering him a fate point.

That's not to suggest that Simon should be acting on this in all cases (after all, you can refuse compels) but it's definitely part of the game design. And really, Simon getting the pulp knocked out of him when he takes on a challenge he's not ready for would really be in keeping with the books; Is there a book where Harry Dresden doesn't get the pulp taken out of him? DFRPG contemplates this topic at length.

I also don't think that these types of actions are necessarily incompatible within your group as you're making them out to be: Unlike something like D&D, players have the choice as to whether they enter the conflict or not. If Simon rushed in (presumably while the other characters are yelling at him not to do it, and that he's going to get himself killed), gets into a fight with a monster, the rest of the group can hang back outside the conflict. While the conflict proceeds, they can make assessments about the creature's aspects, and use aspects generated within the conflict to improve their lore roles. Plus, with only two participants, the conflict will proceed VERY quickly, and should only take a minute or two. But while Simon gets the pulp beaten out of him, or maybe scare off the creature (if the GM concedes the conflict), things will be learned by the Lore-characters. Then the discussion about what the group learned can happen after the conflict. And everybody wins.

It's noteworthy, too, that you guys really don't need to worry about Simon's survival in these cases, since Simon's player can always drop out of the fight by conceding the fight. Even if he takes a pile of stress, he can take consequences, which (properly chosen) only push character play along further. It's essentially impossible for a PC to be written out of the story without a player's permission in DFRPG.

Tom Hanks in Mazes and

Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters! I loved that (tv) movie when I was a teenager!

lion cut

As a veterinarian, I must come out in support of the lion cut. It provides long-haired cats relief from hairballs and tangled mats, as well as keeping them cool in warm climates. The caveat is that most cats require sedation for the shave since the buzz of the clippers frightens them. Their ridiculous appearance at the end of this procedure is a fortuitous side effect that ensures that their humans get even more enjoyment from the finished product than the cats do.

Mustache

Yeah, the Judge logo finally has a mustache!

It's real!

Guest bailiff Monte Belmonte should consider it immediately.

http://nationalcatgroomers.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/IMG_4849.jpg

As the publisher of the Dresden Files RPG...

I'd like to note that, no, the game should not *just* be about investigation. The novels aren't either. :)

I Respectfully Disagree

The issue here wasn't whether Dan was playing within the game's rules or not it was whether Dan was playing appropriately with the other people in the group, and he clearly isn't.

Without breaking the rules of basketball I can take all granny shots an entire game but if my team is trying to play a serious game then my style of play is inappropriate. This works in reverse, of course. If we are playing a fun, no one's keeping score basketball game the guy who's yelling "Get open" and "Post up" (I think that's a basketball term) would be out of place.

Dan's group has decided to play a certain style of game which Dan doesn't like and he's using a passive aggressive method to make it not fun for them because he's not having fun. The solution, they can agree to play the style of game Dan likes when they start their next campaign or maybe alternate the game they play every-other session, Dan's game of choice one week and the other game the next. Neither are perfect but it's better than the alternative which is that Dan finds another group of people to play with.

No, No, I Respectfully Disagree (keyboard + 3 respect)

Dan was playing with a group that previously agreed on the gamestyle. That doesn't lock Dan into the format at all. I've played various games with various groups of varying seriousness, and often there has been more or less the comedic or dramatic person in the group who served to liven things up.

I shall tell a tale.

This was a fantasy game (surprise), in which three of us played adventurers of varying races. We were semi-serious, but generally enjoyed combat, though we did this in different ways. One of us was an archer, another a hand-to-hand combatant, and I ever the nerd stood back and blew things up. Because magic.

A fourth was added to our group, a former thief and street urchin. The player was a bit of a cut up (also known as sometimes painful to play with), and tried to accomplish actions like running up a tree. To then.. jump down on unsuspecting barbarians, I suppose. He did this for four rounds of combat while the rest of us took damage, until I cast a spell and hurled him from the tree into groups of people, essentially making him a breathing battering ram.

But we all had fun. Was he what we expected? Was it sometimes frustrating? Yes and very. But he was a friend and it was his sense of humor to make such a painful character. Our group had decided on a style, someone broke it. Were we to blame because we took it too seriously? Of course. It's time spent with friends, one of them wants to try and run up a tree while the others take life-threatening damage.

But all's well that ends in human battering rams.