Counter Monkey – Leaping Wizards

The Spoony One | Nov 1 2011 | more notation(s) | 

A tale of exile and shame, in which I screw the rules and go on a mad PC killing spree with the most unlikely of hitmen.

  • Dune Blythe

    Yay! More Counter Monkey!

  • Anonymous


  • Nate River

    Loving the Counter Monkey stories !!

  • ben cairns

    I find that ridiculous, that they’re essentially holding a player’s hand throughout the adventure. I agree, dying sucks. But that’s the name of the game and it’s also the price you pay sometimes. Great series by the way, keep them going! 
    The Canadian Viewer

  • Dune Blythe

    I remember playing a cleric in 4.0. I hated it. I hate having so many possible rituals to learn that it took me hours to level up. I hated having to be “nice”.

    I remember I once after a fight I found a bunch of humans that were kept as food and “entertainment”. They were basically torture victims. My fellow party members wanted to “put them out of their misery”. Instead I used rituals to teleport all of them to the church I’m from.

    I will never be “good” or use rituals again. Too much of a pain in the ass.

  • Spencer Kulani

    “You youngsters have it too easy. We didn’t have this fancy shmancy point buy stystem for our stats. We had a d6, 3 of them! And we rolled our stats. Sometimes we rolled supermen, and other time we got blind deaf and dumb retards with muscle atrophy, AND WE LIKED IT!

    And when a character died, there was only one thing to do. You stood up, gave a salute and reached for a bag of dice and a fresh character sheet. You think you have it rough? You try playing with 1d4 hit points. You try playing with all your stats below 14. You try playing you haughty taughty Epic adventures when you’re stuck at level 11 because you decided to play an elf spellcaster. Grow a pair!”

    -SKRen is before his time

  • Damien_Wolfe

    *sigh* I understand the one spell plight. I played a wizard/thief in The original baldur’s gate & some table top….3 hours of throwing one magic missile/hiding in the game and  alot  of sitting there  during games :P

  • Anonymous

    This basically sucks.
    I DM for Shadowrun, and I have no problem letting my PCs die horrible deaths, especially so because in SR PCs start off with pretty high abilities.
    Last time I DMed a friend of mines PC ate a Shotgun to the face in a highspeed Helicopter-to-Car chase on a highway, where he proceeded to fall from the vehicle they were on and into oncoming traffic.
    He didnt complain.

    • johannes hultkrantz

      I’ve never played D&D but your stories make we want to start playing. You’re a great storyteller, love this series

  • Darren Reid

    Dude, that is completely stupid, I’m quite new to rpg’s and was considdering using OP to get started but if there is no challenge then I’m not going to bother with that avenue.

    You were right to change those spells if anything they should have been more ballanced in the first place.It’s a fault with these OP module writers who obviously don’t understand the point of the game. winning isn’t everything, it’s nice and when earned it’s awesome. But winning without any effort is just lame.

  • Philipp Sauerschnig

    That makes me think of the scene in Shaun of the Dead in the pub, where the 3 guys run around the old zombie, hitting it with sticks to the music of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”.^^

  • Anonymous

    Man that sounds dumb. Isn’t half the fun of any game at lest some sort of threat of failure?

  • Dune Blythe

    Last weekend I was playing as a 4.0 elf Fighter (lvl 14). Our party was stuck in a fighter pit. Our opponents were mostly women with one male wizard and a ghostly troll.

    We rolled initiative and I rolled a nat 20 so I ended up going first.

    When my character saw the troll she of course charged straight for it. I hit it, I even rolled max on my damage. Unfortunately they were faster then the rest of my party.

    First one of the women hit me, it didn’t do much damage but I did get “enveloped in a gloomy dark aura”. It gave -2 to attack, save ends. Then I get attacked by another woman and the troll, they both miss.

    Then it was their wizards turn. He uses an ability that works with the “gloom” that dominates me, save ends.

    Then our cleric goes and can’t get close enough to help me, so she puts up her wall of spinning blades.

    When it gets back to my turn I my character is forced to walk into the wall of spinning blades. I take pretty bad damage and gain another ongoing 5 damage, save ends.

    By this point I’ve been bloodied, and I fail every saving throw. Before my next turn the cleric is blinded and restrained, so she can’t heal me.

    I proceed to fail every saving throw until I fall unconscious. I then my next several saving throws, including 2 death saving throws. By this point I am 8 damage away from complete death.

    It is my turn and I take the ongoing 5 damage. I fail my saving throws against ongoing 5 and gloom, I succeed on the dominate. I then fail the death saving throw.

    Luckily by this point the cleric had recovered and gotten close enough to me to use a power that forces a failed death saving throw to succeed.

    I eventually fully recovered, but for nearly an hour and a half I did nothing but roll and fail saving throws. Although I did eventually get the Killing blow on that wizard.

  • Mario Grueso

    You don’t want your character to die? Go play the Hello Kitty RPG.

  • Anonymous

    Wow.  The RPGA sounds like complete bullshit.

  • Anonymous

    Great! You just gave me an unbearable urge to play Baldur’s Gate on PC again. Good thing it’s almost holiday season so school won’t suffer too much. Now where did I put that boxset… *starts going through drawers and mumbles something about starting with a mage*

  • Sean

    I do agree with you Spoony. I’ve run many campigns myself and as a GM/DM
    you don’t go out of your way to kill the players, but that threat has
    to loom.

    I sadly though have had two players who left the game when I killed
    their character. Totally by accident as I was just using the characters.
    It was in hero system champion version with my PC’s facing Euro Star.
    Mentalla a mentalist Mind Controlled one of the Bricks of the group
    basically he was playing a 40K space marine with one of those big
    hammers and made him set upon the great Jedi! The pc their was basically
    a techie that was so into star wars that he thought himself a jedi and
    made gadgets that mimiced Jedi Powers including a light saber and his
    hunted was Star Trek boy. Same concept but with star trek instead. Sadly
    he died under the assault of the 40 K space marine.

    Such a shame too. I liked that character concept and the villian he
    handed to me to use in my world, it was great flavor. However that’s how
    the dice rolled sadly…

  • SolidGoldCEO

    If they can’t lose then doesn’t it stop being a game and just become sitting around doing set-pieces of acting?

  • Elizabeth Sterling

    Six words for RPGA: Get Out Of Death Free card. An innovation I was introduced to by another GM from Arizona, actually. Every player starts with one and must buy another with experience when that’s spent… if they want to. The basic concept is simple and it’s not a resurrection spell either as the player is still captured/seriously injured/possibly crippled, they’re just not dead.

  • Fatbottomnerd

    Actually, your countermonkeys series inspired me to start a new Pen&Paper group after a year of abstinence. Cant get enough of funny RPG storys, so Iam very looking forward for more Countermonkey.

  • Anonymous

    Great video.

    Cannot believe how lame the RPGA sounds (never actually joined but been curious). Cheating death is what makes RPG’s exciting, take the possibility of dying away and it about as thrilling as virtual skydiving.

    As a player I have lost many Characters including a level 19 taken out when our thief failed every check possible as badly as possible while scouting basically casting a spotlight on my character. The last thing I saw was a well lit dragon, did it suck? you bet it did but I got over it and besides its a good war story to tell other RPG players.

    Oh and as a DM I have actually lost a player during the Carrion Crawler encounter in the Original D&D red book encounter, I did try and fudge the numbers to but eventually the high number of low rolled (including a ridiculous number of critical misses) something bad had to happen, luckily the death was of a experienced player and became a intricate plot point later on.

  • Urban Sniper

    I’ve actually ran into the opposite side of the spectrum quite a bit in my time under a DM that just getting worse.  Basically, as me and another player came to the conclusion one night, ‘He won’t let us die!’

    Seriously, it got to the point that every single player somehow, as if by a miracle, survived a brutal attack from something averaging about 30-40 damage a pop that somehow only did 10 or less, or somehow they’ve dropped to exactly -9 hp no less than five or six times over the course of two adventures, even somehow avoiding damage from area spells and blasts by a miraculously placed character or contrivance.

    This culminated in a shit Star Wars game where myself and the other player somehow wound up in an alternate dimension or a rift in time/space, whatever, where a group of sith ruled not unlike the dark lords in Ravenloft.  We were both captured by one of them, who was far beyond our abilities (even being 10th level), and then not permitted to die.  It started off as just a normal “Join me and we’ll rule the galaxy” kind of thing, but when our characters refused to give in, instead of death or torture, it was the DM trying to convince us to go along with it so that the characters would live.  Neither myself or the other player wanted it, and in fact were quite adamant that our characters die defiantly, spitting in the face of the villain, so that we could roll up new characters and go somewhere else in the galaxy that wasn’t retarded. The whole game ground to a halt, and the DM seemed to take it personally that we wanted our characters dead instead of as his uber-Sith’s toadies.  After about 2 hours of pointless discussion, and with great reluctance, our characters finally died slow deaths due to starvation in the dungeons (as he’d previously stated we were ‘too heavily restrained to escape, and you can’t use your Force powers here, and your not healing either'; yeah, I called major BS, but it was the only game in town at the time, so…), and we got to roll new ones.

    It never got quite this bad in later games, but still, characters almost never died, ever.  They’d always teeter on the brink, but never would a death occur, even in D&D where we could, oh, I don’t know, get RESURRECTED!  We abused the hell out of this after a while, doing repeatedly stupider things that should have resulted in many deaths, but at worst we get knocked out for a while. 

    Anyway, great story, and knowing that you can’t die in the RPGA really killed any inkling of interest in perhaps joining in.  Can’t wait for the next one!

    • Cody Meyer

      I had a DM who ran 3.5 rules, and let me play as a Paladin of Pelor, and subsequently made me an avatar at the end of our first campaign in that rule set…

      He also had his own version of Drizzt Do’Urden (spelling?), who, after some consideration, decided to lower his character’s level.. by saying his character had been hit by the tentacles of a MIND FLAYER… … So yeah, power fantasy much?

      Oh, and there was that time a friend of ours bought the Serenity P&P RPG book, and he, as well as I, were the only one’s who had watched the entire series, amongst a group of 6 playing through a campaign based on the episode “Ariel” where they break into an Alliance Hopsital… I played as Jayne. :)

  • Cody Meyer

    I kind of ‘get’ what they’re trying to do, but in that way, it’s just ruining the experience for those who aren’t familiar with AD&D. Death is a part of the experience. There are REAL consequences, and really, this is just going to destroy the people who want to play, but are so used to characters not dying that when they play outside of the realm of whatever the RPGA is trying to do, and then subsequently lose their character…

    I’ve met people who get emotional on this thing, and it’s kind of sad to watch them suddenly break down over this. For me, death in AD&D is more of a learning experience, and since our DM was always willing to ‘write’ in a way for a new character to enter the campaign, I sort of took advantage of the scenario. Besides, if I wasn’t rolling the dice, or taking notes, I was drawing character portraits for myself, or others, in the group. I know it would seem a little detached, but most of the time, the group was arguing on the next move, so whatever, right?

  • Anonymous

    i have no idea about D&D but that does sound pretty lame :P its probably ok for people who just started out with the game but for more advanded players that really IS nothing but jerking off :P

  • yamina-chan

    God lord, this sounds stupid.
    If you go into a fight there is always the risk that you lose/die. That’s the concept of any game. Of course you’re not supoosed to have a game that’s unfair, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be set up a way that loosing is impossible. No matter if it’s a D&D game, a Video game, a tabletop game or board game. If you can’t lose, where’s the fun, the excitment…the great feeling when you win?
    I totally agree with you on this Spoony, I wouln’t want to have it any other way.
    I understand what they’re tring to do but…really?

  • charles

    Ah. The good old days of 3.5 ed. It could have been worse. Clerics were so horribly broken from ad&d until 4th ed. A 3.5 cleric could default to either harm or heal spells, had bonus spells and weapon proficiencies from their deity, and could wear any armor in the game. They were incredibly imbalanced for early level play.

  • Anonymous

    Wow your intentions and feelings about how all this should go down are spot on. I really wish you could start another weekly online broadcasted D&D game like you’ve done before so we can all listen and enjoy it. I’m sure some of you’d be able to get folks to participate; it’d be a great time and have plenty of viewers!

  • Cas Wegkamp

    Sounds like the RGPA sucks monkeynuts. If you can’t lose, you can’t win either. All you can do then is just do it. And then it ceases to be a game but rather becomes occupational therapy and I for one don’t see what is fun in that.

  • Kurt Aring

    As a “new school” DM (started in 4th edition), if that’s truly the RPGA’s attitude, I find it reprehensible – and this is coming from someone who didn’t grow up with hardcore AD&D. As I understand it, the RPGA is very much a recruiting tool to get players into the game, and in that respect this makes sense – you’re not going to sell books to somebody who’s pissed off because their character died.

    That reasoning falls apart, though, when you introduce these people into campaigns run outside the RPGA. If these players have had their victories essentially handed to them, then they’re that much more likely to take it personally when their character dies in this non-RPGA campaign. When you consider this person is probably playing with a group of friends (or at least acquaintances), you could be talking damaged friendships – not cool.

  • Thomas Rembrandt

    Sounds like the cancer that is level scaling and Elder Scrolls Difficulty sliders finally spread out to traditional p&p games.

    We can run away from it but where can we hide?

  • Anonymous

    So basically they think that players are more likely to play a game if there is no real sense of danger, they are basically just walking through a game where nothing can threaten them? Do you know what that would be called in any other game? BROKEN

  • Anonymous

    heheheh, I love a guy that claims to be old-school…and started in 2nd. Edition D&D….or gods help us 3.5…

    Ok, as apparently the ‘old guy’ here, I started in the RPGA back when Penny still run the club and the Living City (that campaign Spoony was talking about) was not even in operation yet. Basically, the RPGA started as a newsletter and catalog you got every month.

    The catalog was the drool-worthy bit of the time, as it sold EVERY RPG available in the US, even things not of TSR. ALL OF THEM. Some catalogs had over 200+ books you could order. Bonus was, you got a discount with your membership…and the books were the same price as in the stores. As a young gamer without internet, THIS was my mental masturbation list for role-playing. At least half my library in the early 80s was from that book.

    The newsletter had a few fun bits. It listed local conventions (which was a massive boon so early on, as many were too small and poor to advertise even in Dragon Magazine), local RPGA clubs, and even had player-made adventures and articles for use. Some of these again were for systems outside of TSR. No one cared. A great resource for people that lived to area with low population and few players nearby (like me).

    The club system was a bit of a bitch, as you needed a LOT of people (I seem to remember you had to have a minimum of 8-10 RPGA registered members) and the fees were steep for someone without a job. The main reasons for making one was recruiting and a larger discount in the catalog…and the larger the club, the bigger the discount (hitting 25% I think..and when books could be 10-15$ hardcover, THAT is worth it.)

    The Living City started just before I fell out of the RPGA and started to find game stores closer to me that I preferred to support. It was as Spoony said, altered and created through RPGA member actions and adventures, and even through content made by member. I never played an event of it, because at the time I was less into D&D and far more into other games like Gamma World, Star Frontiers, The Morrow Project and Twilight:2000. If what you say is true Spoony…I’m glad I got out.

  • Anonymous

    Counter Monkey rockt die Scheiße fett! XD

    Just loving those stories! Keep on rollin’, Spoony One! :D

  • Anonymous

    BTW I’m looking to get into role-playing I’m in Plymouth in the UK, my friends don’t play and I would be a complete newbie. I’ve been doing all sorts of google searches and I’m going to ask in at a store called Antics but on the off chance anyone knows of anything about UK role-playing groups and reads this comment…

    • Anonymous

      I’m near Exeter, and my current 4E game is on hiatus.  If / when my players get back into the swing, we’ll probably have space for one more if you’re interested.

      Alternatively; get some of the basic sets and set up a game yourself, advertise it online.

      • Anonymous

        That is awesome but depending on the money i have it could be difficult as I am a student and have work to do, I’d def need a job to afford to come up to Exeter on a regular basis, I am looking for jobs now having just failed the probation period for my last job. I would prefer to join a game and learn the ropes a bit more before starting a game of my own

        • Anonymous

          A couple of my regular players commute to / from Plymouth on a semi-regular basis, so that might take some of the sting out of it on occasion; but I still have to find out what the group’s schedule is and if it’s even feasible for us to get the game going again.

          Add Ace42X on facebook, and I’ll keep you appraised of the situation.

          • Anonymous

            Can’t seem to find you is that your username?

          • Anonymous

            That’s my username, put it after the backslash, the profile’s hidden from searching so just put the URL straight in and message me.

  • Anonymous

    Enlightening. Ive considered starting DnD for some time just for fun (im totally green but ive listened some fun stuff from my friend who plays time to time), but RPGA thing is real horseshit. Preparing to situations like that and avoid characters death due players own efforts its rewarding. Sure it sucks when character dies but if dice says so and player himself lacked preparations, thats it.
    No point to win if you cannot lose.
    Though playing baldurs gate one computer is different, basicly save throws and such are still the same. Sure its a bit cheating when you have game saving but dying in the game is always as mindblowingly annoying as ever. and like it should be.
    Funniest part in the story (at least in my opinion) is that even though low level, proper spells can really annoy the fuck out from people. Destructive power is usually always outmatched by well planned spell sequence. learned that through hard way when Baldurs gate The shadows of amn came out.

  • Anonymous

    Fuck the RPGa, you’re not allowed to be creative in any way what-so-ever when DMing, if the players go even slightly off the pre-planned adventure path, you’re screwed. We had something similar to the RPGa for Shadowrun here in UK but it wasn’t run by FASA or anything, it was just run by a few friends in Bangor, Chester, Liverpool and Manchester. A group of about 25 of us all with characters and with 5 GMs, one in each city (there where 2 in Bangor). It was good, everyone got a chance to play and we could take our characters to different games run by these 5 GMs (I was one of the GMs).

    In one game, when Tom was GMing, I was using a particularly flavoursome character, Gryphon, a street-decker with a cyberware fetish (he had Essence of about 1.5 with all the cyberware he had). One day he screwed up a job, met with some guys to try and do some damage control and on the way out of the café got shot in the head by a sniper hired by one of the other players because they decided he was a “liability”. It was sickening… but it was what happened. Did I bitch? No. Was I upset or angry… yeah, for about 3 mins, then I come to terms with it and finished writing up my back-up character for next week, while the game continued. All in all, that characters death was nasty but it was memorable, more-so than any other game that character was in.

  • Danny Mezzina

    When I, as a player, know that i dont risk defeat, combat has no thrills and so gets boring really quickly.
    Being a GM most of the time for the last 20 years I also must completly agree with you.
    One of the main reasons of my big hatred towards 4th edition D&D is actually that the game is way to easy and thus way to boring. It is so hard for a character to die that combat becomes pretty useless, and considering that 4th ed just became a glorified tabletop combat system with a few rpg elements, it makes to whole ruleset really bad in my oppinion.

    My recommendation to players: Grow up. Do you really want to know that there is no risk? Or would you even prefer the possibility of a glorious defeat? Many memorable events from my rpg campaigns resolved around characters dying. Its sad but thats part of the fun of the game.
    One question: How often did you avoid fights in your game? Even if you play on a strictly heroic level this shouldnt eliminate the thrill of combat. And you remove the thrills if you remove or minimize the risk.

    Recommendation to beginning GMs:
    Never try to kill a character, no matter how much you hate him. Generally throw your dice hidden away from the view of the players. This is very important and many players hate it and will object to it. But: hide your dice. They need to trust you, they need to learn to trust you and the best way of archieving this is to be fair. But keep the dice hidden :)
    Sometimes qou will want to cheat and its completly fair to do so at very specific occasions.
    Maybe you dont want that character to die a senseles death in a warm up fight that just went completly wrong because the dice said so.
    Maybe you just want to raise suspense by rolling some dice without needing to, but if the players see that you roll, lets say, a 1 and a 20 on a D20 they know something would happen if the dice roll meant something.

    Create suspense, make it risky, make the players trust your judgement by being fair to them. Dont play favorites. Cheat to save a character if he really shouldnt die at that point, but dont hesitate to kill a character in a fair fight, or when the player(s) made some really big mistake.

    Always compare your game to a movie or book, would the action scene have been so enticing if you knew the protagonist was coming out fine in the end? The most memorable movies are those where you dont know how it will end, try to get a little of this nto your game by making the action meaningful and a real threat.
    No player will really be mad if a character dies in a good memorable way. Offer them that. :)

  • Anonymous

    When me and my buddies start a new DSA (The Dark Eye) campaign, we usually come to a point where we ask ourselves the question how we want to handle player death – shall the DM be a little soft on the players when the dice just roll bad? Or shall he let the players die if there is no way they can survive by the rules (You know, if they don’t succeed the healchecks on a dieing player etc)? I don’t know how hard 2nd edition DnD and ADnD was on that regard, but 3.5 onwards seems to be already balanced with a relatively low risk of characters dying anyways, so why helping on that end?

    While I generally don’t want to loose a character even early in the game, I also think the players should be in the threat of death when they either fuck up and do something stupid or when the character can go out in a somewhat dignified way. I would be totally fine with the way you ran the game, never having the risk of player character death makes the game kinda lame, and it feels a lot better to have won a battle if it was at least somewhat hard.

    The way the RPGA leads games may be OK for some people, but it I don’t think it would be for me. Having absolutely no way to die just takes some of the enjoyment you get from encounters or even just traps in a dungeon away.

  • Jesse Fehrenbacher

    Have to say, while it is definitely my experience with 4E RPGA that they want to let the players win, in 3.5 they were out to fucking murder your characters.  That could have just been the DM we had in my area, but they weren’t kicking anyone out if they a character died.  That is some serious BS that they banned you from DMing their events.

  • Anonymous

    I love these stories.  Keep ‘em coming!

  • Anonymous

    In terms of “rotten roll luck”, my old high school Star Wars D6 group had an adventure once where the GM had us on this space barge or whatever that gets taken over by marauders and accidentally steers into an asteroid field.  To make things authentic, he had us designate one of our players to roll every turn for the “asteroid factor”, in which a roll of 2 or 3 with 2 dice would mean that an asteroid struck our ship.  He had asteroids do a base damage and had stats for the hull integrity of the ship and whatnot.

    So we assigned our friend, Chris, to be our designated “asteroid factor” guy and went on with our mission.  Only problem was that Chris had the worst rolling luck that we’d ever seen, and just about every turn he’d roll either a 2 or a 3–with 2 dice!  It got to the point where we’d have to keep running from one room of the ship to the next because the area we were in was completely obliterated, and with every roll our GM had this look on his face like he was running out of ways to keep us from having all of our characters killed.  He had to go pretty easy on us and keep coming up with ways to prolong our lives, like hinting for one of us to roll Perception so that we can notice a set of spacesuits in the corner or some shit like that.

    We did eventually make it through the adventure, though it had to completely be retooled because all of the enemy encounters pretty much had to be scrapped because there was either no time to fight or no battleground left to fight on.  So, yeah, the mission was a little fudged to keep us alive, but we were still on the edge of our seats afraid that Chris would kill ALL OF OUR CHARACTERS because he fucking sucks at craps.  To this day whenever he needs to roll two dice for anything (be it even Monopoly or some shit) we all yell out “ASTEROID FACTOR”.

    Good times.

  • Anonymous

    Damn whippersnappers with your online gaming sessions and your World of Warcraft and your Character Builder and your 4th edition! In my day, we didn’t have no max hitpoints or at-will wizard powers. We rolled a d4 and got one spell at first level. And we liked it that way!
    Ok, I really shouldn’t make fun of you because of that. I sound pretty much the same when I compare the old Fallout games to the new ones.

    • Anonymous

      Did you have to walk in the snow without shoes, and it was uphill both ways, Grandpa Merlin? 

      But seriously, too much is babied these days.  I can’t even think about WoW without wanting to puke.  I’m a former oldschool EverQuest player (as in before the first expansion came out), and that was the Grandaddy of all 3D MMO’s (I think only Ultima Online tops it without going into text-only games), and classic EQ was VICIOUS to the player.  It forced death on you like a Chinese Baby Girl (I don’t even care how dark that is, it’s an appropriate analogy).

      This is a direct contrast in business approach to the RPGA situation: EverQuest WANTED you to die, because the game was addicting as Hell.  And when you died in EQ, you lost experience, often a lot.  So you played until you got it back, and *then* you kept playing to advance further.  Vicious cycle, but it WORKED!  It kept me playing for 5 years, even when the upped their subscription fee. 

      And when I briefly played WoW (again, before it even had expansions), it was a total baby game to me because EQ set the bar so high in terms of masochistic challenging.  The fun wore off very quickly.  I’d rather just play Diablo 2.  And the game was babied even further after I quit.

      Entire team is Babies! 

  • Jeremy Zimmer

    And that is what I hate RPGA … some of my best memories are dying or another person dying because of the insanity I or the other person did.

  • Zack Miller

    To be honest, clerics were always kinda overpowered until 4th ed and I always found it hilarious that growing up ‘Noone wanted to play the healer’ in the groups I played in. 

  • Anonymous

    Moar please!

  • Eric McFadden

    this is my favorite spoony series <3

  • Tim

    Someone should make a song called “Leaping Wizards”, maybe in the style of those medieval songs od adventure and/heroism, perhaps played on the lute.

  • T E

    While I frowned over the spell selection in 4th edition I still thought they were REALLY generous with the HP wizards could get. I do consider 2nd edition’s rules to be subpar to the newer rules however. I like that the random element is minimized so that you don’t have to risk ending up with a clearly inferior character in your party, even if that costs you the risk that all the classes feel the same. Then there are always different kinds of Wizards like: Battlemages, Druid types, Harry Potter, Magicka, Lord of the Rings and Arthurian Legend. 2nd edition didn’t leave that much space for that type of Wizards (perhaps focusing too much on Merlin type Wizards in the end).

    I never played real 2nd edition D&D however, but I did play the computer games that had the ruleset like Baldur’s Gate 2 and the Icewind Dales games. I know the games are kinda like the aRPG ideal (this goes double for neverwinter nights 2), but I got very intimate with the rules and I played mostly just for fun of experimenting with the system, so I feel that what I say have a measure of weight in the discussion. If that isn’t so then well… take my words as an uninitiated and slap me across the face.

    The encounter were pretty cool though, the lame hardarse of the convention should have given Noah a damn medal for turning a very boring encounter into something memorable. Besides, can’t PCs just resurrect their dead allies anyways? I know where he’s coming from though. Obviously he just wanted to make the adventures easy so that D&D becomes more appealing to the general public or to make D&D more marketable (with lack of a better word).

  • Anonymous

    RPGA Rep: “Spoony, what the hell was that? I’ve got two dead bodies on the floor!”

    Spoony: “Hey man, I was just trying to make things more interesting. After all, what’s a game without stakes?”

    RPGA Rep: “In academic vernacular, you cheated.”

    Spoony: “But wasn’t the adventure itself a cheat? It was designed to be unlosable.”

    RPGA Rep: “You’re off the force Spoony. We can’t have some hot shot DM playing by his own rules.”

    Spoony: “You can’t fire me chief, I quit!”

    Anyway, I agree that you were in the right Spoony. I admit, I’ve fudged things on behalf of the players more than once, but if  things are too easy it becomes obvious that there is no real tension to the game. Granted, it is possible to make a game that has stakes without death (puzzle solving, failure to meet certain adventure goals, etc.), and D&D did allow for a lot of cheap deaths in earlier editions, but ultimately the way a game plays out is really up to each individual DM. Some DMs are merciful and focus more on roleplaying than life or death scenarios, and some players like that. Conversely, some DMs are all about deadly challenges and have no pity for player mistakes, and some players like that. There’s no wrong way to play.

    But if you enforce a policy that undermines the position of the DM and forces the game to be played a certain way, you might as well just do away with the DM and plug in a video game. Save frequently, save often! In my opinion, a table top roleplaying game should not strive to be like a video game, but should instead embrace the fact that it has consequences and is never the same way twice.

    • Anonymous


  • James Drover

    I see this all the time in 3rd and 4th, this is why I changed every single one of them. Encounters, areas, monsters i constantly change them. I’ with ya man, not saying the characters should die just that their should be the possibility of death and if its to easy nobody is having fun. That is also my biggest gripe with 4th edition that seams to know this and seams costume made so the pc’s do not die.

  • Nicholas Cook

    You were completely in the right here Noah, and RPGA is completely in the wrong. Like wtf? THREE MAGES WITH MAGIC MISSILE?!!?!?! I mean it’s a cool spell, everyone knows and loves it but it’s not something you actually pick in a serious game especially if you only have 1 spell. I did love that battle description though, I know it’s happened to me as a player and as DM where a seemingly really easy pushover group of baddies starts laying the hurt on the players.

  • James Thomas

    Just to say spoony,  there’s still great opportunity/scope for a book here!

    you could have an awesome style where you intersperse the fantastical narrative with the DMs comments, either say alternating chapters, chapter introductions and endings or with footnotes

  • Justin Alexander

    I’m really enjoying your Counter Monkey series as a long-time tabletop gamer myself.  It’s just such a fun group to be part of, even if sometimes the…creativity of YOUR particular group damages your faith in humanity.  :|

  • Anonymous

    Never fudge a dice-ever! Im old school, original D&D from the box set in the 80s.  Players back then rolled 3d6 for all 6 stats -in order- and then looking at those stats would pick the class they qualified for and wanted to play.  Hell, the first dungeon I ran them through (Little Keep on the Borderlands) had some placed encounters with giant spiders–if you were bite you had to save vs poison or die!  Most people needed either a 19 or 20 on a 20sider to even live.  That was hard core!  It made players think about tactics and coordination.  At the end, if they had captured a +1 sword or such, they were overjoyed!  I played with those guys for a few years and eventually they reached upper lvls (20+) and even then, some of those guys kept their old +1 weapons, simply because they had worked so hard for those, overcome so many odds-that they meant so much, even after years of play.  Hell, I think one of the guys even named his +1 sword.  That’s the kind of role play I love and miss from the old school days of D&D.        
    Death might suck at times if you bite the bullet, but it really makes you appreciate the game more, and the time you spend with your friends.  Just my 2 cents.                         -Dream

  • Tjäder Tjäderborn

    Not being able to die is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard.

    I can share my shortest adventure with a character ever.
    We were playing Earthdawn 3e (If you don’t know, Earthdawn is a fantasy RPG set in the same world as Shadowrun, but millenias earlier), and our characters were a fun bunch.

    I played an Human Nethermancer (Death-Type Magic user), another friend played a Dwarf Weaponsmith, and the last player had a Windling Swordmaster (Windlings are kinda like slighty bigger fairies, and often got the mentality of a 10 year old).

    Our DM set us up in a tavern and had us get a job delivering a message. We where supposed to borrow his small Airship (Flying boats powered by Elemental Air), and asked if anybody could fly one. 

    Our windling who had the Pilot Airship skill said something like.
    W – “I’ve been on an airship LOOOOOAAADS of times”
    DM – “Good then”
    W – “Yes, this will be FUN!”

    And of we go to the Airship.

    We take of and our windling rolls his pilot airship test.
    He rolls snake eyes.

    The ship barely left the dock before it starts to approach the city below.
    He rolls again and gets something like 7-8, and we stabilize the ship. Both me and the Weaponsmith have brown stains in our pants, but the windling is laughing and telling us how much fun that was.

    Now, the windling was a fucking retard, and decided that doing down was faster (and therefore more fun) then going up. So he started to angle the ship downwards, and our DM wants him to roll a Pilot test.

    He rolls 3.

    The ship starts rushing down again, and he tries to save it. He rolls snake eyes.
    Now, the windling can fly. Humans and Dwarves certainly cannot.

    Everybody realizes this ship is not gonna be saved, so the windling starts doing the most stupid shit ever.
    He’s like: “Imma try to do a corkscrew with this ship!”

    And the GM asks him to roll. He keeps critting, and rolls like 20.
    Me and the Weaponsmith starts raging at him for not saving the ship with that roll instead.

    So we got basically a small flying sailboat flying over a city, doing corckscrews with cargo dropping from the boat, raining over the city, probably killing innocent townsfolk.

    The windling is like: “Oh no, gotta bail”, and flies away.

    Me and the Weaponsmith crash into a big house, and are goo spread out on the ground.
    The DM actually rolled up the dmg, and we got around 3-400 dmg each. I could take something around 30.

    So that adventure stopped around 50 minutes in.

    IRL, me and the Weaponsmith was raging at the Windling soooo hard.
    And he said: Well, I never said i could FLY an airship, I only have one point invested in that skill.

    So yeah, kinda pissed, but it all worked out. Me and the Weaponsmith got ressurected by a bard (later revealed to be a dragon), and set of to kill that windling. It got to that “WE’RE GONNA KILL VEGAN STEVE”-state.

    We never caught him though, but our GM sometimes uses that windling in other campaigns. And we always try to kill him, even if we had no quarrel with him in that game.

  • Anonymous

    Ahh, yes. Linear Fighters, Quadratic Wizards.

    Nice change with the spell loadout, Spoony. I probably would have had one cast grease all over the party, and then another toss a flame or torch or something. That combo is awesome for first level wizards.

    That RPGA stuff is complete bullshit. I’ve heard of the RPGA, but every single person I’ve ever met who runs those things has been a colossal douchebag, so I’ve never been interested in it. So it warms my heart to see the douchebaggery is not isolated.

    Seriously, WTF? You do have to give the players a challenge. While I probably would stop short of actually killing a character (the wizards’ primary goal was to release this prisoner, right? Why would they stick around to try and kill these folks unless it was ridiculously easy? Disable the party, get the prisoner, then retreat), though; there is generally some kind of way to avoid killing characters, even if it’s only to put them into an overly-elaborate unsupervised death-trap. I do try to avoid killing characters UNLESS they do something which is incredibly stupid (like, say, trying to fight Darth Vader) or if the death is really, really cool.

    I’ve found that most players don’t mind characters dying as long as they don’t die like a scrub. As long as the death has meaning or is epic or heroic or cool, players don’t mind — most even think it’s awesome.

    But, yeah. RPGA sucks.

  • Anonymous

    people dont understand how rewarding it is to advance a character from total wiff to badass. They want to start being some sort of ultimate heroes but forget that surviving and improving your character is what makes them cool.

  • Anonymous

    thats a great story Spoony, and the lesson we can take from it is dura lex sed lex, I had encounters that were supposed to be a very short random fight with bandits last up to 1 and a half hours just cause of the bad luck of the die, but hell if the DM was gonna do anything about it, hell he was stupified at the amount of bad luck we had but dammit he was gonna finish what he started, you know why CAUSE THATS THE WAY THE D20 ROLLS!!!

  • 1337 mastah

    lame :P

  • RedFox

    With the 4e encounters program, I’ve had a DM that loves TPK encounters. After all, what’s the point of having the “Survive 8 encounters without dying” renown reward if you can’t die?

    Where I game, the encounters program is not made easy. Hell, the 4e Dark Sun campaign killed off just about everyone twice.

    Dunno if RPGA is running anymore, because with encounters, I had to get a DCI card, and can’t use my RGPA card.

    RPGA was okay in 3e. When I ran a module, I didn’t see any notes about taking it easy on anyone, but I may have missed it somehow. But yeah, RPGA modules were way to easy sometimes.

    As a player, I’ve had many character deaths. The only time I got mad about it was when my party tied me up to a tree, upsidedown, for the night, to “prevent me from being tempted to steal.” (They were all Lawful Good Paladins and Clerics, and I was a Chaotic Neutral Halfling Thief. WTF?) My character was yelling to get free for hours, and one of the characters decided to hit me like a pinata with his sheathed sword, to shut me up. He rolled 3 consecutive 20’s in front of everyone. We were all shocked. The player decapitated me with a sheathed sword. I was pissed. That was a level 2 RPGA character, killed not from the encounter, but from my party. Damn.

    • Chris Horobin

      That runs on the epic death scale, some where about 6/10

  • dick butt

    Just want to say just how much I look forward to these stories, they are fantastic!
    I have never played myself,  and feel the chance has passed but I love hearing your experiences of these games.
    I turn off the light and lay down and imagine every little detail as you explain it.
    Keep up the excellent work spoony, you are the King.

    • Benjamin Brown

      “I have never played myself, and feel the chance has passed”

      Some of my fondest memories of gaming (D&D, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, Burning Wheel, etc) come from playing with people who are in their 40s and 50s (with me in my 20s). Many were new to the game, too. I even remember sitting at a game with a crusty 66 year-old fart on one side and a young 10 year-old whipper snapper on the other. Both were new, and both had a blast and came back for more (I was 20 at the time, btw).

      Go look around, see if there are any gaming groups out near you looking for players. Go to game shops and see if there’s anyone there playing D&D, then ask if you can join in if there are. If you are enthusiastic and can do basic arithmetic without taking 10 minutes per problem, then they’ll probably enjoy having you. And if not, keep looking until you find the group that does. The chance will never pass unless you stop looking or you’re dead (and from what people keep telling me, maybe not even then, either)!

  • Mark Thomas Gledhill

    wow that’s stupid with no dying. I thought the game was to reflect the hard “real world” in the D&D world. I mean its a core element of the game. I died so often in Baldur’s gate and that’s what made it fun trying to figure out how to survive  

  • Anonymous

    Kicked out for making the game challenging?
    That is some dnd-ass bullshit.  even tho i never played dnd

    If you dont put your shinny polished balls on the line, what’s the point? Might as well proclaim victory right away.

    Ppl want to feel like badasses for overcoming the odds. They dont want to be trated like toddlers.


    more counter monkey ! this one was fun.

  • Private

    Combat BEASTS! I like that… also your acting in this episode is fantastic.
    Also wtf is with not allowing players to die? what’s the fun if nothing is on stake. Allowing characters to die is what makes it so enjoyable and epic.

  • Tjäder Tjäderborn

    Honestly. If I KNEW I couldn’t die, I’d do the most crazy things.

    DM – You are in a room with the king
    Friend 1 – I bow
    Friend 2 – I bow
    Me – I draw my sword!

    Just to spice it up a little

    • Raziel Raven

      Sadly, that’s EXACTLY what people do. They do stupid, suicidal, unacceptable things. Because they don’t care. After all, they’re only wasting time, they’ve got nothing invested in the game.

  • Anonymous

    After you were kicked out, did you get your money back?

  • Unholy Fire Dragon

    Leapin’ wizards, Spoony!

    You were kicked-out just for leveling the playing field a little bit and giving a nice challenge to the players? That’s just incredibly stupid! That kind of a situation would be the equivalent of a physical trainer being kicked out of a gym just for making people sore after a pretty intense workout (and the workout would be a beginner’s workout for that matter, if I follow the analogy).

    How in the hell are people supposed to learn how to play a REAL game of ANYTHING without being challenged and going through many failures? Hell, I remember completely sucking at NES games all the time as a child (ex.: I couldn’t even get past level 1 in Mario Bros and I kept getting my ass handed to me in Zelda 1 & 2!), and yet, I loved it, I kept at it, I got better, and now I rock at games (or the genres that I’ve played anyways).

    I mean, sure, I can understand the idea that being too hard too fast on people can make them never able to improve, since they can never get a chance to do much of anything. But at the same time, people need to grow some freaking balls and go through actual hard-ass challenges so that they can eventually get powerful and smart enough to overcome practically ANY challenge that comes their way!

    Thanks for the story, and for making a very good point, Noah.
    That was a very interesting story.

  • Anonymous

    As an Aspiring DM…  I actually try to do what you do.  I don’t want my players to die.  I really don’t.  But if they do something monumentally stupid, or don’t work together properly…  They’re more than likely GOING to die.  I go with what the manuals recommend to throw at players, but if an encounter seems to easy, the next room is going to be a bit harder.  It’s a fact of D&D that characters die.  I’ve had my players have to roll new characters.  One of my players had to roll three characters for a single campaign just because he was placing his stats in stupid fashion and getting murdered for it.  Or, he has notoriously bad luck with dice, so sometimes the dice just murder him.  It happens, it’s part of the game.  Yeah, in 4E, you get “saving throws” for death…  But enough damage negates those.To tell a good story, you have to have proper challenge.  A story is boring if nothing is overcome.  If there are no obstacles or threats.  Players will just go through the motions and start “meta-gaming” instead of actually role playing, or caring about the story and about their actions.

    Honestly, if they run the organization with the intent of “nobody is supposed to die”, then I don’t want any part of it.  Besides, it’s not like it’s not included in the game that you CAN ressurect the dead players.  You just have to do it within a certain timeframe.  A good DM can help facilitate this if they want, adding a new Quest for the other players to accomplish.

    I don’t know, I just can’t imagine an organization telling you “you can’t let them lose, ever” for a game.  Disappointment is a fact of life.  You teach it to children early on by not letting them win.  It also gives players something to strive for.  To get better at the game, to not make the same mistakes twice, and to value victory a lot more.

    To let players win all the time only makes it that much harder for them when they lose.  It’s the equivalent of telling a spoiled child that “no means no” for the first time.  They become so used to getting their way that you’re a total jerk for not letting them get their way.  And they don’t have the ability to even deal with disappointment other than through whining until they do get their way.

    Now, if you want to run an “introductory campaign” to get players used to the rules, it makes sense to not kill them off if possible…  But if it’s “official”, then it’s not really “introductory”.  When I first started D&D, we had several “intro characters” and “campaigns” just so I could get used to DMing and so they could get used to the rules involved with the game.  After that we rolled new characters, I designed a new campaign, and we started.

    Do I want my encounters to be punked out in one hit?  No.  Do players want their characters murdered? No.  But, it’s a fact of the game.  If you have something to lose, you have incentive to win.  The difference between a DMs incentive and a Players is that victory for a DM is a memorable experience that the players will talk about and enjoy for years to come.  The incentive for a Player is to make it to the last level and achieve some recognition in game or from players for what they’ve done.

  • Just Another Matt

    I don’t have a problem with players dying.  That’s a part of the game.  Shit happens.

    What I don’t like is Spoony’s attitude towards DMing.  In the Star Wars video, he was upset because the game wasn’t cinematic enough.  In the Shadowrun game, he was antagonistic towards his players(though it was funny).  Here he practically says he’s trying to win the game.  What?  How do you win D&D?  It’s not DM vs PC’s.  It’s a group telling a story with the DM nudging it along and adding plot twists.  It’s supposed to be fun, not annoying with a DM that goes for a TPK.

    I dunno, it just seems like Spoony is bad DM with funny stories.

    • Anonymous

      Well but he has a point. Why should I bother to play my best, when the DM will just go easy on me? If I just wanted a story, I can read a book. If I wanted to experience a story with my friends, I can always go see a movie with them.

      Isnt the interactivity what makes games interesting? Whats the point of dumbing it down so that a training monkey can win it? (and yes, this can be applied to PC games aswell.)

      Now I do have a problem with dice being a bitch sometimes, but it just happens. Even the most powerful fighter can sneeze during the most inconvenient of moments and get his head lopped off because of this.

    • Anonymous

      I dunno, I tend to agree with him. With the Shadowrun story, the players were blatantly attempting to break the game, so Spoony tried to break them right back. A little spiteful, yeah, but any RPG is ruined when your players are just walking through any encounter. It’s kind of like playing GTA with cheats on; Yeah, it’s funny to see your character destroying National Guard tanks and mowing down the entire executive branch of the government, but it gets pretty damn tedious after a while. And in an RPG group, that means it becomes a tedious waste of time for 4-6 people, plus a GM. 

      Same deal with the Leaping Wizards. That was a bullshit, softball encounter that made NO sense. The whole purpose of it is to give the players an easy fight they can win, but they KNEW it was an easy fight! Players should never know they’re being coddled (you can and should do it sometimes, but they should never KNOW about it). They LAUGHED, for god’s sake! That should never happen in a situation where the party is ambushed! As a DM, I would never send in 3 wizards with that spell loadout. It’s insulting to the players and it’s boring for everybody involved. So he changed the loadout to something reasonable, and the players made some really bad dice rolls, and two of them got killed. I wouldn’t say that’s “trying to win;” it’s making the encounter more reasonable and interesting, and playing it the way it should be played, let the dice fall where they may. I’m not saying make every encounter a deathtrap, and neither is Spoony; you should give players a break and fudge for them every now and again, provided it’s something you can do behind the scenes and not make it blatantly obvious. But you shouldn’t be afraid to play the game straight out of concern you might kill the characters. Without the fear of death, there is no triumph in victory. They should never know that you’re doing your best not to outright murder them, and if they make a stupid choice, or suffer a spectacularly bad stroke of luck, they should face the consequences.

      The Star Wars thing was kind of ridiculous on his part, but I think that’s a case of bad translation from source material to game. Films and RPGs aren’t structured the same way, and you’re running a lousy game if one character is THE HERO and the rest are just his schlubby sidekicks (unless everybody agrees to play that kind of campaign at the start, but what are the odds of that?). Thus, you can’t play it the way you would say, write a fanfic of that source material. They’re two different media, and you have to treat them as such; I think Spoony wasn’t bitching about his player’s behavior so much as he was documenting his own learning curve.

      Just my thoughts on the subject, feel free to ignore them. After all, it’s just the Internet.

    • Anonymous

      Really with starwars the appeal for my friends was the idea of playing out the ‘style’ of the starwars films.  but sadly the rules weren’t up to it. and as Spoony pointed out it comes down to what each player wants- jedi players always seem to want to do the heroic duel. (because i’m the super special force user dont you know!)  and if you plan it so that such a thing can happen, everyone else will feel left out.  so you have only a few options if you want to pander to that; separate the party somehow to allow each group to have ‘appropriate’ encounters, or limit character types to prevent the situation from developing. 

      as to shadowrun, if the party has gone off the rails so fully that the campaign is ruined, the DM is supposed to find a way to get it back on track.  when your players blatantly try and break the game rules and screw the campaign an antagonistic response from the DM should be expected (and indeed encouraged, if only to teach players not to waste everyone’s time with their own game-breaking bull shit. because at that point it is not a campaign anymore.  it is player masturbation).

      Where are you getting DM vs players out of anything he said? Shit, D&D is about risk vs reward.  rewards are NOTHING without some risk. Tossing out softball encounters it is nothing but pandering to player ego.  The best stories my friends tell, are about tough encounters.  Sure we all have had poorly designed encounters, or DM’s who made things far to difficult, but that is part of the learning experience for the DM and the players. 

      Ultimately it is the DM’s job to tell a compelling story, with challenges to be overcome along the way.  If the challenges aren’t compelling the players tend to lose interest in the story.  all he did was make things challenging here, and got lucky on the dice.  Hell even with the ‘deck of many things’ story there wasnt any sign of him trying to screw anybody.

    • Anonymous

      Nonsense, if a GM sprung an encounter that involved three 1st level mages that were outnumbered 2:1 armed with only magic missile – I’d feel insulted or pandered to. 

      As for the Shadowrun story, don’t forget all the work a GM puts into designing an adventure only to have your players run over it using exploits is incredibly frustrating. If he got slightly antagonistic towards them it’s very understandable. Also, it could be just how he’s telling the story – afterall it seems to be numerous sessions condensed down.

    • Dave

       “Here he practically says he’s trying to win the game.”
      Wait, what? Spoony even outright said the polar opposite of that. He said ‘I’m not going to let you guys win’. That doesn’t mean he’s trying to win the game himself, it means he isn’t going to just hand the game over to them. Seriously, if the DM isn’t at the very least TRYING to compete with the players, then you might as well write up a scenario as such:

      “A vicious orc rushes towards you.” / “I roll my initiative!” / “The orc wins initiative. However, once he is within five feet of you, he spontaneously explodes into a burst of smoke that forms the words ‘YOU WIN’! In that same instance, money rains down upon you, all of your gear becomes +5, you gain fifteen levels and a gorgeous princess appears before you claiming you as her new husband and dragging you off to become ruler of an entire kingdom.”

      Seriously, if you’re not trying to compete with your players, you should just drop all pretense of a challenge and lavish them with praise and benefits to hammer home just how shitty and unmotivated the game has become.

  • hepburn1992

    I am bloody loving this series, it really makes me want to give like Dungeons and dragons and stuff a try

    • Dillon Becker

      Me too!!! lets fly to Arizona and ask Spoony to teach us :D

  • Anonymous

    After watching this, I thought back to the D&D characters I have played and many of them have met their ends in very bad ways. Most of the time I was okay with the character’s deaths as the encounters that they were taking part in were epic in scope and danger. While it was not ‘expected’ exactly, all the players who took part knew it was a possibility.

    Right now, my gaming group in alternating between Pathfinder and a Rifts campaign. In the rifts campaign, I have gone through three characters already. Two of them were in one session! I know where you’re coming from here and I love gaming knowing that there is real danger for the characters I’m running.

  • Anonymous

    AD&D was never “balanced” nor meant to be so. Still, up until 4th edition, the rules as written presented a panorama that expected players to go against monsters, and even there rules were rather wonky.

    Add in other people with PC abilities or, as 3rd edition puts it, monsters with class levels, and everything goes to hell and back: three level 1 wizards are ultimate pussies, three level 1 wizards with a sleep spell each are a total party kill waiting to happen. Having every monster encounter include someone that can cast sleep, even once, means the GM is out to get you and murder you and he’s a real asshole.

    This is because spells and PC abilities are balanced following the idea of linear warriors and quadratic wizards that you explained very well in the video: 1 sleep spell per day isn’t much, but when it’s the monsters using them on you, it’s potentially 1d4 dead PCs per encounter, because it doesn’t matter if the monsters have only one in the entire day since they’re either going to be dead within a minute or the players are.

    There’s a reason if 4th edition monsters don’t have encounter and daily powers: it doesn’t matter if it’s just “once per day” to someone that you fight to the death, it only matters for the PCs who are supposed to manage their resources, not on enemies that are supposed to blow through all they have to murder the players. This should be extremely simple but I’ve met lots of people that couldn’t get it for the love of them.

    Still, what a lot of wankers to kick you out of the organized play for that reason, but then again organized play is prone to such horror stories.

  • Anonymous

    I concur, Spoony.  4E is heavily stacked in the players’ favour.  Players dying in my games have solely been down to them getting complacent with encounters after being consistently low-balled by the predictable challenges.

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree with you Spoony and I’ve had some similar problems before.  My group are a bunch of guys who I have been solely responsible for teaching roleplaying gaming to, and I found that though they enjoyed my games but they thought it was too easy, and since then I’ve tried to be less merciful on them.  A problem I keep having though is when I throw smaller easier enemies (encounters they should be able to walk through) at them they get beaten nearly to death.  Thus far their biggest loss came from goblins, hobgoblins, and demonic bunnies (long story).  Yet when I through big bads at them (demons, devils, dragons, horrible terrors from beyond the veils) they all crit like mad rip the bosses apart.  Its not anything planned, its just the role of the dice.

  • stephen

    Sounds like the RPGA is moving into the MMORPG market. WoW has been getting… yeah…

  • Vlad Ninja

    I agree with you on the changing of adventures or rules when you see it benefits the situation. And it’s fun to have a challenge, it’s not fun if you know you will win the prize right…

  • Mike Wallace

    “First spell… Sleep.” I started laughing my ass off right there.

    The RPGA exists to give hand-jobs to new players, Spoon. Don’t apologize for not playing by their rules.

  • HappyGuy

    Spoony, your stories made me wanna start playing D&D, but I dont know how
    any suggestions?

  • jake

    I totally agree even though i’ve unfortunately never had the opportunity to play D&D
    However if, for example, you put a god mode cheat in Oblivion or fallout or KoTor it just gets fucking boring.
    If the going gets tough I never expect Darth Malaks Lightsaber to turn into a marshmallow

  • Anonymous

    I just killed one of my players’ characters in Pathfinder this sunday (D&D 3.75, but none of that “don’t kill the pcs” bullshit.), and it to blatantly stupid actions on the part of the party. The party is going through and area known as the Greenbelt, and they know they need to go back to town to get a boat, which is a pretty straightforward thing, until this moment of idiocy from the elven Ranger: “Wait, we can leave Maia (The half-elf druid, and daughter of the ranger) while we go back to get the boat, and Maia can scout ahead.”

    ……. Okay, so they left a lone caster in the wilds, with her only other protection being her two Thylacines, but oh, that doesn’t matter, because she wild shapes into a bird so she can fly up over head for a lay of the land. I pre-roll my random encounters, so I’m looking down at my map, and sure enough here’s the creature: Wyvern. It’s a CR 6, and she’s 5th level. So she’s flying along, and I give her a perception roll to note the wyvern’s presence. She fails. The Wyvern dives down from above, and bites for 10 points, droping her to 26. But then it also gets to do a grab, and that succeeds with ease.

    She shifts back to human, but by then, it’s really pretty much over, cause she has like no CMB, and takes a full attack, 2 claws, 2 wings, and the tail, which is poisoned, but Maia is a druid, and thus has pretty strong saves against poisons, so she’s okay there, but both claws hit which gives him a rake attack… and out goes Maia. One full round action later, it’s over completely.

    … and the entire party is just staring at me. Next game’s gonna be SO much fun.

    • Anonymous

      Why did a Wyvern go after a small animal? Did it have detect player character? Seems a bit harsh actually, and a bit meta. A small bird is not large prey. Not to mention she would have had a very big amount of time to see A DAMN WYVERN COMING DOWN ON HER! I guess a +7 vs her perception. If the wyvern left cover she doesn’t need to make a perception check to see it. To hear it is another story, but she would have seen it coming…

      Also, a Druid is FAR from a caster in the woods. Its a Druid in the woods. That is a Druid’s Element. They LIVE IN THE WOODS! There couldn’t be a better place for them, especially at level 5, when they get so many of their fun tricks.

      Yeah, since it was “diving” she should have seen that thing coming a mile a way since there isn’t really anything to stealth behind in the air. Was it hiding in a cloud? How high was this thing? Why is it attacking small birds? Unless she was a medium bird, but that wouldn’t be very scout like. Did she try any stealth checks herself? If she couldn’t do them, why could the Wyvern?

      Having a Druid, “Druids are probably the best solo class, in 3.5 or in pathfinder.” scout a head in the woods was actually a great idea. Level 5? aside from getting out right ambushed and one shot, that Druid would have been fine under most circumstances. That was just a blatant trap of kill player. For a “punishment” that wasn’t even all that stupid. Scouting a head? Since when is that a bad idea. Did they even know that the area had Wyvern?

      That just sounded like a dick move to me man…

      • ORCACommander

        ok start thinking like a real life bird of prey. when they go after other flying creatures they do it from high up and from behind so they do not get noticed. as for the the of the flying pc and the size of the wyvern more detail is needed one way or the other.

      • Anonymous

        Scouting ahead is one thing…. if the party is still within range to render aid, as opposed to say going somewhere miles away, with no possible way of stopping something if shit goes wrong (You know, like I already stated happened above). Second, having done large-scale hiking and backpacking in the Sierra mountain range, I can tell you the very first rule of survival in the wild: NEVER go by yourself.

        Now as to viewing angle, hawks don’t look up when they fly, and they can look both back and up (This is why sparrows can take a hawk down, is they get in the blind spot and needle him till he goes down.), and she made a point of saying she was watching the terrain below. Notice that I specifically stated that she got a perception check, which she failed because she did not put any point into her perception skill, since the Ranger is the scout. Even with her Wisdom bonus, she didn’t break into the double digits.

        Now, do me a favor: Look at the floor, and then, without taking your eyes off the floor, look at the ceiling. You are now viewing things the same way a hawk does. It does not have a head like an Owl’s that can full swivel, so if the Wyvern, which is actually decently intelligent, along with being incredibly territorial as per their description in the Bestiary, is going to attack, it’s going to do so from above and behind. It’s really pretty basic. As well, the Wyvern has stealth, which it used to its advantage (see It’s Intelligent).

        Notice also that I specifically stated she got bit, grappled, and beat dead with various strikes, also known as NOT being a one shit kill. Did she have an animal companion? Yes, a Thylacine, which is a ground animal with no ranged attacks. Not the most useful creature to have at that particular moment.

        As to why a wyvern would attack a small animal- For the same exact reason that people eat chickens, that being because they’re tasty, tasty meat. Same thing here.

        I don’t fudge. At all. Ever. I fucking hated fudging as a player because I had a GM who did it ALL THE TIME. Doesn’t matter if it’s for or against. Our ranger got an incredibly powerful bow on a random roll because my dice got “stuck”. +2 flaming Giantbane Comp. Longbow in troll country, and I let it in, because that’s what got rolled. Now, had the Ranger done it, she would have likely succeeded, having maxed out her perception check for her level and such, and possessing things such as proper armor, a fast horse, and a badass longbow, yes, it likely would have gone differently. This was not the case.

        Now, as well by the rules, ressurection exists, so if the party gets smart, they can get her back, but yes, she died, cause that’s what happens when you do something demonstrably stupid.

        • Anonymous

          You never said miles, from the sound of it, they couldn’t have possibly have been that far a behind if they had just left. Even so, that sounded like a great RP moment for the player. The father finally trust in his daughter’s ability “are they father and daughter in game or out of game?”. THEN SHE GOT ATE, NOM NOM NOM! :p Being that she is a level 5 druid, that is still far different then you or me ever going into the woods. I wish I could summon bears and solid rock monsters elementals. I wish I had animal companions. I suppose I don’t ever have to worry about Wyvern ether though. Again though, I don’t think there could have been any better class to be stuck in the middle of the woods.

          So it was an exploit in the way the player worded their action. Where they getting bonuses for only looking at the ground for anything they saw on the ground? If the player just had said they flew straight would they have been able to see the Wyvern diving down on them? It is too easy to kill characters with stealth characters. I still hear tales of how a single level 10 Whisper Gnome party wiped an entire group of level 15 characters. It also sounded like you really wanted to punish the party. Which, even though that would not be advice at all to go scouting without ranks in perception. Its not like they left a wizard or a fighter in the middle of the woods. If it had been ANY other class “except ranger”, I would completely agree with you.

          If that Wyvern was quite. “How do you fly quietly when with poor maneuverability. :p” That still would mean he was going half speed for stealth. He caught up fast. The moment he try to a “dive” which meant actually go a speed fast enough to catch her, since they had the same speed. She would have notice it “since that would have broken his stealth” since you can’t charge and stealth at the same time, and it would have been a initiative check since he wouldn’t get a surprise round. She would have gotten multiple perception checks as he got closer to her. If he was standing still, that would have been another story, but actively stalking a target. In this cast every 30 feet, or at the very least 60 feet. If he dive bombed her from a distance there wouldn’t have been any stealth check at all and everyone in the area would have heard it coming.

          If it was a surprise round, he still couldn’t have attacked until he was right next to her. Flyby Attack requires a movement to function along with a standard action. So assuming he didn’t just spawn from existence, a +wis vs a +7 on a high wisdom class. She had a very good chance of being stalked. 

          So for a good few minutes we see this large dragon following and stalking this tiny bird. Probably a chicken nugget to him. Must have been a really bad day. By one-shot I didn’t mean one hit KO, I meant by after one shot, they where screwed. Since there was nothing she could have done with that ambush.

          Yes, however, players fault for not putting ranks in their perception, that is very face palm worthy, it also sounds like that player is pretty new to the game.The Wyvern was already up in the air before the player ever got their? Yes Wyvern hunt, but they where just that high up? There where no other birds that ever pass by that Wyvern? A hawk is tiny. The Wyvern was threatened by a tiny bird? Do ants scary the might dragon kin? with in int of 7, he could have just as well as had an ego and not cared.

          Again I wasn’t playing, but if I was playing, I would have defiantly felt more liked I was just got the DM’s wrath as appose to falling into something because of circumstance for my own stupidity. 

          • Anonymous

            When I said, Back to town to buy a boat, where the heck did you think I was talking about precisely? A Wyvern’s bite attack allows it to make a grab check immediately following a successful bite. Since the bite succeeded (not hard with a +10), the grab check was made (With +16 vs. a flat-flooted opponent). And the real world doesn’t have Wyverns in it, either, meaning that even a 5th lvl going out into the wild has to be wary. That’s why there’s a dwindling number of people as you go higher in level. Many meet ends like this.

            “How do you fly quietly with poor manuverability?” You lock your wings in a glide, like most birds of prey do (Watch birds of prey fly some time, they mainly glide), coast along above the target at a set distance, then tuck the wings for the dive, and bite at the appropriate moment. Again, Hawks cannot see upward, and the character had declared as examining the terrain below, plus failed her perception check, just as if the party rogue had prepped an ambush, and sprung from ambush while the victim was checking out the pretty, pretty, trees.

            Now as to the “chicken nugget”, animals do not care what size their prey is. If it’s hungry, you’re food to it, and not fast enough to get away or fierce enough to drive it off, you’re eaten. By your statement, wolves would not eat a conveniently placed rabbit, nor would hawks or owls eat mice. Predators evaluate in exactly the opposite way of your thinking.

            There were plenty of things she could have done, like taken even one other person with her. They have faced bands of trolls, Owlbears, Tatzlwyrms and scores of bandits armed with ranged weapons. She has been playing since AD&D 1st ed. and paperback Vamp: The Masquerade. This was hubris, not naivete. Like when was opening the toilet pizza, full well knowing better than to do so. Failing that, burn for Barksin, and suddenly you don’t taste so good, or burn off any spell in the list for a Summon spell, since Druids get that. None of that was done.

            “it also sounded like you really wanted to punish the party’ Where? When I ran the rolled random encounter for the hex, that was rolled out before the game even started, complete with its treasure hoard? That’s “out to get her”? When I treated the Wyvern like every other creature, NPC or monster i’ve run? I make my rolls on open table, no screen. Previously, as level 4 characters they took out the main bad-guy for the first leg of the campaign with a coup de grace. Yeah, that’s right, they didn’t even get to rolling initiative, cause they worked properly as unit. I sucked it up, they had me by the numbers.

            A “Dive” is not a run. There are no footfalls, the wings tuck in, and gravity works. That’s it, and all you have to do is aim in the right direction. It’s not complicated, and again, hawks and other birds of prey, even seagulls, do it multiple times every single day. I’m not making the monsters morons just so the PCs can feel “safe”.

            Here’s another take on it: the Wyvern is soaring overhead, looking over the terrain, and is beginning to feel a might peckish, when it sees a small bird ahead and beneath it. Remains quite for a few seconds, then drops from it’s vantage, like it’s done a thousand times, and Chomp.

          • Anonymous

            A wolf, being a medium size or smaller would go after a rabbit and mice, yes. A wolf might not even bother to go after an insect or anything that was diminutive unless it was really starving. Which is the ratio here. It would not even bother with it. So it “fell” as part of is action? That would still break stealth since you have no control over “falling distance” if you wanted to exploit that rule. Even so, he caught up to the player responsibly fast despite going his movement. The actual mechanic of being a hawk does not state anything with not being able to look up. Did he fall, and on his way down bite her on his surprise round? Did he land on the ground and take fall damage? He couldn’t charge her on a surprise round since that would have been a standard action, and you can’t charge as a standard action “Unless you where being prevented full-round action, like being slowed or staggered.” Although the pathfinder forums are a bit undecided on that one. So yeah, as a DM, you could rule that.

            He also won’t have been able to even see the Hawk unless he was 380 feet away, and that if he rolled a 20 on perception. If he had seen her for that long there is no way he could have kept up in stealth.If a level 5 druid can’t make it through the woods, that is a horrible Druid. By level standards a level 5 character would be someone who was a “well experience” adventurer.There is really no set rule for perception mechanics and “direction you where looking”. So that would just be a harsh, but yes, legitimate ruling. Better to be vague when specific when declaring actions I suppose. :p  I just got flash backs of a horrible DM I had once that would constantly screw with us for being too specific or not specific enough. “You through him down a rope. It falls to the floor. YOU FORGOT TO SAY YOU HELD ON TOO IT! LOL!” Since he loved those old text base adventure games that screwed with players for doing that.The Concentration check would have been murderous for her, so I don’t blame her lack of spells. It just seemed she just happened to be under the Wyvern at the exact time when it happened to be just 30 feet above her. Never mind the x amount of distance prior before being near her.  It just happened to feel really hungry at the moment. How far away was the Wyvern when he first notice the tiny hawk?Obviously, you have been playing with this group for a while, and they seem to still enjoy your games. So I’ll leave it at that. If the player had indeed been playing for that long, then it would have been indeed quite dumb to go scouting, with no ranks in perception. She just should have gotten more then a single warning. For that encounter. Not the wisest move, yes, but certainly not a giant neon sign saying “please eat me”.”Make a perception check, 6 total? A Dragon eats you. Reroll character.” Yes though, that was a legitimate rolled encounter though, and that was bad luck to encounter such a beast alone, but I’m not sure that how it would have went down. It seemed to just “spawn” right above all her is all.Anyway, you indeed seem to know what your doing. As long as its stays entertaining. I probably would have done something similar, since stealth rules are notoriously ridged. “See whisper gnome example.” :p

          • ORCACommander

            maybe i just like things simple but it seems to me your guys are now over thinking this. Still Sean give us an update on what happens in the next session about what they do about the light snack.

  • Anonymous

    You know, I’ve always wanted to play DnD, but I live in a pretty rural area and there was never a group around, and now I feel like I’m a little too old to just up and start at 24, and even if that wasn’t the case… I still don’t know of anyone in the area doing DnD.

    • Anonymous

      I’m 24 too and watching these videos has me wanting to try out some D&D. I never really knew anyone who played, even going to an Art Institute school with nerds galore it was hard to find some people. I say go for it though, why not?

    • ORCACommander

      hey I never touched a pen and paper rpg until 19 when i got to college. IMO 16-25 isa good age to learn it since your more intelligence and less likely to be an idiot.

    • Anonymous

      I’m 27 and listening to these stories makes me wish I could play this stuff again.

      You’re never too old to have fun.  In fact, the day you stop having fun is the day you start being old.

      …oh god, did I just quote the crappy segment of the Twilight Zone movie!? 

  • Anonymous

    Damn, that’s fucking retarded.  I remember when a friend ran a low level module with what he later called a “paper, rock, scissors” puzzle in it.  We had 3 options of shafts to climb through. I remember one had frickin glass imbedded in the shaft, one had a trap, and the only one we could go through dumped a glowing liquid on us which made us easier for the kobolds to see.  that module was a goddamn grinder, because we sucked at figuring out the puzzle.  But it was still fun. In part BECAUSE it was a pain in the ass; so the rewards were worth more to us.

  • Skylar Sexton

    That’s some seriously messed up shit, Spoony. If there’s no chance of dying, then you really don’t feel like you accomplished anything at the end. That’s not how I’d want to play at all.

    And I would easily pay a large sum of money or do some kind of favor in order to play a game with you GMing man. Seriously.

  • Silens

    Huh, first story of yours I’ve been inclined to comment on, as a former player and DM – and also one that points out a number of fundamental problems with the RPGA, which seem to have only been further emphasized with current editions and remain one of my biggest issues with the way 4th Edition games tend to be run. I understand wanting the players to win the encounters, and even the occasional fudged die roll to speed things along, but the way 4th Edition is structured neuters a lot of the arsenal that DMs used to bring to the table in favour of the players, and I’m not a fan of this.

    Now, granted I grew up on 3rd and later 3.5, but I played AD&D and always had DMs coming from the AD&D school working with me, and that’s the style I tended to emulate – and in that particular school, you wanted to throw everything and the kitchen sink at your players because you wanted their triumph to be all the sweeter. Knowing that there is a real edge, an ‘Anyone-Can-Die’ element to your campaign, really lends a good air to your setting. Now, granted, you will run into PCs that will test your limits (and your patience), but that’s part of the challenge. 

    And let me make one thing very clear, the way you told your story, that fighter character really didn’t do a good job in this case. Even with the odds stacked against him, why the hell didn’t he try to wake up one of those hyper-powerful clerics? If anything, he should have relied on his high AC and hit points to weather the wizard attacks, and then worked to revive his team before the third wizard slaughtered them (and frankly, they’re lucky they weren’t playing with 3rd Edition rules with coup de grace). He did the right thing by flooring the thief, but he should have really woken at least one of the clerics to help him, even if it meant causing some minor physical damage to get him up (don’t have my sourcebooks on me explicitly to check – was fairly certain in AD&D there were actions that can be taken to wake characters).

    If anything, Spoony, I think there’s a real difference between the ‘old guard’ DMs like you (and where I’ll include myself, simply growing up with those sort of mentalities) and the DMs that want their players to succeed regardless of anything. Frankly, when I DM, I’m not going to cater to the stupidity of the players, and if they lose, they lose legitimately. But if they win… yeah, those are the games they remember.

  • Anonymous

    Clerics weren’t always that powerful. I started out playing Basic D&D (a simplified version of AD&D – anyone remember the red basic boxset from the 80’s?) and the clerics in that did have reasonable hit points (d8), could use blunt weapons, and any armour. However at 1st level they could turn undead and that was it. It was only at second level they got a spell, no bonus from a high Wisdom score, and could never use pointed or edged weapons.  That was balanced when compared to other classes.
    The AD&D version was better with spells starting at 1st level but still not too bad.  It was the advent of of speciality priests that made them absolutely sick and that just got worse with every edition of AD&D and with every campaign book released (check out Forgotten Realms Faiths & Avatars book for some uber powerful priests).

    With regard to the “not killing characters” thing – I tend to agree: It does takes the challenge out of it. However it’s always wise to judge what type of game you’re running as to how deadly things should be made and you also don’t always have to kill characters to defeat them. Think about the evil Baron who succeeds in his plans to take over his more pleasantly minded neighbour’s lands – which may have been stopped had that bunch of brave adventurers succeed in their quest, etc, etc.

    BTW – those players you mention – they did deserve what they got. Never ridicule the DM :)

  • Anonymous

    Psh. Let’s get a Dark Souls/Demon’s Souls RPG going, then people will really die :3

    • Anonymous

      but you comeback too. :p Death in tabletops tends to be more permanent. :p

      Unless your playing some of the settings where death is a minor set back. Again, completely up to who ever is running the game.

  • Anonymous

    So, I guess the moral of this story is that Magic Missile is for suckers and the RPGA is for wimps. I knew the former, but the latter is news to me and is kind of sad.

    • Anonymous

      I am not familiar with the RPGA, but I understand their way of thinking. Table tops isn’t like “MLG”. You don’t really gain anything for being good at the game. Your there to have fun.

      I have never ran a game where I outright wanted the players to win, but I’ve always made sure at least one person was still standing at the end of the Dungeon. Since party wipes means you have to start the story all over again. :p

      • Raziel Raven

        Not in any game I’m used to. If you have a party wipe, generally you just go on to a different story with new characters. If you do the same story over again, everyone already knows what’s going to happen and it gets boring as hell.

  • Robert Trueblood

    This seem kind of idiotic.  The most memorable encounters, as he implied, are the most challenging and the most fun.  I can see hanging out with your friends and having a good time going through a story, but even with character death it’s just more fun to get through tough encounters and survive nearly dying.

  • Jonathan

    The RPGA (At least the one you got kicked out of) is made up of pussies! You made a great DM!

  • SoldierHawk

    I. Love. Counter Monkey. SO. FRIGGING. MUCH.

  • doresh

    Oldschool wizards might only get 1 spell, but every smart player would choose Sleep – which basically allows the whole party to win a single combat encounter instantly. God, this spell was overpowered as hell XD !

    And if the moron who wrote this module just wanted an impossible to lose encounter, why not take Kobolds instead of friggin’ wizards Oo ?

    • Anonymous

      Another thing to keep in mind is that, in 3rd Edition at least, the CR values positively do not take DM ruthlessness into account.  If I remember correctly, a hardcore DM should probably add 2 to the stated CR on average.

      • doresh

        Isn’t a +2 CR more like a miniboss? Why not +4? That way, you can probably have monsters whose defenses the party can’t overcome at the moment XD

  • Matt

    I run a 4th edition game with some………. “home brew” rules….. and i find that it works pretty well since i have a smart group. I have found that my players have the most fun when they are getting skrewed over in a challenging fight, yet manage to pull through due to their own ingenuity. Like the time one guy got creamed by hobgoblins using a giant boulder as a tether ball

  • Anonymous

    Y’know, if the RPGA wanted DMs to play strictly by the encounters as written, except changing them to be easier if the players are in danger, why don’t they just get some robots or computers to be DMs, because by forcing that, you’re sucking any sort of creativity or uniqueness out of the whole game and experience.

    In a brief game I was in during high school, I was a Cleric that got turned into a vampire, and he ended up staying as a vampire and it was great, I loved it because of how odd a situation that was. The RPGA probably would’ve forced the DM and players to find and use a cure for him, because god forbid there be some variety and challenge and potential consequences for my irrational yet awesome decisions. Fuck that.

    • ORCACommander

      which is why i consider all rule books and errata up to the GM’s interpretation and creativity although as a PC sometimes you just have to out right call them on a contradiction until they pull the fiat card :P

  • Anonymous

    There is no such thing as not killing the Pcs, my last session included not only the death or a Pc but a horrific reanimation of said PC as a Shadow which then became an epic encounter for the surviving players, as talked about on my blog.

    As for DnD First Level Arcane/Mage spells Sleep>Charm Person>Magic Missile. Magic Missile isn’t even second best.

  • Jake Alley

    My favorite part of this is the argument hinging on not wanting some random GM to destroy the months and months of effort sunk into building up these… 1st level characters rolled up in front of you on the spot to play a one-shot game.

  • Dillon Becker

    SPOONY! DO MORE COUNTER MONKEY VIDEOS!! Seriously I was kinda mad that you weren’t doing LP’s but now I’m like fuck that, make more CM’s!! If I had the funds I would pay you minimum wage to tell me these stories!

  • John Sauco

    The best encounter I ever ran was two dwarven defenders Vs a party of three, and the party was nearly shattered. I ran them down to no prepared spells, less than twenty hit points for two of them, and they didn’t even kill the last dwarf. He died when his defensive stance ran out.

  • Joey Ogg

    yo im trying to start a dnd group with friend still amassing books though. Since i would be the most fomiliar with rules id be dm. any pointers besides dont try to let them win

    • ORCACommander

      learn how to say no to your pc’s. if they want something and its going to break the campaign make sure your firm and say you can not do or have that.

  • Austan Skidmore

    uh… if the game is stacked so that there isn’t a threat of losing, why play it? Why not just sit around and have a tea party for six hours if nobody is going to lose? I’m sorry, that’s just sad.

  • Meaghan Hartie

    First of all, still loving these Counter Monkey videos and looking forward to new reviews.

    In the case of the whole “don’t kill the players” rule at the RPGA, I only 15% understand why they have the rule. When trying to attract new players to a game, getting your player killed (especially if it’s your first encounter) can be really frustrating and might cause people to give up on the game (even though that’s a pussy move and they should man up). Honestly, real gamers realize what’ll happen in an encounter if they aren’t prepared. Yea, dying sucks but playing a boring game is worse. DMs, like a video game designer, must both entertain and challenge players in order to create a fulfilling experience. While tight asses in the RPGA are worrying about upping membership, who’s going to worry about bored or babied players?

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never in my life played Dungeons and Dragons or any other tabletop RPG. Basically my
    mental image of D&D players is from Futurama (“When do kids learn that
    playing Dungeons and Dragons won’t make you cool??”) and I so I imagine a
    bunch of sweaty nerds rolling their dices but now, listening to Spoony, it
    doesn’t sound stupid at all. Actually it sounds pretty fun and engaging.

    I totally get what Spoony is saying. One of the greatest satisfactions out
    there is to overcome adversity. I have my hard and demanding activities and
    hobbies, and one of them is practicing judo. It’s physically and mentally very
    challenging and for every inch of progress you have to work consistently and
    rethink your game pretty often. Regardless of your diligence, it’s still gonna
    take it’s own time to get those small steps forward and quite frankly I have to
    mentally kick myself to get my lazy ass to the gym after the long day at school
    or work. I also teach judo to kids, aged from four to seven, and preventing
    those little munchkins from killing themselves for two hours every Friday is
    draining as hell. But little by little, during the time of two years, I’m
    getting the hang of it, I get more responsibility from the other coaches and I
    really have to squeeze my soft brain if I want to find good and suitable
    teaching methods, intelligent ways to break up the day’s technique or creative
    skills to manage a group of twenty small kids. It’s all hard and complicated
    and even stressful and not every time even fun because of it, but when you get
    something right it’s extremely satisfying.

    But when I pop a game into my Playstation, I don’t want to challenge myself. I switch the
    difficulty to the lower levels in order to get those sweet, sweet combos in and
    I print the strategy guides out of Gamefaqs in order to beat all the bosses as
    efficiently and quickly as possible without even breaking a sweat, not because
    I don’t enjoy a challenge, but because I want to be RELAXED. I make a big pile
    of sandwiches, boil some tea to go along with the snacks and put the radio on
    so I could fill my apartment with some nice tunes to accompany the gameplay.
    When I played Persona 4, I read the walkthrough before engaging in any boss
    battles. I still died a lot because the nature of the game and I was pretty pissed,
    because this wasn’t how I was supposed to spend my precious free time. Recharging
    your batteries doesn’t involve you popping your blood vessels over some god damn
    video game.

    Maybe that’s what the RPGA is about. People seeing their friends, eating, talking, relaxing,
    playing some D&D and maybe making some new friends as well. Life is hard
    and challenging itself and in the end, D&D is just a game. Not everyone is
    playing games to get that satisfaction from adversity.

    To each his
    own, I guess.

  • Brian jesse

    I wish I gamed with you. You sound like an ideal DM.

  • Anonymous

    I do enjoy these counter-monkey videos. It helps me think about what I will do in my games, and its always fun to hear other peoples experiences. On the other hand, these vlogs do seem a bit lazy spoony. :p but some content is better then no content. You should think of a way to retool these to be a bit more fun to actually watch. There is no real reason this needs to be a video. Podcast maybe? Maybe get some Linkara and Lord Kat in.  Let them share their own input as well?  

  • Steve Oliver

    Ray of enfeeblement is a 2nd level spell…

    Colour Spray, Sleep, Charm person would have been my 3 mage spell load.

  • Chris F

    Spoony, you do realize those suggestions about reducing encounter difficulty is optional? Its called catering to your audience. I just ran a 4th edition campaign with some friends and we had party members die left and right, but most of them were okay with it. The just rolled up a new character and it was fine. But other people weren’t and were really upset by it. And like you said, its not that easy to find people willing to put the time into a campaign, especially in college when everyone’s really busy.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that the game might not be fun if you can’t lose but its also not fun if you put four months of your life into a character, only to watch it all go up in flames because of bad luck. I’m willing to accept that my character might die or that we might lose in the end, but I at least want to reach the end. For me, at least, I enjoy a longer, more story driven campaign, than an action heavy campaign where I just cycle through characters who mean nothing to me cause I know all it takes is one bad roll and I’m gone.

    Although maybe that’s because I always played a wizard and I couldn’t survive more than two or three hits?

  • Anonymous

    Spoony does sound like an awesome GM.

    Though for some reason, this made me think of that stupid comic where the one girl committed suicide after her D&D character was killed, and everyone who played the game was secretly a cultist worshiping demons, and in the end, the minister turned the protagonist back to the path of the Lord, and apparently set her rulebooks and other paraphernalia on fire WITH HIS MIND!

    • Anonymous

      Oh yeah, the Chick Tract propaganda comic strip!  “Dark Dungeons”  In fact, that’s actually my favorite one!  Mazes & Monsters wasn’t the only bit of anti-D&D propaganda, though this one was probably more batshit insane.  Yes, more insane than an early Tom Hanks talking to bums as if they were kings. 

      I don’t know if those strips are serious, or are jokes that some nutjobs just take too seriously, but I gotta admit, that one was entertaining.  Especially in that dark humor kind of way! 

      Damn good art, too.  But the fact the “DM” was that damn sexy was probably a dead giveaway of the level of bullshit the comic displayed. 

  • Anonymous

    Man, that guy who was all ‘no characters should die!’ would have a fit if he ever played classic rolemaster.

    • Anonymous

      I remember having one GM who actually worked out the amount of volume the fireball fills, woe betide the magic-user who fired one off in a 10’x10′ room. If the blast didn’t get him, the surviving party members would.

  • Anonymous

    Noah should use this as a “How to humble a PC” clinic for GM’s.

    Also old schooled here, though I opted for the very first write ups of monks in my AD&D 1st ed days. I want to belt anyone bitching about spell selection too. 

    Glad to see you remember the sliding scale too. High level magic users, they were fucking angels of death. 

    For games like these, I’m all for killing players, but even with that rule, I’m also fast to help a player make a new character and get back in the game.

  • Barbara

    Reminds me of a story that happened to a group I was playing in. We were playing Pathfinders and our group ran into some Ogres. My character was an Elvish Princess in hiding since Ogres killed her family. Our group which were to weak to withstand the six hideous beast almost lost two out of our group of four. When the DM brought in some extra help with the NPC army. Which since I was the only girl in the group my character, being under the influence of wine two game nights prior, had, had an affair with the leader. The DM had the NPC leader follow our group with his men to protect the Princess. We would have lost that encounter if the DM didn’t make it easier by adding the extra help of an army of NPC’s. So we would have lost the game but it would have been an epic battle to die in. But the DM made the encounter easier so we could live to fight another day. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the flirting going on. I was single then and my character being an Elf did have an attraction to humans. So I was using the flirt card but only when that NPC was in use. I have no clue why it happened to be centered around my character that encounter but after we won the players gave up the mission. We all became busy with other things and I never got to finish to see what would have happened later. In a small community it’s hard to find other players and being still new to the world of RPG’s would love to find a group.

  • Whitemage1293

    “We can’t have you killing characters”.

    The RPGA is full of pussies then. Spoony, if you had PC’s who had EVERYTHING….and you had 3 wizard NPC’s (and I’ll admit, I’ve never played in such a horribly underpowered wizard but I’ve always planned out his spells to have good cantrips to balance good first level spells) actually KILL two people…Then you have demonstrated how luck and skill can be the entire difference in an encounter; not stats.

    And those “fudge” rules….Seriously? They’re orcs. They’re typically ruthless and murderous. If they were GOBLINS I could consider fudge rules being….on a long shot, okay. And okay if they’re new players. But you should NEVER run games that you are incapable of losing. The DM is supposed to tell a story, and the players should do their best to see the story through. If they die, if they change events, those events should be felt; Parties should feel more rueful and work harder to finish the overall arc.

    Death is drama. If you remove the drama, then whats the point? Evil loses, good wins, ale for all. Should the evil never have a victory that decides the battle but not the war? Should good never have a heroic sacrifice? I mean, even MMORPG’s don’t coddle you. Its not like the final Raid boss in WoW is going to go “Okay I’ll stop drawing aggro on the mage blowing me up”. Its not like Final Fantasy XI was like “Okay sure, you can solo level”. I’ll admit to liking FFXI because it didn’t coddle you and the music and visuals for the time were pretty good. Sure it was grind happy, but battles had some tenseness because if you died, it fucking sucked. It had RISK. It had CHALLENGE.

    And thats the other word I like. Challenge. I’m kind of playing a 2-player campaign at the moment in 4e (blasphemy, yes) and I’m a rogue. We don’t really have a healer. So if I’m going to live, I have to play smart. I’m going to use an attack that interrupts and lowers your accuracy if I hit, reducing the amount of times I’ll be hit. If I’m given no incentive to use strategy then Spoony is right; its just people talkin fancy and saying “I hit the orc again!”

    • ORCACommander

      another good game with a lot of risk is Eve Online. There there are consequences to dieing. not only do you loose your ship you can also loose your body and any implants in it on top of the person who just blew you up salvaging anything of value from your wreck.

    • ORCACommander

      another good game with a lot of risk is Eve Online. There there are consequences to dieing. not only do you loose your ship you can also loose your body and any implants in it on top of the person who just blew you up salvaging anything of value from your wreck.

    • Anonymous

      “Death is drama.”

      I actually take issue with this, honestly. It’s only very rarely that death is dramatic. Most of the time — especially when dice are involved — it’s not dramatic at all. It’s lame.

      Which is more dramatic: the evil bad guy kills you, or the evil bad guy takes everything that you cherish away, turns your homeland and family against you, and humiliates you… BUT LEAVES YOU ALIVE TO SUFFER THE TORMENT?

      Death is cheap drama. Diet drama, if you will. The only exception happens is if a character goes out in a spectacular way; a heroic sacrifice, or to prove a point. Otherwise, death is pretty boring. There is almost always some other punishment that is worse and fits the story better than just offing a character.

      “I mean, even MMORPG’s don’t coddle you.”

      … Seriously?

      Is there ANY commercial MMORPG out there in which death is permanent? As far as I’m aware, death in pretty much all commercial MMORPGs is a minor annoyance at most. If you’re going to try and make a point that death is dramatic, full stop, then using MMORPGs as supporting evidence doesn’t really help the case.

  • pariah-666

    I’d love to play a game of D&D with you, Spoony. These counter monkey videos make me want to start rping again :)

  • Anonymous

    I feel like someone here should go off on an aDnD bullshit quest wherein they make all the WRONG moves, and just see how far they can get. And then when you die, get the particular DM in shit for it. And then do it all again.

  • Pontus Haglund

    More counter monkey storeys! Seriously! This is F’in awesome!

  • ORCACommander

    In my little group when we start a campaign we set the starting level and roll characters from scratch every time. and if a PC dies mid campaign he can roll a new lvl equivalent character and somehow work it into the plot. Of course equipment would not necessarily carry over and a new clas mix is encouraged. Also we never use prebuilt modules except when teaching the games. always custom plots and campaigns. Those are infinitely more interesting since your gm is not as “bound” as usual. Although currently the GM for my spycraft campaign has explicitely stated he is going to try and kill us off if the opportunity presents. And i find this is making for a lot more fun encounters sicne we are not rolling through everything despite one our friends who knows how to break the game mechanics into making near unstoppable weapons and machines of destroyers.

  • Larry Coetzee

    you think a town in arizona is bad for Role Playing try a whole dahm country i live in Scotland and theres 3 clubs, thats it

  • Anonymous

    I’ve played in a 4e RPGA event before once ran by my local game shop, and my god do these guys not know what they’re doing. Not only do they give out weak encounters, but now they give out pre-generated characters. Now, being that my 3 friends and I that went didn’t anticipate pre-gen characters, we made our own. Now the other guy that didn’t on the other hand was basically dead weight in the party.  I got a look at the pre-gen’d sheet that got out, it was a Paladin. Already the character is pointless, because as a joke either two or all three of my friends made Paladins flavored as 40K Space Marines. Space Wolves to be precise, if I remember correctly. Beyond that, This was a clearly Strength-based Paladin with all Charisma powers, and the guy had like a 12/14 in Cha. No one at the table could believe it. The store Employee who was DMing was actually calling over other guys to get a load of it, and eventually were just apologizing to the player left and right.

    So, my friends and I are just chewing up these easy encounters between the Marines just pasting things beneath their boots, and meanwhile I built a Chainmail-wearing Warlock, so basically I’m just an Anti-Personnel Cannon and the DM is about ready to eat the miniatures because he can’t fucking touch any of us except for Sir Useless of Crappington. In the end, we weren’t really that satisfied, the monsters basically laid down for us. So after we left we played out own game and basically resolved to not play in those again after that.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve played in a 4e RPGA event before once ran by my local game shop, and my god do these guys not know what they’re doing. Not only do they give out weak encounters, but now they give out pre-generated characters. Now, being that my 3 friends and I that went didn’t anticipate pre-gen characters, we made our own. Now the other guy that didn’t on the other hand was basically dead weight in the party.  I got a look at the pre-gen’d sheet that got out, it was a Paladin. Already the character is pointless, because as a joke either two or all three of my friends made Paladins flavored as 40K Space Marines. Space Wolves to be precise, if I remember correctly. Beyond that, This was a clearly Strength-based Paladin with all Charisma powers, and the guy had like a 12/14 in Cha. No one at the table could believe it. The store Employee who was DMing was actually calling over other guys to get a load of it, and eventually were just apologizing to the player left and right.

    So, my friends and I are just chewing up these easy encounters between the Marines just pasting things beneath their boots, and meanwhile I built a Chainmail-wearing Warlock, so basically I’m just an Anti-Personnel Cannon and the DM is about ready to eat the miniatures because he can’t fucking touch any of us except for Sir Useless of Crappington. In the end, we weren’t really that satisfied, the monsters basically laid down for us. So after we left we played out own game and basically resolved to not play in those again after that.

  • Anonymous

    Hilarious story! Who the hell would get upset over the death of a 1st level character? Remove character death and you eliminate the fear and excitement of a fight. 

    And dying during Lord Kat’s campaign? Isn’t his catch-phrase “you’re going to die… alot”?

    I played 2nd ed D&D and no one played magic-users from level 1. The secret: multi-class. Elven Fighter/Mage FTW!

  • Anonymous

    Hilarious story! Who the hell would get upset over the death of a 1st level character? Remove character death and you eliminate the fear and excitement of a fight. 

    And dying during Lord Kat’s campaign? Isn’t his catch-phrase “you’re going to die… alot”?

    I played 2nd ed D&D and no one played magic-users from level 1. The secret: multi-class. Elven Fighter/Mage FTW!

  • Matthew Cheng

    Great video Spoony, and I completely agree with you. A campaign with no risk is not going to be worth the Players’ time, and its a waste of the DM’s time. If that’s the way that RPGA is set up, they exist purely to get bodies into the RPG realm and buying their sourcebooks. They don’t appear to be in it for the game at all, if your experience is anything to go by.

    Well, I’m off to DM a Star Wars RPG game with some friends. Wish me luck!

  • Anonymous

    Just had a thought, imagine the reaction of a long-time RPGA player going through the infamous 2nd Ed ‘Tomb of Horrors’. Their head would explode. Actually the dungeon might do that for them.

  • Von Phillips

    I have terrible luck when it comes to DnD. I have a Ranger and in his first quest he got mauled by a dire weasel,Trounced by all sorts of vermin, and nearly got killed by an infested cleric orc. But when I saw the ending of the quest I was proud of him. He overcame terrible dice rolls. He was a giantic brute who grunted instead of talked due to his incredibly terrible Charisma.

    Those games you remember.

  • Edetha3



    wanna hear my first experience with DnD. I was four years old, and do you know what happened. We were adventuring in the north and had bought dog sleds and the like for the journey and we were level one. do to ungodly random encounter rolls we came across a ice worm or something like that that was much higher level than us. we set some of our dogs loose to distract it and we ran. he eventually caught up with us and, again, we used our remaining dogs. now the hilarious part was that our halfling thief (my brother) had bought a tame polar bear as a mount, because hey, its a fucking bear. we killed it, and carved shovels out of it bones, and dug down. eventually we fall into a cavern and took fall damage. but the worst was yet to come. out of the darkness comes, I kid you not, an insane fucking angel with a crossbow! And I don’t mean like an Eyrines like in 3rd and 3.5 (I don’t remember if there even are any in the version we playing it was ADD or 2 edition or whatever, it was a while ago leave me alone). I mean, Angel that fights demon lords not supposed to encounter for years IRL. and I remind you we were level 1! I think you can fill in the rest

    Guess how I died the second time. I was eaten by a god damned plant! the last thing the party did was cut off a piece of my hair – or I threw it to them, either way – for resurrection, and left me screaming to die.

    And I fucking loved the game and still do to this day (although I have recently taken up pathfinder, because it seems I can do better as player and as a GM my skill increases an ungodly amount whenever its not a standard version D&D)

    nice work Spoony can’t wait for the next!

  • Anonymous

    I only played 2nd edition very briefly, but I do recall, old-school wizards had a hell of a time.  I seem to also remember that they required more experience points to level up.  But once you passed that 5th level mark, man….
    Anyway, I’ve always just played with friends, and we’ve always had sort of an unspoken rule that characters should be kept alive (unless they died at low level… then you just make a new one).  Fact is, in 3rd edition, it’s not too hard to bring a character back after a certain level threshold.  If you happen to have a cleric and a couple thousand gold, there’s a spell for it, so there you go.  You’ll get a level penalty, but that’s about it (unless you’re really high level, in which case you just spend a day and bring them right back to full health, no penalty).  So I always made it a choice; if you want a new character, go ahead and make one, otherwise, spend the money for a resurrection.
    In terms of being a hardass DM… well, I have, at one point, annihilated my entire party.  It was a challenge within their capabilities, but there were some failed reflex saves, a couple poor battle decisions, so they all died.  Now, I decided to go easy and give the last surviving character a couple rerolls, because I didn’t want my whole campaign to collapse in on itself, but man… that was some tough luck, right there.  I think that would have gotten me kicked out of the RPGA.
    And yet, those are the stories people remember.  No one remembers that one time we all beat up those three 1st level wizards who feebly tried to hit us with sticks.  So yes… keep rocking it old school, man.

  • Anonymous

    Oreo is so cute :D

  • Adam Woods

    Wow, the group I played with had no real problems with dieing.  For us a game wasn’t complete unless the person running it was crying or had yelled out “why won’t you die!”.  Or when my character had killed another guy’s character and he complained about it.  He never won those arguments.  Those were the best.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve got my own flavor text story… though, I have no one to blame but myself… and perhaps the Japanese language. I was running an Oriental Adventures game (the D&D 3rd ed setting), and the group came into an area with a pool of water in the middle. I then had a group of octopus like monsters called Tako (which is Japanese for octopus) emerge from the pool of water and attack the group. However, upon hearing me say “A group of Tako emerge from the pool,” one of my friends (who happened to be Mexican) simply exclaimed “You racist bastard!” Sometimes there’s just no winning when dealing with other languages.

  • Anonymous

    okay, simple story, Tomb of horrors 3.5ed, we had all made characters my friend makes a thief with all stats geared towards finding traps,
    front door he searches and finds nothing. “Lets go guys.” was his last
    words as he fell into a pit trap and landed on spikes. that didnt kill
    him, the poison on them however did when hes making a save VS death at
    lvl 1. we looked at the DM and said “We turn around and get the F*** out
    of there.” we played an underdark campaign after my buddie rolled a new
    character lol. good times.

    • Anonymous

      Wait a minute.  You were running Tomb of Horrors at level 1?  If so, someone doesn’t like you, because that module is written for 10th-level characters and is obscenely brutal even for them.

      • Anonymous

        it was a long time ago we may have made lvl 10 characters, I cant remember it well. but I do remember that we didnt play it just turn and ran after the door killed our thief.

  • Mike Brotzman

    Let me put things this way.  Would you ever pay good money for a video game where upon getting a Game Over screen the game media would self destruct and you would have to buy a new copy of the game to continue?  Probably not because you don’t want to waste your money.  Well why would you ever pay good money to join an RPG group where you spend hours creating a character that can up and die leaving you nothing for your effort?  Hell, membership fee aside your time is worth a good 9$ an hour at minimum so killing a character could be the same as throwing hundreds of dollars down the toilet. 

    I don’t know what RPGA policy is on new character creation, but if you have to slog your way up from level 1 every time your player dies you will be able to count the viability of the RPGA as an organization in MINUTES.  Nobody will stand for it because it would SUCK.  People play games because they are FUN, not because they want to have a bad time.  If you work up a high level character that is an investment, and its an investment that will keep you in the RPGA.  If you get reset back to zero there is nothing keeping you attached to the organization so the RPGA’s interests of having members is aligned with the member’s interest of HAVING FUN.

    You should consider the possibility that not being able to die is not the same as not being able to lose.  Losing doesn’t need to come with a penalty.  The penalty can simply be not winning and thus not getting any of the spoils normally associated with winning.   If there is any fault to be found with the RPGA it should be that they haven’t found some alternate form of death penalty such as the results of the game being nullified if a party member dies and is unable to be resurrected, or just that character loses out on XP etc.  People can lose their investment in the one game, but not their investment in the organization. 

    Remember, if characters can die, and characters have value, players will alter their playing style to minimize risk.  Do you want games played with disposable characters?   Do you want players to fold if things get to hard?  That’s what they will do because you have taken away their freedom to take risks.

    • Anonymous

      “Would you ever pay good money for a video game where upon getting a
      Game Over screen the game media would self destruct and you would have
      to buy a new copy of the game to continue?”

      Ever played the original Mega Man, Kid Icarus, or Super Mario Bros.? Horrifically addictive games one and all, and in all them, if you screw up bad enough you end up starting over.

      The chance to die in a tabletop RPG exists at every decent tabletop in the world. If anything, it’s the reverse that’s true: Games fall apart when players realize they can get away with almost anything and walk away. They begin treating NPCs like they’re just completely disposable, they see no real value in the challenges in front of them. Most my best gaming are from “I almost died” storylines. Giving your players the freedom to be truly heroic, and face the truly heroic choice of voluntarily going into danger knowing that the very likely possiblity of horrifice death awaits.

      • Edetha3

        while I agree with your statement about dyeing I think what he is saying If you had to by a new “copy”. he means would you buy  $60 dollar game if you knew you would have to pay another $60 if you die. to beat a game you would spend thousands (or none depending on skill). again though fully agree with you players need the reaper over their shoulder (sometimes literally)

  • haibanewings58

    Game Design 101: The player must always have a reason for their avatar to live. Once that is established, they must have their avatar put in an environment that challenges their ability to live. If that ability goes unchallenged, you have effectively separated the physical player from their avatar. that separation ruins any narrative structure or tension that most successful games are designed to build. 
    TLDR: Putting the kiddie gloves on tends to disengage players from the experience. Give them a challenge or don’t bother making that kind of game.

    • Anonymous

      This is precisely why I personally don’t care for newer Zelda games, even Ocarina of Time (which I always get shit from others for not liking anymore).

      Quarter-Heart damage, don’t BABY me, Nintendo!  You have Kirby games for that.  And it’s not just this one example, I have a saying for every game (video, tabletop, board, whatever):

      If your *game* isn’t fighting to beat me, then why should I fight to beat the game?  I get no satisfaction from conquering an anthill.  CHALLENGE me!  Hell, I don’t even like word-score bonus tiles in Scrabble.  I prefer to let my vocabulary do the winning.

      …I’m weird when it comes to victories I guess.  But I felt proud in my D&D experience when all my companions kept dying, but I always pulled through and it eventually took a Black Dragon to kill me.  I can take an honest defeat, since it was an honest challenge. 

      • Anonymous

        Agreed a thousand times over. I can’t stand just how much modern games hold our hands, like we do nothing but get worse as time goes on. I feel almost no satisfaction when I beat any of these new games coming out, because they’re designed so that a nine year old could beat them on their hardest “difficulty” setting. I’m really just sick of it. Yes, I get mad when a game gets really hard, but guess what? I always remember those games more fondly than the easy ones that I DON’T get mad at.

        I hate games that treat you like you’ve never played a game before, like when a shooter tells you at EVERY SINGLE LEDGE to “Press X to climb”. Seriously, fuck off. Or when stealth games apply an immersion-shattering full screen filter effect when you’re hidden (Splinter Cell Conviction). What the hell was wrong with a visibility meter/gem? Do I seriously need to view the game in black and white? Or that absolutely retarded yellow highlighting system in Human Revolution, which draws an obnoxious border around every object in the game that you can interact with. Thank God they put in the option to disable that nonsense, but it shouldn’t even be needed in the first place.

        Games are for fun, but they should also provide a good challenge. Some games can be easy and satisfying, but those games are usually heavily story-driven and the gameplay takes a backseat. Fine, but when I can beat Devil May Cry 4 on DMD without even breaking a sweat, or the latest Call of Duty on “Veteran” with no trouble whatsoever, or slaughter every single guard in Assassin’s Creed 2 because the combat system is so damned easy and exploitable, it’s time to ramp up the challenge, guys. Stop treating me like a baby. Make me actually fear bosses again, let me learn the ins and outs of a game’s system through persistence and practice again. Screw all this “Press X to win” bullshit, and SERIOUSLY screw anything that removes the threat of losing. If all you can do is win, there’s no point in playing.

        • George Rosenbaum

          A game should be hard for a good reason. It shouldn’t be like ‘Super Ghouls and Ghosts’, where you have to memorize every action you take.

          And I suck at Call of Duty…no matter how much I play it. I played the SHIT out that game for a solid year, memorizing all of the stupid weapons, and I still suck.

      • Haakon Løtveit

        Are you sure it’s not just you getting better?

        Because I just replayed a link to the past, and it wasn’t even remotely hard now.

  • Kevin

    Spoony I know exactly how you feel. I use to go to a mentally disabled school and one time during a game of Uno one of the kids blatantly cheating (he held off his wild card as his last card so he could play any color) and I called him out on it and this teacher told me that I should drop it. I ended up getting into a huge argument with the teacher. Fuck the idea of letting other people win.

  • Shadowdancer21b

    We always tried to avoid Total Party Kill or TPK.  We had a guy who had an unbelievable knack for getting the whole party or himself killed.  I never liked the whole “players VS DM deathmatch” roleplaying.  I’m one of those “Storyteller” guys who cares more about story and playing the role.
    However, PC death is unavoidable sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    Noah needs to be an RPG designer.

  • Fifthrate

    That is such BS. Where’s the fun of a game with no possibility of losing? I’m with you. People need to “Man up” and deal with it. I can’t name any person I’ve rped with who hasn’t lost characters. 

  • Seraph, Sephiroth

    Oddly enough the RPGA doesn’t seem to have kept that line of thought outside of DnD. Points in the Star Wars Dawn of Defiance campaign were meat grinders where players would die easily (Group I was in managed to have 2 out of six starting characters make it to the last adventure and one of them died there. I’d racked up three deaths and another player had about 1/adventure.

    Since playing through, I got a look at the modules and if anything the DM was going easy on us at times.

    But I do agree with their DnD stuff, the only purpose I had in playing was to get the cards they’d been giving out for other games and no longer participate because it started boring me.

    If players can’t die in a game, then it loses and isn’t any better then dealing with a straight up railroading GM…

  • James Ellis

     It’s like playing an old video game using an “invincibility” cheat code.  Sounds more fun than it actually is. 

  • Dre N.

    I’ve been in a campaign for over a year and died twice ( the only player to die at that ) and all I did both times was laugh at the death and think of how cool the next guy would be .

    After the second death , I took a modified undead leadership and I’m playing my last two guys as ghosts ( one is a cohort ) . I never looked back and looked forward to the adventure .

  • Evan Banned

    I’ve played with good DM’s (story was tight and the fighting meant somebody might die) and bad DM’s (either you fought nobody worth fighting or 1000 nobodies worth fighting that murdered you) and the big difference is the challenge of winning.  The threat of dying is a real thing.  
    **SPOILERS AHEAD**I just listened to Spoony’s DM game with some of the TGWTG crew and the moment when  Lord Vane I (Angry Joe) gets killed due to bad role play is a definitive one.  After he realized the threat of death, Joe became a much better player (hilariously named Lord Vane II, the original’s kid) because he understood the world was for keeps.  

    Also, I get why RPGA would want to foster new players, but they are not making good players.  They are making the same type of players that expect every “good” game to be like Bioshock, with spawn points immediately near the player in case of emergency.  (To clarify, loved Bioshock, but it was really, really, stupidly easy.)  This is not compelling fiction, which is what RPGs are: player generated fiction.  

    I also must mention the death of Wil Wheaton’s character in the Penny Arcade game last year and the fact that they brought him back.  The character was D-E-D, dead, and while they did bring him back to life, they did it within the narrative.  Nobody cast a spell and immediately brought him back and the DM did not pull punches when it came time.  Fan reaction probably caused the resurrection, but I applaud the DM for allowing the characters to bring him back, not buffed stats.

    When I played, character death was a part of the fun.  You never knew when it could happen, the next roll of the dice could be Steve the Destructor’s last.  Hell, one campaign ended when we all got thrown into D&D Thunderdome and I ate it against a bunch of bugbears.  It was one of the most fun nights of role-playing I ever had with my clothes on.

  • Fafa Huerta

    Come on man, how about more accessible videos, you’re falling into your wrestlers loop, where all you do is talk about stuff that can really interest fanatics of a very particular genre.

    • Jordan Staley

      Sometimes you just need to get it out of your system. He could be working on other videos as we speak as well. These are basically Vlogs, so I could see taking a break and deciding to ramble to the camera. Hang tight! The SpoonyOne always delivers.

    • 狐・小百合

      I’ve never played tabletops or D&D and I find these videos funny. Not everyone is as narrow-minded as you about stuff outside their interest zone.

    • Brian Davis

      Be careful, my friend. You must dare not question the Almighty Spoony One in any instance lest the hounds of internet hell be loosed upon your soul! Bwahahahahaaaa!!!!!!

    • Ehren Hatten

      Dude, I’ve never played D&D and don’t think I could ever actually be active in a game thanks to my absolute need to see what’s going on in front of me. I write stories easier than playing games where I can’t see in front of me outside of rolls and numbers how well I’m doing. (I’m just very visual. Whatever.) And I’ve listened to a few D&D games. Even still, I don’t really have that much interest them. And Yet I can sit and watch Spoony talk about D&D stories he’s experienced all day. I can sit and listen to him talk about wrestling and I even less care about that. This should not be a problem. Try some patience and a switch to decaff.

      • jake


  • Genevieve

    Oh god, RPGA. How I hated that and for several years, it was practically the only RPG game I got to play because the majority of my gaming group was big into going to all the huge conventions and wanted to be able to play the high level, Underdark games there to get the cool items that only came out at the cons.

    But I totally back up everything Spoony said about how it’s ran. Each module is design to run in a 4 hour time slot (so they’re easy to schedule at conventions) and had usually three or four different power levels for each encounter, depending on the power level of group at the table. And they always underestimated what a group of PC characters could handle so everything practically seemed like a cakewalk.

    But honestly, forget the power imbalance of the modules because that I could semi-forgive (after all, they did have to write each module without knowing what classes would be sitting down at the table or what items and skills they would have). What really pissed me off most about RPGA was how every module railroaded you to their desired ending, no matter if it made sense to your character or not, and how nothing you really did had any effect on the universe. I had my character up to level 15 when I finally stopped playing. I’d helped saved the city, heck even universe, more times than I could count. I counted in my party several high level priests, mages, and paladins – many even higher level than the “officials” in the module itself. And never was that history ever allowed to be taken into account when going through the story. Group of werewolves threatening the town? Oh no, our speciality priest of Selune (yes, the same specialty priests Spoony mentioned) *can’t* talk to their church for help – even though one of Selune’s spheres of influence is the werecritters! Find out about a plot for an evil cult to try to summon a demon in the middle of the city? Even though we’d several times met with the King (or lord or queen or lady or whatever ruled that city) and should be *known* for our trustworthiness and dedication to protecting, we couldn’t just bring our suspicions to anyone’s attention to get help – if we even try, we’d just get rebuffed and told there wasn’t enough evidence. And god help us if we tried to use Commune or Contact Other Plane to actually get some answers before the module or overall plot storyline was ready for us to know something – “Results Hazy. Try Again Later.”

    Yeah, I go rant for *hours* about how much I hated RPGA. My best friend occasionally goes to a local game store to play, since that’s one of the few games it’s easy to find right now. Personally, I’d rather not play D&D at all than deal with RPGA again.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve had a player in a Vampire: The Masquerade game get beaten up by some random bloke that he was trying to feed on thanks to some phenomenally bad rolls.  I did fudge it so he didn’t die at least :-)

  • Anonymous

     Character death isn’t the ONLY motivator for challenge, but it is the default in just about all tabletops.
    I’ve had tabletop games that revolved around “whodunit” scenarios, where the goal wasn’t to kill everything else in your path, but to catch the killer without being implicated yourself.

    The combat skills the players had were useful for self defense, if they provoked the wrong sort of people (they were dealing with an effective Illuminatti-underworld setting), but might alone could not win them the game, nor could lucky dice rolls.

    They had to deduce at least SOME clues in order to have a chance.

    Hardest scenario I ever wrote, but it was well worth the effort.

    • Anonymous

      I had a similar situation to that in my Star Wars RPG group.  I wrote a scenario that was basically a murder-mystery in a hotel, and had to draw up a list of eight different suspects that each had stats, backstories, and motivations for the murder.  The majority of the mission was done without weapons, so my players had to use all their other skills, including tech hacking and surveillance to try and figure out who did it.

      But I couldn’t just have them catch the killer and I wanted this to be really unique, so I wrote alternate sets of “endings” so that no matter who my group determined would be the killer in the end, they’d go to arrest that person only to find them dead and that the real killer lured them into a trap that they then had to fight themselves out of, so as to not only throw in a twist but a final bossfight.  What this meant is that I had to write EIGHT POSSIBLE ENDINGS that made sense for why the clues led them in one direction with the answer being in a different direction.

      It took me about a month to finally write it, but goddamn was it satisfying.

  • John Maloki

    Dungeons and dragons looks really interesting but i don’t really know how to start and i don’t know enough people who would like to play. Is there some kind of DND online game i could look at or something like that?

    • Tim Kormos

      With 3rd edition, a lot of the basic stuff (basically the contents of like 7 books) was released online at It can give you a good start.

      However, 3rd edition is no longer supported by Wizards of the Coast, and they aren’t nearly as open with their 4th edition content.

      But if you try 3rd ed and decide you like it, there’s always Pathfinder, which is basically “3rd Edition Plus”, and is still being published. They also have their own version of the SRD, and all their stuff is intended to be backwards compatible with 3rd ed.

      So basically, there’s plenty of free stuff online to give you an idea it’s for you without needing to invest dough in it. And if you enjoy it, you could always either start buying Pathfinder books, or try out 4th edition (which is very different but still fun).

      As for playing online, there’s software for playing live games (I recommend Maptool), and forums that do play-by-post games.

  • Anonymous

    What is the point of playing a one sided game where one side is expected to win?  Bullshit.

  • Jimmy TheFish

    It seems like current games basically play themselves, take LA Noire for instance: if you die more than 3 times you can just skip that section (or mario where you can let the game play for you), compared to game where if you died you had to restart from the beginning. 

    I dont know what that says about todays kids but it cant be good.

  • Games Save Lives

    During my brief experience playing RPGs, I got sick enjoyment from playing with DMs who never let the players die. It’s always fun to do completely rock stupid things and watch as you get out of it completely unscathed. I remember one game in particular (I think it was on the HERO system) where the entire party was unarmed and alone in the desert. We all made small holes in the ground as shelters and a giant scorpion wandered into mine. My response? I hugged it. Ten minutes later, I had learned the scorpion language and had become accepted as one of them. Then the DM spontaneously killed all the scorpions (yeah, he wasn’t a particularly good DM), but allowed me to create armor and poisonous throwing knives from their corpses.

    That being said, I usually ended up liking challenging games better. I’m a bit sad that I never played much D&D, so I never really got to build up a character. I only played once, but the DM started me out with a level 7 wizard, so I was a bit lost, barely understanding how half of my dozen or so spells worked. I also never really got the satisfaction of leveling up on my own.

    • Ehren Hatten

      You just made me laugh out loud. Thank you.

  • Joseph Yossarian

    I hate the RPGA, actually I just hate all of WotC by this point. (Although I have always hated the RPGA and just recently started hating all of WotC.)

  • sam goad

    When my brother and I would play D&D we knew that it was going to be a shit storm and that’s what builds a real connection with your friends, characters and setting of D&D!

  • James

    Eh, screw ‘official’ games. If they don’t want PCs to die, they should just give’em high stats & full HP each level. If the characters die, meh. At low levels, it doesn’t take much to write out another 1 & at higher levels, characters can be brought back to life. Then again, my group doesn’t bother with XP(which was made so much easier when we switched to Pathfinder which nothing costs XP to do). We kinda don’t do XP & keep PCs around the same level even if they can’t make the game(after all, people have jobs & not everyone can work consistent hours each week).

    As a GM, I kinda suck(I’m getting better), but if I send book stuff(maybe slightly modified) at you & you die, that’s your own fault. If I build the encounter to where you have a fair shot & you die, that’s your fault(or you’re kinda unlucky). If I over estimate the group & send in stuff that’s too strong, that’s my bad & I’ll fix it(I’ve gotten a lot better about that part though). If you come up with some clever way to overcome or ignore my challenge, props on that & you get your victory(especially if it’s something difficult I worked hard on).

    Then again, my first game involved my character being beaten up by another PC, having his army he worked hard to amass taken from him, & had to be dragged away from the burning ravaged town he was in by his familiar, so maybe my perspective is a bit skewed.

  • Nathan Ellis

    I admit i wanted to be babied through any D&D campaign when i first started. You want your character to be awesome like drizzt or gandalf. But alas DM’s play fair and never give special treatment. I had a Tiefling ranger once that i was very proud of, went into a tavern, and the DM tells me of this very potent wine on the menu that even strong warriors can’t handle, i took it as a challenge…. my self proclaimed ‘awesome ranger’ blacked out after one sip, the tavern explodes with laughter and i died a little inside.

  • Anonymous

    “Rocks fall, everyone dies; sometimes, shit happens.”


  • Alexander Wood

    Dude, I wouldn’t play a game if my character couldn’t die! Dying is part of the game, sometimes the best part! Without the risk of death, the game is pointless.

  • Sanjay Dharawat

    Great story! p.s I’d definitely buy a “Beware: Leaping Wizards” Shirt…Just sayin’!

  • Egan Dunne

    I killed off a player in the first session of my campaign because he gave the head NPC lip. The head NPC cut his throat.

    You make me want to DM things again.

  • Jeremy Thomas

    Entertaining. I know where your’e coming from, Spoony. My first DM, Santosh, brought the house down on our characters — routinely — he wasn’t afraid to kill us and we knew it. In the course of a single campaign(that spanned about 6 months, meeting 1-3 times a week) I had to reroll twice purely because of bunk rolls. DId I bitch? Sure I did! But you get over that shit and move on, roll up a new toon and have fun.

    ALso, you rotten bastard. Making me miss table top. Suppose I could always finalise the rule set for my personal setting and rope my friends together. I think I will. Thanks for the motivation.

  • VGHell

    Actually from what I’ve seen it’s ok to kill players in the 4e RPGA mods.  That being said they’re still too easy and the penalty for death is fairly insignificant (free res IF you cannot afford it) but at least the games are allowed to feel, and actually be, challenging as long as your DM has good tactics.

    And I have seen TPKs with no rule changes made to the mod (ran one even) so they aren’t all too easy just al lot of them.

  • D

    In one large 9-person campaign our DM ran, we were on a quest to become avatars of different elements temporarily to defeat some large evil.  On the first mission we were near the end and fighting fighting an elf mage floating in the middle of tower with a winding staircase going up the inner walls and a hollow center.  In an attempt to bring down the elf my half-orc took out his grappling hook and slung it at the elf.  Or that was my plan until I botched the roll.  On this quest we had a draconian mage along who became the unfortunate recipient of my errant grappling hook, which dragged him off the stairs and sent him plummeting 100 feet down the center of the tower to his death.  The other party members chased mine off afterwards.  It was pretty hilarious.

  • Hathor Liderc

    RPGA = Pussies?

    • josh martyn


  • Favio Ferreira

    Sometimes that’s just how the dice rolls.

  • Anonymous

    Reminds me of my little sister when I’d play smash bros with her.


  • cavem

    good review spoony, which on was your brother

  • Anonymous

    Hey Spoony, did you ever consider making your own role playing game?  I’d buy it. 

    As for dying in D&D?  Well, I understand the RPGA was trying not to scare away any new players.  However, it sounded like your table was having fun so I think what you did was cool.  Most of the time, the players get bored of their characters and want to try a new one!   

    I’ve lost a few D&D characters in 3rd Ed.  I had an evil cleric get gored by a minotaur. Had it coming.  I had a rogue get his neck stabbed-in after trying to steal the sword of a samurai (How would the RPGA resolve this situation?  Let the rogue live?).  Had it coming.  I had a barbarian rot in a diseased forest because his fort save was too high for the vaccine.  Didn’t have it coming, but it was funny. 

    Great stories Spoony!  Keep ‘em rolling! 


    • ORCACommander

      haha what do you mean his fort interfered with the vaccine?

  • Anonymous

    I wonder what the RPGA though / thinks of the Tomb of Horrors. I would guess that its the very antithesis of their organization. On the one hand, you have an group who’s highest priority is keeping the pc alive. On the other hand you have a module who’s sole purpose is to kill the pc as fast and mercilessly as possible. How many coddled RPGA players would the ToH make cry?

    Its a great module. Never made it to the end, but damm there’s some good stories to be told of how my many PC’s met their end.

  • Tristan Pendergrass

    You’re a killer GM Spoony!
    Seriously though, this is like a KODT type story. The group is always bitching at B.A. for him being a killer GM when he’s really just letting the dice fall where they may.

  • Anonymous

    “Did you play it as it was written?”  “Yeah, basically”.

    That’s the EXACT same kind of “Basically” that Ash of Housewares used when he fucked up the magic words for the Necronomicon.  That’s my favorite kind of bullshitting!  UNLIKE the “let the baby have his bottle” bullshit of “nobody loses”.

    Stories like this make me very thankful for my vivid imagination.  I myself would have laughed to tears at the thought of ambushing wizards if I weren’t so confused and dumbfounded by the idea first.  It was such a funny mental image, it left me speechless! 

    I only played D&D briefly in my life (actually I think it was Dragonlance to be more specific), but if I were even a semi-regular player, I would LOVE to have Spoony be my DM just because he really is a great storyteller.  I can honestly sit and listen to this man talk!  In fact, he just made me realize how ignorantly I viewed magic-users during my brief playing in Jr. High.

    My own ignorance kind of slipped in and melded with my character, a big, dumb Minotaur Fighter, because my “boss” was a wizard who threatened me with a magic missile if I didn’t hear out his offer for my bodyguarding services.  Later, I was told how much of a sissy-wimp spell that was, and did I feel dumb!  Although on a boat, he did threaten to cast sleep on me and throw me overboard if I didn’t obey, and according to this story, that threat may have been more severe.  Sleep’s a bitch! 

    And side note: Long ago, in a story somewhere, Spoony mentioned “If your DM is putting you on a BOAT, he is trying to KILL you!”.  Spoony wasn’t lying.  We had Draconian ambushes up the ass on that boat.  Nowhere to run.

    So although it wasn’t the same D&D Spoony mentioned here, listening to this story made me appreciate (and remember more fondly) my brief experience with the ol’ D20 from the late 90’s.  My, how time has gone by.

  • bogger3k

    You know what I have to say that is just not fun. I DM for my group all the time, sometimes we get to meet once a week, sometimes we only get to meet once a month if not less, and honestly I run some pretty story intensive games that take A LONG time to complete. I believe the storyline that my current game is based on has been running on and off for three years now, and only one of my players still has the character they started with. Do they complain? Well a little, but its how the dice fall. If I’ve ever found an encounter that was way too difficult for them sure I make it easier, however I’ve seen ridiculously easy encounters go horribly wrong for them too. I’ve seen a confusion cause our strongest fighter to lob off the head of the Ranger standing next to her. My point being, flat out the games are just fun. My players always tell me how much fun they have when they play with me as  DM, and there is always a risk of dying with me. The RPGA’s no death to PC rules takes so much out of the game its not even fun anymore. You were right to do what you did Spoony because you did it for the point of it being FUN.

  • bogger3k

    Dragonlance is in the D&D multiverse.

  • Anonymous

    i don’t get why they couldn’t be revived. With that many clerics one should know that spell. Ah, the old days of THAC0 D&D. i started playing in ’87 and lost my group in ’93, when we graduated from High School. (yes i’m ancient) I can not tell you how many of my PC’s died or how many more i have killed while being DM. You sucked it up and went on. Roll a new one if you can’t res. i saw an entire party of 6 players fall to one Kobold! The dice were on his side that day.

  • Ordog213

    Are there any Shadowrun-Storys ^^

  • Lonewolf

    I wonder if anyone here is familiar with John Wick’s “Play Dirty” series of articles?  They were originally written for the old Pyramid Online webzine, but were recently collected into a pdf book.  It’s basically a collection of anecdotes from Wick’s various RPG games presented with suggestions for gaming, to make things more interesting.  One of his first articles presents the following statement:

    “A Killer GM is someone who takes glee in destroying characters. He kills
    them without remorse, without compassion, without care. He does it
    because he can. Gives him some sort of sick rush.
    This is bad.
    A Dirty GM, on the other hand, is someone who uses every dirty trick in
    the book to challenge the players. Keeping them off balance with guerrilla
    tactics, he increases the players’ enjoyment with off-beat and unorthodox
    methods, forcing them to think on their feet, use their improvisational skills
    and keep their adrenaline pumping at full speed.
    This is good.”

    I liked his “Dirty Fighting” article, which is all about using narrative tricks to make combat more exciting then “Roll to hit, Roll for Damage, Roll to dodge, etc.”  I also liked his Cyberpunk game story about a whole party that ended up with a nanovirus infection that would kill them off one by one in increasingly destructive ways, which ended with the last survivor barricaded in a corporate office with the villain, a gun in the villain’s mouth as he says “I’m gonna detonate in less than
    two minutes, I don’t even know what’s gonna happen to me. But I do know one thing. Whatever happens to me is gonna happen to you.”  A brilliant ending.

    Point I’m trying to make is, I see where Spoony’s coming from: if the game’s too easy, it can get boring.  But there’s a fine line between making things challenging for the players and just whacking off their characters for the sake of whacking off their characters.  Especially at the start of the game, when the PCs haven’t even entered the actual dungeon yet.

    • Anonymous


      killer GM vs dirty GM a greaat way to put it. Why did the thrid wizard have to bash sleeping PCs’ skulls in he could have gone for the prisoner or attacked the fighter.

      there always a way to be dirty but not sadistic.

  • Anonymous

    They kicked you out of the RPGA for playing actual Dungeons & Dragons instead of Baby’s First Vagina Adventure?  That’s complete horseshit.

    If I were in your place, I would have suggested that instead of campaign modules, they could just print out lists of treasure and experience to hand out to players who showed up.  You know, because that’s apparently the only thing they came for.

    • Anonymous

      “Baby’s First Vagina Adventure” – wins the internet.

      • Anonymous

        Actually, Yahtzee deserves the credit for that one.

  • Bryan Johnson

    Damn thats sad, and I’m sorry the barred you for that. I’ve seen the OTHER end of this situation, I haven’t DMed but a good friend of mine ran a pathfinder game and I got in with him.

    We got ourselves into a great conspiracy story where a half elf was running a demonic cult that was kidnapping villagers. So, we found the hideout of the cult and went to knock some heads in. After some exploring we found ourselves at a demonic altar. I tried to convince the group to turn around – as a mage I percieved something bad was near – but they wanted to explore. We came across an evil fairy that we did not know at the time was well beyond our level and would have killed us – if I had not cast sleep on it which led to it getting beat down by the rest of the party into a nice fairy paste.

    We were not handed this victory and death was imminent but luck of the dice and my spell saved the party and that felt great. If it had just been an underpowered fairy who we got past and we werent in danger it wouldn’t have been nearly as cool.

  • JanusII

    I aplaud your engenuity master Spoony of Leaping Wizards!

    Seriously, what’s the RPGA deal? Players are not allowed to die? Well RPGA exuse my harsh language but….what the flying fuck?

    When you remove the sence of the threat form the game, it kinda looses its edge and thrill, doesn’t it? Also it allows for really retarded things to happen. Like you are running alone through the dungeon and bumb into HORD of goblins, who all suffer sudden heart attack, because they weren’t expecting adventurer to pop from around the corner unexpetedly unanounced and in such rude matter? :-D

    I know how does it feel to play a feeble wizard. When we played Dračí doupě (czech half-assed equivalent of ADnD) for the second time ever i played old hag with a cat familiar and 1hp….of course we were unexperienced players with superexperienced DM, who happened to be one of the biggest assholes who I’ve ever met. So we were killing this superstrong main villain (mainly thanx to kroll (half-orc) barbarian) and i casted my only spell (although in Dračí doupě it works more like psionics in 3e, you got magic points which you spent on spells….couldn’t afford more than 1 spell anyway) blue lightningbolts (magic misile). I got lucky on my rolls and finished the DM’s pet badass black knight. The DM stared at me for a while and I imidiately knew, i am fucked, because other players were slowly moving away from me. After a while of uncomfortable silence DM said “The thunder of the spell scared your cat, which severly scratched you….loose 1 hp. How many do you have??? ONE?? OHHHH what a shame, pwned by a cat….there’s the door goodbye and we won’t miss you”…:-D

    So it’s ok for games to be challenging (our current DM does evry encounter like 2x Challenge rating higher then it should be and its Masacre…with M. Although we level faster…a LOT) and well thought out (like leaping wizards were), but on the other hand, when DM’s an asholle, nobody except for that sadistic bastard won’t enjoy it. Dm’s are powercorrupted motherfuckers sometimes….i’m just saying.

    Last thing I’d like to say spoony…I like the way you game and I like to hear stories about it ;-). So keep’em comming :-)

  • Gildedtongue

    I know why they didn’t want you to kill anybody, and you said it right at the beginning.

    “You pay a membership fee and you’re in.”

    See, there you were offering those six people a nice free sample of RPGA crack.  And players want to see themselves as the gallant hero and always winning and all that bullshit.  The fact that you played the game as a tough but fair DM and allowed people to die is what the RPGA didn’t like.  If they get frustrated and don’t like it, then they don’t give the RPGA that sweet, sweet cabbage and then Hasbro (The people who bought Wizards of the Coast, who bought TSR, and I’m sure there’s more corporate eating in there) has just a little less money in their giant vault to swim in.

    But let the dice fall as they may, Spoony!  Fudge only for the sake of theatrics and fairplay, and not to coddle your party, and let them feel that danger and darkness are just beyond every torchlight.

  • Anonymous

    Totally agree with your DMing philosophy Spoony.

    Keep the Counter Monkey tales coming.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously? You basically pay a fee for playing a game where you can’t die? What the hell?

    I barely played DnD, but the principle is like any similar games: you will eventually die at least once. What’s the challenge if you can’t die? I mean, why you gain experience for a game you can’t die? Better starting the game on maximum level, don’t you think?

    And speaking of challenge… high level players against low level npcs? Is there even a scaling difficulty or something in this game? That’s just free experience. At least, you brilliantly changed the spells and made a very awesome combo because 3 level 1 mages incapacitating a party of 6 high level players and killing 2 in the process is hilariously awesome. Random luck can be funny, like a dwarf managing to do a critical success on scaring a lich by intimidation or someone killing himself by swinging his sword because of critical failure. XD

    If one is so upset being killed in a god damn game, why not just make the effort to suck less or even better, stop playing?

  • Anonymous

    Remembering my old play sessions, I have to agree here.

    I only played two campaigns with two DMs. The first one was a practice / introduction run. I was maybe 12, my DM wasn’t a veteran either. My character was barely involved in the story that played in the backgrounds, we both did whatever we liked, used reallife VIPs, Homer Simpson, people we knew, even pets as NPCs. For fun and practice.
    One time, the DM forced a negative trait on me to keep things interesting, but I hated it at the time. I realized she was going easy on me, but only when I had to jump an instant-death lava pit (and failed!), I knew it wasn’t my non-existant skill that brought me so far. She regretted putting the pit there, so she made me roll again. AND AGAIN, then I made it. Otherwise I would have had to find another way. But hey, it wasn’t serious, and it was a random pit right before the end. Months after we started this practice-freestyle fun game. It ended with my character floating in space towards the sun anyway, same session ;)

    The second one was “for real”. Our DM’s NPCs were ball busters, the weaker ones that is. The strong ones were WAY out of our league. The DM used the game mechanics cleverly against us, and also cheated a lot. His style was to bring us to the verge of death, then bail us out. Our DM couldn’t keep his NPCs balanced, we would have been creating new characters for half of our rare play sessions. Only one PC ever died, and that’s because the player needed to leave and
    we had to get rid of his character. He was cool with that.
    I was 15 and unexperienced, it sure didn’t feel like he was going soft on us. Until one time, when he didn’t expect that the whole party couldn’t even scratch the enemy (which he already handicapped). So he kicked out this NPC with obvious deus ex machina powers, last second.
    Only today I realized he would only have killed us for major screw ups, or maybe not at all. At the time I didn’t know. Everytime my character survived, I believed it to be a huge accomplishment, luck and my cleverness, because the DM acknowledged clever ideas. He didn’t HAVE to kill us off to create this feeling, he was good at fooling us, and horrible at keeping balance. But he kept the game incredibly exciting.

    That’s how I learned how important it is for the players to think they could die, wheter its true or not. You can’t fool everyone forever, though. So if you can keep a decent balance, make this threat genuine.

  • Chessd4d5bg5

    My first death was in my first RPGA game ironically, in a 4th ed adventure were the party had a choice of how many opponents they could fight in the last encounter. Of course all four of us level one noobs say BRING IT ON and get the maximum amount. In the end its me and the final opponent and I lose. Total TPK best D&D encounter ever.

    • Craig McLeod

      Whoo boy, your DM Must have been burnt on the stake for that one.

  • André Norell

    “All of sudden, Gandalf, Saruman and Radagast leap out of the undergrowth and, with a shout of “Have at thee, scoundrel!”, they attack you.”

    Seriously, they banned you for giving your players a challenge? The fuck? Imagine if LotR had been a DnD campaign run like that. The fellowship get ambushed by Uruk-hai on Amon Hen, and just before they knock off Boromir, GIANT EAGLES SWOOP DOWN AND CARRY YOU AWAY TO SAFETY/SCARE THE URUK-HAI AWAY!

    Seriously? So the RPGA is basically just for people who want to play Ebony Darkness Dementia Raven Way. Morons.

    • jake

       I now imagine that, under the RPGA, the fell beast that killed Theoden would turn into a rubber duck a moment before impact and the change would make the Witch king impale himself on his own pointy shoes

      • Anonymous

        All of a sudden, I have the Regular Show episode “But I Have A Receipt” playing in my head! :D

        “Your party is washed away by a flood”
        “Our +3 Awesomeness repels water”
        (Big Bad throws a fireball)
        “Fireballs are made of kittens”
        “Kittens are man-eating tigers”
        “Man-eating tigers turn into stuffed animals”

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, LotR would have been a much more epic story if it ended with Frodo and Sam dying before even leaving the Shire because a rat got some lucky rolls and one-shot them.

  • Jordyn Cheslock

    I know I’m going to get a lot of hate from this, but Spoony, I feel like you should concentrate more on reviews than you should with “Counter Monkey”. I know, the Counter Monkey segment is probably very easy to do, more so than writing a review, planning out what you’re going to do for said review, and even getting material for the review in the form of props to jokes. There are other things going on with your life such as your heart problems, and now you have a puppy that can disrupt the recording process.

    I love Counter Monkey, I really do and you give some good insight in that, but as a fan, I came here to listen to the great insight that you have on video games/movies. And that you can tear whatever you review a new asshole and be funny about it. Like I said, I know I’ll get a lot of hate from not just you, but also from the fans, but at the same time, it’s just an opinion, and you don’t have to listen to me. It’s just a suggestion, and like I typed earlier, you don’t have to listen to me. In fact, you probably won’t.

    • Anonymous

      You won’t get any hate from me, it’s a very fair and valid comment. It would be nice to have some reviews and whatnot, with these Counter Monkey stories thrown in every now and then when things are going slow on the site. I also understand that making the reviews can take time, although I’m not fully au fait with the processes involved.

    • Anonymous

      I’m with you. As an old school D&D/AD&D DM and player these Counter Monkey articles are extremely entertaining and just soooo true :D.  However I think they’d be better spaced between some reviews. That way Spoony can get away with doing more of them as people won’t burn out :).

    • Kevyn Dietz

      Really, I get the impression that the Counter Monkey episodes aren’t going up instead of reviews, they’re going up instead of nothing. It takes what, half an hour, an hour to make and put them up? That’s not really eating into the review production schedule.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never played D&D but I agree whole-heartedly. I’d hate to feel like I’m being allowed to win. What’s up with that? That’s hell.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve dabbled a little in D&D, and what I have done in the game, I’ve enjoyed. I am fully aware that the role of the DM is NOT to outright kill the players, but to make it a challenge for them. There’s no satisfaction to be had in just getting to the end of the adventure, steamrollering over everything that gets in the players’ way. You want it to be an epic and challenging quest with danger and excitement at every turn. When I played, I lost a couple of characters (one was after a party member bodged both throws to save me as I hung by my fingernails on a ledge, so I fell down the cravasse! The other, we were facing a boss and I was slain in battle) but it was no big deal, I just made another one, and was introduced as such in the campaign we were doing. 

  • JD

    Yeah… I gotta agree with ya that people are too weak now adays, and think that they can just breeze through something and not work for it. I learned the hard way one time, when I tried to play as a Spell theif (yeah yeah, no need to tell me how dumb I was there.) and my first encounter, I don’t remember what it was, but I ran in, stabbed it, then it took one of it’s Tentacles or branches or whatever, Shmucked me against a tree, and I was flatter then a pancake. first level character, and it double 20’d me. Lesson learned by me, Don’t play characters you know nothing about, and for me, Always ranged with a dagger hidden in your back pocket.

  • CommieCatGirl

    Man, I love AD&D wizards.  I mean, they’re pretty shit early on, but you can deal some pretty hefty damage with a good sleep spell.   Once they get into their high level shit, they’re pretty much unstoppable forces of mass destruction while all the other characters are pretty much impotent weenies in comparison.

    • JanusII

      i disagree with what spoony said about the clerics…they are strong at the begining and get only stronger by time…lfuck fireballs and shit, we can sumon zombies and we have finger of death motofokos :-D

  • Anonymous

    Heh, Baldur’s Gate.  I remember thinking, “oh I wanna be a Necromancer!” then discovered that your first companion couldn’t fight her way out of a paper sack.  Lord that game was hard on me…  Baldur’s Gate II was far kinder.  Damn those were the days, I remember having to keep a physical notebook, just to keep track of all the subquests I was running.

  • Anonymous

    Heh, Baldur’s Gate.  I remember thinking, “oh I wanna be a Necromancer!”
    then discovered that your first companion couldn’t fight her way out of
    a paper sack.  Lord that game was hard on me…  Baldur’s Gate II was
    far kinder.  Damn those were the days, I remember having to keep a
    physical notebook, just to keep track of all the subquests I was

  • Grzegorz Wojtczyk

    One word Spoony: mainstream. It’s because the D&D went mainstream, that’s why the adventures and games started to be easier because then not many people would bother playing them. Imagine this situation: someone who is green as grass makes his first character and goes on a first adventure with a party of experienced, hardcore, old boys and dies on very first encounter killed by…a rat. Will he or she bother playing again ? I don’t think so. Mainstream equals handholding, low level difficulty and complexity of basic level. Hardcores are dying species because they always will be outnumbered by beginners. 

    • Anonymous

      That depends on waht the newbie expects, I mean… if you went in to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay expecting sunshine, lolipops, and rainbows you’re really not paying much attention.

      I know one particular newbie that I introduced to roleplaying who actually LIKED the idea of games being hard and gritty, because they thought it was realistic that “hey, if I act stupid, I’ll die!” and that this was awesome.

    • Anonymous

      No shit. Old is replaced by new. But hey, if riding up on your high horse is what keeps you asleep at night then by all means continue.

  • Anonymous

    You can kill me if you want Noah… I don’t mind.

  • Logondo

    One thing you didn’t mention was how did the players who died in your adventure react? Were they mad they died? Or did they not give a fuck?

    -In which case, sounds like it was a lot of fun.

  • Anonymous

    One thing I disliked in AD&D was how many broken kits and modulars  there were that could make a completely broken character at first level. Most of these were fighter and priests classes. But playing a Wizard is cool. So even if 4 guys mid maxed their characters, one guy would either go by what was in the basic players handbook or go with a wizard and basically be dead weight for a long time. 
    I’ve never wanted characters to die when I run games. As a player, some of the fondest memories I have are that of dying horribly for once reason or another. But you are absolutely right. Sometimes shit happens. And sometimes players shoot themselves in the foot by getting too cocky and not playing along. Thats just gaming. Letting the players win isn’t much fun at all. 
    One thing I was going to say in your Star Wars video but didn’t kind of pertains to this. In a lot of the groups I’ve played in, everyone wants to be a bad ass smugglers. So eventually, those players high jack the game and they start running the game as a money making adventure with the DM having very little say in what is going on. It seemed like we were just wasting time making fake money instead of having any real sense of adventure. 

  • Anonymous

    The RPGA is NOT balanced to keep players alive anymore.  Either that, or the DM that ran for me was more evil than I thought.  I was trying to get used to 4e through the RPGA and the second adventure I’m in is a total TPK.  The encounters are all bullshit ambushes, all of the enemies are meant to be challenging for characters 2 levels higher than the party, and the DM refuses to let me so much as consult the other players as to who’s most hurt despite me being both a newbie and the healer.  That fucker even had the gall to pin the fault of the TPK on ME in the end as well.  And when I told him and his sycophants off, the one who got banned from the store was ME.

    • Herman Cillo

      That’s 4E backlash and an Asshole DM/Staff there.

      4E is a lot easier on the PCs, and you really have to either restrict player’s knowledge on who’s injured or gun for players to kill them. Plus, players choose the harder path because they get more rewards for only a small increase in the challenge.

      It’s bullshit and I wish I could play Pathfinder.

      • Anonymous

         Fuck yes Pathfinder.  It’s everything 3.5 should be and more.  If you ever get around to playing a Pathfinder game (and really, why wouldn’t you?) I’d suggest reading some of Treantmonk’s character optimization guides.  They’re funny, informative, and helpful even if you’re not trying to optimize very much.

  • Anonymous

    Three 1st level wizards jump out and challenge a well-rounded party of 6 in a straight up fight? Aren’t wizards supposed to be highly intelligent? XD

    I’m kind of curious how experienced these players were. If they were new to D&D, I can understand why you would want to go easy on them. Also, couldn’t you have just found a way to resurrect them? Its not like death is that permanent in the D&D universe.

    This is probably the hardest issue to deal with when it comes to DMing. You don’t really want to hand the players everything, or let them reach a point where they know they can’t lose, because it really does change the game.

    The last time I played, I was with people who were brand new to D&D, and there were a few moments where our DM bailed us out of situations where we should have died, but we were saved by the “hand of god”. His theory was “you guys are just gonna take him to town to resurrect him anyway, so instead of grinding the campaign to a halt, I’ll just let you continue from here.” But what the players got out of it was, “We can do whatever we want, because the DM won’t let us die”, so now you start to see illogical, downright suicidal behaviors. You have groups of fighters charging up to ogres, trying to engage them in melee combat, picking fights with the town guards for kicks, or just running full speed into waves of enemy soldiers with their swords swinging. It’s all good, God’s got our back on this one!

    And then of course, to them, I’m the one who’s ruining the game, when I refuse to go along with these rock-stupid plans (because I’ve seen games where players got killed doing this kind of shit). “To hell with strategy, just run in and use all your attacks, its not like you can die”. :P
    I guess it just comes down to what the players want.

    It’s funny how roleplaying seems to be evolving the same way as video games. When you think of older games, like NES titles, you usually think of these hard as hell, unforgiving games where you have a set number of lives, and if you lose them, its back to the start. Oh what, you spent 3 and a half hours trying to get to stage 6? Too bad bitch, back to the start, guess you should have been better. Compare this with some modern games where death is barely even an inconvenience. You just kind of start off where you died. I get that people don’t want to be forced through the same levels over and over, but how am I supposed to give a shit when I’m going to win regardless of how I play? Why not just start up the game and have it say “Congratulations, you win!” at the title screen?

  • Rob

    In the group im in we have had 6 deaths (due to stupidity or bad luck) in like less then 30 meetings and we just made a new character. The DM is good and definetly plays logicly, not stacking odds, not letting us win, but actually role playing the monsters. That is what D&D is about. I agree with spoony 100% on this one.

  • Andrew Meyers

    honestly I applaud your forward thinking. I mean three wizards with magic missile against six characters, three of which are clerics, just sounds like a stepping stone  for the characters and not much of a challenge. 

    Now I don’t have any experience with the RPGA, but that seemed like an overreaction on that guy’s part

  • Wolf Lyles

    Never seen a player die in a game before. I have seen characters die, but actual players dying seems a bit too hardcore even for the old school crowd. Better leave that to the Chick tracts.

    I think you did get a CON bonus to hit points in AD&D though; it’s just you had to have an obscenely high CON score to do it. However, you could also roll low scores in AD&D and actually suffer a penalty to hitpoints. 3rd and higher there is no reason to have a score below 8; in AD&D you could literally roll so badly for scores as to be too incompetent to even have a class. And if you did? YOU PLAYED HIM. yeah, suck that up. You think it’s hard being a wizard? Go be a 0-level human.

    • Anonymous

      LOL !
      so funny

  • Anonymous

    Mn, I play Dark Heresy.  Players die.  All the freakin’ time.  A DM who wanted to “let you win” with NO casualties, even no major injuries, in Dark Heresy wouldn’t be respected.  We’d tell ‘em to shove off so a real DM would play.

    Sure, I want my players to do heroic and awesome things.  But if they do something stupid?  Ohohohoh man, they can practically see me rubbing my hand like some sadist torturer grinning at the prospect of getting their knife out and carving up their next victim.

  • Gerry McAreavey

    MERP for the WIN! :P

  • Anonymous

    Hey, man I understand your side fullyand if they guys you were playing with were like new to the game and you were suppose to get them into the game and join the club then I’d be on the other dude’s side but from the sounds of it every one involved were already seasoned players!
    You’re some sort of evil genious we must kill you before you try something really drastic!
    You should start posting these on TGWTG so others can see/hear these!
    I’ve never played but you’re selling e on the idea! If there were people in my area. 

  • Jonathan

    I think those 3 wizards were battle geniuses. They used their weak appearances to lull the enemy into a false sense of security, and then reaped the benefits~

    . . . in all seriousness though, that was a great little tale of how life can hate you lol

    • David Edgren

      Yeah that story is so awesome it makes me wanna try it with my group. We haven’t run a 1st level AD&D session in years!!! We usually start out around 4th level so we can have more interesting campaigns instead of fighting sewer rats and shit. I think the guys would find three leaping wizards hilarious!! Especially if they pose a challenge.

  • Anonymous

    pure awesome.

  • Anonymous

    I grew up playing 2nd edition as well, and yeah, it was just like that.  There’s no crying in AD&D!  Good for you, Spoony, for standing your ground and not wimping out against the whiners!

    • David Edgren

       “Are you Crying? There’s no Crying in D&D!!”

    • Anonymous

      What exactly is the difference between first and second edition? I still haven’t figured that out. I grew up reading my dad’s 1st ed sourcebooks, but I’ve barely ever seen any 2nd ed ones.

    • Christina

      I dunno. I do have a big problem with gamemasters arbitrarily changing rules to punish players for not playing the way they want them to. Because then I can no longer trust the gamemaster. Oh well. On the other hand, sometimes players can be annoying and deserve to be taken down a peg.

  • Alexander Reeder

    Man I went through a time were I would lose a character almost every play session.  It became so bad the DM gave me a beholder to run just to keep me alive.  Its not that I was a bad player I was just getting an unusual amount of ones always at the wrong time. And I never once cried over it. In fact I just used it as an excuse to create more and more exotic characters.

  • Eugene Lee

    As much as I like you putting out regular content like this (I just like the sound of your voice), I’d rather that instead of D&D stuff you do more Wrestling stuff. Your rants on TNA and WWE are some of my favorite stuff from you.

    • tim edgren

      I say keep up with the counter monkies..but yeah man… wreslte wresltes gone a few months without an update. at least make vids on the wwe and tna pay per views and I’ll be happy.

      • Anonymous

        “Wrestle”, not “wreslte”.

    • Anonymous

      wwe is boring.

      more counter monkey!

  • Jason Treloar

    I think part of the problem was you were running the Living Forgotten Realms stuff. When I was in the RPGA, everyone looked down on the Forgotten Realms Living Campaign as being a monty haul setting. We ran Living Greyhawk and THAT shit was real. Lost my 1st cleric to a TPK, got fireballed to death, and was estatic when my 4rth lvl fighter FINALLY got his hands on a magic weapon, even though it was just a dagger. Greyhawk was FUN.

  • Ryan Ceyler

    I have to agree with you that it is retarded to not make the game a challenge for the players the point of an RPG of any knid is to make a person think and stragize against a challenge. Also on a side note I’m looking for an RPG group in the Miama county and the surronding counties in ohio, if you are in one please email me at

  • Andrés Jaramillo

    Spoony was ahead of his time. He killed those players Dark Souls Style!!.

    Anyway, i always make my stories hard, but i also reward the players accordingly. Good Story. keep them coming.

  • David Edgren

    Hey, sometimes you die. When you’re in Cormyr and the Bard tells the Purple Dragon Knights that you are adventurers from SEMBIA!!! (Don’t ask me why I said that. It was the end of a 6 hour session late at night, and I was trying to think of a city that WASN’T Waterdeep which is where we were from) then you deserve trouble and possible character death. (Oh yeah I deserved that death.)

    Shit happens, and you don’t deserve to cry and bitch about it. The is especially true when you’re only 1st level. Seriously? Suck it up and roll a new character. At least you didn’t lose your 7th level bard/ 5th level warrior that you brought up from 1st level because your brain and mouth didn’t connect properly!! Babies!

    • tim edgren

      don;t forgot your 6th level fighter who the gm decides to put in 5 different save or die situations just because you gave him a “cursed” last name and when it’s almost over he finally gets killed by a little vampire girl draining him to death. I’m a true gamer, I want to play a game I can lose. LONG LIVE THE OLD SCHOOL

  • Adam Duffield

    Id keep an eye on your dog biting her tail, could be a sign of worms if she keeps doing it

  • Mark Richard

    Any GM can kill a PC. it’s stupid easy to do. i have a whole monster manual to instantly spawn if i want to.

    A good GM will let the PCs win by the skin of their teeth.

    one thing that turned me off 2nd ed by the time 3rd came around was how stupid lethal the game was. when low-level combat happened it wasn’t challenging… it was pure luck. you rolled dice, hoped for the best and tried not to get attached to the character because you have a d8 worth of HP and you’re lacking the what… 15 con needed to get that +1 bonus HP per level?

    the main problem is the “try not to get attached to a character” part. by the end of 2nd ed there was no immersion, no in character, just another string of faceless warriors, preists, mages and thieves.

    the other thing, and this carried into 3rd, was the “start strong/end weak, start weak/end strong” dichotomy. it might seem like a novel idea, but i’ve only played one game that ever went from 1st to 20th level and that was a few years ago

  • Nagneto Lives

    Damn, sounds like the RPGA really SUCKS. Fuck, it’s bad enough where I live nobody plays anything BUT Warhammer 40k. grrrr

  • Mark Richard

    grr… internet ate my post.anyways,
    as i was saying, playing strait up 1-20 was rare in my experience.
    most of the time it was either 1-5ish and then petered off (thus
    making the mages suck for most of the game) or it started off at 3rd
    or 4th level and ended at around 9ish, right before the mages got
    their REALLY awesome spellswhere am i going with all this?

    The best GMs i’ve met WANTED us to
    “win”. They didn’t hold back and many simply threw the dice in
    the middle of the table like the rest of us, but they created the
    adventures expecting the PCs to triumph. The most fun i’ve had was
    when i could create a character and get into it.

    A high mortality ratio and an RPG just
    doesn’t do much for me. If i wanted to play a game with a quick
    in/quick out i’d play Team Fortress 2. it challenges me as a player
    and if i die, i roll up again in 10 seconds and i’m back in the game.

    You’ll also notice i put win in
    brackets, and this is for a very good reason: if the best resolution
    you can think of is life or death, you’re not trying hard enough.

    There are far more ways to lose in an
    RPG. You might come out of the fight alive, but if you failed your
    objective (protecting NPC, securing a McGuffin, not letting an NPC
    escape, etc…) you’ve lost. Sure you’re alive and you “won” but
    you still failed.

    The best GMs i’ve met expect the
    players to win, but success or failure is entirely in our hands and
    dead men need not face their failures.

    Any GM can kill a PC. A great GM can
    make a PC wish they did get killed.

  • Nagneto Lives

    AND ANOTHER THING! The Orc example you mentioned, that could be handled so much better. Like (just as a basic example) Instead of outright killing the players, the Orcs can capture the party and lock them up and then the thief or whatever must break the group out. 

  • Leonard

    Your right Spoony, its just one of the many every day things that happens in DnD. Some people take it for granted and need to learn it one way or another if not by leaping wizards or even by a loin-clothed warrior, but all in all, From a better description made by Confucius, “No pain, no gain”

  • gerald chubbuck

    First thing I explained to my party. It’s not my job to keep you alive. In total I think I’ve said that twice. After that they got it. Now I’m not a harsh DM. I provide a challenging encounter with the real possibility of player death. An example last game I had a skeletal dog hurl a PC on an open pit of fire. He stood up and charged back to the skeletal dog and the dog tossed him again (recharge ability). The dog’s going to do that. It’s his best option. After that they got smart and pushed the dog and kept him the fuck away from a open pit of fire which he could easily toss a guy on.

    • Christina

      “First thing I explained to my party. It’s not my job to keep you alive.”

      Wrong. It’s a GM’s responsibility to create a good story and make sure the players are having fun. If the party dies randomly in the middle of the adventure, then there is no more story, because it’s over.

      Any GM can just throws some monsters at the players. That’s easy. It’s often sufficient for one-shots. Heck, of all the character deaths I had happen to characters of mine, only *one* was a D&D character (during a campaign’s final boss fight) and all the others were Call of Cthulhu characters (during one-shots at convention), but the Cthulhu deaths were satisfying deaths. Because although the gamemasters didn’t prevent them from happening, they didn’t go out their way to cause these deaths by arbitrarily pushing the characters into an unsurvivable situation, and when it happened they made sure the character’s death was memorable or saved the day.

      Point is: Some players don’t have fun if their characters die especially when they spent so much time building them, writing a backstory, investing in personal story arcs, if the character dies without resolution there’s no fun to be had. Other players don’t care what they play and just want an entertaining story and to roll some dice. Some players actually *want* their character to suffer or to die, but die in a way and at a time of their choosing… die heroically, or tragically, but die in a way that has *meaning* and only at the end of the campaign. It’s a gamemaster’s challenge to find out what a player wants and, yes, to give it to them. Because all roleplaying is wish fullfillment. It’s not a matter of “mollycoddling” a player; that would be handing him everything that his *character* wants on a silver platter. There are often several layers to what people want, and what a character wants (fame, gold, power, survival, sex, revenge, a fancy dragon’s scale armor) may be diametrally opposed to what the player wants.

  • Anonymous

    Wow… the RPGA sounds boring.

    I mean… damn. On my end, the first game of Exalted 1st Edition (White-Wolf) I hosted lasted about 2 years, took forever to come to a conclusion and we played between once to three times a week.

    I had 3 players and only one of them kept playing with his original character. All the others died, one died twice and changed his character each time and another died 7 times, and changed characters each time as well.

    The story just went on that’s all, it almost became multi-generational and yeah, they bitched about their death, but their deaths were epic and they just kept going on, that’s all… YikesSuch bitching… Really, simple rule for when people die “Here’s a compensation prize, you don’t restart with a level 1 character. Build him a backstory and we’ll do a few rolls to check how he’s loaded up from that story and find a way to put him in the team” is what I’d figure for DnD if I wanted to make it easier and fun without removing the Death risk.

    • Herman Cillo

      3.5 RPGA stuff was fun and often challenging.

      4E RPGA stuff was crap before I quit. The stories were OK, but the mods had little to no challenge and they were boring combats that were easily rolled more often than not.

    • Christina

      “The story just went on that’s all”

      Meaning, characters had no connection at all to the storyline and plot and were basically exchangeable and replaceable, so it didn’t matter if they died?

      Sorry, no. If that’s the type of game you like, fine with me. But it’s not my gaming style. If I wanted a game like that I’d play a video game.

  • Kerrus

    These days (for 4E anyway) the RPGA isn’t designed to let players win per se, so much as it is to remove permanent character death as a thing. There are provisions in the campaign rules document so that even if your character dies, you can bring him back with only minor penalties (the usual brought back to life penalties).

    However the way the modules are designed now, this safety net is only really there so that your prized character doesn’t get flushed down the drain entirely through a random act of fate or malice- it’s not there as a ‘you can’t lose’ net, because you can and often do lose.

    Basically, if you die you’re out of the game- short of one or two classes (the 4E Sentinel and the 4E Warpriest that have module relevant ressurection/revival spells), if you’re dead, you’re dead.

    Modules are often based around a time limit of some sort, and if players decide to take an hour or two out to spend the money on reviving their fallen teammates, they can fail the objectives entirely (and get no tressure/experience), or face considerably more difficult objectives (due to enemies getting advance warning/reinforcements/more preptime). While there are always notes for the newbie DMs on how to ease up on players or w/e, there’s significantly less of the attitude you’ve experienced, where ‘we’re here to let the players win’ that so permeated the previous edition LFRRPGA.

    Modules are designed to be challenges, and while players can choose to play on ‘easy mode’, most choose to play on Hard- which has extra danger and extra reward- and I’ve experienced group TPKs of all sorts in 4E RPGA on both sides of the DM screen.

    I definitely agree that the old school ‘dead forever’ thing isn’t part of that game anymore, and I can’t really say that I miss it. With modules aimed to be four hours, having four hours of work flushed down the toilet in as single roll can hurt just as much- but in the end you aren’t forced to burn your character sheet. (and yes, I’ve had DMs that have done that, and it was hilarious- horrifying at the time, but hilarious in retrospect)

  • Anonymous

    One thing you didn’t mention was how did the players who died in
    your adventure react? Were they mad they died? Or did they not give a

    • Herman Cillo

      It’s pretty clear that the players went whining to the higher ups at the con. That’s why Spoony lost his DMing privileges.

  • Anonymous

    I understand of course that if I play D&D it will be a challenge. That’s what makes it fun, though. You strive to win and try your hardest and think of plans and strategies to things.

    What makes me NOT want to play, though is when people who have been playing act like pompous ass-fucks. Nobody new is going to want to play with your grumpy ass if you act high and mighty and keep rambling on about the ‘good old days’.

    • Brandi Swenson

      Trust me other old grumpy asses will want to play with him because they similarly ramble on about the “good old days.” I know I do.  ~_^

  • Anonymous

    why can’t you just make it standard so players can die, but leave a note for DMs to discuss that matter within the group. i never played d&d, but i read an rpg book like this before. it told you all the time not to clench to the book’s rules too much, but instead see them as guidelines and feel free to change whatever you think is more fun.
    so if your players actually all agree to “nah, it would suck so much if my character died, that would ruin the game!”, which i think should be a minority, let them have it.

  • Herman Cillo

    Spoony, you might have enjoyed playing up here in Keoland during Living Greyhawk. Keoland mods were viciously fatal. The region had a reputation, especially after a specific mod wiped out multiple tables. This was, however, due to bad encounter design. The dumb twit who wrote many of the mods did NOT know how to calculate a CR rating accurately. It might also have been that some of the local DMs were killer DMs. Or that a few were secretly gunning or my character because they didn’t like me playing him and wanted me to retire him.

    There was at least some challenge and risk in Living Greyhawk, especially once I got my sorcerer up to levels 8 and above. I had finally gotten a character who could rock the encounters like the local A-holes and their damned barbarian/fighters and the Clerics! And then the campaign got killed by Wotc. But, it was fun while it lasted.

    4E, unfortunately, coddled players so much that all the encounters in 4E mods had to be ambushes to make up for how easy it was for players to roll through them with little trouble. There was no challenge when I was playing Living Forgotten Realms.

    Not. One. Bit.

    My only death in LFR was due to a dual weapon enemy that flanked with a second dual weapon enemy, so my cleric got 4 hits at once, all of which connected for high damage. And I was at least two levels low for than mod.

    In Living Greyhawk, I had to fight to keep my rogue/wizard alive. In Living Forgotten Realms, I had to fight to give the players a challenge.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I suppose it really depends on the game. Dark Heresy and WFRPG are player-killers par excellence, CoC will wreck you faster than you can say “Cthulhu fthagn”, Traveller can, at times, become “Tomb of Horrors”-esque and Adeptus Evangelion…well, it’s Warhammer 40k mixed with NGE, so you should know you’re in for a ride.

    Games like Paranoia, Amber, Don’t Rest Your Head, Shadowrun and the World of Darkness have such an insane amout of backstabbing going on that I somtimes wonder why anyone in the party survived that session.
    All that being said, my first rpg-experience was with the aforementioned Tomb of Horrors. Let that sink in for a bit…

    • Anonymous

      Ah, Amber. Where Machiavelli got all his inspiration. I loved that damm game.

  • Aya

    You’d think the regional corporate jackass would have told Spoony beforehand that he can’t make any changes to the module. Or at least write it in there. Because I mean a DM who plays outside of the RPGA and who is new to the association, would naturally assume that the spells and encounters are open to being changed at their discretion, like a normal DnD game.   

  • Aya

    You’d think the regional corporate jackass would have told Spoony beforehand that he can’t make any changes to the module. Or at least write it in there. Because I mean a DM who plays outside of the RPGA and who is new to the association, would naturally assume that the spells and encounters are open to being changed at their discretion, like a normal DnD game.

  • Ryan Burgett

    i agree that player characters should die, as long as they go down fighting in a fair way. one of my characters died due to another player basically trading me to a Dragon as food for information. that whole campaign was just unfair and everything was brought to that player on a silver platter. fucking bullshit

  • Ryan Burgett

    i agree that player characters should die, as long as they go down fighting in a fair way. one of my characters died due to another player basically trading me to a Dragon as food for information. that whole campaign was just unfair and everything was brought to that player on a silver platter. fucking bullshit

  • Anonymous

    Spoony’s talk about players taking character death like a man actually reminds me of the roleplaying forum I’m on. It’s based off of Battle Royale, wherein high school students are forced to kill each other so there can be only one, for those who don’t know. It’s not exactly in the same league as tabletop games; there’s no real stats, so the players decide events based on who’s rolled to die and how they can make the best story out of it.

    Twice a month, a handful of characters are randomly chosen to die, and aside from a limited number of opportunities players have to swap out doomed characters or save them entirely, in rare cases, they pretty much have to go with the rolls and kill them off, or else the moderators will do it for them. I can’t remember the last time anyone on the boards actually complained about it. They took it like men, as you recommended.

    But it’s probably easier in this case, because the players tend to be resigned about killing characters. Unless a character wins the game or gets rescued, which takes a lot of work and a lot of luck, it’s just a matter of when they die. There’s no such guarantee in D&D, which is probably why it’s more of an unpleasant surprise.

  • Lukas Hägg

    Man, the RGPA would probably hate me then. In our current game  we’ve had so many character deaths. One players’ charaters actually die so often we’re at the point we’re we can joke about it and poke a little bit of fun at him. All in good fun, of course. 

    I think we’re at a combined total of 10+ pc deaths, in a soon 2 year long game, at this point. I’m not  100% if it’s correct, but it’s somewhere along those lines. Some of the deaths have been pretty spectacular, and some where entiely not my fault (one player caused an avalanche and accidentally buried two pc’s along with a bunch of yetis).

    I completely agree that if you can’t die, then there really isn’t anything at stake, at all. The fear of a pc dying adds a layer of urgency to a confrontation. So what if the character took long to get this far, if he only got that far because he was being doted on like a toddler!

  • Rodrigo Ibarra

    I agree with the “you should make a challenge and not let people win just because” comment. Games with no challenge are no fun.  You can’t overcome obstacles if there are no obstacles. People do not take things seriously if there are no consequences. In games there are losers and losers and players should be aware of it.
    However consider this: in Kirby Epic Yarn it is impossible for you to lose and it was not reviewed as a bad game.

    • Christina

      Rodrigo wrote: “Games with no challenge are no fun.”

      Wrong. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate that sentence.

      Depends on how you define “challenge”, I guess.

      Face it, a lot of people playing (A)D&D don’t actually roleplay. Instead they use a player avatar (their character) to nagivate around the game world, solve puzzles, overcome “challenges” and “win” by gaining XP and loot, like in a video games.  It happens in other game systems too, admittedly, and it was worse back in the 1980s when many players and GMs seems to think the point of RPGs was antagonistic gameplay, but it sadly seems to have made a comeback with D&D 4E with its focus on dungeoncrawling and tactical combat instead of storytelling.

      Rodrigo wrote: “You can’t
      overcome obstacles if there are no obstacles. People do not take things
      seriously if there are no consequences. In games there are [winners] and
      losers and players should be aware of it.”

      Funny. Then how come almost every core rulebook of almost every RPG system I’ve seen has a chapter called “What is Roleplaying?” which basically starts  with the sentence “Roleplaying games are not like chess. There are no winners or losers. Only participants.” or a paraphrase thereof, stressing the point that RPGs are not about “winning”.

  • Ike shirley

    what i got out of it is that rpga is for those who whant an easy way to level up

  • Brent Hannum

    Ye gods, I would love to play in a Spoony-DMed game. I have yet to have a character die, though it is more because my usual DM has the creedo ‘Fun before anything else’. I have seen his level 12 Anti-Paladin faceplant into a wall. Why? The level 4 Gnome stole his Plot Key and ran into a temple to Garl Glittergold. The DM actually rolled a 1 and the DM said ‘You see the Blackguard (Anti-Paladin) lunge at you…and then look surprised as he goes off aim, as if he had been tripped. His helmeted head crashes into a marble pillar.’ Yes, he was SUPPOSED to get all the Plot Keys, but the gnome thief got a better reflex roll to grab this one.

    Or the time I was singing of a bar brawl my in-game brother started, as it happened, like it was an epic tale (yay Bard rolling a nat 20). A man tried to tackle my brother (who had palte hidden under a bearskin cloak) and thus fell over. I said ‘I see him fall and decide to cartwheel to the end of the bar and leg-drop his face’. The DM said ‘Ok, roll performance’. :D

    So yeah, my games tend to be less-than-lethal because he likes letting us mess around. He has subtle ways to keep the plot moving when it slows down but permanent death is rare. Even if one of us does die, we can either pick to roll up a new character, or, if we REALLY liked whom we were playing, he makes trying to get the mats to revive the guy a plot hook.

  • jays0210x

    Going to explain how I would personally handle DM balence if I was a DM. But first I need to say that I’m not a DM and I have never played D&D myself. but I watched your D&D group Dethklok that you DMed on Lordkats site as well as his D&D session Wyrmwick! Followed many aspects and had very high hopes for both sessions and things were great Darkvolt an other artists really brought out the visuals and put life into the characters. Both of you are actually great DMs! Lordkat is not as professional as you but he hosts a differnt wracky style of game and Wyrmwick was great! In fact I am so disappointed that both Dethklok & Wyrmwick both went inactive and I know there are many reasons why they did. And that’s the bane of D&D itself! It’s kind of to long and shit happens. But I would love to see either Dethklok or Wyrmwick come back. To bad though. 

    But what I wanted to say is I found myself in terms of how I would handle situations like a cross between you and Lordkat. For your leaping wizards scenario I found that you were more in the right then in the wrong, and that D&D has death. But I generally dislike killing other players for things that are not directly in there control. If they are playing by the sound rules of the game and not being stupid in normal situations there death should not come from something like a dice roll. Or just seems to happen due to story. Attacking sleeping targets to death is kind of unfair especially in that situation. But you don’t have to let them win thats for sure. Have them defeat or try to defeat the party and perhaps force a couple death saving throws. But once they got there prisoner they would have retreated and then the party would be forced to track them down or something. That’s the general fair way in my books. Being put to sleep by a dice roll and then attacked repeatedly is kind of silly in that regard. But I imagine that there has been many worse death in sessions. But both PC and NPC should die.  You and Lordkat did a decent job at that.  Lordkat went put a lot of NPCs on the chopping block and sometimes that has even greater effect. Because then the players have to live knowing that they may have been at fault to a certain degree for getting a beloved NPC killed. 

    Lordkat was great at making loveable NPCS! How often in a D&D game does a common generic enemy turn into an NPC, then become a side quest, then turn into a sad drama event, then become a playable character and then get killed.  That’s the sort of thing I love about D&D! It takes both the players and the DM to make something like that happen. Doll the pirate will forever remain in my books as one of the best D&D characters of all time. It was also genius the whole first born scenario that was well done. And one last thing I love about Wyrmwick an Lordkats ability as a DM is he does things that I don’t see a lot of DM’s doing. I remember those portals that are a part of the “Long Story Magic” gag…  Lordkat allowed the party to just exploit theses portals for sessions on end. That was awesome! And he kept the enemy encounters down to what I would in my own opinion believe is a more realistic amount. But in Wyrmwick it was all about running around all over the place so the party covered a lot of ground.  Last but not least after saying all this I would love to be a part of Lordkats D&D session but if I had to play D&D I would still prefer spoony as a DM.

  • Christina

    Spoony, in 1999 you were still in HIGHSCHOOL?? Um… dammit, now I feel *old*. I finished school and went on to university in 1993, and in 1999 I was busy doing field work collecting data on dragonfly mating behaviour for my diploma work (the German equivalent of a master’s degree).

    I did play AD&D in the early 1990s, but really the 1990s were dominated by White Wolf’s World of Darkness 1.0 (and similar dark urban horror storytelling RPGs). The first edition of Vampire: the Masquerade had just come out in 1991, and I was the perfect age, the perfect demography for World of Darkness: a student during the decade when everything was black trenchcoats and sunglasses, and X-Files, and postmodernism nonsense, and magical “cyberspace”… which basically culminated in the Matrix movies. I guess you had to be there.

    The 2000s on the other hand were the decade of the d20 system, with D&D 3rd edition and d20 Modern bringing back levels and classes and miniatures on battlemaps to the game table, and of Shadowrun 4E (now the future was wireless! whoo).

    • Faust

      Fuck yeah! I was there! And it rocked! Don’t forget the “Vampire: Masq” TV series, the movie “Hackers”, serial killer movies, and Nihilistic music to wash it all down.

      God I miss the 90s.

      Did you hear CCP – a company that does EVE Online (an MMORPG) bought the rights to WW Vamp: Masq and is making a WOD game of it?

  • Faust

    You think specialty priests were broken. Let me teach you about: Psionics


    And you sound like a better DM than a player, of course egomaniacs always make better Gods than players ;).

    I know you’re type, and I’ve listened to you get a bit bored/pissy when RPG’n.

  • Christina

    That’s pretty funny. I like NPCs who act smart and work together. Of course, it wold have been even smarter for them to ambush instead of leaping out of the bushing yelling, but if that was the way the encounter was written in the source material, well.. *shrug*

    Why didnt the mage just slits the PCs’ throats? I’m trying to remember if AD&D 2nd Ed had something like 3rd Edition’s coup-de-grace rule. It did have rules for bleeding per round; although bleeding could not usually be caused by a normal dagger wound.

    Admittedly, the encounter was not probably not *supposed* to kill off any 1st level player characters. However, if the players were so arrogant that they thought their characters invincible, they deserved to be taken down a peg.

  • Moritz

    I can see where these guys where coming from, BUT shouldn’t D&D be fun? How is it fun if 6 people are up against 3 level 1 mages with magic missile?!
    If I was in such an encounter I would never play that game again. That sounds like the most boing shit ever!
    Spoony, you really couldn’t see it coming, that 3 magic users, even with good spells would kill anybody. They just had really crappy luck that evening, it happens.

    Though I do disagree that you can’t kill people in 4th edition. Even Wil Wheatons character in the Penny Arcade celeb game was killed. Ok, they brought him back right the next round, but that was more due to time constraints these games have.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if immediately after putting everybody to sleep, that the players thought, “Oh shit.”
    Great story Spoony, thank you.

  • Jordan

    I completely agree, Spoony.  It’s experiences like yours that make me glad I resisted the one-time temptation to join the RPGA.  Victory is meaningless if there’s no chance of defeat.  That’s the whole point of using dice in RPGs…so that you never know if/when you will succeed and if/when you will fail.

    You did just what I would have done were I GMing that module.

  • Michael Norgavue

    I remember 2nd. Ed. being lethal like that.  All it takes is the right combination of non-damaging spells and bad rolls to bring a party down.  A spellweaver almost took the entire party down after using nothing but non-damage spells and misdirection to get a mid level party toting around a lot of damaging items in a spot where even things they may not normally bother them became lethal.  All the RPGA modules I’ve seen in my days are always a bit safe for the PCs.  Anyone I have talked to that ran or played in the RPGA always said it was a bit too easy to get through.  When you get down to it the RPGA is really something built to try to recruit new players through their friends and what not so killing them right off would probably not be in their best interest.  

  • Anonymous

    It’s a shame you had that sort of experience in Living City, Spoony.  I wasn’t huge in that campaign – I only played a few adventures – but I played the heck out of Living Greyhawk when it was active, and played about a year or two of Living Forgotten Realms.  They all had very different feels, and not just because of the different editions these campaigns used.

    Living City was 2nd Edition AD&D based, and was the first large-scale persistent, or Living, campaign.  As such, there really wasn’t as much concern given to such things like “game balance.”  There weren’t any restrictions on what levels of characters could play, so you would routinely see a very high level character, say 12th or 13th, shepherding a 1st level or two around, decking them out with magical armor and weapons, and having them hang back and maybe participate every once in awhile.  The cert system was atrocious – basically, if you killed the big bad at the end of the dungeon, and he had a powerful magic longsword, then there was one up for grabs at the end of the mod.  One.  And ONLY one.  Heated arguments were common over everything, from weapons, armor, rings, even ridiculous items like a shirt that can change colors or something.  It was fun, but it was WAY overpowered – I saw quite a few characters that were unstoppable killing machines in that campaign.  It didn’t get much better when it converted to 3E, and it was finally put to rest with the introduction of Living Greyhawk.

    Greyhawk learned from the lessons of Living City – after their first year, they ditched the certed items system, and made it so the adventures provided access to purchase magical items.  This was somewhat controversial, since it meant they were lowering the bar on item acquisition – everyone could buy a +2 shortsword with the gold they had earned, but they couldn’t just find one off the body of the guy that was using it.  It was weird, and didn’t make much sense if you looked at it, but  it meant people would not be screwed out of an item they could use by a grognard they’ve never met insisting on dicing on everything.  It did, however, create a LOT of paperwork – each adventure had its own logsheet, and there was a lot of number tracking.  It was wildly successful, and unlike Living City, Greyhawk had plenty of warning that they were winding down, and each region had a chance to wrap up their local stories – something that wasn’t handled well in Living City.

    Finally, 4E comes around, and Living Forgotten Realms follows it.  *sigh*  What can be said about this?  Well, the real problem is that the Living campaign doesn’t work nearly as well in 4E as it did in previous editions, mostly because they decided that combats should go on longer.  You’ve got a static amount of time (4 hours, roughly), and have to do several fights and tell a story.  The XP is based around the fights, so you have to include that – which means the story suffers.  Additionally, there really wasn’t any story early on, so each adventure that came out rarely felt like it was part of a whole.  Item acquisition would have to be described as something like a combination of both previous campaigns – you could “find” a magical item per character level for free, but could freely buy anything with the gold you find.  I ended up leaving LFR as it started dying in my area in Year 2, so if it’s improved, I can’t say much.

    If I had to pick a lethal campaign, it’d probably be Greyhawk – Living City’s characters were too powerful and too decked out for monsters to pose a challenge, and 4E characters are nigh-on invulnerable.  Greyhawk had a good balance – you could kick ass, but the monsters could sometimes get the upper hand.  As for character death, that penalty has gotten less severe as time has gone on – in City, it was difficult and expensive; in Greyhawk, it was a stumbling block and a drain on the finances; in Forgotten Realms, it’s a slap on the wrist.

    One last thing, regarding the RPGA coordinator: I’ve never run into that mentality.  Do you want a TPK?  No, but well, shit happens sometimes.  Technically, he’s right – you’re not supposed to rewrite the adventure.  I suspect it was an introductory adventure, written to give 1st level characters (and players new to the campaign) a taste of what Living City was.  Challenges would be lower, and bad guys would use suboptimal tactics, and the rewards would be lessened as well.  I’ve killed more than a few characters in RPGA mods, and was never banned from running again.  Maybe it was some sort of “gentleman’s agreement” that was going on when I wasn’t playing, or maybe it was some unspoken rule going on in Arizona, but I’ve never run into that philosophy – not here in Kansas, and certainly not at GenCon.

    Hope to see more Counter Monkey stories in the future!

  • Spencer Hamm

    You know, if I notice my DM doing something that makes me live, Ill tell him, No, if I die, I die, dont make it where I live if I wasnt going to live, characters die, people reroll. It sucks, but thats the game.

  • John Gillick

    Sounds to me like the guy was a hard ass.  My experience with the RPGa is that, if you survived, you were lucky (At least as far as conventions go.  The Living games may be a different beast).  And in the current offering, the D&D Encounters program, I am known as a brutal, sadistic fuck of a DM, and people love it.  Tales are told of my double TPK night.  I’ve been told that I need to paint dead PCs on my screen like a World War II Flying Ace.  It’s glorious!

    • Jason Treloar

      Another idea I had about that “Regional Cordinator” was that he know that there were very few people playing D&D in the area and was scared to death of loosing any potential RPGA members and went to absurd lengths to avoid frightening them off. Kinda like how Spoony was forced to play a crap deck when he was schilling pokemon cards, folks are more likely to stick around if they win. Doesn’t mean he was right in his beliefs, but it makes a little more sense than him just arbitrarily being a dick.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, I had that same thought, Jason.  It’s the RPG equivalent of “the first one’s always free.”

      • Anonymous

        I had the same impression too, and I can’t really fault him for that. I understand and respect Spoony’s passion for the game and the hobby, but maybe his attitude was a bit more romantic or idealist, whereas the coordinator was more realist and pragmatic. For people who really love D&D and want to invest a lot of time and effort into it, Spoony’s way is surely the best, and I’m sure the player who had the fighter who managed to overcome the wizards with his party almost dying on him probably had a frickin’ great time. But to attract and retain the more casual players (casual being relative here), the coordinator’s way was probably better.

  • water thenewking

    ive never played dnd… never personally known anyone else that was interested… closest ive had to anything like that was playing magic in highschool and that is completely unrelated… but i am completely behind you man… if i had my character’s head bashed in after laughing at an enemy i perceived as weak, i would’ve just said “damn, i stand corrected”… if you can’t loose there is nothing to win

  • squall lee rhodes

    >letting people win

    man, the RPGA was way ahead of the curve for gaming. Holding the player’s hand, letting them win; they’re as kind as most modern games

  • Sean Callagan

    I think he’s got the right of it here.  I’ve played with killer GMs (no fun at all) and with Care Bear GMs (still no fun at all).  Most fun I have is the games where the threat of death is there but we can succeed.  I try this as a GM (though I do get complaints from ‘overpowered encounters’) and most people seem to enjoy it.

  • dialhforhero24

    Dude, I had basically the same experience. At my comic shop, We play DnD all the time, and Once a month an RPGA member comes in for a coordinated game, where their character’s are officialized, or something like that. I am the DM, and I’ve been told that I’m quite a good DM, because I know when to be fair, but never play soft on anybody. So I HATE when the RPGA guy comes, First Time He came, We were Mid-Story of a campaign I had set up, So we just sped through it the night before. He gave me the module, and sat down to check it out. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I believe It was a simple dungeon raid, with all Level 1 monsters. The guys were allowed to use our previously made characters, and one of my friends were a 6th Level Chronomancer. So He basically breezed through all of this without worry, The 10th Level Fighter was seriously laughing at the “challenge”, So…I through an extra monster at them, I forget which, but It was 3rd Level to atleast give them some FORM of challenge. The RPGA guy gave me a wierd look, which worried Me, but the guy’s made it to the Wizard protecting the “Gauntlet”, basically the whole reason they did this. The Wizard was a pansy, All Elemental based powers, He SUCKED!, So I beefed him up a bit, Giving him some Illusionary based powers. Too make a long story short, The Fighter kills the Chronomancer, and the guys have a good laugh about it, But the RPGA just gives me the eye. Afterwards, He talks to me about sticking to the RPGA’s module’s to prevent deaths, which ticked me off. Of course you probably had an super extremist, because He left me off with a warning, If I EVER do it again, no more RPGA Dming for Me. God that is so stupid

  • Shawn

    I wish I had you as a DM. Honestly to let the players win is like playing dodgeball and not moving. I play D&D in my family I don’t know all the special stuff but we play, we die, we have a challenge, and when we win we feel like were champs. (To say things oddly my mom is my DM and she makes things hard because she believes since shes the mother she might try to make things easier so if anything I have had huge challenges) It would be cool to play with you one time spoony.

  • Henrik Olsson

    first of all LordKaT was ashamed of that encounter and you went in there like “oh goblins are piss easy” and you got taken on the bed there

    secoundly i played my first DnD game last week my monk was 2 hp from dieing sens i got some bad rolls agnest me basecally he crits me bringing me down to 1 hp and i use my items dailiy trigger that when i take dmg i can deal 2 fire dmg on the target he dies in a gaint expltion and he crits me again, if i hadn’t been full hp and had 5 temp hp i would have died and you know what i would have been ok with that you can just reroll a new char np, it isn’t fun to die but having no threat of dieing is even less fun

  • Taco Dan

    First time I DMed, players died, they still completed the adventure, and they still had fun, even the players that died. Sure, I’ve made concessions for players that had really bad luck, but the point is, if your players can’t die, they’ll start doing stupid shit. I’ve seen how players act when they know they can die and when they know they can’t, and the attitude is remarkably different. To make a long story short, if you want serious players, tell them they can die, and even kill some of them.

  • Anonymous

    If I was a DM, (I’ve never really played D’n’D before), I’d probably make up some lore stuff to balance it out, (like a videogame).

    I’d probably make it still very possible to be wiped out and die, but I’d make it so that death isn’t 100% permanent.
    I’d introduce some sort of limited and expensive revive crystal (kinda like Pheonix Downs but rarer and more expensive), where a character can be revived but that it couldn’t be abused.

    Like 5 max per campaign.

    People could sell one for better gear, but they may need it later on when the difficulty ramps up considerably.

    Maybe if I was nice, give them 1 or 2 time crystals that could restart a battle, (which won’t be all that useful if they weren’t properly prepared for it).

    Its all basic game design really.
    (Even some rogue-likes, like the recent Binding of Isaac, have some sort of revive power-up/item, but you have to earn it, or just be lucky)

  • Steven Caulfield

    I have to go with the Rocky philosophy when it comes to DnD.

    If they die, they die.

  • Joshua Snider

    RPGA will start using loaded dice to protect players from chance.

    • Anonymous


  • Jack Donald

    I wish Spoony was my GM. Then again I am the GM at the moment… and I wish that didn’t sound like it does to me. Regardless the events described in this story sound perfectly fair and, in the RPGA at least, it should be decided between the GM and the players whether they want to deal with the consequences of death or not. By the sounds of things the party were pretty cool with what happened, especially considering how ridiculously weak the encounter was so the RPGA guy was just being an arse. having heard this story I’ve ripped up my RPGA membership card.

  • Mike De Swert

    The first time I DMed I also had a character die, I’m pretty harsh when it comes to finishing off characters. If a character is weaker than the others and the monsters know this(and are intelligent enough to act on it), then it would be a perfectly natural reaction for the monsters to focus their fire on the weakened character.

    I sometimes make it a little easier and bend the rules a little. Like there was this one encounter from the new D&D red box (I haven”t DMed for that long) where you had a room full of enchanted chess pieces, and they were wailing on the players.
    They were really starting to get in trouble, but the last encounter had been really hard on them too, so I cut them some slack and made the chess pieces back off from a character as soon as it was dying, since it wouldn’t pose a threat anymore. A logical reaction from the enchanted chess pieces might be that they would leave everything alone that they didn’t see as a threat.

    But as Spoony said, sometimes the dice come down and you have to be fair or else the game wouldn’t be exciting anymore.

    I did however improvise, and the characters were able to drag the corpse out of the dungeon. I then made up some town that was two days of traveling away, where they could find a healer able to resurrect the dead. The cost was half of their gold supply and the condition was that each time a character died, the cost for resurrecting a character would exponentially increase as it would become harder and harder for the healer to bring the soul back from the land of the dead.

  • Derek B

    I very much enjoyed this story. I can’t believe that the RPGA had modules that you absolutely could not win. That’s ridiculous. I’m not old school gamer, but I started with 2nd Ed, and I had DM’s that absolutely will not let you die. Like, you die, but you don’t DIE. We always have reincarnate, or you had impressed a deity so you got a one time resurrection, or you were forever cursed some some major battle scar that hindered/cursed you for the rest of your life (eg. you survived, but your left leg’s tendons were cut so severely that you know move at half from this point on).

    Good on you for changing up the wizards that way you did. That was genius.

    I play in conventions, and you almost never survive the games there. They’re not RPGA approved though, so that probably helps. But when you walk into that game, chances are you will die. Very likely it’ll be in a very horrific fashion. I know I’ve had that happen to my characters. If I had to compare it to anything, it certainly wouldn’t be an RPGA game. More like a Gygax game. If you’re smart, you’ll survive my Tomb of Horrors. If not, you’re going to get disintegrated. That’s that game. Can’t take it? Shouldn’t play it.

  • Zane Mooney

    Now have you ever been killed just because one of the other players felt like it?

  • Anonymous

    While this is mostly true, I can assure you that the RPGA is not always kid-gloves.

    With Encounters, the DMs are only gentle with new player. Older, more veteran players are treated as such.
    In LFR, our group consists almost entirely of people who are quite good at D&D, we tend to play the “high” version of any module that gets run and the fights can get rough. It’s not uncommon for players to die, and I’ve seen a few TPKs in our play. (Though it is worth mentioning – death is not a very permanent problem. Your character is just working with a penalty for the next adventure and a half)
    And Lair Assault is run like it says on the tin – don’t get attached to the character, because it’s going to die.

  • Angela

    Pssh, my GM for Rouge Trader/Dark Heresy actively tries to kill out characters. Our first real encounter in Dark Heresy we went up against a lower level demon.

  • Anonymous

    I gotta say if I was a part of RPGA and I found out that they were specifically letting me win I’d be kinda pissed. As you said if the adventure isn’t an actual challenge then it isn’t fun, if you have a fair DM he’ll give you a chance but he’s not gonna pull crap like this (Seriously, Magic Missile?). If I had been in that group I’d be congratulating you on a well done ambush, not complaining to you manager.

  • CureLight

    The first time I ever played D&D with my friends they started me off on a floating piece of ice in the middle of a river going towards a waterfall and made me try to figure out to get to safety without their help. I thought it was kind of a dick move at first– especially since I ended up dying ten minutes into my first game– but it was actually a great way to introduce me to the skills and the fact that I was going to have to think on my feet.

    I mean, the possibility of dying is what makes taking changes in the game so much fun!

  • Asaf Shamaa

    People get very attatched to their characters sometimes. It doesn’t have anything to do with “being a man” to those who are really passionate about their character design and story and such. No offense, but you just sound a bit like a prick in this one. I actually saw a forum discussion on the nature of character death. It’s a bit split on those who allow death and those who don’t.

    • Anonymous

      It never sounded to me like he was playing against them.  If anything, he was doing it for them.

      Just re-roll the same damn character if you like it so much.  What’s proventing you from making Bitchy 2.0?

  • Robin Enström

    How did your character get killed in Lordkats game? I could not find that episode, why did you not make a new character?

    • Tim Dugan

      It was in LK’s very first attempt at DMing.  They ran across some goblins that I believe LK was going to try to convey that there were pretty powerful, but Spoony up and shot one in the face before that could happen (which was completely in character and awesome).  The players were all level 1, but the goblins were all level 3 characters, and when they became bloodied they did basically double damage.  Spoony took a hit that dropped him from bloodied to straight dead near the end of that encounter.

      Spoony later said he didn’t realize there were goblins that were anything other than chumps (from past, old school DnD experience).  They DID resurrect Spoony’s character and the campaign lasted a few more sessions before it fell apart.

  • Robin Enström

    How did your character get killed in Lordkats game? I could not find that episode, why did you not make a new character?

  • Stuart Phip

    You seem a pretty balanced DM from what i remember from DeathLock, you challenged the players to the limit and each victory was hard earned and you kicked the shit out of the party but you were fair and it was fun to watch as i am sure it was fun to play.

  • Pigmy Wurm

    my first game of D&D ended when our psion switched sides, dominated our fighter, and had him massacre the rest of us (I was a low level thief so I dropped almost instantly). I have had so many characters die and it sucks, but it also makes a good story in hindsight.

    That said I understand some of the “no killing” thing but only under specific situations. For the past few years I’ve ran D&D campaigns at the summer camp I work at (which is where the above campaign took place). I usual end up running the campaign for the new players starting at first level and I have a standing rule not to kill off anyone in a 1st level campaign and I try not to kill off anyone in anything under 4 or 5. This is not easy because these kids can be stupid. You could put 30 guys in front of a gate and they will still try to charge in and kill all of them instead of looking for another entrance. At one point I had a party, despite my advice, sleep on top of a watchtower in the middle of a goblin lair. What’s worse is when the sorcerer, who took first watch, saw a group of goblins coming toward the tower, instead of waking his party up (me-“Okay you see 3 goblins, do you want to wake your party,” him- “no,” me-“…are you sure,” him-” yup,” rest of party-“yeah that’s fine.”) he decides to run forward and take them on himself, and surprisingly he won without taking a hit and without me fudging any roles. 

    Or their was campaign where the cleric starts the encounter against a gnoll chieftain by trying to run up and attack him directly oblivious to the two bodyguards standing by him. The cleric provoked 3 attacks of opportunity, and was being flanked by the bodyguards. He blocked at least one and sucked up a bunch of damage (gnome clerics are hard to kill) and then missed the chieftain with his own attack. And then the bodyguards got to attack. That was the closest I came to having a character die. By the time he stabilized he was at -8 or -9 and the dwarf had to drag him and the more recently unconscious half ork to safety (and a convently placed box of healing potions).

  • Anonymous

    From what you’ve said and what your personality seems to be, and your deep understanding of why entertainment art forms are entertaining, I would be honored to be a part of any game you were GMing, Spoony, no matter how many deaths the dice may visit upon me.

  • Anonymous

    The unintentionally hilarious and yet still angering thing about this story, by the way… is that the way you describe that dude from the RPGa, honestly makes him sound like Bill Lumberg from Office Space, Spoony.

  • Anonymous

    D&D without the risk of death is not D&D.. ESPECIALLY at the early levels where your characters are at their weakest. A group of three goblins can get lucky and kill off a player or two.

    Having 1st level wizards make competent spell selections makes sense. Three wizards with magic missle is worse off than that group of three goblins, because once the magic missle is gone.. the wizard is pointless.

    Honestly, I applaud the spell changes. However, I probably also would have changed the encounter. Wizards leaping from bushes just sounds stupid.. why leap from the bushes when you can use it as a quasi-cover to cast spells from? I dunno.

  • Willaim Tribble

    Even though the RPGA has that “don’t kill the players” policy BS, I think that regional jerk owes you an apology letter. Honestly, i think you went above and beyond the call of duty to actually make a game fun and interesting. To me, if a DnD game doesn’t have some kind of massive “WTF?!?” moment, be it good or bad for the PC’s, then its a bad campaign. Thank you for sharing all your awesome Role-Playing moments Spoony. :]

    On a side note, if you were to make and sell a “Leaping Wizards!” T-shirt, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. :D

  • Anonymous

    I think you were in the wrong here, because you let players die *and it wasn’t their fault*, they did nothing wrong and they still lost. As wrong as it may sound, dice aren’t supposed to be the deciding factor in the encounters, players’ decision making should be.

    Of course, you can be merciless with following the rules, but then players will focus on min-maxing and combat and not on the actual role playing. So it makes sense to fudge throws to the extent that allows players to at least get out of the situation alive if they do everything right.

    • kaleb phillpott

      bs its a dice based game moron

      • Anonymous

        No it’s not, at least not in the same way as, say, craps. It *uses* dice, but they’re not what’s it all about.

      • Anonymous

        No it’s not, at least not in the same way as, say, craps. It *uses* dice, but they’re not what’s it all about.

        • the doctor

          yeah but sometimes shit happens. i’ve had a level 14 character die with no soul. it sucks but that’s d&d.

          • kaleb phillpott


          • George Rosenbaum

            Dice are only ONE of the deciding factors. You also have account for situation, the stats of every character and creature, and the status of your allies.

            So your dick is only PARTLY made of diamond. Enjoy your diamond dick.

          • kaleb phillpott

             i lost nothing and gained a half diamond dick its all win all the time :D

          • Logan

            I’d personally say that games SHOULD be decided that way. Yes a large part is player choice but a first level sleep spell doesn’t have that great of a chance of succeeding. It was chance that caused that fight to go that poorly as even one more person standing would have caused the fight to STILL be onesided in their favor as a single working character could have wiped out a mage a turn most likely once they used that last ray.

            Its bad luck but that IS how the dice land sometimes. I was in a low level star wars encounter once where a four person party*and well equipped at that because of a filthy rich noble* were nearly wiped out against some normally completly inaccurate droids. The fight came down to a small rodent with a blaster hiding behind debris that would only count as cover for it shooting down the rest of the enemies because she was the only character that could roll above a 8 on a 20 sider.

          • Tyler Diaz

            IS your penis made of diamond? o.0

  • George Rosenbaum

    Actually, I went to an RPGA sponsored encounter, and my very first fight was against a tainted dragon at the end of a campaign.

    I don’t remember the details of the story, but it bowled over half the party in the first round ( who all decided to stand in a cluster like bowling pins). Then it proceed to bite, burn, and tail whip the shit out of them, half the part was bloodied, and one guy died.

    And it kept exploding, for some reason. It was like something something out of Monty Python skit.

    I hit it with a crossbow bolt, then backstabbed it, doing a fair bit of damage. Then the dragon exploded, knocking me over a house. I successfully rolled my acrobatics to remove the fall damage, but the dragon’s effect made me fall over anyway. We barely survived, and if I hadn’t just decided to join, they might have lost their characters in that fight.

    So I don’t think that it was the RGPA. Either you just had a jerk, or you scared him by killing off three players in your first match. At that point, I wouldn’t want to listen to your excuses either. But still a awesome story.

  • Jessica Jarocki

    All I have to say is that RPGA sucks for making the game to easy and not a lot of fun! They have made people of D&D whining pussys! Its only fun if there is a challenge! And that is what you gave the players in that game (during the leaping wizard which by the way that was brilliant in how you handled that) is a challenge! Sure I guess you broke the mold but remember the people who break the mold in reality are usually the ones who are the most successful in life :)

  • SixStringSamurai

    When I used to DM games, I considered myself a player as well… only I played every NPC in the world.  That encounter with a 4 orc patrol?  Those were 4 of my characters and I was trying to win, as far as the agenda of a group of orcs is concerned, without being unfair to the heroes.   Some people just enjoy storytelling, but in my group of friends we ALL wanted to play… I was only DM because I owned the DM’s guide and had actually read it.  But yeah, I still wanted to be a player so whenever the party got into a fight, I was trying to kill them… every time… because those orcs, or those city guards, or whoever they managed to piss off to the point where weapons were drawn wanted them dead.

    Of course I didn’t personally want their characters to die, but it’s roleplay.  It added alot of fun to the game when they knew I wasn’t fudging rolls in anyone’s favor, I rolled in front of the DM screen, not behind it (for combat anyway), and they were fighting for their lives.  I honestly think it helps the roleplaying side of the game greatly when characters are restrained by the fear of death.  You don’t get too many out-of-character, foolhardy, rash, or insane character decisions and a band of axe-wielding orcs emerging from the thicket is actually frightening.  And best of all, heroic feats on the battlefield are truly heroic and you get a much greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you triumph.

  • Anonymous

    I was a DM
    (ravenloft second and third edition) for 10 years; I kill a lot of chars, with
    no mercy, like sponny said, if you are smart you live, if not bad things happens.
     In that line of time my players only
    level up to level 10 and the biggest treasure in the group was a +3 axe and a
    ring of shooting stars without charges, one friend that reach level 14 using a
    magic book he found in the second year of play, he storage that book for almost
    7 years and then become a cleric just to use the book. Another friend was like
    Kenny from South Park, He love to play the hero role, running against the odds,
    fighting alone, saving the group, etc., He use to die a lot, he was so angry
    sometimes (funny for the group) but in the end we all have a good time, they
    were not in there just for winning, it was for having a good time and telling a
    good story , my vision of ravenloft was a hard world, with almost no treasures,
    evil characters use to level quicker and good characters were punish all the
    time, leveling was slow in mi camping, but the balance was having a good story
    to tell and have fun in the end.

    from Chile

    PD: I agree
    with SixStringSamurai,
    when you play the DM you have to consider yourself as another player and play
    the supporting characters like yours

  • Tobias

    The more of the Counter Monkey videos I watch, the more I would love to be in a game run by spoony.
    There is no point in rolling dice if the result of every encounter is going to be, good guys live, bad guys die. There needs to be some sort of challenge and thats what makes it fun. Sure a DM can fudge some things, because there is also no point in going into an encounter the players can under no circumstances survive either.

    On the account of PC death, I had these two times, weirdly enough both times the same player with a monk, in 3rd edition DnD where in the first encounter of the campaign I accidentally killed the player with a critical hit. That’s a situation where I go lenient and go with a cop-out, letting the players do a little fetchquest for a temple in return for the player’s resurrection, because really those enounters were just meant as a little warm-up.

  • Lockark

    At my LGS they do encounters and it’s very strange. They HATE anyone they percive as min-maxing, to trying to play threw the combats intelligently. I’ve lost so many charters after having monsters murder the fuck out of me, only to be paper cut outs for other people.

    They have this realy bad attitude that if you want to play the game smart, your min-maxing and basically need to be hazed into thinking like they do. Basically as you put it “master-Baiting” and mindlessly rolling dice.

    I left that bad experience and started a group with some friends. A bunch DM’d it like you say to. But then I tried something eals. Recently I’ve found less combat ordinate Role play games, and more Investigation Campaigns much more interesting. I recently bassicly ran 4th ed D&D as a investigative campaign were the party got involved with a Homosexual Lich Love Triangle.

    Let me tell you. THAT. was a Campaign to remember! I’m basically stuck as the defacto DM due to how out of the box I can think.

    I sujest checking out the Warhammer 40k Role play games if your looking for something diffrent. Rouge Trader is by far the best, but the DM bassicly needs to know ALOT of the 40k lore to make it work.

  • Steve

    I Adit I don’t like my char dying when my char is low level, by over whelming means, if bad luck rolling the dice then yhea I be ticked but…but I can accpet if i feel the dm went ouf his or her way just to kill new level one chars for the sake of killing level char then ya pissed. (Not saying that wha he did just saying I can understand why so some players might get mad.)

    With that being said. I agree if you if ther is no risk of losing then then thier is no enjoyment in winning how you enjoy winning when your suppose to.

    Sorry for any and all speeling and grammer errors

  • Jason R. Woods

    You know, I’ve been playing D&D since ’88.  I lost my share of characters, I’ve had my share of crap characters.  But that’s D&D!

    Having said that I love that 3e and 4e have been making it so characters are the “cream of the crop” rather than “the farmer bought a broadsword and became a fighter” but even so, there’s something to be said about the idea that your character is in actual peril.

    Last time I ran D&D 4e I upped ever combat encounter by about three monsters more than I thought they could take.  I did that, not because I wanted a TPK, I did it because I wanted the players to feel accomplishment in defeating the threat.  They shouldn’t start as people who can wipe the floor with the perfectly balanced and leveled encounters they find.  They should have some encounters that make them feel like gods and some others that make them feel like gnats.

    The best example I can think of that’s non-rpg related is the Lords of the Rings.  If the Fellowship could have just wasted the Balrog with their crossbows how does that make them heroes?  Heroes overcome obstacles much bigger than themselves.  There’s real risk, real pain, real death.

  • jesternario

    What module was this anway?

    • jesternario

      Oh, and Spoony, in honor of you I am putting this encounter as you modified it into an adventure some time. I’ll let you know how it works out

  • jesternario

    Let me tell you something: in any the RPGA modules I’ve played in, it’s the BAD encounters, the ones that go wrong, that players remember.

    Case in point: My first ever RPGA adventure was in a game with political intrigue. Most of the XP was ad hoc; there was all of TWO combat encounters in the adventure. The rest of it was finding clues and wheeling and dealing. The party consisted of five characters: two fighters (one a lesser fighter specialty class, the other a full fighter), one priest of fate who had the ability to give us global to-hit enchantments the entire game, a dwarven thief and a ranger (me).

    Of that entire adventure, I don’t remember any of the ad hoc encounters, I BARELY remember the first combat encounter (it was a bunch of dwarves attacking and had absolutely NOTHING to do with the rest of the adventure (me and the dwarven thief left to get drunk and it was still a 3-round combat).

    The final encounter, I remember pretty well: We had spent the entire encounter gathering evidence against a high-level government official. We brought all the evidence and went to arrest him. Since we had NO skill in political diplomacy required to trick him into confessing, the DM took our not so subtle verbal attacks on him and deemed we pushed him to the edge. He confessed, but as the encounter was planned this way, had no intention of letting a group of low-powered know-nothings bring him in, so he attacked us. It should be noted that he was a 9th level fighter as well as a senator.

    The fight was going well until the third round, the DM rolled a natural 20 (and confirmed, 3rd ed rules) and did 12 damage to the full fighter. This put him at -2 hit points and he went down. The encounter then went from a rather easy combat to a next to impossible encounter, the only way we survived was because the thief poured oil on the guy and he was taking constant damage from the fire that was all over him. 

    In the end, everyone got out okay; the full fighter survived to live another day, but was down for the rest of the adventure, I had been brought down to 2 hit points, our specialty fighter was dropped but survived, and the only two that actually could say they survived was the priest and the thief. We all agreed the last encounter made the adventure. 

  • Anonymous

    I loved the encounters that went wrong.  Provided the most awesome stories.  I remember the very first 3.5e game I played.  It was just a mini dungeon with my Ranger and an Cleric.  Horrible team setup for a dungeon, but we went through it anyway.  There were like 4-5 rooms in this dungeon, and about 12 goblins or some shit.  Very first room, I kick the door down and stumble into the room, and get my back slashed wide open.  survived that encounter barely and the goblin ran off. So 5 minutes into the dungeon and we’ve both dropped our daily heals.  

    Second room had a pit in it with skeletons in it.  As were looking down into the hole, the SAME DAMN GOBLIN AMBUSHES US! Freaking Leonidus kicks the Cleric into the hole and tries to attack me again.  I’m pissed at this bastard and somehow roll a crit, doing something like 20 damage, almost cleaving the bastards arm off.  He runs away again and I’m stuck taking pit shots at skeletons while my Cleric climbs his way out.  

    After that we’re both like “this bastard has to die”  so we enter the final room where Leonidus calls upon like 5 goblins to help him.  For some reason, I never drew my sword in time, so Leonidus charges me and I’m stuck in close combat with the Goblin boss while the Cleric is fighting off the other goblins (forgot to mention, in the time it took Leo to charge me, I got two shots off, killing one goblin and wounding another).  Leo tries to spartan kick me, I dodge, and have the greatest idea ever.  Instead of trying to fight him, I take my bow, wrap the string around Leo’s neck, and proceed to strangle him. And I won.  The Cleric did some boss shit where he like burned to death the other goblins or some shit, but it was an epic fight, that we almost lost on several occasions.  I even brought that character into the next real adventure with a goblin head as a trophy strapped to my pack.  Thats right, I took the bastards head!

    But to get back on track, despite the fact we almost dies like 3 times, The DM never made it easier then he already planned.  And that made chocking out Leo that much more satisfying.  So I really agree with you, dont coddle the players unnecessarily.  Yeah make it easier if they are getting thier asses handed to em, but dont make it a sure fire win.  

  • Tariel Corbeau

    Tis the tale of tale, tis the tale of the leaping wizards…..

    Oooh, the leaping wizards of old!
    They be not much of a threat,
    But leap and do all the minuet
    They’re the leaping wizards of old!
    Come to fight and show their sight
    But they don’t have much might!
    They’re the leaping wizards of old!
    When you come to battle
    You shall sing a death rattle.
    They’re the leaping wizards of old!
    The wondrous wizards of old!
    The leaping, the frightening wizards of old!

  • Markus Andersen

    So RPGA = Royal Pussy Gamers Association. Good to know.

  • Michael Wells

    This is the PC movement in RPG circles. “We mustn’t have our players yelling at our moderators so we must give them all they want” It sounds like the guy only got on your case because someone ratted on you. Find them and kick them in the nads!

  • zhian pian

    I really enjoyed this episode :)

  • Daniel Thomas Stack

    Well this explains why I heard the RPGA called the Role Poser Gift Association. Sure everyone has their Roles. But if there is no way to lose there is no game. If there is no game what is there to play? And lastly if you can’t lose then how is anything to gain from any of the modules anything less than gifts?

    You did everything right. NPC’s need to be smart enough to be a challenge otherwise all you are telling people is that there is no point in taking up the “game”. you might as well be getting all your adventures in novel form. Or buying Choose your own adventure books. Those are fun but they are NOT GAMES.

  • theInsaneArtist

    Bravo. There’s no point in playing a game that is impossible to lose. I don’t see a point in playing a game where the outcome is already a given.

  • Anonymous

    Wow what a pussy of a “regional manager”, especially for RPGA. Dangerless DnD is no fun at all. Good for you to stand your ground. 

  • Edge Eblan

    Dude,Damn stright, I’ve made my own D&D world,its two binders of PC’s,NPC’s,World Maps, Cities and dungeons,ect.And god damn if I didn’t get there through a pile of PC’s. No one complained,they loved the tougher campaigns even for the challnges .

    Perhaps someone should introduce the RPGA to a D&D Clasic Cald “Tomb of Horrors” and teach people that PC’s die,get used to it and Re-roll

  • Anonymous

    If there is no chance of dying, no chance of failing, no chance of losing, WHAT IS THE POINT OF PLAYING THE GAME?

    Sure, players bitch when they die, but adventures that are challenging are also rewarding. If there is no challenge, you’re just assisting your players as they masturbate over blocks of stats. Maybe they’ll be happy over their easy victories, but eventually it will drag and get boring. You can only masturbate for so long.

    Be a compassionate and fair GM, but remember: Every PC knows death is possibly on the cards. If they don’t understand that, they’re not cut out for the adventuring business.

  • Sean Cowley

    I agree dude, and not just with D&D. In my current VTM game we lost a character some time ago who had been with the campaign for an extremely long time. Yes, he did get upset at the time, but he moved on and made a new character, while the rest of us faced the idea that we could all go like that.

  • Justin Kruse

    I actually lost four characters in on of the best campaigns I’ve played. One of them technically ran away from the campaign. I was a bit bummed, but it was a blast nonetheless.

  • Alastair FioriMcPhee

    I would like to know more about your MTG deck ;)

  • Matt

    Well, if that’s how you DM, I wouldn’t mind starting to play D&D with you running the adventures. Personally, I’d like to try the StarWars version because that sounds like fun.

  • Kaleigh Hvizdos

    My favorite character death ever was when one guy we couldn’t stand got killed by bad luck early on in the game and he pitched a fit XD I admit, I can get butthurt about a character death too, but nobody wants to play with a whiner. I’ve only been playing D&D for the last 2 years, and I’ve noticed but the differences between 3.5e and 4e really reflect this “players always win” thing Spoony’s describing. Also, 4e just really seems like it breeds Mary Sues, especially with how easy it is to play exotic races, but that might just be me XD

    I dunno, I’d like to learn how to GM/DM soon, and I really hope my games didn’t end up so devoid of peril the way your describing. I think I could see myself trying to keep someone from dying, but I’d also like to make sure they got good and bloodied at the cost of winning. Though is that over manipulation? I’d be worried about finding a balance between organic gameplay and micro managing my players. Does this mean I shouldn’t bother attempting to learn how to lead a game? Spoony, do you think you could make a video about transitioning from a player to a DM/GM?

  • Anonymous

    I have almost (ALMOST) completely homebrewed my own RPG system. Whenever my friends and i get together to play, we play by my rules (it sounds so tyrannical when i say it that way). One of my earlier campaigns that i GM’ed was actually for my birthday, which is in October, so i ran it as a semi-halloween scenario. It was kinda sad, i had three players, one chose paladin and the other two chose sorcerer/wizard stereotypes. Little did they know that the “Lewis Carrolesque” dungeon i was about to send them into included a magic nullification crystal, so for about half the campaign they were consigned to meleeing their way through secret doors, poisoned mushrooms, falling rocks, magic books of summoning, and shadow beasts. When they reached the top floor of the tower they were able to shatter the crystal which teleported their consciousnesses back to their bodies, only to find they had been moved to another room in this mansion. There, they had to contend with zombie kitchen staff, a vampiric butler and maids, and the insane undead immortal son of the master of the house. The final fight included a greater shadow beasts that went down rather easily, but the undead wizard cast a chain lightning spell that put both sorcerers into shock, essentially dieing-but-not-dead-yet state, and significantly wounded the paladin. In his next turn he managed to shove a shard of the null crystal into the chest of the wizard, which ended the immortality spell, and then killed him with his axe. The game was played over the course of two days clocking at 8+ hours. It was so memorable BECAUSE the two guys almost died. The ending was quite cinematic in how it played out.

    • Anonymous

      Y’see that just sounds like an awesome campaign! No danger, no reward. 

  • Anonymous

    R.P.G.A. – Regulated Pansified Gaming Asshats

    Now I’m glad I never went through and joined like I was thinking about when I actually gamed. I wish I had been there for that game though, GMs that think and adapt are the best.


    It’s nice to hear from someone else who games in AZ. Sometimes we’re a desert in more than just lack of rainfall. Still love this state though. I never want to move.

  • kwgroban

    I find this interesting because I was in the RPGA for a while and the DM I played with, was fucking ruthless. He kicked the shit out of us every single room, and I was the paladin, and I was getting my ass raped consistently. He had this penchant for killing rangers and rogues, though he never killed us intentionally. So, hearing this makes me think that you just got one bitchy player who decided to backstab you.

  • theodore-walts

    I find this confusing because I would think that a reasonable DM would allow a player to re-roll a character that is around their former character level that they can use. If some of the party survives to reach a town, they could meet a few new people to join the party. This could be really good for roleplay as well, since new members have to establish themselves in a group that has suffered a great loss. In such a way, players who have lost their old character could make new characters that allow them to try new tactics and (as mentioned) create a new personality.

    I wouldn’t mind dying as long as I can at least roll up a new character and try again (hopefully with a level reasonably close to my original, although I would accept a small penalty), allowing me to continue playing, and allowing me to stretch my roleplaying abilities. It would be interesting to see how my new character would fit into the group dynamic.

    I wouldn’t complain about wizard spells in 4th edition. Even with only 4 or 5 spells at first (which even then, that is much greater than the 1 spell in 2nd edition), 2 of them could be used without exhaustion. I might have complained about 3.5, but at this time I don’t even remember how many spells they got. I still think it was better than 1, but less than 4. I’ve also never actually played (I just get the books and read them because I find it all to be interesting), so really I am in no place to complain.

  • Randall Taylor

    Jeez if the wizard tripped on his robe he would kill himself outright. Better respect them.

  • Anonymous

    I’m gonna agree with Spoony’s WTF there. You can’t kill characters in the RPGA? Are you fucking kidding me? And that encounter wasn’t even difficult (3 wizards with 1 count of 1 spell slot and about 3 HP? Fuck that shit), but the mentality that even in a fair fight or an easy encounter a DM who ‘lets’ the characters die is thrown out of the RPGA? They even include rules to make encounters easier so player’s characters don’t die? I mean, they literally can’t lose?

    … Damn.

    … Doesn’t that kind of subvert the point of any game? I mean, even in VG RPGs with save states or something where you just revert to a point before, you still lose and get set-backs, even if you don’t have to start the game all over again. Even in social games like the fucking SIMS there’s adversity in some
    shape or form – although that’s an entirely different beast really. If you don’t have that, then you’re investing all that time for nothing! There’s no achievement (and no, not the xbox kind). Isn’t that just insulting to the players? I’d be damn pissed if I got in a game like that.  

    Also: 1 spell slot? 1? Are you fucking kidding me? Respect for all those old-school mages out there. Nowadays we really do have it easy.

    Also also: “Why are you chasing your tail?” Hehehehe

  • Dan Lewis

    Ya know, coming into this review and hearing about a roleplaying association, I thought “Hey, that sounds like a neat idea!”  I’ve been roleplaying for maybe two years, maybe less, and all in 3.5 D&D or an alternate system from the same period.  And by the end of this review, I decided that I wouldn’t join the RPGA if you put my balls in a vice.  And none of my players would, either.

    I DM.  And I run EASY campaigns, with about a level-up a session and many of the niggly rules, like encumbrance and keeping track of ammunition, removed.  I game for fun.

    And I’ve still come damn near a TPK a couple of times.

    A game where there’s no penalty isn’t a game at all.  It’s pointless.  Both me and my players accept the possibility of death–and none of them are old-school gamers from 1st ED or anything.  Nobody has ever ragequit because their character died–player death is part of the rules for a reason, and everybody accepts that it’s part of the rules.

    Gary Gygax treated Dungeon Mastering as a “me vs. them” thing, a game where it’s not about if the players died, but when.  Modern DM-ing theory rejects this notion, but death is still a pretty viable penalty in any RPG.

    Except RPGA games, it seems…

    Anyway, I’m boycotting the RPGA, my players will, too, and we’ll still have a great time with the likelihood of death making things interesting.

    Oh, and by the way, that party?  Got itself true rezzed within minutes of dying.  No EXP loss, no item loss, no money loss (not really–they were rich as hell), virtually no penalty except, you know, the whole dying thing.

    They include resurrection spells for a reason, RPGA…

    • Anonymous

      Its really more about which version or setting of dnd your playing. I’ve played a few games of living pathfinder which is the same thing as a forgotten realms game in the rpga and I’ve almost died several times, but the reason i didn’t wasn’t because of pulled punches, but instead of luck of the roll or just barely not bleeding out. Now a living game that ABSOLUTELY holds no punches at all is the, now previous edition of Living Arcanis. That game wants your characters to die. No joke ask anyone who has played it.

      But then again i never played dnd back in the rpga when spoony did. So things can change obviously. Perhaps its still the same in the rpga but my living game experiences thus far have been the exact opposite. Good review though. I’d say this is my favorite review for counter monkey actually.

    • C. L. Johnson

      This is how my DM’s campaigns go – we all play for fun, while our characters are still likely to be at least bloodied by the end of every fight. I’m kinda sad to say that I’m much too young to have played 1st edition – I’ve only ever played 4th edition, so the rules are generally nice to me. But even if they weren’t, and my DM wasn’t as lax as he is, then I still wouldn’t complain too much. Characters die, and no one wants to be completely invincible. It’s no fun that way. I don’t know if my DM knows about the RPGA, but I’ll at least mention it to him as a way of saying “Never ever run our games like this.”

  • Alex ‘Jeeves’ Penny

    I’ve gotta agree with you, Spoony! Death in an RPG of any kind is incredibly necessary at least as a possibility. Heck, sometimes going out in a blaze of glory can be fun.

  • Emily Kilbourn

    I know what you mean about wizards! I played a 0 level wizard (this was at the dm’s insistance) in 3.0 back in the day and I was F–ing useless. It’s good to know that low level wizards can occasionally kick ass :)

    I have never had a character die in game, but the possibility for character death has never been removed. But roleplaying for me has always been more about being this other person than just seeing what I could get away with. I’ve never played a character who thought they were invincible.

  • C. L. Johnson

    “He’s getting it from the front and from behind”? Sounds like your average night out for Mai Valentine, am I right? 

    (sorry, I had to say that)

    On the story itself, I agree with you absolutely on how games should go. I’ve not been playing for that long (I’m on my second campaign – my DM tends to call us up every month or so and runs us through a single event, so our campaigns are quite episodic), but when I found out that my DM had often been halving the hit points of enemies during our first campaign, just so that we wouldn’t immediately die – I was so angry when I found that out. It gave me the impression that as players, we needed to be given more leeway because we were such noobs, and I got offended that he felt the need to do that – I still have a lot to learn, but I never thought any of us were doing so badly that that kind of tactic was needed. It’s hard to feel good about killing an Astral Kraken, only to find that its hit points were reduced because the DM thought it would kill you otherwise. Nowadays, he’s stopped doing that, and while fights aren’t massively easy, they’re at least challenging (bordering on very difficult – we had to really try not to die during the first few games). I disagree with DM’s who deliberately go out to kill every player possible, but I also disagree with unnecessary hand-holding.

  • Nick Boucher

    It really depends on the DM. I played RPGA some of second edition and all of 3rd edition and 3.5. and there were a couple of DM’s who went out of their way to kill players

  • Ben Grady

    You’re so right. Old school 1st and 2nd AD&D Wizards getting one spell is so true. I played an Invoker and I bought so many oil flasks and torches, flint and steel, just so I could be somewhat useful in a fight.

    • wrabbit

      You think that 2ed magic-users were hardcore? Try being a 2ed Nimbral Wizard kit from Forgotten Realms. 1d3 hit points. That’s all, just a measly 1-3 hit points per level. And hardcore? Let me tell you how hardcore these guys are. They can see invisible and detect magic as per the spells. You know how? They poured liquid, magical, molten METAL into their eye sockets, and that replaced their eyes. THAT’S how hardcore they are. Sure, a successful dispel magic would blind them temporarily (they worked like constant-use magic items, and so were suppressed, not demagicified), but that was a small price to pay for never having to memorize those two spells ever again. But at first level, we wizards learned to depend on that sling and quarterstaff, because the average house cat was a clear-and-present-danger to our very lives.

      As for character death, people need to grow up. I’ve had to roll up two new characters in a single session when my first one died. It wasn’t the DM out to kill me, it was my dice. I swear they’re out to kill every character i make (which is why I tend to stick to support-role classes, rather than melee-ists, and now sometimes come to the game with a back-up character already made).

      But my personal record for character death was a single character dying 11 times over the course of his adventuring career. We were at such a level that we could afford resurrection spells, so death wasn’t all that bad, except for the third or fourth time he died, there was only a druid available, so I had to settle for a reincarnation spell. By then, I think the DM kinda felt bad for me, so when he rolled “Human” on the table, he gave me the option of playing a half-dragon. Turned into one of my favorite characters to date.

  • Qalest

    Started a campaign pre 1st edition (rules cyclopedia book) where sleep doesnt allow a saving throw, knocks out up to 4+1HD monsters, and can affect 2-16 HD worth of monsters.  Two 1st level wizards in a party can really turn the tide.

  • Walks_in_the_Dark

    I’ve played a 2nd AD&D campaign that was suppossed to last until we reached level 12 end in two hours. A combination of an epic amount of bad luck, and our paladin being an absolute idiot. We all thought it was pretty funny.

  • Christopher Alden

    I am in total agreement with you, Spoony.  I was always a rather soft DM when I played, but there has to be at least some risk.  Otherwise, you’re just not playing D&D.  You’re playing Progress Quest.

  • Rachenar

    This is the RPGA police! You have the right to remain silent and let me win!

  • K B

    Spoony still doesn’t get it.

    The RPGA intends to make players feel good about DnD and appeal to the n00best audience so they can get more people to buy Wizards of the Coast products.

    Spoony’s thinking from the perspective of someone who enjoys roleplaying and asking, “what makes the game fun?”
    But the marketing department’s thinking,
    “we can make more money from people who’ve never played RPGs having a feelgood experience with the game and buying some of our products than we can trying to convert people who don’t play pen&paper RPGs”.

    It’s like selling Wiis and peripheral devices to people that buy them then never use them rather than trying to convince non-gamers your videogame is good enough to warrant they learn the mechanical skills necessary to play it.

    • Nathan Jacob Caudill

      so pretty much they let them win so they can have them get more merchandise.

      well im glad that will never happen to people like me because…

      1. I hate WotC for creating D20
      2. My campaigns are always challenging and you will die if you mess up.
      3. I am poor.

      Up yours Wizards of the Coast! You ruined D&D!

  • Nick Foster

    You know, my experience with the RPGA was quite a bit different. I ran games for the same coordinator at GenCon SoCal, GenCon Indy, and Winter Fantasy 2005-2006 and I swear ALL of the game masters had a “Kill ‘Em All” bent. I left the RPGA because I was tired of having players thank me for not killing their characters. It was heart-rending.

    • rusty_dragon

      So. That’s just fashion change. When you ran games for RPGA there was fashion to kill PC, or that guy learn something and change his opinion..

  • Chris Bennett

    lol then the rpga would hate me

    • Nathan Jacob Caudill

      Dungeons & Dragons: Prepare to Die edition :p

  • Gorun Nova

    What a joke.  Without the threat of death, the realism goes away and what’s the point?  I’m glad I never was anywhere near any of those games.  Why bother with the dice when you can’t lose?

  • Jonmark Weber

    Yeah I agree with you.  I would just clarify that I will not kill a character who is honestly trying to do the right thing.  If the players are in combat and an enemy scores some amazing hit that would just kill them outright (I am thinking of EarthDawn where you re-roll all max dice, always) I will often just make the damage enough to knock the player out and the enemy will move to the next person who is awake.

    That does remove some of the realism from the world, I realize that, but it is not without end.

    For example, one of my players was scouting some woods when he came across a Stinger nest.  They were like circle 3 at the time (the players) and a single stinger, while tough with 3 attacks is manageable.  But as he pulls his bow and starts to take a bead he sees another head pop out of the nest and start looking around.  He is like “Fuck it, I am going to kill these bitches and get me some experience”.

    I warned him explicitly that he was not a woodsman, and these things are wild animals with low centers of gravity.  They will not be slowed down by the woods as much as he would, so likely he won’t be able to run if needed.  He just says: “I will take a shot and if it doesn’t go well I use my speed blood charm a couple of times and sprint out, even at half speed that should be enough.”  I just said: “don’t saw I didn’t warn you, now take your shot”.  He shoots, scores a glancing blow and the stinger starts running at him, full speed across the clearing.

    In the few times he had encountered a stinger he was always ambushed or in a enclosed space, and so he had never seen them run to know how fast they were.  They are fast.  Apparently corrupted giant rats are related to cheetahs.  Beyond that the other one lets out a loud chirp then does a half round movement towards him.  I said, being nice: “OK, if you burn all of your karma (the magic in this game, which costs experience to gain), I will let you get out of this, but you need to leave now.

    Now its good to know that the lead stinger was still 2 full turn away, and it would arrive at the end of the second turn (unable to attack).  So my friend goes: “I will take my chances.”  To which I stated: “I know I am usually pretty fuzzy on the whole death thing, but I want to be clear, if this goes south your character can, and likely will die.  Are you certain you don’t want to run.”  And he smiles and just says: “I can take two stingers, especially when you consider that one of them will probably not make it to me because of my bow”.  He didn’t realize just yet what the loud chirp meant, but he was about to.  So he takes his second shot, and gloriously misses.

    The two running stingers move closer, then two more pop their heads out of the den and look over at the two that are running away, directly into the startled and now fearful eyes of my friends character.

    Still convinced he can kill this stinger with one well placed shot he spends his last round of freedom taking one last shot, which does greatly wound the lead stinger, but by no means kills it, and now he is engaged in combat.  The next round does not go well for him, with him getting clawed, and poisoned by the tail attack, and the second stinger gets to him this round.  So he now knows that he is going to have 6 attacks levied against him next round, and the round after that two more stingers will be on him.  So now he decides to try and run.

    So the beginning of the next round he starts booking it through the woods, activates his blood charm and he is just crashing through old growth forest like a bloody steamroller of pain and screams.  My other friend, who was back at their camp hears this off in the distance and pops his blood charm, and his character is a scout, which is a woodsman and I allow much more freedom of movement in the woods sprints towards him.  Arriving just in time to see the arrow laden stinger bite his friend in the neck, rendering him unconscious and another stinger chewing on his leg, and he can hear two more running from the distance.

    I told him that if his friend would have left one round sooner he might have made it back in time to be saved, and that the two stingers would have been scared off by equal forces. And a player died that day.

    From that point forward when I warned a character that a action would likely lead to death they did not always stop, but they always listened.

  • Beth Gael

    It’s been so long since I played D&D that I never even read the 3rd ed., but I remember 1st ed. when I was at high school (*cough*1985/6-ish*cough*) and I thought it would be awesome to play a mage. My HP was so low I could be killed by the sun’s UV rays just walking outside. And, I died, actually, first time out. And the second. And the third. Yeah, slow learner and horrible luck (and I apparently played like a *girl*). Fourth time, I rolled a ranger and when she rolled a framming 1 on a save my DM took pity on me and saved my arse. New players should not be denied this experience!


  • Sheffield_Dallas

    It wasn’t your fault that the PCs SUCKED!! You did your job as best you could. They shouldn’t have been playing in a D&D tournament if they weren’t up for a beating. They should have known better. 

  • Florian Thomet

    What.A.Douche… Im Sorry but… its normal to die in D&D…I mean you cant say “They cant die because they are Players!” Thats Bullshit you would die in any Pen an Paper under such circumstances…

    • Daniel2112

      The threat should always be there, definitely. I mean, being a killer DM is just douchey, but Spoony’s not a killer DM. He just made the encounter make sense. No one goes into battle *trying* to get themselves killed, and that’s what those wizards would’ve been doing with their tournament-mandated spell load. It’d just be an elaborate form of suicide for them.

      If there’s no chance of death in dungeon crawl or combat-heavy campaign, then there’s no suspense. In other types of campaigns you can minimize combat, but dungeon crawling is the sort of thing that *will* bring down the hurt on you from time to time and if there’s no chance of that hurt being lethal, then the tension just isn’t there. It’s pen and papering on easy mode, and who plays easy mode? Except me… wait, did I say that?

  • DraculaAlucard1

    The RPGA are wusses, I lost a character, & the dm was banned, but I stood up for the guy. (no one else did)& it was a fair loss, but they kicked me out too!

    • Nathan Jacob Caudill

      Wait, you mean the players have to be pussies to be in the RPGA or they get kicked out?!

      What the fuck?!

  • Kevin Morris

    I just recently had a level 12 character die. 3.5 instead of AD&D, but still. Characters die. It happens. You handled the situation as it should be. Honestly, I commend your decision to make the encounter something cool. I was fine with my character dying because the DM was trying to challenge us. I died a hero’s death defending the party. Kudos to you, Spoony.

  • Chuster M. Merino

    “I substitute your rules and play with my own rules!”

  • Jim Thorpe

    lmao this is hilarious, i was under the impression that the RPGA was full of hysterical weirdos on SPOONY’s side

    • Jim Thorpe

      like i’m a storygamer, totally, total whiny puss storygamer, but this is still a ridiculously bad experience. if you’re in a game where the agreed-upon conditional is that players can die, and players die, don’t complain holy shit!! it’s part of the game and part of the fun of That Type Of Game! jesus.

      • Jim Thorpe

        i just prefer something like dungeon world, where you can die, but the system almost guarantees a heroic or at least tale-worthy death

  • sam burns

    I imagine the wizards beating on the enfeebled fighter looked something like that scene in Shaun of the Dead where they’re whacking the bartender with pool cues to the beat of a Queen song.

  • Will Harper

    It like the final boss in Final Fantasy X. You can not loss. In fact if you want to lose play the game in a Springtime for Hitler attempt.

  • Thomas Atchley

    That seems really unfair that they kicked you out when you don’t know their policy. Not even like a warning or anything- nobody told you at all- it just seems shitty.

    • Forte

      It sucks, yeah, but what if he stood? I mean, the way he runs it’s kind of inevitable that he would either get kicked out or quit, but if he stood, we might have never had Tandem the Spoony, or the Toilet Pizza, or half of the other stories he has because he would have had a game to go to every week or so. He tried the RPGA, it served it’s purpose for a time, he got kicked out, and he found better games.

  • Brenton James Hancock

    LET ThEm WIN! hell no you enter a dungeon looking for treasure and a spider the size of a fucking house pops out of the shadows…. if i knew no matter what i was going to win….. I would just get pissed… like ok spider with 10 times my hit points…. 8 times my size……. (Wcw finger point of doom you) spider erupts in flames…. i would leave the fucking table i dont think i would even come back for my dice i would just leave

  • Jeremy K.

    Having jumped into the fire in a D&D Encounters group, I now feel comfortable enough to say this: I am having so much fun, and I’ve nearly died both times in my first two sessions. Is it annoying to nearly lose your character? Well, yes, but it’s also fun, because you learn what your character really can take.

  • Samuli Rimpiläinen

    Well, Pathfinder has something similar as I’m sure most players know: Pathfinder Society. Those adventures challenge players, but they’re fair. I’ve player 3 adventures, 2 with my paladin and 1 with premade gunslinger (my first touch of tabletop roleplaying ever).
    In all 3 sessions I was downed, I thought I was going to die. But I didn’t. and I loved it, I feared for my character and it was all the more victorious when I survived it. Once I survived since the construct only attacked someone at it’s level, not when I was on the ground and others managed to take down the baddie and just lure away the construct after, once our Oracle healed me back up since I was the best fighter in the group with my broadsword so I had best chance of fighting back. Each time I was downed by a fair fight.
    I think GM went a bit easy on us once. We were facing a yeti which seemed to just keep steamrolling us. 3 of us had exhaustion from mountain air, but we were all unharmed (our fighter died earlier, but he was basically killed off since the player had to leave, seems Valeros always dies in any session he’s in) at the point, though we had to skip one encounter due to lack of time. We started fighting and it has such a good attack bonus and 2 fists we were getting hit all the time. When the yeti had knocked down 4 out of 5 players (all stabilized) and only one left was wizard, the yeti fled instead of killing us. Might have been since the Yeti used it’s spear and wizard had used the “spider climb” scroll to get out of reach and just ranged attack, but the yeti fled. If it hadn’t missed the wizard with that spear, I think we would have died.
    I think that was okay, we had 3 newbies left so it might be best not to kill them off on their first adventure and the yeti had a reason to flee: there was opponent, whom the yeti couldn’t touch, attacking him and by staying and killing the downed players, it would also risk dying, it had self-prservation instinct.
    So, challenge them, show them “you might die so buck up” but make it a fair challenge.
    I hope my current casual GM shows that soon, so far we’ve steamrolled all encounters except one where 3 other guys (I was guarding our prisoners who were unbound at the moment) had abysmal rolls and didn’t get a single hit to the last guy in 3 rounds.

    • Matrim

      Society definitely doesn’t hold anyone’s hand. The very first game I played would’ve been a TPK if I hadn’t be able to get away from the final baddie, and I’ve had a couple sessions where we survived but failed the mission.

  • josh martyn

    the RPGA ARE PUSSIES D@D isn’t a kids game characters die that’s just how it is and I still play AD&D as a mage

  • josh martyn

    no lose games are B.S yeah you can weaken the enemy but you can’t nuder the enemy

  • BronzeDog

    I’m late to the series, but I’m totally with Spoony on this. I can understand asking DMs to be a little lenient, but death happens. The risk makes victory taste sweeter. I haven’t played too much D&D, but I do play some roguelike games with permadeath. I spent two or three weeks playing Locke XXVIII in Dredmor, descending to new depths in the dungeon with increasingly awesome and improbable swag, only to have him die because I reflexively clicked for an attack too soon instead of healing up. Now he’s dead (Congratulations!) and buried. His save file was automatically deleted. I’m going to be in an utter state of bliss when one of his descendents makes it to the final floor and kills Dredmor.

    I think there’s room for lower risk sessions of D&D, like if someone’s been under stress recently and just wants to hang out, but I don’t think that should be the norm. And sometimes, as Dwarf Fortress likes to say, losing is fun. All the D&Ders I encounter seem to have some hilarious total party kill story to share.

  • ≈Luke

    I… what?

    what’s the point in playing if victory is guaranteed?

  • Zipper Dragon

    The players probably went crying to the RPGA dude.

  • Zipper Dragon

    Arn’t clerics in D&D the same as Red mages in FF3 (Jap 3, not ff6). Red mages can use Support spells (healing, & buffs) & offencive spells, & use most armour, & weapon types

  • Zipper Dragon

    Somthing I learned as an oldschool mage, NEVER CHOOSE MAGIC MISSLE AS YOUR 1ST SPELL. CHOOSE SLEEP! Atleast then the enemy falls asleep & you can cave his fucking head in with your staff. Though I perfer breaking their shins 1st, then caving in there heads, cuz if they wake up, they cant walk.

  • Zipper Dragon

    *4 hours later*
    The dead characters lay in a crater. A couple detectives investigate the deaths.
    “Spoony couldn’t have done this, Spoony is no mad dog killer.” *The main detective lowers his glasses* “It looks like someone…” *Puts back on* “Fixed their shit.”

  • Zipper Dragon

    If you think about it, having the enemies act the way they should will (Most of the time) be cheap. If you’re an Orc, & you’re fighting 7 on 5, & you see one of the players get weakened, or hurt, most of them WILL seek out a new target. The guy who will go down quickest. So in a way having the creatures act how they would, would be waaaaaay cheaper.

  • Sajeh

    Yes, what you are talking about is a decent DM, Spoony, you are a decent DM, we get it. If a person thinks otherwise they are fucking stupid, RPGA sounds fucking stupid, it is fairly simple, a “game” means you can either win or lose, that is like the first thing your parents tell you when you are in your dipers: “Even the best lose, and the worst win sometimes.” I guess alot of people got shitty parents.

  • Straad

    Any chance the gaming control board will follow suit?

  • Deanna Jackson

    Seriously, the RPGA folks are ridiculous. If a player dies, they just die.

  • Alex Stockwell

    I’m reminded of James Rolfe’s bit with the “Beat-a-game Button”.

  • Mark Belton

    If I ever find an RPGA, I’m going to pass by it and shout “LEAPING WIZARDS!”

    As a DM in a cutthroat, dog-eat-dog game of my own, I’m with Spoony in agreeing that victory is supposed to be earned, not given. Because such shit just happens. :1 Part of the game.

    • kamrom dechu

      Dogs shouldnt eat dogs. They can get canine spongiform encephalopathy that way.

  • Cook Lopez

    RPGA is bullshit!

  • Benjamin Colecliffe

    OMG!!! You killed the pwecious wittle chawaters? Shame! Shame! Don’t you know that PCs are special snowflakes who should never be at any risk at all?

    Ok, I grant you that I tend to try and let the players survive, simply because I think it’s logical for monsters to move on to a target that’s still a threat rather than finish off a fallen foe. However, if you fight dumb then you will get owned in my games.

  • Daniel Tilson

    I would have had them cast sleep from the bushes, regardless of what the flavor text said.. Because Wizards are smart, they have to be. It’s a rule. Leaping out of the bushes to attack a well armed party is a very stupid thing.

  • Mark Reddman

    I used to DM in more organized games like the RPGA and even now I’m somewhat more lenient than I should be with my characters. It becomes a hard habit to break even after years of running games. As DM’s we need to balance our desire to see the players succeed against a campaign that has enough difficulty to make the characters feel like they are making real accomplishments.

  • DaReaperZ

    I gotta say, those guys deaths’ were hilarious. I totally think you did the right thing. Monsters/bad guys won’t be nice. They are a rival “party” and will do everything in their power to achieve victory!

  • kamrom dechu

    really, theres only one way to lose in D&D: being a jerk. You win by having fun and playing the game, not being a jerk. It’d be like flipping over the Candy Land box because you were in the molasses swamp and drew the Plumpy card.

  • Rakkrakk

    Sometimes D&D campaigns just have that tendency towards mean-spirited hilarity, don’t they?

  • Doleth

    Man I love that story, if only for the visual of three idiot dressed like stereotypical storybook wizard, with the conical hat and the blue robe with stars and shit, just leaping out of bushes and going OUGA BOUGA BOUGA…then beating the shit out of a group of highly trained murderhobo.

    To be fair to the RPGA, you were kicked out because you made changes that resulted in some character dying, they probably would have been ok with it if the same character had been killed by magic missiles. I think the main goal behind organised play like the RPGA is to introduce new player to the hobby and the game in general, so the generally low difficulty does make some sense. I mean, imagine if the PC wizard in this story was a new player and that was the first encounter? Dude barely had time to play before his character gets incapacitated then killed, not while fighting like men, not because he did something dumb, just because he failed one check against a random encounter. Most experience player would go “Well, shit” and reroll, but a total newcomer may very well go “That was a waste of time” and just not see a point in playing anymore. From the way Spoony tell the story though, seems like the players were not new to the hobby and that they were ok with the deaths, so really the RPGA goon should have let it slide.

    That said, I’m with Spoony that the encounter as written was fucking stupid and I find it shameful that someone actually got paid to write it. What kind of idiot write a low-level encounter against a group of level 1 wizards? With a dumb spell loadout like in the original module, it’s less a fight and more a one-sided massacre. Even if you give them a smart loadout like Spoony did, you end up with an encounter that’s pretty much entirely decided by luck. A much better fight would have been one wizard with two fighters, the wizard having sleep as his chosen spell and a crossbow instead of his poking stick.

    • ArcturusV .

      To be fair I think that was back in ADnD, Wizards back then had Daggers or Quarterstaffs only, they didn’t get to use Crossbows or anything like that. Longbows if they were elves they were proficient with however. Combine with a wizard’s very crappy stats generally, and the Non-Proficiency Penalty they had no chance to really hit anything unless they were using a dagger or a quarterstaff. So the staff actually makes sense as the weapon of choice (Melee either way, but 1d4 or 1d6?). It’s only in 3rd edition that they suddenly made Wizards have the somewhat viable tactics of Crossbowing, or throwing spears, etc.

  • Dav dude

    i had a group of level 5 adventures have trouble dealing with a CR 1 viper that bit every one at least onces and just made them all grumpy for getting there buts kicked by a limbless critter.

  • g33kf4th3r

    Every game I have ever been in the lower the challenge rating the worse the battle is for the party. My groups always seem to have the crits vs the boss monster.

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