What Rough Beast?

"What Rough Beast?" is published below in two parts. The first part is a five page excerpt from the author's longer ethnography project based on a D&D group. The second part presents a series of genres written to examine the over-arching line of inquiry in different ways. -Editors

Satanism. Human sacrifice. Vile blood-rituals involving the entrails of baby rabbits!

This is what the role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, has been been vilified as: a dark, twisted game of things so unspeakably evil, it risks madness to even contemplate, or worse...temptation!

This view of Dungeons & Dragons (henceforth referred to as D&D), is so incredibly wrong, not to mention ridiculously biased, that it's almost laughable. The only reason no one is laughing is that some people actually believe it, word for word.

Satanism. Human sacrifice. Vile blood-rituals involving the entrails of baby rabbits! This is what the role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, has been vilified as.

The reason D&D has been regarded by more than a few people with suspicion is because of the vocal smear campaign launched against the game by a religious group named “Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons.” B.A.D.D. blames D&D for a variety of ailments, ranging from suicide to satanic practices and accuses D&D of such things as promoting violence, encouraging suicide, and being a mask for satanic worship. There is nothing B.A.D.D. can say about D&D that is bad enough. Formed by a mother, Patricia Pulling, whose son had committed suicide, conveniently blamed D&D for the tragedy, disregarding other factors such as drug addiction, a long history of depression and humiliation at school among other things; but because there was the suggestion that he had played D&D, this bereft mother started a vicious campaign to purge the game from the world. Pulling counted D&D as one among many evils facing the social order, which included “Heavy Metal music, the Pagan revival, and the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare” (Waldron 5).

Aside from that dubious accusation, many perceived D&D as a threat for its supposed ability to blur the difference between reality and fantasy. To quote Waldron, “players were regarded as becoming so involved in their fantasy games that their concept of self and reality began to dissolve to be replaced by the virtual fantasy of the world of the RPG” (7).

Now that the accusations against D&D have been fully laid out, it's time to look at what this game actually is. As defined by Sara and Tom Pendergast, from the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture:

In the game, players cast themselves as imaginary characters and go on imaginary adventures in a fantasy world of their own design. ...In D&D the Dungeon Master (DM) creates an imaginary world full of monsters, dangers and magic. Character-players then journey through the DM's world fighting battles, stealing treasures, or outwitting monsters. The game is played verbally with conflicts settled by a role of dice. (3)

Perhaps more understandably described in layman's terms by Corey Mintz, “D&D has a set of rules for a collaborative storytelling form known as a role-playing game (of which there are hundreds). It's a mixture of writing, stage direction and improvisation, centered around geeky fantasy interests” (3).

In essence, one person, named the DM, or Dungeon Master, creates an imaginary world with certain rules and scenarios in which the other players make characters to populate and explore, and gradually grow stronger and more powerful as the characters go through adventures. The DM will then play-act any random person with whom player-characters might interact, from beggars to kings. Everything in the game is mathematical - essentially forming a rough mathematical model of human abilities and dynamic combat, including other abilities such as magical spells and enchantments. Players keep track of these details using character sheets, which describe the character's particular abilities in terms of numbers and stats, and kinds of abilities a character is capable of, and when an interaction takes place in combat or trying to get around obstacles, like a cliff or locked door, the players can take one of several options to negotiate around or through the object. For example, if the characters encounter a locked door, the fighter (a particular 'class' specialized in fighting) could try to kick the door down, the rogue (a 'thief' specializing class) could try to pick the lock, or the wizard could cast a spell to unlock the door.

Dungeons and Dragons dice

Illustration (above): These are the dice needed in gameplay, and come in a variety of colors. Clockwise from the upper right (triangle-shaped) A d4, a d6, a d8, a percentile die, a d10, a d12, and a d20.

The game is open-ended, with the DM and players verbally describing the environment and making independent decisions while working as a team. There are no costumes involved, or any acting-out of battles with foam swords. Only through the storytelling of the DM and the vivid imaginations of the players is the game-world brought to life and explored. Unlike a video game, the players are free to do whatever they want, by means of their individual characters. One D&D group actually set out for a grand adventure to rival those in Tolkien books, but ended up with the characters all becoming wealthy merchants after buying and managing a successful pony farm business. D&D is usually played with a group of close friends and requires a few materials. Character sheets, many-sided dice, rule books, pencils, and lots of pizza are generally a must-have.

The many-sided dice, ranging from the triangle-shaped four-sided die, to the golf-ball-like one-hundred sided die, all vital to gameplay. Success in certain actions is determined by a roll of the die, literally. If someone wants to attack a monster, they must roll a twenty-sided die and add some of their character's personal strength score (a 'stat' as its called) and the combination of what they rolled and their character's ability will determine success or failure of the attack.

For example, let's say my fighter character wants to attack a dragon. I will roll the twenty-sided die and come up with 16. I'll add that number to my strength modifier - basically, a calculation of how much power my character can exert as expressed by a particular number, not unlike baseball cards. This number will make it 20. Since my character is proficient in fighting, I get to add a bonus to my attack, because a skilled attacker is more dangerous than an amateur. So the final number I get is 22. If the dragon's armor rating - a numerical representation of how resistant it is to attack, factoring in things like the hardness of scales and its size and speed - is below the number I rolled, then my attack is successful, and then I roll another die to determine damage. If the dragon's armor rating is higher than my number of 22, then my attack does nothing, and it is assumed my weapon bounced off its scaly hide or it dodged the attack.

It's very complicated to explain on paper, but suffice it to say it's much simpler and more intuitive when actually witnessed during a game. D&D is a very open and fun game, but mastering all its intricacies can take time.

With all this considered, there's nothing in D&D to ever imply it supports - or is just a mask for - satanic rituals, or that it encourages violence.

Because players act as if they were their own characters - saying, “I go down the tunnel” instead of, “My character walks down the tunnel” - it has been demonized for its escapism. My immediate question is, why is escapism considered so awful? People read books and go to the movies and play games all the time to get away from the daily grind, so why is D&D different? To quote Waldon, “RPGs have a greater potential for escapism than many other pastimes because they not only allow the players to interact with their surroundings but give them a venue in which they can create their own socio-cultural identity” (4). D&D allows, for however brief a moment, the opportunity to be whatever you want, to be as strong or as smart or as charming as you want, or to have all the funny quirks and flaws you can think of.

Yet the continuing accusations of the dark motives behind playing D&D got me to thinking, what was the real reason D&D players actually played D&D? Since I know it isn't for any kind of “dark evil rituals,” then why do people really play, especially considering the trouble in acquiring materials and knowledge?

To answer this question - and to provide staunch evidence contrary to what religious fanatics would claim - I decided to observe the D&D community and conduct some interviews. The game has always been dear to my heart, but I'd never actually stepped back and analyzed the reasons behind the appeal. All games were hosted in my house, all the players where friends I'd known for many years, and I also participated in the game, diligently taking notes in my notebook all the while.

Works Cited

Conaster, Dennis. Personal Interview. 5 March. 2011.

Miller, P. Andrew. "Dungeons and Dragons." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 1. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. 774-775. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Mar. 2011.

Mintz, Corey. "D&D nothing more than nerdy storytelling." Toronto Star [Toronto, Ontario] 8 Jan. 2011: L5. InfoTrac Newsstand. Web. 11 Mar. 2011.

Waldron, David. “Role-Playing Games and the Christian Right: Community Formation in Response to a Moral Panic." Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 9 (2005). General OneFile. Web. 11 Mar. 2011.

Group One: Magazine article

We all know that D&D is an amazing game, or else you probably wouldn't be reading this article right now. What's even more amazing is that a lot of players keep playing regularly for a number of decades. D&D just has that almost indescribable appeal about it that makes it impossible to ever consider not playing. Ask any true player and they'll tell you they will play until the day they die.

So what is the reason D&D players actually play?

To answer this question, I went and asked some die-hard players.

“It's a good stress reliever,” says DJ Conatser, a player going on of seven years. “You can always bring people together for a good time. Anyone with imagination can grow and prosper.”

This is one thing about D&D that other games are so pressed to match: if you can think it up, you can do it. Video games just can't anticipate the full ingenuity of the human mind, where D&D is practically built upon that very flexibility.

As any good player can tell you, you won't get far in D&D if you don't have imagination. I remember from one of my games a couple years ago, where my players were being bombarded by two goblins shooting through murder-holes in a dungeon. All their attempts to unlock the door at the end stymied, they turned to me for help. I was amazed that they couldn't figure it out - if something could come down a murder-hole, than other things could also go up.

My whole party nearly died because they couldn't think outside the box. Afterward, they wised up and began to invent clever ways around the obstacles and traps I set up for them.

This level of freedom, which video games are constantly trying to expand every year, is one of the major appeals of D&D. Instead of being forced along one linear path, players are encouraged to think outside the box, the more wacky the better. This requires a great deal of creativity and inventiveness, and who doesn't like to see an inspired idea change the course of the game?

And according to researchers, getting a mental workout isn't the only thing gained from playing D&D.

According to David Waldron, a suspension on real-world rules and consequences is enacted during game play, allowing players to freely meddle with different identities and without having to worry about repercussions. “Doing so allows the individual to develop a better-informed core self-identity and set of social values which...is a significant task in adolescent psychological development,” writes Waldron.

So that means if your parents try and tell you to stop playing D&D so much, you can tell them you're bettering your adolescent psychological development. That should set them back on their heels.

Yet this still hasn't quite answered why D&D players actually like to play D&D. It may just be one of those questions with a million different answers for every player. Perhaps D&D can give you a taste of magic, a tantalizing and intoxicating dose.

Whatever the reason, though, DJ Conatser summed it up wonderfully. When I asked him what benefits he gained from D&D, he just thought about it for a second and laughed.

“Actually, it's a list for the things I don't get out of it, because you get great friends, mathematically intelligent, far more superior for anything about statistics, strategy, and overall and you can be who you truly were meant to be. Our laws aren't holding us back; there you can be anybody you want to be.”

And who's to say that isn't magic, too?

Group Two: Song Lyrics

(Sung to the tune of “Heigh-ho” from the Disney movie Snow White)

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
with talking sparrows
and acid arrows
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
to loot some caves
and blast a mage,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
with sharpened blades,
and hand grenades,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
to hunt some orc,
then pull a cork,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
it's now 12 noon,
we won't leave soon,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
to find a quest,
'cause we're the best!
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
swinging giant mauls,
and fireballs,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
with lucky d20,
to roll aplenty,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
it's 10 past noon,
should we go soon?
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
to steal some gems,
and make new friends,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
he broke his nose,
I lost my clothes,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
It's 12 midnight,
man, what a fight!
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
to ride a dragon,
and loot some wagons,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
to drink some ale,
and get out of jail,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, adventuring we go,
It's 3 in morn',
my mind is worn,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, no 'venturing to do,
the day is done,
all battles' won,
Now let's go home and dream up more!

Group 4: Dictionary

Alignment: n. The personal ethical/moral philosophy of a character, tracked along two axes: good versus evil, and lawful versus chaotic (the latter describing preferences vis-a-vis authority structures and established social codes). “Neutral” is a valid option; making for nine possible combinations (Lawful Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, Neutral Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, and Chaotic Evil.) Intended as a reactive descriptor of a character's philosophy, which may change to reflect shifts in a characters actions, it is often applied in reverse by moronic Dungeon Masters to restrict possible actions. Alignment status has tangible in-game effect, with many spells and effects specifically targeted against beings of particular alignment. Some character classes (such as Paladins) mandate particular alignments, with severe penalties incurred should the character change alignments. What constitutes a “good” or “evil” act is highly dependent on how badly the Dungeon Master wants to screw with the guy playing a Paladin.

Ability: n. The mathematical model of intellectual and physical capabilities as determined by a base number which determines the adeptness of certain actions that call upon such abilities. The abilities are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Ex: A character with a high charisma score is more likely to succeed in persuasion than a character with low charisma; A character with a high dexterity is more likely to succeed in picking pockets than a character with low dexterity.

The base number (14, 15, 16, etc.) has a modifier (+1, +2, +3, etc.) which is added or subtracted to the die roll, which then determines the success or failure of an attempt involving any one of the abilities. A player rolls a die and gets 10, and then adds a strength modifier of +3, which results in a 13 overall effective strength attempt to accomplish a task, such as forcing open a door. See DC CHECK and SKILLS

Base Attack Bonus: n. 1. The number added to an attack roll, as determined by the character class and their disposition for combat. A fighter class, particularly tailored to heavy combat, is naturally superior to a wizard class, who is not disposed to direct melee combat. This bonus becomes higher for every level gained.
2. The reason why so many fighters die often and early in a game, under delusions that a high base attack bonus will trump an unlucky set of dice.

Base Save Bonus: n. 1. The number added to a saving roll, in attempt to avoid an attack, trap, or resist any other hostile action taken against the character, and is determined by character class. A rogue, specifically meant to be agile and stealthy, has a great affinity for Reflex Saves - avoiding sudden attacks or traps by means of sheer agility and quick reaction time. Fighters are not so fortunate. This bonus becomes higher for every level gained and on the improvement of the character's abilities.

Class: n. 1. The profession or vocation of a character. Determines the abilities of the character and what he/she/it can accomplish. Chosen from a list of 11 distinct and specialized classes. Ex: A wizard class casts spells and unsuited for physical combat, a ranger class is suited for light combat and wilderness exploration, a rogue class specializes in stealth, theft, diplomacy and disarming traps.
2. Excellence, especially of style or appearance; oft rubbed into other players' faces and the cause of many grudges.

Dice: n. The most important tool to Dungeons & Dragons, consisting of six different polyhedral dice with 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20 sides. When dice are to be used in play, they are referred to as “dee” and then the number of sides, written as “d6.” When prefaced with another number, “2d6,” the first number referring to how many times the die is rolled, and the last number referring to the die that will be rolled. The different dice have various characteristics: the small, pyramidal d4s are easily lost at the game table, and easily found by stockinged feet the next day. The d12, used only for resolving great axe damage and the barbarian’s health points, can occasionally be heard crying itself to sleep.

DC Check: n. 1. Difficulty Class Check; a number set by the Dungeon Master that must be reached or exceeded as a result of a skill check in order to succeed; a set number that determines the ease or difficulty of attempting a certain action. The Difficulty Class must be exceeded by the players “skill check (relevant ability bonuses plus relevant skill modifier added to the results of a d20 roll) to achieve success. Positive or negative circumstances can alter the usual DCs; with the rule of thumb being a 2-point adjustment. A wet, slippery cliff would add +2 to the difficulty, and specialized climbing gloves lower it by -2. Attempting any task that might bypass the Dungeon Master's lovingly-written plot and scintillating non-player characters adds an automatic +20 to the Difficulty Class.

Dungeons & Dragons: n. “The first and foremost of fantasy role-playing games. D&D is based on traditional fantasy literature such as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. In the game, players cast themselves as imaginary characters and go on imaginary adventures in a fantasy world of their own design...the Dungeon Master (DM) creates an imaginary world full of monsters, dangers, and magic. Character-players then journey through the DM's world fighting battles, stealing treasures, or outwitting monsters. The game is played verbally with conflicts settled by a role of the dice.”

Feats: n. 1. A special feature that either gives a character a new capability or improves one he/she/it already has. Unlike skills, a feat has no ranks; a character either has a feat or doesn't. A good example would be driving: you either know how to drive or you don't.
2. The second hardest part of the game to decide upon, aside from character name, and is largely responsible for many delays. Also the most poorly implemented feature, as feats are often forgotten except for a handful of instances.

Pizza: n. 1. An Italian dish made by baking a thin layer of dough covered with a spiced preparation of tomatoes, cheese, and often sausage, mushrooms, etc.
2. The quintessential meal of all D&D gaming sessions, and the absence of which often results in grumpy players and characters alarmingly turning cannibal.

Skills: n. A mathematical model representing the proficiency of a character in certain actions, and compounds the natural ability (see ABILITY) and proficiency in the particular action to determine success or failure. The amount of proficiency is determined by how trained a character is in a certain skill. For example, a rogue places 4 skill ranks/points into Move Silently skill; when added with the dexterity modifier and the die roll, the resultant number will be compared to the DC Check to determine whether the attempt to sneak by unnoticed will succeed or not.

Skills affect every aspect of the game, to spotting something in the distance, to slipping handcuffs, to disguising oneself. Each skill can be improved upon with each level gained, and increases as more ranks/points are put into it and as the abilities that skill relies upon most increases.

Race: n. 1. Biological classification of dubious accuracy, spanning the gamut from humanoid subspecies (elves, dwarves, etc) to giant, four-armed sentient psionic upright-walking insectoids (thri-keen.) Generally applied to (sub)species from which players may choose a character's ancestry, offering moderate bonuses and penalties to various ability scores. Species invented solely to be player antagonists are generally barred from selection, and considered “monsters,” especially since characters of such ancestry would overshadow the abilities of party members with less mighty lineages.
2. One of the primary choices in the construction of a character meant to exploit flaws in the combat model for the purpose of overshadowing the other players. (see TWINK.) The primary reason players attempt to play as races from the Monster Manual.
3. Synonym for annoying or contrived, specifically in D&D.

Twink: n. 1. A player who's primary enemy is his fellow players, not the imaginary monsters controlled by the Dungeon Master. The Twinks goal is to gain the spotlight and stay there, generally by being more awesome then the other players at everything, forever. The Twink facilitates this goal by searching for and exploiting flaws in the rules to create hideously overpowered characters other players cannot hope to match. The Twink will exhaustively study the rulebooks and argue the letter of the rules aggressively as possible in a bid to subvert the spirit of the rules, as long as it provides him advantage. Should their characters in-game performance ever be eclipsed, they will flip the table over and order you to vacate their mother's house.
2. A prospective trial lawyer or tax accountant.

Rolled a one or Rolled a twenty: [slang] It is common to hear players often say, “She/he so rolled a one on that” in context outside of D&D. This is a reference to the rules in D&D that when rolling a d20, the higher number represents greater chances of success and lower numbers represent greater chances of failure. Should a 1 be rolled, whatever attempt was being made automatically fails; likewise, should a 20 be rolled, the attempt will automatically succeed.

When someone performs some incredibly acrobatic maneuver perfectly, for example, a D&D player may unconsciously say, “He/she totally rolled a twenty on that!”

Group 5: Recipe

Dungeons & Dragons Cake

Servings: As many people that can fit around the table.

Ingredients

For cake:
2/3 cup of semi-sweet friendship, matured for 10+ years
1/2 cup of free time, best when picked very fresh
1 ounce of unsweetened camaraderie
1 cup of distilled imagination
1/2 cup of inside jokes
2 large eggs of inspiration
1 teaspoon of smartass
1/4 cup of all-purpose fun
1/2 teaspoon of sarcasm, of the friendly variety

For glaze:
1/4 cup of whipped slap-happiness, gathered closely to midnight
1/2 cup of creativity, with a hint of silliness
1/4 cup of plot, thoroughly worked over by the DM

Instructions

  1. Make cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray. Dust pan with all-purpose fun, tap to remove excess.
  2. Microwave 2/3 of semi-sweet friendship that's been matured for 10+ years, fresh free time, and camaraderie in large microwave-safe bowl on High for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Microwave for 30 more seconds if necessary to melt the friendship thoroughly.
  3. Add distilled imagination and inside jokes; mix well. Add eggs of inspiration, smartassness, all-purpose fun and friendly sarcasm; mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until center is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 30 minutes. Refrigerate 1 hour or until cool.
  5. Make glaze: Microwave slap-happiness (gathered closely to midnight) and creativity together in medium microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute on High. Stir until smooth. Microwave for 30 more seconds if necessary to melt slap-happiness. Add plot sauce; mix well.
  6. Turn cake out onto serving plate; remove foil. Spread glaze over top allowing some to drip down sides of cake. Chill 1 hour or until glaze is firm. Can be made at any time of the day. Store close to the heart.

Group 6: Resignation Letter

My Beloved D&D Party,

This is your Dungeon Master speaking. Though I know this may seem a shock to you, I am submitting this resignation letter to you after ten long years of faithfully serving as your DM. I can honestly say that those years were sweet ones for us all, and that the amount of fun and sheer enjoyment I get from our gaming sessions is unmatched. Why else would I continue to DM for so long? The joy I felt while sitting at the table, surrounded by my friends is unlike anything else. The camaraderie, the wit, the inside jokes that flew across the table; I drank all this in like sipping fine wine, never overbearing on my players and friends, never making up impossible traps or monsters just to punish you - my players - for breaking the plot I had so painstakingly crafted.

I can say I sincerely regret being so nice.

What thanks do I get for my work? I've spent hours and hours painfully wracking my brain to come up with a plot that is sufficiently complex to satisfy your sick, extravagant tastes. And still it wasn't good enough for you! Still I got complaints of “how predictable” and “how boring” the adventure is. You think you can do better? You think I enjoy spending hours upon hours bent over endless charts and tables, my bed covered with a dozen books? You have any idea how long it takes just to plan one city in the grips of a political conspiracy?

There are no charts and tables in any of the books about plot, you know. I had to come up with that fascinating, scintillating story all by myself, and I couldn't ask any help or opinion on it either, knowing that you all would bitch like there's no tomorrow if you got even a sniff of a spoiler.

All that time crafting a delicate story of intrigue and guile and what do you chuckleheads do? You go and kick down the door to the king's bedroom and hold him hostage! Absolutely no thought is given to any subtlety or caution. It was only because I had a headache that day which you guys ALWAYS make so much worse that I let you get away with it.

I now see where I went wrong.

I should have roasted your characters alive.

Some journalist described D&D thus: “Imagine an improv troupe that always plays wizards and elves, with one member (the Dungeon Master) in charge of directing them and introducing story elements.”

What that description fails to capture is that being DM is a thankless, excruciating job. Where I could have been playing Halo and racking up kill counts, I was stuck in my room, laboriously sweating over the choices of my newest scheme, wondering if it would be found adequate, hoping in vain that stupidity wouldn't blow all my careful construction to hell. Which it always did.

Oh, and Kylee? Remember that time when the city was being attacked and you wanted to go save the snake pet shop instead, and the whole city was destroyed because you guys were doing that instead of fighting the bad guys? I hate you for that. That's the reason I killed off your dragon mount and struck your character with dementia. That city was supposed to be the hub for the rest of the campaign! And you just blew it away because you wanted to save the snakes. I should've dropped you in a viper pit.

No, dear players, I'm done. I'm sick and tired of how Markus sleeps with everything that's got a pulse. Don't think I don't know about that loaded die—nobody is THAT lucky every time! I'll no longer subject the fruits of my creative genius to the slap-happy, idiotic treatment of a bunch of hairless apes that only want to go and kill things every day. God, I'm sick of hearing you complain about when the next battle is going to come or when it'll stop getting boring. What do I look like, your conscience? If the game is boring then DO SOMETHING you halfwit, inbred swine! I'm not here to tell you what to do!

So, in payment of this treatment, I'm well and truly done with you lot. Instead, I'm going to become a player. That's right. I'll show you how it's done. No more will my painstakingly crafted plots be trampled on by bunch of half-drunk barbarians. No, I'll show you how to play with wit, subtly, and—dare I say it?—respect. One of you luckless dogs can DM from here on out.

But I warn you, just because I suffered from your cruel disregard for my work, doesn't mean I'll hold back any less than you did. I've got 10 years of mindless criticism to dole out to the next DM and don't think I won't do it. It's time you heathens got a taste of your own medicine.

Vindictively yours,

Caitlin Simakas


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