Congratulations! Your PC is Pregnant!

The Dungeon Master is back with another awesome gaming question!  Our illustrious reader asks:

How do you feel about pregnant characters? How do you handle it and what does it change in-game?

This question comes at an appropriately awesome time, because my wife currently has a baby on the way!  Hoorays!

Just like real people, imaginary people can have babies too.  Not only that, but they should have babies.  Your world should not be populated entirely by adults.  In fact, in a world without contraception, there will probably be a lot of children and pregnant women.

But there’s a big difference between a pregnant NPC and a pregnant PC.  

As with all event and plot points in a good Roleplaying game, the DM should first ask themselves: “What does this do for the game?”  

Does it propel the story forward, add an interesting complication that supports the direction of the story, or is it just annoying for most of the Players?  It’s also important to consider the source of the idea: was it the DM or the Player?

If it was the DM’s idea, s/he better as hell have a good reason for it, and not just want to throw a giant wrench at the Players.  If you want one of the characters to birth some demon spawn for the sake of the game, that’s good, but if you want a character to get pregnant because you think it’s funny, that’s annoying.  Nobody likes annoying DMs, not even your mother.

If a Player personally wants a pregnant character, that’s okay too, but figure out WHY they want that.  How does it supports the story and their PC’s growth?  And make sure they understand the full implication of having a baby.  Which brings us to the next point: what the hell does it even mean for a PC to be pregnant?

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If we’re dealing with a standard, non-magical pregnancy, than we’ve got 9 months (or 40 weeks) of in-game time to cover.  Getting pregnant obviously requires some sexy-time, and depending on the age of the PC, there’s around a 20 to 15% chance each time they have sex that they’ll get pregant.  Another use for percent dice!

The First Trimester

A lot of women don’t even know they’re pregnant for the first 3 weeks, so we can just skip over that.  Week 4 is usually when morning sickness starts to kick in, and that can last up to about Week 12 for most people.  How you handle morning sickness is up to you, but it can be triggered by eating and smelling gross things.  When a PC is puking, they’re pretty much out of commission, and I generally apply a -1 Penalty for Nausea.

By Week 6 the PC is going to be needing more sleep (Fatigue Penalties for another -1).  You’re going to be peeing like a maniac (more penalties if you can’t pee when you need to, or just go ahead and wet yourself), and you’re going to start getting emotional.  The emotional element is really just a matter of good Roleplaying though.

  • A Note on Miscarriage: There’s about a 15 to 20% change of Miscarriage within the First Trimester, and even more if your PC is an alcoholic.  I roll each Week, and stop rolling for this after Week 12.  Remember, strenuous exercise and heavy lifting isn’t good for pregnant women, so it’s not really compatible with the Adventurer lifestyle. This will definitely increase chances of Miscarriage as will direct blows to her uterus.

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The Second Trimester

This is Week 12 to 27.  The Second Trimester is often cited as being the easier part of pregnancy.  The PC is still going to be more emotional and tired, and in addition they’ll probably be super gassy, so that’s always fun for Roleplaying, especially if they’re trying to impress Nobles and Lords.  This is also the stereotypical time for cravings to begin.

Week 15 is when they’ll start to appear visibly pregnant, and a lot of women will start to experience back pain by Week 18.  Again, I just apply penalties.  Most women will also have gained a 15 pounds by now, which if you track Weight Capacity and Encumberance, make a note of it.  If you don’t, just apply a Dexterity and Movement penalties.

The Third Trimester

This is Week 28 to 40.  Most women will gain up to another 20 pounds in the Third Trimester, so be sure to track this and penalize appropriately.  Aches and pains are going to be increasing and more regular (-1 Penatly). A lot of Women will also experience shortness of breath here, so there’s not a lot of hope in fleeing from Orcs and Owl Bears.  Penalties, penalties and more penalties!

At Week 32 I start rolling Percent dice for chances of premature birth.  I start at 10% and increase it by 10% each week to 100% at Week 41.  And in a world without hospitals and advanced medicine most babies would have a difficult time surviving before Week 37.

Not to mention Maternal Mortality in a world without medicine is around 10%, so you’re PC could die, and Infant Mortality might have been as high as 50% in the Ancient World.  I roll this each Month for the baby and reduce it by 10% until it hits 0.

Birth!

So, you made it through pregnancy and now your PC has a baby!  Good job, now you have a totally helpless creature to protect, feed constantly, clean up after, and keep all of your travelling companions awake all night with.  You jackass.

D_amp_D Baby

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One Die Short: Season 2?

Hello Nerdlings!

I have a question to answer later this week, but I wanted to give the One Die Short fans an update on the series’ future.  Check out my blog below:

One Die Short: Season 2?

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Hey Imgur

You guys need to work on your trust.  Love and Dice.

(PS: I realize this makes no sense to my subscribers)

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Dealing with Dumbasses Around the Table

Today we learn how to deal with difficult people:

How do I kick out players no one else wants in the game? There’s one girl in my game and her character is an attention hog, and the rest of the girls in the group are getting tired of it. I agree with them, but I don’t know the best way to go about it. She’s my friend.

Your problem is a somewhat common one.  Although Roleplayers are pretty damn awesome, we’re not so awesome as to be immune to the assery and general crappiness that plagues humanity.  In your games, as in life, you will come across people that irk you slightly, and other people that you just want to punch in the mouth every time they try to open it.

As with any functional group or team activity, you need to have ground rules.  These should be ideally decided upon by the group and be know to all (I’ve compared D&D to Social Anarchy in the past, so check it out if you’re interested in a more detailed discussion of game table governance).  If you have not yet laid out your game table rules, it’s something you need to get on right away.

As for dealing with the problem Player, if you have any hope of enjoying the game, you need to address the problem quickly and directly.  You’ve essentially got three different ways to deal with the problem.

1. The Fuck You Approach

This is pretty simple and straight forward.  You just kick them out, and tell them they were ruining everyone else’s enjoyment of the game.  I generally avoid doing this until I’ve tried at least one other solution, otherwise you just seem like a bad friend and an incompetent DM.  After all, only shitty bosses fire employees without a warning, and the DM is the boss (regardless of what Tony Danza thinks).  And as with any good breakup, if you can’t do it to their face, you shouldn’t be doing it at all.

2. The Sniveling Weasel Approach

This involves making the Player’s life a living Hell until they leave.  This is reserved for anyone who despises confrontation and doesn’t know how to deal with problems.  It’s the perfect way to continue avoiding problems in your life and hoping they go away.

Try removing their PC’s eyes, taking away levels, penalizing experience, having them contract genital herpes – whatever you need to do to make sure they hate the game, and you don’t have to ever address the real problem.

3. The Direct Approach

This is of course the only real solution to the problem, or, at the very least, where you need to start from.  I know it’s not easy telling a friend to grow up and stop being a pain in the ass, but one of the roles of the DM is to make sure all of the Players are enjoying the game.  If you can’t take charge of your table, than DMing might not be for you.

To begin with: Take her aside, talk to her alone, and do it face-to-face! No one likes being called out on shit in front of other people.  It makes them uncomfortable, and it makes them defensive.  And I know we live in the world texting and chatting and science, but we’re still human beings, and it’s really hard for us to interpret emotions unless we’re face-to-face, regardless of how many emoticons we might employ.

If she’s a good friend, hopefully you have an open and honest relationship with her.  Tell her that she’s being ta loud-mouthed ninny-muggin and trampling over the other players.  If you’re not comfortable being straight forward, try saying something along the lines of:

  1. I really appreciate your enthusiasm for the game, but some of the other players are quieter and shier than you, and they have trouble speaking up around you sometimes.  It would help me a lot if you would be more aware of them when they get quiet and give them a chance to join in the game.Or, if she’s someone that really needs her ego stroked:
  2. I’ve noticed that you get very involved in roleplaying your character, and it seems like you’re really invested in the story.  Some of the other players seem to be having a harder time with it.  Do you think you could help me get them more involved?

Those are just a couple of examples, but the main point here is utilize the Player and their loud-mouthed nature to help you out.  Tell them what they’re good at, what you appreciate about them, and why the other Players need her help.  If you can get her to fix the problem on her own, you’ve sidestepped unnecessary drama, and perhaps even the complete ruination of a friendship.

Once you can manipulate your Players to suit your needs you will be on the path towards true mastery of the Dungeon.

Good luck!  And roll it like you mean it!

Don’t forget to check out my RPG Web Series, One Die Short!

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Posted in DM Advice, Dungeons & Dragons, Fantasy, Geek Culture, General Roleplaying, Personal Advice, Player Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

F#$%ing Noob! (Roleplaying for Beginners)

This week our question comes to us from across the Narrow Sea:

What is the best way to teach D&D to someone who has never heard of it?
I live in Dominican Republic and these kind of games are unspoken so i’m trying to spread the word between friends but it’s a bit hard not knowing “all” the rules myself. Any tips?

Although D&D and Roleplaying games might not be truly “popular” here in the States, I do sometimes forget how fortunate I am to be living in the place where Roleplaying was invented.  Even people that have never played an RPG have heard of Dungeons & Dragons.  It’s tough to find someone that would have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about, even if a lot of them think all Roleplaying is LARPing or has something to do with Bondage.

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That being said, I’ve always derived some sort of perverse pleasure from converting the virginal Roleplayer to my way of life.  And I mean that figuratively.  Not like… stalking virgin D&D players (Which is all of them! Am I right!? <—-sarcasm, by the way).

What I do mean is that my favorite Roleplayers are the ones that have never played before.  The vast majority of people I have rolled with over the years have actually been first-time Players.

Here’s a blog I wrote some time back where I discuss in-depth some tactics for acquiring these types of people and how to get them on board the Roleplaying train. I won’t rehash all of that here, as I want to focus on the “teaching” aspect, but the blog is definitely worth checking out as a newbie.

As with anything new, start out simple.  Roleplaying, at its core, is collaborative storytelling.  It’s a bunch of people sitting around a table actively participating in the creation of a story together.  Start there.

When explaining D&D to new people, I always describe it as a choose-your-own adventure board game without a board.  I tell them it’s 1 part acting, 1 part storytelling and 1 part board game.  I tell them it’s super fantastically fun, and not at all as weird or confusing as it first sounds.

If you have no experience DMing, don’t try to do everything on your own.  Start with a pre-written adventure.  Read it over, and then read it again at least five more times.  You can find free adventure modules all over the internet for 3.5 and 4.0.  I would recommend going back even further than 3.5 if you can, not because I necessarily think AD&D was a superior system (though clearly, it was), but because I think it’s focus on Roleplaying and fudging the rules makes it faster and easier for new Players and DMs to pick up.

You can find free online rules compendiums for AD&D and 3.5 pretty easily, so my first piece of advice would be to study whatever system you want to use thoroughly!  I know it seems daunting.  I know it’s a lot of information, but if you know the basic rules and have a story it’s going to be MUCH easier to get people on board and explain the game.

Now, when I say basic rules I mean BASIC.  Focus on learning how to create a character, what a skill check is, and how to fight.  And don’t worry about complex combat rules.  All you need to start is Roll-to-Hit and Roll-for-Damage.  That’s it.  Build up from there.

Now that you know the basics really well, don’t worry about them too much.  You don’t want to overwhelm new Players with tons of rules, but YOU want to know them, because it will make the game move faster, which makes it more interesting.

I know this hasn’t been the most specific post (i.e. Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Roleplaying!).   I’ve really just give you a lot of homework to do, but trust me, it will be worth it.  And if you want a really long, more specific blog, here’s a 3 parter I wrote: Passing on the Craft.

You and your friends are about to start on an fantastical, epic journey of awesomeness, that you will not soon forget.  The more you prepare for it, the more fun it will be, and less likely anyone will be to want to stop.

Good luck!  And roll it like you mean it!

Don’t forget to check out my RPG Web Series, One Die Short!

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F#@& Your Self-Help Advice: On Motivation and Success

Today we take a look at something that the vast majority of humanity struggles with: getting motivated! Our reader writes:

Hey DM,

I’ve been having some issues lately.  I am creatively dead at the moment.  I’m trying to get two separate D&D games going, neither of which seem like they’ll happen.  I haven’t done any updates on my blog in a long while.  I don’t have the time or (creative) energy to make anything.  Or maybe I’m just lazy.  I dunno.  Thoughts?

As always I have numerous thoughts, none of which involve telling you what a lazy waste of space you are, or listing all of the reasons you won’t succeed because you’re not following the 7 rules that someone came up with to prove that they’re more successful than you.  Fuck self-help advice.

And now I will offer you some.

Getting Motivated!

Motivation is hard.  We’ve all been there: some great inspiring idea punches us in our face while we’re sitting in the car, cursing the inability of EVERYONE ELSE on the road to be as good a driver as we are.  We fidget impatiently, dreaming of the awesomeness we just thought up, until we finally get home, rush through the door, scatter our belongings across the floor like the bodies of our fallen enemies and then… mmm… potatoes.  Or puppies.   Whatever.  Distractions though.

Lots of them.

Everywhere.

Always.

Why Are You So Distracted?

Are you distracted because you’re lazy?  Are you distracted because secretly you know your idea sucks?  Do your goals just seem unrealistic and unattainable?  Maybe you believe all of those things, or maybe you just have too many shiny objects in your house.  Either way, it doesn’t matter.

I am lazy.  I have unrealistic goals.  And I think most every idea I come up with is lame.  But I still do things.  Because I am motivated.

This is not the part of my blog where I unveil the deep secrets of the Universe. I have a very simple answer. I am motivated because I found passion.  I think that’s what asshats don’t understand that write articles like “500 Reasons You’re a Loser and Won’t Succeed at Life”.

A lack of success isn’t a result of bad networking, or not eating enough oatmeal, or waking up too late, or failing to chanting mantras in the mirror each morning about how clever you are.  You just haven’t found your passion.

Where is Your Passion?

“Mr. The DM!” you cry out in anger, “I have found my passion, you asshole!”

If that’s true, than here’s another possibility for you: you have surrounded yourself with so much energy sucking people and situations that you are left with no energy for yourself.  Energy is finite.  We understand this because we have science.  Strategies for motivation and success are NOT science, but energy is.  Thermodynamics.  Scienced!

It doesn’t matter how motivated you are if you spend all of your energy on other things and other people.  The only way you’ll get anywhere is if you cut it all loose.  Make passion a priority! Passion is like liquid Gamma Rays injected straight into your brain.  But in a good way, like in the Incredible Hulk.

You also might THINK you’ve found your passion.  You might love to write, or paint.  You might think film or writing code is the greatest thing ever.  But why?  Is it because you’ve found your deepest passion, or is it because you’re sure you’ve found a way to achieve immortal fame, or a shortcut to becoming a millionaire?

Then your TRUE passion is fame and fortune, so don’t confuse it with acting or the stock market.  Recognize your passion for what it is and use that to your advantage.  Hone in on your ACTUAL target.  Lying to yourself will get you precisely nothing.  Passion flows from self honesty, and passion births success. But what the hell is success!?

Success is…

I don’t fucking know!

Don’t ask anyone that question.  Success is individual.  Success can be making a billion dollars, or 7 babies.  Success can be writing 1,000 books that no one ever reads, or becoming the CEO of the next great tech company.  For most people success is about leaving a lasting impact.  It’s about being remembered.  Whether it’s being remembered for swinging naked on a wrecking ball or winning the Nobel Peace Prize, it’s all the same.

We’re terrified of dying, fading away into oblivion, and being forgotten.  So find your success wherever it is, and DON’T LET OTHER PEOPLE DEFINE IT FOR YOU.

Success can be friendship, family, love, birth, dogs, cooking, gardens, penguins, money, pie, video games, or beer.  But you’ll never find it if you’ve already convinced yourself someone else knows what it is.  Because guess what?  You ARE a beautiful and unique snowflake. (FUCK YOU TYLER DURDEN!)

And fuck success. 

If there’s one thing I’d like for you to take away from all of this rambling, it’s to stop reading other people’s advice on how to be successful and motivated.  Because in the end, only you know what you want, what you need, and what you’re lacking.  Only you can be honest with yourself.  You just have to decide to shut up and listen to yourself.  So fuck this blog, because in the immortal words of Socrates: “Nobody knows shit.”  Socratized!

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Roleplaying is hard and Monks are lame

It’s been a good long while, but I’ve got another great question, so I thought I’d provide an equally great answer.  Our reader asks:

I have a RP problem. My character earlier on in the campaign killed a baby troll. This did not sit well with the monk in our group and ever since we have been at odds. The only character that stood up for me while everyone else took a step back from the situation was killed by a rock trap and bad dice rolls. I have tried all that I could think of to help him get past it. Also, he has been walking that thin line between good and bad ever since. What can I do?

Roleplaying can be hard.  And I mean actually roleplaying.  Not just rolling dice and killing things, but being someone else for a while.  It’s the reason I discourage new players from being True Neutral, and even Chaotic Neutral at times.  Unless you’re already a little bit crazy, people tend to either roleplay as Good or Evil.  The subtleties in-between can get lost, and then I get annoyed because they’re not playing to their character.

Now, assuming you were playing your character appropriately, and killing the baby troll was acceptable within your Alignment, than there’s really only one good solution to your problem: forget about the Monk’s emotional manipulation.

Take special note of the smug, self-righteous look on her face.

Take special note of the smug, self-righteous look on her face.

Monks are annoying.  They’re a bunch of uptight, holier than though ass-hats that think they’ve reached some kind of spiritual enlightenment that should be forced upon everyone else.  Sometimes ignoring them is the best way to deal with them.  In general, I approve of ignoring all Lawful characters.

However, if you were playing against your alignment, than you’ve got a potential crisis on your hands.  Begging the Monk for forgiveness may actually make sense, and be appropriate as a means of redeeming yourself. If the Monk is a Good Monk, then they should want to help you do this, otherwise they’re the one with the roleplaying problem, not you.

To summarize: roleplaying should be number one when you have a roleplaying problem.  Dig deep, and figure out what your character’s motivation were.  How justified were they?  How badly do they actually feel?  And how much inner turmoil has resulted from this?  Even if he does feel bad, would the Monk pointing it out just make him angry?  Would he eventually get tired of all the bull-crap and just slit the Monk’s throat in his sleep to silence the voices of regret?

I generally frown upon Player on Player violence, and party instability, but sometimes it needs to happen and makes for awesome drama inside and outside of the game.  When the Cheetos start flying and the dice hit the fan, you know you’ve got some seriously invested Players.  They just might not come back for the next campaign.  And also: screw Monks. 

Don’t forget to check out my brand-new RPG Web Series, One Die Short!

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