How Players See Challenge Rating In RPGs
How Monsters See Challenge Rating In RPGs
It’s all about the belts…
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves came out during a very influential time in my life. I was young enough for the neighbors to laugh at my yarn-and-sapling bow making skills, yet old enough to get in trouble for threatening to cut out their hearts with a spoon.
Less intimidating when it’s a 7-year-old.
So it’s no surprise that I was a bit too immature to grasp the deeper story behind a movie like this. As a child I was so wrapped up in the sword fighting, the bow shooting, and the Morgan Freeman-ing, that I missed the important lessons hiding just under the skin. Lessons like how to choose your allies. Why safety nets for the lower classes are important. And why constructing an Ewok village is never a solution.
Re-watch this movie as an adult, however, with a fair working knowledge of class systems and medieval politics, and another story emerges. The classic “Steal from the rich and give to the poor.” goes out the window. You start to realize that Prince of Thieves is more of a “Drive a political campaign that legitimizes your status as a pretender by using the suffering poor.” kind of jam.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few reasons why the Sheriff and Robin are both imposters trying to fill a power vacuum by exploiting the peasantry. Continue reading
Each of my roommates has been in the past, or is currently, in the private security industry. According to Google the word Dick in this instance is of Gypsy or Romany origin, Dik, meant ‘to watch’. This later became slang for detectives and watchmen of the late 1800’s (Dicks) which carried into modern pop culture and noire.
Dicks. All of us. Dicks.
Which might explain why when I pitched the very childish, very dangerous notion of trying to play “RC Mario Kart” in our kitchen, everyone agreed it was the wise, sensible choice. Continue reading
Why are there so many monsters in your dungeon?
I realize there are certain expectations in tabletop games. I understand that a dungeon in Dungeons and Dragons is bound to be harboring horrible beasties–otherwise why play the game? I get that every RPG, from Pathfinder to Savage Worlds, and even some from the Sci-Fi end of the pool, must feature subterranean labyrinths from time to time. But why the hell are they always brimming with monsters?
Do monsters in the RPG world eat rocks? Undead warriors guarding crypts, I understand. But what business does a Hellhound have roaming the blank, featureless corridors of an isolated cave? Why is a goblin tribe living so far underground, away from a ready food source, on a glacial mountain with nothing growing on the surface? Or, an even worse offender, inside an active volcano? What are the giant spiders eating? And what does the Minotaur do for fun between murders? Does he just stare wistfully at the bloodstains in his corner of the cave, year after year, reminiscing about the adventurers he’s slain?
Why are there so many monsters in your dungeon? This is such a tiny, insignificant question in the grand scheme of the game. Yet 90% of dungeons I encounter have a bafflingly diverse array of subterranean creatures who seem to have no biological imperative to eat, reproduce, or nest. It’s as if their entire existence is centered around their desire to kill player-characters. Continue reading
I usually reserve my online writing to rants about gaming, pop culture, or comic books. On rare occasion these three can intersect in delightful ways; like that time we discovered the evangelical publication designed to warn the faithful about the evils of D&D. Usually when that happens I gush about it like someone’s confused yet delighted father who just learned how to use the dog-face filter.
Other times these three circles of geekdom overlap in stranger, less predictable ways that horrify and confuse. This is one of those times. Continue reading