In a previous article, "15 Hilarious Dungeons and Dragons Memes that will Bring Out Your Inner Geek," we talked about...well, Dungeons and Dragons memes. We plunged into the world of critical misses, evil dungeon masters, and the fact that there are a startlingly low among of dragons in this game. Seriously, we only ever fight a dragon, like, twice in 20 levels (or 30, if you're a 4e nut like me).
Well, 15 memes just didn't do the game justice. Really, 50 memes wouldn't do it justice, but that would be a very long article. So we've narrowed it down to another 15 jokes, gags, and unfortunate incidents that probably should never be spoken of again, but we can't help it, because it's just so funny.
15 "Stealth" Has Various Definitions
Striker-style classes generally have two greatest strengths: doing an unbelievable amount of damage that makes the rest of the party green with envious, and sneaking around. The sneaking is almost mandatory for people who practically prance around the battlefield naked, for all the protection the cloth and leather "armor" gives them. So they're great scouts. The rest of the party, not so much. It almost never fails: the rogue/ranger/assassin goes ahead to scout, and she's gone for a little too long because they saw something shiny. So the paladin with the clunky armor, the cleric who glows in the dark, and the wizard who never fails to trip on his robes go after her, alerting all the bad guys to their location and the big messy fight you were hoping to avoid or at least plan better blows up in your face.
"He's only mostly dead!"
I've lost count of the amount of times my parties have used raise dead rituals. I'm happy to say that it's usually not one of my characters, either because they're a defender with a million hit points, or because they recognize the fact that they're tiny squishy mortals and so stay in the back behind those defenders with a million hit points. Strategy saves lives.
There was one instance, though, where I had a character die and we were completely unable to bring her back. We were just on the edge of epic tier, where characters go from "awesome" to "holy shit," and ended up having to defend a city from an invasion, buy the citizens time to evacuate. Seriously, the entire dining room table was covered in plastic miniatures. Near the end of the fight all the citizens got out, we were out of healing powers and potions, but couldn't get out because of the army. My warden Rain ended up staying behind and literally held off the army while the others left. She got torn apart, of course, but it was awesome.
Sometimes, the Dungeon Master just doesn't know what fun is. Animal companions can't have their own mounts. You can't fire a bow and swing a sword at the same time. Selling your soul to a devil does not make you immortal. Where's their sense of adventure? Dungeons and Dragons is all about being crazy and doing weird stuff. So why can't the ranger's panther animal companion ride a horse into battle? The panther's legs get tired, too, you know. And there should be a ritual or spell or something that allows something to grow an extra pair of arms, making it very easy to shoot a bow, swing a sword, and hold a torch. As for the whole "you can't become immortal by selling your soul" rule...that's the whole reason people sell their souls in the first place! You can't take that away!
12 Always Use Pencil
When I played D&D, my dad was the Dungeon Master. And because he was our dad, he was the one who helped me and my brother with our character sheets. He did it all on the computer, because when we tried hand-written sheets it was a disaster. We'd pencil in powers, feats, abilities, then decide that that didn't work and so swapped one power out for another. And then we'd level up and have to change a million stats because our scores went up. Plus, neither me nor my brother were the best artist. The sketches we made of our characters were...ah, underwhelming. Nothing at all like the artwork you find in the handbooks or online. So we went digital. We probably leveled a good chunk of the Yukon forests printing and re-printing the sheets, but man, it was convenient.
11 Come on, man. Really?
I like a basic hack-and-slash mission as much as the next geek. They make up at least half of the entire Dungeons and Dragons world. Adventures would not be adventures without a sword-fight or bear-mauling. But there's a limit. The whole point of D&D is the story, the campaign. And for a campaign to work there needs to be some sort of connection, some kind of plot. Like a campaign against the dark elves: it could take you all over the world (or rather, all under the world), and most of the fights would only be loosely connected, but there would be a connection. Some drow queen at the end who's been pulling the strings, no matter how weird or diverse those strings are. But if you're just walking around running into owlbears, that's just weird.
10 Arson is a Skill, Not a Problem
There are few problems in the world that cannot be solved with a little explosion, especially in the world of adventuring. A big axe is helpful, but you can only take on one enemy at a time with it. Whereas fire can get everywhere. Sometimes it can get just a little out of control and singe a friend or two, but so long as 80% of the flames are on the bad guy, nobody raises too much of a fuss.
One time my brother and I stared a 4e party with a bunch of newbies. After a total party kill at level 6, I took a cleric whose every power had some kind of healing benefit, because that's how often the rookies were getting bloodied and/or unconscious. It wasn't until well into Paragon Tier that everyone finally got the hang of it, and Jenn the cleric became pretty useless. So we swapped some characters, and I got a sorceress named Isadora (Izzi). She liked fire. A lot.
9 The Pen is (Sometimes) Mightier than the Sword
As fun as sneaking around and jumping off of ledges is, they're not my favorite skills. Well, they are when I'm the middle of the battle and need to make a hasty exit, and the only way out is over a massive chasm that requires at least a 35 athletic check. But outside of the heat of the moment, not my favorite. I have a bit mouth and like to use it, so charisma-based skills are the best. You get to scare off enemy generals, convince the locals to risk their necks to come to your aid, and you never get lost in a town or city. And if a city is divided between orcs and humans who hate each other and will soon be under attack by creatures from the Abyss, you end up with a crazy orc-human army that manages not to tear itself apart.
8 Prevention is Better than Cure
Wizards can be a mixed blessing. Sometimes, you get one who's level-headed and wise, the "logical compass" of the party, so to speak. (Or the only person besides the DM who was an adult at the D&D table, and actually acted like it.) And then sometimes, you get wizards who...aren't. These are the ones who want to add just a dash of chaos to the scene and end up spilling the whole bottle. They poke the sleeping giant just to see how they'll react. They see a lever and everyone else in the party will have to drag them away before they can do something stupid like pull it. And when they find a ritual that doesn't have a name and doesn't explain in exact details what the end result will be...that's a pretty big "oh, shit" moment.
7 How to Age Gracefully
Has anyone ever met a young necromancer? No, seriously. We meet young wizards and sorcerers all the time, usually when they just finished blowing something up. But a young necromancer? Every time a necromancer ends up in an adventure he's at least three hundred years old and bent on taking over the world via zombie army. Not even, like, seventy years old. He's been around for centuries. I think being old and gnarled and wrinkly is part of the job description. Being deathly pale and skeletally thin win you brownie points, and if you're undead yourself...well, that's kind of the definition of an old necromancer who never dies. Until they run into the party of adventurers, of course. Then they die via axe to the face. Usually. Sometimes. Sometimes...yeah, they just never die.
Here's the thing with initiative: it's based off of dexterity. Which means the people who go first are usually the people like the rogues, the sorcerers, the rangers. So the people who go first are the ones who do a bunch of damage, and are squishy little mortals whose defenses are shot to hell. All the bad guy has to do is brush off the hit and then swing back. Sure, you have defenders in the group, the fighters and paladins and such. But they have crappy initiative. So if the bad guy goes before them (and they usually do), there's no shield between said bad guy and the human-shaped bee that just stung him. So when you do manage to get a high initiative, it's usually better to do your awesome opening attack from a distance.
It's not a secret. When fantasy-based video games, movies and artists depict women warriors, they run into problems. Dungeons and Dragons is no exception (although they have been doing better). It never fails: the men will have standard armor that covers them head to foot, because he's going into battle against people who are trying to kill him. Whereas the woman looks like she's on the cover of Vogue with a metal bikini. She has no protection over her chest, stomach, or thighs. And she's usually fighting in high heels. Have you even tried walking in heels? At one point I pointed this out to my brother, and he said, "Well, that just means she's really good at fighting." If that's the case, then the men must be awful fighters.
4 Reason #92 Rogues are Awesome
Sneak attacks are amazing for a million reasons. You get combat advantage, which is a +2 bonus to attack, at least. You get to hit first. You essentially get an extra turn to attack before anyone else realizes that you are attacking. And depending on your class, feats, and abilities, you can deal a truly phenomenal amount of damage. It's one of the reasons the sneaky classes--rogue, ranger, assassin, etc.--are so popular. If your leader is a good strategist, and the barbarian and fighter have enough restraint to hold back for a turn, then you get to slither ahead, jump on your oblivious enemies and yell, "Sneak attack, bitch!"
Also, the picture from this meme is from an amazing manga called Fullmetal Alchemist, which inspired two anime series. So it's doubly awesome.
3 When the Joker is Right
Remember that cleric I mentioned a few memes ago? The one who was completely dedicated to healing because nobody else in the party knew how to play the game and they kept dying? Well, one of the things that allowed her to be so good at healing--such as using d8's instead of d6's for her "Healing Word" power--was a feat called "Pacifist." It was a phenomenal boon to the survival of the team, but it came at a cost. She could not do damage to a bloodied enemy. If she did, she was stunned for a whole turn. So when she did attack bloodied enemies, it was usually with a power that didn't actually damage them and instead lowered their defenses so everyone else could pile on. And because that was a part of her character, when she was taking on minions she wouldn't kill them; she'd knock them out. And she got so much shit for it!
2 Weird is Awesome
I've never played any edition other than 4th, and there's a reason for that. When my brother and I first got into it, it had just come out. So we thought it was perfectly normal, all the rules and powers and feats. Meanwhile our dad and uncle, both of whom had played it in the 1980s and '90s, almost had an aneurysm. Especially when Dad totalled up how much all the books we bought: Player's Handbook, Player's Handbook 2, Player's Handbook 3, Dungeon Master Guide, Arcane Classes, Primal Classes, Martial Classes, Monster Manual, Monster Manual 2, Monster Manual 3...So, yeah. It's a bit complicated. But it's also incredibly exciting. When they came out with 5th edition, the lower number of classes and powers looked really boring. I'll take the craziness.
1 Lesson #1
This is one of those lessons that every party learns the hard way. Especially when you're in a massive building or tunnel system that needs to be explored, or you have two or more objectives in your quest. One time, early in our adventure, my brother and I decided to split the party. We had to escort the rescued son of an eladrin official, and clear out the rest of the underground labyrinth beneath the city. So the warlord and swordmage went exploring while the warden and invoker made sure the son made it to the surface. Team 1 was fine, only running into a few stragglers, but the son almost died half a dozen times, and so did we. First was guards, then thieves, then when we finally made it to the forest on the city limits we had to fight off a bear. Just...don't split the party.