The Feeling of Nardledanger

Last Friday I was hanging out with some of our friends, and a friend I hadn’t seen in a while (whom I will refer to as Boo) came on by in a rare showing!

We were building Warhammer 40k models.  I was building a particularly nasty model called a Tyrannocyte.

This.

Boo and Heather were making black construction paper bats for Halloween.  In one of the left over pieces it appears as though they had deliberately cut it into the shape of a butt and perhaps some testicles.  It was at this point that my life changed forever.

Boo was laughing and made a comment about how you can see its Nardledanger.

Full stop.

What?

Nardledanger?  The fuck kind of word is that?

Now this is what it’s like when worlds collide.

It was such a striking word that I briefly forgot what I was doing.  I did a full 90 degree turn in my chair to face Boo directly.  I knew exactly what it a nardledanger was based on context clues, but it’s rare in life that I hear a new colloquialism for “dick” that I have never heard before.

Nardle is probably based off the 3rd grade classic: Nards.  Google, ever the great illuminating presence, informs me that nard is the singular of a flower known as a Himalayan Spikenard.  Reality has failed me, however, for it is a pretty standard (boring) looking flower.

Danger (aside from being its own very appropriate word regarding testicles) is most likely based of dangler.  If I were to ask you what dangler meant, you would likely envision Wily fucking Coyote dangling from a cliff edge.  A person who is dangling!  Duh!  Perfect metaphor for a man’s grain sacks.

(Because their full of seed.)

Nardledanger does in fact have an urban dictionary definition.  “Slang for ballsack.”

I was sitting on that lawnchair in our friends garage when this grown woman dropped this word on me.  After my mind went racing to come to terms with the new word in my vocabulary I had nothing but questions left.

This was the word that jumped to her mind when she saw something resembling a pair of testicles.  She didn’t say balls, she quickly and directly used nardledanger.  Is this the word she uses in her day to day?

It became the running joke of the evening.  After a time we started playing the popular internet game “replace one word from a movie title” with Nardledanger.  Its such a perfectly sculpted word.

So (poorly) building off your Feeling of Sonder post: a Feeling of Nardledanger.

A Feeling of Nardledanger: Learning something that you immediately understand, and at the same time you have nothing but questions about it.

have (extensively) googled nardledanger and see that it has been used in some TV shows and the like— so it is easy for me to follow the breadcrumbs.  But to me the weird moment was that singular minute in time where I heard the word, understood it, and then immediately did not understand it.

-DTM

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Familiar Stranger

Last week I was ruminating over how interesting it is that there are people in my life who I know by name and yet they are strangers to me.  The people at my favorite bar, Crush, all know me by name and I know them by name.  And yet, I know very little beyond that.

Similar with some of the people who make my coffee down at Floyds Coffee.  I talk with some of them and even have conversations about things going on with them, but even know I can know these details it never occurred to me that they just became acquaintances or even friends.

There are patrons at the bar that I know by name, but haven’t really spoken to them beyond daily pleasantries.  We recognize each other to the point that we wave when we see each other walking around the neighborhood!

But yet— I still think of some of them as strangers.  But familiar ones.

This even extends to one sided narratives to people I see from my car.  This is what made me start to think about this concept.  I drive across this bridge to go pick up Laryssa after work.  And since a lot of people get off work when I do, I inevitably begin to see the same people each day walking across the bridge.

There is this one woman who walks the bridge each day.  I noticed her because she was wearing full jeans and a jacket in the crippling heat of summer.  I saw her each time I drove across that bridge.  I thought it was strange that it could be so hot and she’s always wearing the same long, heavy clothing.

Then one day when the wind was blowing it pushed all of her clothes against her frame, and I saw that she was painfully thin.  I frowned to myself and gave a silent remark that I hoped she was alright.  But week by week, month by month I watched her become hunched and frail.

What specifically made me think to write this post is that last week I realized I hadn’t seen her in a couple weeks.

I’ve never met this woman.  I don’t know her name.  I don’t know whats wrong, but I know she doesn’t walk the bridge anymore.  And yet I urgently want to find her and make sure shes being taken care of and getting help.

I’ve never met this woman but I knew her narrative.  She walked the bridge everyday at 5:10, so I guessed she had a job.  Her clothes were clean and her hair styled, so she still cared about her appearance.  She carried a messenger bag so I guessed she might be a student.

Was she getting help?  Someone else must be noticing whats happening to you.

I hope that she is taking the bus or walking a new path or is getting help.  Should I have done something?  Should I have stopped one day and found her and asked if she needed help?  What can I do?  I’m merely a stranger.

I haven’t seen her in a while.  And I’ll always hope for the best, but it is weirdly distressing being in such a uniquely helpless scenario.  And then it made me think of all the familiar strangers that I suddenly just don’t see anymore.

I used to buy crickets for my lizard Kyuzo every other day.  The lady who worked at Petsmart used to talk to me about The Walking Dead.  And then one day I adopted Kyuzo away to someone else, and I just simply never returned to Petsmart.  Did she wonder about me?

There were numerous kids who came to Big Al’s arcade whom knew me as Dan the Man, Bringer of the Eternal Party, and then one day I just wasn’t there anymore.  Those kids came back and probably asked for me, and one day they were told I no longer worked there.

One of the old bartenders that used to serve me food at Crush five days a week quit abruptly over one weekend, and I haven’t seen him since.  I talked to that dude for years, and then one day he’s just gone.

It makes me wonder how many familiar strangers I’ve forgotten over the years.  How many people did I used to see everyday and then one day we just never saw each other again.  Makes me think and get all super pensive.  Its weird to try and express my thoughts on the matter.

Do you have familiar strangers?

-DTM

Character: The Lifeblood of Roleplaying

Previously on Seven Degrees of Smudde:

There was a solid disconnect between Acolyte and everyone else.  So I figured the easiest thing to do was quietly retire the naive Acolyte for someone who was more suited to this party and the world.  I’m not really mad at anyone, just stopped having fun trying to make my character fun.

What made me think about this was one of my players approaching me saying that he wasn’t having as much fun with his character in Rogue Trader.  His character was a dark and brooding man with a troubled past.

I was quite surprised at how many of my players decided to play various flavors of “dark and brooding with a troubled past.”  Its a very attractive idea for a character— you can play a mysterious, crass, loner who doesn’t need anybody.  No strengths, only weaknesses hidden deep inside.

Roleplaying games are awesome because you can explore so many different personalities and lifestyles.  The breadth of options available in the theater of your mind is for another post— what I’d like to talk about is characterization versus character.

A thing to note: some people just want to play Dungeons and Dragons for the combat or the exploration.  What I’m about to expound about is only relevant if you want to focus on the roleplaying aspects.  If you just wanna kill dragons and loot dungeons then you can probably ignore this!

I have had a lot of strong opinions on character, appearance, and investment.  Only recently have I found the correct language to really talk about this effectively.  And again— I’m not a professional writer (yet) but I’d like to take a step back and evaluate what makes a character and how people view and understand them.

Characterization is how a character acts and appears outwardly.  Simple as that.  Is a character loud?  Quiet?  Snarky?  Mild mannered?  Are they thin?  Thick?  Athletic?  Portly? Short?  Tall?  Could they be described as angry?  Solemn?  Cordial?

In contrast: character is how a character acts during critical moments.  If the character woke up in a burning apartment building would they: run immediately for the exit, pushing past people?  Go into the apartment next door where their elderly neighbor lives to rescue them?  Pick up a child but keep running?

Its in those revelations that we see real character.  When characterization is similar to character you write a cliché.

The man saunters into the bar.  He’s wearing a leather jacket over some Levi’s.  Fingerless gloves adorn his hands.  He pulls his motorcycle helmet and runs his fingers through his short hair.  He has a scarred face and a permanent scowl.  He grunts in irritation at several people standing in his way.  He steps up to a stranger and sets his helmet on the bar counter.  He orders a shot of whiskey.

“You got my money, bud?” the rider asks.

“I ain’t paying you shit.” the stranger responds.

“I think you will, pal.  You owe me.”

The stranger draws a gun on him.

“Oh boy.  That was a mistake.” the rider says.

He then proceeds to beat the strangers ass.  Punching him right in the jaw and grabbing the hand holding the gun.  He has brass knuckles, but he is an honorable fighter.  Once the man is on the ground groveling, the rider lights up a cigarette, downs his shot of whiskey, and saunters back out into the night.

How predictable was that?  It was boring.  He looked and sounded like a bad mother fucker, so were you super surprised when he was a bad mother fucker?  It was something we’ve seen before.  It was cliché.

Its possible to have characterization and character be similar and write an interesting character, you just need to explore that character deeper.  But think about any character you think of as badass inside and out— they probably have other characteristics that contrast what you expect.  Especially as you begin to understand their development.  Try not to have characters with hard, aligned edges.

He closed the door to his car and began to walk to his apartment.  He slung his bags strap over his shoulder and checks his phone.  Several missed calls from his manager at work.  The server must be down again.  He’ll remote in and fix it after dinner.

He walked past a couple of his neighbors, smiling broadly at them and waving.  He chats a little bit about the weather and exchanges jokes about the sillier neighbors.  He crouches down to scratch a couple puppies behind the ears.  He offers to fix some of the issues the leasing office was having as he talks with the property manager.

He fumbled with his eyes and unlocked the door, entering the air conditioned room.  His girlfriend was there.  She hops up suddenly and goes to help with the bags and the door.  She smiles sweetly at him.

Then he heard the man calling for something from the bathroom.  Calmly, she made to speak.

“He’s just-”

Blood sprayed across the wall when the back of his hand hit her square in the nose.  When she crumpled to the ground he began kicking her in the stomach over and over.

“You.  Fucking.  Bitches.  Are.  All.  The.  Same.” he said, punctuating each word with another kick.

A little more jarring and interesting of a read.  There is something happening there that the reader wants to understand and explore.  The characterization: a mild mannered IT guy, was in contrast to his character, a man who was angry enough at women to beat one before knowing whats happening.

So why do I bring this all up?  Because they are things to consider when you are making a character for a roleplaying game.  Roleplaying games are nothing but choices under pressure, so your character matters so much more than your characterization.

As a player in a roleplaying game, you are equal parts narrator as you are player.  We read stories to learn how the story begins and ends, how a characters arc ends, and to see how everything develops and changes as it goes on.  As a player in an RPG, if you have no character than your character becomes a dull narrator.  Everything is predictable.  We know almost everything about you before you begin.

If you make a character who everyone sees as a dark, brooding, tough guy and then he goes to his room in the castle and broods at the dark in a tough way?

You end up sitting at the table for a while not doing much.  You end up trying to pull character out of characterization and you end up bored because there is nothing left.  You spend all of your time focusing on what your character is like that you forget about who your character is.

I see this a lot when I watch people make characters.  They say:

“Oh!  I want to play this funny little guy who speaks with an accent and always has a smoking pipe in his mouth!”

“I’m going to play a fighter.  He was an orphan and war took his family from him.  He learned to fight to protect himself.”

“My cleric will be the most possible good in the universe.  She’ll help the needy, and feed the hungry.  Her god is Lawful Good.”

Those are awesome back story ideas, but if you focus only on those events you will quickly lose steam when it comes to interactions.

What I wish I saw more of:

“I want to play a gnome druid who used to be a local folk hero.  But his addiction pushes everyone else away, so he never lets anyone in.  He has to learn to overcome his addiction or risk being alone for the rest of his life.”

“I want to play a firbolg fighter who lost his parents to a bloody war.  The only language he knows is violence, and he’s going to have to learn to trust people and that harming others isn’t always the way.”

“My cleric wants to be a healer, but she learns during her first battle that she is terrified of fighting.  She wants to fight and protect the innocent, but is too paralyzed with fear to go out and do it.  She has to find the courage within her.”

Which sounds more interesting to you?

-DTM

Unprepared

For the first time since we’ve started this blog I almost straight up forgot to write a post.

And to be frank I haven’t been doing great on my SDoS posts.  I feel like all my thoughts are already on display here for the world to see.  I don’t truly do much anymore.  I write both Dungeons and Dragons and Rogue Trader now, preparing for sessions that will likely never happen.  But I’ve talked about that shit so much already.

I don’t play games, I rarely watch movies, and we don’t consume a ton of TV.  I’m trying to read more, but currently I just plowed through two books on good writing practices.  Both Story and Dialogue by Robert McKee.  Writing about those sounds contrived though.  Like:

“Hello everybody, my name is Daniel and I’ve written nothing of note.  Sit tight as we go over some excellent pieces of advice for when writing a screenplay or novel.”

I keep a tiny notebook in my pocket specifically to jot down any fleeting idea I have for SDoS, Write Makes Right, Rogue Trader, Dungeons an Dragons, Game System ideas, novel ideas— all sorts of shit.

And long, long ago I stopped having ideas for SDoS.  I love writing this blog and I’ve written some fun stuff but I just feel like I don’t do anything interesting enough to write about.  Work is very straight forward.  I don’t even really want to do 3D anymore, so not much to write on there.

Hmm.

Hell, I feel like I’ve written this exact post before.  Perhaps I’m too concerned with what I think people might want to read.  But the thing is— all I can think about when I write for this is that I know who reads this blog so there are certain things that I wouldn’t bother writing about.

For instance: I just went to see you!  Huzzah!

But why would I write about that?  You were there.  On top of that, even if you didn’t read my posts, it would be summed up like, “Its a six hour drive.  When we got there we hung out for several days and walked around town and campus for like 10,000 hours.  Then we drove back right before the massive Eaglecreek fire started up.”  I could write a play by play but one day we walked forever and browsed some shops.  The other day we marathon-ed Rick and Morty.

Perhaps my issue is that there are things I could write about but I have nothing to say.  The fire is bad and I’ll be really sad to see such a massive part of the Columbia River Gorge be reduced to ash, but I have nothing insightful or meaningful to say.  I feel like this blog has already opened me up to talking about so much of my inner dialogue that by the time I make it back to SDoS it feels like I’m retreading old ground again and again.

Hmm.

None of my ideas feel substantial.  I probably need to take time to brainstorm stuff.  When we first started SDoS I brainstormed like, a massive list of ideas.  And I wrote every single thing on that list.

Maybe I just need to take some time and brainstorm?

-DTM

Your GM Screen is More Important Than You

I’m now GMing two campaigns that have made it past their opening missions and will be delving into the world at large.  I have made a significant goof because I’ll never have free time again.

Its great inspiration for a dungeon crawl though.

 

But its fulfilling.  Its fun to write.  This medium is especially rewarding when your players are as into it as you are.  As a GM I really want to try and have my players be immersed, invested, and enabled.  But GM styles are for another post!  Probably sooner than later since I love talking about RP games.

A big part of my work is trying to be prepared for my players, as well as enhance their experience.  I am constantly trying to find new ways to improve the game play and the flow.  When something trips us up, I try and remember it so I can brainstorm how to move past it.  As an example, I do “ratchet battle maps” with tiny grid paper and thumbtacks.  I recently bought a new compliment of colored travel pins, just so everyone can be a different color instead of everyone being the same color with numbers drawn next to them.

I felt that the GM screen I had didn’t have the things I wanted on it.  One of my great investments of the year was commissioning and purchasing a wooden GM screen from our friend Mark.  He’s damned good at wood work.  I designed a GM screen with the ability to change inserts and paid Mark to build it for me.

So now I have it and I produced my own Rogue Trader inserts.  The information I want is now readily at hand.

Since I started GMing Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition) at Nemo, I have slowly been brainstorming designing my own inserts for that game as well.  Then I started thinking about how interesting and powerful a concept the GM screen really is.

When I have to improvise, or assist a player in their task, my first instinct is to scan my GM screen for the information I need.  If I find it- great!  If I don’t, I make something up.  You should be improvising the story and interactions- not improvising the rules. Hear me out.

I’d guess that I’m approximately 75 – 80% fluent in the rules for Rogue Trader and coming up on that same fluency for DnD.  With that level of knowledge in my brain, its still strange that I look at the GM screen first, but I always do.  Like a spreadsheet “Where’s Waldo” I desperately skim my charts hoping to find the ruling I need.

What used to happen before was I wouldn’t find the information I’d need so I’d change the situation to suit the rules I had placed in front of me.  I could look it all up, but I don’t want to halt the situation so I can figure out if the penalty for juggling while on a motorcycle is -10 or -20.

“Oh wait- you want this to be a team attack?”

I made mention that I like to try and have the game-play be fluid so we don’t have to constantly open rule books and make judgment calls.  I want my players focused on role-playing, not focused on the rules.  This is what I wanted to get the custom GM screen for.  I want to think about the story, not be sitting there going “uhhhhh” while I try and find a ruling or a challenge level.

My GM screen has also quietly influenced which rules I use a lot and which I kind of let fall to the wayside (I find less important).  Narrative time movement as an example.  You go to the building, and I don’t really care how fast you get there in minutes.  My customized GM screen for Rogue Trader has also introduced a lot more elements to my GM style that I think enhances things.  For instance, the official GM screen for Rogue Trader doesn’t have a comprehensive list of the skills.  So I always had to try and recall the skill list when my players were trying to do something.  And I would constantly forget that some skills exist- like Inquiry or Logic- and I started letting players use other skills for that.

I’ve added my own list and now I use a wider breadth of skills that lets my players feel like their skill upgrades are more useful.  I’ve added the rule blocks for ship morale.  I’ve added the rules block for NPC disposition and information recall.  I’m sure for my players the experience rapidly shifted.  I have a lot more role-play and interaction rules directly in front of me, which I use to make my players make more nuanced choices.

I highly recommend you get a customizable GM screen if you run a campaign.  Think carefully on how you want your campaign played and structure your GM screen that way.  And you don’t even have to get a fancy hard wood one!  Customizable sleeve and white board screens exist.

I want to reiterate this sentence.

“What used to happen before was I wouldn’t find the information I’d need so I’d change the situation to suit the rules I had placed in front of me.”

I don’t think you should ever make an improvisational adjustment to a core scene or beat simply because you have the rules for shooting in front of you instead of negotiation.  You have carefully crafted your beats, scenes, and acts to have specific effects- changing them at the last second undoes all of your work and potentially fucks your story line up.

As an example:

“Your players walk into a bar to meet a man whom has information on the local port administrator whom is skimming tolls.  The players recognize the man and the very first thing that Soldier does is point a gun at him and threaten him.  Well- as the GM you were prepared for a negotiation, not intimidation.  So what do you do?  Glancing at your GM screen, you don’t readily see anything that helps you- but you do see the rules for grappling.  You think: ‘this really pisses the Man off, so he’s gonna retaliate with a grapple and a knife to the mans throat!  It’ll make a point of don’t fuck with me!’  Your NPC grabs the player, but then the rest of the players kill him.  Your whole scene went to shit because you had to improvise, you picked a convenient ruling not the correct one, and now everything is much harder because the NPC with the information died.”

“That ruined my mastah plan.”

The flavor of your campaign isn’t solely a vision in your mind or a glint in your eye.  Structure and story matter the most, but remember- in your moments where you are caught off guard by the situation, just remember where your eyes fall first and put the information you want there.  You want your improvisation to be supported by the rules, not have your improvisation affected by them.

And don’t put the grapple rules next to the NPC disposition chart.

-DTM

Writers Block?!

“I don’t believe in writers block.  Do plumbers get plumbers block?”

— Django Wexler

So writing has been my new big hobby.  I am now running two campaigns and write in one of two blogs each week.  I am slowly drafting a real book or novella.  I am in the middle of Story by Robert McKee, a book about crafting story and making the most of your words.

I was bound to encounter this writers block I kept hearing about.  And its proving a difficult thing to overcome!  Specifically I’m encountering this with the Rogue Trader campaign.  I have a ton of content written up already and is just waiting for me to flesh out, but the last story arc of the campaign is eluding me.  I’ve work-shopped it a couple times, and the ideas are pretty alright, but I’m having quite a time trying to fill out interesting and unique quests.

Past posts I’ve made have put forward the strong ideas I have about narrative and goals in story writing.  My goals for the Rogue Trader campaign are to have a campaign that my players have a vested interest in, and I always want it to be actionable by the players.  The moment that I run a campaign and I’ve talked for more than five minutes I feel like I’ve failed.  Its a role playing game, and I never want to have my players become bored listening to me talk.

I want to keep my players engaged, and much like a video game, I keep trying to play to their innate desires as characters and players.  Players want to have fun and do things while their characters can have fun, emotional arcs through the story.  My players with few exceptions give me very little to work on that front.  I’ve asked them for more to work with and I’ve begun role-playing exercises meant to try and make them think about their characters in complex ways.  However, this has availed me very little.

I press on though, and that’s suitable.  I feel like I’ve blown through all of my unique ideas though.  The remaining ideas I have for quests don’t align or link up to form grand, overarching ideas.  It feels mishmashed and I hate it.  The quests I want to write have interconnecting threads, themes, and motivations that make sense and are possible.

I don’t want to fill in the blanks with meaningless filler just to navigate towards something I want to do.  Tools like that cheapen the effect I’m going for.

I hate NPC’s that have emotions or motivations that translate to “convenient for the GM.”  Having combat encounters for the sake of keeping the players entertained is almost always a poor idea, at least in Rogue Trader.  If I have a hive gang attack because they are looking to score some cash, the players will assume that they must’ve been sent by somebody.

I can’t really elaborate on the questline I need to flesh out because one to two of my players read this and it would be wiiiiiiiiild spoilers.  I have some cool moments I want to navigate through and I don’t want to rob them of the experience.

There are a number of things I’ve read about doing to try and clear my problem but it doesn’t feel like it works.

  • Keep writing anyway.  Stuck on one part?  Write another until the problem clears itself up!

My issue is that my next big hurdle is campaign order and structure.  Which quests happen in which order.  Since I don’t even know what the individual quests hold, I can’t even do placeholders!  Maybe I’m over thinking it?

  • Back up and try something else.  Write a bunch of scenarios and see which one is the best!

This has failed me.  All the scenarios I write feel like they lose something personal and begin to feel like filler.  If a scene or an act doesn’t have a premise and a meaningful conclusion I feel like its pointless.  Now I get as a role-playing game these things can be fun because the players make it their own but all I keep coming up with is “Go to location.  Do the thing.  Return.”

But its Rogue Trader so I need to try and write things in such a way that the players don’t fly away out of boredom or blow it all to hell.  This is why Dark Heresy is the #1 Warhammer 40k system: there are no fucking spaceships.

  • Don’t try and jump in and write.  Make the outline, then the draft, then write it.

I love this one, and its how I actually usually write my quests.  This is what I’ve been currently trying but since I’m stuck with even the core idea of the quest line I still feel stuck, even when I begin to list out segments and settings.

On top of all of this: the campaign is continually marching on.  I can’t take a month to work on it since my players expect to play every other Saturday.  And if I take a month off to work on it, something else will fill that RPG void and I’ll lose my platform to run my campaign.

I acknowledge that I’m probably wildly overthinking this.  My difficult has always been brainstorming and coming up with ideas.  I’ve never felt deeply creative.  Many of my friends are an endless font of inspiration and ideas, but I feel like I struggle to even come up with set pieces.

My players are finally on the trail of the story at large.  I’m hoping this is the event that kicks my brain into gear.  I usually produce good work at the eleventh hour.  I learned this in college- all nighters were my bread and butter.  I don’t want to work that way, but we will certainly see what happens.

-DTM

Why Acolyte is Gone.

Acolyte was my Dungeons and Dragons character for my buddies role-playing campaign.  He was a seven foot tall automaton made of metal.  Metal that resembled ribbons wrapped around the body of some humanoid.  The metal was a deep, copper color.  He had no discernible facial features, but you could still feel his gaze upon you.  His voice was deep and reverberated within his metal frame.

Acolyte had awoken at the base of a very tall cliff.  He was wearing robes that he innately recognized as belonging to a monk monastery.  He wandered for a time, wondering where he was and how he had gotten here.  On the peripheral: he also wondered what he was and what was he for?

He traveled for a handful of days before stumbling upon a caravan of dwarves.  They were gracious enough to escort Acolyte to the nearby town of Antimor, a small village on their trade route.  It was in Antimor that he was wrangled, along with some other adventurers, to go and kill some feral dogs.  After tracking the dogs and purging a small village of goblins, the adventurers returned to town of Antimor to find it empty and filled with dead bodies.  As if the town had been ransacked a century ago, everything was faded and covered in dust.  The bodies had shriveled into skeletons.  It was then that an apparition appeared, sending several adventurers sprawling into unconsciousness, and marking the rest with an omen from the Goddess of Destruction, Yarsk.

Acolyte traveled for a time with the adventurers, but after realizing that he had no place with this party and or even within this civilization- he decided to leave.

The important thing to remember was that Acolyte was approximately 6 weeks old.  He could speak and have cognitive thought, but everything in this world was shiny and new.  More importantly he did not understand how all of these humanoids interact and deal with one another.  He had vague memories of monasteries so the only place that Acolyte really felt comfortable was at a monastery they stumbled upon.

What ultimately led to Acolytes departure was that the players and the GM had a different vision for what my character was supposed to be like.

For those who are DnD savvy, Acolyte had a 9 (-1 MOD) Charisma.  He was brusque and intimidating, and when he did make a charisma roll it never went well.  To me, I interpreted this as, “Acolyte does not understand the world and has a lot to learn.”

I tried to play Acolyte carefully.  I tried to role-play him as a newcomer who observes and attempts to imitate what he sees and experiences.  The bard in our party, Hugh Halfnir, a half human half orc half halfling, thought I was some sort of a game, so he was constantly putting money in me like a Plinko machine.  The barbarian, Mustafa Covfefe, was always trying to intimidate people.

Acolyte saw these interactions consistently and deduced that the language of the land was gold, and failing that, you used your strength to get what you wanted.  And this worked to great effect for other people!  The combined effort of several party members managed to negotiate 30 GP into 100 GP as a reward once.

We made it to the next large city and Acolyte began his own investigation into various things.  For Acolyte though, greasing palms, attempted bribes, and intimidation did nothing but fail outright.

There was a dwarf who recognized this weapon I was carrying.  The weapon was used in an assassination, so Acolyte tried to press him.  The dwarf clearly seemed to recognize the dagger, but he refused gold and told me to leave.  So I made a very good threat: “Tell me what you know, or I will tell everyone that you sold me this weapon [that you fear].”

I didn’t get a dice roll.  I got threatened right back with force and a summoning of the city guard.  Another PC chastised me for my behavior.  That was disheartening.  The other PC’s don’t get chastised for intimidating people (even when it fails).

What the GM did was attempt to hand wave Acolytes misunderstandings by saying, “Over the walk back [another character] tells you everything about when its good or bad to bribe someone or give them gold.”

That was approximately the time I realized that I wouldn’t be playing Acolyte for very long.  The GM had his own formulated idea and perception about my character and was attempting to use his GM powers to affect my behavior.

Acolyte did not consume food, but he did consume purified metals.  I was almost always critically low on food, so eventually I had to find some blacksmiths.  There are two big companies in town.  One of the people I failed to intimidate the session prior was one of said blacksmiths.  The two blacksmiths shops were across the street from one another.  For obvious reasons, I enter the shop of the blacksmith I didn’t upset.

There was a counter with weapon shelves, and the blacksmith proper was behind huge leather curtains.  I asked for ore, got the normal confusion that comes with any purchase, and then the man went to the back out of sight.  So I followed him.  There were men back there and anvils I guess?  I was yelled at to leave immediately.  I reiterated that I was here to purchase iron ore.  They ended up shoving me (pushing me, I was quite heavy) back into the antechamber.  They then demanded that I leave.  Don’t come back.

I went to the dwarf I pissed off.  He recognized me, and actually apologized for being so curt with me before.  I ask for iron ore again.  He said he might have some in the back.  I insisted he get it for me.  Again- he might have some in the back.  The dwarf didn’t head back for it (he was helping someone else) so Acolyte decided he’d go to the back.  But!  He had learned his lesson!

He went around the back of the shop and found a backdoor, and knocked instead.  Two of the PCs assumed I was going to break into the shop, followed me, and began to tell me to stop what I was doing.  The dwarf came to the back door, I requested iron, and then he told me to fuck off for being rude.

Three interactions where I didn’t get to roll a single time to persuade, deceive, or intimidate.

So the GM’s NPC’s are reacting to Acolytes actions with confusion and anger. But as the player- I get it.  I’m doing it on purpose because I want to have the opportunity to learn things from these interactions.  All I encounter is a world telling me to stop.  I have several other characters telling me to stop doing things like that as well.

I don’t blame them for what they have been doing.  They can only play their characters and or run the world.  They all perceive me as something other than what I’m playing.  I think my character was too nuanced.  But not in way that they couldn’t understand, too complex of an idea to successfully come across in a role-playing game.  The other players and the GM don’t see my inner workings or see my notes, so all they get to interact with is what I present them with.  They treated my character like an adult, when really, he is only 6 weeks old.

There was a solid disconnect between Acolyte and everyone else.  So I figured the easiest thing to do was quietly retire the naive Acolyte for someone who was more suited to this party and the world.  I’m not really mad at anyone, just stopped having fun trying to make my character fun.

People immediately shifted to attempting to talk me out of it by saying that they liked Acolyte.  But that’s not the point.  The Acolyte I want to role-play isn’t the Acolyte they want to see.

The GM especially was trying to convince me to role play him differently, citing that my 11 INT and 19 WIS meant that Acolyte wasn’t stupid.  But those numbers on the page don’t mean shit!  Acolyte is 6 weeks old.  Intelligence and Wisdom are just fancy names that encompass a myriad of different mental faculties.  Acolyte was logical and perceptive, but he wasn’t truly intelligent or understanding.  I thought it was a wild party foul for the GM to tell me how to play my characters personality.

But in the face of a world that rejects Acolyte, Acolyte decided it made more sense that he just go attempt to solve the conflict on his own.  He left the party at the tavern they were staying and set off into the night.  It appears though, that he died mere minutes after walking away.

There was a bridge crossing a river near the tavern.  In the morning, the players came outside and noticed a gathering at the bridge.  They found Acolytes arm and some strange stains on the bridge.  He had been killed or captured, within eyesight of the tavern.

So my new character is going to try on purpose to meet the needs of the world and the party.  Its a much simpler character idea so I hope that it comes across well, and that he meshes nicely.  Here’s to hoping I can enjoy the DnD campaign as it progresses.

-DTM