It’s Good to be the Dungeon Master!

So with today’s random FedEx encounter, I get to officially close off what’s turned out to be probably the single busiest year of the ten-and-a-half years I’ve been freelancing for Wizards of the Coast. The Dungeon Master’s Guide is, of course, the third and last of the core rulebooks, and is the third and last of those books that I helped to edit.

Working on the 5th Edition core books involved pretty much exactly the amount of alpha-nerd awesomeness you’d expect. The team that put this edition together are an amazing group of people, from those I worked mostly closely with (including, on the DMG, James Wyatt, Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, Michele Carter, and Greg Bilsland) to the developers and other editors who flailed away at the book (virtually) alongside me, to the entire R&D team going back to the D&D Next launch. It was, in the most real sense, a dream job, and will remain a singular highlight of the work I’ve done on D&D over the past decade, and of an overall experience of the game that goes back thirty-three years.

And of all the many amazing things that went into this book, and all of the many bits of rules work and story details and minutiae that I got to mess around with, clean up, tighten, double check, and massage as an editor on the Dungeon Master’s Guide, here’s what I’m most proud of right at this moment.

If you’re of that certain age that means you started off as a DM playing AD&D with the original Dungeon Master’s Guide from 1979 (as was I), you remember the random dungeon generation rules and the random dungeon dressing tables from that book. Those tables and the type of on-the-fly design they were built for are back in a big way in the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide, which wholly embraces the philosophy that running a game can and should involve as much randomness as the way the game plays out at the table.

Now, I had absolutely nothing to do with the new edition embracing that philosophy; I’m just heavily on board with it, and highly appreciative of the R&D team deciding that it was high time that approach became a big part of the game again. But I was the one who got to make a change to the “General Furnishings and Appointments” table that I have literally wanted to make since 1981. Because I got to add to that table that a firkin is a small cask, and how much it holds.

(Yes, I know a firkin actually holds closer to 11 American gallons/9 Imperial gallons. One of the other things you get to do as an editor is round off.)

I did the same for the barrel, the butt, the cask, the hogshead, the keg, the pipe, and the tun. Because that’s how I roll. And so I bask tonight in the warm glow of knowing that an entire new generation of DMs can now play this game without going “44… firkin. That’s, like, a mini dagger, right?”

And my job here is done.


NaNoWriMo After Mo After Mo After…

So I don’t normally do NaNoWriMo, just because in any given month, I’m usually hacking away at some fictional project or other. However, this time around, a strange confluence of big projects having finished up early combined with a few smaller projects getting pushed forward, and left me with about three-and-a-half weeks of November in which I got to work just on a single new-novel project of my own, which is unusual.

So I decided to track my progress for the month of most-of-November, and as of last Friday, had racked up a total of 91,195 words. I guess that’s all right.


A Blast from the Past

This is for people on the fence about Gamergate, or who are trying to give the movement the benefit of the doubt for the sake of “There’s always two sides to every story.”

There’s a historical example of a movement within gaming that I think most of us (or at least most of us of a certain age) are familiar with. That’s the anti-D&D hysteria of the 1980s, in which it’s absolutely true that there were two sides to the story. Except that the side saying that D&D was an occult plot and that gamers were killing themselves by the score was categorically wrong. About everything. It was a movement based entirely on falsehood, which was ultimately revealed to have not a single shred of factual evidence to back up its false claims.

The parallels between the anti-D&D movement and the present state of Gamergate are fairly profound, I think, in that Gamergate is pretty much all false claims. Actually, that’s too generous — Gamergate is false claims hiding beneath even falser claims, which are turn hiding beneath a steaming mess of reptile-brain aggression. Gamergate started with some dipshit disgruntled mouth-breather going net-raging on his ex-girlfriend by falsely claiming that she had slept with an online games journalist to secure positive reviews. Everything else extends from that. Gamergate is lies, innuendo, fear, and misogyny all wrapped up in a paralyzing amount of conspiracy theory, circular logic, and argument to moderation. That’s the rhetorical arsenal of the core group of haters who insist on taking this shit to its logical conclusion of death threats, rape threats, and attempting to drive female game developers and commentators out of their homes, out of sight, out of mind, and out of the industry.

Thankfully (if there can be a “thankfully” in any story in which death and rape threats are the lede), the number of people in that core group of haters is small. But a potentially bigger problem is that there’s a far larger group of people latching on to some aspect of the outrage that Gamergate purports to be about — that would be the oft-heard and oft-mocked (by me, anyway) cry of “Ethics in videogame journalism!” And where this ties back to the original point is that the movement that opposed D&D ultimately consisted of a relatively small number of people willingly lying in an attempt to discredit and destroy something they didn’t like, and a much larger number of people who unknowingly spread those lies through misguided good intentions.

So to all ye of good intentions of the “Well, I obviously don’t approve of the death and rape threats, but let’s look at the larger issues…” variety — No.

Just no.

You’re being lied to. You’re promoting the agenda of people who have lied to you. Cut your losses. Walk away.


The Warm-Air Gods

It’s been unseasonably warm enough the past month or so that I haven’t yet needed to put the furnace back onto its programmed schedule, but have just been turning it on manually when it’s needed. As a result of this randomness, the cats have taken to clustering meekly around the cold floor vents in the mornings, as if not sure why the warm-air gods are being so capricious with them.


Had a Dream

Had a dream that I was playing D&D with Stephen Colbert, on a bus tour not unlike the one I took to California in high school. He was DMing. When we talked, it turned out that he had actually started gaming with a hardcore-punk friend-of-a-friend of mine back in the day, and we had met previously without realizing it at a party at the aforementioned friends’ place in 1982. He had pictures of the two of us together and everything.

His campaign was built around the world being in the throes of magical environmental disaster in the form of a deadly long-term drought, and our goal was to figure out its source and set it right. However, every time the characters tried to get closer to solving the problem, Colbert would slip into his Colbert Report persona and start denying that climate change was real. It was very frustrating. But then we went for ice cream.

I distinctly remember that Colbert ordered his Ben & Jerry’s flavor, “Americone Dream”. He made me go up to the counter to get it for him, and I was still trying to decide what I wanted when I woke up.

(Aside: I woke up really hungry.)