Wednesday, April 25, 2007


At this point, do I need to discuss my philosophy with regards to D&D? I don't know -- I know it's a touchy subject for some. (Actually, I thought my dad was going to be horrified. After all, when I brought home some U2 albums one Christmas break, his comment was, "Going through a rebelious phase are we?" This time, his only comment was, "Oh, and ...?" Huh. You never know.)

So let's see if I can do the short version ...
... while at Wheaton, I knew of a group that did play D&D. They had set up a few parameters (don't kill me, math people!): you can't play an evil* character being the big rule.
Then, while dating Michael, I started playing a lot of games: board, card, video and computer games. My favorites have always been the ones that run on a roleplaying mechanic. It's like we're making up a story as a group, each player acting out a character. I love fantasy stories and a formal roleplaying game gives earstwhile grownups a chance to be imaginative and really play.
So after college I was interested in playing more games of the sort I like, and kept running into all these references to D&D. It is, at its core, a fantasy roleplaying game. I was worried about the whole magic/witchcraft thing -- I mean, who raised in an Evangelical home hasn't heard about how D&D will "open" you to all sorts of things? So Michael did a bunch of research. 'Cause that's what we do in our family. Lots of research. We're researching fools.

If anyone actually wants the links, I can get them, but I'll just sum up for now. Back when D&D first started, there was no negative image. It was just this game, you know? Then a couple of kids (seriously, like 2) committed suicide -- their cases weren't related, it was two separate suicides over a period of a couple of years. Questions were asked, like they always are, and the only thing anyone knew about these kids was that they played D&D. One of the moms started this huge campaign against D&D with this "List of 100" -- a list of people who have died as a result of D&D, basically. Well, the list has never broken the double digits.
What I found more telling is that the only thing anyone knew about these kids was the D&D. They had no real friends, other than the D&D groups.

Well, what goes on in a D&D group? You sit around with paper and pencils, the Dungeon Master leads you through an adventure. ("You're at the foot of a mountain. What do you do?" "I'll start up the mountain." "Straight up?" "No, I'll start spiraling up the mountain, going clockwise." [DM consults the map] "After half an hour, you come upon a river." etc.) There are skills checks to Listening, Use Rope, Swimming, and the like. Yes, there's magic. Depending upon what kind of magician you are (arcane or divine, and their subtypes), you pick a spell you want to cast from a list. That "spell" has its own rules, and the success or failure and the damage of that spell is determined by a die roll.

D&D is, at its core, a fantasy roleplaying game. A group adventure storytelling game. You don't even need the spellcasters (but they're fun because they're so unpredictable). The mechanic is a whole lotta rules and die roles and statistics. It's incredibly complicated, which is probably why more people don't play it -- there's a huge learning curve. But the stories are no more evil than the story in the Lord of the Rings. In fact, I'm sure someone out there has even come up with the stats for the whole Fellowship (people are geeky that way).

So to say someone committed suicide as a result of playing a game is, well, really trivializing whatever that person was actually going through. It's similar to saying that the boys at Columbine slaughtered their classmates because they wore black trenchcoats, or were slightly "goth." Um, no. That's ridiculous and insulting.

I hope that clears up any fears that I'm dabbling in the occult. I mean, really. We only sacrifice chickens on a leap year. Everyone knows that.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go look up ways to rain down holy punishment on a couple zombie ogres. My mace didn't do anything (I suspect Bludgeoning damage does nothing on the undead), so I've got to find a Slashing-type weapon and quick.

*A character is set up axes, if you will (since I'm already bugging the math people, I might as well continue): there's the Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic axis, then there's the Good-Neutral-Evil axis. OK, so they're not actually axes, but my brain's not working to come up with anything better and I'm feeling lazy. A character's place along these two "axes" (Lawful Good, Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Good, etc.) is his/her "alignment." So seriously, no one could be "Evil."

More quotes

"I'm gonna go ahead and trog* up."
- "Sounds like you have a trog problem."

"It sounds like someone is wringing me out like a wet towel, and you want to come over here?!?"

"Dude, I chopped off that thing's arm and it handed me my ass."

Yeah, we battled zombies. No one's died yet, fortunately. And I got my first chance to turn undead**! Yeah!

*"Trog" = troglodyte. Our wizard can turn himself into a troglodyte, much to our amusement. Doing so gives him some much-needed natural armor, because otherwise he is a complete wuss.
* "Turn Undead": an ability of clerics to make undead creatures turn tail and run. Sometimes even destroy them. It's cool. I rock.

Friday, April 20, 2007

List of Squirrelisms

Strange Things Kermit Does:

  • Yesterday I rigged up a cotton rope across his cage, just to see what he'd do with it. He took it down and stuffed it in his nesting box. Actually, only one end is in there -- the other end is still kinda-sorta rigged up, so he's got a zip line.
  • Every morning, there is some fluff in his food dish. I take it out, refill the food dish, the next morning there is a new bit of fluff in there. Same with the water dish.
  • Usually the only way to get Kerm back in his cage is to give him an almond (he's got to do something with it). He usually takes it running in his wheel with him. This thing is half the size of his head. Sometimes, just to switch things up, he'll bury the almond in some newspaper, go running, then fetch the almond for another bout of running. So this is a deliberate thing, not an "I forgot to stash my almond" thing.
  • He has stopped leaving snap pea skins around. They instead go in his Shrine. It's that blue thing I've got a picture of him in earlier. In it go all his whole nuts that he doesn't want to eat yet and all food detritus. I'd been thinking that he'd been emptying his food dish every night, then I looked in the Shrine. It's packed. At least he's tidy.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Unusual sightings at Cosley Zoo

... OK, this little guy was actually in an exhibit at the Zoo, so to see him there might not have been such an unusual thing. But, then again, I took these pics at 2 pm, which is a little odd for a nocturnal guy like this. Kermit, for instance, never met a 2 pm he liked.

But for your viewing pleasure ...

More nerdy fun

Your books can travel the world! (No, you can't get the Frequent Flyer miles.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Right back at ya, buddy

Exchange between two of our older crewmembers this morning (before the store opened):

"JIM! Happy Easter, you big bunny!"

"Bite me."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007