Monday, March 31, 2008

How To Annoy Your DM: Character Creation

(click for a larger image)

Well, first entry. Writing it about character creation would be fitting, wouldn't it?


On the other hand, if you need someone else to tell you how to make your character you're either new to the game (in which case, go buy the books) or you're retarded (in which case let Wizards sell you the Hero Builder's Guidebook).

Slightly more seriously though, there is one thing I can help with. See, character creation is something you should learn yourself, but like everything else in D&D, it's really a form of psychological warfare. If you're going to use it, use it properly!

With that in mind, the following is a guide on pissing off your DM before the game even begins. Use it wisely.


Communication Is Key

Don't do it.


Seriously.


Not only does this add an aura of mystery to your character (and as we all know, auras of mystery are totally fucking awesome), but not telling anyone anything means they are less likely to steal your ideas and make something that overlaps with your character. This includes things like when you rolled your dice, what you got, what books you're using and your entire concept.

You have to reveal it eventually, but hold off on it – studies show that the likelihood of your sheet getting approved is inversely proportional to how much time is remaining before game time. For maximum effect, presenting your character when you show up a few minutes before the game is the best option; bonus points if it's incomplete or just a concept, because making the DM either wait for you to sheet it or let you sheet it while you roleplay the character just makes it more likely that he'll allow it!

This goes the other way, too. There are only three things you need to know – the ECL and the starting gold, and when and where you're playing. That's it. Fuck the setting, fuck what everyone else is playing, fuck the players, fuck the house rules, and fuck you. Those things just cramp your style.


Concept

Okay, maybe knowing that stuff is useful – if you really want to be annoying, you have to take advantage of it. Think of them as restrictions, ones that need to be broken through to teach your DM and fellow players a lesson in true, free D&Ding.

First, you need your idea. There are a number of ways to go about this. Here are some of them; try to get at least one in, but go for more if you can.

  • Find out the setting, then take stuff from another setting, because good DMs treat setting books as just more splat. If you're in Eberron, be a Red Wizard. If you're anywhere other than Eberron, be a warforged artificer and build a spelljammer. Bonus points if your backstory actively references the campaign setting you actually took this shit from.

  • Better yet, study the setting in-depth and use that knowledge to make something truly terrible. If you try hard enough you can justify a kalashtar that tries to get pregnant constantly and uses divinations to decide whether or not to abort, you know.

  • Find out what everyone else is playing, then make a character with the least fitting alignment possible. If anyone complains tell them it worked in Order of the Stick. Lawful to neutral good crusaders? Go chaotic evil! Chaotic neutral to evil rogue types? It's paladin time!

  • Hell, just be a paladin. Odds are good nobody at the table has any idea how to play one properly.

  • Or just be chaotic evil. If the DM doesn't back down, make it chaotic neutral, then act chaotic evil. If he doesn't let you be CN, be true neutral and act chaotic evil.

  • If your class choice isn't tied up in one of the other ideas, either pick one that won't be helpful at all given the party makeup, or pick the class everyone wants you to be and then make it as hard to play with as possible. Since most groups probably need a healer, you could be a cleric of a merchant deity and charge for heals.

  • Use as much psionics, incarnum and Tome of Magic stuff as you can, especially if the DM doesn't allow it. Good defences are “Well there has to be a first of everything” and talking about how much Vancian casting sucks for twenty minutes.

  • Openly rip off a character from a work of fiction. The older the better – if you try and make Wolverine the DM is going to notice, but is he going to figure it out if you make one of the Street Sharks? (If your DM doesn't watch anime, you are obligated to make Goku or something and see how long you last until he figures it out.)

  • Pick a race that just doesn't work. Half-golems are a good idea.

  • Pick something one of the other players is playing and make a character that really really hates that thing.

  • Make up your own campaign setting fluff. Works best if the setting is the DM's own. For maximum effect, make up your own nations and insert major world-changing events into the setting's history. If the DM has a race or god he particularly likes, write things that paint them as genocidal rapists or something. If you're inserting a homebrew race as well, give it a Mary Sue past.

  • Name all your characters Tim.

  • Make your character a spelljammer captain.

  • Make your character a Good-aligned drow. (Bonus points if he is also a spelljammer captain.)

  • Hide your concept from the DM, so he doesn't know that powerful fighter is actually a misogynistic, anarchist serial killer until you meet the queen. If he asks questions (eg “You say he's a merchant, but what does he sell?”), dodge them as much as you can (“All kinds of things. He has an amazing sense of what can sell.”)

  • If the DM has any kind of rule on what kind of character you can make (e.g., “you're all going to start as merchants” or “normal people thrust into extraordinary circumstances”), you're basically obligated to violate that as much as possible. Everyone else is going to make boring people, so they should thank you and your shark-wrestling anthropomorphic gorilla barbarian for spicing things up.

  • Say your character has amnesia. Actively avoid discovering your past because you're “just not interested”. This allows you to avoid pesky things like “backstory” and “character development” that just slow you down.


Creation

So it's time to make that character. This part is one of the more difficult ones to annoy the DM in, because you want to be allowed to play, but push it as much as you can. Maybe you even have one of those new/pushover DMs who will allow it anyway – if that's the case, clearly they deserve everything you give them. They should have expected this stuff.

  • Roll in secret if you can get away with it, with your own “preferred rolling system” if possible. And by that, I mean write down the numbers you want.

  • Dip into as many splat books as possible and don't tell the DM which ones. Works best if the DM wants everything non-core approved first or something.

  • Homebrew stuff. A new elf subrace with all the bonuses you need and penalties to your dump stats is perfect. Better yet, get the DM to let you “playtest” a homebrew PrC of yours. Or base class. Or both. If you can get this to happen and don't take advantage of it you are a terrible person.

  • Look at what the other players are doing, then make something that does exactly what they do – only better. What's more annoying, playing an abjuration wizard alongside a conjuration wizard or playing alongside another abjuration wizard with higher DCs?

  • If the DM puts house rules in that go against something the Dungeon Master's Guide says (like setting the starting gold to half of what the wealth guidelines say you should have) and it doesn't benefit you, make a fuss about it. Imply that not following the DMG is bad DMing.

  • Argue about the rules. The best way to do this is to pigeon-hole every alignment (insisting all Lawful Good characters have to follow the paladin's Code of Conduct or equating “Chaotic Neutral” with “Insane” is a good start), but any place where the rules could be misinterpreted if you're an idiot works. Bonus points if you not only insist this is the case, but roll your eyes and patronise those who disagree.

  • Invest points in as many Knowledge ranks as you can and bring the Monster Manuals to games.

  • Enthuse to the DM about how much you love whatever class or race you're picking because it's so overpowered. Do this from the moment you start coming up with the character concept to the moment you begin to play it. Say “borderline overpowered” or “powerful” instead if you're a pussy.

  • Once you've made the sheet, scrap it entirely. Make a completely new sheet with a different concept. See how many times you can do this before the DM tells you to make a decision. (Bonus points if you stick with your very first sheet after all.)

  • Make something amazingly underpowered or just plain weird (paladin with CHA 10, a sorcerer with more feats invested in wielding a spiked chain than spells). If someone tries to stop you, call them a powergamer, tell them you're ”roleplaying” and roll your eyes. Bonus points if your character is allowed and you get killed in the first session and act surprised.

  • On the other hand, you could make an amazingly broken character, and I mean really broken. Don't even try to hide it, just go ahead and slap on “LA -” templates under the assumption that means “LA +0” and not “This isn't a player option”, make a paladin with Knowledge (the planes) and spend all your money on candles of invocation, whatever. Sure, anyone not stupid is going to ban it, but then you do it again and see how many sheets you can make him read before he caves or kicks you out.

  • Edit things on your character sheet. Change “Intimidate” to “Rape Face”, “Diplomacy” to “Seduction”, your alignment to “Chaotic Awesome”, etc.

  • On that note, make your alignment as vague as possible to avoid pesky detect spells and justify killing the party later. After all, clerics don't need gods, why do you need alignments? They're getting phased out in 4E!

  • Of course, you could make a completely okay character with no problems at all, either to make the DM suspicious or to wait until you're actually playing to “surprise” everyone.

  • A neat trick for making die rolls go your way – get the DM to witness you rolling dice at least a day before the game. If you don't like the result, sit down with the DM the next day and claim you “forgot” your results (or lost the paper they were written on if the DM made you record them). Reroll. If the DM remembers or has a copy, reroll before he tells you. If you like your new rolls, insist on taking them instead. Bonus points if you eventually insist on “compromising” by taking all the good bits of the roll you want to keep and combining them with the bad bits of the one you don't.


Justification

To go the extra mile, remember to come up with justifications for everything you do. They don't have to be good ones. Filling your backstory with vague excuses, like being in or at least near the local wizard's guild to explain your Red Wizard, works well enough. In a similar vein, picking a long-lived race allows you to choose whatever spells, wild shapes, etc. you want, even ones that only exist on the far side of the world or another plane altogether, because there's a possibility that sometime in your long life you might have been somewhere near that place for a few days.

Justifying the bizarre can be a good creative writing challenge, but even the silliest excuse works if you can deliver it in a completely calm and confident way. Here are some examples:

  • Being several levels higher than everyone else (“I thought the party could learn from my example”)

  • Being a soulborn when incarnum does not exist in the setting (“I could be the only one”)

  • Playing a beholder with penises for eyes (“I come from the Far Realm!”)

  • Drow paladin of Moradin (“I was abandoned beside a dwarf outpost as a child”)

Finally, attaching “it will be an interesting roleplaying challenge” increases the believability of your justifications by a factor of 10.


The Game

(You just lost it.)

If you've followed the first part of this guide, the players won't know you have problems showing up. The trick is to spring them on everyone no later than an hour before the game.

Good problems are a chronic inability to get there on time, a need to go home early, having to bring your little sister to babysit, or scheduling conflicts with your World of Warcraft raiding guild. If you're playing online, make sure they don't hear about it until someone asks why you haven't responded for twenty minutes or you suddenly quit the game.


The End

And that's all the secrets I can be bothered sharing with you! Remember, any DM who doesn't let you do any of these is probably a faggot or something. Fuck those guys with their rules.

Stay tuned until next time, where I either give the DMs among you tips on how to annoy your players or, perhaps, actually complain about something instead of being facetious about it. Until then, feel free to tell me your own D&D stories or maybe suggest things you want to hear about!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Commence Yiffing!


This is a test and, if it works, the first post.

If it does, hello! For a while now I've been drawing silly little stick figures depicting things my players have done that struck me as funny and posting them places. This will be more of that with much more discussion.

Well, ranting and flame wars, probably. This is the Internet.