Dungeons & Dragons players have spent almost 50 years breaking the game. Some of these exploits became D&D “cryptids” in their own right.
This week: the peasant rail gun, an army of hirelings with a light-speed projectile; and the quantum ogre, the monster who is everywhere until it is observed.
Follow wherever you get your podcasts:
RSS | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Amazon Music
Audry | Castbox | Castro.fm | Deezer | Hubl | iHeartRadio | ListenNotes | Overcast | Pandora | Player FM | PocketCasts | Podcast Addict | Podchaser | Podhound | Radio Public | Rephonic | RPG Casts | Series Seeker | Stitcher | TuneIn | Vurbl
Rebecca Gray: You guys are doing specific monsters from older.
Steve Myers: It’s not specific monsters, it’s cheats.
Rebecca Gray: Cheeses! We’re cheesing things! I don’t know if that’s what you call it.
Lucas: uh it’s going to be what I call it now, because it’s way better.
Because a lot of the ways in which the game has created its own lore, its own D&D cryptids started back in third edition and 3.5. in Fifth edition stands at the top of this teetering tower of nonsense that is 50 years old and has given rise to a huge variety of things that are just in the game now and have names and wander about the world of D&D in the same way that wandering monsters roam around dungeons. So
Rebecca Gray: peasant rail gun,
Danilo Vujevic: something like the quantum ogre,
Jeremy Vine: I loathe the arrow of destruction,
Lucas: the False Hydra,
Jarrod Jahoda: a wireless troll,
Steve Myers: Larry the Kung Fu Kraken. I hate this one, so, so much.
Lucas: Welcome to Making a Monster, the bite-sized podcast where we look at the monsters in Dungeons and dragons and other tabletop RPGs and discover how they work, why they work and what they mean for these episodes. I’ve assembled a crack team of D and D podcasters from all over the world to track down monsters, born of the system itself.
Jeremy Vine: I’m Jeremy vine, I’m a professional dungeon master.
Jarrod Jahoda: My name is Jarrod Jahoda, and you can find me on any podcast platform under Mid-level Adventurers.
Danilo Vujevic: I’m Danilo, the host/producer/editor of Thinking Critically, a D&D discussion podcast where we take a single word or topic and discuss what it means in the D&D and wider TTRPG framework.
Rebecca Gray: Hello, I’m Rebecca
Steve Myers: and I’m Steven.
Rebecca Gray: And we are from A House Sivis Broadcasting Eberron A Chronicle of Echoes podcast.
Lucas: So let’s talk cheese!
What is the peasant rail gun?
Lucas: uh, One of the most persistent of these named exploit monsters is, the peasant rail gun. Have you heard of this?
Jarrod Jahoda: Oh, yes, I have. So the idea being you get, you
know, a thousand peasants, pay them, you know, coppers, get them to line up and pass a spear along.
Rebecca Gray: Okay. I got this, Steve, I got this. So, rules as written a round is exactly six seconds. Now a free action does not necessarily last that long and everyone gets one free action that they can do during round.
so you take a bunch of peasants and you hand a bunch of peasants, a log a post like that.
Jeremy Vine: You get a line of NPCs, you get your [00:03:00] hirelings, you get the local villagers, whatever it is. I feel that it’s usually a high level characters. Low level characters don’t really get a chance to try this, but you get them all in a long line, usually about two miles long, and you give the person at the very far end, a 10 foot pole, you give them a stick, a whatever it is.
Rebecca Gray: then you have them “free action pass” the log off to the next person in line. Which by the laws of physics would say that by the time you get to the end of the row of pretty long line of peasants, that you could pay off because you’re an adventure.
Why the heck not?
Danilo Vujevic: But all of these things happen simultaneously or immediately one after the other, but they’re all still bound within that time constraints.
Jeremy Vine: They ready their action to pass the stick to the next peasant. And it goes all the way along these two miles, because in the D&D rules, a turn last six seconds. So you can do whatever you like. And everybody acts at once. It’s just these six seconds, uh, somewhat malleable.
But the idea is that these stick eventually will reach a velocity. Uh, that when the peasant at the other end of the line gets it, if they throw it, it will hit with the force of this train. Essentially. I think they say, um, something like the speed of light. It’ll probably hit out if you’ve got enough peasants and along enough line,
Rebecca Gray: that log is going upon of miles per hour, and can feasibly kill anything in one shot.
Danilo Vujevic: So you can accelerate something to obnoxiously fast velocities in a, this, this six second scope,
Jarrod Jahoda: and then the one at the end or the fighter, whoever throws the spear, thus creating a massively powerful, impactful weapon is the theory.
Lucas: The corollary of course is if you’ve lined up a bunch of horses, on that same trajectory, assuming that you have enough skill in horse riding, you can dismount and remount in six seconds and traveled down an entire line of horses miles long.
Jeremy Vine: Just kind of leapfrogging over from one to the other is just scamper through and, uh, reach a place before technically, before you even leave it. If you’ve got enough horses and enough, I love this idea that eventually people, it would be like train lines that you just have a line of horses across the countryside. That one person just keeps hopping over.
Would you allow the peasant rail gun in your game?
Jarrod Jahoda: Now, like all of these things that we’re going to talk about, they’re all kind of brain teasers. I don’t think any DM would actually allow this to happen because
Lucas: run a game, would you?
Jarrod Jahoda: Yeah. I mean, hell no. Well, here’s the deal. We all accept the reality disconnect that a round of combat is the same shared six seconds. So if a thousand people are doing one thing and they’ve all held their action to pass the spear, along in that same six seconds, [00:06:00] you build up this ridiculous amount of speed in a very small amount of time.
And that inertia just massive damage for some reason, which, okay. I see why people would argue that to be the case. But if you are going to suspend the disbelief that everything happens in six seconds, you kind of have to suspend the belief in physics as well. You know what I’m saying?
Jeremy Vine: And I do love this idea that when physicists in particular, because there is this massive crossover between general science, nods, and D&D nodes, when they think, you know what, I can break this, I can break this game and there’s nothing the rules say that it can do to stop me.
Jarrod Jahoda: Because if you, and like, what, how do I say this? If you are going to talk about physics and inertia, Newton’s first law of motion. I was a physics major for a little while.
Lucas: Oh, I’m So glad you’re here. I had someone explain the peasant rail gun to me as what happens when physics nerds try to break the game.
Jarrod Jahoda: Yes, yes. I started as a physics ended up in theater. You figure it out. So, the first law of motion, an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and the same direction, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. By the very nature of people passing a spear, they’re not maintaining any inertia. They’re constantly changing it. By handing it off to someone who then grabs it and they’re a little bit taller or their hand is a little bit rougher or they’re wearing gloves or whatever. You’re adding friction, you’re changing the way gravity is affecting it. And you’re changing the momentum involved. It changes everything so much so quickly that it might as well just be thrown by the guy at the end of the line anyway, cause it’s all going to cancel out, right?
You know, forces don’t actually keep objects moving. In fact, they are diametrically opposed to that. Like if you set a book down, it doesn’t just stay down on this table. Gravity is still acting on it. But the force of the structure of the table is stronger than that of gravity. So that’s why the book doesn’t fall through the table.
I mean, there’s atoms and molecular structure and bonds and stuff in there too. But in terms of forces, the force from the table is preventing it from going to the ground because it’s. Even though gravity is still pulling it down onto the table,
Lucas: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Jarrod Jahoda: which has really nerdy,
Lucas: I mean like we have, Yeah.
we have to get down to this level of abstraction to discuss this particular concept because D&D is a game, was not built for realism. It was built for balance and, uh, the fringes where those two things overlap is where we get things like the peasant rail gun. Has this shown up in a game that you’ve played or run?
Jarrod Jahoda: To smaller degrees. People have been like, if [00:09:00] I hold my turn to throw him and he holds his turn to throw me, if he jumps on me and I jumped on him, can we get high enough to reach the thing? And I’m like, okay, sure. Every one of you has to make a DC 18 acrobatics check to pull this off. Every single one of you, and only if you all succeed, does this work, otherwise people going to get hurt.
So like, so like, no, I would not let like a peasant rail gun happen, but if people want to work together to achieve something plausible. Yeah. Okay. You know, we’re talking about a game that has floating eyeballs and dragons and squid-headed terrors of the night. Physics is relative, which actually is true in our world as well, so it’s at least it’s consistent.
Steve Myers: One of the things that always bothered me about that whole thing is that people immediately assume that like, logic and physics work out in their favor. If I was DM-ing that, and someone was like, “Oh, that’s what we’re going to do,” I’d be like, “Okay, cool. just pass it down. Nothing happens, guys. I don’t know what you’re expecting.” She
Rebecca Gray: technically like, at least to here now, now nowadays with fifth edition you could use a free action to hand it and then a reaction to hand it to the next person. So that is, you’re handing it between two people over six seconds.
Rebecca Gray: fast at all.
Steve Myers: The problem with it is, is simple is okay. You’re assuming that that item is moving at that speed. I’m gonna make you roll for every one of those peasants to grab that thing. Now you’ve made my life hell. Now I want you to roll 5,000. enjoy. And I’m going to tell you right now, it’s going to get faster and worse. And eventually going to catch one of those passes and then just decimate the entire area because of you, because of you.
Rebecca Gray: So I don’t like having to actually pay an organize that peasant rail gun though. mean, winding them
Steve Myers: up like that.
Lucas: Alright go.
Steve Myers: points? What is, what is the point of that point in time? Just to have them Fight. So I
Rebecca Gray: guess
Steve Myers: if you have an entire army of people and you’re like, I need a rail gun in order to obliterate
Lucas: Oh, I see.
Steve Myers: fight.
I mean, come
Lucas: of lining up 10,000 peasants and having them pass the spear down the line, just have just have.
Rebecca Gray: just, just give them some spheres. You’re going to save money. Well, then you have to work out like the lining of things like that last guy, can’t it doesn’t have.
any time to like line up the shot before.
Steve Myers: Not only that, but you have to explain that entire premise to 5,000 people, I work with people and I only [00:12:00] work with three other people and they can’t do basic things half the time. So which way is the spirit? Is it going that way? Cause I want to make sure that I’m passing it right. I don’t want to pass it wrong. Yeah.
Lucas: “I turned it around, I’m sorry.”
Steve Myers: grabbed the tip too soon. I thought it wasn’t my turn. I’m sorry. And they have to have all hold initiative to? That. That
Lucas: Oh yeah.
Steve Myers: very, complex.
I, in my games if you find a cheese, you get to use the cheese once and then you never get to use the
Lucas: Uh, As sort of a treat for, for you, for you putting in the effort to.
Rebecca Gray: exactly. It has to be a new cheese. If I look up your cheese online and I find your cheese, I’m sorry.
Steve Myers: So I think that it hearkens back to three, five in particular, because at that time, everyone viewed DMs as like an adversary and DM-ing
Steve Myers: whereas 5E, it’s more, like in three, five, I’m trying to stop the players.
The players are trying to stop me the DM in five minutes. You don’t have that
Lucas: that’s fascinating.
Rebecca Gray: that kind of DM. Yeah. I mean,
Steve Myers: it took me a long time to break myself of that habit just because I started out playing where I assumed the DM was the bad guy. And so when I was the DM, I wanted to be the bad guy and Fort my players instead of helping them.
I’m like, what the hell is the point of. Hm. If your players come up with something good, give it to them. that’s what you should do if they outsmart your traps. Good. That’s literally the point that is fully you wanted for him.
Lucas: I want to ask because you have played older editions, so much of what these exploits gets at is the relationship between the DM and their players.
And I have heard that older editions had a somewhat more adversarial relationship as the DM. Was that your experience?
Jeremy Vine: I would say yes, but our only because that would have been the dynamic that a lot of the younger groups have, and the older editions were aimed at a lot of younger players that those players are still playing. Now. I think a lot of those players have matured and they may still have the adversarial nature to it, but there was a somewhat, I mean, you said adversarial, that’s probably the best way that the DM was trying to kill the players.
And I think occasionally that was just because the older editions will hide. It wasn’t that you were trying to kill the players. It’s just, they were a lot less forgiving when it came to errors and mistakes. That if you fail to say, if there was a chance that you would just die flat out and that wasn’t the DM trying to kill you, it was just the situation.
It’s like, we, they wanted you to know that you’re in an incredibly deadly world. I’m just reading Appendix N by, um, Peter Bebergal, which is a collection of all the, some of the short stories that inspired Gygax originally. And one of them is a Robert Howard, uh, The Tower of the Elephant, which is [00:15:00] very, very Dungeons & Dragons. It’s Conan, and I think one of the first Conan the Barbarian stories of him breaking into this tower, and he goes in with a master thief who dies flat out, like he just tripped a trap and he’s dead. Basically just failed a saving throw and died immediately. And this was someone who you could theoretically say is like a level 10 character, because he’s quite skilled up until that point. But it’s that idea that some things that your character is fragile. And I think that’s what older editions were trying to get the sense of, that you can be very powerful, you can have all the magic in the world, but if you are incautious, if you don’t really notice everything around you, if you don’t think like you actually would, in that situation, the world can kill you with a, in a heartbeat.
But I do also feel that there were a number of dungeon masters who went, this is a great way of ruining all the friends fun. This is just me versus them. I’m, I’ve got all the monsters, the monsters are on my side. I want to smash them, but they are powerful too and they’ll be able to smash me back. So it became more like getting the action figures and smashing them together, like a transformers movie.
And I didn’t see anything wrong with that style of play. I think that can be really fun. There are a number of times where I’ve run games like that, where I’m just like, I’m going to throw a dragon at you at fifth level. Let’s see if he can take it. Let’s see what happens. But yeah, I think older editions were sort of much more suited to that sort of play.
And I think exploits certainly like this one would be ones that play as in those games would want to come up with. It’s like kind of defeating the dungeon master through the rules is more of a puzzle than just defeating the monsters.
Calculating the Force of a Peasant Rail Gun
Lucas: I mean, you knew it was coming, right? We have to figure out exactly how much of a punch D&D’s peasant rail gun is packing. So you guessed it it’s time for peasant math! it’s time for peasant math! Assume the two-mile line of peasants from Jeremy’s example, with peasants standing at five-foot intervals. That gives us 2,112 peasants. We load the first peasant with a spear made of a sturdy ½ inch by 36 inch oak dowel and a pound of iron spearhead. The mass of such a spear would be 72 kilograms, nearly all of which is the spearhead. At the end of its six-second journey down the two-mile line of peasants, the speed of the spear has gone from nothing to 1,760 feet per second, for an acceleration of 293.33 feet per second squared. Force is mass times acceleration, so multiply that by 72 kilograms, and the spear will hit its target with around 6,437 Newtons of force – roughly equivalent to 157 pro-quality leaf blowers, or about one and a third times the punching force of an elite heavyweight boxer. It’s an awful lot of work for one solid punch. If we want to start breaking down concrete walls with this elaborate siege weapon, we need about 120,000 Newtons of force – so somebody better start rounding up more peasants. A lot more, because if we want to break the speed of light with this thing, we’re going to need about 1.1 million miles of peasants – enough to wrap around the earth about 45 times.
Brought to you by The Book of Extinction
This episode of Making a Monster is brought to you by The Book of Extinction, a bestiary of extinct animals resurrected for the world’s greatest roleplaying game. Inside are the stranger-than-fiction true stories of animals now completely gone from the world, alongside game statistics as fantasy monsters. Pay what you want for the first three monsters, and every penny will support endangered species and habitat preservation through the Center for Biological Diversity. Learn more at scintilla dot studio slash extinction, that’s S C I N T I L L A dot studio slash extinction.
The Quantum Ogre
Lucas: Well, talking of DMs, let’s talk about the quantum ogre.
Jeremy Vine: I encountered this idea of the quantum ogre quite a long time ago when I was looking at, I think it was a second edition of creative campaigning book where they just talk about game design in general and how to plan adventures and how to organize your encounters essentially. And the quantum ogre is the idea that no matter where the party goes, no matter what route they take, they’re always going to encounter. Like, they can go by the waterfall. They can go through the woods, they can go, they can organize a cart and to take them, um, to, to the, to the Capitol. It doesn’t matter where they go.
There’s going to be an ogre on the way. And sometimes that ogre might be swimming in the, in the river that ogre might be coming down the mountain that ogre might just be lying in wait. Sometimes if it’s poorly planned that Orica might just be standing in the middle of the road waiting for them. But it is something that I, uh, I feel that it’s probably because I’m a professional dungeon master.
I’m having to prep a lot of games a lot of the time. And sometimes it’s a lot easier just to have an, uh, an encounter ready. And it’s usually when your traveling from one place to another, it could be anywhere. It could be going through a dungeon, but it’s an event. It’s an encounter that the dungeon master needs to happen for whatever reason.
But where it occurs is less important. Uh, it just needs to be somewhere.
Jarrod Jahoda: So the quantum ogre to me is essentially like you have a monster in your head that the party needs to fight for one reason or another. And it doesn’t matter what the party chooses to do, where they choose to go. They’re going to fight that monster.
Rebecca Gray: From what I know of quantum ogre, it is essentially similar to, Schrodinger’s cat. This is something that will happen no matter what. It is “this ogre [00:21:00] exists and does not exist.” And as a DM, I don’t care if an ogre wouldn’t naturally be here. You’re fighting an ogre now.”
Jarrod Jahoda: It is a form of Schrodinger’s cat. Yeah. Which if any of your listeners don’t know is the idea that if you lock a cat in a box with a vial of poison that is set to go off at a random time, at any point in time the cat can be thought of as both alive and dead.
Lucas: I think you might be one of the people who’s most qualified to answer why it’s called the quantum ogre specifically.
Jarrod Jahoda: Well, so in, in physics, the idea of quantum state or quantum flux is that something exists everywhere in every possible way until it’s observed because you don’t know until it’s observed. And so that’s the idea with this ogre. It could be anywhere and everywhere until it’s triggered by the DM. So that’s really the idea of it.
Lucas: Yeah, Quantum does seem to be one of those words that’s almost like a free pass, like a get out of jail free card for science fiction writers. Like put quantum in front of it, that makes it cool and interesting, but I feel like we’ve, this is one of those cases in which it’s applied in the sense in which it’s understood in physics. Is that right?
Jarrod Jahoda: I believe it is. Yeah. There’s a great line in a Futurama episode, actually, where they’re watching like races of like quantum sized horses or something like that. And they announced, oh, this guy is the winner. And professor Farnsworth goes crazy. He’s like, ah, you change the results by observing them.
That’s not fair. Which is exactly what happens in quantum physics.
The Quantum Ogre as Railroading
Lucas: And this is part and parcel with a conversation about railroading as a DM, which I’m sure we could do an entire podcast on. Given the, uh, railroading is reducing player agency, uh, how much do you rely on the quantum ogre? And if you do then, then what’s the argument there.
Danilo Vujevic: D&D is hard. The more I play, the more I talk about it, the more I talked to other people about it and have new perspectives on it and have discussions like this, the more I’m like man, to do it consistently. Well, however many people you have around the table is hard. And this is one of those things that makes it hard is trying to understand where you can or where you should do something like the quantum ogre as a DM. And this, it’s one of these things that comes with funnily enough experience and knowing when it’s okay to do it, knowing when your players might spot it, but knowing that they’ll be okay, cause they trust you as the DM, that it kind of makes sense. And they’re okay to go with the journey on you and don’t go, oh, you, you know, kick up a fuss. When in reality you’re all there for a good story. And you got to trust the DM to give you a good story. That is the nuance that is just so outside of my, you need decades and decades of actively doing these things to really be able to [00:24:00] have a good take on any given situation when you might need to utilize the quantum ogre, um, That is my get out of jail free card,
Lucas: No, I love it.
Danilo Vujevic: How can anybody do that consistently all the time and make these micro macro decisions that have micro macro impacts when you’re trying to manage the expectations of however many people, including your own at the table? It’s difficult. And it’s my main defense to any player ever is like, the thing that we’re doing might seem easy, but in reality is hard. So if you’re having fun well done because it’s hard and, and the, and the quantum ogre is a very, very, very good example of what makes it hard for us.
Jarrod Jahoda: and people argue that, oh, it takes away player agency and it alters the true like idea of free will and choice within the game. And to a degree, I agree with that sentiment, but also there are things that just need to happen in the game.
Otherwise you’re just going to be narrating a bunch of NPCs at a bar, every game session, you know? So I do use quantum ogres for specific plot points for like random encounters. I don’t do that kind of stuff. Like. Smart about how they travel through the wilderness or through the town or the track bad guy or whatever they’re doing.
If they’re smart about it and they roll well, I’m going to reward that. And sometimes they don’t even need to roll. Like if they come up with a brilliant idea, just like in their head and they’re like, oh, we want to use this crazy thing that I know exists. And I’m like, you know, that’s real world enough.
And you obviously know what you’re talking about. So sure. It works. It just works because, you know, I didn’t think of that. But specific plot point creatures, monsters, and NPCs, bad guys, whatever. I think they really need to be fought or at least encountered, maybe not, maybe they can talk them down or convince them to help them or whatever they’re going to do.
So I don’t use them in the, like, you have to fight and kill this thing. I’m like you have to encounter it,
Steve Myers: I feel like it’s just natural because sometimes when you’re DM-ing, it is nice to prepare. And if your players are like, well, no, we’re going to go on the fly and do something completely different than. what am I supposed to do? You asked me to come in, you’ve asked me to run a game. I’m trying to play a game that’s fun for you. I have all of the stat blocks for this specific thing. I had the entire fight planned out. Guys, we’re going in that direction. Sorry, It’s not meant to be mean. It’s just, I think that sometimes you as a DM get stuck in these, well, this is what we’re going to do. Yeah. I I’m bad about that. I think a lot of times where I draw, so I I’m terrible when it comes to DMing. Cause I plan nothing. And then I just will randomly grab stuff. But when I [00:27:00] did plan things, this is what I would do. And then people would get mad about, well, I don’t want to have to fight that they wouldn’t be in here. What is a sand dragon doing in the ocean? I don’t know guys, if you tell me why it’s there. I
Lucas: That’s what I had.
Steve Myers: yeah, that’s what I got for the high. I told you where the campaign was starting. You guys decided to board a boat. I don’t, do you guys want from me?
Rebecca Gray: Yeah. I think that that quantum ogre is, is something that every DM does at least once, because, I’ve got this really cool encounter and I really want to do it!”
But sometimes players are difficult because they, they decide to do what they want to.
Steve Myers: I think it’s, again, the part of that adversarial role is that you, as a DM have set the limits and now I’m going to test them and I’m going to push the boundaries on that and make it, so that way it’s fun for me because you’ve said, Hey, this is where we’re going.
And I’m like, ah, yeah, but I’m going to make it more difficult for you to do what you have planned.
Lucas: The quantum ogre does tend to get a bad rap in it for exactly the same reasons that railroading or the idea of like leading the players along on adventure path in this supposedly open-world game, that prioritizes player choice. We’ve brought up a couple of reasons why railroading might not deserve the reputation that I get.
Rebecca Gray: As a player, I try to railroad other players.
Steve Myers: I was going to say, I, I, as a player, I try and cooperate with the DM as much as possible.
Rebecca Gray: Steve will um, we played in a Pathfinder game where you know, there’s this basin of obviously cursed water and look at this basin of obviously cursed water and we’re like, Yeah. we’re not going to do anything that bad. Thanks. Bye. And Steven.
Steve Myers: You know what, not only am I going to drink out of it, I’m going to bathe in it, splash it on my face, clean myself up. But I think that I, I tend to be rewarded for doing that. Like the DM is understanding and makes my character not more of an integral part of everything, but. Lets me in on like details, you know, like, I went through and I drank that water and I learned all of the stuff about that curse water and the curse that was put on me. It gave the DM the ability to use me as a vessel to help further the plot, which made me an integral part of the story. Even though I didn’t actually matter.
just, think that you have to do that. Sometimes railroading is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. I think it is okay to try and test the limits of your world and see where the egg is and find where the horizon is and see where everything drops out. But then also be willing to play in the space that you’re given, just because it’s a sandbox doesn’t mean you need to, you know, every corner of it you can in the world, if you can cooperate.
Rebecca Gray: I think railroading also gets a bad rap because are people who railroad wrong in, in that I [00:30:00] can railroad. Giving you the option of choice, like quantum ogre you can go left. Or you can go, right. But either way you are still going straight.
I have only actually prepared this one path, but I’m pretending that you can actually branch out and do other things. There are some people who go, no, it’s this one thing, no matter what, I’m not going to show you any, any form of, choice. And if your character walks south, then they’ll die.
Steve Myers: because
Rebecca Gray: your actual direction, you guys need to go is north.
So you. Physically walked south anymore.
Sometimes if your DM is building on your backstories and creating a world involving you, it doesn’t feel like you’re being railroaded. You’re obviously being manipulated. They’re obviously using your entire story to make the story about you taking away some of your agency, but you don’t feel that way because you’re invested. Whereas other DMs, you know, make everything about them,
Lucas: right. Yeah. So, so the better version of this is lead me to the plot rather than. You know,
Rebecca Gray: plot on me.
Lucas: right. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a kind of, it’s a kind of game design jujitsu,
Steve Myers: I think, yeah, because you will run into players who are problematic and don’t want the plot thrust upon them no matter what, who were like, well, I’m a loner I’m not a part of anything. And I don’t have a reason to be
Lucas: wrong in a game
about party dynamics.
Steve Myers: Just one little thing,
Lucas: Yeah. I call it buying the ticket.
Rebecca Gray: that’s good.
Quantum Ogres in Our D&D Games
Jeremy Vine: Now I get why people say is around already thing because it basically it’s taking away that player agency of it doesn’t matter which direction we go. We’re still going to encounter the ogre. I don’t always see that as true, because if you it’s always that I leave it as the doubt. It’s like, if you take in the road, maybe you wouldn’t have encountered the banners, but you did.
You took the ocean. So you encountered the pirates instead, and it’s the same, same encounter, but why mechanically it’s the same encounter, but the reasons why it’s happening is always different. Um, and I do like to see it in a little bit, like you don’t just have them out of nowhere. If somebody says, oh yeah, we need to go by boat.
It’s like, oh, you better watch out for the pirates then it’s like, yeah, you got to encounter the pirates because that’s kind of what you’d expect.
Lucas: yeah. That’s Chekhov’s gun.
Jeremy Vine: Well, let them know that there might be pirates ahead of time and
Lucas: is essentially the same as being like, there’s gotta be pirates.
Jeremy Vine: Yeah. And again, if I had to choose the road, it’s like, well, watch half abandons. And honestly, do you probably would say that no matter what, because the chances are, they might be bandits.
Lucas: Yep. This is a dangerous
world and, uh, it will eat
Danilo Vujevic: The example I had in this instance, it was [00:33:00] the destination, uh, end of a waterfall, my players missing misinterpreted a map. They could have gone down path a, which is the correct air quotes path. Or they could have gone down path B, which is anywhere else in the world. they misinterpreted the admittedly poorly, uh, drone map that I provided them and they went down path B and my quandary, then there’s a DM was like, okay, Did they just want that aimlessly for the next, however many hours in game, but then that’s, then the world is real and they’ve just been lost.
And that kind of makes sense. And it’s, and it’s punishment for them. And it makes sense. And they use resources, which is like an account in and of itself. And all these other things are spinning around, but then on the other, uh, but then on the other hand, it’s like, that’s boring and that’s, maybe that’s not really fun then maybe they won’t enjoy that kind of place to Arla.
Maybe it doesn’t really add anything to the game that they you’ve got lost for four hours. And maybe I should just give them that sense of achievement that, that you’ve found the right way in the end. I heard on my, my first response, which was no, you just get lost in this hot sweaty jungle. That’s gross and you’re tired and you want to go home until you realize eventually couple of successful checks, a couple of successful hours later, you’ve gone the wrong way.
Backtrack you go. And the players learn a lesson, I suppose, which is.
Thanks for Listening!
Lucas: Thanks for listening to Making a Monster. If this episode has entertained or enlightened you in any way, please share it with the people who play D and D with you. Your recommendation will go a long way to helping people trust me with their time and attention. And it’s a real gift to me and the creators I feature.
You could also leave me a like, or a five star review on Spotify, iTunes, or your podcast player of choice. It’s a small thing, but it really does help new listeners discover the show. If you really like what I’m doing, you can support me through the book of extinction, a project I’m creating with Mage Hand Press that enables D and D players to make a real difference in the climate crisis and rapidly accelerating mass extinction by telling the stories of the animals that we have already lost.
There are already five episodes of Making a Monster about the creatures in that book. So set this podcast feed to newest first and take a journey with me into a world wilder and more fascinating than you probably thought it could be special. Thanks to my collaborators on these exploit monsters episodes.
How to connect with my guests
Jeremy Vine: I’m Jeremy Vine, I’m a professional dungeon master. You can find me on social media on Twitter at Talumin, T A L U M I N, or you can listen to my podcasts Tell Me About Your D&D Character, which is on SoundCloud or D&D and TV which is on Podbean.
Jarrod Jahoda: My name is Jarrod Jahoda, and you can find me on any podcast platform under Mid-level Adventurers. I’m one half of the creative team. Matt is the other half, or you can catch Matt and I on Newly Forged, which is our Twitch [00:36:00] stream D&D game. It’s a homebrew game set in a post-apocalyptic magical world. And, uh, you can follow us on Instagram, Twitter at mid LVL adventure to keep updated.
Danilo Vujevic: I’m Danilo, the host/producer/editor of Thinking Critically, a D&D discussion podcast where we take a single word or topic and discuss what it means in the D&D and wider TTRPG framework. that has been going on now for almost 65 episodes and a year and a bit weekly drops everything from your esoteric, left-field, weird things that you would never attribute to D&D all the way to encounters and experience, and much more obvious topics, uh, including soft skills, such as friendship and social and meta things such as podcasts, which was a weird itself. Naval Naval gazing. One to record.
Rebecca Gray: Hello, I’m Rebecca
Steve Myers: and I’m Steven.
Rebecca Gray: And we are from A House Sivis Broadcasting Eberron A Chronicle of Echoes podcast.
It’s a very different kind of podcast. We’re a little bit scripted, a little bit improv and a whole lot of fun. So we hope that you’ll stop in and check us out and find out what it’s like when D&D meets radio.
Lucas: We’ll be back next week. See you then!
realizing that players who drink the cursed water becoming integral to the plot is true, and makes me realize why my last character didn’t feel vital, because they were always making the arguably correct decision – but also makes me wonder how as a DM you can make a type of cursed water that each player finds hard to avoid – right like taking their flaws and inviting them to be a part of the story but in a way where the cleric might obviously see that it’s cursed and be like we need to avoid it, but what if it was something they had to do to fix a problem with their temple. Just a thought on how 5e asks players to tell a story together more than my experience with 3.5 did – where they wanted you to not fall into pits and kill the thing.
I like to think a good dungeon master writes his stories to the characters in his group and to the players themselves – give people a reason to drink the cursed water that they personally cannot resist. As a 4E-first player, I would think that might just be my edition talking, except it’s a sentiment shared by Taylor Moore over at Fun City:
Mike Rugnetta: It’s like a watching a master at work, watching our players become best friends with people who they really shouldn’t because Taylor is able to antagonize them and then be like, “No, but we’re friends.”
Taylor Moore: I am taking advantage of their weaknesses, like their personal, cast members’ weaknesses and fears and insecurities. Absolutely. A hundred percent.