Saturday, August 02, 2008

roll to hit: mccain vs the new york times UPDATED

"If the shareholders of The New York Times ever wonder why the paper's ad revenue is plummeting and its share price tanking, they need look no further than the hysterical reaction of the paper's editors to any slight, real or imagined, against their preferred candidate," said McCain campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb.

Goldfarb compared the editors to a blogger "sitting at home in his mother's basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons."

START TRANSCRIPT

Dramatis Personae (see UPDATE below for comments on race and class names):

DM=Dungeon Master
P1=Player 1 [Hobbit Thief]
P2=Player 2 [Half-elf Fighter/Magic-User]
P3=Player 3 [Human Barbarian]

DM: "OK, you're standing outside the door."

P1: "I check for traps."

(sound of rolling dice)

DM: "The hobbit thief detects a trap."

P1: "Schwing!"

P2: "While Short Round is clipping the red wire, I'll scan for secret doors."

P1: "Don't 'Short Round' me, you butt-f____r."

P3: "Speaking of butt-f_____g, can I get rid of this 10-foot pole?"

P2: "Stop whining."

DM: "It's going to take a few rounds for Short. . .the thief to defeat the trap, and about the same amount of time for the window-dresser to poke at the walls. What is the barbarian going to do?"

P3: "Oh, I don't know, maybe quote Derrida or Rimbaud."

P1: "I didn't know you had that skill."

P3: "It was a bonus feat I picked up the last time I levelled-up."

P2: "Cool. What does it let you do?"

P3: "I can shout imprecations and general bulls__t in a grandiose and generally ineffectual way."

P1: "That sucks balls, man. You chose that over Great Fortitude or Great Cleave?"

P3: "Actually, the feat is called Bullheaded. It means I am exceptionally headstrong and difficult to sway, and I get a +1 on all Will saves and +2 bonus on Intimidate checks."

P2: "That could actually come in handy, you don't get squat for Will saves and since you looove to use Intimidate that should help."

P1: "I'm not sure I'm looking for mental acuity in a barbarian, to be fair."

DM: "Trap defeated. You managed to salvage some vials of poison gas, you want to keep them?"

P1: "No way, last time I did that I sat on them in a bar and nearly killed everyone."

DM: "Yes, I remember. That was pretty f____g funny."

P1: "So. . . nice try. I leave them where they are."

P2: "Any secret doors?"

DM: "How far down the corridor were you planning on going?"

P2: "Oh, I don't know, maybe 20 feet?"

DM: "Three more rounds"

P3: "While we're waiting for The Great Wall Fondler to find his door to nowhere, what are you guys planning on writing about this Rick Davis 'race card' thing?"

P1: "I got a draft in to Andy (Rosenthal) this morning that makes a connection between McCain, Howard Ford and O.J. I found a Robert Shapiro quote that makes it sound like McCain's crew are reading from their playbook."

P3: "Money!"

DM: "Thanks for getting that to me, by the way. I'm going to run it as-is."

P1: "Thanks."

P2: "You looped in O.J.?  Dude, that's not right."

P1: "Not right? It's 346 words of absolutely f_____g right. What the f__k do Britney and Paris have to do with this election? For that matter, what does Moses have to do with it?  These guys are going bat-s__t crazy and it's time we called their tactics for what they are."

P3: "What it is is retail politics 101, make the election a referendum on the other guy."

DM: "Full marks to Conan here."

P3: "John's got no other choice. It's going to be guerilla war from now until November, anything Barry says is going to get the full metal jacket treatment. It's a good strategy. When and if we call him on it, he'll savage us as a bunch of hysterical lefties sitting at home in my mother's basement, ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons."

P2: "Any secret doors?"

DM: "No secret doors."

P1: "Sucker."

END TRANSCRIPT

Next time on "The New York Times Editorial Board Plays D&D in One of their Mom's Basement":

DM: "There are four kobolds in the room playing canasta."

P3: "I charge in and kill them all."

P2: "I check for secret doors."

P1: "I hide in shadows and backstab."

DM: "How are you going to backstab kobolds if they're facing each other?"

P1: "Quickly."

(Photo of Andrew Rosenthal, New York Times Editorial Page Editor and World-Class DM by Fred R. Conrad for the New York Times [source])

UPDATE: I am aware that some readers who are especially familiar with the rules to the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons have objected to the melange of rules reflected in the transcribed dialog above, as evidenced by their comments.

First of all, thank you for your comments, and welcome to all Boing Boing readers.

To readers who object to the non-canonical use of titles and rules, all I can say is that while I know that AD&D 4th edition has: Halflings, not Hobbits; Rogues, not Thieves; Wizards, not Magic-Users; and Fighters, not Barbarians (at least as of the publication of the first AD&D 4th ed Players Handbook), I am also sure the gentlemen whose game session was partially transcribed here probably knew this as well.  They are, after all, in the business of reading.

But being gentlemen of a "certain age", they probably began playing the game back in the era of Chainmail and the three soft-cover D&D books that came in the white box.  These gentlemen probably stayed vaguely current with the game over the years, selecting those elements of the rules that they liked and rejecting those they did not, always with an eye to enjoying a good game without particular interest in rules orthodoxy.

These gentlemen probably always called Halflings Hobbits, always thought of the spell-slinger as a Magic-User (since Wizard was the title of a level 11 Magic-User, not the name of the class), and preferred the drama of a Barbarian over the generic title of a Fighter.

Certainly no offense was intended, and I hope no offense taken, by users who prefer a more rigid view of the rules and adopt them in toto as opposed to on an ad hoc basis.  After all, it is a transcription.  I suggest sending a note to the Editorial Page.

4 comments:

Crimson said...

Aaargh. Hobbits, Magic Users, Feats? Pick an edition!

Yer killin me, smalls.

-standard issue gamer geek

Mike Olson said...

Maybe you guys who want to score a little cred with us geeks should, y'know, know what you're talking about first.

Seriously, it's the little things -- crimson nailed it -- that make it clear from the get-go that you know as much about D&D as a McCain staffer.

What's that? I'm nitpicking? Of course I am. I'm a geek -- that's what we do. If you were one of us, you'd know that.

Anonymous said...

Guys, guys, anyone who REALLY plays can tell instantly that this is obviously a homebrew with elements from multiple editions.

j.e.silverstein said...

This column rocks like a rockin' thing. Homebrew or 3e orthodox, the writer's point is made. And I love it that the NYT is hip enough with the game to make the point in this way.

The longer Goldfarb keeps knockin' on D&D players, the more people will realize how out of touch the McCain campaign crew really is (not that it takes much, frankly). The military he so fiercely defends is full of D&D players. And the guys who design D&D have the kind of advanced degrees that Goldfarb and McCain probably couldn't have dreamed of achieving when they went to school. I'll take brainy D&D types writing my news and governing my country over chest-beating ideologues any day of the week.