By: Annna [2000-09-12]

The Worst Dungeon Master Ever, Part One

you only think it's hyperbole

NEW! There's a rebuttal and it's here.

roll for breast size

I have this terrible luck at roleplaying games. It's not that I'm rolling consecutive critical failures or being the one closest to the mysterious statue when the stars come into alignment. That would actually be fun. Instead, I have yet to find a game that met more than twice.

Well, I'm not counting a fairly long-lived Men in Black campaign. I get the impression that it's supposed to be a one-shot, humorous, Ghostbusters or Paranoia sort of game (especially since it was put out by West End Games, who published those other two games as well). It's turned into an epic.

Through my super-effective strategy of attempting to sound like Jack Webb, distracting the GM with plastic laser pistols when he's making combat rolls and showing up to every game to the exclusion of having a life, I have a ludicrously experienced MiB character. I suppose the invisible hand of game balance would slap me around if I were spending my mountain of XPs on anything other than Medicine, Ignore Pain and Dodge. I have no idea what motivates my character (other than the snazzy MiB threads) what her history is or even what she looks like (other than the snazzy MiB threads), but I do know she can suck up bullet wounds like nobody's business.

I digress. Other than Agent X, nobody's lasted more than one game.

I enjoy most of the games I get to play, even if they only last a couple of hours. But a girl gets to wanting character development beyond watching the skill points creep up. I want an ongoing plot or at least the same characters in the same world for a month or two. I want a reason to write up a character sketch and history.

This is not helped by the fact that everybody leaves town for summer vacation.

So I finally went down to Planet of Sand and put my name in the big Gamers Wanted book under a whole bunch of different games, then made a profile at It was a few weeks later that I got an email from an interested AD&D player. He seemed ill at ease with email, so I called him. He sounded like a pretty normal guy.

His name was Vincent, and he didn't want to DM but he had found someone else who would. I invited my friend Spider along, figuring that two of us would be harder to fit in his trunk, even if we were chopped up into little pieces. Also, she wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons again -- she hadn't played in years.

So one sunny Sunday afternoon, we biked across town to one of the many crappy apartment houses gracing this college town. We started out a little late, but brought everything we thought we'd need. My big bike baskets were full of borrowed AD&D books, my dice collection, pencils, paper and a selection of delicious beverages.

We arrived a few minutes late and found Vincent already there, along with Michael, the DM he'd found. Vincent turned out to be a lanky and nondescript fellow in a gimmie cap. Michael was a big unwashed fat guy in shorts and a T-shirt.

It would be unfair for me not to qualify that statement. It turned out that he was unwashed because Vincent had gotten the time wrong and we'd all come early. When we had a break, Michael immediately ran off and took a shower. In the fatness department, I dwell in the proverbial glass house. It just helps if you can picture him as a pale, doughy redhead clutching a stack of AD&D books, straight from Central Casting.

Appearance, anyway, is unimportant. What matters is charisma (or Charisma) and Michael was under the delusion that he had a natural 18. Whenever he was in the room, he dominated the conversation. He had hundreds of long, pointless stories about adventures his previous group had had, and whenever a related topic came up (and it did often, as they were all gaming stories and we were gaming) he had to retell all of them. No breaks for comments from the peanut gallery like "How do you want us to roll characteristics?" or "I forgot how one determines THAC0." He just droned on and on at us while we sat at his rickety kitchen table, trying to figure out character generation.

Michael wasn't just suffering from logorrhea, he was also incredibly loud. There are some people who just go up to 11 and he was one of them, sitting two feet away and droning on and on about the time they all fought the pirates. It literally made it hard to think, particularly as we were busy trying to make characters.

Vincent wasn't having much trouble with rolling up his character, but Spider hadn't played D&D for a coon's age and I had only played once before, and that time with a pregenerated character. This wasn't helped by the fact that Michael had his own bizarre system of character generation. He dropped a huge 3-ring binder full of yellowed and torn sheets of dot matrix-printed paper on the table and began leafing through, finding one arcane step after another.

There were tables to roll on for being mageborn or psionic and tables for height and weight and eye color and hair color. Some table from Rolemaster or something left Vincent's character enormously fat, gave my cleric the ability to pick locks and gave Spider animal empathy or something. I wasn't paying attention to Spider's character at the time.

My character got a weird roll and ended up over six feet tall and skinny. Michael made a big deal about how she'd probably have to wear men's clothes. I didn't care and said as much. My character was a hardy priestess of Thor, from the frozen North, wherever that happened to be in his game world! What need had she of finery? Arrr!

Michael was really impressed by how Spider and I were thinking about our characters' personalities already. Apparently his players usually didn't even pick a god for their clerics until they'd gained a couple of levels. I was a mite dubious.

Then he grilled us on whether our characters would wear corsets or not, making sure that we knew that not wearing a corset would make us unfashionable.

Spider likes to point out the big deal Michael made of her character's hair.

Spider: [rolls dice]
Michael: Your character has copper-red hair.
Spider: [writing] Okay, red hair.
Michael: Copper-red hair.

[Long pause.]

Spider: Copper-red hair. Okay.

It was much creepier at the time.

Then he had us roll for breast and penis size. Not both, obviously. Vincent, first in line, looked as embarrassed as Spider and I felt, and tried to duck the issue. Michael ended up giving a long speech about how he only put this in character creation because players asked him to. It didn't seem to dawn on him that he should probably alter rules if players didn't want to determine their character's sex characteristics.

Vincent eventually rolled to shut him up, and Spider and I did as well. He got really apologetic about my character having a B cup, as she was also 6 feet tall. I pointed out that my character wouldn't want anything getting in the way of her warhammer anyway. He looked skeptical.

We're only halfway through character creation! Stay tuned for:

The Worst DM Ever, Part Two.
The Worst DM Ever, Part Three.
Parts Left Out of "The Worst DM Ever".
The Worst DM Ever, A Rebuttal.
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