I was trapped somewhere deep in the rotting pungent bowels of the great western Babylon called New York City. I had planned on writing my next column about the New York City Comic-Con from this stinking destitute location, surrounded by nerds, geeks, cosplayers- and the most horrid of all horrors- furries, but my agent promised to choke me out if I dared to veer off-course for a third straight week.

“I swear I will hunt you down, find you, and continuously apply extreme pressure to your windpipe until you turn a most beautiful shade of purple if you don’t finally write an article EN World actually wants.”

I was impressed with his flowery description of the violence he planned to enact upon me and told him so. “Wow. You should be the writer, not me.”

“My life would be infinitely simpler if that were the case. Listen, just write about the single most important aspect of roleplaying games. Got it?”

“Sure thing,” I testily replied.

“No, no, don’t say that. Every time you say ‘sure thing’ you end up doing the exact opposite of whatever you were ‘sure thing’-ing about.”

Rats, I thought. He’s on to me. I couldn’t think of how to throw him off the scent, so I shouted the first thing that came to mind- “Blue!”- and hung up.

“Damn that interfering quasit!” I screeched before hurling the phone across the room. It couldn’t have been worse timing. I had just picked up a trail long cold and I knew my old nemesis was lurking somewhere in the sewers and back alleys of this metropolitan cesspool. I had sensed his presence as soon as I had arrived- like how one can feel the palpable pure evil radiating from most gamers- only his was much worse. He was the antithesis of all that I held dear as a GM, and I had vowed to destroy him when next we met.

I had a choice to make- keep my agent and my job by writing this column, or confronting and vanquishing this most unholy of holies once and for all.

I was torn...

..so I rolled d%.

“Fifty percent or higher, I will write the stupid-” The dice showed 50.

“Curses!! Best two out of three!!”

50 again.

Oh well. The dice always speaketh true. Smiting evil will have to wait. I disgustedly tossed the offending randomizers into the same corner currently occupied by a certain discarded phone, then sat down at my laptop and started to type...

Any true gamer knows the correct (and only) answer to the question: What is the most important aspect of RPGs?

So was it story? Negative, Ghost Rider. Here’s how to get story- read a book.

Getting along? Puh-lease. Life is born of strife and we must all destroy our enemies!

How about a fair game system? NO! You want fair, go ride a Ferris wheel.

Making sure everyone is having a good time? Nope. I always have a good time when I play, so by default, everyone else in the group is having a good time.

No, class, the correct answer is... dice.


Without these plastic polyhedrons, we would all just be sitting around a table yelling “Fireball!” or “I’m a werewolf! Rawrr!” If you ask me, that sounds pretty freaking lame, even if you’re doing it at a Denny’s in the middle of the night.

Dice decide the fates of everyone and everything in your game. You could be down to 1 hit point, facing off against Tiamat, all hope lost... but if you roll that oh-so-beautiful ‘20’ on your next attack... everything changes in a blink of an eye.

But such great power must be wielded with caution. One does not just roll dice, just like one does not just walk into Mordor. Protocols must be followed- precautions taken- plans planned.

For those clueless gamers who do not realize the enormity of this responsibility, I have provided the following list of the definitive rules of dice:

  1. Always look cool when rolling dice. This is your time to shine so make the most of it.
  2. When the success of your roll is in doubt, just say “It’s a hit!” and quickly scoop up your dice.
  3. Never borrow dice or let someone borrow yours. You don’t want other player's taint on your hands, or worse... on your dice.
  4. Dice make excellent projectile weapons- either hurled by hand or with a sling.
  5. d4 are a good substitute for caltrops.
  6. You can never have too many dice... no matter what your wife says.
  7. If a die does not give you the desired result, feel free to enact swift and severe punishment against it. Hurling an offending die across the room is always a good way to frighten it back into line.
  8. Don’t waste rolls. Remember all those crits you rolled earlier while waiting for the game to start? Wasted! You will not roll over a ‘7’ for the rest of the night.
  9. Having an argument with friends? Dice can determine the winner! Works with strangers too.
  10. If you forget one or more of your dice, you don’t get to ‘borrow roll’ those for the night (see Rule #3.) Lose your d12 and your character’s primary weapon is the great axe? Guess what... tonight your damage is 0+Strength Bonus!
  11. Roll aggressive! Toss those puppies down on the table with authority. The more miniatures you hit and knock over the more your fellow gamers will respect you.
  12. If ever at a loss on what to do next... just shut up and roll!

Follow these simple rules and you will have the best gaming of your life. You’re old Uncle GM guarantees it!*

Now to continue the hunt for my fearsome foe...

*Disclaimer: I neither guarantee, endorse, nor claim any validity for these statements

Next week I discuss fruits and vegetables and what parts they should play in your campaigns. Also- Hobbits vs. Kenders! Which are the true halflings?

Previous Installments:
#1: Out of the Caves of Infinity... and Beyond!
#2: That’s No Moon!