Jojiro’s 13 Orthodoxies

Answering Jojiro's questions.

1. Question: Your players arrive in an abandoned city – the first thing they do is enter a home, asking what’s left of the pantry. What do you say to them?

Answer: They find the pantry door resists just a bit when trying to open. If they jerk it open, they find a child in dirty, ruined clothing eating something scavenged - rotten food, road kill, insects, etc.

2. Question: Your players want to talk to a city magistrate about an unpopular idea of theirs. In order to catch the magistrate off-guard, they approach early in the morning. What state do they find the magistrate in?

Answer: I’d roll some kind of reaction/luck roll. If it’s good for them, then they catch him in a compromising position; doing something illegal or immoral that they could use for blackmail. If the roll is meh then he’s probably just asleep and won’t be happy that they’re waking him up and wants to make a stink about it. If it’s bad, he’s doing something immoral or illegal, but he’s not scared of being black mailed and instead is prepared to eliminate witnesses.

3. Question: During character creation, a player mentions that they want a naturally blue-haired character. Not for any particular reason, you were envisioning your campaign setting without this possibility. How do you respond?

Answer: I’d probably just let them do it, if I have a full group together and we’re all consistently punctual and having fun then fuck it - your character can be a stupid anime protagonist.

4. Question: Read the following entry for a “point of interest”, and then refine how you would present it in a game in some way. You might change how you would describe it out loud, edit it in writing, add typographical emphasis (bold, italics, underlining) for a play-by-post game, etc.

Hidden within a secluded forest glade is a ruined shrine of ancient granite, vines of ivy peeking through the cracked stone pillars. The shrine was built by ash dwarves, and like most such shrines, it is guarded by a salamander. Within the shrine is a pool of simmering water. Characters who drink here receive the benefits of the fire shield spell for the rest of the day. 

Answer: I’m on mobile, so I won’t type it out, but for my notes I’d break it down into key bullet points and I’d expand on each point a little as I described it to players.


5. Question: Your players enter a dungeon you have prepared, and leave after being spooked by the monsters within. In truth, they are more than powerful enough to overcome the threats of the dungeon, and well-equipped to do so. One of the players asks you, “Do you think we’re ready for this dungeon?” How do you answer?

Answer: I’d just straight up say “Yes”. I don’t have time for such silliness unless their role playing actual character trepidation - if it’s solely OOC I’m just answering them in a straight forward manner OOC.

6. Question: If One of your players has a spell, speak with insects. They use it to speak with a spider, at which point another player points out that it shouldn’t work. The first player is obviously disappointed, and looks to you hopefully for you to overrule the other player. You don’t remember the actual details of how the spell works, but your rulebook is handy if you need to look it up. What do you do?

Answer: Idealy, I’d not have invited someone so committed to not having fun and cool moments in game to said game. Practically, I’d say insects is broad enough that the intent was most likely to be able to speak to small creepy crawlers in general and not just technically insects. If it were specifically “Speak to Spiders” then it feels like the spell is meant to be more niche in its usage and the other dude has a better point when he say it wouldn’t work to speak to [Not spiders].

7. Question (response to 1) “There’s nothing in the pantry.”

Answer Hard disagree. This is a useless and boring answer that adds nothing to the game. No scavengers, no bugs or rodents, no rotting food, no preserved gross food - just nothing. “Hi, I’m the DM and I don’t want to be here, anyway - what did you ask me?”

8. Question (response to 2) “The magistrate – only a petty official who has temporarily taken over this post, by the way – isn’t even tired – he’s an early morning sort of gentleman. Despite the early hour, the dawn’s rays still barely tickling over the hills, he looks well put-together. Not a hair is out of place on his head, and his sharply kept mustache suggests a morning ritual of wax-infused grooming. The man is already making steady headway into a stack of tidy paperwork as you arrive. You’re in luck, however – he seems to be in a good mood, which may make him more amenable to your suggestion than normal.”

Answer This is fine, the magistrate is still ahead of the players, but it doesn’t just shut them out.

9. Question (response to 3) “Sure you can have blue hair! I hope you don’t mind if nobody else does though – I didn’t really originally picture that sort of hair, and I’ve got so much else to juggle that I probably won’t add a whole lot of world responsiveness to blue hair. It’ll just be an aesthetic thing to help you better picture your character, not much beyond that.”

Answer This is lame. It’s a dressed up “No”. Imagine “Sure your character can use a great sword, I hope you don’t mind if no one else does though, I hadn’t really planned on greatswords so no one will react to your word and it won’t have any mechanical effect!” If you’re going to say “No” then just so “No”.

10. Question (response to 4) “The point of interest should be more direct, short and to the point. I don’t want to mention other shrines, since they’ll come up when they come up, and players can make the connection about salamanders being normal if they want to. Since it’s for a game, the phrases don’t have to be grammatically correct or complete sentences – they just need to convey information. For a play-by-post game, I also want the keywords to stand out, so I will bold them:”

An ash dwarf shrine. 1 salamander stands guard outside. Simmering pool of fire shield (1 day duration) inside.

Answer This is excellent. Short and to the point, though I’d probably add in some of the aesthetic information to my personal notation just so I’d remember to mention it.


11.Question (response to 5) “Who knows? Haha.”

Answer Hard disagree. We’re all adults with lives and finite free time. Give the players a straight answer however your system allows. If you’re playing correctly and the dice roll against them, they could still TPK against a series of encounters that should have been easy for them. 

12. Question response  to 6) “I would look it up in the book, and if it’s a regular question, I would add a sticky-note to that page so I could find it faster, to show my players what the rules say. Knowing the rules and when to look them up is important, and I want to lead by example.”

Answer Hardest possible disagree. Hold on let me grind the fun of the game to a screeching halt in favor of the boring and pedantic player who wants to rules lawyer another player’s spell because spiders aren’t insects. This is super classic /r/IAmVerySmart - okay, sure spiders aren’t insects; instead of grinding the game to a halt did we consider that insects and spiders might be in the same place? You know, because they’re in the same ecology and one eats the other so if the one is here then obviously it’s food source shouldn’t be far off? Also, it just doesn’t matter at all - as though if he’s used speak with insects properly a beetle would have told him he was almost to the end of the dungeon but if he cheats and is allowed to abuse the spell to speak to a spider then the spider will tell him that up ahead there’s a secret door and then give him the combination  to the lock which guards a +15 vorpal sword? It’s lame to stop the game to look up rules, it’s lame to quibble over such a small inconsequential difference, it’s lame to capitulate to a rules lawyer more interested in being right than seeing his peers have fun.

Question 13. Imagine, briefly, that the responses in 7 through 12 all came from the same GM, within the same campaign. Are there patterns that emerge about how this GM runs? Would you want the GM to be more consistent and predictable about anything? 
Does examining this hypothetical GM change how you thought about your own tendencies, and your own patterns? Would you want to learn anything from this hypothetical GM, or not? Why?

Answer I don’t think there’s too much a pattern, sometimes this hypothetical DM is spot on and sometimes he’s so far off base he’s playing a different sport than the rest of the team entirely.

DM needs to be less by the book, more fun. The rules aren’t real.

I think my tendencies/patterns are solid, I just suck at executing. I understand how to drive the DM car, use the DM clutch, etc but it’s still jerky when I do it because my knowledge is all theoretical and don’t have enough time behind the actual wheel.

I personally want this DM to school me in various forms of notation for encounter writing, etc.


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