Posts Tagged ‘d&d’
Because you don’t want to be lucky, you want to be good at what you do.
Phillip Brooks (better known as CM Punk) has a tattoo that says “Luck is for Losers”. That phrase has resonated me ever since I saw the tattoo. As I have stated in the past, I am a skeptic. As a skeptic, I am picky about what I believe in. I believe in science even if it does not need me to believe in it. I believe in gravity, genetics and free will. I believe in a lot of forces of the universe but I do not believe in luck. I do not believe in a magical force that pushes outcomes one way or another based on the whims of the universe. Who or what would control such a force? Believing in luck feels weird and wrong.
But seriously, don’t buy too many lottery tickets.
I do believe in chance and probability. When I was in high school, I took a probability and statistics class. I learned all sorts of practical things. I learned that if you buy a lottery ticket, it is best to pick numbers that are not a day of the year. You do not raise your odds of winning but you lower your odds of sharing the prize if you happen to win as a lot of people play birthdays, anniversaries or other significant dates. I learned that specific numbers (like 666) can pop up at any given time and they do not mean anything. I learned about the chances of owning a mentally ill dog, a concept that had never occurred to me. The mathematics made sense to me.
I missed and everybody watched it happen.
Of course, I started playing tabletop roleplaying games a while ago and my beliefs were challenged. Lately, this has really started to bother me. On Saturday, our group once again met to deal with dungeons and/or dragons. Our adventuring party (including my character Bron) set out to deal with some bandits that were plaguing a small town. While we made mistakes, we would have done fine if we had not consistently rolled low when it counted. When you are rolling dice, the house always wins eventually but in a tabletop game, 7 people should be able to cover for low rolls. This was barely the case.
Oh Wil Wheaton, bless these dice!
Of course, we have all had bad streaks of rolling dice. One of the things I like about the group is that we are all huge nerds and geeks. The group is mostly made up of people of science. Vets, patent researchers, and IT professionals. As a former theater guy, writer and legal professional I guess I am comparatively a ‘poet’ in the group. They are all also very creative people but we all love science in our own way. And yet, we do a lot of superstitious things. We talk about ‘blessing’ dice with good luck or ‘cursing’ dice with bad luck. We switch dice after a horrible streak of dice and we retire dice ‘responsible’ for particularly bad numbers.
I thought about smashing my dice but I just watched this a few times instead. Therapeutic.
It does not make any sense and I find myself fighting against it. I also find myself fighting the feeling that I am responsible for my bad rolls. I have to believe that if I could roll well by skill and knowledge of the physical realities then I would. For example, if I knew how to move my hand and when to release and how hard to throw the die, I would practice all of those things. The reason that it bothers me is that this is my character. I wrote him to be such a strong fighter and he cannot seem to actually hit anything. All of that backstory is not matching up to the realities when it comes to game time. It is frustrating. I just have to hang on to the belief that eventually, my rolls will average out.
If Sabin wanted to be exhausted and covered in mud, he could have stayed back home in Sodor. Sometimes herding pigs sounded like a pleasant alternative to dealing with Brofka the Wise. Brofka the Bully was a better nickname but Sabin dared not say it out loud. Of course, he had said it out loud earlier that morning when Brofka had woken him up before sunrise. Sabin was sporting a bruise on his left cheek as a result.
The rain was still drizzling down on Sabin and the surrounding yard but that was fine since it had been pouring earlier. Thankfully, it was midsummer so the rain wasn’t cold especially since Sabin was soaked to the bone. By this point, Sabin was taking any wins he could get.
With all this water around, of course Brofka had Sabin working on his fire magic. He was supposed to be lighting fires but the most he could get was puffs of steam. It was really hard to concentrate with all of the rain and it was well past time for lunch. Brofka had made it clear that he could not come inside and eat until he lit a fire. Sometimes he hated that old man.
He turned from glaring at Brofka’s house to focus on the little lean to he had built so the wood was at least not getting directly rained on. He pointed the palm of his right hand towards the wood and brought up his will, focused it and attempted to will the logs to light on fire. All he received was a slightly encouraging billow of steam. It was bigger than the little puffs he was getting earlier. He sighed and sat on a damp stump and wondered if this would ever work. He had done it before but often it was not on purpose.
The back door to the house opened suddenly and Sabin jumped to his feet and pointed his palm at the wood. He could hear Brofka groan in frustration behind him.
“Have you not set the wood on fire yet? It’s been two hours!” He bellowed from the doorway.
“I’m trying!” Sabin responded roughly without looking at his mentor. “Sir.” He added as an afterthought.
“Trying isn’t going to cut it; actually succeeding is the only way you’re getting a midday meal. Well, at this rate it will be a mid-afternoon meal.”
Sabin only tried to ignore the old man and focus his will on the logs again. Brofka put the hood of his cloak up and walked towards Sabin. He was carrying a very familiar short stick. Sabin tried to ignore this as well and desperately tried to focus on setting the logs ablaze. Of course, Brofka was so close that he was really hard to ignore.
Brofka laughed and pointed at the lean to and the logs. “It seems you’re a better carpenter than you are a sorcerer. Believe me, that is not saying much. Can you even get anything more than steam?”
Sabin turned to glare at Brofka. “Sir, I lit it earlier.” He said simply. He was trying not to lose his temper.
“Yeah? What happened? Why didn’t you come get me?”
“I was about to but the rain put it out.” Sabin admitted.
“It doesn’t count then. Focus and get it done. I’m waiting.” Brofka folded his arms across his chest and stared.
Sabin pointed his palm again and began to focus his will. Of course, this is when Brofka drove the short stick into Sabin’s side. Both men could hear the soft crack of a rib breaking. Sabin nearly sank to one knee but barely stayed standing. The pain was intense, and for a moment all Sabin could see was stars.
“Focus! In battle, you’d never get this moment to recover! Light the fire!”
Sabin grunted and focused again on the wood. “Shut up, old man.”
“Light the fire! Get your worthless peasant ass in gear!”
Sabin turned to face Brofka, his eyes ablaze in a vicious glare. “Shut up!” And with those words a jet of flame erupted from Sabin’s palm and lit the logs and the little lean to on fire. The fire felt nice, as damp as Sabin was. There was a long silence as Brofka stared at Sabin and Sabin glared at Brofka.
It was Brofka who broke the silence after several tense moments. “It’s about time.” He picked up a bucket the rain had filled with water and used it to put out the fire. He took a deep breath. “So, do you understand?”
Sabin thought about that question. “I think I’m starting to… but I don’t think the lesson is ‘get pissed to cast spells’, right?”
“No, Boy. The use of magic does not come from emotion. It comes from will and it comes from belief. You can focus all day on those damned logs and it won’t mean a thing unless you believe you can create fire. You have to believe that you can do it, picture it in your head. If you hold that belief in front of you, nobody will be able to stop you. I’ll make sure that I train you to be better than I was, yeah?”
“Yes sir, I guess no gambling away my money then.” Sabin said with a smirk.
“You are an ass.” Brofka’s slight smile didn’t match his words.
“So… can I go inside now?”
“Sure.” He turned to lead the way inside. “By the way, Boy… good job.”
Sabin smiled and stepped into the dry interior of the little cottage.