Dungeoneer’s Diary #3 – Bean Ball

Posted: September 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

Inspiration? Perhaps…

© 2017 G.N. Jacobs

Yeah, yeah, even I’m already tired of bragging up my various RPG characters. But, if you read further there ain’t no braggin’ here. Si-Yun the Fighter…well, he’s playable, but I quickly tired of his motif after one session. Why? The concept that sounded so good between my ears just seemed ridiculous laid out on a gaming surface. What does he do? He throws rocks and baseballs at your head. 

So there I am on my periodic Meetup expeditions trying to find a game that doesn’t require that I A) give up my sacrosanct Wednesday night writing session or B) drive long ways in unfamiliar traffic. I find a Culver City game. I sign up. We meet at a gaming store set in the mushy spaces on the map between Culver City and Fox Studios. The DM tells us to use the point allocation system buried on the last page of the character creation section in the current Player’s Handbook where the player starts with average stats and applies a set number of points to get the results he or she wants.

I take a few days thinking up the concept sure to kill every freakin’ monster in the room. I wasn’t even watching any baseball when I had this brainwave to go for a rock thrower. Suddenly, I’m goofing around with baseball players, specifically pitchers. Si-Yun…Cy Young. Yeah, heavy-handed metaphor is one of my fortes when developing certain types of characters.

Once Cy Young becomes Si-Yun, I’m not going to spoil the concept by actually looking up the pitcher for whom the pitching award is named on Wikipedia. I think he’s a right-hander but why spoil a character with too many facts? Doesn’t matter, I’m a righty with a marked sense of wonder for the few southpaws among us as in – “How the hell do you throw stuff without getting all disco-bobbed in your shoelaces?” So I play righties. Always have.

Naturally, choosing a rock thrower with a folk hero background, probably means I’m world famous in Poland (or local equivalent) for being the guy that hit the scary crows with a rock during the bird invasion. It means optimizing my stats for three fifteens (Strength, Constitution and Dexterity) and three elevens including race bonuses for human. And double specializing as a fighter in rock throwing, along with quarterstaff and dagger.

So have a bag of tennis ball sized rocks will travel. Designing a pitcher as itinerant hero still seems a good idea to me. I’m making jokes about being a four-weapon pitcher. I have a rising four-seam fastball signaled from the catcher as Number One. I have a sinking two-seam fastball as Number Two. A big curveball as Number Three. And a hard slider in the Number Four slot. Fancy blovius for “I’m throwing at your head Mr. Ogre.”

It wasn’t until a little later that my dark imaginings about a baseball character motif naturally led to some funny, in the abstract, thoughts. You throw at the ogre (orc? Whatever). You miss close moving him back a few feet from the inside corner. Now, if we really dive deep on the baseball metaphor, does this now mean the ogre must now whistle to his buddies for a bench-clearing brawl in which they curse your parentage as they swing with ejections, suspensions and fines to follow? Oh, right, it’s already a fantasy RPG us or them pub brawl. Who would notice? In all cases, better get him in the ear, Si-Yun.

I must’ve also imagined the real world results of too many bean balls inflicted upon batters or the similar ugly results of the frozen rope shot straight back to the pitcher’s mound. They’ve listed pitchers getting hit in the head as a risk factor for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). I remember players and base coaches on my team, the Dodgers, taking fearsome shots usually just below the ear that messed them up for a long time.

However, real world head trauma isn’t exactly well reflected in the mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons. A sharply thrown rock has really always been a mere D4 in damage. True, I throw my fist-sized rocks and replenish by searching the riverbeds or back alleys for new rocks, brick chunks, road pavers and actual baseballs so ammunition is free everywhere. And equally true, there are really good reasons to have at least a few of the steely-eyed missile men in the party throwing stuff that specifically deals out blunt force trauma: skeletons, zombies, or Giger’s alien xenomorphs. I’ve been in parties that have fought all three.

Maybe you want to break bones for double damage (is that still a rule for skeletons?). Or the monster is basically contagious (I’m looking at you Abercrombie the Zombie). Lastly, the beast might’ve been built by a dungeon master on a bad no coffee day to wipe you out in a spoilsport acid bath after the fact. Blunt force missiles do help the party survive.

So after one play session, why did I suddenly walk back Si-Yun from being a great idea to an okay, playable concept? I’m not sure if it’s my natural ADHD fickleness with characters (I have switched out characters in the past to the groans of certain DMs). Or, perhaps, with a folk hero background that likely says I’m an ambassador for baseball in whatever campaign world I find myself with Si-Yun, that I just didn’t want to talk like a baseball player turned adventurer at the gaming table. How many ERA stats can I bloviate about? Quite a lot if I care, which truthfully isn’t much except when it’s November ball and the Dodgers have survived their traditional August slump.

 And let’s not underestimate that at D4 blunt missile damage throwing rocks just doesn’t do damage quickly enough for the average bloodthirsty RPG player. I’ve played with out and out bloodthirsty (Set Phasers for Deep Fat Fry!) characters in the party. More often than not the bloodthirstiness, even among good characters, is simply the basic survival instinct of – “Maybe the idea is to be the guy that always brings a shotgun to a pistol fight.” Peace through superior firepower, indeed.

So there you have it, a small piece of my character generation thought process…for what it’s worth.

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