When We Don’t Die We Lose D.I.C.K.Posted: September 24, 2012
Jonathon’s post about his brother murdering D&D characters got me thinking. How often does a character die in the line of creative-adventuring duty? I have only seen it once or twice in my twenty-plus years of dungeon delving and now I am thinking I have been cheated somehow. Why do we not see the bloody entrails of beloved characters littering dungeon floors or splattered across mystical forest leaves during every other adventure? These characters are being put into situations where death is a very plausible reality and certainly they should die quite often. Dragons, undead-bears, and flocks of slime-covered spiders should finish off a character a day, shouldn’t they? Are the creatures from the dark places of the world pathetic or just weaklings? Or did they not get the “kill ’em” memo from their dark lord?
I have played D&D for a very long time and I recall only one event where a character actually died. It was a fair death and the player wasn’t upset about it. He re-rolled a new character and met up with the party a bit later in the adventure and that was it. So, I started to ponder why are there not more character re-rolls?
I did a little research, calculated the number of bottles of liquor required during the time allotted to a gaming session, documented several outbursts, crying fits, and thrown furniture, and discovered a correlation to the number of collapses of the human psyche and their level of fun within a collective group.
Follow along with me for a moment refer to the formula below:
As you will note, fun is calculated by addressing several factors. Primary factors include:
- The simpleton elaboration curve of the game master,
- Individual sums of the emotional quotients of each player (the emotive bounce rule takes into account for the slide issue around mean quotients),
- The number of hours dedicated to the creation of the work in progress minus the protective nature of certain individuals of a gaming herd,
- and random dice roll averages multiplied by to an arbitrary power based upon the number of tears and shouts of “fuck” during encounters.
To boil it down for the uninitiated, the formula makes a convincing argument in how characters don’t die all that often because no one wants to be seen as hard Dedicated Infantry Combat Killers. These long-standing gaming rules seem to have been neglected in recent years and game masters, according to the above formula, give the older rules a wide berth. Initially established as the D.I.C.K. system, D.I.C.K. rules made role playing far more realistic. If a character was wounded, he or she was subjected to the D.I.C.K. rules of bleeding. Such rules allowed the game master to establish how fast bleeding would occur and from which part of the body the bleeding was coming from.
But, as the formula points out, characters do not die as often as they did because game masters do not want to be seen as the D.I.C.K. using the rules. Even the roughest and toughest game masters don’t want to gain reputations based upon the antiquated (and harder) D.I.C.K. rules.
But do we really deserve to retire the old D.I.C.K.? Or have we all evolved as players where it is fine to allow things to slide down the traditional D.I.C.K. rules and build a new D.I.C.K. system?
Some traditionalists would argue that this is something we shouldn’t allow in gaming. The D.I.C.K. rules have been around since the beginning and it is no surprise that some gaming enthusiasts appreciate a good D.I.C.K. rule over more flaccid and harder to maintain rules. The more rigid a D.I.C.K. rule is, the harder it is to go soft and allow a player to live when, in reality, they would have died. The risk would be gone. It would allow softer rules to gain more power and a sliding D.I.C.K. rule is never a good rule. The experience of the average role player is diminished.
According to my research, D.I.C.K. rules are the foundation of all role playing rules regardless of which system they follow. Why have we abandoned them? I don’t think there is an answer beyond players not wanting to upset the herd. After all, isn’t gaming supposed to be a reflection of real life only with some of the fundamentals of life changed to suit a multidimensional reality? Should we not embrace and grab on to some of these more turgid D.I.C.K. rules? It would seem not.
Or, maybe — just, maybe — it is all about having fun. Killing of characters can be not fun. Perhaps we should embrace the fun rather than the old standing D.I.C.K. system.
I will leave you with one question to ponder: don’t players deserve a good D.I.C.K.ing?