In this week's issue of The New Yorker, Sam Lipsyte's "The Dungeon Master" follows a group of teenagers who roleplay with a creepy, autocratic DM. The hilarious but jarring story illustrates how totally arbitrary dungeon-mastering can ruin a game.
The piece occurs in both the teenagers' game and the real world, where things are decidedly less glamorous. It also reminds me of my own dealings with unscrupulous DMs (particularly with regards to killer magical farm animals). Here's an excerpt from the beginning:
The Dungeon Master's little brother Marco puts out corn chips and orange soda. Marco is a paladin. He fights for the glory of Christ. Marco has been many paladins since winter break. They are all named Valentine, and the Dungeon Master makes certain they die with the least possible amount of dignity.
It's painful enough when he rolls the dice, announces that a drunken orc has unspooled some Valentine's guts for sport. Worse are the silly accidents. One Valentine tripped on a floor plank and cracked his head on a mead bucket. He died of trauma in the stable.
You can read Lipsyte's piece at The New Yorker.
[Photo via Metalmisfit]