[Against Stupidity] Over The River and Through The Woods #13

Against Stupidity

This is the last strip in chapter one, Over The River and Through The Woods. I’ll have some thoughts on it to share for next week’s update, and then chapter two will start. It will be part one of a three-part arc.

The arc is named Unheimlichkeit. It’s about getting settled into a new town and learning stuff like what the regional stores are called, and all the other things that can be just slightly off about a new place. Jesse will also have to deal with a new way of looking at the world, since that’s what happens when you get settled in to a big university for the first time, or find out you’ve inherited centuries of magical tradition, duties, and incipient powers.

Because things can be just a little off sometimes in life, and part of growing up is learning how to integrate that into a healthy routine.


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What Level is the Crew from Jaws?

It’s that time again. I saw a movie at a rep house and got to thinking about Dungeons & Dragons.

This one should be fairly simple. We’ve got a cop, which I’m going to say is analogous to a city guard; head of the town watch perhaps. He’s probably a Warrior–decent, but still an NPC class.

We’ve got a crazy shark hunter, which according to the maritime table would make him, it’s a toss-up, but I think I’m going to go with Rogue.

And we have a scientist, who’s obviously an Expert, with a one-level dip in let’s say Rogue, since the other sailor is a Rogue too.

So the shark is obviously a Dire Shark, challenge rating 9. Now, would we say the shark is “Very Difficult”, or “Overwhelming”? It’s not a TPK but they do lose their Rogue, and they only end up killing it with a trick that probably made the DM roll his eyes. Let’s say Overwhelming. According to the DMG, that’s the party’s effective level plus five, or so. According to the SRD calculator, this puts the party somewhere between level 5 and level 6.

But these are NPC classes! Do we need to increase it? Maybe by a little bit. But they did get lucky too, and lost a party member. Let’s look at wealth by level.

They should each have around 13,000 gold at this point, perhaps more for the Expert. The boat’s probably around 15,000 plus fuel, so that works pretty well with a level 6 rogue. These are fairly high levels for an ordinary shark hunt, but keep in mind this is no ordinary shark. So I guess they have to be level 6, which would make the Expert smarter than Einstein and the Warrior stronger than Conan, so it’s imperfect. But they need a boat and they need to be able to kill a 25 footer, so there you have it.

Maybe level 4 and they got super lucky, or maybe only the rogue is level 6 and the others are level 3 and they got really super lucky.

Or maybe the DM is kind of lazy and the crazy shark guy is a higher-level NPC babysitter that railroads a lower-level party. Perhaps that works better. I could see a level 6 rogue with a boat shepherding two level 2-3 characters through this encounter. He even dies just in time for the PC’s to be the real heroes in the story.

UPDATE: One of my friends makes a decent point.

yeah, or maybe they’re just non-optimized characters who spent all their points on skills like knowledge(sharks) and spent their entire time writing up backstories
they just want scenes like the singing on the boat

DnD Levels and Fiction

So seeing Raiders last night got me thinking about Dungeons and Dragons (3.5, nerds) and characters and levels. I recall reading a number of criticisms about how the game is completely unrealistic, since a top-level character (20) is basically a god, but nothing in fiction comes close to that level of power. And you know what? That’s true.


kftsjI recall reading a single rebuttal piece pointing out the obvious problem here, which is this:

Point: Level 20 is broken, because if Albert Einstein is the most intelligent person who ever lived, he should be level 20.

Counterpoint: Albert Einstein is a Level 4 Aristocrat with 20 Intelligence and all his ranks in Knowledge: Physics. That means he would be able to arrive at answers to questions only the gods themselves could know about 10% of the time.

I’m paraphrasing. I can’t find the original post. So, what level is Indiana Jones?

Well. He’s human, so he gets an extra feat. But he can use a whip, which is an Exotic Weapon, so he might have to burn that feat just for whip proficiency. Let’s, instead, focus on the gunshot wound. He barely notices it until the entire chase scene is over.

A pistol does 1d6 damage. So perhaps he got lucky and only took the 1, but we don’t really know, do we? So, now we need to know how many HP he has. Let’s be charitable and say he’s a Ranger (he clearly has Favored Enemy: Nazi). They have a d8 hit die, and he clearly has an increased Constitution score–I would guess his dump stat was Wisdom–so that’s, let’s say, 1d8+2 per level. Let’s assume that he took average damage from the shot (3) and has average HP. Any character with six HP (level 1) who lost 3 of them would simply not behave that way. So he has to be higher than level 1.

Leather armor has a terrible armor class, so every time he doesn’t get shot it must be from some other factor. I’d guess he went down the Dodge feat tree. You’d need an insane number of feats and bonuses to avoid getting shot that many times anyway (remember that 5% of everything hits–natural 20), so we’ll just do what we can, here. The Dodge tree really needs all three feats to be worth it, and since he already burned his bonus human feat on the whip, that means that his level 1, level 3, and level 6 feats need to be devoted to the Dodge tree.

Now, if he hadn’t used Wisdom as his dump stat, he’d be able to cast spells at that point, but he did, so he can’t. And anything higher than level 6 would be kind of ridiculous.

So Indiana Jones is a Level 6 Human Ranger.