Ask Stanley, The Tyrant DM

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Before “Ask a Ninja…” More megalomaniacal than “The Colbert Report…” In 1999, when the bravest roleplaying gamers needed advice, they might dare to “Ask Stanley, the Tyrant DM.”

Stanley may not have had a lot of people lining up to play with him, but you couldn’t say he didn’t take the game seriously enough. The gaming advice column ran sporadically starting February 1999 on the old “Long Knights” website.

Ask Stanley, the Tyrant DM #1

(February 1999)

Q: A player in my Ravenloft campaign objects to my introduction of guns, as he says it detracts from the mood. The other players and I want the guns there, so how can we convince him otherwise? –Captain Gothic

Stanley: Bring a gun to your next gaming session, and keep it well hid until the subject comes up. When he makes his objections, pull out the gun quickly, and shove the barrel into the player’s mouth. Smile at him for a moment before asking him very slowly, as if you are choosing carefully each word, “Are you frightened? Are you scared?” If you do this right, he will nod and mumble in the affirmative. “Good,” you’ll tell him. “That’s the mood I’m going for.”

Q: How do you pronounce the word “drow”? –Wanting to know how to pronounce the word “drow”

Stanley: When I introduce drow into a campaign, I generally use the phrase, “a horde of dark elf bladesingers,” rather than single one out as a drow. But if I had to guess, I would say it rhymes with “cow.”

Q: Stanley, you know so much about AD&D and about being a great DM. I was wondering if you’ve ever played AD&D as a player, rather than as a DM? –Curious

Stanley: Yes. I won.

Q: As a DM, do you fudge dice rolls for the sake of the story? –Not a cheater

Stanley: No. When I want the PCs to die, I don’t roll at all. I just take their character sheets away.

Q: An eighth level wizard of mine wants to create his own mage school, but doesn’t know how to do it. Where would he begin? –Joey the Archmage

Stanley: Ha. A wizard making it to eighth level. That’s cute.

Q: If a character is killed and receives a raise dead spell, how long must he rest and how many hit points will he have? –Rumpa the Big Fighter

Stanley: The “Raise Dead” and “Resurrection” spells in the game don’t work in any of my campaigns. If I wanted a character alive, I would not have killed him.

If you have a question for Stanley, you have permission email him at stanley@….

Because Stanley is not a very nice person, he may not be able to answer each question individually. If you include a URL when you pose your question, he might be inclined to hyperlink your name.

Stanley the Tyrant DM is looking for players for his campaign. Players must be willing to sign and swear an affidavit which includes the words, “The DM can do no wrong.” The Tyrant DM’s advice is not necessarily endorsed by TSR, Alex Wilson, or anyone else. In fact, at last count, Stanley had no friends to speak of.

Ask Stanley, the Tyrant DM #2

(April 1999)

Q: What is your belief on players who try to be the best? (e.g. I play a Players Option: Skills and Powers Drow Elfen bladesinging fighter/cleric/mage with all innate abilites and MR…) –Ergoth13@…

Stanley: They make me laugh. Slaughtering a Drow Bladesinger may take longer, but I haven’t had any problems. I do believe that munchkins are a necessary part of any AD&D campaign though, since other players are often too important to the game to send on beer and chip runs.

Q: By the way, if you are truly sadistic, you will like the Dragon articles “more outrages from the mages” and “even more outrages from the mages,” in old Dragon back issues.–Ergoth13@…

Stanley: Calling me “sadistic” makes you sound like you’re a player in my campaign. Yes, I’ve read the “Outrages” articles. I’m against the idea of justifying DM decisions. Players should not question The Master.

Q: I’m just a beginning Dungeon Master and I was wondering what books you recommend to get me started. I already have the DMG and the PG, and I borrow someone else’s MM. Any suggestions?–A beginner

Stanley: Books? Who can you kill with books? Use your head, man.

Q: Is there any protection, other than a successful saving throw, to defend against a psionicist’s disintegrate spell?–An eager player.

Stanley: No. If I wanted you to defend against a disintegrate spell, I wouldn’t cast it at you. And, since you mention it, characters in my campaign don’t make saving throws;
saves break the continuity of the game.

Q: Don’t you think you should put “In My Opinion” or “IMO” in your answers? Just so people don’t think you’re an authority or anything? –Nobody’s Perfect

Stanley: No. I’m the Master. Opinions are for munchkins.

Q: What, exactly, is a “munchkin?”–Diddums the Tool

Stanley: A munchkin is a player who thinks that, if he has all the greatest items and all the greatest stats, he might survive my campaign. Munchkins can be annoying, but somebody has to make beer and chip runs.

If you have a question for Stanley, you have permission email him at stanley@….

Because Stanley is not a very nice person, he may not be able to answer each question individually. If you include a URL when you pose your question, he might be inclined to hyperlink your name.

Stanley the Tyrant DM is looking for players for his campaign. Players must be willing to sign and swear an affidavit which includes the words, “The DM can do no wrong.” The Tyrant DM’s advice is not necessarily endorsed by TSR, Alex Wilson, or anyone else. In fact, at last count, Stanley had no friends to speak of.

Ask Stanley, the Tyrant DM #3

(June 1999)

Question: What is the most ‘wicked and evil’ thing you’ve done to a party? — Devious DM

Stanley: Ah, yes. Your question brings back many fine memories. Thank you.

Q: Is it possible to make a missile attack while engaged in melee? Is there a chance you’ll hit one of your comrades?

Stanley: In answer to both your questions, I offer an enthusiastic “yes.” Please do so.

Q: Perhaps you can help me. As a DM, I’ve experienced a lot of dissension among my players. They’re into heavy character development, and they’ve determined that they don’t want to go on the quest I’ve prepared for them. Whose will should win here?

Stanley: As a DM, your first role is that of a storyteller. As players, their first role is that of pawns. If your players continue to find amusement in play-acting amongst themselves, I suggest you find new ones.

Q: I get the impression that you don’t actually have any intention of honestly answering our questions. Is that true? –The Complainer

Stanley: Make a save vs. death magic at -4.

Q: Have you no understanding of the difference between players and characters? Do you know how ridiculous you seem, asking a human being in the real world to make a saving throw? –The Complainer

Stanley: I look ridiculous? You’re the one hiding behind a character sheet. Of course I know the difference between fiction and reality. To take care of your character, I need only roll dice. To take care of you, I have to pick up my phone.

If you have a question for Stanley, you have permission email him at stanley@….

Because Stanley is not a very nice person, he may not be able to answer each question individually. If you include a URL when you pose your question, he might be inclined to hyperlink your name.

Stanley the Tyrant DM is looking for players for his campaign. Players must be willing to sign and swear an affidavit which includes the words, “The DM can do no wrong.” The Tyrant DM’s advice is not necessarily endorsed by TSR, Alex Wilson, or anyone else. In fact, at last count, Stanley had no friends to speak of.

Ask Stanley, the Tyrant DM #4

(April 2000)

Question: How long is an elf’s lifespan?–Uadro the Elf Warrior

Stanley: Three rounds, Uadro. Roll for initiative.

Question: Can a detect magic spell reveal an ordinary item made invisible?

Stanley: If I wanted you to see something, I wouldn’t have made it invisible. Save your magic for a munchkin campaign. You want to throw down with me, you take what I give you.

Question: Are you excited about Third Edition? I sure am.–Can’t Hardly Wait

Stanley: No. But thank you for sharing.

Question: My fellow players and I are in disagreement about the use of poison by good party members. Some say it depends on the situation while others say it is always an evil act. What do you think?–Guilt Ridden in Nebraska

Stanley: Those who feel truth is relative make me laugh. And those afraid of being labeled “evil” are too weak to live. In fact, by your very labeling your party members as “good,” you declare yourself a slave to outdated codes of law and alignment. It never matters why you use a poison;
it only matters what you do with the body. If you expect to make it in this world, you’ll need to grow up, overcome your pettiness, and poison your fellow players like a man. Not a good man, not an evil man. Just a man. I wish you luck, Mr. Ridden.

Question: Stanley, my DM is a joke. How can I join a real campaign like one of yours?–Justice Sadistic Azyu

Stanley: First, take 8d20+55 damage from an act of God. There. You just played in my low level campaign. When you feel ready for a real challenge, build me a shrine. Then wait. I’m omniscient. I’ll contact you.

If you have a question for Stanley, you have permission email him at stanley@….

Because Stanley is not a very nice person, he may not be able to answer each question individually. If you include a URL when you pose your question, he might be inclined to hyperlink your name.

Stanley the Tyrant DM is looking for players for his campaign. Players must be willing to sign and swear an affidavit which includes the words, “The DM can do no wrong.” The Tyrant DM’s advice is not necessarily endorsed by TSR, Alex Wilson, or anyone else. In fact, at last count, Stanley had no friends to speak of.

Ask Stanley, the Tyrant DM #5

(July 2000)

Question: In our Shadowrun sessions, there’s this overpowered jerk who has 12 guns, no common sense, hits on women all the time, and sees everyone as sort of “lower” than him. Got any ideas on what to do? –A. Maclaren

Stanley: Every campaign seems to have someone like the character you describe. Players wanting to get involved in the “collective” storytelling, overambitious players who think they can outsmart the other players or even the DM–they can be a nuisance, yes, but they are rarely a serious problem. Ask not what you should do with this overzealous player. Ask what you should do with his body.

Question: Have you ever really asked yourself if your advice to RPGers and DMs / GMs gives any useful information, or are you just being evil? – Aquariuse AKA Kris Faulkner, Pilot Alternity RPG

Stanley: I offer my advice to you and the rest of the lowly throng in part because it amuses me but also because I want to give something back to the otherwise inept gaming community. That and no one’s tough enough to play in my campaigns anymore. If my advice isn’t useful to you, then you must be doing something wrong.

As to the question of my “just being evil,” this implies that I am incorrect from a moral standpoint. I’m afraid it is unclear to me how I can be evil, since I am always right. But I am not interested in alignment debates. In my campaigns, meteor showers fall on the lawful and chaotic, the players and their characters alike.

Question: Do you have a God complex? –Gorex

Stanley: Just because your human brain can’t comprehend my genius doesn’t mean I’m the problem, mortal.

Question: I was thinking of reintroducing the old monk class to our game. But some members of our group believe they are too powerful and they unbalance gameplay. Would you, as a dungeon master, discourage their inclusion, or do you not feel at all threatened by their abilities? –Raven

Stanley: I don’t feel threatened by anything. I have on occasion allowed the monk class in my campaigns and, in some instances, I’ve let them outlive NPCs by a round or two. I treat the monk class as I treat all pawn characters (PCs) and they react to me the same as a fighter, mage, thief, or priest does in any of my campaigns: I kill them and they die.

Question: Do your players ever feel left out of the gameplay by your dictator-like structure? –Sir William of Gates

Stanley: I’ve never looked at it that way. And now that you’ve brought it up, I still haven’t.

If you have a question for Stanley, you have permission email him at stanley@….

Because Stanley is not a very nice person, he may not be able to answer each question individually. If you include a URL when you pose your question, he might be inclined to hyperlink your name.

Stanley the Tyrant DM is looking for players for his campaign. Players must be willing to sign and swear an affidavit which includes the words, “The DM can do no wrong.” The Tyrant DM’s advice is not necessarily endorsed by TSR, Alex Wilson, or anyone else. In fact, at last count, Stanley had no friends to speak of.

Ask Stanley, the Tyrant DM #6

(March 2001)

Question: I’m currently playing a 4th level assassin in our group and I was wondering how you would suggest I kill a 10th level urda mage in our group who tends to try to grab a lot of power. -insaneyang

Stanley: In my heart, I’ve always had a fondness for assassins, but your tone suggests that you disapprove of this mage who grabs for power. May he crush you beneath a ten-ton golem and may a ninth level spell be invented in his name.

Question: I have a question about your column. Usually only one or two of the questions seem “real” and the rest seem like you just made them up. Are all the questions from real people or are they setups? –Lady Rebecca

Stanley: You have guessed correctly and I offer no apology that some questions were created rather than received. I sought only to raise the overall intelligence of the questions I answer, for clearly readers such as yourself are incapable of doing so.

Question: Do you ever invent your own monsters for your campaigns, to throw your players off and so they don’t know all the rules that go with them? – Anonymous

Stanley: Yes, but I care little for “throwing people off” as you put it. I invent my own monsters to kill them.

Question: I’ve been in some campaigns for some time, roleplaying with the same group of friends, and I’ve noticed that it’s always the same PCs who are favored by the GM (e.g. Fall in love, get married, etc, etc…), whether they
roleplay well or not. I see it going on around me, every session we hold.
What should I do? -Tycho Unselbe

Stanley: Your DM obviously has no integrity or concern with justice in his campaign. I doubt he is even a reasonable person. Ordinarily my suggestion to you would be to shut up and deal with it, but this idea of a DM favoring any player (or even liking a player disgusts me so much I must alter my stock advice. Such a disgrace must end. I would frame the DM for the death of his favorite player’s dog. If no such dog exists, most houses burn.

Question: Would you be interested in running a PBEM (Play by Email) game? – Neox

Stanley: Why would I kill someone when I can’t watch them die?

Question: Can you give me a really evil curse? -Anonymous

Stanley: Granted.

If you have a question for Stanley, you have permission email him at stanley@….

Because Stanley is not a very nice person, he may not be able to answer each question individually. If you include a URL when you pose your question, he might be inclined to hyperlink your name.

Stanley the Tyrant DM is looking for players for his campaign. Players must be willing to sign and swear an affidavit which includes the words, “The DM can do no wrong.” The Tyrant DM’s advice is not necessarily endorsed by TSR, Alex Wilson, or anyone else. In fact, at last count, Stanley had no friends to speak of.


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