In my formative role playing years I was a big fan of Dragon magazine. What I liked best about it were the insights into the games of other players. I really enjoyed the letters column and Sage Advice, where gamers would write in and ask questions of the gurus at TSR. Most of the time they could easily be answered by anyone who actually owned any of the books for D&D, but other times they were totally off the wall and represented, what I felt was, the real way that people play the game. Fortunately for all of us someone has taken it upon themselves to post years worth of Sage Advice and put it out there for all to read. Thank god for the internet.
This glorious page can be found here:
I’ve spent some time reading through it and I am happy to say that it is as entertaining as I remember. Some of my favorites include the following questions: “We are having an argument over an issue that has us divided. My friends say that with a ring of telekinesis they can make an arrow spin at the speed of light and then release it, having it do between 100 and 600 points of damage to their target. I say this is impossible! What do you think?” The Sage answer sides with the questioner, in case you were wondering it is not possible to do such a thing. Apparently the arrow would disintegrate if it was to spin that fast. Hmm.
Another: “What is the difference between chain mail and plate mail armor?” What kind of a question is that? There are dozens of books that describe both of them in detail. No one at this gaming table was able to answer this question? They had to write to a magazine? I love it.
Some more: “Will a monster join a character party if invited?” There are a lot of these subjective questions going on as well. Some of the others include “Is my character dead”, “What is behind the secret door” and “Is the sword I found magical”. The Sage Advice guy was a lot kinder with these questions than I would have been.
This also got me thinking about some of the questions that my game of 13 year olds would have asked back in the early 90’s. One of them would definitely have been, “Is a wish spell capable of giving the character an army of water breathing minotaurs? And, if so, what needs to be done to insure their loyalty? Is the promise of pillaging enough?” That was big in our game. Very important. I’ve also always wondered about “How many ballistas can fit onto the deck of the boat that my party stole at the end of the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh?” If you are a player of a certain age the answer to just about any question should be yes. It just makes sense to try to do everything. And, in a way, it’s easy for the DM because they all lead to murder and treasure.
There is something inherently strange about asking questions about D&D, since there are specific rules for the game and the DM’s word is law for anything not covered under those rules. But at the same time I am so glad that people ask these questions.