I saw this topic in a discussion about WOW (the guy that did DM of the RIngs (Shamus) writting about his experinces playing WOW, kinda like my Warcraft report): “Its not roleplaying when everyone is sitting around talking about their specs/powers/magic items.” WoW is not the first place I have seen this said, as it has come up on webboards over the years as well. Ie, there are those that would argue the same about D&D if the players were sitting around saying “I am a L5 fighter with a +1 magic sword and shield.”

The implication is that if you would roleplay this, you would have to say the same thing using multiple paragraphs of prose. But, I wonder if this is true? I agree the wording might be different that that in the PHB, but man has always found ways to rank things. Otherwise, how would we know which guy wins in a boasting contest about his stuff or abilities? Lets think about abstract things that we apply rankings to the represent either abilities or responsibilities:

  • Karate – has belt ranks
  • Military – ranks for responsibilities
  • Jobs – job levels that represent skills/responsibilities
  • Professions – designations
  • Engines – Horsepower
  • Computers – a couple of basic specs tells computer literate people all they need to know (the rest is implied)
  • NFL Draft – various services rank them by position and overall (the generic 5-star method that can be used for anything)
  • On this board – we have ranks based on number of posts
  • Olde Time Professions: Apprentice / Journeyman /Master / Grand Master

So, it is very natural for men (I am not sure if women do this as much, but men do this for ANYTHING) to come up with rankings and scales. Thus, while I would accept that the actual terms might be different, I think an arguement could be made that adventurers would have a ton of acronyms and ranks for items like how tough they are, how tough opponents are, how powerful magic items and spells are, etc.

So, it may not be “I am a 5th Lvl Fighter with a +1 Sword and Shield”, but it might be “I am a low Journeyman in the Hecurles guild with a rank 1 enchantment upon my sword and shield.” It sounds a bit better than the raw system terms, but it is a shortcut of about the same length and conveys the same information (heck, I bet the dwarves would have even more shorthand, since they pound theirs into stone).

Tim “the Toolman” Taylor Version:

“It’s got a Marargus casing with dual vorpal lines, 250 muls of Mana driving a Retributive Strike Merlon Bolt, classic Trollhide wrappings that require no upkeep, all in a fine dragonscale scabbard with Keen™ auto-sharpening channels. Argh ARGH argh argh!”


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