Tag Archives: Lord of the Rings

An ENT By Any Other Name

Cheers everyone, Mac here from Dark Elf Dice. The other night I had an opportunity to chit-chat with my sister-in-law from Seattle. JoAnne is a doctor, and she had called long-distance to speak with my wife about gardening. I answered the phone and had a chance to talk with her about the new house she recently purchased.

“So how’s the neighborhood? Are you getting to know the people on your block?” I asked.

“The neighborhood’s great, but I really haven’t had a chance to meet my neighbors. Between work and moving it’s been crazy. The only person I know is an ENT who works with me in the clinic twice a week.”

This is not the ENT you're looking for.

Eee-Enn-Tee… ENT? What the heck was she talking about? I admit that I’m not the sharpest sword in the sheath when it comes to medical jargon, and all I could picture was a giant, talking tree. “So, they have ENTS in Seattle?”

“Of course.”

I scratched my head, more confused than ever. “I suppose the Pacific Northwest weather agrees with them. What with the heavy rain and all. If I were an ENT that’s where I would like to live.”

There was a long pause before JoAnne said anything. “You have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

I admitted my ignorance and JoAnne patiently explained that an ENT was an “ears, nose and throat” doctor. This made sense, but I have to say that I felt I twinge of disappointment that there weren’t any real ENTS in Seattle.

After turning the phone over to my wife, I reflected on the use of acronyms and abbreviations and how we use these unique terms as a matter of convenience to simplify phrases or names. Take for instance FAQ (frequently asked questions) or DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) — these are common acronyms that we’re all familiar with and that I’m certain we run across from time-to-time. Things get fuzzy though when acronyms or abbreviations are used by different groups of people — terms can take on entirely different meanings. Is a CD a “compact disc” or a “certificate of deposit?” I suppose it depends on whether or not you’re speaking with a Beatle’s Fan Club member (check out the fab bootlegs!) or a bank manager.

Game night just got a lot more interesting.

In the world of RPGs (“role playing games” — not “rocket propelled grenades”), we use a lot of acronyms and abbreviations to help facilitate game play. See if you can decipher the following:

On Saturday, the gang headed over to Gandalf’s house to play D&D 4e. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against this latest edition, but I’m an old school gamer and still pine for the days of AD&D. I didn’t want to start a debate over which game was better (the WotC version or the classic TSR version), so I kept my yap shut.

Once we arrived at Gandalf’s, Frodo volunteered to act as DM. I had to suppress a groan — Frodo was always losing things (even the gold ring his uncle had given him), but no one else stepped forward for the job. I suppose if he didn’t lose his DMG we’d be all right. The rest of us acted as PCs, and I rolled up a dwarf fighter. I wanted to be an elf fighter, but Legolas insisted on being the elf, so I let him (besides, my DEX score was pretty low and I’d make a miserable elf). I briefly toyed with the idea of being a druid, but I didn’t like the idea of starting a first level character with a low HP number (not to mention a low AC as well). So a dwarf it was. My STR was a 17 so I received an awesome BtH modifier.

Our PCs began their adventure in an inn named the Prancing Pony. Almost immediately there was trouble. We ran into a group of nasty trolls looking to bash a few heads. Unfortunately, our party was outnumbered and I was expecting the worst. Luckily for us, a NPC who worked at the inn helped us sneak out a back door through the kitchen. Once we escaped the inn and tasted the cool, night air I thought our troubles were over. On the way out through the kitchen though, my dwarf ate an entire plateful of salmon mousse (unknowingly made with canned salmon) and I had to use a d20 to make a saving throw against poison. Fortunately, my dwarf survived (just barely), but our party gained no XP for our hasty (and inglorious) retreat.

Could you find and decipher all the acronyms and abbreviations? Good for you! Give yourself a pat on the back and a 100 gp bonus. You deserve it. If you want to see more unique gaming acronyms and abbreviations take a look at this cool list. This is a fairly exhaustive list and there’s a lot here I’ve honestly never used or seen before. Also, check out this week’s installment of That’s How We Role. Until next time people!

Click on comic to enlarge

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9 Items Your RPG Character Needs to Stuff in a Backpack NOW!

The Boy Scouts have a saying: Be Prepared, and believe me, these are words to live by — especially if you have a brand-new rpg character seeking action, adventure and a wee bit of mayhem. Far too often I’ve seen gamers poorly equip new characters at the onset of a campaign. These characters simply aren’t prepared and lack the basic necessities needed to adventure in a fantasy world chock-full of dungeons, dragons, tunnels and trolls . Whether it’s the gamer’s inexperience, or simply the fact that a new character blew all their starting money on fancy armor and weapons, poor planning makes for poor results. So if you’re a role playing newbie or just need a refresher we here at Dark Elf Dice proudly bring you 9 Items Your RPG Character Needs to Stuff in a Backpack NOW!:

1.  Rope. Rope is arguably the single most important item your rpg character needs in their backpack. Rope is simply amazing. You can tie up bad guys, pull buddies out of quicksand, use it to climb up or down castle walls, span chasms, etc. Without rope, your character is vulnerable to many basic situations your GM may throw at you. Tolkien’s Samwise Gamgee knew rope’s importance: “Rope!” he muttered. “No rope! And only last night you said to yourself: “Sam, what about a bit of rope? You’ll want it, if you haven’t got it: Well, I’ll want it. I can’t get it now.” Trust me — he wasn’t called Samwise for nothing.

How else you gonna scale that fortress wall?

2. Grappling Hook. A grappling hook goes together with rope like peanut butter goes with jelly. Fasten one of these bad boys at the end of your rope and you’ll be scaling walls and swinging from trees in no time.

3. Tinderbox. Have you ever tuned in to Survivor and watched the castaways try to start a fire? Not an easy process. Rubbing two sticks together is ridiculously hard. In the real world we have matches and lighters. In fantasy worlds we have tinderboxes — small containers that hold fint, steel and (you guessed it) tinder (small bits of straw, bark, etc.). Have your character use a tinderbox to kindle a fire and he’ll be the envy of all his friends the next time he hosts a barbeque.

4. Flask of Oil. A general all-purpose incendiary device as useful as it is dangerous, flasks of oil are a fantasy world’s equivalent of hand grenades. Light ’em, toss ’em and watch the ensuing fireball. Great for marauding orc patrols, goblins, and flea infestations. Fire in the hole!

Just don't bring it to a gunfight.

5. Knife. Why carry a knife when you carry a sword? Great question, but have you ever tried to cut an orange with a sword? Sure, it’s possible, but awfully messy. A good knife is a useful tool for close quarter work and every character should have one (or better yet two if your character tends to lose things).

6. Rations. Even in a fantasy world your character needs to eat. If your character is in the midst of exploring a ruined crypt it’s not as if he can pop-off down to the nearest McDonald’s and grab a burger and fries. While not as tasty, some hardtack, salted beef and a bit of cheese will come in handy the next time your character hears a rumbly in his tumbly. Feed the machine!

A waterskin is great for wetting one's whistle.

7. Waterskin. Think of your character’s waterskin as his Gatorade bottle. A full waterskin is your character’s best friend when thirst comes knocking. It’s said that up to 70% of a human’s body weight is made up of water. The same ratio can probably be said for elves, dwarves, etc. It’s important to stay properly hydrated and besides, you got to wash that hardtack down somehow, right?

8. Healing Potion/ Med Kit. In all good fiction the hero must suffer — think Frodo and the One Ring. It wouldn’t have been much of a story if my main man Frodo simply walked carefree to Mordor and chucked the ring into Mount Doom without so much as a bump or bruise. And believe me, your rpg character will get bumps and bruises (and much worse) as he explores dungeons and completes quests. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Well to avoid being killed prematurely your character wants to keep at least one healing potion and med supplies on hand (bandages, antiseptic, herbs and the like).

The pen can indeed be mightier than the sword.

9. Parchment (And Something to Write With). In 1803 when Lewis and Clark made their historic expedition to the Pacific Ocean they mapped the lands they traveled through and kept a journal. I’m not saying that your rpg character needs to write a journal of his exploits (although it would be way cool if you have the time and inclination to do so), but pen and paper will undoubtedly prove useful for mapping the twists and turns of caverns, dungeons, etc. Besides, if your character becomes famous during his adventures he’ll be able to sign more autographs for adoring fans than Leonard Nimoy at a Star Trek convention.

Happy gaming!