18 Intelligence and 20 Charisma: Dungeon Bastard Bill Cavalier

Here at Geek’s Dream Girl, we’ve quoted some of the insights of the Dungeon Bastard before. But there comes a time when one should not only quote a humorous, intriguing figure in your community; you should interview them. Bill Cavalier, the Dungeon Bastard, was able to provide us with some of his time to tell us about life as a video using advice guru for the brave adventurers across the land.

Dungeon Bastard Bill Cavalier (Image provided by Dungeon Bastard)

 GDG: Why were you inspired to bring your gaming wisdom to the community in video form?

BC: Whenever a new supplement or rulebook comes out, invariably some second-rate armchair rules lawyer logs on to rec.games.frp.dnd and starts barking “THIS GAME IS TOTALLY BROKEN!” I tried arguing with those guys for many years until I realized the REAL problem: The PLAYERS are totally broken. And that’s when I found my calling: to use my 18 Intelligence and 20 Charisma to build a better class of gamer. The kind of gamer who doesn’t go anywhere NEAR a dungeon without a ten-foot pole and bag of rats.

As for the videos — look, when I was a kid, if you wanted to learn how to play guitar, you had to go to a teacher and take lessons. Nowadays, kids sit down in front of a computer and watch YouTube videos, and the next thing you know, they’re Joe Satriani. So I decided, if these kids are going to learn to slaughter orcs and backstab their fellow party members from some crappy YouTube video, I want it to be MY crappy YouTube video.

Plus, there’s not enough time in my day to do one-on-one consulting. It’s the burden of being an expert, really. I’m like the Brad Pitt of gaming. Okay, maybe not THAT big. Maybe more like the Richard Simmons of gaming. Yeah, that’s more like it. Don’t think I can’t rock those shorts, either. I may not be Brad Pitt, but I definitely have Angelina Jolie’s legs.

GDG: Everyone’s heard of half-orcs. What do you think would be the ultimate D&D race combo?

BC: Easy: half dwarf, half minotaur. DWINOTAUR! It has “win” right there in the title! (I considered “minotwarf” but that sounds like the word you’d use to describe one of those reflux vomit burps you get if you eat a whole bunch of cranberries real fast.)
The other great combo is half gnome, half sphere of annihilation. I haven’t gotten it to work yet, but that’s not going to keep me from trying. PERSISTENCE, PEOPLE! PERSISTENCE.

GDG: How should players respond when a member of their game is constantly distracted by their cell phone?

BC: I firmly believe there should be a complete ban on technology at the game table. Look, this is a very tactile hobby. You have to FEEL it in your hands. We use books. Books made from dead trees. And dice. Weird, arcane dice. And paper. And pencils. Typically, mechanical ones. One dude DESCRIBES what you see, and then someone has to draw a map in a dog-eared quadrille notebook they last used back in Mr. Nouldey’s 8th grade science class.  Part of the charm is how LOW FI it is. Fidgeting with your cell phone or laptop? NOT CHARMING. Technology actually detracts from this game. It’s like using a Zip-Loc bag to do origami: seemingly modern and clever, actually quite stupid.

Worse, if you’re heads-down in your phone, you could miss one of the QUINTESSENTIAL moments of the game: the part where the DM says “Roll for Initiative.”  Man, you don’t want to kronk that one up.

So please, PLAYERS, for the love of Wee Jas, check your phone and laptop at the door. Otherwise, I hereby authorize your fellow players to make you wear a large grocery bag on your head that says “-2 CHARISMA” for the duration of the session. (Note: I did not authorize cutting eye holes!)

Besides, do you know how many times I’ve had to tell some civilian “No, it’s NOT a computer game!!” ? You kids with your smartphones? YOU’RE NOT HELPING.

GDG: What do you do to prepare for a session of D&D?

BC: Warm up my dice, look through my notes and decide which plot hooks to ignore, pump up the jams with some REO Speedwagon. (A lot of old-school gamers will tell you they like to put on the Gladiator soundtrack or Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop” but trust the Bastard: nothing gets a room party rockin’ like “Keep On Lovin’ You.” You laugh — it’s happenin’.)
Also, I like to do something Olympic athletes call “pre-visualization.” So before a race, they PRE-VISUALIZE themselves cutting the tape or leaping over that hurdle to help them perform better. I do the same thing, but with monsters.

So I will pick a certain monster and then I PRE-VISUALIZE killing it and stealing its loot. And then I incorporate this pre-visualization into the session.

Say I pre-visualize slaying a carbuncle. Throughout the session I will say to the DM, “I check for tracks, does it look like a carbuncle?” or “Guys, I’m pretty sure this is the work of a carbuncle.” Or, “Seems PRETTY definitive, people: that evil priest was dominated by a psionic carbuncle.”

You’d be surprised how well this works. A good 60% of the time, we end up fighting a carbuncle.

That’s powerful.

GDG: Anything to say to your legions of adoring fans?

BC: THANK YOU. It’s truly flattering that people enjoy my work. It takes a tremendous amount of upkeep to feed my gigantic ego, but the responses have been great — whether that’s on my website (http://www.dungeonbastard.com) or the comments on my videos, or the people who follow me on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dungeonbastard Really, fan response has been key because, hey, let’s face it — there’s not a lot of money in being a professional adventure coach, especially one who has a YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/epicleveltv or a whole Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/dungeonbastard

Number two: GAME MORE. Go out and introduce new people to the hobby. I’m just one guy, I can’t adventure coach the world. Have some fun with your non-gamer friends! It’s good for you and it’s good for the hobby.

GDG: Bonus Question: Is there any truth to the rumor that Monte Cook eats pixies for breakfast?

BC: Hey Monte Cook, you know what goes great with pixie wings? A sphere of annihilation!

Have a cherished Dungeon Bastard video? Ever shown them to your gaming group? Leave your tales of laughter (and Bill Cavalier sightings) in the comments!

About l

L is a freelancer currently working as a writer, editor, journalist and game designer. She hauls a suitcase decorated in stickers as she blogs, travels, and tours. She makes her home in Washington, California, and wherever the tour stopped last night. You can follow L on twitter (@lilyorit )

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