Three D&D Tips we can learn from Farmville

by Mike Shea on 1 April 2010

For the past two years, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition has suffered through constant bombardments that it is "Too WoW Like". This has become the flag of the angry old-school gamer whose eyes glow red whenever they see a Goodman Games 4e adventure sitting next to their precious copy of the 200 pound Pathfinder sourcebook.

Yet we've been looking in the wrong place all this time. A new game has stolen the frozen throne underneath World of Warcraft, a game even my mom has played until she became some sort of Mexican sour-apple tycoon.

Farmville!

Today we're going to look at three ways you can make your own D&D game more Farmville-like. Three ways sure to draw your players in and keep them spending their time, energy, and hopefully hard-earned cash on that new vampire-unicorn campaign you've always secretly wanted to run.

And now, the tips:

1. Polish Your Armor Every Day or it Rots

One unfortunate mechanic missing from 4e is the rotting mechanic. Gear lasts as long as you want to keep swinging it. Sure, games like World of Warcraft have decaying gear, but you actually have to USE it for it to wear out. But in real life, if you don't keep that sword nice and polished, it turns to dust in like four hours (note, this was an official scientific study done by smart academics in some museum somewhere so stop asking. No, goddamnit, I don't have a source).

Keep your players involved in your D&D game every day by forcing a micro-skill challenge to keep their gear nice and clean. Consider this daily cell-phone exchange:

"Hello?"

"Hello, Dan. It's Mike. It's time to polish your gear."

"Mike? I'm taking my daughter to the hospital. She got a compound fracture in her fibula playing Wii Soccer."

"I understand. I'm sure you'll get some new +4 armor somehow."

"No..wait..fuck..ok, what do I need to do?"

"You need to polish your armor."

"Ok, what skill do I use?"

"You have to roleplay it."

"Dude, my daughter is screaming so loud I think Putin can hear it."

"I understand..."

"No, wait, ok, using my burly hairless greasy physique I athletically polish my breastplate"

"What is your athletics? I'll roll for you since you're so 'busy'."

"+12 I think"

"You rolled a 3, sorry, you bent your breastplate and it quickly turns into rust. Talk to you tomorrow, Dan."

"Go fuck yourself."

click

As you can see, daily micro-challenges like this opens up an entirely new world of interaction with your players, bringing D&D into their lives throughout their day.

2. Want a new sword? Spam your friends!

For decades we dungeon masters have been giving away some of the best most powerful weapons ever conceived by overweight middle-aged men sitting in their basements. All this time we've had enormous power and what have we ever gotten from it? We forgot the famous third step of the Underpants Gnomes:Profit!

Don't just give away your best +5 Holy Avenger, profit from it! Consider the following email exchange for that most important middle step:

To dan@yomamma.com From mike@mikeshea.net Subject: +5 Holy Avenger!

Hi Dan,

Thank you for the request for a +5 Holy Avenger. The quest for your character, Syphilitus, to receive this item is quite easy. Please forward this email to twenty of your best friends informing them of the great deals to be had at Amazon.com on Vampire Unicorn related material:

>>>>

Hello! Your loser geek friend Dan really wants a +5 Holy Avenger for his half-unicorn paladin, Syphilitus. Please visit our Amazon Vampire Unicorn store to help him out!

http://bit.ly/vampireunicorns

Every unicorn thing you buy helps Dan fight the forces of evil. You don't want evil to win, do you? No, of course not.

Time to make those +5 Holy Avengers start working for us.

3. Did you gain a level? Take our simple 3 part IQ test and give me your cell phone number.

It can often be really hard for us struggling DMs to acquire the cold hard cash we need to keep our games fresh and exciting. Luckily, the awesome guys atTattoo Media, Offerpal, and Super Rewards are more than happy to help!

It's easy. Every time your player's characters level, ask them to perform a simple IQ test with three simple questions. Then, ask for their cellphone number and tell them they can get their results as a text message as well as some awesome D&D-related subscription stuff. Contact the fine people at Offerpal and set up a deal to sell them cellphone numbers for $5 a pop. Given the $45 monthly charge they will soon inflict upon your "friend", they're sure to take the deal. If they ever call you to complain, pass the buck off to some other service provider or tell them it's AT&T's fault. Don't worry, though, who really checks their cellphone bill anyway?

(Artwork courtesy of the awesome Jared von Hindman of Head Injury Theater. I got this piece for a mere 2000 farmville coins.)

Farmville has taught us a valuable lesson. While D&D may be a game based on the concepts of collaborative storytelling and fun, we can easily get rid of these worthless ideals and focus a game around contagious obsession, deception, and profit. Start today!

Did you like this article? If so, please use these links to purchase yourD&D books, anyunicorn-related clothing and accessories, theseleopard bikini briefs, or ... well ...anything really. I don't care.

Happy April Fools Day.

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy the Lazy Dungeon Master. You can also support this site by using these links to purchase the D&D Starter Set, Players Handbook, Monster Manual, or Dungeon Master's Guide. Send feedback to @slyflourish on Twitter or email mike@mikeshea.net.