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November 28, 2006

I'm not fit to be in the Israeli Army!

Good thing I didn't join it, then.

From an email:

Oh puhleeze! And I thought most of this lunacy was confined to our own Perfumed Princes...

Good thing they never knew about you and your murderous ways of nuking otherwise innocent Assassins in the middle of an arena. So much for your security clearance...

The article opens thusly:

Army frowns on Dungeons and Dragons

IDF says players are detached from reality and automatically given a low security clearance

By Hanan Greenberg Published: 02.28.05, 14:17

Does the Israel Defense Forces believe incoming recruits and soldiers who play Dungeons and Dragons are unfit for elite units? Ynet has learned that 18-year-olds who tell recruiters they play the popular fantasy game are automatically given low security clearance.

“They're detached from reality and suscepitble to influence,” the army says.

Fans of the popular roleplaying game had spoken of rumors of this strange policy by the IDF, but now the army has confirmed that it has a negative image of teens who play the game and labels them as problematic in regard to their draft status.

You can read the whole thing here.

I was a powerful fighter back in my D&D days... and my Dungeon Mastering experience stood me in good stead when writing doctrine and designing sims. It's all fantasy anyway, right?

And *I* didn't nuke the Assassin - that happened when Bruce the Enchanter, with his farking Golf-Bag of Holding chock-full of rods, staves, wands and who-knows-what-else, teleported into the solid rock column of the cavern behind the gate of the castle of the frost giant Jarl... well, let's just say that it takes a *lot* of hit dice to account for the energies released. Not to mention the party survivors had to find another way in.

And puh-leeze, Kevin - you made your saving throw and got your diety deity [grumble] to resurrect you. Sheesh. Be glad he didn't resurrect you as a ferret! Yeah, naked and weaponless in arctic climes was a little rude, but hey, you sweet-talked everybody into giving you stuff. Of course, for a price. Which, as I recall, was a debt you welched on anyway...

Comments on I'm not fit to be in the Israeli Army!
BillT briefed on November 28, 2006 10:55 AM made your saving throw and got your diety to resurrect you.

Yessirree, there's a lotta food for thought in that remark...

Gwedd briefed on November 28, 2006 12:01 PM


So, I suppose none of those in the heirarchy over there ever researched TSR? You know, the company founded by the great god GAX, whose initials stand for Tactical Studies Research (group)?

D&D, for those who weren't around in the (VERY) early days, was originally a simple supplement for a nice set of historically accurate Medieval-period wargames rules called "Chainmail". It allowed some folks to bring in some characters like Arthur, Merlin, St. George and the Dragon, Roland, etc. Characters larger than life. Nationally important types, you know?

Over time it got expanded, and then morphed into what we have today.

Along the way, TSR also created a nifty little game called "TRACTICS" about modern (WWII and up) warfare. fought 1 on 1 with model tanks and infantry figures, usually those neat Airfix and Roco kits.

Tractics was actually used by the military at one time for small unit training. It included such interesting concepts as determining a hit from one vehicle upon another by factoring in range, weapon type, target aspect, type of round fired, firer's position, concealment, and target armour thickness based upon slope and angle of projectile impact. Not a simple wargame, but pretty fun. Great learning experience for the new soldiers as well. Noce to use in the classroom BEFORE going out to the range.

Later the Army adopted Dunn-Kempf for similar use. Much scaled down and easier to learn, but the same principles.

So, if the IDF figures that D&D players are "not reality-based" enough, what about their own soldiers who use toy tanks and army men to train with, to teach tactical problems in the classroom?

And let's completely leave out the part about believing in and praying to a God that no one's actually talked to in some 35 centuries or so..... at least since that "Burning Bush" affair. Or was that a KOS column? Burning Bush...


karla (threadbndr) briefed on November 28, 2006 12:13 PM

archaic and modern weapons, defense, offense, small unit tactics, leadership, discipline (at least if you've got a decent game master) - what's not to like?

K (I'm not a vampire, but I played one on KtE....*snicker*)

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 28, 2006 01:12 PM

Gwedd... and all the other forms of D&D out there are because Gary said, "Its my game! My rules! You can't modify them because it's PERFECT AND HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST OTHERWISE!!!!"

On a related note - I still have my white box and three books.

J-P briefed on November 28, 2006 01:48 PM

When I was in college, we gamers got together with our local game store to provide D&D books for the troops in Afghanistan (the owner was a reservist). The commanders - among others - wrote a thank you note back to us, explaining that soldiers who were able to engage in a bit of fantasy escapism were the healthier soldiers, emotionally speaking at least. Something about having a "non-real outlet" (military talk, I assume) for combat stress.

Maybe the IDF should(heaven forbid) actually look at research and take note of the fact that people who use their imagination in that fashion are more emotionally stable, better able to cope with stress, more socially adept and are capable of innovating at a high level.

Not that I have an opinion or anything. Nope, note me...

MajMike briefed on November 28, 2006 01:56 PM

the geek meter pegged out once you went past St George, but was reading somewhat back towards normal levels by the time you made it to Dunn Kempf..

(using dice instead of ordnance to determine P(k) given P(h) just seems wrong somehow)

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 28, 2006 03:09 PM

MajMike you Lancastrian, you!

The dice account for all the non-standard conditions that standard ph/pk tables don't.

And remember what the P stands for. The die is the randomizer.

I wade in the stochastic/non-stochastic morass every day. Gimme summadat good ol' fashion greek stochas!

Casey Tompkins briefed on November 28, 2006 03:17 PM

Well, heck, wasn't Desert Storm designed according to AD&D rules?

First we have everyone with missle weapons (including Magic Missle, AKA smart bombs {g}) beat the absolute crap out of the bad guys before melee.

Then we have the thief hide in shadows, sneak around the flank, and backstab 'em (the left hook out into the desert).

Finally the fighters (AKA ground-pounders and armor) saunter up and wipe out what few hit points the buggers have left, and bob's yer uncle.

John does have a good point about RPGs (um, role-playing games, not rockets {g}): they can be a very useful way to understand the basics behind simulation. I still have the 1st Edition AD&D books myself, and even that was relatively complex if you applied most of the rules. I mean, how many people really worried about encumbrance?

Examining the choices made by TSR and other systems such as Tunnels & Trolls, Thieves World, and Traveller illustrate the compromises you have to make between realism, simplicity, and ease of use.

Iron Crown Enterprises developed one of the more complex combat systems with Arms Law, with charts, charts, and more charts. I don't know how people actually managed to role-play with this system, as you're poring over the charts all the time. They had very cool critical hit and miss tables, including stumbling over an unseen imaginary deceased tortise. ;)

Tunnels & Trolls, on the other hand, went for simplicity and ease of use. Only six-sided dice were used, with extensive use of "adds" (eg 3d6 + 4) to vary distributions. Instead of a dagger doing 1d4 damage vs. 1d8 for a longsword, you'd see 1d6 for the dagger vs. 2d6 + 2 for the long sword.

Combat was insanely easy; no charts! Say we have 3 fighters vs. 3 fighters using various weapons (mace, longsword and axe vs. two longswords and a quarterstaff). The three side A players roll their dice and add the total. Then the three side B players roll theirs, and add the total. The higher number "wins" that melee round, and the difference is applied as damage to the losing side. If the difference was (say) 15 points, each member of the losing side would take 5 points each of damage.

Simple, clean, and elegant. But not realistic. On the other hand, the designers were after playability, not realism. Flying Buffalo was (is, really, they're still around) oriented more towards fun. Their version of Magic Missle was called Take That, You Fiend!, abbreviated to TTYF. The healing spell was called something "Poor Baby," or some such. Much fun and silliness.

All in all, a useful lesson in designing simulations, and primer on their faults and weaknesses.

MajMike briefed on November 28, 2006 03:21 PM

yes, i suppose i was a Lancastrian in my younger days, but that was only to tide me over from Levi Garrett into my more recent days of Red Man Golden Blend.

(and i thought the "randomizer" was what caused you redlegs to call it "suppression" when we called it a "miss")

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 28, 2006 03:41 PM

(and i thought the "randomizer" was what caused you redlegs to call it "suppression" when we called it a "miss")

Bennies of being an area-fire weapon, MajMike. I didn't have to hit you directly to hurt or annoy you.

Put a different way - if the guy who inadvertently shot the training sabot at me at the NTC had been using a howitzer, this conversation would not be taking place...

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 28, 2006 03:44 PM

Casey - Encumbrance? See: Golf-Bag of Holding, above... 8^)

Casey Tompkins briefed on November 28, 2006 03:58 PM

Ok, it was just a f'rinstance. ;)

Never heard of a golf-bag of Holding. Cute idea. Heh.

Does it include a Staff of Driving and a Wand of Putting? {chortle}

Toluca Nole briefed on November 28, 2006 05:38 PM

Politics aside, I wouldn't want to get shot with a 20-sided die; that would sting.

J-P briefed on November 28, 2006 06:12 PM

Getting shot with a 20 sider is painful, but try stepping on d4's with bare feet in the dark...

MKL briefed on November 28, 2006 08:15 PM

I started out with D&D but quickly moved onto to much better games like Twilight 2000 and the Morrow Project. Take a look at the weapons caches you get in Morrow Project:

Of course, you could design your own....

ry briefed on November 28, 2006 09:19 PM

Lancastrian? Had me for a sec. I went, 'why are they talking War of the Roses or WWII Brit bombers here?' Then it hit me.
If only life were so convenient as to be linear.

"I mean, how many people really worried about encumbrance? " Or weapon speeds to decide individual initiative. Or the disease/parasite table. Guilty. And my players wanted to string me up each time I broke those out.

d8s make nasty caltrops, but the d4 has to be the nastiest.

I prefer 'ninja money' to d20s. A good throw with a quarter can put someone down nicely. Particularly when the jerk didn't bring you back the Coke you gave him money for.

ry briefed on November 28, 2006 09:21 PM

Oh, and Jess wants to know why gamer guys mob the lone chick player the first time she shows up(she's mine fellas)?And she says hi, John(she's holding my dinner hostage so I have to say that).

SangerM briefed on November 28, 2006 09:42 PM

I guess the U.S. just isn't serious enough. I've played and DM'd D&D for about 25 years, still do when the urge and the time match up (since the stuff was in Gygax's little brown booklets). And I am a VERY good DM. In fact, I used to run dungeons on the weekends for friends and folks from my platoon who played. And I won't give details, but for us, the puzzle palace was more than just a book... We used to practice saying in different languages "Don't shoot, I know secrets!"

I started my daughter playing when she was about 8-9 because it taught her a whole lot about problem solving, puzzles, different ways of approaching an issue, etc. And it was just fun to watch her get into the characters.

In this, if nothing else, I think the Israeli Army needs to take a little reality check. I guess the strain is just starting to tell. . .


SangerM briefed on November 28, 2006 09:52 PM

Ah, Gwedd, I talk to that God every day, and have for decades. Sometimes, he answers. I know you were making a funny, but I'm just sayin' And just for the conversation, to some of us, that burning bush stuff is considered family history, a lot more real to me than a lot of what I hear people tell me about their great-greats who supposedly came over on the Mayflower or somesuch.

Now, how's that for giving someone a reason to yank my clearance...

SangerM briefed on November 28, 2006 10:06 PM

P.S. to all this, I REALLY liked the text based games that were put out by Infocom, starting with Zork, but my two utmost favorites were Leather Goddesses of Phobos (in adult mode) and Trinity, which is the BEST of it's kind ever, and I did it the first time without the maps (din't know there were any).

Doom was a miracle game to me! I played all 4 games, all levels about a zillion times. Quake was ok too but not as good. Half-life 1 (all 3 games) was great, played through a half dozen times plus hundreds of times on favorite levels. Lately it's been Halo and Hoyle's Reversi for me (I win at reversi almost all the time), and Age of Empires II for my daughter (she really wants AoE-III for Christmas). Also, Norrath on the PS2...

You know, again, just for the commentary, I have had my girl playing these games since she was around 6-7 years old. The other day, she was telling me what it takes to win at Age of Empires, which she is getting good enough to do at the easy level. You tacticians out there would have been smiling as widely as me or more so... "I need ships, fighters, research to make better weapons, etc. And I have to have trade caravans going, and as the leader of the allies, I had my allies build ports so when I sailed to attack the enemy I could use my allies' ports for restocking, etc." I kid you not, my 13 yr old was explaining to me what it takes to build an empire, realpolitik, the role of religion (clerics keep people loyal and convert enemies to friends), the need for a balanced and open trade economy, how it's better to buy food then try to grow it in some lands, and so on. I am just thrilled!

Again, I think the Israelis are missing the point...

Casey Tompkins briefed on November 28, 2006 10:20 PM

Actually, Ry, using weapons speed for initiative sounds reasonable to me, although I never played with a GM who used that.

Whoops, I tell a lie! One fellow I played with developed a ten-segment combat round based on the idea of impulse turns from the table-top version of Starfleet Battles (yes you too can command the USS Enterprise, or a Klingon battlecruiser!). Basically an SFB turn consisted of up to 32 segments, depending on the difference between the fastest- and slowest-travelling ship. 32 was used in the instance of wide variation. If the ships were close in speed, the number of segments became fewer; down to the minimum of 10.

What my friend Tom did was take the 10-segment concept and apply it to AD&D. If you had a weapons speed of (say) 5, then you'd have to wait until segment 5 to resolve your combat, and so on. Spell casters went first, with the shortest spells going off first. A method similar to the above was used to resolve conflicting spells. If you were casting a spell which took 3 melee rounds, and your opponent fired off a Magic Missle (1 mr, if I recall), he would disrupt your spell. If, on the other hand, he was casting a more difficult 5-melee-round spell, yours would go off first.

Well, subject to getting shot by missle weapons, that is. Heh.

It sounds more complex than it is, and it streamlined melee rounds quite nicely, as well as eliminating much of the quibbling. Pity the poor bastich who brought the halberd, though. ;-)

I myself picked up a nasty habit (from whom, I don't recall): say the lead fighter -wearing full plate, natch- falls into a stream or pool. There's nothing more fun than casually looking over your GMs screen and asking "Um, does your character know how to swim?"

Much hilariously frantic paper-flipping ensues, while another player cusses under his breath and yells "ok, somebody get out a rope!!"

SangerM briefed on November 28, 2006 10:47 PM


I used to used playing cards to run the round (10 segments is a round in D&D), Ace-10. Each player would turn up the card matching the speed of the weapon, which I would adjust per melee to account for foe size, temporary adjustments, etc.

After each segment was resolved, each player would turn under the top card, counting down to zero, one segment at a time. I'd run the cards for the monsters. If the round wasn't over (say a fast elf w/ a dagger vs a slow ORC with a club), the fast player would start again. This allowed me manage initiative and weapon speed in an orderly, easily managed way, and made weapons choices and attack options more important. Nothing wrong with a good old smash and grab sometimes, but mostly, I rewarded people who paid me back for my efforts by being careful and being creative. The lazy dolts got zapped. After all, the paltry PCs lived to entertain me, the DMGOD...

Trias briefed on November 29, 2006 03:18 AM

100 jihadis with suspiciously thick jackets are running towards you. What do you do soldier?

"I cast a spell"

CDR Salamander briefed on November 29, 2006 03:40 AM

Dwarf. ;)

What if you played "Leisure Suit Larry?"

CDR Salamander briefed on November 29, 2006 03:40 AM

Dwarf. ;)

What if you played "Leisure Suit Larry?"

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 29, 2006 05:39 AM

Hi Jess.

LGOP. Yessss.

And I did know a Grue, some.

Casey Tompkins briefed on November 29, 2006 03:02 PM


You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike...

...Then there was the time my paladin went one-on-one with Orcus. For about a minute. :)