Dungeons & Democrats

Robert Mugabe may be a Fighter, but is Barack Obama a 6525th level cleric?  Because that’s apparently what it would take to cast a “World Racial Healing Spell.”  That’s right, the worlds of politics and Dungeons and Dragons have collided … Continued

Robert Mugabe may be a Fighter, but is Barack Obama a 6525th level cleric?  Because that’s apparently what it would take to cast a “World Racial Healing Spell.”  That’s right, the worlds of politics and Dungeons and Dragons have collided on the campaign trail.

Recently, McCain campaign blogger (and, presumably, former high school bully) Michael Goldfarb took this swipe at RPG fans across the nation on his blog:

It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.

Burn.  A virtual wedgie to the sweaty, chubby butt-cheeks of the Democratic Party.  But did Joe 12 Sided Die just sit around in mom’s basement and let this one go?  Hell No!  Instead, they pooled their collective manna, cast a serious Protest & Influence spell, raised some online hell, and elicited this D&D reference-laced apology from Goldfarb:

If my comments caused any harm or hurt to the hard working Americans who play Dungeons & Dragons, I apologize. This campaign is committed to increasing the strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores of every American.

Classic.  But even more classic are the comments that appeared on a blog in response.  Some of the highlights:

  • “This is all just a +5 Spell of Distraction.”
  • “What alignment is Barack Obama? Chaotic Awesome? Lawful Neutral?”
  • “Obama could solve the energy crisis by simply casting lightning bolts into a power line.”

And my favorite, which I referenced earlier:

“In order to cast the World Racial Healing spell you need to be a 6525th level Cleric.”

Now, if I may pose these question to you readers, some of whom may be former or current D&D players (and I do not judge if you are):

  1. Exactly how powerful would a 6525th level cleric be?
  2. Given the level of D&D knowledge/appreciation needed to make these sorts of references/jokes, where is the line between sincerity and irony drawn? (Example: this post, the “Robert Mugabe Officially A Fighter” post)
  3. Honestly, are D&D/RPGs ingrained in our pop culture to the level that references to +5 spells of distraction are widely picked up on?  Or do these references only work in the echo chamber of the blogosphere, where the audience is more Joe 12 Sided Die and less Joe Nascar?

Sound off in the comments.

11 Comments on “Dungeons & Democrats”

  1. fenzel #

    Obama may or may not have played the Race Card, but it looks like McCain is playing the Magic Card.


  2. Rebecca #

    1. He would probably pass his own deity in hit points, spell level, and he could either cast one spell of World Racial Healing, or he could cast 3,636 Cure Light Wounds spells (accounting for his unknown Wisdom score, of course). Hey, maybe that’s Obama’s secret health plan!

    2. Wherever the funny is.

    3. My husband says that his boss is very Joe Nascar, but would still get jokes about +5 spells of distraction. He just wouldn’t have any context. Like how people get that “Take my wife…please” is funny, but have never actually seen the whole routine it comes from.


  3. mlawski OTI Staff #

    Obama rolls twenties.


  4. fenzel #

    1. It doesn’t matter. The half-orc barbarian character would still be all douchy and make him carry the tent. Stupid min-maxers.

    2. I actually have a post on this about half-written. My answer to it is “Several weeks after you make or hear a joke like this for the first time — after it passes from your short- to long-term memory, source amnesia causes most of the sense of irony to be lost.”

    3. As a Boston-area comedian, I’d say that it mostly depends on whether you’re north or south of the river. North of the river, yes, south of the river, definitely not.

    I also have a half-written post about Jeff Dunham that addresses this point extensively.

    I need to get on those!


  5. Gab #

    1. If you want to be literal, I just don’t see that being possible. Unless Obama was a total metagamer and exponentially excelled his level-ups by manipulating the system. And isn’t Obama all about playing fair and leveling the field? No, I think he’d go for the high cha stat and bat his eyelashes at the world, charming them into compliance. He’d have to roll hella diplomacy checks, and hopefully the people making sense-motive checks in response will do badly.

    2. Rebecca is right. The D&Ders I know (and myself, yeah), at least, aren’t really all that uptight about the jibes- it’s almost a badge of honor. “Hey, they notice us enough to make fun of us, huzzah!” We really enjoy laughing at ourselves. Similar attitudes show up in the LARPing community, too.

    5. I think that really depends on how deep into it you get when you make a joke like that. If you keep it really broad and general, it’s probably going to be common knowledge enough for anyone to understand. But if you start talking about things that are more technical and detailed, the number of people alienated from that increases. Stick to the basics, and it will be more unniversal; get technical and specific, and the crowd that “gets it” will shrink.

    Here’s a nerdy example I experienced: I was on a forum where people were just posting useless information for fun (things like stats or weird laws or the acidic qualities of Coke), and I saw this post: “Vigilance means your creatures do not tap when attacking.” It’s a Magic: The Gathering reference that I totally got because I play (yeah, uber-nerd). So I thought it was friggin’ hilarious and brilliant. But how much of that would someone that doesn’t play understand? Not much. So would they find it funnny? Probably not. Not a lot of people that don’t play even know what “tapping” means (and in case you don’t know, in order to attack someone with a creature, you must turn that card sideways, and once it’s tapped/sideways, you can’t use it again that round unless it gets turned back somehow), so our double entendre jokes about tapping each other, this, that, or the other person/place/thing would be totally lost on the average non-Magic player, too. And pretty much all of that forum post would be completely lost on someone that doesn’t play because of this. (Not surprisingly, I was the only person to respond at all.)


  6. Gab #

    I cannot count/type. Somebody else asked for a “preview” option. I reiterate that request.


  7. Gab #

    Oh, and if McCain really is playing the Magic Card, I sure as f*** hope he doesn’t have Wrath of God.


  8. lee OTI Staff #

    Gab, along your points, I would say that a reference to “min-maxers” (fenzel) is over the heads of most, but things like experience points, dexterity, levels, etc., are more common knowledge.

    So my next n00b question: what the hell is min-maxing? too lazy to wikipeia it myself.


  9. mlawski OTI Staff #

    People who min-max are people who roll-play instead of role-play. They want to be 1337. ?Comprendes?


  10. Gab #

    A min-maxer is someone that optimizes their character in order to beat the game instead of just playing to have a good time. So say they pick a fighter. They go as low as possible in stats like charisma and intelligence and as high as possible in strength and then pump everything they gain into their combat-related skills. People like that are rather annoying. There are metagames that are a bit more rounded, but not really. If you’ve ever heard of 8-Bit Theater, the character Red Mage is definitely a metagamer that totally manipulates the rules and finds every single loophole and uses them.


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