5th Edition Spells – Friends

Bard – Cantrip – Friends

Echantment cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: S, M (a small amount of makeup applied to the face as this spell is cast)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

For the duration, you have advantage on all Charisma checks directed at one creature of your choice that isn’t hostile toward you. When the spell ends, the creature realizes that you used magic to influence its mood and becomes hostile toward you. A creature prone to violence might attack you. Another creature might seek retribution in other ways (at the DM’s discretion), depending on the nature of your interaction with it.

My Comments: Sooo… basically, you can take a creature that isn’t hostile to you, and make it hostile to you after getting 1 minute of advantage on Charisma checks and  you have to waste concentration on it.

I’m sure if I tried I could come up with a good use for this spell, but there are better options for spell choices, so I don’t think I would bother. If I were to home brew this I might say the creature gets a save to figure out it was hornswogled instead of it being automatic, because advantage on CHA checks doesn’t seem that great to me. Also the component of the spell? What the heck?

Bard – “I bet you’d like me better with a little rouge on, wouldn’t you?”
Orc Guard – “Well, now that you mention it, it does look nice… Wait! You were trying to trick me!”

The Seven Not-So-Deadly Sins

If you really think about the seven deadly sins, it’s isn’t just the trait that is a sin, but excessiveness of that trait.

Lust isn’t a bad thing in itself, but excessive lust is.

Anger or wrath generally only becomes a problem when expressed inappropriately or excessively.

Gluttony already implies excessive, so it’s good to go.

The trait of Envy is kind of obnoxious, but until it’s strong enough for someone to act on it, is it really a Sin with a capital ‘S’?

My personal issues have to do with Greed and Pride.

Once again, Greed implies excessive behavior. Let’s back off from that a bit and look at just the desire to increase one’s wealth. That isn’t really a bad thing inherently.

However, as someone who grew up more familiar with poverty, I have never had a very good view of wealth. I remember the times I was around extremely wealthy people when traveling with my father as a child and I really considered them to be sociopathic about their desire to accumulate more wealth. (It was later in life when I learned the word ‘sociopathic’, but when I heard the definition these people were exactly what I thought of.)

My experience with those considered just ‘well off’ in my own home town also wasn’t all that great. I can remember getting picked on a bit by such people’s children, and my experience with the adults was less than stellar.

This led me to a belief that wealth is bad. Only bad people got ahead in life. For a long time my relationship with money was pretty unhealthy. Sure, everyone wants to be rich, right? Not me. Not as a young man anyway. The idea of having access to all the benefits wealth brings sounded great, but I had this idea that I would practically have to sell my soul to attain that.

In the last decade I’ve been throwing this belief off. I guess I have, to some extent, been embracing greed. That’s greed with a lower-case ‘g’ though. ☺

Pride?

Who thinks a little bit of pride is a bad thing?

Me. Absolutely I do. I hate the idea of making someone else feel bad because they may not be doing as well as I am. I downplay my successes, I give other people a chance to get ahead by limiting myself and I constantly throw up barriers to my own success.

Wrestling might be the best example in a way. When I was in the 4th or 5th grade I was a kick-ass wrestler. In practice I was having a great time and I was well-nigh unstoppable. In actual competitions I lost nearly every match. The coach was Pissed (with a capital ‘P’, probably bordered on Wrath). With each opponent I could tell that the win was more important to them than it was for me. Winning wasn’t important to me, wrestling for fun was. This was kind of joke in my family for a while, just a funny trait I had that we would sometimes laugh about. Now, I don’t think it’s all that funny.

Obviously, this affects my ability to succeed. I can tell I hold myself back at times because I don’t want others to feel bad. The ‘Sin’ is one part Pride and one part succeeding when others aren’t. The problem is, there are always those who are less fortunate, and limiting myself doesn’t help them. As a matter of fact, it limits my ability to be a part of the solution.

This leads to Sloth. Laziness isn’t all we’re talking about here. I’ve been lazy before, as most people have. But Sloth is more than that. Sloth is the sin of failing to live up to one’s potential. If I had a talent for making art that truly made other people happy and I refused, that would be a Sin; Sin with a capital ‘S’.

So these three are related, my fear of Greed and Pride, leading to my sin of Sloth.

I embrace the idea that I have been Slothful. I have been sinning against myself, those around me and against the force that created me. Damn it, if I gave someone chocolate cake I made myself and they hid it under their bed because they felt bad for starving people in Africa, I would be really irritated. If I have been given the abilities to improve my life and the lives of other around me, and I don’t make use of them, it is Sin.

I now embrace Greed, I now embrace Pride, each to an appropriate degree, and I embrace that I have committed the sin of Sloth. I embrace my belief that my own success does not bring others pain. I embrace the idea that I can be wealthy and loving and humanitarian.

And now I will re-create a wealthier, happier, Me who is proud of who I am and what I am accomplishing.

*Note: My ideas here are based on young Dave’s view of the Seven Deadly Sins as first presented to me, oh, I don’t know, probably in comic books. I know there are volumes of rhetoric on this subject and I am aware of the more sophisticated definitions and the history. That’s not really relevant for the purpose of this brain-dump.

(PS. This was written quite a while ago, I’ve just re-added it to this website today for the refresh.)

5th Edition Spells – Dancing Lights

Bard – Cantrip – D a n c i n g L ig h t s

Evocation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (a bit o f phosphorus or wychwood,or a glowworm)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You create up to four torch-sized lights within range, making them appear as torches, lanterns, or glowing orbs that hover in the air for the duration. You can also combine the four lights into one glowing vaguely humanoid form of Medium size. Whichever form you choose, each light sheds dim light in a 10-foot radius.

As a bonus action on your turn, you can move the lights up to 60 feet to a new spot within range. A light must be within 20 feet of another light created by this spell, and a light winks out if it exceeds the spell’s range.

My Comments: This is the best kind of cantrip in my mind, because it can be used very effectively outside of combat, or pre-combat. During pre-combat the loss of a full action isn’t such a big deal and this spell could be very useful as a distraction. Plus, it’s got a great range at a 120′!

I also notice that it doesn’t specifically say you have to be able to see the target. As a DM I think I would house rule that you did, but if not then you could do a lot of fun things, like materialize the globs on the other sides of walls or right next to a creature hiding in bushes, possibly surprising them into jumping out of the bushes or something.

For a cantrip, it’s a great spell.

5th Edition Spells – Blade Ward

For some reason I’ve decided to go through every single spell in the Player’s Handbook. Here’s the first:

Bard – Cantrip – Blade Ward

Abjuration cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 round

You extend your hand and trace a sigil of warding in the air. Until the end o f your next turn, you have resistance against bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage dealt by weapon attacks.

My Comments: Sure, it’s a cantrip so you can’t expect much, but still, I can’t say I’m impressed. Basically you give up an action in one turn to reduce the damage you’re going to take for ONE round.

Personally, I think you’re probably better off using your action to do some damage.

45 things about Dave

I got tagged and now you’re it! Just copy and paste and put your own answers in.
The purpose of this is to get to know your friends better and it’s so much fun!
Here are the rules – post this list on your profile (in Notes) replacing my answers with yours.
Tag 25 people to do the same thing.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYWONE? David (If you copy-paste this, I think you should leave the typo)

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? When I saw how long this list was

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? um… i guess? *shrug*

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? These questions make me want to give only smart-ass answers.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? No, nor any other baby farm animals.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? The real question is, would me want to be friends with the other person that I was?

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM? No, sarcasm was bred out of my family generations ago.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? My god! I haven’t checked! You stole them when I wasn’t looking, didn’t you?! Is that why you’re asking? Dear sweet Jesus, all I wanted was to live a long peaceful life with my tonsils and now they’re gone!

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? If being chased by radioactive zombies, I might bungee jump.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Lumpy Monkeys. I’ve never seen it before, but if someone made it I would have to love it just for the name.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? my shoes have no laces, generally.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Same as my cereal. (thanks Kevin)

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Antennae

15. RED OR PINK? Incomplete sentences make me red in the face; being a hypocritical grammar nazi makes me pink with embarrassment.

16. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? Well, me doesn’t trust myself as another person because me believes that myself as another person may be a tonsil thief, is that what you mean?

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? well, as of #8, I now miss my tonsils… my poor innocent beautiful tonsils. *sob*

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO COMPLETE THIS LIST? No, absolutely not. It’s kind of like that video in The Ring. You think it’s just some weird art-student questionnaire and then you end up losing organs that you love. Don’t do it!

19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Me, or myself as another person?

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? By the time you read this now will have changed.

21. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Holy crap, I’m running out of smart-ass comments and I’m only on #21!

22. FAVORITE SMELLS? Ihal M’mivigi Vinui

23. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Oh yeah, I was supposed to call Mike back…

24. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Myself as another person likes to watch the International Kitten Juggling League, but I find that immoral.

25. HAIR COLOR? Broken lightbulb? Two words and a questions mark, it’s the newest fad.

26. EYE COLOR? See? It’s really catching on!

27. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Only for weddings; I have a suit made of them.

28. FAVORITE FOODS? Gorilla Underwear?

29. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? *sigh* Adding a conjunction and extra words doesn’t help. How many people now have the song going through their heads? “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?”

30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Lost Watch you moved?

31. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Me is wearing black, red & white, but myself as another person is wearing black, white and red.

32. SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter or Jungle?

33. HUGS OR KISSES? Raptors or Museums? (I admit, this newfangled way of speaking is starting to make sense now that we’ve allowed “or”… No, actually it isn’t)

34. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Kate, because it’s the popular girl thing to do.

35. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Kate, because it’s the Kate thing to do.

36. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? “The never-ending fricken’ questionnaire”

37. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I don’t think I have one… *looks* nope, no mouse pad.

38. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? There isn’t a TV in my house, but tonight I saw a commercial on a TV that was in Beau Jo’s.

39. FAVORITE SOUND(S)? Kate’s voice as we have another bizarre and interesting conversation.

40. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Sorry, that would be cheating. See, you have to have the same number of words on either side of the “or”, otherwise it isn’t fair.

41. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? The waking world.

42. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I only have special ed talents.

43. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? myself as another person was born on this list, I was born in Denver, CO.

44. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? Yours.

45. HOW DID YOU MEET YOUR SPOUSE/SIGNIFICANT OTHER? A group hiking trip, she had on great big boots. Her antennae were barely noticeable though.

Please and thank you.

Does the Lorax Really Speak for the Trees?

Really? I mean, why should we take his word for it?
What if the Lorax (if that really is his name), is just a “tree-hag” or a tree fan-boy of sorts?
In my head I imagine this exchange among the trees…

Tree1 – “Oh no. The Lorax is coming…”

Tree2 – “Seriously? Dude, I totally wish I had legs to get away from him.”

Tree1 – “No no… check it out, if I had legs, I stomp his weaselly ass.”

Tree2 – “Yeah dude, that would shut him up!”

Tree1 – “Here it comes, he’s going to stand there and pontificate about how wonderful he is for speaking for us. Blah, blah, blah.”

Tree2 – “Hey Buddy! Don’t do us any favors, right? Maybe you should go speak for rocks, they need somebody too! By the way, Wilford Brimley wants his mustache back!”

Tree1 – “I wish he could have heard that. Except the Wilford part, that was lame.”

Tree2 – “Whatever… hey, why are YOU Tree1? I was here first.”

The Lorax. "I also speak for Sam, the dog next door!"The Lorax. “I also speak for Sam, the dog next door!”Wilford Brimley. "Oatmeal, it's the right thing to do."Wilford Brimley. “Oatmeal, it’s the right thing to do.”

Dealing with ADD, ADHD or… whatever

My Advice For A Teenage Me, And Maybe a Teenage You As Well

This morning I woke up from a dream where I was watching an interaction between a mother and teenager escalate into an argument and I decided to hug the teenager and pass on the advice below. This is what I remember saying in the dream, or at least pretty close. I wish someone would have said this to me.

When I was in grade school, even all the way through high school, we didn’t know about ADD or ADHD, I was just weird. Depression just meant you were sad. Anger issues just meant you were crazy. Basically anything that made you different just meant you were defective.

Now we have more awareness and that’s good, mostly. However, it also means that we get labeled in a different way; maybe not crazy or defective, but ADD or “suffering from depression”. Like I said, it’s good to have awareness, but sometimes… sometimes people get trapped in boxes by labels, start living up to labels and even sometimes use them as a crutch. Not always, maybe not you, but it happens and it’s something to be aware of.

Here are some things I think it’s worth remembering:

You have limited reserves – Every thing you do every day takes up some of you time, presence and mental energy. Some things take more than others and what those things are will depend on who you are. For me, as an introvert with ADD, the highest cost activities are those where I have to focus hard on something I have little interest in while being surrounded by people, especially if I’m the center of attention.

After an event like that I will feel totally jazzed up and energized, for about thirty minutes. After that, I will totally crash and need some time apart to recover. This leads to the next item.

Recognize when you are low on reserves – This is important. I have a few markers I watch for: difficulty focusing or finding words, blurting out statements instead of conversing and, when it’s bad, I actually feel a tingly heat on the top and back of my head.

For me another key indicator is that I move slowly, stare kind of vacantly, and my voice is nearly inaudible, and you’re not communicating clearly, and sometimes I speak in nonsense words, which I think might be my brain trying to keep awake but not able to form coherent phrases.

If I’m stuck at an event it’s a good idea to head to the restroom and do some quiet time, maybe even meditation. Another good option is to go for a short walk, or even pick up a cell phone and step to the side of the room and pretend to be in a conversation.

Know what to do when you are low on reserves – If you aren’t trapped at an event, here are some other ideas.

Good things to do while low on reserves

Nap. (don’t get addicted to napping when you feel low, it can lead to being dependent just like anything else.)

Exercise. Yoga, tai chi and martial arts are amazing for this, but if you don’t feel like you can do that, trying running or even just stretching or dancing and “shake it off”.

Meditation. You would not believe how many cool points you can get later in life by saying “I used to have issues with blah blah, but I totally used meditation to over come it.” Really, it can sound like you’re got this superpower that they can learn too. Don’t overplay it, but it is awesome.

Believe it or not, something like knitting can be really helpful. I was never able to “get” knitting, but I have seen it work well for a lot of people. Apparently once you learn the actions it’s a lot like going into a trance state. Basically anything that can let your mind rest but keep your body active can be great.

NOTE: There is often a transition time. You might need a few minutes to go from your cool-down/rest activity to going back to interacting with the rest of the world.

Bad things to do on reserves:

Facebook, video games, most TV – These things actually drain your reserves as much as they help you recover from them and can end up causing low-reserve hangover. It’s like plugging in your cell phone when it’s down to 2% battery and using it for making calls at the same time, you don’t actually gain much that way.

Things that might seem good but can lead to bad

Hanging out with friends “being crazy” might seem like it’s helping, but you might just feeding off a temporary energy that will cause a crash and can also involve bad-decision making. Sometimes, being low on reserves make you extra-suggestible, and sometimes it even can be similar to being drunk, which might feel good but is a bad place to be in the wrong situation. Be cautious and self-aware!

Reading. I hesitate to say this because I love reading, reading saved my life when I was an adolescent and I still love it today. The key is, you can over do reading as recovery and it can lead to a different kind of hangover, or simply missing out on other things. Read, read tons, all the time! But be aware of what you aren’t doing when you’re reading (like, in my case, sleeping. I can’t even say how much sleep I missed in high school due to all-nighter sci-fi reading.)

And that’s the biggest key, for any kind of recovery activity, be aware, know what helps you and what just feels good because those aren’t always the same thing.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Good, regular sleep is essential. Did you know you can die from lack of sleep faster than lack of food? Every aspect of your mental, physical and psychic health depend on good sleep.

Recognize you have resources, like family – When I was in college and complaining I remember once saying “What I need is a executive assistant that pays attention to schedule and reminds me of what I need to do each day.” And a friend helpfully said “It sounds like what you want is a mommy. It’s time you got a date book and started doing it yourself.”

Recognize your resources might feel like they are driving you crazy or nagging – So yeah, your mom or dad might seem like they are just being a jerk or nagging all the time. However, if you think about the service they’re providing in that nagging, just look into how much executive personal assistants get paid, and your parents are doing for free!

Recognize that every time you and that resource (i.e. your parents) argue, you are doing it out a place of love.

Underneath 90% of arguments are these statements:

They’re saying “I love you and I worry about you because I love you. I want you to be happy and great.”

And you are saying “I love you and I feel like your judgments of me indicate that you love me less, or don’t trust me.”

Regarding being trusted, see the above about reserves. Sometimes, compare yourself to being drunk or delirious or even just “hangry”. If someone says “Hey, you shouldn’t be driving right now”, it isn’t because they’re putting down your driving, it’s because they love you and don’t want you to get hurt. If I’m delirious from being over-stimulated and I have no spoons left, I might not be trustworthy for certain things.

Recognize you have an issue that some other people don’t have to deal with but that you still have responsibility for yourself and your actions or inactions.

You’re allowed to be your own judge of how well you’re doing, but it’s a responsibility. Get good at it; get good at knowing how well you’re doing so you can honestly answer people who judge you. You’ll find the more times you say “you’re right, I’m not doing well right now” the more times you’ll be trusted when you say you are doing well.

Lastly, remember when you are doing well, you are amazing and when you think you aren’t, it just means you building up to those times when you are.

Because you are always amazing, it’s just that sometimes you need a bit of rest before you can express how amazing you are.

One last thing: These are all based on my experiences and conversations with a ton a of people. Even inside that sample there were exceptions to everything I’ve said, so don’t let any of this discount your personal experience, just… give it a chance before blowing it off. It’s all stuff I wish I knew at fourteen.