This Nation’s Saving Throw
DUNGEON MASTER RICHIE – Who’s on point?
KEVIN – Hillyard.
HILLYARD – The hell I am!
BENNY – You are, Hilly. You agreed to run point for me when I sold you my +2 short sword back in East Wind Dell.
H – Fuck.
DM – Okay.
K – What was that roll for?
DM – None of your business.
K – I’ll give you two hundred gold pieces if you tell me what the roll was for. Was it a wandering monster?
DM – You gotta be kidding. Two hundred gold pieces? Don’t insult me. Have you got anything of real value to offer?
K – Uh…I’m a little light.
B – I bet your girlfriend isn’t a little light.
H – She’s a leech, Kevin.
K – Fuck you guys. At least I have a girlfriend.
B – Suboptimal, Kevin. Totally suboptimal.
DM – Are we going to talk about Kevin’s girlfriend, or are we going to come to a Pareto-preferred outcome for this roll?
B – I got five bucks.
K – Hold on, Benny. What’s the five bucks for, Rich?
DM – It’s for the roll. I told you.
K – What about the roll?
DM – For…look, you don’t think I’m gonna cheat you, do you, Kevin?
K – Get me a standard contract, Benny.
B – Where’s that?
H – It’s in the back of the Player’s Handbook.
K – No, that’s the character sheet. The contract is in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Libertarian Edition.
DM – Fine, fine.
K – The five gets me what kind of roll it is…
DM – Okay, I’ll just write it up, and —
K – …and the result.
DM – For five bucks? Forget it.
K – Ten.
DM – This is an important roll.
K – I only got five, plus…
H – Ten plus the rest of these Funyuns.
DM – Deal.
K – Good job, Hilly.
DM – Okay. You called it. It’s a wandering monster roll, and…
B – Man, what a waste of money.
DM – You want to hear the result or not?
K – Might as well.
DM – It’s a rust monster.
K – What?
H – Fuck that. I’m not fighting one of those.
B – How can you do that to us, Rich? What did we do to you? Was is that big scene with the Customs and Duties Officer at Rivenrock?
DM – Look, guys. That’s just what I rolled. It’s just the luck of the dice.
H – Those things are walking wealth-confiscators. They represent punitive taxation. They’re living symbols of the leechlike qualities of the state. I am not fighting a rust monster.
K – All right, Rich. Let’s talk brass tacks. What’s it gonna take?
DM – Kevin, you know the rules. I can’t just re-roll it.
K – So what are we looking at?
DM – A buck to move the roll by one in either direction.
B – Okay, so…let’s see…where does eighteen bucks get us?
DM – Hobgoblins. Uh…nine of them.
B – If I make it an even twenty?
DM – Still hobgoblins, but only six.
K – Whattya think, guys?
B – Better than that goddamn rust monster.
H – Hobgoblins are pretty tough, though.
B – Yeah, and they don’t carry a lot of cash.
H – Where does that leave our internal cost/benefit calculus?
K – PB is still greater than p*f.
H – I say we do it.
B – Yeah. We don’t want a repeat of what happened with Tyler.
K – Why do you keep bringing Tyler up, Benny?
B – He was a good party member, man. He was our friend. And we left him behind.
H – We’ve been over this and over this…
B – It doesn’t make it right.
DM – Look, guys, I need a decision.
K – Benny, I didn’t want to hand Tyler over to that frost giant. But you elected me team leader to do a job. And my job is to do anything within the rules to maximize profits for our shareholders.
H – It would have been immoral not to sell Tyler in exchange for our freedom.
K – Six hobgoblins?
DM – Yep.
K – Twenty bucks?
DM – Yep.
K – Hilly, what’s our experience point situation?
H – Just under, with Benny about over.
K – And the min./max. on the hobgoblin’s treasure?
B – Within risk-to-profit norms, according to the Monster Manual pages Rich sold me last week.
K – It’s a deal.