MC Frontalot

How to GM Your Own Habit Abatement Campaign

I don't like to talk about Quitting Smoking. It sounds so final, and it turns the inevitable backslide into a major failure event. But I do Stop Smoking from time to time, which lasts anywhere from a few weeks to three years. I am in process of stopping right now, in fact. Usually I stop by not smoking, which is a pretty okay way to do it. This time I'm trying to make it more interesting by gradually diminishing intake with the help of a couple D&D rules.

You can play too! Here's how.

1. Name your character. Mine's Breathorr Inflatagon, a level 2 Lung Elf. You don't have to roll up stats. If you're a real stickler for form, go get your lungs x-rayed. The x-ray film is your character sheet.

2. Keep a d20 in your pack of cigarettes. If it doesn't fit, keep die, lighter, and pack together in some kind of totable container. May I suggest a pouch?

3. Whenever you feel like smoking, that means the GM (you) is trying to poison your character (also you). Time for a saving throw! I decided the DC (Difficulty Class) for my save vs Poison is 15. Roll the d20. 15 and up: I am saved from that cigarette I wanted! Hooray? 14 and under: oh darn, I get to enjoy another satisfying and flavorful cancer treat.

4. If you make the save, you really can't have a cigarette. Rolls have to be at least an hour apart. If you haven't rolled for two hours, that does not mean you get to roll twice. Be strict, or the GM Regulatory Cabal will revoke your authority. (I assume? I haven't GM'd since like 1988.)

5. Every day of the campaign, your Wisdom increases slightly. You're using Will to save against Poison, so increased Wis modifies in your favor (well, in your character's favor — your GM prefers that the poison attacks land). I'm using a mod of +1 for each day, so on day two rolls of 14 and up are successful saves, on day three it's 13 and up, etc. Fifteen days into the campaign, I will only be allowed to smoke when I roll a natural 1.

6. Rolling a natural 1, of course, is a critical fail. Thus, no matter how wise I get, I will always be able to sneak a cigarette if I can roll a 1. But after fifteen days I'm going to limit myself to one poisoning attempt per day, instead of one per waking hour. The game logic behind this is: fuck you, I do what I want.

You can design your own system, of course. The DC of 15 and the minimum hour between rolls seemed suited to how much I was already smoking. If you go through two packs of Chesterfields a day you are probably not going to survive on so meager an allotment of poison.

I realize also that this system is nowhere near complicated enough for some gamers. Feel free to adapt much more sophisticated rulesets. Probably "internet" would be a good place to post them once you've got the kinks worked out.

ADVICE by MC Frontalot :: 4.13.09 :: VSP #29