One of the first games I ever ran professionally had a stalwart knight with a belabored backstory full of twists, turns, and dead siblings. His name was Denimus Umbra, oldest brother to the main not-villain of the first arc, Warrick Umbra (whom he thought was dead; actually nearly assassinated by the head of the church of Tiamat, along with his two younger brothers...who Warrick saved by summoning hounds to hold their spirits to the material plane) ...He wasn't in the right campaign.
Let's drink to his memory!
The Classic Daiquiri
Even before all your frozen daiquiri variations found their marks, the Daiquiri was a creature of elegance. Another simple cocktail of minimal ingredients, best served cold.
It is a vehicle for light rum, simple syrup, and a little lime. Simple and to the point.
2 oz light rum
1 oz Lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
Serve chilled or not, whatever works.
Denimus was a Paladin in the Third Age of Ionian Lore. He served his station with heroism and virtue. ...Which means, we have some nasty smite damage to work into this simple cocktail.
The simple answer is to roll in some dark Rum; probably Kraken. Instead of Lime, how about some Lemon? Grenadine (simple syrup with pomegranate) will fill that role. And then we need something else; a tiny radiant punch at the end.
2 oz Kraken spiced rum
1 oz Cherry Liqueur
1 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Grenadine
---Makes 4 shots total
This is where the metaphor gives way in favor of convenient alliteration. This will not remind you of a valiant knight charging into battle. Instead, this goes down smooth and sweet, SMITING you after the hit with a nice buzz. As I'm discovering, I make things that are tasty and strong, so be careful how many spell slot shots you dole out with this one.
A Gimlet is something I never would have found had I not dedicated some measure of my being to the study of mixology and freelance bartending. If you've been reading me for a while, you probably have some idea why.
There are some ingredients that I can use easily across many facets of my repertoire, and this is because I understand them more intimately through personal experience, experimentation, and requests. So that's Rum, Whiskey, Vodka, and Tequila.
I've had one request for Gin. That's it. (and, if that taste-tester is any indication, I did REALLY WELL with it)
The Classic Gimlet
So the Gimlet, wink wink, uses Gin as its Core. If that doesn't float for you, Vodka can also take that place. After that, we just sweeten the pot with Simple Syrup and Lime. Try this out:
2 oz Gin (or Vodka)
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
3/4 oz Lime juice
Serve over ice and enjoy.
Now, there are some snobs out there who will INSIST on the idea that this is emphatically NOT a Gimlet, and for those people...fine. Omit the Lime and Simple Syrup for 1.5 oz of Rose's Lime Cordial (chalk full of high fructose corn syrup).
Both are pretty yummy, and I'm going to break it anyway, so pick your poison; I don't really care.
A Dwarven Gimlet?
Dwarves love Ale and Whiskey, and this will be neither, though some tones will be represented. The lime and the gin complement one another splendidly, so the additions are minute and serve only to slightly darken the effect.
2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Triple Sec
3/4 oz Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Lime juice
1/2 oz Drambuie
3-5 dashes of Aromatic Bitters
A splash of Lime Tonic Water
Pour this sucker over ice and enjoy.
When you play Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons long enough (especially from the DM side of the screen), you’ll start to notice some patterns in the game’s design. The most powerful magic items always bestow no more than a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls. You almost never see the upper limit of a player’s ability score go above 20, and even from monsters they cap at an absolute ceiling of 30. No matter how many numbers you try to stack, there’s a limit to how high you’ll get your attack bonus to hit and how many hit points your character can build to. So why limit these numbers? What’s the difference between the bounded accuracy model of 5e and the treadmill model of Pathfinder? Which one is preferable, and what is the upside and downside of each?
First, let’s dive into the term “Bounded Accuracy”. Like I stated earlier, no matter how savvy you are character building, your bonus to hit can only be so high. In 5e, the upper limit to a reasonable player’s bonus to hit is fairly standard, and the upper limit to a creature’s armor class also tends to be set. Heck, even Tiamat, a literal god in Faerun, has an Armor Class of 25, meaning that anything with a higher AC has a higher AC than a god. What this does is give even lower level creatures a reasonable chance to hit a much higher level creature, even if that chance lowers with a wider power gap. It means with favorable luck (and tactics), even a lower level party can potentially defeat a much greater enemy.
Let’s compare this to the “treadmill effect” of similar d20 systems. For example, in Pathfinder, certain creatures can have ACs in the upwards of 40s, and the system rewards mathematically minded players to combine as many features as possible to create a statistically superior character with the right choices. What this ends up meaning is that a low enough level character has virtually no chance to hit a creature with a wide enough power gap. A goblin just plain won’t hit a player of a high enough level with a high enough AC. And while Pathfinder has a bevvy of conditional modifiers a clever player can take advantage of in order to close that statistical gap with careful planning, ultimately the odds are still stacked against the lower level combatant.
So let’s look at the pros of a treadmill model first. It rewards players with an exhaustive understanding of the rules (given that your table is playing by the rules-as-written, which most Pathfinder games I’ve heard tend to do) and by making optimized characters. Of course, the cons are that the encounters that a Game Master can use are bounded in scope. At one point, if the minions of one tier are no longer valid threats, they have to use minions of an appropriate tier. The minions have to keep up with the players, which may feel forced or may not make sense in the context of the world.
The pros of a Bounded Accuracy model like D&D are that the numbers tend to be simpler. Rather than having players focus on mechanical advantages they can leverage to statistical superiority, a bounded accuracy model brings the focus of play to description and effects, and although numbers are relevant, oftentimes it's the qualities and conditions of the pieces in play that make D&D combat engaging. A goblin has the possibility of hitting a 20th level player character in 5e, meaning they can still present a threat in high numbers or if they get to attack with advantage. The con of course, is that players that use quantities to measure their character’s power may not be rewarded for optimizing their character. After all, especially when using standard arrays, there are only so many “optimized” builds you can create in 5e’s system.
In his series Happy Fun Hour, Mike Mearls once said that “the more small choices you give players when making a character, the more small schisms in power you’re creating”. To find evidence of this, look no further than 5e’s Feat system in comparison to Pathfinder. In Pathfinder, feats are small bonuses to your character you get every other level (at least from what I can remember, I have a very obvious bias here). In 5e, Feats are larger packages of benefits you get every fourth level, meaning that 5e characters usually only get five opportunities to customize their characters in this way. These larger choices mean that the schisms in power are also less in number, and more importantly, more obvious. I’ve had plenty of conversations with Pathfinder enthusiasts that to make some character concepts work, there is a specific chain of feats needed. While some may argue it exists in 5e, the need is far smaller.
So Why Do We Care?
Great question. I mean, like I say in most of these, it’s the question to end all questions.
My answer is that understanding the design process behind a game system allows the adjudicator of that system (in this case the Dungeon Master) to deliver an experience with greater skill and information. If a DM understands that only the most powerful creatures of a realm have an AC of 25, it gives them a reference on how strong a creature they create is in relation to the party in a more meaningful way. If a DM wants to create custom content, including magic items, subclasses, or custom features, they know how to balance that content in relation to the system.
As silly as it sounds, creating a +4 magic weapon in 5e actually breaks the system, whether you agree with it or not. It breaks the upper limit of the Bounded Accuracy model the system is intentionally designed with, and if you try to fix this break with stronger monsters, then you risk changing to the treadmill model of Pathfinder, and the focus of the game changes.
Bounded Accuracy exists so that players will actually think less about the game’s math and more about the game’s story. 5e’s mechanics are intentionally simple and flexible to allow DMs to deliver custom, satisfying experiences to their players. The mechanics are a tool, not the experience, and by understanding the design process, it empowers a DM to create their own custom content to deepen their world without breaking the system that’s been so elegantly crafted for them.
That isn’t to say you should never mess with rules or purposely break your own system to deliver a specific experience: it just means if you break the rules, you’re doing so intentionally with knowledge of some of the consequences of doing so. I’ve played with +4 and +5 weapons before, and it leads to disastrous power gaps that invalidate the stories of other party members. (Now putting such abilities on some kind of charge mechanic…)
So that’s all I have to say on Bounded Accuracy for now. Hopefully this gives y’all something to chew on, especially for the creative DMs out there.
Study Hard, Play Hard
The Moscow Mule is a simple alchemy. A little vodka, even less lime, and a whole bunch of ginger beer. It's simple, clean, fizzy, and satisfying.
How To Make A Moscow Mule
The ye olde classic doesn't need much at hand.
2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Lime Juice
4-6 oz Ginger Beer, or just fill your glass to the top
Don't forget ice!
The Den's Spin on a classic
The true star of this drink is the Ginger Beer. It is the vehicle for every heavy-hitting alcohol in the main suite. In fact, switching out only that aspect and leaving the rest is where we get all of our usual variations on this drink.
The Moscow has Vodka
A Mexican Mule uses Tequila
The Kentucky Mule is Bourbon Whiskey
The Gin Gin is...Gin. With some mint and simple syrup.
Jamaican Mules use Rum.
A Glasgow Mule uses Scotch.
Irish Mules use Irish Whiskey.
After that, we start changing more of the fundamentals. We dash in some chocolate bitters, or some fruity vodkas, or maybe change up the soda. A REALLY simple variation would be to take the Mexican Mule and try it with Ginger Ale and GOLD Tequila. I call it the "Midas Touch."
But in the spirit of Moonriver, experimentation lends to experiential discovery, and though I may study this pretty deeply, I still find combinations that surprise me. So what hasn't been done yet by the mainstream?
Let's look at the fundamentals. You have:
A Core Liquor
A Sweet or Sour element
Ginger is the blanket that brings this all together, but what if I broke that first? Sprite doesn't get enough love in this house, so that's our new Soda component. Lime? How about Cherry instead? Now, the Core. I'm inclined toward a cinnamon whiskey just because I know it might tick people off.
2 oz Fireball
1 oz Cherry Liqueur
Fill with ice and Sprite
It's a Blood Moon Mule. Let's try it out...
I'm a Goram genius.
Drink responsibly and try not to howl too loudly.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, amateur bartender, and aspiring fiction author.
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