Monty Haul Gamemasters - A dangerous epidemic


Mon, Aug 11th, 1997 02:00 by capnasty NEWS



By Art image W. Peasley


Professor, Game Psychology Dept., Miskatonic University

THE INFORMATION you are about to read is true. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Readers are advised to use discretion to prevent an unwanted rash of Monty Haul-style game masters. The author cannot be held responsible for outbreaks of giveaway campaigns.

September 3, 1988: A 16-year-old game master allows a party of 3rd level adventurers to acquire the Wand of Orcus by means of a single dice roll.

July 13, 1990: The Bifrost Bridge is destroyed by a 2nd level sorcerer during a campaign run by a 31-year-old stockbroker. The gods are so distraught by this event that he is able to conquer Asgard single-handedly.

October 29, 1994: A 18-year-old high school student allows a 1st level magic user always casting an Ice wall spell, a 100% kill rate on anything he encountered.

August 18, 1996: A 24-year-old computer consultant permits three characters to devastate Rilyeh and destroy Great Cthulhu himself....with a handgun.

Are these a demented game designer’s worst nightmares? Perhaps. But they are something far worse. They are real. And they happen everyday through the world. I began working in the Game Psychology Department of the Miskatonic University 1967. At that time our biggest problem was to determine the political and social ramifications of the game Twister. But today our challenge is much greater. We are faced with a group of people known affectionately as "Monty Haulers." They come from every age group and every walk of life. Most were raised in a good home and given a chance to make something of themselves.

Yet there is something monstrous lurking deep inside these people which shows itself when they run a role-playing campaign. This over-whelming urge to give away treasure and allow peasants to destroy gods with a single blow is spreading like a cancerous growth and undermining our society. Their mutated style of running a campaign is as dangerous as the most deadly, horrifying disease. They are infiltrating our games and threading fibrous tendrils throughout our game masters. Their very presence is like postulating, oozing flesh dripping with mind-consuming gore......


While working on the Monty Haul Syndrome at MU, I conducted many interviews with known or prospective Monty Haulers. Throughout my studies I noticed that some of these people allowed the giveaways attitude to affect their normal life. Conducted in 1990, the interview most indicative of this is in part reproduced below. We have been extremely careful to avoid the use of last names to prevent public ridicule.

Miskatonic University: "How are you feeling today, Steve?"

Steve: "Well, I’m fine, thank you."

MU: "Are you still playing role-playing games since your inauguration?"

Steve: "Well, yes."

MU: "How’s Cora?"

Steve: "Well, she’s fine too. Would you like to have her?"

MU: "Uh, no thank you, Steve. What would you like to talk about today?"

Steve: "Well, I’m trying to balance the budget this week, but it always comes out with a deficit. I guess I should let everyone take what they need and then give the rest to charity."

MU: "Don’t you think that’s a little bit harsh?"

Steve: "Well, yes I guess you’re right. I’ll give it all to charity."


MU: "I guess that about wraps it up for today."

Steve: "Well, I guess I should pay you. Here’s my wallet."

This kind of attitude is going to ruin our game-playing society. It will reach out like the gaunt hand of death and squeeze the life force from our genre. It will creep languorously into our very souls and ravish our sanity to the point of utter and irrevocable insanity!

Excuse me. I digress.

The standard method of treatment for these giveaway game master sis to subject them as players to a campaign similar to their own style, and then immediately drop them in a campaign where they are stripped of their possessions. This is a traumatic shock to the average Monty Haulplayer. The emotional repercussions can be dangerous. The immdeiate reaction is screaming and jumping (tantrumus throwicus) and repeat of the phrase, "You can’t do that to me!" This will pass, following by the "I’m-leaving-and-never-playing-with-you-again" phase ( called ILANPWYA by professionals). Given enough time to think about their actions, the Monty addict will usually return at a later date.

NOTE: There seems to be a bizarre case of selective amnesia associated with the ILANPWYA phase since the player will claim to have said "no such thing" (along with the amazing reappearance of his possessions including some new magic which allows him/her to call back his possessions back from anywhere at any time). Repetition of the possession-stripping must then follow, perhaps including the total destruction of some pieces. This can often lead to violent reactions(including a repeat of the ILANPWYA phase). If, after several applications of this treatment, the player hasn’t changed or moved away permanently, chain his hands to the bumper of a car and threaten to drive to the other side of the world.

If you feel that you or someone you love is in danger of becoming a Monty Hauler, take the Monty Haul Self-Test and see how you fare. If you rate a definite Monty Hauler please contact the MHA (Monty Hauler Anonymous) nearest you. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed by your actions. The MHA is there to help you cope with this terrible disease; to ease the undying evil feeling inside which elicits gibbering and weeping when someone questions your judgement. Never again will you feel the overwhelming urge to smother your players in that horrible, mutated, cankerous style of playing. No longer will you exert your dank, putrid, unthinkable rules on innocents. MHA will surely put a stop to the bubbling, monstrous, and downright icky things you inflicting these poor hopeless souls.

Please get help. Most people are not as stable as they seem.


Answer each question using the following Peasley scientific rating system.

1-False. Wrong. Unthinkable. Never happens.

2-Usually doesn’t happens. Not likely.

3-Sometimes. Sort of. Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t care.

4-Usually true. most of the time. Yeah, I suppose.

5-Always. Fer sure, eh. Yep. No doubt. Of course, eh.

---[1] The amount of fun a player has is directly proportional to the amount of treasure he receives. And my players are ecstatic! In fact, they have more treasure than is found in the entire Dungeon Masters Guide and I’m proud of that.

---[2] Artifacts are meant to be used. The more the players have in their possessions, the better the game. And this stuff about side effects is silly.

---[3] Experience points are only a guideline. You should always give out more than the book says. Even if the players didn’t win the fight.

---[4] I have created many new magic items like the Backpack of Holding(which has a 27 cubic-mile area and weighs less than a balloon) and the Decanter of Endless Anything (which contains an infinite amount of liquid you can think of including, but not limited to, water, oil, wine, brandy, vinegar, acid, poison, root beer, brain fluid of a mind flayer, and any potion real or imagined).

---[5] Players I my campaign never die. Except when they really tic me off. A lot.

---[6] Gold doesn’t weigh very much in my campaign. Why, the other day a first-level magic user obliterated a Kobold (with an ice wall spell)carrying 700,000 gold pieces. He then carried them back into town. Alone. Barefoot. And blind. With one hand. At night. Not that nighttime makes any difference if he’s blind.

---[7] There is an abundance of magic items in my world. For example, there is a paladin who collects Holy swords. He’s looking for number 74right now.

---[8] My players don’t argue with me. In fact they love me.

---[9] I am charge of a non-profit organization.

---[10] I didn’t find this article humorous. It was offensive and the author should be shot.

Total your answers and check your score below:

10-15 You certainly don’t have a Monty Haul problem. In fact you might consider being a bit more generous. No need to torture your players so much. Meany.

16-25 Not bad. You’re a stingy, but overall you’re doing okay. You’d make a great game designer.

26-35 Borderline Monty Hauler. Be very careful. You may end up in deep psychological trouble. If you begin donating heavily to any organization, see a doctor.

36-45 You need help. You’re definitely suffering from Monty Haulius Extremeus and should see a professional counselor.

46-50 You’re in deep trouble. A real pushover. Don’t try to get help, it would infect others. You are hopeless and should probably consider locking yourself in the basement and swallowing the key.



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