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An Answer for George R. R. Martin about D&D, Dice, & Getting Lucky

Dearly Beloved You Geeks:

If you’ve been around me lately, you’ve likely noticed that I’m glowing. Literally. Turn out the lights, my head would be a faint ball of pale light. This isn’t because I am extremely bald and white (both of which, with bad hair genes and a name like Blake Randolph Charlton, I am). This is because I am so effing happy that I might be slightly radioactive.

Why the radiant, and potentially carcinogenic, happiness?  A few days ago I sat on a panel at the American Library Association’s national conference with the right and honorable Lois McMaster Bujold & George R. R. Martin. I managed to avoid having a fanboy meltdown around ether one of them. Clearly, it was a highlight in my career so far.

Anyway, during the Q&A session, a reader asked if D&D influenced our work. George talked about how his role-playing game lead to the start his Wild Cards series. I talked about how D&D allowed me to participate in storytelling when I was illiterate. I also, briefly, reprised my argument that D&D provided an excellent preparation for medical school by requiring probabilistic thinking. Deciding to toss a 7d6 fireball into a room of orcs or to load a febrile little old lady with vancomycin & piperacillin-tazobactam…well…the result of either  comes down to a roll of the dice, to getting lucky.

George, to general laughter, remarked that it was too bad it didn’t work that way with our personal lives. “You can’t just roll the dice to get a date.”

Just to be a consummate snot, I said “You sure about that, George?” It got a brief laugh, GRRM included. But later, when I was lucky enough to attend dinner with George, he laughed and said, “All right, Charlton, one day, you really are going to have to explain how you can roll dice to get a date.”

Well, I have to admit my D&D game is rusty; I had to put aside many of my favorite hobbies (videogames, TV, & movies included) when I started chasing this MD novelist star. But, if memory serves, George, I think this is how it still might work.

1) Shop around for a good co-ed game.

2) Treat the girl who’s caught your eye with three times more respect than geeky’s generally chauvinistic culture treats her.

3) Ask her out to dinner and then put a d20 in her hands and ask if she’d like to roll for a saving throw against your charisma.

So there you go, George, that’s what I got. I’m probably forgetting my AD&D rules. But, regardless, if Parris is ever playing a paladin and you a snarky halfling hand of the ki…err…thief, and you want some backup, just send a line my way. I’ll be your wingman anytime. </fanboy>


19 Responses to “An Answer for George R. R. Martin about D&D, Dice, & Getting Lucky”

  • Awesome! Got a great LOL out of us (I was reading it out loud to others in the room), including Doug, our D&D geek.

  • I was pointed here by comments on Lois’s MySpace page. I’m a big fan of both Lois and George, so I’ll give your books a shot now. Your med school career change reminds me of a friend who was a library cataloger and made the big jump to Med School. She is in her last year of Residency and still trying to figure out how to fit sleep into her schedule. I can’t imagine adding SF novel-writing to your tasks.

    • Hi Steve. Thank you kindly for stopping by and for giving my stuff a shot. I hope I can hold a candle to the masters, Lois and George. I hope you’ll come back to let me know how I did.

      And as for fitting sleep into my schedule…well…I’m pretty worried about it too. Med school has been demanding, but from what I’ve seen residency is a whole new kettle of fish; however, there are plenty of basic science research folks that come out of it physician scientist, so (if i can keep my sanity) I’m hoping it’s also possible to come out a physician novelist 😉

  • True story — my friend set me up on a blind date with her brother to a Harvard formal. Before the dance, the four of us (my friend and her boyfriend came along) went to Pizzaria Unos, and my date pulled out a map and a die. He’d prepared a quest. So we played D&D in Pizarria Unos in our formalware. Unconventional, but fun 🙂

  • I’ve never played D&D before but I’ve been looking into it lately because I thought it might be something fun to do with my kids, if I could figure out how it works. Those D&D guide books that I’ve seen are really long and have really small print… But if D&D leads to medical school then I’ll make the effort 😉

  • […] An Answer for George R. R. Martin about D&D, Dice, & Getting Lucky (blakecharlton.com) […]

  • Andrew Trewin

    3:13 am Jul-7-2012


    Just like to say thanks for the hard work you have done to give us readers a fantastic set of books
    Thank you ANDY T

    • Hi Andy. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the kind words! If you pick up the third and last in the series, I hope you like it even more 🙂

  • Hi Blake.
    Just discovered spellwright – and found it awesome. Really looking forward to reading the rest! Other than the obvious talent displayed – other reasons I love your work are that I am a medical doctor – and have a dyslexic daughter. She is only 8 – and as you can imagine struggles at times – especially when she compares herself to her ( also bright) but not dyslexic siblings. Really love the tension between disability and strength that you have put into cacography – shows insight which obviously comes from experience. Really cannot imagine how you are combining novel writing with medical school!
    Oh and by the way love the argument that D&D is good preparation for medical school. I have been heard to say that playing world of warcraft makes me a better driver ( peripheral awareness and reaction speed) – maybe it makes me a better Dr too? I’ll have to think about that one….

    • Hi Julia! Thank you so much for stopping by and for the kind words. Good on you for being so aware of what your daughter is going through and how she is comparing herself to her non-dyslexic siblings (I’m guessing that’s not easy for them either). Certainly, it was tough on my sister. Glad Spellwright worked for you. Given that you’re a doctor, I’d be curious to hear what you think of Francesca in the Spellbound 😉

      • Hi Blake

        Just finished reading Spellbound – enjoyed it probably even more than spellwright, takes a bit to get your head around a new universe if you know what I mean. You asked for my comments on Francesca – well I found her a very interesting and believable character. At the beginning of the book I wasn’t sure that I actually “liked” her all that much – reminded me too much of those senior doctors that feel entitled to mouth off at everybody just because they are having a bad day! She does mellow over the course of the book a bit – maybe as a consequence of discovering more about who she really is. And I think becomes more “likable”. Strangely enough while magic seems to be a very useful tool diagnostically – you make it sound just as complicated to use in a therapeutic way as conventional medicine – ah well I guess we can’t have things all easy – would be too boring!

  • Hi, Blake.
    Love your book Spell Wright and Spell Bound. I hope you never stop making these amazing books. I don’t know how you thought about Francesca but keep it up.

  • I know this is late, but this did give me a chuckle. That would work with most unattached gamer gals I’ve known. wink, Smile}

    • awww, shucks. thanks 😉 and you’re right; this blog is getting a bit…late. it’s been…err…months. maybe i should work on a new post…

      • It’s amazing how blogs and the like can slide, isn’t it? I only have personal ones, but I’ve let them slide too much, too. {Smile}

        At least you can blame medical school. That’s one of the most distracting professional schools of all. {GRIN}

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