It was July of 2014 and the Royals were languishing around the .500 mark. The optimism from a promising second half of 2013 was fading away and it looked like the team should sell at the deadline. While the turnaround of 2014 is often credited to a Raul Ibanez speech in which he basically told the team to believe in themselves, the true cause is not often discussed.
A story emerged after the season that provided insight into the Royals' first half struggles; an addiction to Clash of Clans. The post all-star surge coincided with players breaking their dark obsession and refocusing on the ultimate goal. It is two years later and according to sources, we have a similar problem developing that is distracting the players and dividing the clubhouse.
A group of players have formed a Dungeons and Dragons group and grumblings from the clubhouse indicate it is a source of extreme contention. The game first divided the clubhouse in half, but now the D&D group itself is splintering, increasing tensions among all. One of the members of the adventuring party has agreed to an interview, but only on the condition that they remain anonymous. While the player agreed to give us each player's class, race and name, he agreed to use their real name during the interview to avoid any confusion for the reader. The player wouldn’t say exactly when the campaign began, only that it was before this season began.
It can be clearly seen that the clubhouse division and problems arising from the D&D group are manifesting themselves in how the team plays baseball every day. An analysis of documents along with a brutally honest interview reveal exactly how the season has got to this point and are a direct reflection of the D&D campaign. A summary below will explain the core problems within the adventuring group that have subsequently infected the very nature in which these Royals play both D&D and the game of baseball. No one can explain the psychology of how these things happened, but we certainly can piece together the puzzle to document that they actually did happen.
Dungeon Master - Ned Yost
I was surprised to learn that Ned Yost even played D&D, much less put in time as a DM. According to our source, it was something that no one quite expected:
"...everybody was incredibly surprised when Ned volunteered to be DM. Everyone had assumed that Dayton Moore would take the helm, but Ned shocked us all. No one was more shocked though, than Esky....".
In order to understand why Alcides Escobar was so taken aback, one must first know a little history about the D&D world. Even though Escobar and Yost had never officially completed a campaign together, they played in similar circles and had many friends in common. Escobar had heard rumors from more than one of these common friends that Ned had an epic meltdown during the latter stages of a campaign and ultimately had to be removed as DM. Rumor was that he just couldn’t figure out how to match the right level monster with the group’s current XP and level, among other basic gaffes that seemed to be DM 101.
As our source puts it:
"If you were around and playing D&D at that time, there is no way that you thought this guy would get another chance to DM. If you let him get a hold of your campaign, it was sure to be doomed to mediocrity and head scratching game play. When he first started as DM for our group, we were convinced that what everyone was saying was true. Then, all of a sudden, regardless of what ridiculous scenario or battle he would put us in, the dice would somehow make it all work out in the end."
It is clear that at some point there was a huge shift, as the players now had the utmost trust in Yost as the DM. It seemed like no matter how laughable the scenario that Ned would come up with, the dice would somehow make it all okay in the end. Our source continues:
"...at this point, we’re like, sure Ned, go ahead and make us fight a Thunderworm even though we are barely level 3. But the dice would always roll in a way that made things work out. It became kind of an inside joke....".
Lately, the dice haven’t been so kind and players are not as amused. According to our source, although no one has actually been killed as a result of Ned’s scenarios, they are starting to lose crucial battles and the ultimate goal of the campaign is in jeopardy:
"....we thought that Ned had moved past his old habits that got him in trouble as a young DM, but now we’re wondering if he’s truly up to the job. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still our guy and it’s not like we’re actively looking for another DM, but if the right guy came along......"
While it appears that Yost is still in firm grasp of his DM role, it is also clear that could change if luck continues to work against him.
Player - Alcides Escobar - Halfling Wizard - Scovius the Blue
According to our source, Alcides is becoming more and more of an annoyance. All of the issues with having Escobar in the group seem to be centered around his decision making and game play in battle:
"....so Alcides, he’s there to be a healer, right? He’s got some great spells and can attack if needed, but in battle, the healer stays to the back. Yet, somehow, every time we approach a hostile group, Esky goes sprinting to the front of the party. For a while, we just thought it was funny; although it made absolutely no sense, it wasn’t really costing us in terms of battles or important parts of the campaign. It got to a point where we would just laugh and actually encourage him, yelling at him to go ahead and hurry up to the front so he could roll his initiative."
Our source continued:
"...but this guy has plus one for his initiative bonus and is allergic to rolling double digits on any initiative check. So, not only does he go running to the front, he’s stuck there because he’s almost always the first attacked of our group. We are past amusement at this point, because we really need his healing powers and we have to watch him take an attack of opportunity while he disengages before healing. Frankly, it’s really starting to piss the guys off."
Yordano Ventura - Character Unknown - Name Unknown
If one player can sum up the frustration of the D&D fighting party, it’s Yordano Ventura. Our source couldn’t provide a character sheet and wouldn’t say why, but explains:
"....none of us can figure out what Yo is doing or if he really even wants to play. He says his alignment is Lawful Neutral, but it’s obvious from his game play that he’s Chaotic Evil. We could handle that part, but it’s like he only wants to play when it appeals to him. One day, as we were approaching a huge battle that would take up our whole session, Yo shows up in full costume and never once broke from character.....on some real Tropic Thunder Johnny Depp stuff. The very next session, we are doing really important back story, and it’s like the guy can’t be bothered. He just sits there, playing on his phone and basically being completely useless. Occasionally he’ll blurt something out, and we’re like, dude, that was before we took our last short rest and you don’t need to do that. But, every time we come to a consensus to kick Ventura out of the group, he does something amazing during a battle and reminds us why he’s here in the first place."
Jarrod Dyson - Tiefling Rogue - Renford the Absconder
While there are definitely some players that are dragging the group down, Jarrod Dyson is not one of them. By all accounts, he shows up to all the sessions, pays attention and properly plays his role. As our source explains:
"Dice is one of those guys that any fighting party would want. He’s always immersed in the game play and is invaluable to the group; he probably tries harder than anyone else here. In order to understand why, you have to know about where Jarrod came from. Nobody was playing D&D in his neighborhood and people laughed at him when he told them that one day he would play. No one expected that he would stick with the game, but he just kept showing up.....session after session....campaign after campaign, just plugging away."
While Dyson does nothing incredibly flashy, he does have his moments. Known for his stealth and lock picking skills, he recently surprised the group with unexpected offense during a critical battle. Our source paints the picture:
"....so Ned had put us in this ridiculous situation with the Thunderworm. Esky, as usual, went charging to the front and was rendered useless. No one could roll high enough to land an attack and everyone is getting low on hit points. It was about to be the Thunderworm’s turn again and we were in serious trouble. Jarrod was the last to go before the lineup flipped over and he had an extra attack. He threw two natural 20’s and we just sat there in stunned silence. He proceeds to throw 4 x d10 for damage, and get this, throws four perfect 10s for a damage total of 40 on top of two crit hits! Ned looks up like someone just took his deer kill and tells us the Thunderworm is dead. I still can’t believe I saw that with my own eyes, but that’s why we call him Dice."
Salvador Perez - Half-orc Bard
Kendrys Morales - Dragonborn Fighter
Alex Gordon - Human Paladin
Eric Hosmer - Half-elf Ranger