I love how the Good Fairy is all like, “Ma’am? Are you sure this is your daughter? Also, what’s with the throat knife? You mortals sure have silly traditions.”

Anywho, today’s comic may mention the wish spell, but that’s really just the ultimate form of that far-more-important concept: treasure. If you’ve ever salivated at the thought of a shiny new suit of mithral armor or coveted that fully tricked out Schmillenium Schmalcon in your sci-fi game, then you’ve experienced the siren call of gamer greed. You’ll try any crazy plan and risk any death-defying stunt to get the goods, and for me that’s one of the great pleasures of gaming.

Any of you guys ever here of a dead Frenchman named Roger Caillois? He wrote an influential book on the nature of play and games back in the ’60s, and he coined a number of useful terms in the process. You can hit that Wikipedia link for the full theoretical run-down, but the one I’m talking about today is alea. For the sake of this conversation, the handy-dandy definition from this amazing document will suit our needs just fine:

ALEA is the gambler’s thrill – the fun of taking a big risk, the tension that comes with it, win or lose. Games with dice rolls, and especially ones where big stakes are riding on that one throw of the dice, are good at giving alea.

For me, gambling is about two big emotions: greed and fear. There has to be desire, and there has to be risk. When money is on the line you’ve got a universal source for both. The downside of course is that you’ll likely lose the deed to your guildhall and wind up wandering the streets of Waterdeep looking for spare copper pieces in the gutter. If your character’s success is on the line though, if you’re staking your precious fictional alter ego on the outcome of a desperate gambit, then you get that same sense of “holy crap, everything rides on this one roll of the dice.”

So how about it, kids? Have you ever held your breath as the die clacked across the table, hoping against hope that you would successfully con the Good Fairy out of a free wish? What was the big gamble in your game? Did you come away a winner?