Author Archives: Reece McIntyre

How Do You Want To Do This?


The following is a folk rule that my friend added to the game of Dungeons and Dragons. We both went to school together in Oregon, from middle school through high school so I’ve known him for a while. He had been the DM for a group for around three years. My friend is still at home so I asked him to explain some of the homebrew rules he has while I recorded him. This is a direct transcribed script of what was said in the story, with the various “umm’s” and “uhh’s” omitted.


“Okay so you just want me to talk about homebrew stuff we use?”

Me: Ya, but things that you took from other places. Like from Critical Role.

“Ohh, okay. I guess one of the bigger things that we use when we play is the phrase ‘how do you want to do this?’ We pretty much stole this directly from Matt Mercer (the DM on the youtube show Critical Role) except lately we put our own twist on it. Instead of saying… “

Me: Wait, hold on, say what it is first, like what you do when that comes up.

“Ya that’s fine, interrupt me. Okay, so when you’re in combat in D&D, and everyone is super hurt from the fight and the monster is about to kill everyone and that player lands that final killing blow that you see as a DM, you don’t want to just say ‘it dies.’ That’s boring. So Matt Mercer, and now we do it and a bunch of other DM’s, we say ‘how do you want to do this?’ Then the player that killed it gets to epically describe how they kill the monster. So what we do, instead of just stealing it from Matt… well I play Mortal Kombat a lot, and they have a thing where when you win you can do a fatality, which is like to embarrass your opponent. And the game has this deep voice go ‘Finish Him’ and then you do the thing which is super gory and stuff and you kill the guy. So we’ve started saying ‘Finish Him’ instead of ‘how do you want to do this’ because for us that’s more epic I guess. And then one of you goes and says your whole spiel on how you behead or whatever the monster.”


This explanation was quite interesting to me, even though I already knew about it. As he said, this thing only comes up every so often when a big monster gets killed while we are playing D&D. Homebrew rules like this one should definitely be considered as folklore because of how they get passed along and changed to better fit specific groups. I am not sure if the line ‘how do you want to do this’ originated from Matt Mercer or not, but I know many groups like ours take the idea and build on it. 

The game of D&D is a great base for spreading folklore because of its very loose rules. In the Dungeon Master’s Guide, it even says that what the DM says goes, allowing for the game’s fundamental rules to change along with the groups playstyle. This often appears in D&D as homebrew, which is generally anything used in the game that isn’t explicitly in the rules. DM’s share their homebrew online leading it to be taken and changed in many different games across the world. ‘How do you want to do this’ is just one example of the various folk-rule changes implemented in the game of D&D.

The White Witch of Rose Hall

This performance is a ghost story told by my grandpa. Now 79 years old, he lived the first 26 years of his life in a crowded house in Old Harbour, Jamaica. He moved to New York in ‘68 and has lived in the US since. A lot of his family still live in Jamaica and the country is still the place of his roots. He is Jamaican, Chinese, and Indian. He has a thick Jamaican accent so if you can read this in a Jamaican accent it may add to the experience. This is a transcribed script of what was said in the story, with the various “umm’s” and “uhh’s” omitted. 


“I was telling them (my family in Texas) ghost stories at the Mo-Ranch… but we call them duppy stories instead of ghost stories. In Jamaica we call them duppy instead of ghosts. I was there telling them around the fireplace duppy stories… but when we told ghost stories in Jamaica no one wants to go to bed because they are too afraid to go to bed. And then the following day I ask them if any of them dream about ghosts. And then Noah (my cousin: 14 y/o) said, “ya, at 3 in the morning it feel like someone was touching my toes.” In Jamaica there’s a true story about a white witch who rose on… near Montego Bay there’s a county, we call it a parish, it’s called Lucy, and there was a lady there from America I think. She had a big estate back in the 1800s and they had a lot of plantations where they did sugarcane and she had hundreds of slaves and she would work them so hard. When they died they would just bury them on the property. And she got so old that… she still had slaves and all that on her plantation… and when she died she used to have a big stallion, a big white horse, that she rides around the property, and it’s rumored that she died and she was still riding around the property on this white horse, a lot of people saw her, or think they see her on this white horse, and they’d be scared of her. So I was telling the kids about this story, saying that this woman would come into your bed and scare you tonight. I guess that’s why Noah dreamt why someone was holding on to his foot that night.” 


My grandpa had told this story over zoom to me and the rest of the family, but it was brought up when they were talking about the family’s trip to Mo-Ranch. While sitting around the campfire and entertaining both the kids and the adults, my grandpa told them this story to try to scare the kids. Luckily, the two youngest were not phased and slept soundly through the night. I am not sure where my grandpa learned this story, and neither is he, but to him, it seemed like a fairly common story among his generation of Jamaicans. 

I personally really enjoyed this story from my grandpa. Even though it can be difficult to understand him at times (the Jamaican accent and many paths in the story really don’t mix well) it was still an interesting story. I thought it was funny that he opened by saying how the story was true. I looked the story up and found that there were indeed some elements of it that were true. The story is known around Jamaica as The White Witch of Rose Hall. The story I found on other websites was considerably more in-depth and gruesome than the one my grandpa had told. Perhaps he was censoring it a little so it could be told to the kids. Perhaps his memory was a little splotchy and he just missed some things. Or perhaps that was just the way he had heard the story told. 

Some things missed in the story from other folklore accounts included the name of the ‘White Witch.’ Her name was Annie Palmer, and from other accounts, it said that she was a cruel person. It is said that she had killed not one, not two, but three husbands and enjoyed torturing and killing her slaves. When she died (killed by her slave lover Takoo), a voodoo ritual was performed on her but it was done incorrectly and her spirit was released into Rose Hall. So there were things that my grandpa missed, but he got the overall essence of the story, how a cruel woman now haunted a plantation in Jamaica. 

For another reference to this story, see the link below.

Jamaican Curry


This is a recipe told by my grandpa. Now 79 years old, he lived the first 26 years of his life in a crowded house in Old Harbour, Jamaica. He moved to New York in ‘68 and has lived in the US since. A lot of his family still live in Jamaica and the country is still the place of his roots. He is Jamaican, Chinese, and Indian. He has a thick Jamaican accent so if you can read this in a Jamaican accent it may add to the experience. This is a transcribed script of what was said in the story, with the various “umm’s” and “uhh’s” omitted.

How To Cook Curry

“Well, one of the bad things that I did not learn from them (his parents), or did not get help from them, was because I didn’t participate in cooking and all that. I had it made when I was living with my parents in Jamaica, but I never did go around the fire at all. Later in life after I left home and got married I remembered what they used to do, like for instance I remember cooking some of the local dishes like curry chicken or curry goat. I learn a lot from them, like how to prepare it, cut it up and wash it, you clean it real good. With the curry chicken, a special way that the chinese does the curry chicken is the spices. One of the main spice was a scotch bonnet pepper. It was very hot. They have a way of rating pepper by how hot it is and this scotch bonnet goes way up there. Apart from the indian pepper, but it might be the hottest in the world. But the scotch bonnet is not only hot it has a nice flavor to it. So if you’re doing curry, curry chicken or curry goat, you want to use that scotch bonnet. For some reason after you season it up it takes a long process to cook goat, because there’s hardly any fat on the goat. It’s mostly muscle. The goat runs a lot so it doesn’t have a lot of fat like a sheep or a cow. It’s very lean so you have to cook it real long. So they use a lot of curry, that really yellow indian one. And they use a lot of… that thing, let me go to the pantry. They use the pepper and the garlic on the curry. And a curry that they use a lot is the Blue Mountain Curry. Tell her (my mom), they can mix the Blue Mountain Curry with the Sam’s curry and it makes three more bottles. As for the curry, you just got to cook it real long and add a lot of onion and green scallion (a vegetable) and cook it until you take a fork, it can stick it easily, and that’s when you know it’s cooked properly. Yesterday we cooked some curry chicken, but chicken is much easier, it cook much faster than the curry goat. But the curry goat is like a national dish in jamaica.


My grandpa told me this meal over facetime the other day. Ever since I’ve been a kid, curry chicken and goat have been a staple food of our family gatherings. You often can’t go to a family reunion of ours without seeing a curry dish made by grandpa. You may notice that the process of cooking it is very vague. That is actually how he tells people to cook it, saying things like just cook it until it’s done or add a bit of pepper. For example, my dad learned how to cook curry from him, and that is exactly the way my grandpa taught him how to cook it. This is certainly an interesting way of passing on folk recipes. The process of cooking curry definitely has a learning curve when learning it this way: learning how much water and how long to cook it add to the variety that it gets across the family. Without having clear measurements the curry dish always comes out different, and usually pretty tasty. 

My grandpa also gives a variant ingredient with the scotch bonnet pepper. His dad was chinese so this ingredient was an addition from that part of his heritage. By the way, the scotch bonnet is not one of the hottest peppers in the world. The curry dish also has origins in India and not so surprisingly, my grandpa is also Indian. Curry has always been a classic food in his life and will continue to be in ours.

Jamaican Duppies


This story is a tradition in Jamaica told by my grandpa proclaiming the importance of telling ghost stories. Now 79 years old, he lived the first 26 years of his life in a crowded house in Old Harbour, Jamaica. He moved to New York in ‘68 and has lived in the US since. A lot of his family still live in Jamaica and the country is still the place of his roots. He is Jamaican, Chinese, and Indian. He has a thick Jamaican accent so if you can read this in a Jamaican accent it may add to the experience. This is a transcribed script of what was said in the story, with the various “umm’s” and “uhh’s” omitted.


“In my country Jamaica, ghost stories were told to the kids a lot. Not to scare them but to keep them in and around the house. Because when they hear these stories they become scared and they don’t want to go out and stay out late. The kids thought that if the kids were bad the ghosts were gonna get you. The adults and the family members would bring into the picture where the ghosts were like good ghosts, not really evil ghosts that would just destroy you, so when they told them stories about them ghosts… we had this name that we call them in Jamaica, we call them Duppy. It’s just a folk name for ghosts. They were telling them ghost stories that would really get them scared. They would make up a lot of these stories though. Because my brother, my older brother used to tell me stories about ghost stories, and after I was so scared, after I finished listening to these stories I would go to my friends and stay out late and be thinking of the stories they told me. But in real life after I grow and I realize these ghost stories were old family traditions that they made up and that they weren’t really true. I remember coming home once, this is a real fact, I came home and I was in my 20s and it was just getting dark, and I came through the front door – this was my older brother, he was like about 14 years older than I am – and he was sitting at the table with his wife and his son eating. You know supper, and I knock and he say come in. And I left the front door open and I look straight past him and I’m thinking of getting back to him what he used to tell me about ghost stories and make me scared and the wife look at him and say ‘ [name] what are you looking at and he said, ‘look at [name], he’s looking right past us, I don’t know what he’s looking at, he’s not saying anything.’ And I look like I’m looking through the back door and I turn around and I run and they all run from the table. *my grandpa starts laughing*. And he turn to me and go ‘what was that!.’ And I say ‘it was a ghost.’ And he lost it. And I say ‘I just made it up and look past you guys. I just want to see your face thinking you saw a ghost.’ But we just used to make up stories about ghosts and that’s what I did to him that time, I can just remember they were trying to get past me into the yard, I don’t know how they did not trip over. It was really funny that they believe me.”


While this story wasn’t a specific legend about a ghost that haunts some part of Jamaica it does show the significance of ghost stories. As my grandpa says in the beginning, ghost stories were told by all members of the family, but normally to scare the younger ones. This then turns into a tradition or coming of age thing where the younger siblings could eventually scare the older siblings. The story was important to my grandpa because of how the stories can remind him of his brother and other family. 

I think it is important to look at this story, not as a very family-specific story, but as a symbol of how the Jamaican ghost stories are important. In Jamaica, the people have their own folk name for ghosts, Duppies or a Duppy, which then give ghosts a different meaning. Instead of evil spirits that simply haunt, Duppies are spirits that are given meaning by messing with bad kids. By putting their own twist on ghosts, Jamaicans had made a new type of folk-monster.

The Lord’s Prayer and Praying Before Meals


The following is a folk-tradition that was told to me by the lead pastor of my church. He is a non-denominational Christian pastor and is a caucasian male. I found out about this tradition of his when asking him about any folklore that his family may have had. We met at a local coffee shop in our town where I recorded the story. This is a direct transcribed script of what was said in the story, with the various “umm’s” and “uhh’s” omitted.


“We would say the Lord’s Prayer at every meal and that did seem weird to me, but we would just do that. And that was something my dad did when he was a kid.

‘Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power are yours forever, Amen.’ 

And then, we didn’t do this, but I remember some of our friends would do the cross thing after they finished the prayer, *physically motions from head to chest, to the left and then to the right.* They do that in Serbia. When we lived overseas they would, Serbians would go forehead and then to the chest and then left and then right.  Croatians, who are catholic, would go down and then right and then left. We have no idea why, their cross symbol would just be the opposite, but it would still be the cross symbol. We used to do another prayer before every meal and it was always the same prayer. At least this sentence would have been in it. They might have been longer but I remember this sentence, and I still say it, it’s just like embedded in me. ‘Bless this food to our bodies, in Jesus’ name, Amen.’ I can’t remember a meal that we didn’t pray, one, and that phrase wasn’t in the prayer. Every meal that we had together we would do that.” 


I am not sure how much you know about The Lord’s Prayer in the Christian faith, but from what I have heard over the years is that they are always slightly different. My pastor’s prayer was slightly different in the line “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” I have heard many things also said in this line, things like “and do not bring us into the time of trial.” Another odd feature I have noticed with the lord’s prayer is that some parts are just omitted in some households. Why? I do not know, but I do know some people will only say up until the “on earth as it is in heaven.” I think it was interesting that my pastor said this before every meal and also included another prayer on top of that one, one that was made up on the spot by the family but always featured that line at the end. I know this prayer and praying, in general, is an important part of my pastor’s life because of his place in the Christian church. While the Lord’s Prayer is explicitly said in the bible itself (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4), I find it most often learned from parents and not just memorized from the bible. This leads to different forms of the prayer as it evolves through generations. The last line, “For thine is the kingdom and the glory and the power are yours forever” is also commonly not included in the prayer, as it isn’t in the Luke version of it. I also thought the cross thing that they do in Serbia and Croatia was interesting and included it even though his family did not do it. That is another piece of the Lord’s Prayer, finishing with making a cross from your forehead to your chest, that is sometimes performed and sometimes not.