This month the Blog Carnival is at 6d6Fireball and the topic is D&D
In high school, I was a self-imposed outcast. I was a country kid, the closest neighbor that I got along with lived a mile away, and I’d walk the highway to go play Ninendo with him once in a while, but most of the time I had chores to do around the place, and much of my free time I’d spend by myself out in the woods.
I never liked people, to many folks around me always makes me feel edgy. I got into wargames, playing them from time to time, but for whatever reason we never played D&D. My cousin and I played 1 game of it back in the day, but it just developed into a big fight and neither of us knew what we were doing. Hell, I was so young I couldn’t even read yet. I think that the stigma of D&D linked to Satanism and suicide still lingered in my brain. Folks running around the woods with swords and thinking that they could fly and stuff. It was spooky! Besides, most of my friends at the time were complete idiots.
I got into it kind of backwards. I reached a spiritual crisis early in my life and began a search for God which led me to the occult. I found a couple of teachers here and there, but most of my teachers were books. Books have always been my friend. The dude sitting on the steps engrossed in a book . . . well, that was me. Hillbilly-book-worm! Oddly enough, I was all alone in this pursuit. While my “friends” were obsessed scoring weed, booze, and women, I read and read and read and had nobody to talk about what I was learning with.
After I graduated, and the taunt noose of puberty loosened enough to were I could breathe, I finally found many of the answers that I was searching for. I never went to collage, I couldn’t afford it, and the last thing that I needed at that point was more people telling me what to do with my life, so I got a crappy job flipping burgers downtown. While there I ran into a friend that drastically changed my life for the better. He too was an occultist, & he played Wargames. We hung out constantly and slowly the circle which surrounded me was a better class of minds. Folks interested in philosophy, religion, mysteries, ghosts, actual thinkers!!! For the first time in my life, I was actually happy around others. I could talk to them and they would actually understand it and come back with something of their own, it was a creative landmark.
I originally balked at playing D&D. It was a kids game, and I honestly didn’t understand how it worked, but one of my friends was insistent as hell, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He lent me a copy of his Players Handbook and I absorbed it. It was amazing! A game which required creativity and imagination to play? A game were you get to explore dank and haunted corridors, discovering bizarre and mysterious magical items? THIS WAS GREAT!!! I played the next day, and I played with a gusto. And when I said that I played with a gusto, it wasn’t rare to be playing a three day game living on cigarettes and Mountain Dew.
We could do whatever we wanted with the thing! And we did, too. We played wargames with it, explored ruins, fought epic badguys. We didn’t play modules all that much, with 4 rotating DM’s, the competition to be the best was always high. We explored huge games with over 10 people all sitting around the living room with 2 or three characters each, all the way down to 1-on-1 games, which were my personal favorite.
Sometimes we’d start play with 1st level characters, but usually it was 5th. I always felt that it was more rewarding to start at first, but we were young and didn’t have the patience for that kind of thing. We did, however, get to explore parts of the game that, as adults, we don’t have time for. Roleplaying aspects which were fascinating, and arguing! My god we could fight, but it was constructive arguing. Banter between friends that more times then not ended with, “Well I think that’s bull-shit”.
You respected the DM, but if you had an argument about something, then s/he’d always listen for a little bit and then decide if he’d cave or not. The one thing that you never did was intentionally anger him or her. Mean things happened when you did that. You’d get your sex changed, raped by a monster and contact some evil STD, polymorph into something which would make the rest of the party laugh their heads off.
Wishes were always something that one quickly learned to respect. We all had evil and devious minds! I remember the first wish that I ever made. The DM’s name was Lee, and man was he a stickler! His mind was such a thing that he actually got off on making calls which were hard to make, and he’d make them fast and you’d better live with it because more times then not, the man was right.
Earlier in the day our party discovered a Deck of Many Things. It absolutely decimated the party, literally cutting our numbers in half. My friend Shannon (who I still play the game with) got a raw deal, one character being zapped to death instantly, and the other one was teleported 100 miles away or some crap, either way we never saw him again. So there is Shannon, rolling up a new character, and at the time it took us all freaking day long to roll those things up . . . I’m not sure why, we can now do it in about 45 min.. Well, from the deck I drew a wish spell, and I decided to use it to save Shannon’s butt.
My buddy Andrew, who played under Lee more then anybody else had at that time, warned me to be specific, so I took my time and thought exactly what I wanted to wish for out in a way that it couldn’t be turned back around in my face. So, after a long time, and a walk down to the Kwik Shop to refill our buckets of soda, I finally had the perfect wish.
“I wish Shannon’s character was returned to the party with all of his belongings and at full hit points.”
“That’s it?” Lee asks, “That’s the spell you’ve been thinking about for the last 30 minutes of my life?”
“Yes,” I said, folding my arms, confident in my wording abilities and, if I dare say so, my superior brain.
“Fine.” Lee says, getting ready to get back to the business of exploring the dungeon, “This dude pops into the room next to you and says, ‘Hi, my name’s Shannon.’ He’s wearing a gay black shirt and thinks he’s a vampire but he’s really a pud with no armor, no weapon, and a whole 4hp.”
“What?!?” I yell while Shannon is shacking his head, hating his friends because Lee just made fun of him too, knocking the way that he dresses.
BURNED!!!!! For the next 6 months, this worthless NPC named Shannon followed us around like a puppy, he never attacked anything and did nothing but set off traps that never effected him but would make our lives hell. Truth be known, nobody ever got a wish from good ol’ Lee, and I always do my best to keep this long tradition among us friends alive.
Another Player that we had was my buddy Andrew, who I mentioned above. This guy was hilarious! He always started out the game as a Ranger, but would always end up a CN fighter because he couldn’t play a good guy to save his life, but man could that guy map! That was his talent, and I didn’t even realize just how good he was until I started DMing. He’d be sitting there smarting off the entire game, but at the end of the session, he’d hand me this map that he’d drawn off of my explanations alone which was more detailed then the one that I was using.
Sometimes he’d slow us down, yelling for everyone to wait, in his own filthy way which is totally unfit language for you, my gentle reader, but most of the time he was faster and didn’t have a hard time keeping up, and still having time to make fun of everybody and steal all of the best treasure for himself. To date, I’ve never seen anybody else who was able to do what he did. Nobody!
My first character was a cleric named Wrath, a priest of Lovitar, the Goddess of Pain in the Forgotten Realms world. My longest running character was a female thief named Leggus, I started her at 1st level in my future wifes campaign, and played under many different DMs with her, eventually taking over her guild through violence and murder, and her life ended at the hands of her arch enemy, a Vampire whom she first faced in her very first adventure . . . at least I think that she’s dead, I screwed up bad on a dice roll and somehow got myself charmed by him and had ran ahead, thus no allies to defend me. He took me at his leisure. She’d spent her entire career an enemy of the undead, and now she is one. Good stuff!
My favorite character though, is a guy named Elric. A swashbuckler who was forced by the King into being a Lord. 0 magic, but lots of war and espionage. Elric was a trip! Even something as basic as going to a tavern always ended up in mischief. He was always a fun character to play, he hated responsibility but depended on it all the same.
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