Thursday, May 27, 2010

Secret Origins - Part II



...So our story continues as Tom, Paul and I, the only ones interested enough and brave enough to give this new game a try, prepare to play on the kitchen table over at Tom's house.


Tom handed out paper, pencils and dice he explained the game of Dungeons & Dragons in a bit more detail. He described the basic concepts of how some numbers represented your character's abilities, how rolling dice to meet or beat numbers told you if you hit, missed or got hit and how hit points worked. After a short discussion of rules he went on to describe the world.

At the ages of 7 and 8, none of us had any real experience with what 'medieval' was. Likewise, our exposure to fantasy literature of the sword and sorcery variety had been limited. I had read The Hobbit (I was very advanced for my age in reading and writing...and monumentally terrible at math. Still am.) but not much else as far as wizards and dragons went. Luckily, we had read comic books featuring Conan and Warlord and seen animated films and tv shows to help us get in the 'right' mind set.

My first character (ever for an RPG) was Gobbo Pepperthorn, a halfling who hailed from farmlands quite some distance from the human kingdoms. The adventure began when Gobbo was told to take a small box containing six bottles of the Pepperthorn family's secret recipe super-spicy hot sauce to The Human King. Apparently Gobbo's father had gone to do that over a year ago and never returned.

I''ll never forget my first encounter, largely because it explains why I view things the way I do today. What some old school gamers evolved to, I feel like I started with.

Basically, I was walking on the road to the human lands when I entered a ghost town. Not so much a deserted medieval town since, as I said, we had no clue what the heck a medieval town looked like. No, this was a wild west ghost town, complete with horse troughs and a swinging door saloon. I mean seriously, to an 8 year old an Errol Flynn Robin Hood movie and a western are seperated by one thing, guns weren't invented yet. Other than that its the same setting.

As Gobbo explored the abandoned town he eventually discovered that everyone had died of some kind of illness. Soon, Skeletons were attacking him and I made haste for the saloon so I could get access to alcohol, broken glass bottles and other impromtu weaponry.

Battling multiple opponents and running and jumping like a jack rabbit (which I just assumed heroic halflings with high dexterites could do), young master Pepperthorn spilled numerous bottles of whiskey and wine. Gobbo than lures most of the undead into the bar and proceeds to torch the place with a makeshift molotov cocktail.

The flames are seen by Paul's Cleric, a human from the largest kingdom who was coming to the town to find out why his people had lost contact with them.

To be honest, in the 30 years since that game I've rarely had even close to that much fun playing D&D if I wasn't running it. If that sounds egotistical so be it. Why? Because so many D&D GMs seem caught up on the meaningless minutiae of weight allowance and weapon speed and all the other crap that makes me want to cast light into my own eyes. Rarely has any D&D referee I've encountered let me or anyone else leap off bannisters, flip onto tables or do any of the borderline comic book/kung fu movie craziness Tom let us do in that game.

Also, after the battle was over and Paul and I had defeated the last of the Skeletons...there was no treasure. We didn't get any and we didn't ask for any. Why? Superheroes don't do it for the gold.

We defeated evil creatures created by a cursed disease. Our job now was finding out where the curse came from and why it was made. In the weeks to follow we would learn of an evil Cleric out to take over the world with an undead army. We would save innocent lives and free the lost prince of the Elves who would than join our party (an additional player). We found out the Pepperthorn hot sauce has an unusual effect on humans, giving them super strength for sort periods. That was why the Human King wanted it and why Gobbo's father was kidnapped by the evil Cleric.

It wasn't about treasure, gold or even XP for us. It was about being heroes from day 1.

To be concluded with Secret Origins - Part III...Coming Soon...

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