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Phone rings. I answer. The caller is my father.
DAD: I have a very important question.
ME: What is it?
DAD: It's about dragons. They've been around for centuries—
ME: Mythically, yeah.
DAD: And they breath fire.
ME: Yes, in some mythologies, some dragons breathe fire.
DAD: So my question is: why don't they fly through their own fire breath?
DAD: If you spit while you're running, you run into your own spit. So when dragons fly and breathe fire, why aren't they burned as they move through their own flames?
ME: Why aren't mythical dragons burned by imaginary fire? Because their storytellers didn't want that to happen.
DAD: No. I'm asking if dragons were real, wouldn't they burn themselves?
ME: Uh, I don't.... I guess for the same reason that if you attached a blowtorch to the front of your car. You'd never catch up to that flame, either.
DAD: Hmm. I never thought of that. I guess I'll have to give it a try. Thanks, son.
Now I can't talk on my phone because I'm waiting for the inevitable call from the fire department.
Last week, Dungeons & Dragons was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Obviously, I think this is a great thing.
But more important than any novels I've written about a role-playing adventure I created, this special occasion gives me the opportunity to remind you of Tom Hanks' greatest performance.
This movie is Mazes and Monsters, the 1982 classic based on the right-wing paranoia that Dungeons & Dragons was destroying childrens' minds.
Drink it in. That man has won two Academy Awards.
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3. The story of Mr. Tom Spy
Mr. Tom Spy was dedicated to his craft: he peeped on everyone everywhere. Blindly wandering wherever the peeping opportunity took him, he shadowed a Rogue out of the City and followed a Magus into the Woods. That proved to be his undoing.
Although Mr. Spy was good at looking at things such as tombstones in The Graveyard, he was terribly unprepared when things looked back. A Living Doll chased Mr. Spy all the way back to the City, where Tom conned an Alchemist into buying "his" doll for one gold piece.
Mr. Spy returned to the Woods only to discover that the Magus had left. Night fell suddenly and the Woods soon filled with horrible creatures like the Crypt Keeper. In no time at all, Mr. Spy was attacked by a Wolfen and infected with the dread disease of Lycanthropy.
Rushing back to the City unaware that he was being followed, Mr. Spy hoped to use his gold piece to buy a cure. However, Fate was not to be so kind. While Mr. Spy was distracted by a City Rat, a menacing Werewolf fell upon him and killed him. The End.
3 (cont'd). The story of Lady Valkyrie
The Valkyrie began her quest to purge the world of evil in the Ruins. Knowing that money was the root of all evil, she headed to the City, where she killed the City Rat and convinced the City Patrol to clean up the streets.
The good Lady Valkyrie next headed to the Graveyard, where she prayed and had her Life restored. She next ventured to and drank from the Fountain of Wisdom, improving her Craft.
Emboldened, she headed into the Crags, where she befriended a Beastmaster and a Magpie and a found a Magic Mace and Horns of Power (as well as a useless Lodestone). The mysterious even Ymir's Glow empowered her with spells! Defeating a Wind Rider, she proceeded to defeat the Lord of the Eyrie and take his precious Rage Talon. The End.
Talisman, game three. (Games 1 and 2 here.) I've decided that I enjoy writing these little character vignettes more than I enjoy playing Talisman.
1. The story of Dwarfy McDwarf
Dwarfy McDwarf was a self-centered dwarf from the Crags in search of adventure. Dwarfy wandered into the Highlands where he bravely dared Narrow and Icy Paths. Dwarfy slayed Harpies and Hippogrifs galore, gaining tremendous Strength in the process. Dwarfy's exploits in the Highlands earned him several Followers, all of whom quickly succumbed to the deadly dragon's breath of the Dragon King.
Dwarfy headed to the Dungeon to test his mettle. Dwarfy found an abundance of gold, weapons, armor, and trinkets in the Dungeon. Nothing in the Dungeon could survive Dwarfy's unmatched Strength. After a brief detour to avoid the Dungeon Torturer, Dwarfy easily beat the Lord of the Dungeon in single combat.
Determined to find a real challenge, Dwarfy marched undaunted to the lair of the Dragon King, pausing only long enough to engage the services of a Tavern Maid. In the end, the Dragon King presented little challenge for Dwarfy, and Dwarfy assumed the Crown of Command and lived happily ever after. The End.
2. The story of the Necromancer
The evil Necromancer left the Graveyard and soon found a powerful Skull Wand. He sought out the Village Mystic in search of more power. The Mystic unexpectedly turned the evil Necromancer good, forcing the Necromancer to relinquish control of the Skull Wand.
The good Necromancer wandered the region in search of a method to restore his evilness. The Necromancer was eventually joined by an unlikely Follower, Red Riding Hood, whose "help" would ultimately prove a bane. The Necromancer returned frequently to the Village Mystic, who eventually relented and turned the good Necromancer evil again.
By this time, a very Crafty Assassin had found the abandoned Skull Wand and made off with it. The evil Necromancer vowed to track down and overpower the Assassin to recover his precious Skull Wand, but he knew that he would have to improve his Strength and/or Craft before confronting the Assassin.
The evil Necromancer visited the Dungeon in search of Strength and Craft, but was soon chased out empty-handed by a powerful Battlehulk hunting Red Riding Hood.
The evil Necromancer searched the Outer Region in search of Strength and Craft, but was soon chased out empty-handed by a powerful Fire Giant hunting Red Riding Hood.
The evil Necromancer roamed the Highlands in search of Strength and Craft, and here he collected countless objects, survived two Avalanches, earned the loyalty of several followers, and effortlessly defeated the Eagle King. Despite all these adventures, the evil Necromancer was unable to ever gain any Strength or hone his Craft or find any sign of the Skull Wand ever again. The End.
I played my first two games of Talisman this past weekend. You can probably tell which of the two games I enjoyed more.
Move over chocolate and peanut butter, you've got company. I was supposed to be updating the website this weekend, but instead I spent all day playing Dungeons and Dragons the way it was meant to be played: as a pinball machine.
Bally/Midway released this TSR™ Dungeons & Dragons™ cabinet 25 years ago, and I can attest that it is still all awesome. I haven't had this much fun playing pinball since high school. Though to be honest, I haven't played that much pinball since high school.
If you think role-playing games and pinball machines make an unlikely combination, consider the technological odd couple presented by pinball machines and the internet: specific details about this cabinet, its innards, and its marketing materials can be found online at the Internet Pinball Machine Database. Thank you, internet.
A cleric, a monk, and a druid stood together against the malicious, knife-wielding creeper. The clank of sword on steel echoed down the hall, the sounds of battle from the adventuring party's lone fighter.
Pausing just long enough to cast a quick spell against the creeper, the cleric hustled away to tend to the fighter. The druid was worried. The departing cleric gave an encouraging wink to the druid, "Don't worry; you've got this."
As fluid as water, the monk struck the creeper and sprinted away towards the fighter's opponent. The druid still had doubt. The darting monk gravely reassured to the druid, "He said you've got this."
With the violence of a snake, the creeper hurled a knife that struck the druid's chest. The druid was visibly upset. The creeper said to the druid with a giggle, "You've got this!"
Like the proverbial sack of potatoes, the wounded druid crumpled to the ground. The druid sighed. Said the druid to himself, "Were they talking to me?"
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Love role-playing games but tired of the same old hack 'n slash campaigns? Then have I got a treat for you: Smallville: The Roleplaying Game! This is not your father's roleplaying game: this game's got angst!
Now you can take on the role of a teenager who is too shy to tell the girl of his dreams that he is invulnerable to bullets but not Cupid's arrows! Or play as the jealous rival who spends an inordinate amount of time trying to extract himself from his parents' controlling shadow while assuming only model poses and moody pouts. And battle villain after villain who developed amazing and obvious powers as a result of exposure to alien radiation that no one over the age of 18 has seen before or since!
Rest assured that if nothing else, you won't have to worry about your characters wearing any garish costumes. Everyone wears black! (All the kids are doing it!)
Gary Gygax is dead. Should we laud him as the Father of the RPG or curse him as the enabler behind that irritating Uni on the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon? Put yourself in my shoes and decide!
Alright, folks, the latest D&D campaign is now online. You can read it over in the RPG Vault.
Last month I ran a series of cartoons depicting an incident with my dear, dear friend Brian Cooper when he "accidently" tossed a full glass of Coke on my notes during a gaming session. Well, last week I got him back. His character, Balgren, was consumed by a Bag of Devouring. (He dove in to try to recover a companion. Sure, Balgren tried to take a Bottle of Air into the Devourer's maw, but that didn't help him much.) Needless to say, we all had a good laugh at Brian's expense.
Turns out Brian had a birthday this week. As a present, a mutual friend of ours (Ken Harrison) drew a birthday card for him:
From now on, all of my Bags of Devouring will be called Bob.