Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Wow, I really meant to get back to this sooner.

So, "When last we left our intrepid band of adventurers..." they were in the mountain town of Delve, and had just defeated some ice mephits who had been freezing the townsfolk... or they were just hanging around after the demon froze all the townsfolk. I guess I never did figure that out.

I was away for this session. Probably on vacation at Disney World, if memory serves. We explained it that Zorenthiel's duties as a priest and healer overrode his arcane curiosity, and he stayed in town to help free the rest of the people, rather than go with the group to defeat the demon.

Because I find the journal entry written by Jason (Pate's player) to be so entertaining, I'm going to quote it word for word here. :)

"Today we went to kill the demon thing that has been freezing all the nice townspeople. We were supposed to be looking for Ehrdren's dad, but we never really seem to get around to doing stuff like that. Which is a shame, because I miss my donkey Forget-Me-Not and I am pretty sure he can help me out with that. I hope they are taking care of him. I mean my donkey that is. Ehrdren's dad is dead; I guess he doesn't need taking care of.

We beat up a little demon (again) and he gave us the information we needed (again). He led us to a cold cave. We tied him up outside. You can't trust demons at all...especially little ones. I used lots of rope.

The cave was icy cold. The Lady felt bad for us so she made sure the cold wouldn't bother us. She didn't do anything about the ice though. I think maybe she wanted me to try something else besides jumping at big monsters and beating them up until I black out. She maybe has a point. A little ways into the cave we almost fell into a pit. It was pretty deep so we used rope to cross it. We used all of my rope..and I had a LOT of rope. I need to buy more. Timond and Illeana got a little banged up climbing across. It was a little funny. A bit later we got attacked wall? It looked like a big bit of wall made out of clearish honey. It kinda ate Timond and Calatin's dog. It didn't have a mouth, and I looked. We beat it up though and pulled Timond and the dog out. I don't know what else to say about THAT."

DM Note: This was an attack by a gelatinous cube that hid in a side passage and attacked when the party moved past it.

"Further into the cave we saw an awesome ice slide and we knew there were monsters at the bottom. And this ...this was so cool. Timond sent a fake bear down the slide to scare the monsters and I slid down the slide to start the beatings. Only there was a big hole at the bottom (who does that?) and I fell down it. Illeana helped me get out and we started the beatings proper. There was three little ice demons and one huge Ice Demon.

I walked over and started beating it up (see, I listened to the lady. No running or jumping). And it started beating me up back. It was really strong. I wish I could fight like that. I think Illeana was healing me, but I am not sure. It's hard to be smart and notice stuff when I get to beatin'. Timond summoned a big gold lion and lots of fire too. I think he hurt the big Ice monster more than I did. Calatin couldn't fight because he was trying to get his dog out of the hole.
The little ice demons were so happy we beat up their daddy that one decided to be Timond's slave. I am not sure if I trust him, but he seems nice enough. I guess. And the townspeople were so happy they decided to give me a adamant hammer. I think I will give my old hammer to Timond. He needs to bulk up. The townspeople are giving an adamant weapon to Illeana, too."

DM Note: The one remaining ice mephit, upon witnessing Timond deal the fatal fire-based blow to the ice devil, decided that he should serve his new master, the mighty wizard Timond. He is now Timond’s lackey. We’ll see how that goes.

"After that we finally went to Ehrdren's dad's place. We didn't get to talk to him because it has so many stairs. Hopefully we can get my Forget-Me-Not back tomorrow."

DM Note: The party descended into The Deeping Well (where souls wait after death, before moving on to the afterlife), seeking to speak with the singer of the well, Drogan, as well as with Ehrdren’s father who recently gave his life in exchange for returning his long-dead wife to new life.

It sounded like a fun session, and I regret missing it, but if memory does serve, and I was at Disney World, I'm sure I was doing something just as fun, if not more-so, so I'm not too broken up about it. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


"When last we left our intrepid band of adventurers, they had just exited the Feywild through a Fairy Circle, and were confronted by the pixie, Widdershins." was how Craig started off our next session. He always started off our sessions with that line: "When last we left our intrepid band of adventurers...". I enjoyed that. It seemed to tie everything together.

Anyway, Widdershins confronted us and wanted to know where Kai was. I hadn't known about this, but Kai (Toni's human bard) was married to Widdershins. Calatin had taken a ring that Kai wore, and I suppose it was specifically for this purpose, as he handed it over to Widdershins, giving him the bad news about Kai's death at the hands of the shambling mounds. He was not pleased, of course, and left.

We traveled to the nearby human city of Ebrandel, and took the time to identify all the magic we'd found, spend some money on new things, and have Timond create some new magic items for us. The next step in our journey would be to find a portal that would lead us to the Deeping Well... the place where all souls go to as they journey to their final destination. We, of course, wanted to avoid the usual method of arriving there... you know... death, and we discovered that there was one high in the mountains. We set out, climbing the mountain trail, until we reached a vale at the top. There was a mining town we were making for, named Delve, and upon approaching we noticed something very strange. The town glittered in the sun, as if it was covered in diamonds! Reaching the town, we discovered the true reason for this... it was actually covered in ice!

Approaching the town, we didn't see any movement and everything was deathly silent. Stepping through the open gate, we found that all the buildings were coated in ice, and there were actually people here, but they were all frozen in ice, and they were still alive! We set to work as quickly as we could, releasing as many as we could until evening set in. We took everyone outside the city, built up a big fire and sat everyone around it. They told us that a white dragon attacked the town, freezing everyone and everything with its breath!

As we were completing our preparations for the night, and dreading the possibility of facing off against a dragon, when we heard some noise coming from inside the gates... some chattering... and went to investigate.

Poking our heads inside, we saw three small humanoid creatures lurking about near one of the buildings, talking to one another. Trying to get their attention revealed them as illusions, and Zorenthiel made his way over to check things out. He spotted the one creating the illusion, but failed to spot two others... one by the gate, and one up on top of a roof.

While we were distracted by deal with one of them, suddenly, a shadow fell over the area and a huge white dragon descended upon us, breathing a cone of cold over us! During the fight, Zorenthiel noticed something strange, though. Looking up, the creature on the roof was pointing a wand at the dragon. Suspicious, given that we'd already seen one of them generating illusions with a wand, I got everyone to concentrate on that one guy and take him down. Then, to prove to the others that the dragon was an illusion, I had Zorenthiel charge the white dragon! Swinging his staff, it passed right through the dragon, confirming my suspicion and showing the others that it wasn't real. We mopped up the other two little guys, and then went out to the fire, where we discovered that Pate had taken down three more.

One was still alive, so we questioned him. He turned out to be an ice mephit... a kind of elemental creature. The mephit's "Master" had sent them out to coat the town in ice. Apparently a dwarven priest released some great evil in the mines, nearby.

In the morning, the group left town for the mines, with Zorenthiel staying behind to continue efforts in releasing everyone still trapped in the ice (I missed that next session, so it was a convenient excuse. :) ).

Wild Times

So, there we were, stuck in the Fey Wild. All around us were huge briar patches that matched the size, shape and location of the buildings of Barston.

We met up with Toni's elf ranger then. I think she spotted the portal show up, or just spotted us. I believe she'd been searching for a way out of the Fey Wild ever since she crossed over via a Faerie Circle... but I can't recall exactly. Either way, we were all in the same boat, so she joined our group, and we headed out to find a way back to the "Real World". We journeyed east, though, to get us out of the Eveninglands, so that when we came back into the "Real World", we wouldn't immediately be breaking our vow. I believe that if we did break our vow, we would get sicker and sicker, the longer we defied the vow, until we died.

We figured out how to get out, first. I think it was an arcana check from Timond that did it. Or maybe it was combination of him and I, plus Calatin. I don't remember. In any case, whoever figured it out, we had to find the blood of an "Aberration". The Fey Wild is like taking nature in the real world, from the beauty to the danger, and turning all the dials up to 11. An aberration, an evil creature born from foul magics or even fouler warping of reality, is so alien to the Fey Wild, that the natural tendency of the Fey Wild is to expel such a creature. So, if we sprinkled aberration blood onto a faerie circle, that would act as a portal home.

Using our knowledge of the fact that an aberration would corrupt the Fey Wild around it, we had Calatin ask a passing animal if there was such a corrupted area nearby. However, now that I think about it, all animals could simply talk to us normally. Still, having a druid talk to them made for better conversation. heh. A bird of some kind directed us to a nearby swamp.

I tried to play up how miserable Zorenthiel was here. He's used to dusty libraries, not trudging through swamps. :) We found a carving on a tree of a symbol Craig showed us. A snake with a human-like head.

"A Naga." I said, impulsively. A couple of the others looked at me weird, but I just shrugged. We proceeded in, and partway to the center of the swamp we were attacked by a Tyrannosaurus Rex!!

The fight with this thing was really tough, and someone, I can't remember who, even got picked up in the thing's mouth! (We made sure to stick the character's miniature in the mouth of the T-Rex miniature, of course. heh). We managed to defeat it, then moved on, and eventually found the apparent location of the aberration. It was a small ruined fort of some kind, like an outpost. We found a spiral staircase descending into the darkness, and made our way down.

At the bottom, we found a large cavern. There was an open area of ground ahead of us, then a bridge crossing a large chasm. We could hear a strange clicking noise everywhere. An alarming fact about the bridge was... it was covered in webs, and there was a large mass of web that extended from the bridge off to the left, where it attached to the cavern wall. We could see something moving in the webs. Keeping an eye on that, and thinking it might even be some unfortunate thing caught in there, we started across...

Suddenly, giant spiders crawled up from under the bridge to surround us, and some humanoid creature that was actually MADE OF WEBS, stepped out of that mass of webs to the left, and moved to attack us!

Pate charged the web creature, and Ehrdren made quick work of the spiders with his bow! The funniest part of the fight was right at the end, it was Timond's turn, and he whipped a dagger at the web creature. He hit and ended up killing it! Big round of congrats for the wizard, and Pate's admiration!

Continuing on, we entered a passageway and came upon two pools and another open area. The first pool was of a green viscous substance that we figured was some kind of acid, so we wanted to avoid that one altogether. Beyond it was a 10' section of ground, then a pool of water, 15' across. Pate went first, of course, jumping across the acid pit, then jumping into the water.

Well, the moment he hit the water, two creatures blinked into existence, one on either side of him. On one side was an Earth Elemental and on the other was a Fire Elemental. The heat from the Fire Elemental immediately started boiling the water, which was damaging Pate every round, and both elementals began attacking him! He was taking a bad beating when suddenly Timond cast a spell that swapped him and Pate, so Pate ended up back on the dry ground and Timond was in the water between the elementals. He then levitated up. Pointing a finger at the Earth Elemental, he spoke words of power (a Dismissal spell, I think), and the Elemental crumbled away. We were all VERY impressed by this.

We finished off the Fire Elemental shortly thereafter, and then hunkered down on the small section of dry ground between the pools to rest. We needed to get spells back and heal some before we faced the Naga.

Our rest was interrupted though, as again on Zorenthiel's watch, he had to rouse the others, as he heard a loud hissing noise come from the area beyond the pools. When he had gotten everyone up, we spotted the Naga. She was fifteen feet long, at least, with a black scaly snake body and an ugly human head. Pate rushed forwards, jumping into the pool to swim across to get her, but he was suddenly surrounded by the elementals again! Apparently it was a magical trap that reset while we were resting! While Pate was busy with the elementals, the Naga unleashed a lightning bolt that hit most of the group as we were bunched together in the corridor. Timond responded with a fireball that engulfed the Naga. Pate made it out of the water and went after the Naga, with the elementals following after him. Calatin and Hornet made it across quickly and engaged the Naga as well. Timond flung his spells, and Ehrdren plucked arrows into everything, and Zorenthiel called up a magical Spiritual Weapon (in the form of a quarterstaff), which he set upon the earth elemental pounding on Pate.

Pate landed the final blow on the Naga, crushing its skull, just as the earth elemental dealt a staggering blow to him, knocking him to the ground. Zorenthiel's staff and Ehrdren's arrows dropped the elemental. We discovered a huge cache of treasure that the Naga had been hording, and collecting it, and the blood of the Naga, we made our way out again, and trecked cross-country to find a faerie circle. We had an uneventful crossover back to the "Real World", and when we arrived, we were greeted by the pixie, Widdershins.

Things get more interesting.

So, after our group was expelled from Barston by the village elders, we camped outside the town in order to figure out what to do.

During the night, during Zorenthiel's watch in fact, we were attacked! Shambling Mounds! This is where I started to see how the group functioned a bit better. The previous sessions, we were all trying to just figure stuff out, so there was a bit of scrambling, and a lot of impulsive "I cast the spell to see what happens!" kind of stuff... no complaint there... that's just how it goes when you're not 'in the know' about a situation, and I did a bunch of it myself. I'm just tellin' it like it was. ;)

Anyway, Pate was very much the "CHARGE!" type, leaping into battle. Timond liked to blast stuff with fire. Ehrdren was a skirmisher, moving around on the battlefield and firing his bow. Calatin and Hornet used teamwork to flank enemies and take them down.

We beat the shambling mounds, but unfortunately, Toni's bard, Kai, was killed in the fight. As Toni rolled up a new character, the rest of us went on to an encounter with some Redcaps. Man, those little guys were tough! They very much lived up to their reputation as vicious little fighters! I don't know if Craig drew them from some source or if he just made them up himself. Either way, whoever created them did a very good job. We were definitely afraid of Redcaps from that point on. We prevailed against the Recaps, but then a Verdant Prince showed up. He was some kind of royal Fey. Like an elf (perhaps an Eladrin for those 4e players), but far more regal and powerful. He dropped a Wall of Thorns around us and called down a lightning storm that HURT. Wow. When he offered the chance to parlay, oh boy were we quick to accept!

He took us to a house, where we sat down to talk. He offered us our lives and one request, in return for our blood oath that we would never again set foot in "The Eveningland". We had no idea what The Eveningland was, other than that we were currently there. We guessed that it meant that the lands ahead of the advancing forest were in decline. We agreed to his proposal. The others asked for various things... I don't remember exactly what everyone requested. I do remember Mike E. asking for some kind of weapon for Calatin. Magical claws of some kind that were more powerful against fey creatures... ones that he could use while in animal form. I think Roy asked for more spells for Timond, or maybe more knowledge about how to use the staff he had. Me? Since Zorenthiel was lawful good, and was still trying to look out for the people of Barston, I had him make a deal with the Verdant Prince. He didn't want any items. If the group was going to be forced to leave and never return, he wanted the Verdant Prince to take his fey with him and leave, never to return or bother Barston again.

He agreed to that, and everything else. Then he let us out the back door of the house. When we walked out, we realized that it was a gateway to the Fey Wild. He definitely made sure that we left The Eveningland! (That Jerk! heh)

There, we met Toni's new character, an elven ranger with a horse as her animal companion. Zorenthiel was happy to have another elf in the group. Next was finding a way out of the Fey Wild. That would prove to be interesting. :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Fresh Start

So, after quitting that first game, I joined Craig's 3.5e D&D game, which ran on Saturday afternoons. Before I joined, the group consisted of mostly characters who were from, or connected to, the village of Lorrik's Haven.

Pate - A male half-orc cleric/barbarian who has, being an orphan, dedicated himself to the protection of children. He is very popular among the village's younger residents and will be sorely missed during his journeys. Of course, the children of the village expect him to return with wonderful, if simple, stories of his travels. Played by Jason

Calatin - A male, human druid who lives near the village and has spent a great deal of time with Broadleaf, a very old treant druid who calls a glen just west of town his home. Calatin's best friend is a wolf named Hornet, who still sports scars on his muzzle from "that time he stuck his head in a nest of the stinging insects." Played by Mike E.

Timond - A male, human wizard who grew up the youngest son of a local farming family. At an early age, he expressed an interest in the strange talents possessed by the local weird hermit, Bartle, and has been studying under him for some time. Bartle just recently kicked him out (in a friendly-mentor sort of way) to find his own path. Played by Roy

Ehrdren - A male, human fighter/scout with a penchant for the great outdoors and a skill-set reflecting that. He is the only son of the owner of the local inn, the Inn of the Sundered Sword, and leaves town with the blessing of his father and little sister. Played by Mike B.

Kai - A female human bard who grew up in a fey city in the western forest. She left the forest, with the help of a pixie named Widdershins, to whom she is married. She me the rest of the group as they adventured in the outskirts of the forest, and accompanied them afterward. Played by Toni

The first session I played was very strange. The group had gone through a bunch of adventures already. They rounded up some escaped animals and monsters for a traveling circus, and fought a bunch of halflings in a wooden giant suit. They saved a villager from undead "Hollow Ones", and fought a "demon" of sorts, that had been sent by someone named Aleksar, to kill Pate. They entered the western wood to find where the Hollow Ones come from, only to encounter a pixie named Widdershins, who answered some of their questions, and told them how the forest was expanding to the east (towards Lorrik's Haven), and about the forest king, who lives at the center. They found that the forest was gray and dead and ashen, as if it had been burned. They discovered an old keep and fought fey spirits known as Slaugh, finding their cache of valuables, including a parchment that contained The Song of the Dusky Fey, which held clues to what was happening. They also rescued an adventurer named Eduard, who had more information, including how the forest shifted around, and that the leader of his group (now missing) had a map that would track the shifting forest. On their way our, they met Kai, who saw them all as different kinds of fey creatures... Timond was a Slaugh, Pate a Redcap, Calatin a Hammadryad (a male dryad), and Ehrdren a Thorn... Eduard she just saw as a human. She accompanied them out of the forest, back to Lorrik's Haven. There, they questioned Ehrdren's father about events of the past, and then decided to head east, to perhaps learn more about the Dusky Wood.

This is when I entered the game. It was a very interesting start... quite strange, in fact. My character, Zorenthiel Moonshadow, an elven cleric/sorcerer, was in the next town east of Lorrik's Haven, known as Barston. Several women in the town were having difficulties, as their pregnancies had carried on almost twice as long as they should have. Zorenthiel had been investigating this for them, mainly with research, when the rest of the group arrived. Joining in my investigation, we they helped discover that the well water was poisoned... not deadly, for for some purpose... and that there were two kinds of magic emanating from the women, and enchantment and an evocation, both concealed by an illusion. We had everyone stop drinking the well water, and Calatin created water for the town from this point on.

Then, with the blessing of the mothers, we began to experiment with dispelling the magics on them. The first attempt, we successfully dispelled the evocation, but not the enchantment. The woman's baby suddenly stopped moving, and the mother became very ill. I had Zorenthiel detect poison, and found that poison was beginning to course through the woman, originating from the baby. Zor worked with Calatin to help forestall the poison, and the woman suddenly went into labor and gave birth to a sickly gray baby that immediately tried to bite everyone. We spared the mother seeing that, and needed a few more days of trying to dispel the enchantment, hopeful that this would return the baby to normal, but dispelling it had no effect on the child. Left with no choice, Zor used his clerical powers to destroy the undead baby, turning it to dust.

Then the other three pregnant women suddenly went into labor at the same time. We determined that it was about the same time that we had taken them off the well water (we had isolated the first woman before the others), and we worked quickly. We dispelled the enchantment first on the next try, and had a stillborn baby, and the same thing happened to the next woman and child. We quickly fed some of the well water to the last woman, stopping her labor (and confirming the exact purpose of the poison). Preparing more spells, we dispelled all the magic on this last woman, and she gave birth to an undead baby, like the first had.

It was quite sad, really, but it didn't seem like there was any way to save the children (other than to, perhaps, just leave the situation be), so I took heart in that, at least, but I still would have liked to have had at least one of the babies born without dispelling any of the magic, just to see what would happen.

Well, after all that, the town leaders asked us to leave. I couldn't blame them for that, but the women were at least relieved to have their pregnancies end, and hopefully they could try again to have children (if they weren't completely traumatized by the first attempts!).

So, it wasn't the most successful start to my time in the game, but it certainly was interesting, and the other players were good people who had a lot of fun with the game. I had a feeling I was going to like this group.

A Return to the Table: Success from Failure

"Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up." Bruce Wayne's father, Batman Begins.

Before moving to Atlanta, the last tabletop roleplaying game session I played, if I'm remembering correctly, was back in 2001. It was a rather unpleasant experience, since it was a first attempt to have my wife, Caroline, get into D&D. She'd wanted to play for years, and my friends were starting a new campaign, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. It didn't go very well, overall. She left the session feeling like the other players didn't want her there. I assured her that wasn't the case, and that they were just a little overbearing at times, but the damage had been done. I think that we played one or two more sessions, but it didn't last long. After that, up until 2006, I played online exclusively, through email, msn groups, online chat, and play-by-post forums.

That was fine. It worked for a time, and it offered a different medium to work with. I found that that I liked the extra time afforded to me by the play-by-post method, and it gave me the opportunity to do some good writing. The downside is that games took a LONG time to play.

When I got to Atlanta, I joined a D&D group, and went to a few dinners with the group. I also joined my first tabletop game in a long time. It promised to be an interesting group, with Monsters as the Player Characters. I was thinking "Cool! We get to play Monsters that decide to take up Adventuring, since it seems so lucrative for the human-types! :D". I still think that it's a good idea, and it would be kind of neat to run a side-campaign in 4eD&D based on it, but that's for a different post on a different blog.

Anyway, I created an Incarnate Clay Golem... which is an idea I'd been sitting on for a little while. If you're not familiar, this isn't Gollum, as in the ex-hobbit that craved after his "Precious". A Golem is a magical construct. For example, Dr. Frankenstein created a Golem. A Flesh Golem. Also, the episode of X-Files where Mulder and Scully are posing as the suburban couple, and that monster made of trash keeps killing people at the direction of the head of the HOA... that is a Golem. A Trash Golem.

In D&D, for a Clay Golem, a wizard or priest forms a humanoid shape out of clay, and performs a number of rituals over it, and it is imbued with a semblance of life. The golem's creator controls it, giving it orders, such as "Follow me and protect me" or "Stand here. If anyone tries to pass you without first saying the word 'Kalamazoo', hit them, and keep hitting them until they stop moving.". The idea behind an Incarnate Golem is that, by some means, the construct has been turned into a living being. I developed the idea from the rules given in the "Savage Species" book, and he basically started out with a lot of strength and hit points, but he was only a 1st level fighter. The idea of playing a "blank slate", and developing him from there was promising, but the game ended up being a disappointment.


The first problem was that the DM took my character concept and twisted it into something that HE liked better. Now, I admit that I didn't speak up and say "No, I don't want that" as he changed things and gave me more and more "stuff" for the character. "Clay" (heh) ended up being an Awakened Golem, instead of an Incarnate Golem. Now, what that means is that instead of being transformed into a living being, he had a living soul invested into him. So, he was still composed of clay, and still had all the traits that came with it, resistances and such, and he was a higher level fighter to start. I wasn't entirely pleased, but I put my trust in the DM, that he had a plan or something.

Now, I should say, at this point, that the experience wasn't entirely the fault of the group or the DM, though. I can't blame them entirely. I missed a few sessions, most notably the first one I was supposed to play, because I COMPLETELY forgot about it, only a week after I'd made the character (welcome to a glimpse of what the ADHD-PI mind is like. *sigh*). Apparently the DM was pretty upset about that, since he thought I'd quit without even trying, and took it as a personal slight. I smoothed things over with that, but I still had to miss a session a few weeks later that turned out to be a key one.

In addition, I'd created a character that was pretty much all melee-based, but he never got into a fight. Not once. The only time I rolled a d20 was for a perception check... oh, and a Knowledge: Arcana check, even though I didn't have "Knowledge: Arcana" as a trained skill, but I managed to roll a natural 20 on the die, so I actually ended up knowing something... somehow. I was told that the second session I'd missed contained a bit more action, but at the same time, I was told that even though there was action, it was still not a great session, and it ended with a massive Deus Ex Machina.

The entire experience was just a bit pedantic and there wasn't any tension, except what we created ourselves. The guy playing the giant insect (Thri-Kreen) felt that he needed to debate the merits of allowing any new people into "the Hive", and seemed to relish drawing the negotiations out as long as possible. Otherwise, we just wandered around this abandoned fortress we had claimed as our own, discovering new parts of it without any real challenges, and having more and more NPC monsters showing up and joining our group... each needing to justify, in detail, what they would bring to "the Hive" before they were allowed in.

During my last session, we had decided to use a portal in the fortress, which is apparently how one or two of the other PCs got here. It linked to a wizard's tower, and it promised to mean some action for us, so I got excited. Alright! Finally some action! However, just as those lines were ultimately a disappointment for Ed Gruberman, they were a disappointment for me. The moment we arrived and were about to begin exploring the tower, elements of one of the other character's past showed up suddenly, and whisked us all away to a far distant land. For the rest of the session, we all just sat around doing nothing while he was put on trial for something we didn't understand, and that wasn't really explained to us. Afterwards, I'd found out that the lack of action was because that particular player complained to the DM that there was too much action in the previous session (which I'd missed).

So, by this point, I'd had enough. When I got home, I emailed the DM and said that I was dropping out of the game. I wasn't mean about it, I just said that I was expecting something else, and the game just wasn't for me. I thanked him for letting me play, and told him that I hoped the game continued on successfully without me. Unfortunately, that wasn't to be the case, because he emailed everyone saying "Anyone else?" and my friend Craig dropped out too, and that caused the game to collapse. Oh well. Sorry. I didn't know that I was a load-bearing player.

Even though that game ended, I was fortunate to have met two of the players. Craig and Dave, both of whom I have been playing with since, and both of whom have become good friends of mine.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Roll Them Bones Update.

I attended GenCon this year(2010), and it was the first time I could make it. When I found out that Wil Wheaton was going to be there, and he'd requested that people at the con give him dice, so that he could prove the theory that you can't have too many, I decided to give him one. As the idea fermented in my head, I came to the decision to give him a very special die. The following is a livejournal entry from today, which acts as an update to Rolling Them Bones.


This was Wil's first GenCon. He posted about it in his blog. I noticed that he was having a talk on Friday, so I canceled a game to go see him. He related a story about he and his wife, talking about gaming while they were driving in the car. Go read it now. It's not long. I promise I will wait until you are done reading it before I continue with my story...



Okay, good, you're back... So, Wil read us that story on Friday. It got big laughs.

The next day, I'm sitting in on a 4e D&D Dark Sun game DM'd by Chris Sims (formerly of WotC, with contributions to the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, Adventurers' Vault, Monster Manual 2, Martial Power, Seekers of the Ashen Crown, etc etc). The players are myself, my friend Craig Campbell (who is a good friend of Chris' from back in the day, and has written a bunch of stuff for Dragon, Dungeon and the WotC website), Tracy Hurley (aka Sarah Darkmagic), Tracy's husband Fred, and Jobe Bittman (MetaDM). I'm setting up my laptop so that I can record the game (just for posterity), and I suddenly glance to my left, where Fred is sitting... and he has a Yahtzee cup. The first thing that pops into my head is "Like he's shaking them in a Yahtzee cup?" I stifled a laugh, but Craig and I exchanged a good laugh about it afterward, 'cause he was thinking the exact same thing.

I had some misses with Wil... on Thursday I didn't have the time to see him. On Friday I couldn't stand in line long after his talk because I had a game to go to. Then the line was capped before I got there after that game. Then on Saturday I forgot the d20 I was going to give him in the hotel room. Finally, on Sunday, everything matched up. I got into the vendor's room right at 10am and lined up. Within half an hour, I was walking up to his table. He wasn't shaking hands, due to getting Swine Flu at PAX Prime, and I respected that. I showed him a die that Craig's friend Rob gave me... a 10-sided "reaction die" with emotions in text on one side, and emoticons at the other. He thought that was cool. I gave it a roll, came up with "Surprised" and made a surprised face, which gave him a chuckle.

Then I pulled out my d20. It's my first d20, from 1979. I put it on the table.

"Wow, that die has seen some action!" he said.

"Yup, that's my very first d20. I bought it in 1979, and retired it around 5 years later, when I killed a medusa with it. It rolled around on the table for like, 5 minutes before finally coming to rest on the 20, and the DM ruled that my character cut the medusa's head off! I put that one away right after, and it's sat in my dice bag since. I've been reading the stories you've written in your blog about how much gaming has meant to you, and they've given me such a great sense of nostalgia that I want to give you back some nostalgia in return."

"Are you SURE that you want to give me your FIRST d20?" he asked, shocked at the prospect.

"Yes. Absolutely. At first, when I considered it, all I thought was 'No, no way. I can't do that...'. but as I thought about it more, I thought 'I have my stories about this d20, but how much better would those stories be if I gave that die to Wil Wheaton.' So please, take it, with my blessing."

He picked up the die, and put it into the cup beside him, on top of several other dice inside. "I shall place it with its brothers." he said, a smile on his face, and his voice full of respect and reverence.

I chuckled and said "I would only humbly ask that you afford it some small place of honor in your collection."

Both he and his "handler" chuckled at that. I was struck with a sudden thought that it was an ironic chuckle, like maybe all these dice were bound for destruction or something, but I chose to ignore that. His handler asked if I wanted a book or a picture signed, and I chose Wil's "Games Matter" chapbook. The one he read to us from, during his talk on Friday. He signed my book, and as he did, I told him the story about Chris Sims' game. Chris had signed the Dark Sun rulebooks while I was sitting there, which Logan Bonner was going to give to Wil. I made a few suggestions, the funniest (at least to the people at the table) being, after Logan told him to "speak from the heart.",... "Hi Wil. You're cool. I like you a lot. Signed, Chris Sims' Heart". heh. So there was some connection, instead of it just being a random mention of a random person he didn't know.

"So, I'm sitting in on Chris Sims' Dark Sun game yesterday, and while he was signing your Dark Sun books, I was setting up my laptop to record the game. I just put it down on the table, and opened it up, when I glanced to my left... and what did I see?"

"A Yahtzee cup."

He laughed. Loudly. So much so that he started coughing, and it sounded painful (due to the sinus infection). I felt slightly bad about that, but still, he got a good laugh out of it. That was awesome. I don't know what it is about making a star laugh like that. I felt the same as when I made George Takei laugh out loud during the costume contest of the '92 Toronto Trek convention, for insulting Larry "The Doctor" Stewart (geez, that guy was a blow-hole).

"Oh, that's great." he said, with a big smile.

"Yeah, my first thought would have normally been 'Really? Seriously?', but instead, it was your voice saying "You mean, like in a Yahtzee cup?" I said, mimicking how he had read that in his story.

Wil laughed and gave me an Iron Guard Salute in lieu of a handshake. I tapped Games Matter to my forehead in gratitude and respect, bowed slightly to him, and we parted ways.

Other than stumbling a bit at the start of my spiel, in telling him that I was sorry he'd caught a sinus infection, and having to COMMAND my brain to focus on what I wanted to say to him... nay, what I'd REHEARSED to say to him (I didn't want to screw it up), I think it was a pretty good meeting overall.

Of course, it would be totally awesome if, when he blogs about the weekend, that I would get some kind of special mention, even if it was just "Thanks to the guy that gave me his very first d20, even though I can't remember his name!". It's not required though. I'm just glad to pass it on to him. Also, Craig and I listened to the audiobook of Just a Geek on the way home, and it really drove home (ha ha) just what a down-to-earth nice guy Wil is, and removed any last vestiges of regret I might have at giving up that very special d20. Even if, worst case, it just ends up in a box or bag in Wil's closet, forgotten with a bunch of other dice, it has still become part of that die's story for me, and noone can take that away from me. =)