No $%&#, so there I was…

We’ve all heard them, those tales people tell. Fishermen talk about the one that got away. Footballers will talk about the game winning play they made in their glory days, and so on. Sewers may talk about the time they sewed a mile of ruffles onto a skirt, or writers will gab about the time they wrote for 48 hours non-stop. Sometimes those stories are the glory ones, but the gory ones. People will talk about the time they wiped out their bike as a kid and flew over the handlebars, or the time some guy missed a play and lost the game, or how that story he/she just wrote got erased before they could save it. Yes, in my Army days we swapped actual War Stories even. They all, every one of them started the same: “No #%^$, so there I was…”

dungeon-mockup

In my opinion gamers have some of the best stories. I’m not talking about the super-shy ultra-awkward creepy nerd and his “wanna hear about my lv. 12 Paladin?” pick up line, no. I’m talking about those rip-roaring, laugh inducing, cringe worthy or awesome moments. We’ve all had them. What makes gamer tales more special, I think, is that they are limitless and set in worlds of fantabulism. It’s the ultimate in escapism. It’s a chance to relive an epic moment, be it one of awesome glory or utter futility. It doesn’t even matter how true the story is. The best ones are steeped in truth, but we all know they’re exaggerated and embellished. It’s a form of storytelling, a modern tall-tale if you will. Let me lead by example:

PalladiumNo $&^#, so there I was, playing Jezebelle La Bella Donna, rogue cavalier. We were playing Palladium (which I will never do again) and in the middle of a long as heck campaign. We had to rescue a party mate from the town dungeons. Apparently the lock was un-pickable, according to our Lord and GM. There was only one key in the whole constabulary, and it hung from the belt of one of the lower members of the force. (I won’t get into the many, many things I hated about that particular GM… not here at least…) Anyways, I went to pick his pocket, something I was fairly good at. I got caught, by the constable with my hand in the pouch hanging on his belt. I straightened up and smoothed my shirt over my large bosoms. I gave him my most rakishly charming grin, and launched into a life-saving speech. What followed was about a half hour of the best role-playing I have ever done, and may ever do. We bantered back and forth, that NPC and I. I had him verbally eating out of my hand. I was charming, I was convincing and I had the other players AND the GM laughing and loving every moment. Then it all changed, when our rules-lawyer of a GM said, “That was fun, but let’s roll the dice and see if you succeed.”

diceI rolled just about as dismal a failure as you can roll. I stared at the GM, asked if I got any bonuses for the amazing role-playing. The answer was a resounding NO, the other players at the table protested to no avail. In the end the argument that followed killed the session and we never did get back to that campaign, instead we moved on to what would become another “No ^T*&&^, so there I was…” story. (I know he was in the technical right, but I asked him why he let me go on for a half hour if it was going to be reduced to a die roll and he said “because it’s an RPG, not a let’s roll the dice game.” To which I asked that if it’s an RPG shouldn’t good role playing get rewarded? And on it went.)

Not the most exciting of stories, but it’s one of the most vivid memories I have to this day…

… And then, one time in a Ravenloft campaign my Paladin was the only survivor, sort of. Our ranger had been turned into a turtle so my Paladin decided it would be her life-long quest to get the turtle turned back into a ranger…

What’s your story?

Flourish 3

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3 Responses to “No $%&#, so there I was…

  • Ah, yes! There was that glorious day that I punched out an enormous guardian bear, while my companions were all still fumbling with their weapons. I killed him with one bvare-fisted blow, then tripped on the step down into the dungeon and broke my neck. Even the GM never saw it coming (he’d only put the step in for nuisance value) and he’d described the whole chamber to me before I made that awful roll.

  • So there I was, 1988 Superman Expo in Cleveland, Oh. I had been to a few small comic and trek shows, but this was my first large convention. I saw, met, and talked to people who up until that time were just credits in books and movies. I met Noel Neill (Lois Lane) for the first time. Listened to Kirk Alyn (The first person to play Superman on screen) tell great stories about filming the two serials he was in. Had Harlan Ellison come up and tease me about getting Curt Swan’s autograph. And had a conversation with Maggie Thompson that changed my life. I was able to tell her so 20 years later.
    There was neat stuff happening everywhere. Some of the neat stuff that caught my attention was Mayfair Games doing demos of their games ran by the game designers. I played a few. As a longtime DC fan, one that I had to play was a DC heroes RPG. There was this table with buildings, roads, cars, trucks, and beautifully hand painted miniatures of the Teen Titans and the Justice League. One of the designers of the game who was going to be the Game Master asked if I wanted to play and I jumped at the chance. Before long there was about a half dozen of us playing the Teen Titans. All we knew was we were in this city and under attack. I’m not going to get into the full story involving Superman being captured by Mr. Mxyzptlk . Suffice to say, one of the Justice League would pop up and blast the hell out the Titans with whatever powers they had, just to disappear and be replaced by another Leaguer. At one point in the game we were all standing at an intersection when Green Lantern appears down the block. GL takes a random strike at one of the Titans. Everyone takes their turn. When it was my turn I say “Cyborg runs down the street toward Green Lantern.” The GM roles and says “OK”. I move my miniature down the street and place it between GL who is in the middle of the street and a parked car. GL makes another random blast against another random Titan. When it is finally my turn again I say, “Cyborg picks up this yellow Volkswagen and smashes Green Lantern.” The Game Master turns a little pale, pauses, and roles the dice. Turns a little more pale, pauses again, looks up and says, “Uuuuummmm …You killed Green Lantern… You win.” It wasn’t how he designed the game to be won.
    Kicker #1: I walked by the table later in the day. The yellow Volkswagen was nowhere in sight.
    Kicker #2: I was telling this story to a new co-worker about 10 years later. He stopped me about half way through. Said a friend of his told him the same story 6 months earlier. This guy had been there, saw it happen, and was still telling people about it.
    Kicker #3: And this is the best part. I’m not a gamer. I just saw an opening no one else did and took it.

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