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by Jeff Freeman


Run With It!

We're crawling through some sort of dungeon or sewer or starship corridor (I was reading the ingredients on a box of poptarts and sort of missed-out on the background) and we got into a big, nasty fight with some large monsters, or robots, or people.

All that's not important anyway. End result, we're all dead.

Shocked silence.

Ed was GMing. Now he just sits there with an "Oops" look on his face. I know he generally tries to fudge the dice rolls so that we're challenged - maybe even a bit scared - but not entirely decimated.

Gigi tries to put a positive spin on it, "That was... er... exciting." she says.

Tim offers a little consolation, tries to spread the blame, "Guess we should have thought up a better plan." Like it's our fault the GM just wiped us out.

I glance at John. I still don't know what character he was playing, but it's dead now. He looks at his character sheet, flips it over looking at the back. I imagine he's trying to find something on there that he can point to and say, "Ah ha! We're not all dead after all!" That would be the most he's said all night. But alas, it just isn't going to happen.

I sum things up a bit more directly.

"That sucked, Ed."

He runs his hand through his hair. He's as lost as we are. Now what?! We could start over (I cringe and the thought of having to go through character creation again), but we've been playing these characters for a while now... we've developed them. They have histories and personalities. I had cool stuff, dammit!

"Yeah," Ed says.

"You killed us," I accuse.

Tim rallies to Ed's defense, "Well, really we should have tried a less direct approach into th-"

"Oh shut up." I suggest, "Jesus, Ed... we're all dead." I reach over and twink-over all the miniatures. Except the ones we were fighting. Oh, they were robots after all.

"Wait," Ed says. He reaches over and removes the robot miniatures, leaves ours lieing there. He erases the corridor and draws a couple of wavy lines, still leaving our "dead" miniatures on the mat. We watch, wondering what the heck he's up to. I expect him to turn into Bullwinkle at any second, "Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!"

Yeah, right, let's see you fudge your way out of this one...

"You wake up," he begins. We exchange glances. Before anyone can shout "Cop out! Cop out!", he continues.

"You wake up on the shore of a flaming river. A boat is there, and the tillerman of the boat is cloaked in a pitch black robe. He extends a skeletal hand as though he's waiting for you to give him something."


"You're all wearing thick white death shrouds. A single gold coin was in your hand when you woke up."

Cool. We're not dead after all. Or rather, we are. How in the hell are we supposed to get out of hell though?

And I lost all my cool stuff just to get a gold piece and a bath robe.

Tim and Gigi talk to the tillerman while I go through Ed's kitchen cabinets. Pop tarts aren't very filling, you know. Where does this guy buy his groceries, anyway? Twenty bags of Ramen noodles, some chunky-beef style chili and Sweet Sue chicken and dumplings. Heat and eat food, but I don't want to heat anything. Nothing in the `fridge but some singly-wrapped slices of cheese.

"Anybody want a pizza?" I wander back into the dining room. Everyone ignores me. Ed asks me, "Do you give the tillerman your gold coin, too?"

"Hell no," I say.

"Give it to him," Gigi says.

"He'll take us across the river," Tim explains.

"If we can go get a pizza," I bargain, "then I will."

So it's settled. We'll take a little break. While the tillerman of the flaming river takes us deeper into hell, Tim, John and I are gonna get a pizza.

If you're wondering why it takes three people to go get a pizza, it's like this: Ed needs the alone-time to create an adventure - quick! - since he didn't plan on killing us all and sending us to hell. But Gigi doesn't eat meat, or cheese, or pretty much anything else.

While we're cruising across the river (and going to get a pizza), I want to pick death's pockets and get my gold coin back. Herbie the Love Thief goes to work. Heck, maybe I can get the other's coins too. I tell Ed I want to try for them, without anyone noticing, since I don't want to share.

We all hop into my car and I realize I've forgotten the keys. So Tim talks at John about what we might expect to find in hell and I run back inside to grab them.

Ed and Gigi are on the couch.


My God, we are in hell.

Comments? Try ack@rpg.net

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All of Jeff Freeman's Acks

  • The One True Way to Roleplay, Online: July 20, 1999
  • What Were We Thinking? September 8, 1998
  • Random Thoughts August 9, 1998
  • Run With It! July 14, 1998
  • Background: I'm Evil! June 9, 1998
  • Who Wants to Role-Play? May 12, 1998
  • Playing Without Brains Apr 8, 1998
  • Ultima Online Looked Good Off March 10, 1998
  • The Perfect Game February 10, 1998
  • "INTRO TO RPGs" January 6, 1998
  • "Do I Have A Point?"
  • "LOOK BEFORE YOU LARP" November 11, 1997
  • "RPGs: Then and Now" October 7, 1997
  • Chicks in Gaming", September 9, 1997 (and its Danish translation)
  • The FUDGE review that inspired it.

    Other columns at RPGnet

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