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Extra Experience Points: Gaming Satire

The Final Battle Between Greg and Evil

Greg Chatham
April 1, 2002

 

If you're anything like me, then you share the basement of your parents' house with a large freezer. It purrs at your touch. Sometimes you sleep on it naked.

If you open the freezer, you see fish sticks. The fish sticks are stacked liked Lincoln Logs and are covered with ice crystals.

If you search below the fish sticks--and remember, they're frozen together, so snapping them apart is like breaking fingers--you find the bodies of all the women who ever looked at you like, "Why is he wearing that trench coat inside?"

And you told them, "Because I only wear my Hazmat suit in the comic book store."

And each one of them became frightened and thought, "But I didn't say anything."

And then they thought, "But if only I could say something! I'm so bored of cheerleading practice and my business school boyfriend. If only I had a guy who would take me to see The Fellowship of the Ring and afterwards explain to me all the stuff that Peter Jackson left out!"

And then you asked them, "Do you like fish sticks?"

Search under the fish sticks, and under the bodies, and under your teddy bear--Oh, Mr. Fish, how ever did you get in there? --and you will find all the game notes you ever put to paper.

There are 3 by 5 cards. "Dwaymm Marz vs. Zollrendar" is written on one. "Fuzzy, 1st-level cleric of mud and 40th-level wizard" is written on another. Meticulously written on college-ruled paper are outlines for adventures that never happened with the friends you used to have before that thing with the Erik and the swastikas and Jon changed his named to Jonathan and Kathy changed her name to Raven and Devin said, "Uh, guys? I'd appreciate it if you would stop using the word 'fags' to describe changelings. The gay community finds it offensive to be associated with Changeling."

Stacked under a beautiful blue corpse are three ring binders full of color-coded maps of castles, caves, dungeons, and dilapidated magic item factories. Color keys define the rooms according to their time zones and planes of existence. It is always 10:27 PM in the purple rooms. The Dungeon Dimensions are in hunter's green. 10 by 10 corridors connect rooms labeled "Vacuum pits", "Ninjas," and "Ninja Breeding Pits."

There's a player handout black with mildew that was long ago scribed with Crayola calligraphy markers. It has been burnt tastefully around the edges and stamped in the mud. It is in four pieces. When assembled, it offers a foreboding line of poetry: "When in the end these signs are met, your life will be nothing on which to bet."

Stuck to that is a six-page chart that calculates the maximum press of a strength of 83 (20,730), the defense adjustment for a dexterity of 100 (-31), and the poison save for constitution of 72 (+27).

There are also flashcards depicting the most ingenious traps ever imagined by a 15-year-old. Take The Carpet Room, for example. It is a 40 by 80 foot room full of flying carpets. The carpets hover motionless at different heights. The characters are expected to climb from one carpet to another until they reach the ceiling.

The details are presented here as they appear on the original graph paper.

The Carpet Room

Every carpet will have a chance of tripping up the people on it. Roll below each time one is stepped on.
  1. Carpet shoots away from PC
  2. Death is standing on the carpet
  3. Glue covers the carpet
  4. Carpet shrinks to 1" by 1"
  5. Carpet flies to Liltan's Object
  6. Tentacles emerge and attack (1d4)
  7. The carpet is electric (1d8)
  8. Carpet rams into ceiling (1d20)
  9. It is mined (3d10)
  10. Carpet is on fire (1d6)
  11. Flies around wildly
  12. A cache of healing potions rests there (1d4+2)
  13. It falls out from under the characters
  14. Carpet drains one stat by 1
  15. Wraps up PCs and runs into wall (1d20)
  16. Carpet turns invisible
  17. Siren rings loudly (Lose 10 yrs of life)
  18. A mouth opens and tries to eat the PC (1d10)
  19. Nothing happens
  20. Tell the players, "It appears that nothing has happened," and smile.

At the bottom of the freezer, under character sheets labeled with the character names in the player boxes and the player's names spelled incorrectly, you might find the pink Post-It that tells you what Liltan's Object is: "This cloth is 12 inches square and is woven erratically into the other carpet. When it is ripper out, the carpet will fall."

Wade through the fish sticks and dump out the corpses, but there's no clue as to what the PCs would want Liltan's Object for.

And if you're still like me, then you look at these notes and think that something should be done. Too many campaigns have been put aside without an ending.

If you're not like me, but more like Steve D, then you run snooty "pre-scripted" campaigns and don't have this problem. Your adventures will always end, or the nice people at Chaosium have already told you how they will end, so it doesn't really matter if you finish them or not.

That is not my path, but it does leave more room for bodies in your freezer. And people like Steve D need all the room they can get.

Here are two neat ways to finish off a campaign who's work here is done.

Parade of Monsters Dying

Faced with wrapping up a four-year campaign that had an outline that drove mortal men mad just to look at the stick figures drawn in the margins, Isaac had quite a task ahead of him. It was one of those games where the characters had family trees to chart collections of vorpal swords that had been passed down through generations of 25th-level elven fighter-mages.

The villains always returned in new and more powerful forms and would spawn more villains until, as Isaac put it, "the entire screen was filled with unkillable bosses running around and shooting the food."

Determined to put an end to his new and more powerful madness, Isaac created a temple that took the characters back to before the beginning of time. Inside the temple, the PCs found themselves in a long hallway filled with doors.

ISAAC:
You are in a long hallway. Doors line the hallway as far as you can see.
PLAYER 1:
I have 90' infravision.
ISAAC:
The hallway stretches beyond the limits of your puny elven infravision.
PLAYER 1:
I want to use my infravision to see what's behind the doors.
ISAAC:
You are blinded by intense light! The doors are cool to the touch, but they are filled with a hot, creamy, magical center. You both lose 10 yrs of life!
PLAYER 2:
I wasn't using my infravision.
ISAAC:
I thought you were. You're both blind and lose 10 yrs of life.

Behind each door in the hallway was a item or character that had appeared over the course of the campaign, and others that the characters had missed.

ISAAC:
On your left, you'll see the evil book you tried to kill.
PLAYER 1:
Am I still blind?
ISAAC:
You both are. Actually, neither of you can see it.
PLAYER 2:
I have blind fighting! I kill it!
ISAAC:
You kill it. Behind the door on your right is the last silver artifact of the god of never-ending plot twists and all-powerful artifacts, Zeus Ex Machinae. It is a clock monster.
PLAYER 2:
I kill it!
PLAYER 1:
I don't have blind fighting. Can I use underwater basket weaving to kill it?
ISAAC:
You kill it.
PLAYER 2:
I killed it first! I'll kill you!

Down the hallway they went, dispatching the last third of a family of evil plant monsters who could disguise themselves as houses, discovering the secret room of their archenemy and finding nothing in it, meeting random NPCs who had been shackled to walls, and discovering the final parts to gadgets of inconceivable power-gaming.

At the end of the hallway was a room filled with all the monsters the characters had ever fought and a few that they had never met, like the jet-powered elf. After doing away with them, the characters were finally able to face their archenemy The Mocker, a hook horror...with hands.

ISAAC:
The Mocker waves his hands in the air and says, "I was behind it the whole time! Let this be our final battle!"
PLAYER 1:
Behind what? I forgot what happened last game.
PLAYER 2:
I kill it!
ISAAC:
You kill it.
PLAYER 2:
How many experience points do I get?
ISAAC:
None. The Mocker comes back more powerful than ever before! He waves his hands mockingly. "No, let this be our final battle!"
PLAYER 1:
I forgot what just happened. Do we know this guy?
PLAYER 2:
I kill it!
ISAAC:
You kill it.

This time their archenemy was really dead. Isaac forgot that The Mocker had a magic ring that would have brought him back one last time.

The campaign had come to a quick and successful end.

Player 1 Sells Out

So you're three levels deep in the Ruins of Undermountain when Player 1 announces that he's getting married.

And he forgets to give the secret hand signal for talking out of character.

Read the text below to the players.

8 months have passed. Player 1, your character's orcish bride is almost bursting with happiness...and the offspring you filled her with after you beat her into unconsciousness when you first met under the giant sundew in room 3b of the slave pits of the Undercity.

The Labyrinth of Madness was booked through the fall, so you decided to hold the ceremony in the more traditional Temple of Elemental Evil. The guests are all gathered in the town of Turmoil, a small suburb outside of Hommlet. Somewhere your bride is enjoying her last night as a single female orc.

Why aren't you?

Encourage the other players to plan a wild bachelor party for Player 1's character. If the party is full of paladins who couldn't find action in the Palace of the Silver Princess, then they can rent the services of a sleazy NPC.

Sleazy Neil Patrick Christiansen's Bachelor Party Services of Turmoil

Established in the Year of Magic-Users Gone Wild, Neil's can provide the thrills that your party members can't be expected to come up with on their own--even when they were bribed with extra experience points. In exchange for one blue gem, you can experience the life of a typical adventurer...for one last time!

Check out our sample schedule.

8:00 PM
You're in a bar. Approach the mysterious old man in the cloak. Do whatever he asks of you.

8:07 PM
That was fast. Hopefully, you'll never see those guys again. They sure looked mad. Now why not kill some time taking in the sights of the demihuman district? There are porn theaters there that cater to characters of shapes and sizes--all of them! (Recommended for levels 18-21.)

11:01 PM
Coming out of Dwarves Do The Ruins of Myth Drannor, you run into those guys you pissed off earlier. Are they ever pissed! Now's your chance to kill them!

11:17 PM
There's a woman in distress! Follow her into the alley and get ambushed by thugs for old time's sake. The thugs have bracers AC 6, maces +1, and slingshots. The woman is a 22nd-level drow priestess and a Southern Baptist. She's wearing a sexy chainmail thong.

1:23 AM
Experience the illicit illithid pleasures of the mind flayer massage parlor.

3:48 AM
Compete against a rival bachelor party in challenges of strength (bend bars and lift gates), dexterity (dart-throwing), constitution (drinking contest with a beholder), intelligence ("How many fingers am I holding up?"), wisdom ("Which finger does the magic come from?"), charisma (charisma check with a -5 modifier), and hit points (drop from orbit while encumbered, crash through the upper floors of the Keep on the Borderlands, land in the ninja breeding pits, and fight whoever is still standing to the death). Whoever wins gets to keep the bride of his choice.

4:15 AM
Travel back to the demihuman district to take in another showing of Behind the Wizard-Locked Door of Room 14a. Hey, isn't that a signature character soliciting the services of that zero-level kobold? Kill him and take his scimitars!

6:54 AM
You are trapped in a pit from which there is no escape.

With any luck, several of the party members will die over the course of the bachelor party. Pre-generated wedding guests to replace them can be found in the back of the module.

The wedding itself will not go off without a hitch. What goes wrong depends on how long you have left in the session before Player 1 has to go home because he has a big day of seeing someone who he's going to see for the rest of his life tomorrow. Listed below are a few ways to make the wedding a little more stressful.

  • A guest snatches 666 gems out of a statue in the temple. It comes to life and ways laste to the buffet table.
  • The bride's family arrives on dire wolves and razes the temple to the ground.
  • The bride goes on a rampage when she finds out that the chairs don't have the bows she wanted on them. She has a double-bladed axe +2.
  • When the priest asks that those in attendance "act now or forever hold their peace," a badass warlord crashes through the doorway with a company of skeletal riders behind him. "There will be no peace as long as I, Lord Kelvin Steele, still live!" he says. Lord Kelvin and his undead warriors are loaded with magic items, but will conveniently forget to use them while attacking.
  • The temple is looted by adventurers during the ceremony. They mistake the wedding guests for the cult of an ancient evil god.
  • The cult of an ancient evil god shows up and demands access to the facilities. The cultists will not leave until the party produces the sign-up sheet and explains how to use it. The sign-up sheet is somewhere in the dungeon. The dungeon was designed by a 15-year-old.
  • The procession forgets to check the floor for traps and falls into spiked pits hidden beneath the temple floor.
  • You are trapped in a pit from which there is no escape.

The wedding can also provide limitless role-playing opportunities. Here are 5.

  1. Drive the female PCs nuts with relatives who want to know when they're going to settle down with a nice orc chieftain.
  2. The most role-playingist player of all must give a speech in honor of the groom and his many levels of experience.
  3. Encourage the characters to fight over the bouquet and to use up all their magic items in the process.
  4. The lead guitarist and vocalist and keyboardist of the wedding band, a 15th-level xorn bard, comes down with the flu. The party has to cover for him.
  5. A character gets lucky in room 58e--the Coatroom of the Lost God. Will it be your character? Roll 1d100 to find out! What random monster will it be with? Roll 1d100 to find out!

After the ceremony ends, as the bride is preparing for the honeymoon expedition to Barrier Peaks, SC, and cleaning the remains of the caterer out of her tusks, Player 1 gets one last moment alone with his party members.

It's decision time for Player 1. Will he stay with his new bride? Will he run screaming back into the Ruins of Undermountain and continue adventuring with the rest of the Golden Girls? Or will Player 1 realize that the outcome of the entire campaign hinges on his whim and kill his character just to screw you over?

If he decides to keep the woman, raise your eyebrows at him and read the text below.

We'll role-play the honeymoon later.

--Greg Chatham


Author's Notes:

Before I blow out of here, I'd like offer mad props to Thomas Schlosser, author of "How to Role-Play in One Easy Lesson," and J.D. Wiker, author of "So You Wanna Be a Vampire." (Dragon Magazine #168 and White Wolf Inphobia # 54, respectively.) Those articles took advantage of me when I was young and impressionable. Without them, Extra Experience Points may never have come into existence. So if you have a time machine...

My work here is done. My planet needs me to write a book.

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