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Hack For More

WEEK 4: 3/11/04

by Edward McEneely
Mar 30,2004

 

Hack For More

WEEK 4: 3/11/04

The Wednesday before the session, I received an urgent conference call from RPG.net headquarters in Langley.

"Bad news," they told me. "Your ratings are plummeting. You didn't exactly debut at the top slot, and readers're bleeding away from you. Heck, the 'MSTing John Wick' thread in the 'Best of the Forums' gets more hits than you do. We need to shake things up a bit."

"What do you mean?" I remembered when Vanna White had guest-hosted "52 Pick-Up", and how the lawyers were still trying to sort out the tangled skeins from that little debacle. "Do you want a celebrity guest?"

"No, no, nothing like that," they said, reassuringly. "But this Laura chick; she has to go." They paraphrased Marcel Proust's housekeeper at me: "After one has known Hilary Doda, all other women seem vulgar."

"Oh," I said, carefully. "So what do you want me to do?"

"A few years ago, we got some leftover NPCs from a 'Big Ears, Small Mouse' fire sale."

"And?" This was starting to sound suspiciously like a celebrity guest star to me.

"We want to replace Laura."

"Replace Laura?"

"Is there an echo here?" They sounded annoyed. "Yes. We have this giant talking mouse, and we think his playing style would mesh well with your group..."

I know an ultimatum when I hear one. But I wasn't going to cater to The Bosses that easily; instead, I begged. I pleaded. And then, when that didn't work, I groveled.

"Look," I told them, "Laura's been begging for a hiatus for weeks now. I've got another former player (re-)joining the group, so let's see how he does before we make any rash judgements."

"Fair enough," they said. "But remember: the Mouse." Then they hung up.

The new player I was referring to was my cousin Nate. Nate's currently serving as a USMC reservist at Great Lakes, and he lives in the Gurnee area, not terribly far from Erich's home. Now I know that there's a stereotype that only pathetic losers game with their family members, and let me assure you all: it is absolutely true. I am a pathetic loser. But Nate is a pretty fun guy to game with.

He got started out on Warhammer 40,000 (playing Space Orks, for those of you familiar with the game), and eventually joined up with my nebulous group of players who met about once a week for GURPS games involving massive amounts of firepower. Ever before he became a marine, Nate was a great believer in heavy weaponry. He also had a distressing propensity for scoring Own Goals on his hapless teammamtes, because if Nate's character had a weapon, it would be used. Period.

For some reason, Erich and Nate work well together, forming a sort of Dave-and-Brianesque bond (to put it in KoDT terms): Erich knows the rules, and Nate kills things. It took a little work on Nate's part to find Erich's apartment (he was supposed to show last week, but couldn't find it), but he was able to make it this week, which was doubly fortuitous, as Laura was out with a migraine.

I spent my train ride home from work mapping out a dungeon in record time (simplified by not populating it and leaving that part for the actual game), so I at least had something prepped this time. I'd also managed to read up on the rules, so that I at least sort of knew what I was doing, and also what and when I was prepared to throw the rules to the wind and completely wing things. (With GURPS and D6 Star Wars, that's something I can do effortlessly, but any other system can be problematic.)

We started out with Laura's character wandering off (to safely remove her from the game in case of danger) and Nate's doughty first-level Cleric encountering Erich's Knight Errant. Awkward roleplaying followed, and I swiftly railroaded them to the dungeon. There was some dickering about where to park Nate's donkey before they plunged into the murky darkness, and then we were off. Huzzay!

The PCs quickly smashed into a room, where they easily defeated two goblins guarding a chest with a sleeping potion inside of it. Erich used it as a chaser for his hip flask, and while he was out could, Nate claimed the remainder. Erich demanded dibs on the next treasure chest.

The next room contained two chests, one with a dinky little +1 dagger (first magic weapon!) and the other with a -1 Cursed short sword (second magic weapon! Paging Mr. Haul...). Erich forced open the first chest, used the dagger to open the second, and claimed the shortsword (named "Egregious S", by the way) for his prize. He gave the dagger to Nate; I should note here that neither of them had either of the appropriate weapon proficiencies. Poor Erich.

Two more goblins appeared, via an un-checked-for secret door in the previous room; they were armed with spears, a flask of oil, and a lit rag. Erich tried to kill them with his crossbow, but the shortsword leapt into his hand unbidden, spoiling his aim and making it pretty damn difficult to reload. (Nate offered to act as loader, but Erich wasn't going for it.) Erich charged, and was doused with oil for his troubles. The other goblin (the one holding the rag) jogged backwards for maneuver room, and the goblin with the flask of oil bit Erich and latched on. The goblin with the rag lit its compatriot on fire whilst attempting to ignite Erich, and Nate (who'd been staying back in case Erich pulled a Guy Fawkes) rushed in and scored an amazing critical hit with his battleaxe, cutting the fiery Goblin off of Erich and killing it with a single (30-point!) blow.

The other goblin was quickly slaughtered, and the PCs proceeded deeper into the catacombs. The next room they entered was a stable for a lone Subterranean War Moose (I really, really liked the name, and they were underground, so...), which Erich tried to sucker by petting as he readied his shortsword. He was bitten for 11 points of damage and missed horribly with his cursed weapon, so Nate rushed in to save his buddy. Here (and this is my favorite part of the whole evening), Nate rolled a 1. He then scored an amazing Own Goal on Erich, doing something insane like twenty points of damage and infuriating his erstwhile comrade-in-arms. Still, the PCs persevered, and managed to finish off the moose, though not without loss: they ended the fight with a combined total of twenty hitpoints.

Limping onwards, the PCs found a larder occupied by a spice rack, a dead adventurer, and a scroll that they failed to decipher. The War Moose's mate chose this moment to catch up with them, and the two heroes duked it out, emerging victorious with a combined total of seven hitpoints and one suit of scale mail between them.

At this point, it was 10:30, so we called it a night. All in all, I was very happy with the session; combat went quickly and I didn't get bogged down, Erich and Nate had fun, and the Quote List was amazing.

Memories That We Cherish:

(Nate and Erich's characters are getting to know each other:) Erich: Well, I'm going to this peace conference, and--- Nate: Do you have any beef?

(Nate has never played AD&D or a Cleric before:) Nate: I can Cure Light wounds! Erich: You're gonna find out real quick how useful that is.

Erich (explains his motivation): Oh, you know, the usual: glory, kicking butt.

Edward (on the economic systems of fantasy RPGs): It's a dungeon based economy: they're like oil wells.

Nate (asking his God for guidance): Odin...bless my...ass.

Edward (to Erich): You can't see that Nate gained experience! Erich: Yes I can! He looks a little better than he did!

Nate (upset about being first level): I thought I was a kick-ass priest, not a little bitch priest.

Erich (is a detective): I want to know what that moose heard beforehand.

Nate (reassuring Erich): Maybe you'll be able to read it later, when you roll better.

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What do you think?

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