South Park Self

Unspeakably Awful Indescribable Horror (Level 14)

I started playing D&D in my first year of university, which was not a good year: I was very shy, very introverted, horribly homesick, and pathologically incapable of striking up new friendships owing to all of the above. I was dragged off to a regular D&D game by the first-year med student who lived across the road from my aunt, and acquiesced, I suspect, mostly because I couldn't think up a plausible reason to refuse. The group was the usual crew of cheerful eccentrics who took happily for granted my inclusion in the game, and assisted me to roll up the usual designated starter cliché, a half-elven ranger who was almost killed by ghouls in a graveyard in her first combat. (I think I date my ongoing roleplaying fondness for staying at the back of the group with arrows and/or magic from this rather vividly-remembered moment). The game was DMed by an Honours student in theoretical physics, on whom I developed a minor crush, and who is probably responsible for infecting me with my predilection for Earl Grey, which I still associate with those sessions. The group played absolutely standard AD&D, hacking our way through several levels of the Temple of Elemental Evil during that first year I played: it was rote, standard, unexamined adherence to the tropes, and I loved it unconditionally.

From there, of course, the rest is history: contact with the motley hordes of CLAW and their far more wide-ranging and exploratory take on roleplaying in my second year, and very quick eradication of the shyness in the face of the completely mind-bending experience of being one of approximately two and a half girls in an otherwise all-male role-playing group. I'm not really sure if it was the confidence boost of this, or the powerful shields afforded by a role-playing persona, which kick-started the transformation from pastel schoolgirl mouse into something more in possession of a personality. But it wouldn't have been possible without that year of exposure to AD&D in its most standard form; that first game was lame and grotty and, in an odd sort of way, profoundly unimaginative, and it met a need I didn't even know I had.

So it's not really surprising that every now and then I still randomly develop a sudden, deep, alarming desire for something D&Dish. This is difficult to fulfil in this day and age, even with the high concentration of roleplayers in my immediate social circle, as everyone's moved on to other systems, or their own systems, or families and work. (bumpycat's late lamented D&D game was enormously retro fun and I still miss it passionately. Barbarian clerics ftw!). But for the moments when the jones is paramount, there's Munchkin. Munchkin is perfect because it speaks to our juvenile experiences of D&D: it's firmly embedded in the paradigm, the in-jokes1 and tactical nastinesses and sneaky min-maxing and lame system features. It knows the gazebo joke. But it's also ironic, distanced, self-consciously condemnatory as much as it's affectionate: we are invited, playing Munchkin, to celebrate both our unsophisticated enjoyment of a dungeon hack, and our graduation to something better.

By the end of last night's game I had a surprisingly coherent character: a dwarven cleric with a Talking Horse, Leather Armour (picture: busty brunette in skimpy corset and thigh-high boots), Pantyhose of Giant Strength, and Broad Sword (usable only by female players). Munchkin is a profoundly nostalgic pleasure if only because there aren't many women who enjoy playing it in our crowd (me and smoczek, and she's still in Madagascar), and you can trade shamelessly to end up with all the items useable only by females and thus useless to the rest of the group without a quick sex change. It's quite like old times. The session took over four hours and ended with all five players on 9 hit points, needing just one combat to win, and staving off the inevitable victory for a random one of us for three rounds by serially preventing, in a desperate, marginal and happenstance way depending on the fall of cards, our opponents' success in combat. I didn't win, alas, as the bastard elves ganged up to use their sneaky helping-someone-else-to-win-a-combat bonus, causing game end in a tie, but it was bloody good fun and completely worth staggering off to bed somewhere around midnight. I'm just sad I didn't get a chance to use my Kneepads of Allure.

1 They have a Level One Potted Plant as a monster! I recall affectionately the early days of CLAWs, when one of the in-jokes was the Party Potplant ("DM! DM! I rustle my leaves!"). And a Large Angry Chicken! Do you remember the ongoing gag about the Rolemaster sheep?

  • Current Mood: amused happily nostalgic
  • Current Music: early Eurythmics
The chicken card and the gazebo card make me very happy because they confirm our little tip-of-Africa roleplaying crowd as part of a much greater whole: however far away we are from the bulk of mad D&D players, we make the same jokes.
And then there was Dead Action Roleplaying. "DM! DM! ... I lie in my grave and rot." "Ok, make a roll for that."
God, yes, that incredible February heatwave when we all collapsed on the giant orange sofas in your living room, and couldn't summon the energy to actually role-play properly. I seem to remember someone building up body gases and exploding. Damn, I miss wytchfynder.
Yes, it's amazing how easy it was to relate to UK gamers when we arrived. Same jokes, same favoured systems - geeky roleplayers are similar the world over.
I desperately miss DMing a simple game, with simple pleasures like throwing 50 orcs at people. I think when I get back from my trip I'll start a new D&D game. You're welcome to join ... ;)
50 orcs, and me with my giant sword, is indeed a simple pleasure. Sky pony! Um... now I want to dig out her character sheet just for the memories. Aargh.

Thank you for the invitation, I'll bear it in mind if I ever develop long-range teleport abilities ;>.
Long distance hackage
We've got a couple of remote (Germany & UK) players in our Rolemaster game who join via Skype. It's obviously not the same, but fun nevertheless.
DM: "Okay, Bodin, there's 5 goblins with pointy sticks in front of you. What do you want to do?"
DM: "Bodin?"
*more silence*
Bodin: "Sorry, I had my mute button on. I want to prep Adrenal Strength, then charge in with my AHX and a cry of 'Baruk Kazad!'.
DM: "Okay, roll your Adrenal Strength."
*sound of dice rolling, then silence*
DM: "Bodin?"
Bodin: "I rolled 01."
Re: Long distance hackage
Good lord, I didn't realise there were still die-hard Rolemaster games going. I love that system. So elegant. Who's in the game? are you in one of the ICE worlds?

I could totally join bumpy's game via Skype. Cool!
Re: Long distance hackage
Our DM is Wolf (affectionaly known as Fridge Tosser), and the others you know are Bryan, Gerhard and Tom. We blunder around Middle Earth rather than Kulthea.
Ah, we shall hold you to this, sirr! I'll start min-maxing my half-orc barbarian-assassin-sorcerer forthwith :)
Off-road, off-topic
we is watching you from madagascar! *haunts*

(this brought to you with nosy be`s entire internet capacity. ching!)
Re: Off-road, off-topic
OMG Madagascar represent! Very glad you Aten't Dead, or anything. I've been vaguely expecting coups. And tsunamis.

Cape Town is a desert without you!