Price Breaks and Heartaches
a journal of retail and failed romance
Welcome To Hell, Here's Your Smock
They say time flies when you're having fun, they say time is relative, I don't know about that. What I do know is that when you played CHAMPIONS THE SUPER HERO ROLE PAYING GAME time lost all meaning.
Now when I mention CHAMPIONS I bet you're thinking of the online game but that is not what we are talking about here. After all this story takes place in 1986 when Colecovison ruled the world.
This version of CHAMPIONS was a pencil and paper role playing game that combined aspects of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS with elements of old style wargaming.
The game was clever, customizable and had a fun roster of pre-generated super villains for your undoubtedly derivative defenders of truth, justice and the American way to tangle with.
This was one of the ways I spent those rare afternoons when I wasn't at Nice Shopper having my ego destroyed at minimum wage.
So there I was at Adrian's house, well his parent's house anyway. Adrian was a wealthy, privileged, arrogant and self-involved- he was also one of the best friends I ever had.
Adrian's best friend meanwhile was a freshman kid named Daniel and I thought it was kind of neat that the guy running a super hero role playing game had a sidekick of his own.
Green shorts not included.
The last but not least player of the group was Gordon. The only thing Gordon loved more than role playing games was the character of Chewbacca, in fact one of his long term goals was to hunt down George Lucas and slap him for not setting RETURN OF THE JEDI on the Wookie homeworld.
Everything about Adrian's parent's house was ostentations, they were a people drawn to shiny things like magpies or rappers. They gave Adrian everything he could possibly want, videogames, computers and of course gaming supplies.
"Is everyone ready?" Adrian asked.
"I have extra rulebooks on hand if anyone needs one," Gordon said. Gordon always had extra of gaming supplies on hand thanks to his exceptional shoplifting skills. His horde of Geek treasures sometimes rivaled Adrians', especially during the cold winter months when he could wear a heavy coat without anyone being suspicious.
Daniel said, "I have a new character this week. I call him Spider-Lad."
"Well," I said, "isn't that... new."
"You're still playing Frost?"
"That's THE Frost."
Gordon said, "And of course I will be playing Patient Zero the One Man Biohazard."
"Excellent," Adrian was setting the map up, he had a map that covered the table and used Monopoly pieces to represent the different heroes and villains. "Now it has come to your heroes' attention that a convoy transporting a nuclear missile will be moving through town..."
I rolled my eyes, "Again?"
"Yes, you got a problem with that?"
"This is like the attempted third nuclear missile hijacking this month," I said, "I mean you think they would change the route or something."
"Well, at least it isn't another bank robbery," Gordon said.
"You know what would be cool?" Daniel said, "If someone tried to rob a bank with a nuclear missile."
"Hmmm," Adrian rubbed the peach fuzz on his chin, "interesting idea."
"All I know," Gordon said, "is that I damn well better get to be the thimble this time."
With that the game began and let's be honest, the plot didn't matter because what every CHAMPIONS game was really about people in spandex beating he crap out of each other.
You know, like Pro Wrestling but slightly more believable.
In order to simulate comic book action on a dining room table the game broke down every minute into 12 rounds that certain characters could use or not use according to their speed score. It was innovative and a lot of fun but it also meant that a five minute battle often took four hours to complete, six if Daniel was playing his Wolverine ripoff.
All the side conversations and digressions didn't help either.
"So I saw the video of the talent show," Gordon said.
I tried to keep my face neutral, "Oh."
"Come on man," Daniel said, "it's your impulse turn Al."
Gordon said, "I'm surprised you showed your face in school after that disaster."
"Well," I said, "the lighting could have been better."
Adrian stood, "You guys talk if you want, I'm going to make myself some pizza rolls."
Daniel brightened, "Oh, I'll have some."
"I said I'm making myself some pizza rolls."
"Well, you should be."
With that Adrian left. I tried to look busy by going over my character sheet but Gordon still had more to say. He gave me a little smile, "So you did your standup routine at the show huh?"
"Yeah." I said.
"Was it the same material you showed us?"
"Some old, some new," I chewed the end of my pencil. "Do you think I should put more points into Presence attacks?"
Gordon said, "I heard you got booed off the stage."
"Really?" Daniel commented, "I heard he got dragged off the stage."
"Well, obviously they dragged him off the stage so they could stop the booing."
I sighed heavily, "They removed me from the stage because my set ran long."
"Because of the booing."
Daniel nodded, "I heard some old lady was screaming at him to get the Hell off the stage."
I buried my face in my hands, both to hide my shame and to block the smell of burning pizza rolls, "That was my grandma."
Yeah, Grandma didn't really think much of me going into showbiz. Here's hoping she doesn't read my blog.
The talent show was a disaster, my wry observational humor didn't really play well to high school kids hungry for sex jokes and scatological humor.
But as you can see from these postings I have pretty much kicked wry humor to the curb in favor of dick jokes.
Yes, I should have known better but the only reason I even got involved in the talent show was because Lily was there and it was a chance to spend time with her. She performed the overwrought 80's hit TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART and in my mind she was singing it just for me.
But sadly she went home that night with someone else.
As if I wasn't having enough trouble finding a date for the senior prom already I was now known as the guy that made an ass of himself at the talent show.
I would never go back on stage again and just like every other one of my youthful dreams that died my family and friends were more than willing to help dig its grave.
Even if it wasn't quite dead yet.
Is it any wonder that I didn't mind spending an entire afternoon pretending to be a super hero?