Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
The Creep On The Borderlands
Introductions over I found a seat. As I waited for Norm to get everything set up, I examined my surroundings, the walls were bare, the furniture filthy, and every available space was taken up with pristine Star trek memorabilia.
In lieu of bookshelves stolen milk crates were stacked every which way to serve as makeshift shelves, They were filled with Star Trek books, role playing games and books about World War II.
“This is some impressive stuff you have here.” I said.
“Yes it is,” Norm preened, “I cashed in some savings bonds my grandparents had left for me. They wanted me to go to college but there isn't anything the Jew intelligentsia are teaching that I would want to learn.”
I almost dropped my drink, “Wh-what?”
Buddy chuckled, “Don’t let it phase you, our beloved Dungeon Master is a bit of a white supremacist. He has been ever since he failed the fireman's entrance exam.”
Again I said, “What?”
I have never and will never understand prejudice. It always surprises and angers me whenever I encounter it- be it anti-semitic friends or my great-grandmother’s dislike of members of the Protestant faith or that one girl I knew that had an irrational terror of being fingered by a midget. None of these things make the least bit of sense in our culturally enlightened times- especially the last one because I'm 5'6'' that isn't even close to being a midget.
Norm looked back to his charts and graph paper but there was a sharpness to his voice I didn’t like, “Affirmative action cost me that job.”
“Well,” I said again, “look at the time.”
Will gave me a disbelieving look, “We just got here.”
I got started with character generation. There are a lot of ways to create a character for a role playing game but the most basic is rolling dice for each of the characters attributes – Strength, Dexterity, Charisma, Wisdom, etc. You record the results on the character sheet. Then using those numbers you factor out thinks like reaction rolls, hit points and armor class.
The world of Dungeons and Dragons is the world of fantasy literature, Conan, Lord of the Rings and, what the Hell, Gord the Rogue. If you remember Fellowship of the Rings, the book or the movie, there is a scene called the Mines of Moria where the protagonists are exploring a ruined underground complex of caves and they find them selves set upon by Orcs and other monsters.
The goal of Dungeons & Dragons is to have that happen every day and twice on Sunday.
I rolled up a basic kind of character, a dwarf fighter. Norm began to describe his game world, a world of tall imposing mountains and churning seas. A world where the best the average man could hope for was not to die staring in disbelief at his uncoiling entrails. A world of high magic and cruel misfortune. A world where the common tongue was German and gnomes weren’t allowed out after dark. A world where the critical hit tables were used for even the smallest injuries meaning that a paper cut could be fatal and women in childbirth frequently detonated like landmines.
Norm had just finished setting the scene when another player showed up. He was unshaven, dressed in wrinkled clothes and smelled strongly of pirogues and cheap aftershave. Eddie was the first to bring it up “What is that smell? It reminds me of a fire in a restaurant or clowns crying or something.”
Curtis shook his head, “What the hell man? You stink.”
“Don’t get in my face syphilis factory. I fell asleep while cooking and got kind of saturated,” the new arrival explained.
Before anyone could make introductions I spoke up, I knew this guy, “Daniel?”
Daniel glared at me, “Well ,well, well, I heard we were getting a newbie today. I didn't think it would be you.”
“How’s Adrian been?”
“He’s all about his girlfriend these days,” Daniel sneered. “and you’re in my seat newbie.” He nudged me with his knee.
I looked around, “This is a couch, there’s more than enough room.”
“No,” He rolled his eyes again, “this is a love seat and even if I was not in a splayin’ frame of mind I would not be sitting on a love seat with a dude.”
“Well, I guess I’ll be over here,” I found a seat next to Will.
He chuckled, “Badass thy name is Daniel…”
This was all I needed, a pissing contest with a guy with more zits than a dermatician’s waiting room. Will leaned over to me, “And that’s the name of his character too.”
“Daniel? He named his character after himself?”
“No, his character’s name is Badass.”
Daniel waved his character sheet around triumphantly, “Lord Baron Whoopass Von Baddass the first.”
“And my character is a thief named Nine Fingers Rodney,” Will said.
Now it was Buddy’s turn, “My character is named Dean and he wields a mythral tankard!”
Eddie grinned proudly, “I’m playing a knight... I mean a ranger. My other character was a knight but he was killed by a ninja.”
The character sheet Curtis showed us had a Playboy playmate stapled to it, apparently aside from having 17 Strength and a 16 Constitution his character also liked long walks on the beach and non smokers. “I am playing a female fighter named Deb Sonia,” he explained, “she lives by the sword and has vowed she will remain a virgin until a man bests her in single combat.”
I nodded appreciatively, “Well that’s not original but it’s an interesting concept.”
Curtis grinned, “Of course that doesn’t stop her from having ons and tons of anal sex.”
A harsh clearing of the Norm’s throat silenced us. “Shall we begin?”