The following is an excerpt from one of my longer works and is pretty much what inspired my RPG.net rants.
I planned to publish this as a serial novel in 2010 or so but consider this teaser a thank you for your support...
“The pizza’s on me.” Tristam said opening his wallet, “Well my Mom really.”
Drew peered cautiously inside, “How much did she give you?
Tristam pulled out a crisp bill “Fifty Bucks”
They had gathered, as they did every Saturday, in the living room of Greg’s house. With a couch, a love seat and two folding chairs there was just enough room for the whole gang. Their papers, pencils and dice crowded the coffee table. Greg sat in a swiveling office chair, a milk crate of D&D books to one side of him, a portable CD player thrumming out the soundtrack from the movie Conan the Barbarian
on the other.
Everyone except for Rich was in their casual clothes, Rich he had come straight over from work still wearing his Burger Clown uniform. He still reeked of sweat and secret spices. He smiled appreciatively at the fifty. “Behold the power of guilt.”
From her place on the couch between them Drew snatched it away “The ink is still wet on this!”
More care than money had been spent on the adornment of the room, the furniture was mismatched but comfortable. The walls were decorated with framed photographs of the Fletcher family and luxurious paintings of religious scenes. The Dali print was Tristam’s favorite, there was just something about it that kept drawing his attention back. The curtains were drawn back from the bay windows bathing the room in light, setting the gilded edges of the picture frames glimmering.
Tristam glared half-heartedly at Drew, “You give that back this minute young lady or sometime during the game, when you least expect it, I will give you a wet wobbie the likes of which you have never seen.”
Warren bristled from his place on the love seat. “Just freakin try it.”
Everyone froze. Warren glanced from them to the mayonnaise jar full of dollar bills on the mantle. “I said freakin’.”
“Keep it up Warren,” Adelphos said, “You and that Swear Jar are going to put Greg through divinity school.”
The Swear Jar had been the idea of Greg’s Dad, mainly because the boys tended to cuss up a storm when they failed an important die roll. In Tristam’s opinion Greg’s Dad was a pretty laid back guy for a minister. He’d always thought that Baptists were against violent games and rock and roll but Greg’s dad seemed to not mind either. Sometimes they could hear him in his den working on a sermon with Iron Maiden playing on his stereo.
Drew gave the fifty back, “Gotta love it when the parents are wrong.”
“Your parents are frequently wrong?” Yusuf leaned forward in his chair.
“And yours aren’t?” Adelphos gave him a funny look.
Yusuf shook his head “Never.”
Tristam pocketed the bill and went back to looking over his character sheet. He’d only been playing with them since October and he sometimes had a hard time keeping track of it all. The different stats, the modifiers and all the charts relating to said stat and its modifier. And the dice! How could one game need so many different kinds? Dice with four sides, six sides, eight sides and even twenty sides - couldn’t they just flip a coin?
“What did your Mother do that was wrong?” Yusuf asked.
“She punished me for something I didn’t do. She thought I cut the assembly but I didn’t I was innocent.”
Warren snorted and grumbled under his breath.
“I wouldn’t be here now if Greg hadn’t vouched for me.”
“All in a day’s work.” Greg looked up from his dog-eared Monster Manual “My next project will be world peace.”
“Oh I see.” Adelphos leaned back in the love seat, lacing his fingers behind his head, “And what are you going to do with the rest of your weekend?”
Greg thought a moment then smiled, “Marry Gillian Anderson.”
Rich gave him a hurt look, “Hey now I had dibs.”
“Tristam,” Warren leaned forward, “Do you honestly mean to tell me that you didn’t do something worthy of a grounding last week?”
Tristam narrowed his eyes “What is your problem?”
“You have the temerity to sit there and say you‘re innocent.” Warren said, “You’re not innocent of anything. They only thing you are innocent of is not being caught yet.”
Drew buried her face in her hands, “Here we go again.”
Yusuf said “I would like to say at this point that we are all sinful in the eyes of God and only through his divine grace-”
“Wait.” Rich interrupted, “Where does that leave me? I’m agnostic.”
Yusuf frowned sadly, “Your goose is pretty much cooked.”
Rich pounded his fist into his hand “Nuts!”
“Yes you are.” Yusuf managed to say before starting to laugh.
Adelphos shook his head sadly “Well those impure thoughts would have done you in anyhow.”
“But-” There were tears in Rich’s eyes he was laughing so hard, “But they were about you...”
Adelphos stood his face full of mock anger, “Hey!”
“All right!” Greg waved a hand in the air to restore order, “There are no impure thoughts allowed in my house. If you must have impure thoughts please go outside.”
“He’s stern but fair, I like that.” Drew said admiringly.
Adelphos agreed “And he’s fair but stern.”
“Sternly fair?” Rich started laughing again.
“Fairly stern?” Yusuf added and then they were all off again. They only sour faces were Warren’s and Tristam’s
Warren asked “What I want to know is how long is it going to be before you sell us out?”
“What?” Tristam almost dropped his dice.
“When are you going to do something to us to get you back in the good graces of the Pretty Boys?”
“I can’t believe you used to call us the Pretty Boys and I can’t believe you’re obsessing over this when you should be obsessing over... you know... pies.”
“Cocksucker!” Warren grabbed a book from the coffee table and threw it at him.
Tristam ducked the book and was on his feet his arm already drawing back. Greg and Yusuf got between them. Drew and Rich looked to stunned to move. Rich just stared at the copy of The Dancers at the End of Time
lying on the floor, “...my book...”
When the pizza arrived they took a break from the game. Tristam paid for everything, he insisted. That seemed to make Warren even madder and he cursed a few more times just so he could put his pizza money in the Swear Jar. “I tell you,” Rich said through a mouthful of cheese, “I’m finally gonna go up a level this session.”
Drew sipped from a can of diet soda, “You’d have gone up a level months ago if you weren’t muliclassed all to Hell.”
Everyone froze. Shaking her head Drew got up and put a dollar into the Swear Jar. When she sat back down Rich said “Multiclassed works for me. Elroy the Albino is a one man army.”
Warren threw a pizza crust back into the box and got another slice, “Elroy the Albino is a one man copyright lawsuit.”
Yusuf said “A one man army that was nearly killed by a beggar with a stick.”
“A leper with a stick.” Greg corrected
Rich frowned “That was one tough leper.”
Adelphos laughed at the memory “And those were some terrible rolls.”
Tristam took another bite of pizza and tried to make eye contact with Warren “Sorry my fighter almost killed your paladin.”
“That’s all right. It was a fumble, couldn’t be helped. He’ll recover.” Warren threw another wedge of pizza crust into the box and grabbed another slice.
“Well, what’s a groin injury between friends?” Yusuf said.
Adelphos winced “Quite a lot I think.”
Warren said, “Luther’s a Psionicist, he's beyond the needs of the flesh. He didn’t even scream.”
Drew wadded up a napkin and tossed it at Greg “Those weapon fumble tables were written by a sadist.”
It was almost five o’clock and pitch black outside. They had had drawn the curtains to keep in the warmth. Books and papers surrounded them, stacked on the armrests of the seats and piled on the coffee table. Dice and pencils were scattered on every flat surface. Greg’s Mom was home early from choir practice and was baking cookies, the smell was almost maddening. The portable CD player was now tuned to the local rock music station, when they got back to playing Greg would start the soundtracks up again.
Finishing off his soda with a gulp and a belch Tristam looked around the parlor. It occurred to him that he was having more fun here than he’d ever had at one of Linda Kaspary’s parties.Maybe I’m just a geek at heart.
Greg made eye contact with him, “Something on your mind?”
“Kinda.” Tristam began, “Look I know I’m the new guy here and I’m enjoying the game but why exactly are our characters exploring this dungeon? This place is a deathtrap. Wouldn’t it make more sense to become mercenaries or joined the king’s army?”
Rich raised a defiant and pizza stained fist “Elroy the Albino bows down before no man!”
“Unless its a beggar with a stick.” Drew rolled her eyes.
Greg corrected her again “It was a leper.”
Rich lowered his fist, “That was a badass leper.”
“Oh.” Adelphos laughed, “The swear jar claims another victim.”
“Badass isn’t a swear word.”
Greg’s Mom called in from the kitchen “Yes it is and you just said it twice. That’s two bucks.”
“Busted!” Warren laughed as Rich walked over to the mantle and dropped in a handful of quarters.
“But to answer your question,” Rich grabbed another slice of pizza and sat back down, “We are in this dungeon because at the heart of it is a black dragon-”
“Are those the ones that breathe fire?” Tristam asked.
Warren threw another pizza crust into the box “You wish. They spit acid.”
Rich started talking again, “As I was saying at the very bottom of this dungeon is a black dragon- very old and very evil.”
“But the dungeon didn’t used to be a dungeon.” Yusuf interrupted, “A thousand years ago it was an underground fortress and the forces of good kept the dragon imprisoned there.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” Tristam said “Why didn’t they just kill him?”
Warren laced his fingers behind his head “It’s one of Greg’s dungeons, it doesn’t have to make sense.”
“You wound me sir.” Greg said.
Drew explained “Because as long as the dragon was alive they had a ready made supply of dragon scales for their armor and dragon blood for their spells.”
“Smart girl.” Rich gave her unmarked cheek a pinch, “But of course eventually the forces of good got hosed and the goblins came in and took over the underground fortress. Thing was they weren’t smart enough to figure out a way to untrap the dragon, all they could do was feed it and worship it.”
Adelphos nodded “And since the dragon is mad smart he’s been giving them tactical advice. Now the goblins, the biggest wussies since the orks, are actually a threat to the humans.”
Yusuf smiled “It is pretty cool. The dragon is trapped but he might just enslave every human in the region.”
“Of course it’s only a matter of time before the goblin army captures some dwarves and enslaves them.” Rich concluded, “And since the dwarven elders built this prison they’re the only ones that can set the big bad boy free.”
Tristam snagged the last piece of pizza for himself, “So we want to kill the dragon before this can happen.”
“Yes.” Warren said, “Each character has his own reason, Luther was called upon by his god, Drew’s thief-acrobat is looking for treasure and experience. Elroy is out for vengeance.”
Rich opened his trapper-keeper and pulled out a wrinkled character sheet, “Behold the glory that was Corwin of the Golden Codpiece. Anti-Paladin- Illusionist- Bard.”
“Oh God him!” Drew feigned retching.
Tristam looked over the character sheet, not understanding what half of the things written on it meant, “So he died fighting the dragon?”
“Nah, he died fighting one of the dragon’s henchmen.” Rich took the character sheet back and returned it to its place of reverence in his folder. “A very tough, non-leprous Ogre Magi.”
“It was an awesome fight.” Adelphos grinned, “The whole party was droppin’ like flies. I got a crit on the Ogre Magi and chopped off his arm.”
Greg tsked under his breath “Not his arm, his hand.”
“Whatever. So the Ogre Magi zaps us with a cone of cold, everyone dies but Corwin-”
“But I’m pretty low on hit points too.” Rich added. “So I go charging after him and run him right through with my sword. He’s almost dead and so am I.”
Warren smiled evilly, “Then the next round you blew your initiative roll.”
“Yeah.” Rich said, “So the Ogre Magi goes first and he centers a disintegration spell on Corwin’s Golden Codpiece.”
“Ouch!” Tristam wondered why there were so many groin injuries in this game, “Well at least he died with his boots on.”
“Yes.” Yusuf said “His boots were all that was left.” ...