Another gaming group beckoned but I was reluctant to pull up stakes and start again. I had been to too many new games that turned out to be nothing more than bait and switch events trying to sell me Amway or religion or both.
So that was how I found myself at the apartment Deviant Boy and Collateral Darren shared. The walls of their cramped one bedroom apartment were decorated with artwork from the early years of metal and the latter days of porno.
Me: "So wait. If there is only one bedroom where does Darren sleep?"
Collateral Darren: "The storage room."
Me: "You mean the dark little room where the water heater is?"
Collateral Darren: "My cot fits in there perfectly."
Me: "Jail cells are less cramped and dank than that room is."
Collateral Darren: "It works for me."
Me: "You're living like a prisoner."
Deviant Boy: "Hey man we are all prisoners of our glands."
I hadn't run D&D in a while and I decided to see if I could get my old campaign up and running again. In short order Blobert Smith, El Disgusto, Old Yellowbelly and Weasly Crusher arrived. Deviant Boy and Collateral Darren had plenty of soda, chips and dip on hand.
Blobert Smith: "Ah D&D, are you a balm against the cold sting of loneliness or did you in fact create the very isolation we endure?"
El Disgusto: "We play the game because its fun, end of story."
Me: "Since when have you ever had fun at a role playing game? You're always pissed off about something."
El Disgusto: "I take my pleasures in the little things in life. Like that twitch you developed."
Me: "I don't have a twitch."
Old Yellowbelly: "You do."
Weasly Crusher: "Yeah, it happens whenever you hear the word 'ninja'."
Deviant Boy: "Weasly, why are you wearing your Burger Clown uniform?"
Weasly Crusher: "I just came from work."
Deviant Boy: "What's with the gold fringe on your name tag?"
Weasly Crusher: "I have been promoted to Fry Vat supervisor."
Me: "Cool, must be more money for you. Maybe you can finally get your own dice."
Weasly Crusher: "Actually Fry Vat Supervisor means I just work more hours but don't get any overtime."
Me: "You work at a fast food joint and you're salaried?"
El Disgusto: "See that's why I don't have a job. It’s my way of sticking it to the man."
Me: "I never realized being under house arrest was a way of doing that."
Collateral Darren: "Hey we've all been under house arrest once or twice."
Me: "No we haven't."
Blobert Smith: "I was in a diabetic coma once. It was glorious. I dreamed I was the ghost of Veronica Lake trapped in a toaster oven."
El Disgusto: "You're like a bad acid trip in a paisley vest I swear to God."
Collateral Darren: "Speaking of acid..."
Me: "Look I already said that I will not run D&D for people on drugs. My game notes are disorganized enough."
Deviant Boy: "Ab3 is SOOOOOO conservative."
Me: "Ok... let’s try to get this show on the road. What kind of characters are you making?"
Weasly Crusher: "I am going to make a human fighter named Grog Bradi."
El Disgusto: "I have a pad of pre-rolled ninjas."
Old Yellowbelly: "I want to be a gnome illusionist who specializes in invisibility spells and mime."
Deviant Boy: "I will be playing a female character and like all women she is a chaotic evil thief."
Me: "It's so good to see you moving on and letting go."
Collateral Darren: "I want to be an Anti-Paladin with negative five Charisma."
Me: "That means you character is so physically hideous and social maladjusted that civilized society rejects them utterly."
Collateral Darren: "That's ok because the guy is totally like Tarzan except that he was raised by a tribe of Black Puddings. He carries his adopted family around with him in a specially created bandolier."
Me: "Could this party be even less cohesive?"
Blobert Smith: "I think you shall find that my character concept will be the glue that helps this party hang together like the heady musk of womanhood clings to the spandex lining of a lady wrestlers costume."
Me: "And your character is..."
Blobert Smith: "My character shall be Lord Gustave Courbet, a fighter-magic user of sorts, he is the third son of a noble house. A social disgrace sent an incredible magnitude has caused him to leave his homeland to seek adventure in a world his pampered life at his parents’ manor barely prepared him for. Perhaps he will find redemption, perhaps death. He would have used his considerable fortune to gather a retinue of adventurers to his side. Perhaps this might be the genesis of our group."
Me: "That... that could work. That could really work."
Blobert Smith: "And of course one of the player characters will take the place of my manservant. It will be their duty to aid and protect my character - to guard his life and fortune, to make sure his myriad weapons and armor are at the ready, to make certain his precious spellbooks when not in use are sealed in their Mylar snugs, to lovingly powder his bottom before securing him in his leather diaper and +1 bonnet of arrow deflection, to make ready the oversized bottles full of milk with a dash of rum and make sure they are served at breast temperature and to make sure that every inch of Gustave's body is depilated and lotioned."
Old Yellowbelly: "..."
El Disgusto: "I roll to disbelieve."
It took some time form them to roll up their characters and pick equipment and gods. We were just about ready to start playing when Blobert noticed something...
Blobert Smith: "We are out of nacho cheese yet chips remain."
Collateral Darren: "I can go get more."
Collateral Darren grabbed the Tupperware container that held the last dregs of nacho cheese and then got up from the table and got on his coat.
Me: "I don't think this is important, we are about to start playing anyway."
Collateral Darren: "It isn't a problem at all. I'll be right back from the gas station."
Me: "Gas station?"
But Darren and his orange Tupperware container were already gone. We all sat there staring at each other for a moment.
Me: "So, maybe we can start without him."
El Disgusto: "No. You can't just start a campaign without a member of the party and then have to just bring everyone back up to speed when Darren gets back. That's like Babylon 5 switching commanders in season 2. Utterly bogus."
Old Yellowbelly: "Babylon 5 is a great show."
El Disgusto: "Babylon 5 is lame, it rips off the best of Star Trek and the Worst of Robotech."
Weasly Crusher: "There is no worst of Robotech, its all great."
Me: "Come on, let’s just get started."
Blobert Smith: "Star Trek is far too Republican for my tastes in its current incarnation. The old series was about exploring the boundaries of space and fornication. The new show is merely the regurgitation of Elitist Imperialist groupthink."
Weasly Crusher: "I'm sick of Sci Fi, I wish they made a D&D TV series."
Old Yellowbelly: "They tried already... remember a failed little series called 'Wizard's and Warriors'?"
El Disgusto: "That show had more of a Runequest vibe if you ask me."
Deviant Boy: "Mmmmm Witch Bethel was extreme spankfodder."
El Disgusto: "You said the same thing about DRIVING MISS DAISY."
Deviant Boy: "And....?"
Me: "How long is Darren going to be gone for anyway?"
Deviant Boy: "Chill out he's just going down to the gas station around the corner."
Weasly Crusher: "The gas station?"
Deviant Boy: "It’s a gas station and a convenience store."
Old Yellowbelly: "Remember the old days when you just got gas at gas stations. Now it seems like you can get almost anything."
Blobert Smith: "I lost my virginity in a Belgian Gas station. Even now I become flush with desire at the merest whiff of diesel fuel."
El Disgusto: "I bet the tire pump never worked right after that."
Me: "Like I said, we could start the game anytime now. Who wants to kill some Kobold babies for practice?"
Collateral Darren returned shortly after with some nacho cheese and a furtive look in his eyes. At this point in my life I was beyond asking, I was just glad that we could get started.
Me: "A plague has ravaged the kingdom..."
El Disgusto: "Hey, did anyone tape this week's episode of SPACE RANGERS?"
Old Yellowbelly: "Isn't that show canceled?"
Me: "Hello people, focus."
El Disgusto: "I can hear you fine. Backstory blah blah blah. Premise blah blah blah."
Me: "A plague has ravaged the kingdom, fast acting and always fatal it has..."
Weasly Crusher: "I don't understand how any kind of plague could get a foothold in a D&D world. I mean there are all kinds of clerics and heal spells and stuff."
Blobert Smith: "A close study of the wilderness and city encounters tables reveals that the average denizen of a D&D-esque world has a 40% chance of being attacked by a wandering monster sometime in his lifetime. Mostly likely while they are trying to access the privy."
Old Yellowbelly: "Is it too late for my character to have a Chamberpot of Holding?"
Me: "Each of you has lost someone you've known to the ravages of the plague, yet each of you remains strangely immune to the disease."
Blobert Smith: "Oh the heartbreak..."
Weasly Crusher: "How cathartic."
Old Yellowbelly: "My character fled the moment someone sneezed."
El Disgusto: "My character killed his family to save them."
Deviant Boy: "Since my character is immune he starts telling peasant girls that his smegma has curative properties. It coats soothes and relieves.”
Collateral Darren: “Since my family are all slimes and jellies does this really apply to me?”
Me: “Moving forward…”
Things moved forward slowly, side conversations dominated moved back and forth along the table. Even during combats I found things utterly derailed…
Deviant Boy: “So the you know who called me yesterday.”
Weasly Crusher: “Did American Gladiators accept your application?”
Deviant Boy: “No! Asenath left a message on my answering machine.”
Weasly Crusher: “What did she want?”
Deviant Boy: “Something about want to go out to lunch or something. I erased it.”
El Disgusto: “I hope you burned the answering machine just to be safe.”
Me: “The dragon lands in the Doctor Who style quarry before you. It rears up to its full height…”
Deviant Boy: “Don’t even get me started. She thinks we can still be friends after what she did.”
Weasly Crusher: “But all she did was sleep with El Disgusto before she ever met you.”
Deviant Boy: “EXACTLY! And she never said anything about it.”
Old Yellowbelly: “Maybe she thought you might freak out and like break up with her.”
Collateral Darren: “Hey he showed me all the love letters she wrote him, all the gifts and stuff she gave him. A guy doesn’t need a girl that’s all needy like that.”
Me: “Did I say dragon? I meant dragons.”
Deviant Boy: “Look all I know is now she’s trying to come crawling back to me.”
Blobert Smith: “Perhaps she merely wanted to make amends. Perhaps she has moved on.”
Deviant Boy: “Get real goth-boy. She’s aching for her fix of vitamin D. I bet without me when she parts her legs the thermostat goes off.”
Old Yellowbelly: “Girls sure are different.”
Blobert Smith: “I do wish you would not speak in such a crude an misogynistic manner.”
Deviant Boy: “What do you care?”
Me: “… so the five dragons run at the sight of the rampaging tarrasque.”
Blobert Smith: “It may surprise you to hear this but I am currently dating the lady Asenath and have been for some three weeks.”
Deviant Boy: “…”
Collateral Darren: “You?”
Blobert Smith: “I.”
Collateral Darren: “You know she doesn’t have a penis right?”
El Disgusto: “That makes two of them.”
Me: “Did I mention the tarresque has rabies?”
Weasly Crusher: “We’re out of nacho cheese again.”
Collateral Darren: “Hang on I’ll get some more. Where’s my sombrero?”
Me: “Oh Lord.”
I suppose I could have made more of the fact that Darren headed out for the gas station in a raincoat and a sombrero but by this point I was too demoralized.
Me: “I suppose you guys want to wait for him to get back?”
El Disgusto: “It’s only fair. We’re playing at his house for God’s sake.”
Blobert Smith: “Deviant Boy, my old chum. Why are you just sitting there with a quivering lip and –”
Deviant Boy: “No more words. Say no more words or I’ll kill all of you.”
Old Yellowbelly: “Can we talk about stuff out of character?”
Deviant Boy: “Why ever be out of character? It’s so much nicer in there. Player characters don’t have problems with girlfriends and jobs and a rash that just won’t go away…”
Weasly Crusher: “It’s ok man we’ve all been there.”
El Disgusto: “It’s certainly starting to look that way.”
Whenever a fight breaks out I always make sure to protect my first edition copy of ‘Deities and Demigods’ first, this day was no exception. Deviant Boy tried to slap both El Disgusto and Blobert Smith at once but somehow only managed to hit Weasly. Eventually Collateral Darren found his way back with fresh nacho cheese.
Collateral Darren: “Woah, a fight. And I missed it.”
Deviant Boy: “I’m sorry about that. I kind of lost myself there.”
Me: “No? Really?”
Weasly Crusher: “Where is Old Yellowbelly?”
Blobert Smith: “He ran when the fighting started. He is most likely halfway to Utica by now.”
Me: “Well it wasn’t like his character did anything more than hide tonight. Let’s move on without him. The wizard that brought the plague on the land was ironically enough its first victim. He…”
Collateral Darren: “Old Yellowbelly wouldn’t last five minutes in the marines.”
El Disgusto: “And you would know this how?”
Me: “The Wizard lived in a manor at the top of the hill. A vast sprawling estate that some said was full of treasures from all across the world.”
Collateral Darren: “I almost joined.”
Weasly Crusher: “Almost?”
Collateral Darren: “I think I was too intense for them.”
El Disgusto: “Yeah, all those arrests had nothing to do with it.”
Blobert Smith: “I must say that I have noticed that you El Disgusto are in a most acerbic frame of mind today.”
El Disgusto: “I’ve just about had it with this stupid town. One of these days I’m going to get that job as a professional video game tester.”
Blobert Smith: “Albany is sow that eats its young.”
Deviant Boy: “I hate all of you.”
Me: “You draw closer to the Wizard’s manor, you see strange shapes moving past the windows. Are they monsters or ghosts of…”
Weasly Crusher: “Do we have a marching order?”
Collateral Darren: “When I get the scratch I want to move to Alaska to live among the grizzly bears, occasionally I will strap on chainmail armor and cull their numbers with a katana.”
Deviant Boy: “You’re going to hunt bears with a sword.”
Collateral Darren: “It seems a lot more sporting that way.”
El Disgusto: “In a world of stupid things that has got to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Deviant Boy: “Those bears will eat you like Felecia in the final scene of ‘Cheerleader strippers’.”
Collateral Darren: “Oh give me a break, bears are like six hit die creatures.”
Me: “Is anyone paying attention to a damn thing I have to say today?”
El Disgusto: “Look. Are we at this wizard’s manor?”
Me: “You’re a few yards from the main entrance, if you had been paying attention…”
El Disgusto: “Ok. I pull out that wand of fireball casting we found a while back and lob a few fireballs at the manor.”
El Disgusto: “It’s a manor right? A big old mansion with a stone foundation at wooden doors and wooden walls and curtains and paintings right?”
El Disgusto: “And as the manor burns to the ground we’ll pick off the monsters and servants as they come running out.”
Me: “What about finding a cure for the plague.”
El Disgusto: “Who cares about the plague, it didn’t get us and that means more treasure for everyone.”
Me: “You… you ruined everything.”
El Disgusto: “That’s why real adventures take place in a dungeon bitch.”
Before I could start weeping in earnest there was a knock at the door. Deviant Boy answered it.
Deviant Boy: “Oh hello officers. Nice to see you again.”
Police Officer #1: “What did I tell you would happen if I had to come out here again.”
Deviant Boy: “But we weren’t playing loud music or LARPing.”
Police Officer #2: “We received a complaint from the Gas and Go on the corner. Apparently your little friend has been stealing cheese.”
Me: “Oh I knew it.”
Collateral Darren: “I think you’re mistaken officer. That cheese is complimentary.”
Police Officer #1: “That cheese is for the nacho bar, you’ve been going there with a bowl and filling up without buying a damn thing.”
Me: “You what?”
Collateral Darren: “Again officer you should check before coming over here and trying to slander me in front of my friends. There is no price on the nacho cheese, there for it is complimentary, there for I can take as much as I want. Just like sugar packets and napkins at a restaurant.”
Police Officer #2: “The cheese is for customers who have bought nachos not for people that just wander in off the street.”
Police Officer #1: “In a variety of really poor disguises.”
Collateral Darren: “Look if you pigs think you can arrest me just try. I am sure – HEY LEGGO! Put me down!”
Police Officer #1: “You have the right to remain silent … ”
Collateral Darren: “That goddamn cheese is complimentary I tell you! Complimentary!”
There wasn’t really much of a game after that. Mainly because I didn’t want to run a fight scene with every monster just streaming out of the burning manor, besides I remembered that there were plenty of magic items stored there so we all realized that the surrounding countryside probably ended up being consumed in an explosion of mystical hellfire. El Disgusto wanted to know how many experience points that would be but I just gave him the finger.
After that we all just kind of sat around until four in the morning talking about what cartoon characters we’d most like to go out with.
And for the record, I chose the Baroness.