Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Bit Of Prehistory

Way back in the 80s, I explored Expressionism gaming. A fellow's T&T character had died in the course of the game. As it was his first role-playing character ever, Stan, that was his name, was not ready to let things go. I, being the "friendly GM" as opposed to the "real GM" of the day, took the persona into the depths of the Afterlife. I used three directions to determine the type of area this spirit could float towards: Order, Chaos, and Infernal. Since it was an X,Y, Z graph, I used the numeric value of each element to design the type of encounter that occur. Of course there was a fourth direction, time, which was the plot twist of the game. As Tervis, the Elf Archer, made his way through the after life towards a waypoint here and there, I rolled a d6 to determine whether time was moving slower, the same, or faster, on the mortal coil. As I suspected, bell curve be damned, the median time flow lead to a significant shift. So what had been a few weeks of adventure for the PC ended up being 72 years for the rest of the world. And because of some choices Stan made, not to steal another slot on the great cycle of renewal, he was reincarnated (once again a d6 used to determine variations) as an elf, of a different racial type, and from a culture different from his first. The new elf, Trey Arrowslinger, could start at 3rd level because of his old soul. The lesson we decided was that nothing stays still nor permanent, and it was an awesome session.

Stan's co-player, Fred, was in his late 40s while we were in our 20s. He was a "real gamer." Now the equivalent of that these days is a cross between an "Old-School Gamer" and a "rules lawyer," though it was about the shape and form of anything fantasy itself. Elves weren't black--Star Trek: Voyager was still a decade away, and the first D&D movie wouldn't happen for another fifteen years. And his own character, would have to be 97 years older, to play with Stan's new PC. He played a dwarf, Tunarl Hammerfist, who was probably in his 40s when he went tunnel delving with Tervis, the Elf Archer, would be a whooping 137years-old. When I pointed out that Gimli was 139 year's old when he hooked up with Frodo and Legalos, Fred couldn't argue with LOtR references. He did point out that he was still 3rd level and should be at least 140th level, and that T&T only had 20 levels of spells listed, so I was in fact retiring his character.

The claim that I was trying to "retire" Fred's character would come up more often than that later in the course of the campaign. This first time I was able to argue that no character other than Gandalf was above 7th level in the LOtR cycle. We decided that something came up that kept Hammerfist busy after Tervis's untimely death. I would've said that the death of a close companion-in-arms had the dwarf depressed and disillusioned about the life of adventure. I think Fred said something about his sister becoming Queen of the clan and needing a wizard that she could trust.

So this T&T campaign lasted another ten months, and both characters got up to 14th level and were very, very powerful. D&D came out with exotic Arabian Nights-based adventures. Fred would run this as a "Humans-Only" campaign, because elves and dwarves weren't Arabic I suppose, for a group of older friends and myself. Stan had gotten busy in a relationship. I about died of boredom, but not quicker than the older dudes around me. I swear the closest thing we ever got high adventure was an orc in an evil sorcerer's bathroom. The campaign ended with only me showing up for a couple Arabian Tuesday Nights sessions.

I was able to get Stan and Fred back to the table for two more T&T sessions. the last one, I ham-handedly made sure the Characters finished at 20th level. I then had them step into a trap that flung them 200 centuries into the future, drastically altering their characters into humans. Both were young men in frilly shirts and knickers. One was from France and the other was from the Barbary Coast. I had just bought a role-playing game about pirates. Fred started running "beginners" sessions of D&D at the local game store, Stan got busy with graduating college. I was busy getting a paramedic certification and preparing to move.

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