10.31.2010

The Ballad of Sweet Tito

Since I just moved to a new city and don't really know anyone, I've been spending a lot of time in front of the TV trying to put myself out there and meet some friends. 

Okay, A friend. Any friend.

So when my co-worker Luke invited me to a weekly game night he's a part of, I was excited. My other work pals Josh, Matthew and Matt (no relation) were also attending, and I was happy at the prospect of transitioning from "work pals" to "friends," which could not sound gayer if I was sucking a dick while typing it. I agreed, and headed out to Gary's Games for my first ever session of Dungeons & Dragons.


That's right: level 40 wizards, 20-sided dice, "you cleaved my halfing in twain," D&D. 

I had never played D&D before; there was only one kid I knew of in high school who did it but he was a huge fat asshole and I wasn't really into board games anyway. None of my friends in college played. I had a mild curiosity about it but was scared away by the geek factor. Instead I played my RPGs on Xbox and online in the safety of solitude where no one could judge me.

So I knew a little about how it would work, but I honestly had no idea what to expect when I showed up. Our Dungeon Master (DM) was Jonathan, who apparently is a big deal in the community of people who play the "Basic/Expert" version of the game, which he will explain at great length is the greatest version of anything to ever exist, ever. That might sound silly until you realize he's written books about the game that people buy and use to play their own games, so he probably knows something about it. He also blogs about D&D and our session in particular here, so you can read up about how terrible I am from someone else's perspective if you're so inclined.

So I showed up and got my character sheet to roll up a new adventurer. For the completely uninitiated, you pick a class (Warrior, Mage, Dwarf, etc.) and roll dice to determine their stats. Strength is pretty self-explanatory, I think Intelligence is basically like strength but for Magic spells, Charisma is basically like strength for lying to people and convincing them to do shit to you, you get the idea. I rolled the dice and came out a poor, pathetic wretch of a person.


"Uh, I'm gonna let you roll again. That character is terrible," Jonathan said. Apparently there's a whole corresponding list (D&D is all about minutiae) that says what each level stat equates to. So someone with an Intelligence of 1 can basically mark an X on a paper for their signature and grunt a few words. My first guy had nothing stronger than a 9, which would basically make him just as shitty at adventuring as I am in real life.


I rolled again and came up with some middling but acceptable stats. While they weren't really high in terms of my party, my best stats were Intelligence and Strength. I decided to be an Elf, which is basically a fighter than can use magic. I christened him Sweet Tito, which is a pretty awesome name I sometimes make Kat call me during sex. He's kind of a character I'm cultivating, I guess. Time to roll for Hit Points! Hit Points are how much damage you can take. When the monsters hit you, the DM will roll dice to see how much damage the attack does to you. Matthew rolled 44 HP. Josh had something like 37. I rolled 17. That meant I was basically a punch in the face away from dying at any time.


We began our adventure to White Plume Mountain as seven adventurers trying to find some magical weapons. My hopes of stabbing monsters to death with my +1 Spear were met with the realization that this particular adventure is much more of a puzzle solving type. For some reason a lot of the puzzles were solved with Adam, Jonathan's brother and one of our tougher Warriors, getting naked. Seriously. First there was a weird microwave hallway that would heat up your metal armor as you walked, so he got naked and sprinted through it to save Josh and Luke from some ghouls. He sliced a monster in half while naked and, according to all of us, with a raging erection.


I got to throw a magic missile at some shit, but for the most part I stayed in the middle of the marching order and let the more experienced guys make the decisions. I didn't really have a feel for how things worked, but we were basically a dungeon-crawling senate subcommittee. With seven guys trying to decide everything, shit moved pretty slowly. Here's an example:


DM: You come to the end of the hallway.
Luke: Tito, you're an elf. Look around for a secret passage or something.
Me: Uh, okay. I use my...elf...vision...to look around.
DM: Roll a die.
Me: 4
DM: You see find there's a secret door underneath the muck.
Matthew: Check it for traps.
Me: Can I do that?
Luke: Who's our thief?
Adam: That's Vince.
Vince: What's up? I'm hiding in the shadows. I'm a thief.
Luke: Check the door for traps.
Vince: Alright, I'm checking it.
DM: Roll.
Vince: 1
DM: You find nothing suspicious about the door.
Matt: Maybe we should poke it first with that pole Tito has.
Josh: Yeah, Randy get your 10' pole and test it.


So we're super careful and extremely thorough, but pretty slow-moving.


So after the first night of adventuring I had survived without a scratch. I returned the next week determined to mix it up a bit and not just sit back. We encountered an inverted ziggurat (think Aztec pyramid but upside down) which we knew would have one of the magic weapons we needed. Problem was the first level was full of water and giant crabs, the level below that was sand and giant scorpions, the level below THAT was water again and full of...uh, polar bears. How they didn't eventually get tired and drown, I don't know. They weren't explained as MAGIC polar bears or anything. And below them, in the deepest part of the pyramid, were some monsters we couldn't really see.


We debated for a long time about the crab situation, when finally I realized I had a spell called Lightning Bolt. BLAM! I killed like six crabs in one hit. Fuck yeah! Sweet Tito gettin' it done! Matt's Halfling had a ring that let him walk on water, so he walked out to the edge to try and break the glass and flood the scorpions below. Instead he came back with a bunch of spikes stuck in him; the monsters below were flinging them.


The nerds experienced guys figured out we were facing Manticores, giant lions with wings and human faces and tails that throw huge barbed stingers. They can also talk, and since my elf got one extra language to automatically know I decided to make it Manticore. I took Matt's ring and walked out on the water to try and talk to these fuckers. It went something like this:


Me: "We come in peace."
Manticores: "We want fresh meat!"
Me: "Uh, how about scorched crab?"
DM: "Randy, I need you to roll a six sided die."
Everyone: "Oh, shit."
Me: "Uh, I rolled a 5."
DM: "Okay, you take 18 points of damage. A spike goes through your skull, killing you."

Just like that, Sweet Tito was dead.



The gang resurrected me, but the rules of the game stated I couldn't do anything unless my guy had two weeks of bed rest in a safe place, which meant nowhere in the volcano dungeon. Eventually they got past the Manticores and made it to a chamber where we found some guy named Quentin' chilling with our magic sword we were after. We decided to bring him back with us since he was part of the reward too or something.


Of course next week, during the march back to safety, he flips out and becomes possessed by his sword. Since Sweet Tito is standing right in front of him as this happens, he uses the butt of his sword to smash my head down into my chest.


"You're dead again."


The rest of the guys eventually kill the halfing, get the sword, and make it back into town. Since they stuffed my body into a bag they're able to use a spell and bring me back from the dead. Back to the volcano! We charge in, going straight instead of left this time, and come across some water too deep to cross. There seems to be a walkway on one side, but again we're being super careful so I'm taking my pole and poking around. Suddenly, Jonathan utters the words I hate most:

"Randy, I need you to roll a six-sided die."

I don't remember what I roll. I'm convinced at this point it doesn't matter, that I could somehow roll a 7,643 and would still get the shit end of the adventuring stick. Jonathan informs me that Sweet Tito is overcome with lust at the sight of a woman-like thing swimming up to him, peels off his armor, and jumps into the water to embrace her. She immediately beelines for the bottom.


Apparently I fell for the siren song of a Kelpie, which is some sort of seaweed/horse/lady thing that lures you to your death. The rest of the guys try to pull me up, but it's too late. Sweet Tito drowned and his body sank into the murky depths.


Three weeks, three deaths, two of them in one night. Maybe it's best that Tito shuffled off this mortal coil. Life as an adventurer is just too fucking hard for an elf with 13 Intelligence.


I have much higher hopes for Sexy Kevin, though, just as soon as I roll him up some stats.

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