This week, Classical Geek Theatre presents: "Tales from the Dice Bag!" That's right Smurfs and Smurfettes, I'm bringing to the pages of the Daily News one of the geekiest Dungeons and Dragons stories I know. The names of the players have been changed - so I can give them funnier ones. Today's story: "Silvio Swanborn and the Signal Whistle."
I was a junior in high school at the time and I had only been playing Dungeons and Dragons (which shall be henceforth referred to as D&D) for about four months. Our gaming group wasn't terribly stable; we were lucky if our characters could make it past the second level. Either a mage would lose his hand, or Jeckle would play an angry ranger and ruin everything or the Dungeon Master (DM henceforth) would just get bored with the game and throw it out. Every time, the campaign would be ruined.
This time, things were going right. Everyone liked their characters. Iago had found his inner self by playing a female archer. Murphy (who was known for his ridiculously poor dice rolls) had a fighting monk who actually hit the things he attacked. Everyone else had some spiffy characters, too. I had an Elven swashbuckler, Silvio Swanborn.
Before starting the gaming session on that fateful night, the DM boasted about how he'd spent six hours drawing up his most challenging maze to date. When we arrived at the maze, we decided we'd just keep our right hands to the wall, so we'd eventually find our way out of the maze. Our wisdom and ingenuity angered the DM. Six hours of his hard were work bypassed in six minutes.
After the maze we came to an enormous underground lake. There was a boat in the middle of the lake and a door on the other side. Because my character was the only one proficient in swimming, I agreed to swim across, get the boat and bring it back to the adventuring party. When I got to the boat, the DM told me there were two troglodytes on the other side of the lake.
Now, bear with me a moment. Try to see things from my perspective.
I had practically just started playing D&D. I didn't know the first thing about troglodytes, except that they are giant lizard men. I figured, "Lizard men? I bet they are simple creatures." My character had a signal whistle in his pocket. In my mind, I thought, "I bet these simple creatures would be terrified of loud noise. I will blow the signal whistle."
I did. Everyone moaned. Hey, like I said, I didn't know any better.
The DM was already furious because we obliterated his nifty maze with ease, but this sent him over the edge. With indignant statue-like repose, the DM slowly announced: "Upon your blowing the whistle, the dumbest thing ever, 40 more troglodytes charge through the door."
I swam back to the other side, chased by the troglodytes. The monk had an idea, though. After I was back on shore, he dumped seven flasks of oil into the lake and torched it.
At this point, the iron will of the Dungeon Master was going to see our party's demise. So, somehow, the troglodytes arose from the lake of fire unharmed and began to pursue us. We fled back into the maze. An uncharted dead-end greeted us.
Some of us went down valiantly - Silvio took down two troglodytes before he was slain. The monk resolved himself to suicide. Murphy has the worst luck of anyone I've ever known. That fighting monk was the only good D&D character he'd ever had. To him, it represented hope. I blame the DM's unwarranted desire for vengeance for the fighting monk's ill fate, but to Murphy, it was I who squelched all hope when Silvio blew a signal whistle in a cave full of troglodytes.
I don't think Murphy has ever really forgiven me. Murphy, I am sorry.
Write to Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org