Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tales of a Part-Time Tiefling Warlord

You are not a geek if you haven't played Dungeons and Dragons. This is a fact. You don't have to like it, you just have to try it (like that weird, new kind of food your parents tried to make you eat: "just try it; you'll love it!").

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about (and therefore are not yet true geeks), Dungeons and Dragons is a group-based roleplaying game (and when I say roleplaying, I am not talking about sex). Playing D&D varies from group to group. Some groups only have pencil and paper and a Monster Manuel, and can create some of the most fantastic adventures. Other groups have hand-painted figurines, heavily detailed maps, and eight different volumes of players' guides.
Basically, you create a character in the D&D fantasy world, grab a few friends who also have characters, get a Dungeon Master who plays judge, jury and executioner (sometimes literally), and go on adventures. You know, everything that grown adults do.

Liam decided this fire genasi wasn't badass enough, so he gave him a giant sword.

I started with my dad and my brother. Dad had played D&D when he was in college (ages ago, in between hunting for dinosaurs and worshipping fire), so he kind of knew what he was doing. Liam had heard of it and wanted to try it. When he told me about it, I figured it was some kind of multi-player computer game, like Civilization. I wasn't big on computer games, but I figured, what the heck?

Dad had a business trip to Ely, Minnesota, and Liam and I tagged along. I loved it, because we got to see the International Wolf Center (most awesome place in the world ever), see the wildlife, and eat venison at a restaurant. That said, the weather was pretty miserable. The Boundary Waters are supposed to be absolutely beautiful, but while we were there it was all gray mud. We stayed inside our rented cabin for most of the trip, killed a frost dragon, almost got killed ourselves, and rescued a dozen kidnapped dwarves.

Our first party, we had no idea what we were doing, so we scrapped them pretty fast and came up with a second party. Liam and I each played two characters while Dad played the fifth adventurer and was the DM (the reason we did this is because 5 adventurers is the ideal number for a party; all skills are covered by at least one person and if someone dies, you're not completely screwed).

New Rule: The next bully who calls me a nerd deals with this.

Liam had a genasi swordmage named Quarrel-Karn (essentially a magic fighter with fire for hair who teleported a lot and jumped on the backs of very big monsters) and a deva invoker named Gundar (a holy wizard of sorts who worshipped the dwarf god Moradin). I had a shifter warden named Rain (a nature-based fighter who was descended from werewolves) and a tiefling warlord named Shakairra Romazi (a half-demon leader). Dad played all the monsters, as well as a dark-elf sorceress named Shivra (who liked to make blizzards; not the DQ kind, unfortunately).

We were the Flying Cobras, this because we all got enchanted tattoos and we all had to agree on the design for them to work. Liam's obsessed with snakes, Shivra wanted something with wings, and I didn't care. Hence, a winged snake.

Not all angels are nice.

We were a party who argued a lot. Rain didn't like how Quarrel-Karn was setting everything on fire and teleporting away to fight more interesting creatures when he should have been protecting the party. Shivra didn't like any of us, but was stuck with us because we were the only people who didn't hate dark elves (a.k.a. drow). Gundar kept accidentally hitting everyone--goblins and party members alike--with searing shards of holy light that hurt like a mother. And Shakairra didn't like how nobody followed her orders even though she was the warlord, but everyone demanded that she healed them with an Inspiring Word. Mom never played D&D. She hid in the living room with a book like a sane person.

In other words, a typical day in the family.

Use one more cheesey pickup line. Come on. I dare you. 

It took twenty levels for us to figure out how to fight without more than one character dying (death itself was rarely a problem, once everyone learned how to cast rituals and added Raise Dead).

So of course, Rain had to die permanently right before epic tier.

Dad had covered the entire dining room table with plastic figurines to represent the edge of an evil army that was attacking the city of Sundabar. We had to hold off the army while the citizens evacuated. We cleared the entire board, then saw it fill up again because, as I said, that was just the tip of the iceberg. They had catapults that shot these weird black hole things that, if they dealt fatal damage, turned the body to dust (no body, no raise dead).

Everyone was out of healing potions, healing spells, and powers. Rain was stuck in some enchanted goop. She held off the entire f***ing army while the others escaped, then got hit with three of those black hole things at the same time. They only just dealt enough damage to take her out.

Oh, Rain. You were so close to being truly awesome. 

I thought it was pretty great. I mean, a warden's job is to do just that: protect the party and be a badass. Liam cried. I think I heard Dad sniffle. Mom had to come in and tell us to shut up, it's just a game.

With the death of Rain, we had to draft up another character. That was Khashana, a kalashtar paladin (kalashtars are a weird race of humans with the fragments of souls of an ancient magic people in their brains, which allows them to do telepathy and other cool things). I still missed Rain, but then Khashana turned into a dragon. We were okay with that.

A warden? Pfft. Let's talk about paladins.

The Flying Cobras' crowning achievement was killing the evil spider goddess, Lolth. Dad found a giant spider figurine and painted it an ugly purple with dark green claws. It was awesome. When we killed Lolth, the weird magic parallel plane we were in collapsed. Shivra ended up dying, which led to more crying.

Gundar became an angel for Moradin. Quarrel-Karn had a wife and kids and retired. Khashana became the heir to the dragon god Bahamut and turned into a minor deity herself. Shakairra became queen of Luruar (which is where Sundabar was located). Shivra's spirit moved to protect a neighboring city of eladrin. Eladrin hate drow and drow hate eladrin, so we're pretty sure she did that just to spite them.

The moral of the story: go play Dungeons and Dragons, or you will never be a true geek.

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