Real Life Adventures

I have a deep and shameful secret: Back in the day, I used to play RPGs. I was never obsessive about it, but, yes, I did enjoy them.

“Back in the day”, I might add, was the misty days of yore when there was still “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” – and then later a second edition of the latter.

For people who’ve grown up on AD&D’s Second Edition – or the current incarnation, especially – ye olde red-box D&D must seem incredibly primitive. To be honest, it seemed incredibly primitive back in the nineteen-mumbles, and it was. Many of the game systems that came after were, in part, efforts to inject a small amount of realism into gaming, and the trend has continued into the computer era – Dragon Age: Origins shows how far we’ve come since the old TRS Forgotten Realms games of the 1990s.

I still can’t help but feel that a certain amount of realism is missing, though.

Oh, I get that it’s supposed to be a game, and it’s about fantasies and escapism and all that. I just think it would be interesting to envision a fantasy RPG where people had to play by, you know, real-world rules.

To that end, here’s a short excerpt from The Chronicles of the Third Adventure Club Corporation of Mount Tesla Academy, Volume Two:

As the school year kicked into high gear, the Adventure Club was eager to seize any opportunities to chase fame, glory, and riches that presented themselves. Hampered by a full slate of classes, ongoing financial problems, and Eric’s slower-than-expected recovery from the injuries he received during the Crossroad Kobold Massacre three weeks earlier, such opportunities were few and far between. Thus it was that the four healthy members opted to use the Founder’s Day holiday as an excuse to go adventuring.

As Founder’s Day fell on a Wednesday that year, and everyone had early-morning classes on that Thursday, there was no real opportunity to pursue a full-blown adventure. However, it was agreed that a brief excursion to the ruins of Castle Doom was possible. According to the latest issue of Adventurer’s Monthly, several small bands of low-level undead, Orcs, and undead Orcs were occupying parts of the ruins and squabbling amongst themselves for domination. Of special interest – seeing as how the Club had at this time less than 30 gold pieces in the treasury – was the note in the Monthly’s database that the average reported gross haul for a party of adventurers there was 338 gold pieces. With Eric still sidelined with injuries, this meant that the four healthy members of the Club stood to gain roughly 50 gold pieces each, before taxes, and that the Club coffers stood to grow by about 135 gold pieces, before taxes and expenses… assuming things went according to plan.

So it was that Alice, Bob, Chris, and Dave set out after classes on Tuesday afternoon, determined to make it to the castle ruins by nightfall. Before leaving, a brief Club meeting had been held, and the four had unanimously approved spending 3 gold 6 silver on provisions for the trip – 2 gold 4 silver for food, 1 gold for arrows for Chris and Dave, and 2 silver for torches for everyone.

At the city gates, they were briefly delayed by an argument over the state of their paperwork and equipment. Chris, the Rogue, was licensed to carry one sword, one bow, and one dagger or dirk, but the Ministry of Security officials attempted to argue that his dagger was in fact an unpermitted “poniard”, whatever the hell that is. Additionally, because of the drought, and the “code red: high” fire danger, no incendiary devices were allowed to be taken out of the city, and all the party’s equipment was inspected for contraband – each arrow had to be checked, to be sure it wasn’t a Flame Arrow, and each potion checked to make sure it wasn’t a phial of Greek Fire, et cetera. Further, each party member had to – in addition to signing the usual papers affirming that they carried adventure insurance – sign a sworn statement that they had not memorized any Demonic spells or incantations, any spells, prayers, or incantations which produced fire, sparks, or excessive heat (the drought, again), or any of about four-dozen prohibited spells capable of being misused for (deviant) sexual purposes.

The paperwork and other bureaucratic niceties out of the way, the Club members were allowed to depart, proceeding north along the Rough Trade Road towards the foothills of the Brokeback Mountains and the ruins of Castle Doom therein.

Because of the prolonged inspection at the gates by the Ministry of Security, the four adventurers were forced to make camp for the night at the edge of the foothills, still around ninety minutes’ walk from the ruins themselves. Though behind schedule, the biggest disadvantage faced by the Club was that their campsite had no source of water nearby; the original plan had been to camp at the shores of Red Rum Lake, just east of the castle ruins.

So it was that the party spent the night in relative peace, their spirits not terribly buoyed by a cold dinner of salted pork, hard biscuits, and rather bad – but cheap – wine, and Alice, in particular, somewhat miffed that she was unable to partake in the nightly bath to which she was accustomed.

The party arose at dawn and decamped after a quick breakfast of wine and more salty, chewy pig meat.

About a mile east of Red Rum Lake, the Rough Trade Road passes through a shallow valley that tends to flood in the spring. It was here that things went very, very wrong for the four members of the Adventure Club.

Because of the obvious potential for an ambush, the Club members voted to bypass the valley by cutting through the hills a fair ways to the south. What they could not have anticipated, of course, was surprising an Orc hunting party, foraging for food.

There were only seven Orcs, and they were just as surprised to see the Adventure Club as the Club members were to see them. The Club members recovered from their surprise first, but this did them little good, as the hunting party were already at arms. The Club was, however, able to adopt an ersatz defensive posture to meet the Orcs’ charge, which came in two ragged waves.

Alice, in something of a pissy mood over the way the trip had failed to go according to plan, struck the first blow, neatly caving in an Orc’s shoulder with a blow from her mace. Dave expertly turned aside a swing from another Orc’s club, then riposted with a cut of his sword that sliced the creature’s ear and cheek. Chris, the poorest-armored of the group, had fallen back slightly, and was able to disable a charging Orc with an arrow to the hip, while Bob parried the claws of a fourth Orc with his forearm.

The second wave of Orcs moved to the east, trying to help surround the Club members.

Alice knocked out her opponent with a heavy overhand blow to the head, then turned to face the group of three encircling critters. Dave blocked another blow from his Orc’s club, and landed a blow that cut open the creature’s bicep. Chris fell back again, and loosed another arrow, which glanced off one of the encircling Orcs and did minimal damage. Bob, for his part, ducked under a blow from his opponent and responded with a cut to the neck that felled the Orc in a shower of blood.

As the second wave moved in, Alice charged to meet them, trading a glancing hit on an Orc’s leg for a brutal hit to her abdomen which left her gasping for breath. Dave killed his opponent with a blow to the head, but took a club to the knee from behind and went down awkwardly. Chris, retreating toward a copse of trees to the west, loosed an arrow at the Orc fighting Alice which caught it in the eye, killing it instantly. Bob charged the Orc that had just downed Dave and delivered a terrific blow from his sword that nearly severed the creature’s arm.

The three surviving, conscious Orcs at this point fled, leaving the Club members to tend to their injuries. Chris was the only uninjured member; Alice diagnosed herself as having several broken ribs, Dave’s knee was unbroken, but had swollen to the size of a melon, and Bob had lost a lot of blood from the jagged cuts he suffered to his forearm. With their injuries tended as best as they could, they looted the corpses of the four fallen Orcs, netting the club two gold and eighteen silver pieces, as well as two pieces of primitive tribal jewelery that were later sold to a broker for, after fees, fourteen silver pieces.

With great concern at the condition of Bob’s injury, and considerable doubts about the fighting effectiveness of Alice and Dave, the Club members limped back to the city, their Founder’s Day adventure an unmitigated disaster.

Each party member received – before taxes – seven silver pieces from the disbursement of the loot, and the Club coffers grew by just over two gold pieces.

Bob’s arm became infected, requiring medical attention costing the club one gold and four silver pieces. Alice and Dave eventually made full recoveries, though Dave’s leg to this day grows stiff every time it rains.

The Orc whose arm Bob nearly severed lost his arm to the shoulder, following considerable infection. His clan hired an expensive Elf lawyer and sued both Bob individually and the Adventure Club collectively for physical and emotional trauma, as well as loss of income owing to the newfound disability. While the lawsuit was eventually dismissed as meritless, legal fees cost the Club five gold pieces, and the Club’s monthly adventure insurance premium increased fifteen percent. For the next two years, Bob’s dormitory at the school was egged on Founder’s Day, presumably by racial-rights activists, though no arrests were ever made.

Eric being Eric, he insisted afterwords that everything would have turned out differently had he been there to use his “awesome magical abilities”. Alice, whose dislike for Eric dated to his attempt to charm his way into her sister’s pants, reckoned that Eric would have screamed like a girl and fled when the Orcs attacked.

She’d eventually be proven right, as it happened – but that’s a story for another time.

Yes, I was bored this weekend, why do you ask?

Published in: Geekiness | on March 8th, 2010| Comments Off on Real Life Adventures

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