Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chris and the Giant Tick

The box had been sitting under the bookshelf for several months. One of my aunts bought it for my dad one Christmas because he had read The Hobbit once.

I would occasionally pull it out and stare at it. I marveled at the sinewy dragon sitting atop his mountain of gold. I wondered about the heroes, who in my mind stood somewhat shakily at the entrance to the dragon's chamber. What hardships had they come through to be standing face to face with almost certain death? Why were there only two of them? Certainly it would take more than a single fighter and a single wizard to take down such a tough looking dragon. What if the dragon breathed fire? Could the fighter's armor save him? Did the wizard know any spells that would allow him to bring the beast down? Drop that torch, man, and start casting!!!

And inside the box? Well, this was like no "game" I had seen. There was no board, no pieces, no spinners. Just a blue book, another booklet labeled "In Search of the Unknown (Dungeons & Dragons Module B1)" and some dice. No let me rephrase that. There was just a blue book with lots of arcane tables and charts and descriptions of elves and dwarves and warriors and wizards and wands... and a set of what looked to be the COOLEST DICE IN EXISTENCE.

I badgered my parents (8-year olds are pretty good at badgering if I remember) and at some point, between the guilt of having consigned my aunt's gift to collect dust under a bookshelf, and the need to shut me up, they agreed to play this very new, very odd game. So that weekend my father, my mother, my uncle (I think he was 16 at the time) and I all sat down to play. My father had read the rules over the course of that week, so he would be Dungeon Master. The rest of us grabbed some 6-sided dice (neither my parent's Yahtzee, nor their Risk sets would ever be the same) and started rolling up characters.

We spent probably the next 2 hours creating characters. I was an elf because I thought the idea of fighting and casting spells was cool... though if I recall correctly, I didn't get a spell at 1st level, either from the rules, or my father's misreading of them.

Oh well, my mother the magic-user would certainly handle the spell casting duties for our group. "Really Mom? Read Magic?" *facepalm*

My uncle made a stalwart fighter... with 3 whole hit points.

Believe it or not, most of our time was spent outfitting our fledgling expedition, going down the price list and discussing in detail what we would need for an extended trip underground. A lot of thought and deliberation went into managing our meager equipment budget. This was serious business and we were prepared for anything!

I wish I could regale you with a detailed tale of our misadventures, but it was a long time ago and I don't remember much. I remember the now famous room of pools, but I am pretty sure we were too cautious to go randomly drinking murky water in such a dangerous environment. I remember my uncle and I meticulously mapping the halls and rooms of the dungeon, determined to be able to find our way out when we were tired and carrying armfuls of loot.

Of course, that all went out the window when we fell into the pit trap! For some reason, everyone at the table found our tumble hilarious and we laughed, holding our sides and tearing up, for 10 minutes straight.

From that point, we continued our expedition, injured, wet and relieved of much of our equipment, trying to find our way out of the dungeon. As we stumbled through the caves we were beset upon by a most horrible beast, the infamous giant tick!!

At this point, my mother and uncle dived behind a rock, both having 1 hit point. My 8-year old self, with a whopping 3 hit points left was like, "Let's Do This!!!" and I charged the foul insect.

We traded ineffectual blows for a bit, but then the tick hit me. My dad frowned as he rolled the d6 on the table for everyone to see... I breathed a sigh of relief. Only 2 points of damage. I countered, hit, and maxed my damage, slaying the beast.

And then we called it a night.

And never played again. We never escaped Module B1. Somewhere, my uncle is still hiding behind that rock. My mom's mage is still waiting for her chance to cast Read Magic.

And I am still the valiant Tick-Slayer, hit for 2 points of damage and 35 years of enjoyment.