24 September 2015

Thag The Evil Magic User

Carl Edward Cross Jr.

He's the guy who taught me one of my most important lessons about gaming.

A good GM can make the worst system fun.  A bad GM can make the best system unbearable.

Carl was a great GM.

I first met him because I was dragged along with Chris McKelvey to play Champions.  I was a waif and was barely reading comics when I was thrust into the world of comic book super heroics.

Carl also had an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons world.

In a nutshell, it was entirely a dungeon.  Completely subterranean.  Maybe...  Every level had an exit to the next one and that exit led down.

We mapped almost 11 levels going down.

The first level was nearly devoid of serious threats because it was where new people appeared from elsewhere and there was The Inn.

You could generate a standard AD&D character or you could play yourself.  Chris and I chose to play ourselves.  If you played yourself, you could bring in anything you could carry into Carl's kitchen.  Lots of 1984 gadgets are pure gold in a fantasy world, so we brought in lots of trade goods.  Additionally, if you were playing yourself your "race" was Iowan rather than human and conferred other benefits, like very easy multi-classing and no real requirement to adhere to an alignment.

We played the shit out of that world.

I gained levels and power quickly and started to be a force to be reckoned with in the game-world.  To the dismay of other powerful players and NPCs, of course.  But I was brutally pragmatic so very difficult to unseat.  Chris even made a character, Trillaine, just to antagonize me, and while he was very effective at it, I never quite teleported into his cleverly laid trap he'd created and tailored just for me.

My enlistment in the Army interrupted my playing this world, but when I came back to Ames, I wondered if we could play that world again.

Carl had divorced since then and lost his original notes, and we were more interested in playing GURPS anyways now.  GURPS 3e Revised.  He agreed to convert his world and we made ourselves as characters again.  Adding FuzzyGeff and Jonesy to the players while losing Chris.

When you made yourself you didn't have a point limit, but you had to justify everything on your character sheet.  Hardly a one of us came up to more than 100.

My character arc was similar in the new dungeon.

There were some notable differences.  I knew enough to recreate a Walker Colt and the formula for black powder.  I learned enough alchemy to get around how magic dampened powder and eventually learned enough blacksmithing and metallurgy to scale my cap and ball down to 1860 Army levels.

I ended with a total of 432 points, 165 in spells alone, before Carl stopped playing the world mostly because we'd begun to overpower the obstacles he'd place in our path.

Did I mention the Smurfs?

In both worlds drinking the blood of a Smurf gained you points towards your stats.  Brainy would get you IQ, Hefty would get you ST that sort of thing.  Genocide accurately describes what Thag the Evil Magic User did to the Smurfs.  I was an extinction level event to them.

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