Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Not An Exaggeration...

By 1982, I was pretty much a TSR kind of kid. Those crazy deathtrap modules (Ghost Tower Of Inverness and Vault of the Drow) had turned me from a casual player into a determined Dungeon Master.I was going to memorize the spell tables and invent new monsters. There was only one problem: When I was writing up my 15th monster, The Blind Beholder From Beyond the Veil, I realized I didn't have a story hook or (more importantly) a game to play. Not really. It was 15 monsters wandering around and waiting to kill or be killed in 35 rooms ( this ratio of "15 monsters to 35 rooms" was very dominate in my early D+D thinking, and I'm not sure what the reason was, if anything. Maybe I read it somewhere, or ripped it off of one of my DMs, I can't remember). Nevertheless, it was kind of boring. All combat. Yawn. 

Thankfully, I was reading The Count of Monte Cristo, stacks of Star Log and Future magazines, and piles and piles of comic books. Years ago there was a book store called B.Dalton Booksellers, and they carried TSR modules and Dragon magazines. In the summer, a group of us guys would ride / walk over there and hang out in the magazine aisle, reading (and pretending to buy) everything from Rolling Stone, Fangoria, Karate, Gun Collecting, Sports Illustrated, Puzzle Books and pretty much anything else. They even had Chainmail for sale. Not to mention, this was before there were solid boards over "forbidden tomes" like Playboy, Hustler and Playgirl, (which was a big rite of passage thing for high school girls, back then). I was told it's similar to 7th and 8th grade boys and Playboy magazines, but with more giggling and a scarier embarrassment, if the girl's parents found out. Sometimes, we'd get to the aisle, and there were two or three high school girls, sitting around the corner, with an opened Better Homes and Garden magazine, screening the Playgirl they were actually looking at...Cosmo was big too... The other cool thing- A satelite for the public library was a few stores down. So, when we did get chased out of there, we'd meander into the library and rummage through their piles of comic books.  

And so, in typical DM fashion, I started tying all of these loose threads together and designed a bizarre twist: The PCs were surprised to meet a caravan of travelling monsters. You know, a cross between charismatic flim flam artists (magically disguised) and serious professional actors dedicated to their craft. A travelling monster show. As yes, ladies and gentlemen, they'd be happy to perform their renowned version of The Count of Monte CristoOf course, all of that is a smoke-screen while the performers (acrobats and sleight of hand masters) rob the town's bank, armory, or kidnap a couple of kids to cook up for dinner. And , thus, it was the start of a beautiful relationship...    

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