From Jonathan's Reference Pages
So we were playing D&D again - a popular geek pastime, I'm told. The only difference was that this time, I was DMing - I was the guy running the game. Or at least, attempting to run the game.
If you're not familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, the basic premise is this. Four burly men with swords and armor charge into an abandoned underground dungeon, kill the monsters who live there, loot the bodies and charge out again. There's more to it than that, of course - it's a simplification. It's also a simplification, although a fairly accurate one, that each member of the party has his own area of expertise - typically one is a burly armored fighting man, another a scrawny wizard or sorceror, the third a sneaky backstabbing lock-picking rogue or thief and the fourth a pious lawful good cleric with all-important healing magic. Adventuring parties who forget this fourth member tend to die a lot more quickly.
Now this cleric, it's an important role in the party for the reason I just mentioned. It's also generally the only character archetype left for the player with the misfortune to show up late on the day we started the new campaign. Everyone wants to play the greatsword-wielding maniac, the fireball-slinging mage or the ninja-esque rogue, but nobody wants to be what basically amounts to a walking battery of cure light wounds.
"New campaign? Alright, I'll be the cleric."
The players roll their ability scores. Our cleric rolls an 18, the highest possible value for an ability score, for his Wisdom score. Remind me not to let them roll their own ability scores. Forty minutes of dice-rolling and pencil-scribbling later, I ask the cleric's player which deity he worships. Pelor, the god of the sun and all things good? Heironeous, god of valor?
"I don't believe I know that deity. Who's Umberlee?"
"Umberlee, goddess of the sea. She's out of the Faerûn book."
"Oh, but I'll be Chaotic Neutral, so it'll be okay."
Connor has a way of putting things convincingly, so I let him play this character. What's the worst that could happen? It's not like the character's actually evil.
I hate to say "I told ya so", even to myself. Several game sessions pass.
"What do you mean, you ran out of cure spells? Can't you spontaneously convert to cure spells?"
"Nope. Since I'm a cleric of an evil deity I spontaneously convert to inflict spells, not cure."
Several game sessions pass.
"I tear out the assassin's eye, and scrawl a message into his back with my sharp trident."
Several game sessions pass.
"You find three old men in the storeroom, unconscious, bound and gagged. One of them wears the holy symbol of the deity of this roadside shrine."
"Pah, another trick. I leave, shut the door and summon a Fiendish Dark Elf into the room."
"Can I use content from the Book of Vile Darkness?"
"Great, I'm the last surviving party member. I become a lich."
"I order my undead minions to turn everyone in the castle into shadows."
"...and what about the village of Talen's Forge, who rescued you from a sinking ship all those years ago?"
"I'll have them turned into zombies."
The world I spent several minutes creating lies in ruin, with half a million innocent people massacred and turned into a cleric's mindless undead slaves.
"You see on your character sheet where it says Chaotic Neutral? Rub that out and replace it with Chaotic Evil."
Page created: 7th July 2004