Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When PCs Were Uber-Heroes; Killing Thor

Remember back when PCs used to take on gods and win?

Someone once wrote that simply by including stats for deities and gods, a designer invites players to pit their characters against said deities as extravagant monsters. This may have been Mark Rein-Hagen, creator if Vampire: the Masquerade who, rather famously, failed to include stats for his Antediluvian clan founders (and rather disingenuously, I may add since a possible theme of the game is diablerie of one’s elders). Or maybe not…one thing about the original VtM is it allowed individual Storytellers to define (or redefine) their own origins of the “vampire creation myth.”

But I digress…whoever initially said it, they were spot on. I can recall when I first laid hands on the AD&D Deities and Demigods (owned and borrowed from my buddy, Matt) and thinking it was basically a big ol’ Monster Manual. After all, it has the same basic set-up, right? Stat block, short description of deity, little picture? The gods all have hit points, so they can be fought, right?

So of course we put it to the test…or rather, I put the test to my players. Remember that back in those early days (circa age 9-10), I was still bumbling through many of the rules, and hadn’t yet realized that AD&D and B/X were two separate systems. One of the earliest players in my D&D campaigns was my buddy, Jason. His family was a bunch of soccer fanatics (players, coaches, fans) waaaay back before the MLS; his single-mom drove a full-on 1980s non-mini-van (brown, I believe, though I seem to remember them also have one that was blue-and-white striped…maybe they traded one in for the other?). Jason would change schools in the 4th or 5th grade around the same time his family would become Born Again Christians and I would stop being allowed to go over to his house by my parents (who were a little freaked out by how he and his mom would get down and “pray in tongues”). In middle school, he would become a heavy-metal head-banger with an electric guitar…but that was after he’d stopped hanging with our D&D group.

Anyway, in 1982 those days were still far off and he was playing one of the longest running characters in the campaign…a thief named “Sneakshadow.” Sneakshadow was probably in his late teens, or early 20s in terms of Level when he challenged Thor to a throw-down on the god’s own plane of Asgard. Not deigning to smite the infidel with mighty Mjolnir, he instead blasted the rogue with a 100 dice lightning bolt (per the DDG, Thor can project this 1/day from Mjolnir). Jason cheerfully showed me his ring of spell turning on his character sheet, Thor promptly failed his own saving throw, and the rest (as they say) is history.

I’m pretty sure we rolled all 100 dice, just to make sure…I seem to recall A LOT of adding (and nail biting!) as we tried to get closer and closer to Thor’s hit point total.

Actually, now that I think about it, it seems to me that Sneakshadow initiated the engagement by BACKSTABBING the God of Thunder. This is the kind of thing you do when you’re 9 years old and have no adult supervision in your D&D game. I wonder how he got to Asgard in the first place…rainbow bridge, perhaps…?

Later on, in reading the description of the Ring of Spell Turning in the DMG we discovered that it did not function against magical items (as if a mundane magic item would function against Mjolnir anyway!!), and I believe we ret-conned the whole thing.

Which probably made Thor very happy since, killing him on his own plane, we had ruled he was permanently dead. That kind of thing can really upset the celestial hierarchy, you know? Not to mention leave a gaping hole in the fight roster of Ragnarok.

I believe Sneakshadow’s patron was Loki...

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