Sunday, July 5, 2009

"I Always Wanted To Be An Elf..."

While I really want to start up a new regular gaming group, I having yet gotten my act together to create some fliers for the local game shops. Part of this has to do with my inability to use my computer hardware (I have no idea how to load a new toner cartridge in my printer, let alone how to hook up my Mac to my old PC printer), but part of this is, admittedly, FEAR.  I'm like a new divorcee anticipating getting back on the dating market. Ugh!

Since I know what king of game I want to play, I realize I am going to need to get back up on the DM horse...and it's been years since I've run an old school campaign. As a practice/warm-up...and because I simply MUST do some gaming or I will go crazy...I have got my wife to agree to start a game with me.

My wife...let's call her NOT a gamer.  At least, not in the RPG sense of the term.  She'll play Guitar Hero on the XBox, and has played Blood Bowl on multiple occasions (she's not into WH40K or Mordheim), and she LOVES Cranium and Cribbage.  But while she tolerates my love of RPGs, she's has expressed on multiple occasions that she is the opposite of interested in them.

Oh, she's played them before with me...mainly Ars Magica.  But this was with other people, and the saga didn't last more than a couple sessions; she has never expressed an interest in Dungeons and Dragons (even when I was running a D20 game for a couple friends in our mutual home).

ANYWAY...that's HER gaming history.

So yesterday was the 4th of July, and prior to heading down to Lake Union to watch the fireworks, we created a B/X character for her.  Here's how it went:

Step 1: Overview. M said, "I don't want to have to write anything." Ok...I agreed to write everything, she just had to roll dice and make choices. Cool. Tried to use my printer to copy a character sheet from the back of the Mentzer "Red Book" and discovered the damn thing is out of ink/toner. No problem...I have scratch paper. I explain XP and Level (the way we keep score). We agree she will start as a 1st level character.

Step 2: Roll attributes. M doesn't have the greatest dice rolls in the world. I had her roll a straight 3D6 for her attributes and this is what she got: Str 7, Int 8, Wis 10, Dex 8, Con 9, Cha 7. Even not knowing how the game is played, she realizes this is less than optimal (even for OD&D, this sucks). So I had her roll over with 4D6.  F*** it. Here's the final tally: Str 11, Int 16, Wis 10, Dex 14, Con 18(!), Cha 11. Right on!

Step 3: Choose Class. I explain the human classes: fighter (a warrior), magic-user (a wizard), cleric (a holy warrior with divine powers), thief (a thief). I explain there are three non-human classes: Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling. M says, "Can I be an Elf?" Are you sure you want to be an Elf? "I always wanted to be an elf." M thinks elves are cool. She did see all the Lord of the Rings movies, and she thought Legolas was the coolest. She also says she really liked the Arwen character, though she doesn't like Liv Tyler at all. No problem. She isn't troubled by the class specifications.

Step 4: Prime Requisites. I explain Prime Requisites and adjusting ability scores. I explain the Elf has two prime requisites. M is a bit crestfallen that her Strength is only 11, "but my Intelligence is the motherfucker!" (which is, apparently, good). We discuss selling down attributes (like Int) to raise Strength to 13 so she can get at least a 5% bonus on earned XP. I explain that elves advance the slowest of all classes. About 50% of this goes right over her head (she's not a true gamist, yet), plus she wants to keep her Intelligence at 16. Okay.

Step 5: Discuss Class Abilities. We talk about the elves abilities. Infravision. "Woo-hoo!" Extra languages. "Cool!" Immune to ghoul paralysis. "Huh?" Nevermind.  "Do I get some kind of discrimination points for being an elf?" Now it's my turn to say, huh? She says, "well, I just want to know." M is afraid her elf is a bit of an outsider in a human world. I explain she can only get to 10th level. This is a bit of a let-down , but she decides not to worry about it at this time, since who knows how long we're actually going to play for.

Step 6: Choose Languages. My wife is a bit of a linguist anyway (she is bilingual and near fluent in a 3rd language and knows a smattering of a couple other languages).  She wants to know if she should pick French or another "real world" language. I explain that all members of a species speak the same language (e.g. there's only one human language). I read through the sample list of languages. I make a decision that many of these languages are redundant and start forming language categories. She picks Dragon as one of her languages, and we decide her 2nd language slot will be empty until she decides on something that will be useful in the game.

Step 7: Choose Spells.  I explain that elves get to know one spell. I provide a brief overview of all 1st level spells. M feels most are redundant or non-useful for an elf...she can wear armor, she can shoot missiles, she has infravision, she already knows plenty of languages, and she doesn't see any use in floating disk.  Torn between Sleep and Read Magic, she decides on Sleep as seeming "more useful." I tell her that is a popular choice for a 1st level spell.

Step 8: Roll for Hit Points. She rolls a 2.  I tell her she can re-roll 1s and 2s at first level. She rolls a 1. She rolls a 4.  We stay with that adding 3 for her 18 Constitution ("an 18 constitution makes sense, as I am an elf so I'm already super-healthy, right?" I don't bother to explain D20's version of the Elf with its chain-smoker lungs...).  I am seriously considering allowing her to have full maximum hit points for first level since she is playing solo.

Step 9: Roll for Gold. M rolls a 3D6 and gets a 7 (did I mention the poor dice rolling?). With her 70 gold the first thing she buys is a Long Bow and 20 arrows. Do you want to buy any armor? She has 25 gold left. "Can I wear something light?" She can have leather armor for 20. "How about a hat?" The shopkeeper will throw in a leather cap for free...looks a bit like an old school football helmet. "Sounds good." She has 5 gold pieces left. She wants to buy a knife. That will be 3. "Is it a good one?" Yes. M wants to buy a second knife. The shopkeeper agrees to sell her two knifes for 5 gold. "All right!" My wife LOVES to haggle ("if you can't get a good deal, what's the point?").

Step 10: Choose Alignment. After all my recent posts and blog reading, I find this is actually the hardest concept to explain.  I chalk it up as one's basic belief either believes in law and order and civilizing the world (Law), or believe life is dog-eat-dog and only the strong survive (Chaos)...or they're Neutral.  M does not want to be Chaotic. She thinks Lawful is "too goody-good" (I did NOT say that!). She opts for Neutrality. That sounds fine, says I.

Step 11: Name Your Elf. "Can I be named Olaf?" Her elf is male...he's like Legolas. I chuckle and tell her about the old AD&D pre-gen character Olaf Peacock.  "Can I be called Olaf Peacock?" Yes, if she wants.  She would rather have some kind of name with the word Owl, though.  As a youngster, she had a pet owl named Olaf.

...and that's where we left off before the fireworks. The irony of her character being an elf is not lost on me.  She hasn't been reading my blog, and I don't generally share what I'm posting about.  We talk about other "real things" don't ya' know?

More later!


  1. Cool. :)

    I have the exact opposite problem (re: bad dice rolls) with my fiancee: She warps the bell curve to the high end every time. (Unless she's not feeling well or is distracted; then her rolls are average. I don't think I've ever seen her roll bad stats.) Statistical probabilities be damned - many people have watched her repeatedly do this, and always with different dice. It's so bad that I often have to force her to re-roll character stats, because she's created a super-character compared to other players' characters. (Needless to say, she doesn't like it when I do this. :P)

    Anyway, glad to see you've found a volunteer - best of luck!

  2. Wow, that reminded me of a failed attempt at CharGen with a former SO.

    > "Why are you telling me what I can, and can't do?"

    < "I'm not. I'm merely illustrating some possibilities."

    > "I hate it when you do that."

    < "Um. So, anyway... Do you want a high BOD score so you can take physical punishment better?"

    > "Great. Now your kinky-stuff is ruining my character. I'm going shopping."

    < [muttered] @#^%*&#!

    end line