Thursday, July 9, 2009

Do You Feel "Lucky" Punk? (Part 2)

My wife doesn’t like it when I get nostalgic. She says I start “acting all weird” (the proper term is “melancholic” but weird is weird, right?). Ah well…I can’t help it. Re-visiting my past is one of those things I do, and probably has a lot to do with why I horde and pack-rat so many mementos from the “old days.”

I can still remember when I presented Scott with Lucky. That’s right; I gifted him with the character that would one day be his signature dude. I’m guessing we were in the 5th or 6th grade (the more I think about it, the more sure I am that it was 6th, because I believe it was in Sr. Anne’s classroom that I gave him the character, probably during the break between “spelling” and “language arts”).

I had recently gotten hold of my first AD&D Players Handbook…the 2nd printing of the PHB with the wizard on the cover. I based the character on wizard illustration of the PHB, right down to the character’s name: Ringlerun. This was back in the days of my first campaign where all the characters were getting to be high level, in part due to my cumulative calculation of hit points. “Ringlerun” himself was created as an 18th level Arch-Mage using my new PHB, so that he would have enough clout to adventure with the veterans of the campaign (Bladehawk, Sneakshadow, etc.). Average hit points for an 18th level magic-user would have been in the 300s. That sounds about right.

The character was meticulously written out on a golden rod AD&D character sheet…I had received these at the same time as the PHB, both being purchased at MY local game shop: Fred Meyer’s.

By the end of class, I had a chance to talk to Scott and ask him how he liked the character. Fine, he said, but he decided to change his name…to “Lucky Drake.”

(later on, I would find out that Lucky Drake was the name of the protagonist in a choose-your-own-adventure book featuring pirates…Scott was reading it at the time, and loaned it to me later!)

Now that I consider it, it must have been 5th grade (I went to the same Catholic school till the 8th grade and the main things that changed from year-to-year was whether you were on the east side or the west side of the main hallway). I turned 10 in 5th grade…1983…and that was the year the PHB was issued with the new cover. And I may well have received the PHB for my birthday (contrary to the post where I said the Cook Expert set was my last gaming gift from my parents…this was it).

ANYWAY…the re-christening of his character was nothing new. Since my friends and I were often introducing new games to each other (games the rest of us didn’t own and thus didn’t know), “pre-gen” characters were often provided. I was the only one of my school chums to own a PHB, so I could make the characters (or convert old ones from B/X) and then they were welcome to tailor it to their own.

So Ringlerun became Lucky Drake. When we re-started our campaign (about the same time we figured out the hit points were immensely wrong), Lucky likewise re-started…at first level. In this new incarnation he was called Luchus (Lucius?) Draco, AKA Lucky. He was always “Lucky” to us…hell, even if Scott were running a different character we might call it Lucky.

Except me…I kept making the mistake of calling Lucky “Scott” (since I was used to being the DM) instead…which really pissed off Scott, who was tried to play in character. One game (in which we were not getting along especially well anyway), Lucky threatened to let my character “have it” if I “called him by something other than his name one more time.” I blithely forgot about this and when I unthinkingly did so a little while later (I was incredibly self-absorbed even then…future blogger!) my character was blasted within an inch of 0 hit points by a high level lightning bolt. Having survived the attack, Lucky teleported without error to his safe house…er…wizard’s tower to prevent retaliation.

Lucky’s 2nd incarnation, for which Scott would be best known, was a damn sight different from “Ringlerun.” While a young man of “indeterminate age” he was clean-shaven with grey and white streaked hair. Through some quirk of magic, his eyebrows would grow just as did his hair, and while he trimmed them to a certain degree, he kept them long enough to braid. At some point in our campaign we decided magic-users could use short swords, and he wore one of lesser enchantment. He also carried a staff of some type, generally used for mounting the skull of whatever his first “kill” of the adventure was…he would then cast a continual light behind the skull’s eyes to use as a macabre hooded lantern.

Lucky was Chaotic Neutral and reveled in it. He loved lightning and electrical spells, and my mind’s eye always imagined him with a crackle of static electricity or slight nimbus of energy surrounding him. He was extremely tall and thin…well, over six feet (Scott himself was tallest and thinnest of our gaming group…why should his character be different?) with a moderate Charisma and above average Comeliness. I don’t recall Lucky ever having apprentices (perhaps "Ringlerun" did), but he did have a tower-stronghold. Once he started over at 1st level, I’m not certain he ever got past 16th level (Mage status), and possibly not past level 13 or 14.He could cast maybe one 7th level spell per day (Mordenkainen’s Sword), but my memory is hazy on this…we all knew he could be devastatingly effective when it came to wielding magic…but he could be both Chaotic and fickle, and was not above leaving companions behind.

Which I always found cool. Once the players in our group had high level characters, and histories that stretched from months/years, PCs began to pursue their own agendas. For Lucky, the acquisition of magic (new spells) was of primary importance…with an Intelligence of 19, there was no maximum to the number of spells he could know and he wanted to know them all. Lucky would be enticed to go on adventures only when there was magic to be gained…he didn’t worry about righting wrongs or thwarting dragons. Hell, he was more likely to commit wrongs and barter with dragons if it would get him what he wanted.

Heh…as far as I’m aware, Scott grew out of gaming years ago, and has never returned to the hobby. But I’ll always remember Lucky...bat-shit crazy and not always that “lucky.”

He would have made a GREAT Criamon magi for Ars Magica.

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