Monday, April 1, 2024

Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Back Story-Early Advanced D&D Characters

Second Extended Character-
Elven Fighter
Created using the first edition AD&D rules (influenced by White Dwarf)

I don’t remember what this character’s name was when I first rolled him up. Apparently it began with an "E" as illustrated on his family crest. 

Aside- Thank you SO MUCH, Lee, for deciding the chalice I sketched for that crest looked like a toilet and therefore writing "Sir John" under it on my character sheet. 

I also do not remember what possessed me to make an Elf since I was never a fan. I think my original plan was to make him a Fighter/ Magic User combination to try something different. Then I remembered magic rules are annoying and confusing, and made him a plain Fighter. Jesse continued as Dungeon Master and retained his skill of weaving published adventures in with dungeons he designed with his unique vision. He never used the TSR modules, mostly (I suspect) because we all owned copies of both them and the Monster Manual taking a lot of surprise out of our encounters.
Instead, he’d write his own, or rely on the adventures printed in the – much weirder than the TSR sanctioned Dragon Magazine- British published White Dwarf. For a sense of their oddity: almost all of the wild and bizarre beings in the Fiend Folio were first showcased in White Dwarf. The adventures tended to have more puzzle solving, which appealed to him and us. Additionally, they were peppered with their own British, strange types of creatures, which Jesse would often augment with his own unusual creativity.
The combination of gaining a sword that inflicted cold damage and a shuriken that could instantly slay one of every type of creature shifted my Elf’s name to “Coldstar.” Jesse’s realization of how much a game breaker that shuriken could easily become shifted most of the more powerful adversaries in adventures after I acquired it to arrive in pairs at a minimum.
It was another unusual magic item that led to this character being unique- a pair of wings.
Not a cloak of levitation mixed with a propeller beanie,
And not some mechanical or magical device.
They were living wings that grafted to the Elf’s back.
Being that covering them with metal would nullify their usefulness, it was one of the few times we used separate armor classes for different locations. Combined with the broom of flying Lee’s thief picked up, we became a frequently airborne party. This made for many entertaining battles against flying foes.
Along with Gordon’s Magic User and Josh’s Cleric, we all reached around seventh level and were having regular action and puzzle filled excursions into more and more dangerous dungeons.
As always, I was Up the Lake for the whole summer. Check ins with civilization were extremely infrequent in those pre cell phone days. On one of the late summer weekly walks down to the payphone in the wooden box for Mom to call Dad, I checked in with Jesse. 
Part of our conversation was the following exchange:
Me- “How’s the party doing.”
Jesse- “They followed a demon through a portal and exploded.”
Me- *short pause* “I’m sorry. 
*long pause of great concern* Did you say, ‘exploded?’ ”
Jesse- “Yeah, I gave them a lot of chances to change their mind. 
I even said, ‘Are you sure’ a few times, but they were set on chasing him after he stole some of their gear, and … boom.”
Me- “I guess we’ll be making up new characters to start over when I get home.”
Jesse- “Yep.”

This would be the reason there is a "Certificate of Survival" in the folder with this character sheet. 
Third Extended Character-
Half-Ogre Fighter
Created using the first edition AD&D rules (plus Unearthed Arcana and a Dragon article or two)

We all stuck to our usual classes of characters but went with a central theme this time, our party was “The B-Team!” 
Hey, it was the Eighties.
Josh was the Cleric- Mace (We debated having that be the Thief's name based on Dirk Benedict’s scoundrel-like performance, but ended up staying with the commonly used Clerical blunt weapon as inspiration.)
Gordon was the Magic User- Handball (Mages tended to be older adventurers, hence the white hair. By the time we’d leveled up some, he’d gotten a Wand of Fireballs. He attached a extra sticks to use as a stock and grip to it and held it like a submachine gun. Gordon missed the most sessions out of all of us for basketball practice. When he wasn’t there, Handball would be standing behind the rest of the party, and we’d only bring him up when we needed heavy firepower.)
Lee was the Thief- Murduck  (A “howling mad” thief fit in with our general aesthetic, breaking or sneaking into places before the rest of the group, then bluffing until he could let us in. Jesse found the stats for a Chu-No-Ku, or Chu-Ko-Nu. We varied between those and many other letter variations frequently. However it was spelled, it was a Chinese repeating crossbow, yielding another member of our TV show based group with automatic fire. My character would smash through the door and Lee's would run in screaming and shooting anything in the room. Good times.)
My character’s name went back and forth for a bit. It started as B.U. and the character sheet was never updated. But… I finally agreed that B.O. was much funnier and also appropriate for a Half-Ogre. Per the Dragon Magazine article on how to create this race, B. O. Barracks was eight feet tall, with maxed out strength, maxed out constitution…
And that’s about it. 
Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity and Charisma were all down in the “penalties applied” range.
This led to one of our most famous exchanges after the acquisition of a belt of strength to make him more ridiculous:
Me- “I break open the door.”
Jesse- *rolls dice* “ew.  What’s your strength?”
Me- “Twenty-two.”
Jesse- “What’s your Dexterity?”
Me- “Seven.”
Jesse- "What's your Wisdom?"
Me- "Five."
Jesse- “Well, you miss the door, but there’s a big hole in the wall.”
As per any good Dungeons and Dragons experience, the Dungeon Master worked with us to flesh out our characters and equipment, hence the automatic fire options listed above. For B. O. his massive size and strength meant arms and armor cost more, but we could have fun with making them extreme. His main weapon was an enormous samurai sword. For in game calculations, it was a bastard sword (hee hee. Yeah, I’m still twelve sometimes.) but doing two handed damage when wielded with one hand by the huge Fighter. For distance attacks he carried a double bladed battle axe balanced for throwing. (The classic DBBABFT.) He also used an oversized crossbow that took forever to set up, but fired tridents. For classic big guy bashing, a club with a steel covered end hung off his belt.
Weapon proficiency was new at the time. With B. O.s embarrassingly low scores, multiple slots assigned to a weapon were a requirement to be able to hit anything in combat. As us having fun via the interactive storytelling (a couplet of words I use a lot now but didn’t think about then) was often more important than results, my Half-Ogre also carried a bullwhip. The whip was a relatively new weapon from Unearthed Arcana. It did minimal damage, but a skilled user could tangle up foes, disarm them, or even yank them off their feet once ensnared. B. O. believed himself a skilled user.
This is in spite of the fact that he had absolutely zero points dedicated to weapon proficiency in bullwhip.
Nothing could make him think otherwise, including frequently tangling himself up instead of hitting anyone else.

Then, as now, comedy was foremost in my mind.
All of our minds really.
Though, as stated, we barely used them, one miniature Jesse would always toss onto the table was R. D. Dwarf, a Dwarf in a tuxedo and top hat. He’d constantly appear to introduce monsters with some goofy rhyme or poem Jesse would come up with, and B. O. would charge at the (intangible) Master of Dungeon Ceremonies, damaging stuff yet again.
Disclaimer- The miniatures at the start of this post were used for my three characters… sort of.
I started with a regular Elf, and switched to the wing hat one when I got the wings.
And we didn’t use miniatures ever with the Basic Set. (as opposed to “almost never” later on.) Though, I did make sure to buy Halflings when I ordered them with holiday money, just in case Gonzo returned.
But that is the Ogre figure I used for B.O. during his entire run, next to his nemesis, of course.
With the fate of my three main characters:
Lost somewhere in the Tomb of Horrors- Gonzo,
Left alone after the party exploded- Coldstar,
Retired when our gaming group transformed in high school- B.O. Barracks,
They and their stories were easily available to act as inspirations and guides for the new generation of gamers and adventurers.
Click here for their quest in the Palace of the Silver Princess

No comments: