A continuation of the tale begun in The Secret
Diary of Padma Illindra but from a slightly different perspective. This
will likely be incomprehensible to everyone except us Austrians*, and those who
remember Roy and H.G.'s The Dream at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. (They're at Salt
Lake as well, with the Ice Dream.)
* You can tell the difference between Austrians and Australians because the Austrians always win more gold medals at the Winter Olympics than the Australians. This is undoubtedly because Austria is a country, whereas Australia is a continent, and continents aren't allowed to compete at the Winter Olympics.
H.G. Nelson: Thank you Roy, and welcome back, viewers, to the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, or Arteeteetee'o'ee'ee for short, live here at the House of Monte. Think they could have shortened the title at all, Roy?
Roy Slaven: Not really, H.G. See, Wizards don't have Gary Gygax anymore, but they still have to deal with the legacy he left behind. And that legacy can be summed up very succinctly, H.G. -- syllables. Lots and lots of syllables. He was one for the polysyllabic words, was our Gary. But he isn't here anymore, that's the problem. Only he could use syllables in the way he did, the way they flowed off the tongue, but his legacy is that gamers everywhere demand, yes DEMAND, H.G., that D&D products must use lots and lots of syllables regardless. Because gamers are a discerning lot, you know. So the designers have taken the next best route: instead of using a few words with lots of syllables each, they've used lots of words with a few syllables each.
H.G.: Hmm, yes indeed, Roy.
Roy: And you know what? It works, H.G., it really works! Say it with me: Arteeteetee'o'ee'ee. All those syllables moulded together into a smoothly mellifluous sound that just rolls off the tongue. Okay, it's not quite the same as what our Gary could do -- "Zuggtmoy" is still my favourite Gygax name ever -- but the tonguing is what counts, and as long as you're getting some tongue action going, who care's how it's done?
H.G.: That's exactly right, Roy. I can just see hordes of gamers now, getting the tongue in, thanks to Monte Cook. And for viewers who have joined us late, here's an update on the campaign. The party have returned to the Temple of All-Consumption -- isn't that just a brilliant name, Roy, lots of tongue action there -- after getting their party member Brathariel the necromancer raised from the dead. You may remember that Brat, as he's known to his friends, took an overdose of the angry pills last week after he was drained to 2 Wisdom. I spoke with Brat during the break; he didn't seem very pleased with his enforced downtime, Roy.
Roy: Didn't he?
H.G.: No. I was rather surprised, because I thought he'd jump at the chance to get some hands-on practical experience, so to speak, with his field of expertise. But he pointed out that being dead isn't the same as controlling the dead.
Roy: Hmph. I guess that being dead puts a crimp in the rate at which you can create more undead, so I can see what he's getting at.
H.G.: Oh yes. Anyway, the party's at the main entrance to the dungeon now, and here's their first challenge. The stone doors are shut and covered in spider webs. Big, hard, sticky ones too. The party doesn't seem too happy, Roy.
Roy: No, H.G. And you can see why. You wouldn't want to be touched by big, hard, sticky things all the time, would you? It's just not on.
H.G.: Hmm, yes.
Roy: I mean, once in a while is okay, maybe once a month or so, and maybe even more, depending on what goes on on the footy field. But the point is you have to be ready for it. You have to be prepared, and able to handle what's coming. You don't want to be surprised by things getting hard and sticky on you from out of nowhere. It's just not cricket.
H.G.: It looks like the party's decided on a course of action, Roy. Yes, after much discussion on tactics and strategy, they've come to a decision. They're going to charge straight in, and to hell with whatever made these 10-foot-high webs with strands as thick as cables. I've got to agree with that decision, Roy. It's probably going to get them all killed, but by god, I love the sight of a good, old-fashioned frontal assault. It warms the cockles of my heart.
Roy: Yes, H.G. The party's decided that this dungeon has a pest control problem, and they're the cleanup crew.
H.G.: Yes, the cleanup crew. They've cut away the webs and opened the doors and what's waiting for them on the other side...? Let's have a look... it's a group of MONSTROUS SPIDERS! Well by god, that was unexpected, Roy.
Roy: Totally, H.G. A too-smart-by-half DM would have used some other monsters besides spiders, since any player who isn't totally stupid knows that webs means spiders. We'll have none of that reverse-psychology nonsense from our Dungeon Master. Webs? Spiders. Spiders? Webs. That's the way it should be.
H.G.: The party deploys for battle... Padma's sword glows with cold energy, Duncan the ninja goes invisible... the fighters heft their shields and draw their swords as the spiders close in. Oh, and Brat's CHARGING INTO BATTLE ONCE AGAIN! Those angry pills he took last week obviously haven't worn off. Didn't they spend the money to get his Wisdom restored, Roy?
Roy: Yes, H.G. They should demand their money back, if you ask me.
H.G.: And Brat SCORES A HIT with his vampiric touch spell!!! The crowd goes wild! Oh, but he's in trouble now... the spiders get to strike back, and he's bitten twice, and poisoned!! His Strength is reduced to zero, and he goes down like a sack of spuds!
Roy: Or one of Madame Lash's girls. I was just talking with one of the barmaids in Rasta the other night --
H.G.: Hang on a minute, Roy, there's something big coming up behind the spiders... it's another spider! It's a TWENTY-FOOT WIDE MONSTROUS SPIDER! It's twice as big as the other piddly ones. The cleanup crew have a job on their hands now, and they know it. I can see the brown trousers from here, I can smell the brown trousers. There's no smell quite like it in the world.
Roy: Yes, they got a bit cocky there, H.G., just barging into the dungeon like that, with no thought for what they might face. They can't have expected to get away with it, not with this DM. He was smart enough to anticipate their fancy-pants reverse-psychology tactics, and now he's used it against them. He's got a few tricks up his sleeve.
H.G.: That's not just a spider, it's the mother of all spiders. How are they going to deal with it? Here they go... Jayse lets off a lightning bolt! Galadhriel casts a fireball! That's got to hurt. The pyrotechnics are on display tonight, here at the House of Monte, Roy.
Roy: Don't forget, that's Galadhriel with an H. And Duncan's gone invisible again.
H.G.: He's planning something, Roy. They've killed off all the kiddie spiders now. Padma's going to the flank, and the fighters are forming a shield wall to block the mother of all spiders. The mother of all spiders attacks... it hits Kondara! She's poisoned, and wouldn't you be, with a Fortitude save DC of 31. That poison is just evil, Roy.
Roy: Technically I think it's neutral, H.G.
H.G.: Let's not get into an alignment debate now, Roy. Uh-oh, Kondara's in trouble... she's down! She's been reduced to 2 Strength, which isn't enough to support the weight of her armour. This could be the end of the road for Kondara the knight. It's not looking good for the cleanup crew.
Roy: Not good at all.
H.G.: Padma leaps into the fray! She strikes the mother of all spiders... that's a good hit... but not good enough. It's still standing, or should I say, still crawling. Wait a minute... it's Duncan the ninja! He's tumbled to a flanking position, and now he SNEAK ATTACKS the mother of all spiders for an AMAZING 60 POINTS OF DAMAGE!! The mother of all spiders is DOWN! The cleanup crew WINS!!! It's bedlam here at the House of Monte!
Roy: Yes, a great double-team from the cleanup crew here at the House of Monte. They're still in a spot of bother, though. Actually, they're in more than just a spot of bother; they're in, to use a technical term, the sh*t. They have two party members down, one of whom is paralysed, and they don't even have a cleric.
H.G.: Although Padma does have a few shaman levels.
Roy: Only three levels, if I remember correctly. That's just poor planning, for me. In fact, it's more than poor planning, it's stupid. And now they're paying the price for their stupidity, because they're in the sh*t and they don't have anyone who can cast restoration. What are they going to do now? Sit around in the sh*t and wait for the monsters to sniff them out? I wouldn't be surprised! That's STUPID, and this party is STUPID!
H.G.: It looks like the cleanup crew have made a decision, Roy. And we'll be right back at the House of Monte, after these messages!
[to be continued]
Go to Part 2