[THREE DAYS LATER]
H.G.: Welcome back to the House of Monte, as we continue with the adventures of the cleanup crew in the Arteeteetee'o'ee'ee. You're right, Roy, that does flow quite well off the tongue.
Roy: That's what I said, H.G. Practice is all you need, really. You've just got to keep exercising the tongue, over and over again, if you want to get your tongue action right. Just keep tonguing over and over, that's the way to do it. It doesn't matter what you tongue, how you tongue, or who you tongue, as long as you tongue.
H.G.: Wise words, Roy. For those of you who have just joined us, the cleanup crew has spent the last three days playing cat-and-mouse games with the dungeon inhabitants. In that time, Padma's been frantically casting lesser restoration spells on the party members who have lost Strength points. Not only that, but the wand of cure light wounds has been getting a severe workout as well. In fact, it's got a severe workout every time they've been into this dungeon. I wonder just how that wand actually works, Roy?
Roy: Well, it's quite simple really, H.G. A wand is simply a piece of wood that can be used to cast a spell up to 50 times. All wands use what's called the "spell trigger" completion method. From the System Reference Document, this means that casting a spell from a wand is usually a standard action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. To activate a wand, a character must hold it in hand (or whatever passes for a hand, for all you nonhumanoid creatures out there) and point it in the general direction of the target. So basically you point your piece of wood, or your wand, at someone, and then you activate your wand by whatever means it takes -- rubbing it vigorously with your hand, for example -- and your wand comes to life.
H.G.: It's almost like the wand has a mind of its own.
Roy: Yes. I asked Skip Williams -- the Sage -- if wands can overheat if used too much, but he never gave me a definitive answer.
H.G.: He sounds like a goose, to be honest.
Roy: Now that's a bit harsh, H.G.
H.G.: Do you think so, Roy?
Roy: I do. Now I grant you, it's true that Skip doesn't know anything about D&D. He also doesn't know anything about 3rd edition. In fact, I don't think he knows anything about anything at all. But that's not his fault. He's a burnt-out shell of a man from too many years of answering questions about topics best left unsaid. He used to be a brilliant man, mind you. He was one of the brightest stars in Wizards' firmament -- there's some nice tongue action for you, Gary -- but not anymore. And that's why his name is on the credits for 3E. It's a mark of respect for a once-great man, who started the ball rolling, and without whom D&D would not be the game it is today.
H.G.: Yessss. Maybe they could get Russell Crowe to play him in a movie, A Beautiful Sage. Getting back to the party, Roy, there's been some pretty intense roleplaying discussions since last week. Let's run over them now. First up, Padma has been giving Duff the Doughty a talking-to over his -- and this is a technical description coming up -- not being able to hit the ocean from a dinghy, as it were. He calls himself a fighter, but I don't think he's hit anything so far this week. In fact, I don't think he's hit anything at all since he was hired.
Roy: Although I remember that Padma made a complete dog's breakfast of that jump at the water temple last time, so I don't think she has any right to lecture him on performance.
H.G.: You have to admit, Roy, he's been a complete dud. He's a failure, a waste of the time spent rolling up his stats. They should have saved those rolls for something useful.
Roy: Yes, but we've got to be fair. It's just not on to browbeat someone like that. It's totally over the top. Everyone goes through bad spots, and we've got to have the capacity to give people the benefit of the doubt.
H.G.: Except when it comes to Skip.
Roy: Oh, of course, that goes without saying.
H.G.: And Padma herself hasn't been such a smashing success either.
Roy: You said it, H.G. There was the dog's breakfast of a landing, as you mentioned before. Besides which, she's spent her entire adventuring career bouncing up and down like, oh, I don't know, one of the Super Mario Brothers or something. I ask you, what use is that? It's not like there's a Donkey Kong rolling huge barrels at you in most dungeons, is there? Maybe you could use it to set off traps! On the floor, and on the ceiling! Up, down, up, down! Now there's a useful tactic!
H.G.: I should mention that it's done wonders for her thighs, Roy.
Roy: That is true, H.G. Thighs are everything in athletics these days. If she ever retires from adventuring, maybe she could become a short-track speed skater. Or a figure skater! Now there's something where jumping around might be useful!
H.G.: She does also have a more... aerodynamic profile than most adventurers have. Streamlined. No protruding bits, you know what I mean?
Roy: Bullet-shaped. Big thighs, pointy head. Speaking of pointy heads, did you notice what she did when they fought that gray ooze?
H.G.: Yes, Roy. She knew the ooze could dissolve things, she'd seen it dissolve Duff's weapon, and so she starts hitting it with her bare hands... I'm not sure what was going through her mind at that point.
Roy: NOTHING! Nothing was going through her mind, H.G.! Just blankness, a void. It's a monster, therefore I must hit it. Never mind that she's doing the ooze's job for it, she was obviously operating on autopilot. I really don't know how she bumbled her way through that fight. She's just lucky the rest of the cleanup crew aren't as STUPID as her.
H.G.: That's right. Moving on, it looks like there's some friction in the crew, Roy. Jayse and Brat -- that's the wizard and the necromancer on angry pills, respectively -- have formed an alliance against Galadhriel with an H. It seems to be professional rivalry at work, Roy. Jayse and Brat don't think much of sorcerers, in particular not sorceresses with huge Charisma and not much else upstairs.
Roy: And who can blame them, H.G.? For so long, wizards have been ruling the roost when it comes to arcane spellcasters in D&D. Sure, bards could also cast spells in 2nd Edition, but no-one ever played a bard, because as a class, they were utterly and completely useless. They even named the company after wizards. Now all of a sudden, there's a new class in town, playing the same tune, and with more boom spells per day, to boot. It's hard not to feel some jealousy in a situation like that.
H.G.: So you don't think they should tone it down, Roy?
Roy: Well, maybe just a little bit. It's not like sorcerers are THAT much better than wizards. They're a LITTLE bit better, but really, it's not anything to make a big fuss about. And I'm sure it'll be a long time before sorcerers replace wizards and their obsolete pseudo-Vancian spell mechanics completely, so they should just put it out of their mind and concentrate on the job at hand.
H.G.: Finally, Duncan is insisting he's not a ninja, he's really a Night Knife. For those of you who aren't as familiar with Faerunian geography as Roy and I are, the Night Knives are a guild of thieves from Sembia. Duncan was once a member of the Night Knives, although it should be said that that was some time ago.
Roy: I think he's worried about the connotations attached to the "ninja" label, H.G. See, the thing is that I know Duncan, and he's a humble man. Just a self-effacing, unassuming bloke who doesn't want to draw attention to himself. He only wants to blend into the background, and not hog the limelight.
H.G.: That's why he got that ring of invisibility.
Roy: Absolutely right, H.G. And ninjas tend to hog the limelight, because, well, they're ninjas. That's just what they are. It's a highly visible, high-profile occupation -- everyone knows about ninjas, I'm sure. Ninjas and subtlety just don't go together, I'm afraid. But I say, if you're a ninja, you should be proud of it. It's an occupation with a long and famous tradition, both in Japanese folklore and modern culture.
H.G.: I'm with you, Roy. Being a ninja is nothing to be ashamed of. Don't let a few WHINING NAYSAYERS put you OFF YOUR GAME, Duncan! You're better than that!
Roy: If there's one thing I want to say, Duncan, it's that H.G. and I are on your side. So don't worry, you'll always be a ninja to us.
H.G.: Although maybe we should respect his wishes, Roy.
Roy: You may be right, H.G.
H.G.: Now then, it looks like the cleanup crew has finished recuperating from the fight with the mother of all spiders. They're breaking camp. Which way will they go from here...? The last two times, they went in a clockwise direction, via the earth temple, and we all know how that ended up.
Roy: It looks like they're going to go in a counterclockwise direction this time. They must have got tired of being ambushed by those earth elemental terrors. I don't know why, to be honest. They were doing great. Sure, a few people got dragged into the earth, and had to eat their way out, but they survived. And if you ask me, it's not like the earth around here tastes that bad. I've tasted worse, believe me.
H.G.: Well, that's the way they're heading. A reminder to our viewers, the party is heading to the fire temple this time, having thoroughly trashed the water temple on their last visit. What will happen to them on their journey? We'll find out, after these important messages!
[to be continued]
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