H.G.: And welcome back once again for more hot tongue action, here at the House of Monte. In case you've just joined us, we're following the cleanup crew as they delve deeper into the twisting tunnels and haunted hallways of the Arteeteetee'o'ee'ee. I think I'm getting the hang of this tonguing business, Roy.
Roy: Yes, H.G., I noticed you practicing during the break. To our viewers, you haven't seen anything until you've seen H.G. doing the tongue.
H.G.: Thanks very much, Roy. I might say, though, that my tonguing experience is nothing compared to yours. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you haven't seen a real tongue at work until you've seen Rampaging Roy Slaven putting in the hard yards. And the cleanup crew have come to a strange chamber... it looks like a forge room, and there's heaps of weapons stacked around the place. The cleanup crew's eyes light up... but there's something else in here! It's a ghost, that of a dwarf who died here centuries ago. Here we go, let's see who gets to kill it this time.
Roy: Technically speaking, I don't think you can kill something that's already dead, H.G.
H.G.: That may be the case, Roy, but that's no reason not to try. Hang on a second, they're calling time out! They're going to talk to the ghost instead of killing it! I swear, gamers these days just don't have a bloody clue.
Roy: Well, as we were saying before the break, H.G., the game has moved on since our days. In our day, we thought nothing of attacking monsters on sight. If we saw it, we fought it. These days, gamers think nothing of talking to shades of the restless dead who have the power to reduce you to an insane, raving lunatic, make you turn against your mates, or even kill you outright.
H.G.: Sounds like a typical State of Origin game to me, Roy. What's the ghost telling them...? It's saying that this place used to be a dwarven city, and he was a smith who worked the forge... he doesn't want them to take anything, but they're free to use this as a resting place. And now they're leaving! Well, that was a complete waste of time as far as encounters go, wasn't it, Roy.
Roy: Yes, H.G. And they'll be kicking themselves when it comes to XP awarding time, I'm sure. But that's just horses for courses as far as the modern gamer is concerned. And to be honest, I think the cleanup crew's doing very well so far. They've had a few deaths -- six was my last count out of a party of six, for a 100% turnover rate -- but that's nothing. Remember this is the Arteeteetee'o'ee'ee, which is a dungeon like how dungeons used to be, back when our Gary was dazzling everyone with his virtuoso tongue. Oh yes, nobody could tongue a dungeon like our Gary. By those standards, a 100% turnover is nothing at all! And really, being dead isn't even that big a deal these days.
H.G.: What do you think is the secret of their success, Roy?
Roy: Well, I would say that the good thing about this party is that they've sussed out the correct way to handle dungeons. A lot of groups tend to over-analyse the situation. They immerse themselves in the details and mechanics of the game world, and as a result, they get very confused when different people have with different ideas of how things like spells and magic work. Because when you come right down to it, you're talking about supernatural phenomena, things that break the laws of physics as we know them. If you start thinking too hard about magic in that modern-day, scientific manner, you're bound to run into problems. But the cleanup crew hasn't run into that problem, and that's because they're simply reacting to events as they come, rather than trying to anticipate them or make complicated plans. Basically, instead of thinking too much, they're not thinking at all. They're going into this dungeon totally blind. Stupid. And it's seen them in good stead. The more stupid they are, the easier it gets.
H.G.: That's right. Don't forget, kids, today's lesson is: you can never be too stupid. Do you think their stupidity is the result of Padma, the joke?
Roy: I don't think so, H.G. I think their stupidity predates her joining the party -- although she's fit right in, that's for sure. We're talking about a group of highly experienced adventurers here -- it's the kind of stupidity that can only come from experience. You can't teach it, that pure emptiness of mind that comes from switching off your brain. It's like rugby league.
H.G.: Well, of course. Everything is like rugby league.
Roy: That's absolutely right. In this case, you can have all your coaching schools, your fancy tactics, defensive lines, changes of angle and whatever. But when you've got the ball, and you look up to see thirteen big, sweaty blokes who all want to hit you up the arse and give you an intimate, head-first introduction to the paddock, that's when you know whether you've got the stupidity that marks all the great geniuses of rugby league.
H.G.: The cleanup crew has left the ghostly dwarf and the forge behind. They're tramping through the dungeons... and now they've come to a strange cavern that looks like a cyst of some kind. It's a huge spherical chamber with smooth rock walls. There's a small ledge on one side of the chamber, and the crew can see a strange creature lurking there. It's got no eyes and a gaping, tube-like mouth -- a destrachan.
Roy: Yet another bizarre 3rd Edition monster. Personally, I think it smacks of weirdness for its own sake. It's totally unnecessary. You can make a good dungeon without having to resort to outlandish monstrosities. What's wrong with ordinary, conventional, 1st Edition monstrosities, like piercers, rust monsters and ear seekers? Aren't they weird enough? If they were weird enough for Gary, they're weird enough for me!
H.G.: The destrachan has noticed them... and it unleashes a wave of raw sonic energy at them! It's a high-pitched warbling wail, like country and western music piped through an amp that goes up to eleven. Argh, it's terrible! Make it stop, someone!
Roy: If you listen hard, it sounds a bit like Willie Nelson, actually. Not that you'd want to listen hard.
H.G.: All I can say is, thank god for these headphones we're wearing. It's enough to make your head explode!
Roy: That's exactly what it's trying to do, H.G. It's trying to make their heads explode so it can eat the chunky bits.
H.G.: The warbling is just getting louder and louder. The destrachan's mixing in some Barry Manilow with Willie Nelson, all with a massive, thumping disco beat in the background. It's a horrible, unholy sound, the sort of sound man was not meant to hear. Phew, it's stopped to take a breath. That was certainly an earth-shaking performance, Roy.
Roy: Yes, the earth definitely moved for me, H.G. The cleanup crew is in strife down there, but somehow they've managed to survive, although I can see lots of ears bleeding.
H.G.: And now they're shooting back at it with their bows... and they've scored one, two, three... four hits! The sound system from hell didn't like that at all, and now it's screaming back more horrible, unmentionable sounds at them. This one sounds like the theme from Love Story, with a few megadecibels of distortion thrown in. And the joke's wand explodes! Oh, that's messy. They won't be pumping that wand anymore, that's for sure.
Roy: I never thought I'd feel sorry for the joke, but that's got to be painful.
H.G.: She's got two wands, so she's all right. Here we go, Galadhriel with an H has had enough. She steps forward and cuts loose with a fireball! And the fat lady is singing for the sound system from hell. A wonderful display from the sorceress with huge Charisma.
Roy: The horrible sounds haven't affected Galadhriel at all. And in hindsight, it's obvious why: you're safe from having your head explode if there's nothing inside to explode. That's not a bad defensive tactic.
H.G.: It sounds like another reason why sorcerers are superior to wizards. That tactic would only work for sorceresses with huge Charisma and not much else upstairs.
Roy: But it's only a minor reason, H.G. Bottom line, sorcerers aren't THAT much better than wizards.
H.G.: You're undoubtedly right, Roy. Either way, it looks like the cleanup crew aren't too worried about meeting more monsters that can make people's heads explode.
Roy: That's because they're stupid, H.G. The emptier the mind, the less there is to explode. Ergo, a stupid party has little to fear from such monsters. They haven't quite achieved the pinnacle of stupid where the brain is completely switched off, and thus is immune to all mind-affecting spells and effects. Only high-level monks can be that stupid. But I'm sure they're close.
H.G.: And wizards can be that stupid too, by using their spells.
Roy: Well, we're talking about natural stupidity here. That's artificial stupidity, and doesn't really count.
H.G.: Yes, I always reckoned that the monk was the most stupid of all the character classes. And now the cleanup crew has arrived at a massive portal. It's an archway with a huge demon's head at the top. The passage continues under the demon's head, and there are carvings of flames and smoke on either side of the portal. It's the border of the fire temple territory, and frankly it looks quite terrifying, Roy.
Roy: Yes, and the cleanup crew are tripping over themselves in their excitement to go in. They all want to be first through the gate.
H.G.: Duncan the ninja's going to go in first. He sneaks in... and is met by a blood-curdling chorus of sound! Several large bat-like creatures detach themselves from the ceiling and fly down to attack him, screaming as they come!
Roy: They're cloakers, and they use sound attacks to make their victims' heads explode, too.
H.G.: Well, they're in for a shock. This group is far too stupid for that! No bloody way are their heads going to explode! The cleanup crew charges into battle, and Jayse the wizard casts a magic missile... four of the cloakers disappear! That's sneaky, they were mirror images. And now one of the cloakers has tackled him! It's wrapped itself around him, it's getting up close and personal.
Roy: Yes, it wants to have a relationship, H.G. It's saying, "I didn't like you firing those magic missiles at me, here's a tongue in the ear and a claw up the bunghole for your trouble".
H.G.: The others pull the cloaker off before it can go the distance with Jayse. He doesn't seem to appreciate all the attention. Duff the D*ckhead takes a swing at the cloaker, AND ACTUALLY HITS! He's so surprised that he stands there like a loon, he's so amazed at what he's done. Kondara the b*tch has to shove him out of the way of a cloaker that wants to bite his head off. Meanwhile, the joke is jumping off the walls like an insane pogo-stick, whacking the cloakers as she passes them -- that +30 bonus from the ring of jumping is coming in handy. The teenage ninja has his bow out, and shoots one down. Brat the angry necromancer fires off several charges from his wand of negative energy ray....
Roy: They're really doing a number on these cloakers. Like we said, this party is far too stupid to let their heads be exploded by a few jumped-up flying carpets!
H.G.: Yes, they've slaughtered most of the cloakers. The crowd here at the House of Monte loves it. There's one cloaker left, and it flies off at high speed down the tunnel.
Roy: Jayse has also noticed something magical under some rocks.
H.G.: The teenage ninja, the joke, the d*ckhead and the b*tch go chasing off after the cloaker. Meanwhile, the angry necromancer helps Jayse dig out what he's found... there's a few potions, lots and lots of coins, and a shiny new mace! Now there's a haul worthy of the House of Monte. Wouldn't you say so, Roy?
Roy: Yes, a true Monte haul. Jayse likes the look of that mace in particular. Oops, the others have caught up with the cloaker!
H.G.: It's non-stop action tonight, at the House of Monte. The cloaker turns to confront them. The d*ckhead is first up, and he takes a swing at it. Of course, he misses, because he's a d*ckhead. The cloaker cuts loose with a horrible, moaning, fear-inducing sound... and it's brown trousers time for the d*ckhead, who starts running away, screaming like a schoolgirl!
Roy: It's cutting loose again, H.G.!
H.G.: Yes, the cloaker lets off a shrieking, head-exploding sound this time, and HITS DUNCAN RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES! The teenage ninja obviously wasn't stupid enough to avoid it. Now he's standing there like a stunned mullet, off in la-la land.
Roy: That hit looks like it knocked all the sense out of him. He'll definitely be more stupid next time!
H.G.: And with its next shriek, the cloaker catches Padma RIGHT IN THE GUT! The joke doubles over, and she's in trouble... she's chundering all over the floor! This is obviously no ordinary cloaker, no mere jumped-up flying carpet we're dealing with here. It's the mother of all cloakers! And it's stunned silence here at the House of Monte; the crowd can't believe it's just Kondara the b*tch left to face it. She steps over the joke's technicolour yawn, and swings at the mother of all cloakers with her sword... she hits! But the mother of all cloakers is still standing, or should I say, still flying. It flies down and grapples the b*tch! It wraps itself around her!
Roy: It wants to go all the way, H.G. This relationship is about to be consummated, if you know what I mean. First the mother of all spiders, and now the mother of all cloakers. This could be the end of the road for the cleanup crew.
H.G.: What's this? It's the WIZARDS CHARGING TO THE RESCUE! Jayse has his shiny new mace out, and he's waving it around like he means business. He's taken a leaf out of the angry necromancer's book, obviously. He runs up to the mother of all cloakers, and BASHES IT SQUARE IN THE HEAD! The mother of all cloakers is DOWN FOR THE COUNT! It's another injury-time win for the cleanup crew, and isn't the crowd just lapping it up!
Roy: Yes, Brat did a textbook tackle on Duff the D*ckhead as he ran past, and that shook off the fear effects. He told them that the rest of the crew were being turned into chowder up the tunnel, and the wizards arrived just in time to save the party's bacon.
H.G.: That's a brilliant mixed metaphor, if I do say so myself, Roy. And as the cleanup crew picks themselves up off the floor (carefully avoiding Padma's chunder as they do so), what awaits them as they venture further into the domain of the fire temple? We'll find out after the break, here at the House of Monte!
[to be continued]
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