Saturday, March 18, 2006

"No thanks. I'm not hungry."

Pat (Intruder_W) dropped the above line in his comment to the previous post. It's an old in-joke between us.

Several years ago now I ran an AD&D campaign using a hybrid of the 1st and 2nd edition rules. The game was set in the Bandit Kingdoms region of the World of Greyhawk. Pat was one of the key players, as well as the now missing-in-action Ray St. John (Ray, if you see this post, e-mail me!), and Jim Westbrook. RPGA maniac Thom Hendricks would occasionally guest star in the game.

Pat played Doctor (later Baron) Phostarius, a bard/mage with an affinity for the forces of Chaos. Ray played the Doctor's half-drow half-brother, the cavalier Sir Cleave, who later achieved the rank of the Count of Bronze. I believe Jim Westbrook played a couple of different characters over the course of the campaign, but his most memorable guy was Bryo Phyta, the self-described "world's tallest half-elf". From time-to-time one of the other players would take over the DMing duties and I would get to play Munge, my vile half-orc cleric/assassin.

Anyway, one session Doc Phostarius and Bryo Phyta were exploring the upper levels of the Dungeon of Doom. This was probably one of their earliest forays into that particular underground realm. The players had decided not to tackle the dungeon as a duo of adventurers, but rather they brought some assistance. The good Doctor hired a squad of polearm-equipped mercenaries. The world's tallest half-elf decided it would be more cost effective to buy some attack dogs. So here they were, a human bard (this was before Phostarius dual-classed to mage), a half-elf (cleric/mage? cleric/thief? whatever), 4 or 5 peasants with ranseurs, and a pack of dogs.

As I recall it they were on level 1 or 2 when they ran into a pack of goblins. The number of gobbos present was sufficient that the players considered a parlay, but the leader of the green weenies flipped his visor down like the guard in the tavern scene in Conan the Barbarian. Doctor Phostarius was not about to stand for a freakin' goblin to try to act badass in his presence. So Pat did what would become his signature move for that campaign, he lobbed a fireball. Now, this was back in the old days. Those of you who started play with 3.0 have no idea how dangerous fireballs used to be in AD&D. The area effect for those babies used to be a 2" radius sphere, where one inch meant 10 feet. That doesn't sound like much until you consider these facts:
  • A sphere is three dimensional. Few dungeon corridors and not many dungeon rooms will fit a 40' tall effect.
  • Many DMs, including yours truly, ruled that fireballs always expanded to maximum volume.
  • A 40' diameter sphere equalls something like thirty-three 10' cubes.
So back then when someone dropped a fireball in a typical dungeon it was rarely certain whether or not you or your fellow party members would be safe from the effect. Even with a DM being generous with estimating ceiling heights and whatnot, 33 squares on a dungeon map is a lot of space.

So when Phostarius cast fireball at the goblin leader he managed to toast all the gobbos, some of his own men, and all of Bryo's new pets. The half-elf emerged from the smoke clutching the charred remains of one of his precious doggies in his arms, tears streaming down his cheeks.

Doc deadpanned, "No thanks. I'm not hungry."

Jim Westbrook eventually disappeared off our radar. Is he still in the area? I'm not sure. Ray St. John moved back out to Washington state and we've never heard from him ever since. Two of the peasants that Doc hired went on to earn xp and later became Lords in their own right. And Doc Phostarius continues to be one of the baddest mofos I've ever seen in a D&D campaign. Since '99 Pat and I have talked several times about converting the characters from that campaign to the new standards, but we haven't quite found a satisfactory conversion. Phostarius and Munge were the kind of characters that some folks would consider twinked out, with way too many followers, magic items, and special abilities. Still, few sessions went by where Pat's guy didn't have his ass on the line. Heck, he died once or twice and got better. That's pretty good for a campaign that never featured a party cleric higher than 5th level or so.