Writing about The Dark Time of D&D is actually making me depressed. The early '00's were not a fun time for me.
As you may be aware, I was a movie theater manager up until a couple months ago. Now that 35mm film isn't being made any more, my theater closed. This gave me the free time I needed to write this blog. I got a new job doing copy writing. I have spent the last three days writing biographies for bands I have never heard of and it has been the greatest thing ever. This song makes me want to strut for 7 miles past high-fiving furries while they jump up and down in slow motion.
Dark Vader had a grip on me, yes sir. I ran an awful, a truly awful game in 2003 where the highlight was an NPC named Steve the Talking Watermelon. He was a talking watermelon who berated the PCs constantly. They started out hating him, but eventually came around.
The World of Super Evil
So The Great DM cooked up a scenario where the heroes snatched this pearl that killed all of the good people in the world. The PCs were the only good guys left on the whole planet.. something like that. The idea was that the players would feel guilty and/or become a force for good in the world out of necessity. But instead, they just continued to do kind-of-evil things.
That's where I come in. I may run some annoying characters, but by and large I run good guys. The DM brought me in and handed me a Lawful Evil NPC to run, and I promptly began running him like a good guy because I can't help myself. I worked the "lawful" angle as far as I could. My character had principles!
It wasn't long into this game when we ran into some evil anti-paladins. The DM was emphasizing this "evil world" gimmick big time, trying to show just how evil the world was and how desperately the PCs needed to be good.
These anti-paladins had a compound in the forest where they abducted women, tied them to logs, and had their way with them. Two paladins to a log.
I couldn't even fathom this. Rape Logs?!
I have tried a few times over the last month to write about the dreaded "R" word in D&D, including a dirty blog post that will likely never see the light of day. I've never wanted to watch a rape in a movie (I turned Clockwork Orange off after about 10 seconds) and to me it is just a horrible thing that doesn't belong in a game that I play for fun.
It blew my mind when I sat down with new players in 2009 and younger guys were throwing around the "r" word, as in: they took 20 damage from a critical hit and said "I just got raped". The only thing I could think of is "would you be saying that out loud if you thought someone at this table has been molested?"
Right? Who are these people? I assume that they're the same people who call me the "n" word in online games.
Anyway. RAPE LOGS. I couldn't wrap my head around it. The whole thing to me was so cartoonish, offensive and absurd - a vision of evil that was too ridiculous for me to handle.
I was Lawful Evil. My allies were neutral and/or good. The DM desperately wanted them to play heroes. We watched this atrocious scene, and our "good" heroes.. sat there and did nothing. I was appalled.
My Lawful Evil monk immediately rushed out into RapeFest 2007 alone and attacked all of them. I had flurry of blows, which meant I could attack up to 8 adjacent enemies. That is exactly what I did. The anti-paladins surrounded me and I beat the crap out of those guys while the party hid behind a wall and fired off a few arrows.
When the dust cleared, I had slaughtered all of the anti-paladins and began berating the rest of the party for just standing there. This is probably exactly what the DM wanted. Clever!
The Legend of Hookface
|This is the actual scene|
In this path, there is a gargantuan red dragon called Hookface who shows up in a later adventure. The name was kind of goofy to me, so I had this crazy old man in the city always talk about how he used to sell tarps to a dragon named Hookface. I tried to play it up like a recurring joke, with this crazy guy talking about his imaginary friend.
So eventually, shocker, the volcano that the city is built in erupts! The city is in chaos! And this eruption wakes up the slumbering dragon, Hookface.
The PCs see the crazy old guy talking to someone obscured by a wall of ash and smoke. He says, "Oh hi! You come to get some tarps?"
Time went into slow motion as the players groaned. I had smuggled something to the session in a gym bag. It was the COLOSSAL RED DRAGON MINI! The table exploded as I placed Hookface on the map, had him eat the old guy. And then we rolled initiative!
It was the most epic thing in the whole campaign. Even though the party utterly slaughtered him. Though maybe for the players, that makes it even better.