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Megafest 8.2 (part two)

Started: 2010-02-04 21:28:04

Submitted: 2010-02-04 22:38:00

Visibility: World-readable

Someday I'll get around to writing better support for serialized stories and for events documented out-of-order. It's a bit disorienting to go back and try to figure out what the optimal reading sequence is. But that day is not today, so if you want the beginning of the Megafest 8.2 story I'll have to provide a link by hand: Megafest 8.2 (part one).

Thursday, 31 December 2009

My major accomplishment for the morning was getting up (after landing in Lincoln much later than I had planned) and eating breakfast. My major accomplishment for the afternoon was getting groceries. After breakfast, I recruited volunteers for meals and Yanthor solicited shopping lists from these volunteers before we set out in the cold for his nearby Hy-Vee. (It's a grocery store endemic in the American Midwest.) Lincoln was in the midst of a cold spell, with daytime highs barely creeping into the teens and piles of snow still on the ground from several weeks prior. We successfully navigated the snow-covered streets and icy parking lot and began trawling the aisles for fortifications.

I'm used to going grocery shopping with Kiesa, who has the layout of our local grocery stores memorized and sorts her shopping list in advance for optimal efficiency. Yanthor provided no such advantage, but we still managed to find the food we needed. (I also realized I had left my driver's license in my fleece, having used it to prove to the TSA that I wasn't a terrorist (because terrorists don't have state-issued photo identification) but not having identification didn't prove troublesome.)

Back at Yanthor's residence, I made coffee (having run out of coffee beans the day before) and set out to create my Dungeons and Dragons character. My brilliant idea was to hide the fact that I was an inexperienced roll-player by I creating a character who was inexperienced and impulsive. My rogue demon-hunter was loosely inspired by Wesley Windham-Pryce's first appearance in Angel. I created a noble-born third son who got bored with his position and decided to set out in search of adventure. He was impulsive and aggressive and not particularly perceptive.

Yanthor handed me a stack of D&D books and I figured out how to fill out my character sheet in the context of the game. My character became a level one human fighter with high intelligence and strength but low wisdom and charisma.

(Yanthor's stack of books were hardcover, and I stopped to wonder whether this was a cheap trick on the part of the publisher to extract more money from loyal fans for hardcover books, or whether it was a legitimate attempt to keep the books from falling apart under the stress of being stuffed into backpacks every week for years on end.)

As he was setting up his dungeon master paraphernalia, Yanthor realized he was forgetting one key thing: water-soluble markers for marking up his combat board so we knew where the walls and other terrain features were. I volunteered to find the markers he sought and headed out on the snow-covered streets in Yanthor's car. I visited Hy-Vee and Walgreens and failed to find suitable markers but did find them at the Super Walmart sitting in the middle of a field on the outskirts of town.

One thing I didn't anticipate was that Thax (my rogue demon-hunter; I couldn't come up with a better name on short notice) would become the leader of the band. Linknoid played a halfling and seemed to have even less of an idea what he was doing than I did. Humblik had far more role-playing experience but played a NPC-turned-player-character goblin who was more interested in mischief than adventure. Yanthor had the most role-playing experience but set out to be our dungeon-master. I tried to follow his guru lineage back to the source but it appeared that his guru had been playing D&D for decades.

Yanthor dungeon-masters at Megafest 8.2
Yanthor dungeon-masters at Megafest 8.2

We spent the remainder of the afternoon building our character sheets and set out to play after supper. Nemo arrived just in time to watch our modestly-multiplayer offline role-playing game. The adventure started slowly, as we settled into our roles and tried to figure out what we were supposed to be doing. As dungeon master, Yanthor wanted to do as much storytelling as combat but had the strange position of needing to shape the story to match what he had planned without constraining the players.

Humblik plays D&D at Megafest 8.2
Humblik plays D&D at Megafest 8.2

The adventure finally came to our first fight as the clock crept inexorably towards midnight. Yanthor needed time to set up the combat, and there was a new year to count down to. (When the calendar on my desk runs out, I go buy a new one, rather than deciding the world is going to end.) I installed xdaliclock on Hobbes and watched the hypnotic numbers count down to midnight, central time.

Humblik and Amy at Megafest 8.2
Humblik and Amy at Megafest 8.2

(For the record, that's sparkling grape juice in the disposable plastic goblets, just in case anyone is wondering.)

With the new year properly welcomed, we turned back to the hard work of fighting the bandits haunting the road between two innocent communities enjoying an idealized version of medieval European life. Before entering combat, Linknoid's halfling set a trap on a path in an attempt to catch the bandits as they exited their camp. When they finally came into view (early morning, game time) my character awoke, drew his sword, and charged the bandits. Yanthor asked if my character was going to avoid the trap. I deadpanned, "The what-now?" And Thax entered his first in-game combat hanging up-side-down by his ankles from the nearest tree, perfectly in character.

We managed to vanquish the small band of bandits and take their leader captive, only to find out that he had further information to advance the plot, just in time to call the first segment of our adventure a success.

Then I'll get another piano, and we'll be even.
- Heidi Enderson, 08 September 2001, in response to Neelix's
computer-acquisition schemes