Thursday, August 27, 2020

Demographics of Hommlet: the Spreadsheet

My trusty colleague Rear Admiral D. Osgood III once again noticed that the ol' blogomatic device was out of gas so he wired a shipment of fuel over to Dicechucker Towers in hopes of restarting the boiler. And what form did this fuel dump take you ask? Why it's a spreadsheet detailing all the inhabitants of everyone's favorite town that nerdiferous pedants will tell you is actually a hamlet. 

Osgood has pored over the text of the Village of Hommlet (I understand he is using the Hommlet portion of T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil as his base text rather than the original, stand-alone module) and developed a thorough census of the population. If you're just here for the handy spreadsheet, here it is. Use it in good health. Or poor health; I won't discriminate against the infirm.

If you want some analysis--or you're just killing time until the pandemic is over--stick around for further reading:

The Male:Female ratio is 7.7 men to 1 woman. This is made more significant when one considers that just 10 years ago the region was at war; you'd expect at least a few widows in this town. Or perhaps it was the women of Hommlet who cleared the moathouse, thus leaving the menfolk to step in and fill the gaps in the militia in the years hence.

The write-up on the Inn mentions that "when the season arrives there will be one or two "likely lasses hired on". What exactly is a "likely lass"? And what season is it that brings more bustle to the burg of Hommlet? Fall foliage? Hunting Season? Hockey season?

Over at Rufus and Burne's tower, the 16 mercenaries share a 20' d. room at the top of the tower for their lodgings while their capt and lieutenant get tiny yet private chambers on the floor below. But there are two 2nd level fighters posted as guards in the tower who do not appear to be affiliated with the mercenary posse that sleeps up in the turret. Since there are no other 2nd level fighters at the tower to relieve them, it must be assumed that they are always on duty and therefore have no need for a place to sleep.

Scale mail: Good enough for Thor

Also, those two guards have AC 5 and carry shields which means they must be wearing scale mail. No one in AD&D ever used scale mail. Leather and chainmail are prevalent, obviously, but studded leather and even ring mail--studded leather's disfigured troglodytic half-brother--occasionally make appearances, but no scale mail. And this despite it's cinematic appeal.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Scarabs of Hommlet Continued

T1 has this to say about Rannos Davl's famous TZGY scarab:
"The [TZGY scarab] is a pass in an area of the Temple of Elastic Underpants but there is only a 20% chance that even a sage would recognize it as such."

Or, to look at it another way, 20% of sages are likely to know that the ToEE has used these scarabs as passes. Since the rebirth of the temple is still a secret at the time that your characters are wandering through/pillaging Hommlet, it must be assumed that this sagely knowledge is based on the old Temple. Which is to say, the new Templonians have revived the practice of using scarabs as passes as they did in the old Temple.

We want our names on the scarab too!
In my last post I pointed out that the four letters on the scarab--TZGY--are not a misspelled abbreviation of Zuggtmoy but, rather, they indicate Rannos's four co-conspirators in Hommlet: Terjon, Zert, Gremag, and Y'dey. Rannos (10th level thief), as the highest level baddy in all of T1, is head of the Hommlet Task Force. His underlings are the aforementioned Gremag (7th level assassin) and Zert (2nd level fighter) who we already know about, as well as Y'dey, Canoness in absentia of the church of St. Ebert, and Terjon (6th level cleric), who is standing in for her. It is not made explicit in the module that these two are Templers, but it is now apparent that that is the case.

The scarab "pass" is really more of a badge indicating to other Templonians that Rannos is a member of the Black Scarab unit, and also notes his underlings. These four, and only these four, may accompany Rannos to the Temple. Zert, however, does not know that the traders are part of the Temple Conspiracy; clearly he must be taking his orders from Terjon.

Meanwhile Calmert, the rector of the church--for such a small parish, this joint sure commands a lot of hierarchy!--is obviously too low-ranking to know that the Church of Cuddy is really a front for the New Temple. However, he has seen Terjon meeting surreptitiously with Zert and the Traders, who he has determined are unsavory characters.

Knowing that Terjon is up to no good and having uncovered evidence that a band of brigands is forming in the area to, he believes, harass the population, Calmert has decided to put his trust in Rufus and Burne to defend the growing flock here in Hommlet. This is why he's embezzling church funds and sending them to the tower construction fund. Unwisely, he still trusts Y'dey and is looking forward to her return so that he can let her know about Terjon's sinister doings.

Of course, things aren't quite as lawful good as they appear over at the tower either: guess who else has a scarab? Rufus does, that's who. Rufus's scarab is carnelian (a red gemstone) and lacks any glyphs, which suggests that he has no underlings and has not been activated as an agent yet. But we do know that he has, upon achieving 8th level (he's currently a 7th level fighter) been ordered to report for duty to the Viscount of Verbabonc who will indoctrinate him in the Red Scarab Division at that time. He is as yet, a sleeper agent. Note: now the Viscount has been implicated in this plot as well!

Rufus's scarab also confers resistance to poison on him so clearly he gets more love than Rannos. Not surprising when you consider what an A-hole Rannos is.

And yet there is another member of the conspiracy at the tower: a 2nd level fighter hired by Rannos to pose as a laborer and spy for him. This dude is just a hired hand, not actually a Templonian, which is why he doesn't rate a glyph on Rannos's scarab--or even a name for that matter. But his presence their indicates that Rannos is not getting intelligence on the castle project. So either Rannos has taken it upon himself to gather intelligence or he has been ordered to do so by the Black Scarab Division leader--not realizing that its construction is being overseen and funded by another division of the Temple!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Scarab of Hommlet: The Conspiracy Continues, part XVII

I recently received an email from Darrell, Director of Research down at the Home Office of Dicechucker Enterprises. He kindly delivered up an impressive pile of demographic stats on the villagers of Hommlet that clearly need to be published on this here blogsite. Inspired by his handiwork, I dug out my old Hommlet notebooks to compare his findings with my own research and came across a drawing amidst some notes I wrote approximately 4 years ago:

I admit that the sketch is a bit shoddy but Hommlet loons the world over might hopefully recognize it as a rendition of the Scarab of Rannos Davl, one of the evil traders cum devotees of Evil most Elemental. Said loons might also likely remember that the scarab is known to be a hall pass for certain portions of said Temple.

Now I understand that for many/most/all of you TZGY is just an abbreviation for Zuggtmoy goddess of fungus, which makes sense when you realize that her name was once spelled Tzugtmoy, which might not even be true but too late, I just said it so now it is. But for those of us who were barred admission to T1-4 The Temple of Elephantiasis of the Esophagus we had only the text of T1 to go off of. And in T1 there is only one deific entity mentioned in association with the Temple of Elevated Estrogen and her name is Lolth, not Zuggtmoy. For folks like me, TZGY was some sort of code used by Lolth worshippers, sort of like how folks of a certain persuasion will immediately recognize INRI as a signifier of Jesus Christ without necessarily knowing what the letters stand for.

"Ok, but what's your point, D-Chuckles?" you ask? Here's my point: if you live in a world where Zuggtmoy doesn't exist--as most of us did until 1984-ish, then what does TZGY stand for? Well, on the same page in my notes as the above referenced scarab drawing is a list of four names:
Holy Crap!
While some of you are probably thinking "why is this jackass lumping two clerics of St. Cuthbert in with two known Culstists of Evel Knievel?"* Those conspiracy wingnuts amongst you will remember that years ago some internet nutjob posited that the coincidence of Y'dey's sabbatical from the Church of Cuthbert and Lareth's arrival at the moathouse was no coincidence at all. If you don't feel like clicking that link, I'll give you a brief summary: Y'dey = Lareth.

Terjon knows that Y'dey was sent off to live in a dank dungeon under a swamp with a squadron of brigands and he's jealous. If you would rather live in a dank dungeon under a swamp with 16 unbathed brigands as your roommates than hang out at Cuddy's posh new church in Hommlet then obviously you too are a devotee of the Temple of Eloquent Eros. I'm aware the logic here is circular but bear with me.

And if Terjon is in on it, it stands to reason that the Arch Cleric of Veluna--who assigned to Terjon the task of covering for Y'dey while she assumes her alter ego (Lareth)--is also in on it. This Cabal goes clear to the top of the Cuthbert hierarchy! 

*And for those who are wondering who those 4 names refer to:
  • Terjon, interim canon of the Church of St. Cuthbert  while Y'dey is off "adventuring."
  • Zert, Inn resident and known agent of the Temple of Erectile Enhancement. 
  • Gremag, Rannos Davl's colleague at the Hommlet dry goods depot; also a known Temple associate. 
  • Y'dey, absentee Canon of St. Cuddy, Hommlet diocese.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving Gaming: Zombie Clue

A few years ago my delightful progeny's elementary school gave him the whole week of Thanksgiving off rather than just the 4-day weekend that the holiday is typically honored with so we ditched Mama--she had a "Big Project" at work--and flew across the country to spend the week with a pile of family members.

Of course, none of them had the whole week off so, for three days while my brother and sister and their families were off to work/school, me and the little dude had several hours to kill. We hopped in leaf-piles of every species and played pumpkin soccer until the neighborhood was a gorey orange mess. Then we headed inside to slurp hot cocoa laced with molten marshmallows while plundering my sister's stash of board games.  

Clue quickly became the consensus favorite, even though it's kinda' hard to play one on one: If I don't have Miss Scarlet and you don't have Miss Scarlet, well, I guess we know who did it. So we massaged the rules a bit to make it more interesting for mano a mano play.

I'm using this illegally so check out Andy Hunter's art here.
First thing we did was:
  • Place a clue card on each room on the board before dispersing the rest of the cards between the players.
Now if neither of us had Miss Scarlet she might still be lounging in any one of the rooms. Possibly even the lounge.

While adding the necessary uncertainty that the two-player game lacked, this step also made exploration of the entire board a very significant part of the game; now you have to visit each of the rooms in order to eliminate all possible solutions. It might be more fun to play this way regardless of how many players are at the table.

Just for the heck of it we also made this new rule:
  • All the unused tokens are now "zombies" who follow the "live" player tokens around the board.
At first, if they caught you you had to go back to your starting position, but then we decided on another convention:
  • Place the weapons tokens in each of the rooms on the game board. 
'Cuz if you're having to dodge zombies while looking for clues, it helps if you're armed.

Quick combat dice mechanisms were devised:
  • zombie and player each roll the die, who ever rolls higher wins. 
  • If the player has a murder weapon in hand such as the lead pipe, wrench, or dagger, player rolls 2 dice to the zombie's 1.
Weapons are a huge benefit.

But ranged weapons are an even huger benefit:
  • the knife can be thrown up to 6 spaces to kill a zombie--roll d6, if the number is greater than or equal to the distance from you to the zombie, then zombie is done. 
  • Revolver works the same except roll 2d6. The revolver only has 5 bullets. 

Why five? Becuz someone already put one into John Boddy earlier in the evening. Did you forget that you're still playing Clue?

What to do with the rope:
  • set up a trip wire, use it as a lasso, or tie up a zombie. 
  • Use it to rappel out a window.

And the candlestick is essential to quick navigation of the secret passages because:
  • When you enter a secret passage roll 2 dice; if you roll doubles you successfully get to the other end. If you fail, you're lost in the dark, roll again next turn. Maximum 3 turns like Jail in Monopoly.
  • If you have the candlestick you don't need to roll dice to get through the passage. And you can opt to go to any one of the other three corner rooms. Without candlestick, you can only go the room opposite, i.e. Lounge-conservatory or kitchen-study. 
Since fighting and evading zombies was turning out to be more fun than solving the murder, we pillaged other sources for game pieces to be used as zombies and other monsters that could breathe fire or teleport or fly... Good old fashioned Clue had serendipitously morphed into D&D: The Board Game. Not to be confused with the  D&D version of Clue.

Things I learned whilst writing this post:
  • Mr. Green is called Reverend Green in non-North American versions of the game. I'm guessing that the Parker Bros. didn't think an American audience would appreciate a game that insinuated that a man of the cloth could be a murderous creep.
  • Likewise Clue is called Cluedo in Not-North-America-land. 
  • The victim--John Boddy--is called Dr. Black in the rest of the world.
  • Some versions of the game--probably those non-North-American ones again--include a bottle of poison and a horse shoe as potential murder weapons.
  • The original game designers suggested that a bomb, axe, or hypodermic needle might also be used to kill off John Boddy/Dr. Black. I could certainly think of a few ways to use them to fight off the zombies.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Rogues Gallery: I is for Indel the Elf

If you don't know Indel--or have forgotten the little schmuck--he was the bumbling elf in the party of adventurers from the famous D&D comic ads, a series of 1 page cartoons that appeared in comic books in 1981 and '82.  Rust Monster did a pretty good riff on the dude a thousand years ago, perhaps if everyone pesters him enough he'll finally complete the series.

Berkeley Breathed - Bloom County
Don't drag me into this.
And that's pretty much as far as I'm interested in discussing Indel; he's just an excuse to talk about the old D&D comic/ad. What I really want to talk about are elements of this cartoon that appear elsewhere in D&Darium, namely Zenopus Castle.

Everyone familiar with old time D&D now knows that the sample dungeon in the back of the first basic rules by Eric Holmes is called The Tower of Zenopus. Except it wasn't really called that at all. It was just the sample dungeon, it had no name. Zenopus is of course mentioned in the background as the crazed wizard who once occupied a tower in the Graveyard District of Portown, but both he and the tower have been gone for 50 years by the time you and your party catch wind of the scenario whilst quaffing ales at the Green Dragon Inn.

The edifice you will be exploring, dear friends, is comprised of the tunnels and corridors found underneath the ruin of the tower, so the adventure would more accurately be termed The Dungeon of Zenopus.  But since there is actually a magic user-occuppied tower attached to the dungeon (room S), you could call it the Tower of the Thaumaturge, which is, after all, everyone's favorite word for a caster of spells. And although the evil MU of said rank (aficionados will acknowledge that a Thaumaturgist is a 5th level MU) is unnamed, it is probably safe to assume that its name, as with all Thaumaturges, is Brad.
Also, until listening to a podcast recently, I don't believe I'd ever heard the word "Zenopus" spoken out loud. I can't remember which podcast it was, sorry, but the dude pronounced it with the accent on ZEN, so it sounded sort of like octopus. I've always put the accent on the second syllable, like you're combining zen with a musical number. Or that penguin from Bloom County.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Rogues Gallery: Gutboy Barrelhouse, Captain of the B-Team

For the A to Zeppelin challenge, I've often resorted to some pretty esoteric sources. Today, however, I found all the information I needed at the bottom of a stack of old magazines at my sister-in-law's house when I was over for Easter dinner last weekend. Before you think she's in touch with some strange, arcane journals, the magazine in question was none other than good ol' Entertainment Weekly. The following interview with Gutboy Barrelhouse appeared in said magazine in July of 1986.*
For the reader's convenience, here are the Dramatis Personae:

Party A
  • Abner, MU5, Scroll: Web
  • Arkayn, C4, Mace, AC 5
  • Aggro the Axe, F4, +1 hand axe, Platemail, shield
  • Arlanni, T2, Sling, crossbow, sword
Party B
  • Gutboy Barrelhouse, F6, Dwarf, Splint Mail, Shield +2
  • Balto, Monk 1, Staff, AC 10
  • Blastum, MU 4
  • Barjin, F4/MU5, ½ Elf, sword
    Image result for grenadier dwarf hammer
    Butgoy Garrelhouse
Entertainment Weekly (EW): Back in '79 you were part of the infamous Party B, a gang of "evil marauders" who encountered Party A in the "Example of Melee" on page 71 of the Dungeon Masters Guide. What can you tell us about that scenario?

Gutboy Barrelhouse (GB): "Evil Marauders" my ass. We weren't no saints but we were no worse than them Party A morons. More like "Chaotic Neutral marauders" maybe. But that's neither here nor there cuz the whole event was staged.

EW: Staged? How do you mean?

GB: We were hired by some schmucks from TSR to sit there and wait for the A-holes and pretend that they'd caught us with our pants down. It was all supposed to make them look good. 

EW: Oh! This is a surprise.

GB: Really? Did you read the set-up? We're supposed to be sitting there arguing about treasure at a bend in a friggin' corridor. Who stops to argue about treasure at a bend in a corridor in a freakin' dungeon? Idiots do, that's who. We weren't idiots. We were all seasoned adventurers. Well except the Monk, Balto. He was a greenhorn.

EW: So you weren't surprised?

GB: Well, we knew they were coming, we just didn't know when. We stood there for about 4-5 hours before they finally showed up, so we were getting pretty hungry. Balto and Blastum had started arguing about which was better, the Whopper or the Big Mac.

EW: Which side were you on?

GB: I'm a White Castle guy. I could eat a dozen sliders at a time back then. That's why they called me Gutboy. Barjin preferred Wendy's; elves are like that though.

EW: So you guys were actually arguing about where to go for lunch?

GB: Pretty much. We were only gonna' be in one scene, so we didn't bring any provisions or nothin'. So we're all gettin' kinda' crabby when those pricks pop around the corner and get the drop on us. That chicken shit Aggro goes after our weakest party member...

EW: That would be Balto the Monk?

GB: Yeah, Balto, that dipsh*t.

EW: Why was he a "dipsh*t"?

GB: You'd have to ask his parents [chuckles]. Seriously though, he had no business tangling with Aggro, and as our most mobile character, he had the best chance at getting in and disrupting any spells Abner might throw at us. Instead he stays and fights Aggro, even though they told us up front that they were going to be using those "to hit vs. armor type" adjustments that no one ever uses.

EW: Those are listed in the Players Handbook, correct? Adjustments made to your chance "to hit" for each weapon based on the type of armor the defender is wearing?

GB: Right. 'Cept this is the one and only time I ever seen 'em in action. Poor Balto musta' forgot about 'em cuz' he's swingin' his friggin' staff at Aggro the Arse's platemail even though a staff is -7 to hit against plate and shield. Minus freakin' seven! Can you believe that crap? If he'd gone for Abner instead of tussling with Aggro, he coulda' broke up that stupid web spell that nearly did us in.

EW: Right, in the scene from the DMG, Aggro has killed Balto and then Blastum killed Arlanni the thief with a shocking grasp. Abner casts the web spell that catches your whole party plus Arkayn the cleric. But you're still here, how did you survive?

GB: Well, the scene in the book ends that way, with us lookin' like so much burnt toast. But fortunately Blastum's player was a rules lawyer extraordinaire, and he argued that Aggro would have to be within the area of effect of the web spell too. After a half hour of arguing, the DM concedes and Aggro has to roll a save--and he friggin' blows it! So now it's just Abner free and, since I made my saving throw, I'm only half-caught in the web, but we don't stop there. We argue that based on positioning, only the left side of my body was caught, therefore my right hand, the one I'm holdin' my warhammer in, is free. Again the DM concedes our point, I think suspecting that it wouldn't matter much; that Abner would release Aggro from the web before I could free myself. But while he's trying to free Aggs, I heave my hammer at Abner and clean his friggin' clock! Now the tables are completely turned; their spellcaster is done, Aggro is caught in the web with the rest and, since I made my save, I'll be the first one out.

EW: Wow, that's quite a turnaround.

GB: Except it didn't last cuz Arkayn the cleric started arguing that his deity would come to his aid in one o' them deuce ex mackinaws or whatever you call 'em. The DM, who we're all starting to realize is a right wuss, rolls some bullshit dice behind his screen and announces that a friggin' Valkyrie suddenly appears on Arkayn's behalf.

EW: Wow. That's... that's pretty ridiculous. 

GB: Yeah, that kinda' crap goes on all the time in this game.

EW: So did you have to fight off the valkyrie?

GB: No, at this point the DM was pretty tired of us yelling at him so he decided to call it a draw. The Valkyrie vanquished the web spell and, without us even asking for it, raised the dead characters on the condition that we all went our separate ways. So we split the joint and headed over to Taco Bell for lunch.

EW: Was that the last you heard of Party A?

GB: Heck no! They showed up at Taco Bell too. There was a bit of an argument; they were pissed at Blastum for killing Arlanni, we were pissed at Aggro for killing Balto, but we realized that it would be mutually beneficial if we would team up and clear out the dungeon together. So we did. Slaughtered them fuggin' goblins right dead.

*Strangely, when I contacted EW to get permission to reprint this interview, they insisted that they didn't begin publication until 1990 and therefore could not grant permission for an article that came out before that time.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Rogues Gallery: Fighter and the case of the Incompetent Caller

Could this be the Caller?
What follows is a transcript from the court case of The Party vs. The Caller, recorded at the  Adventurers Guild Chancery in the Spring of 1977. J. Eric Holmes used the typewritten transcript referenced by the Prosecuting Attorney for the Example of Play on page 40 of the blue Dungeons and Dragons Rulebook. 

In this court case, the Caller faces 4 counts of man/demi-humanslaughter along with charges of gross negligence in the line of duty and incompetent leadership.

If you're not familiar with the events, a party consisting of Fighter, Thief, Halfling, Elf, and Dwarf walks down a corridor and finds an L-shaped room where they encounter 4 orcs. Attached is an abbreviated summation of the record of the trial.

Prosecuting Attorney (PA): Did you send the halfling ahead of the party to listen at the door to the L-shaped room, as recorded on page 40 of the Basic D&D rulebook, published 1977?

Caller: Yes

PA: Was there a thief in your party at that time?

Caller: Yes, there was.

PA: And yet you chose to break with Standard Dungeoneering Protocol and violate Adventuring Class Labor Union guidance on division of labor by sending a halfling to do a thief's job, even though a halfling has no special capacity for moving silently in a dungeon environment and are no better to 1st level thieves at hearing noises?

Caller: [Looks at his hands.] Those are guidelines, not rules.

PA: And again, when they'd discovered a chest inside the room, rather than having the thief, who entered the room along with the fighter, search the chest for traps, the fighter kicks the chest over.

Defense Attorney: Objection! "Find traps" was not among the thief's abilities in Holmes rules. Thieves had no better chance of finding a trap than any other class.

Judge: Sustained. The prosecution is advised to constrain your arguments to the appropriate version of the rules.

PA: Noted. [looking at a typewritten transcript] According to the transcript, Fighter kicked over the chest, then four orcs rounded the corner and engaged the party in combat. After the fight with the orcs, you once again assigned to the halfling the task of listening at the door? Why didn't you assign that task to the thief?

Caller: The thief got killed in the fight with the orcs.

[gasp from the courtroom, this information was redacted from the Holmes transcript]

PA: Let me ask you, Caller, was the thief a good fighter?

Caller: In Holmes D&D to hit and damage were the same for all the classes, so yeah, the thief was as good a fighter as anyone else in the party.

PA: But defensively, did the thief not have the worst armor class and, as a result of an undignified d4 hit dice, the lowest hit points in the party?

Caller: I don't recall, ma'am.*

PA: I submit to the court the character sheets for the party, which clearly demonstrate that the thief had a 7 AC and only 2 hit points, while Dwarf and Elf, who were held back from combat by the Caller, had 7 and 5 hp respectively and armor classes of 5 or better.

Defense attorney: Objection your honor. How is this relevant to the case?

PA: I contend that it establishes a pattern of incompetent deployment of resources your honor.

Judge: I'll allow it. Continue.

PA: [to the defendant] According to the transcript, you assigned the dwarf the task of holding open the door and the elf the task of looking down the hall. Why did you assign two of your best fighters to this task?

Caller: They were the only people with infravision.

PA: Could one of them have watched the hallway while simultaneously holding the door open?

Caller: ... I ... the DM... ummm... Probably.

PA: So you left two of your best fighters to do a task that one could have handled while the Fighter and the two worst fighters took on the 4 orcs?

Caller: The halfling and thief were both +1 with missiles!

PA: Did missile fire come into play in this combat?

Caller: [shoulders sagging] No.

PA: Moving on. After the fight with the orcs. The Elf and Dwarf search for secret doors while the halfling is once again tasked with listening at the door. Elf finds a secret door just as Halfling reports that he hears "slithering noises." Is that correct?

Caller: Yes. I ordered everyone through the secret door to escape the slithering.

PA: But first you ordered the halfling to spike his door.

Caller: [brightening] Yes, standard procedure to obstruct pursuit.

PA: What kind of creatures slither?

Caller: ... Snakes?

PA: and snakes, are they known for their facility with door knobs?

Caller: No but it coulda' been a Medusa!

PA: Their hair slithers, do you think that's what the halfling heard?

Caller: The one in "Clash of the Titans" slithered!

PA: Yes, but that movie won't come out until 1981, may I remind you that it's still 1977? So while the halfling is spiking the door to keep the approaching snake from opening it, everyone else goes through the secret door and the Caller orders the dwarf--the last one through--to close the door behind him.

Caller: It's standard emergency procedure!

PA: Even when one of your party is on the wrong side of the door?

Caller: How was I to know that Halfling hadn't made it through yet?

PA: Because you announced the marching order: [reading from transcript]
"Elf in front. Fighter behind him. Dwarf will close the door and bring up the rear." 
No mention was made of the halfling, who was still spiking shut the door in the L shaped room and, being preoccupied with the busywork you insisted he perform, had not seen where the secret door was. I direct the courts attention to the sworn statement of the Dungeon Master:
"Once the secret door closed, the halfling was left in total darkness. As he would be unable to find the secret door under such conditions, he waited at the spiked door until the slithering went away, pried out the spikes he'd shoved into the door frame, and departed the L-shaped room."
Caller: I ... I ... plead the fifth?

PA: What happened to the rest of the party?

Caller: We went down the hall on the other side of the secret door, until we saw the gelatinous cube. I sent the dwarf back to listen at the secret door to the room we'd just left thinking we might need to retreat there. On the way, he reported back that he thought there was a hollow spot in the floor, so I sent Elf back to help him search for trap doors.

PA: And you just didn't notice that in your party of 4 people, there were only three of you?

Caller: I thought that the halfling handed me the torch!

PA: Yes, according to the transcript,

"Caller: ... Where is that torch?
Somebody: Here it is." 
Who, as it turned out, was that "Somebody"?

Caller: My older sister.

PA: And which character was your sister's?

Caller: None of them. She was watching tv in the next room at the time I shouted for the torch. She was just being a jerk.

PA: So who did have the torch?

Caller: Fighter.

PA: And whose character was Fighter?

Caller: Mine.

[Snickering from the crowd]

PA: And what befell the elf and dwarf in their search for a trap door? They found one, correct?

[Caller shrinks in his seat]

PA: They both fell into it, did they not? I'd like to present to the court page 10 of the Holmes D&D Rulebook:
"Many dungeons contain traps, such as trap doors in the floor. If a character passes over one a six-sided die is rolled; a 1 or 2 indicates the the trap was sprung and he has fallen in." 
So you all passed over it safely the first time, but Elf and Dwarf ran out of luck the second time.

Caller: Yes, but they survived the fall!

PA: And what happened next?

Caller: The gelatinous cube was approaching so I ran and jumped across the pit trap so that I could lower a rope down and pull them out leaving the cube on the other side of the pit.

PA: A surprisingly reasonable plan, to be sure. But how did it turn out?

Caller: Well, I forgot that the thief had the rope, so after spending two rounds first removing and then  searching my pack, I ran down the hall to the L-shaped room to get it.

PA: And...

Caller: When I was searching the thief's body, the secret door closed behind me. I had to spend a turn trying to figure out how to open it.

PA: But you did finally open it. Then what?

Caller: By the time I got back to the pit, the gelatinous cube had ... fallen into it.

PA: Completely engulfing Elf and Dwarf in its acidic embrace!

[The crowd gasps in shock, followed by angry shouting]

Judge: [Pounding gavel] Quiet or I'll clear the court. [The crowd settles after a moment]. Proceed prosecutor.

PA: So what happened next?

Caller: I was all alone, so I went back to the L-shaped room and down the corridor--

PA: Did you find it odd that the door in the L-shaped room was no longer spiked?

Caller: Well, I didn't think of it until I saw the giant snake in the hall.

PA: Did it attack you?

Caller: No. It was asleep. It had... recently eaten.

PA: And you knew this how?

Caller: It had a big bulge in its middle.

PA: A bulge approximately the size of a halfling?

Caller: Yes ma'am. [Hangs head in shame, as his defense attorney surreptitiously gathers his papers and slinks from the room]

*Having grown up in the 80s, I picture the prosecuting attorney as Markie Post from "Night Court." Never mind that she was the public defendant in that show and John Larroquette was the prosecutor.  Also, the Judge is Minerva McGonagle/Maggie Smith. And the defense attorney is Jon Lovitz.