For the reader's convenience, here are the Dramatis Personae:
Party AEntertainment 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?
- Abner, MU5, Scroll: Web
- Arkayn, C4, Mace, AC 5
- Aggro the Axe, F4, +1 hand axe, Platemail, shield
- Arlanni, T2, Sling, crossbow, sword
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.