Thursday, April 4, 2019

Rogues Gallery: Player A, Time Traveller

I'm not usually one to go for these blogger challenges unless I can somehow find a way to make a mockery of the whole affair. But lets face it, for the past 2-1/2 months I've had that lame-ass post about Castles & Crusades character classes headlining my stupid blog. I am deeply ashamed.

So I'm desperate to post something--anything!--and there's this A to Z challenge thing that goes on every April. Let's see what comes of this. I don't know if there are any actual rules for this challenge, but I gather from what I've seen on other folks's blogs over the years that each day during April you pick an alphabetically appropriate topic and write about it. Presumably, this forces you to write 26 posts over the course of the month. At the rate I work, I should be done by the end of April 2023.

Looking for a theme to guide my alphabetically inspired month of posting, I struck upon something I toyed with back in '12 but which has since lain fallow. That's right, I'm revisiting my "Rogues Gallery" idea where I was running through the AD&D rulebooks and shedding some light on the various named characters that appear in examples throughout the text. Notably I did a piece on Thigru Thorkisen, the misguided magician who tried to extort spells and magic items from a necromancer colleague, and Gonzo the ranger, possessor of +2 armor.

As anyone familiar with the DMG knows, there is a host of A-based material, as in the "Example of Melee" section there is a whole party--we'll call them the A-team--of players whose names begin with the letter A. There's also someone (or somewhere) called Alamanzaliz, famous for being the namesake of an unspecified artifact that may be in the possession of some island-bound fire giants. And, if we want to get real technical about his letter 'A' business, you could even designate Llewellyn ap-Owen -- his last name sort of begins with 'a', right? -- the Welsh Wizard who employs the treacherous Tregulish Mul as his manservant.

But I prefer the more intriguing--if less originally named--player A from the TIME IN THE CAMPAIGN section of the ol' Guidebook for Mastering Dungeons and those Encounters which happen Within written by E. Gary Gygax (page 37).

What is known of player A? Not much. His race class and, likely even his name are a mystery to us. But we do know that he started adventuring on New Years Day of the year 1000. He and his cronies B, C, and D spent 50 days adventuring before they returned to town and, while his chums chose to rest for a bit, he felt compelled to go seek wisdom from an oracle. Perhaps not coincidentally, on that same day that he left (February 19) new players E and F arrived in search of adventure. Shunned by the remaining party members, E and F set off to the dungeon on their own.

On his trip to the oracle, we learn that player A is accompanied by an elven "companion" of whom no mention was made previously. Did A meet elf en route to the oracle? Were they friends from "B.A." (Before Adventuring)? Is the relationship, dare I say it, romantic? For that matter, is A also an elf?

Regardless of the nature of their relationship, the pair spend 11 days traveling to the oracle, 3 days visiting said font of wisdom, and then trek back to town in a delightfully symmetrical 11 days, arriving back home on Day 75 (March 15th, year 1000 being a leap year) where they encounter the inert B, C, and D who have yet to do anything since they returned from adventuring on day 50. That is to say, it is still February 19th to B,C, ad D. This leaves A in the peculiar position of having to wait for 25 days to pass before his compatriots are released from their temporal stasis.

Here the text of the DMG leaves us hanging: what happens from there? Will A and elf rent a room and further develop their relationship while waiting for the rest of the gang to come out of their amber cocoon? What will the rest of the gang think of A's burgeoning relationship with elf? Will they be resentful? Envious? Confused? And what knowledge did A gain from the visit with the Oracle? A prophecy of the future? Greater self awareness? Inside information on some stock market tips? This temporal quandary may be greatly to A's advantage, as even if the Oracle was just a copy of the Daily Bugle, it was the March 3rd Bugle and A will have had access to information and events up to a fortnight in the future.

Furthermore, back on Day 51, E and F wandered off to the dungeon where they spent a few days successfully clearing out the Big Bad. But when A arrives back in the past, E and F won't be back in town for a few days. Knowing that they will be laden with treasure on their return, A and Elf decide to set up an ambush. With the assistance of a gang of wood elves, they successfully surprise E and F, murder them and toss their bodies in a marsh outside of town. A then uses some of this ill-gotten treasure to place several substantial bets on racehorses that his "Oracle" has advised him will pay off handsomely. To further cement his reputation he successfully predicts a winter thaw that he already experienced during his travels, as well as the precise day on which the thaw ends in a blustering snowstorm, establishing himself as a bit of an oracle in his own right.

When B,C, and D finally do revive from their 25 days of stasis, they find a very wealthy A and his elven lover living in a fine house where he has gained the status of a village elder and nemesis to bookies. Also, and strangely, nothing is ever heard again of players E and F, which is fine because no one really liked them anyway.

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