Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blast from the Past - HeroQuest

I was cleaning out some old e-mails today and I found my very first e-mail that I sent to my yahoo e-mail address. It was an apology story I wrote for my HeroQuest character Niran. It was called "Niran's Last Stand." It brought to life so many memories and also felt linked into what I'm playing right now with my husband.

I talk about HeroQuest all the time in my gaming circles. It was really one of the first games that made me fall in love with adventure-based-campaign-style "RPG" games. We started this every-Sunday campaign back in 2004. Our Friend Jim (Rook - Barbarian), his brother (Stoli - Dwarf), my husband (Zephyr - Elf), and myself (Niran - Wizard) would be the merry band of adventurers who would travel on a custom mod created by my husband. I had never played something like this before and I was excited for several reasons: 1) I was learning about creating your own dice off of blank dice. 2) I was learning about developing characters through a game. 3) I would get to play something my husband was excited about and created. Clearly this was a win for everyone!

We planned this all in advance. We picked a neutral and consistent location to play at. In-between all of our places of residence was Jim and his brother's parents house. They also had a HUGE dining room table. We could also then have a family dinner night with Jim's parent's each Sunday. We even cooked one of the nights. We'd get snacks and spend all afternoon on a campaign. This was so exciting for me and it was time being spent with people we loved being with and we had so much fun!

Playing HeroQuest was also a huge learning curve for me. I think I was still fostering some rather naive attitudes towards gaming. Granted, I was surrounded by three very strong personalities who had grown up with gaming and were rather arrogant about how things like this should be. I was a non-traditional-girl-non-traditional-geek-non-traditional-gamer. I didn't fit into anything other than wanting to be open-minded about the interests of the people I enjoyed being around more than anything. So I had some problems gaming that bothered the boys I was playing with. To not spend forever explaining, I had some spoiled-brat tendencies. When the random non-success would happen, I'd get kind of whinny.

So halfway through our questing, we hit a quest where, by the walking through a door, I was stripped of all my powers. I was a fire wizard and didn't really have weapons or healing or would function in any way as a benefit to my comrades. I thought this was so unfair and I was so upset. So when it came my turn to battle the creatures, I was out of things to do it and the "dungeon master" (AKA my HUSBAND) rolled for rocks to fall and bury me.  I was out.

The dangers of playing with, well,. . . your husband. . . is that if things go wrong you don't get to walk away from the issue. The whole car ride home and that evening and the next day. . .the issue was huge. My character was dead. I wasn't going to be involved anymore. The questing could not go on without me. I was so upset and so frustrated. In that one instance there were so many accusations flying between the two of us and, by day 2 of not talking, I spent the evening writing an apology of sorts. It was called. . . "Niran's Last Stand."

Niran's Last Stand

In the dark labyrinth of the dungeon, Niran lay lifeless under a pile of rubble, thrown onto him during his battle with an armored centipede. Slowly, something stirred beneath the rocks. A hand emerged from the pile and Niran pushed himself from his grave. Upon him are several bandages, acquired during a previous quest. As he stands up, he summons a small ball of light to help him see and he notices his equipment is missing. He wonders if his comrades had thought he was dead and salvaged his equipment as they left. Somewhat taken aback by his companion's actions, he is not upset, as he understands why.

His tiny light shows him all that has happened. Dead bodies of centipedes and orcs, and those pesky femirs are scattered everywhere. Niran notices falling rubble blocks off his path to the stairs. Everything starts coming back to him; His anger at being stripped of his spells and his self-consciousness about his abilities as a fighter that forced him to abandon his own comrades. His heart swells with anger at the realization of his actions and he makes an oath to find his friends and make things right again.

Niran started to fumble through the dark corridors and over the bodies of dead monsters. He arrived at the secret door that stripped him of his power and slowly enters the room. He passes through the small empty hole and through another door. He senses a great battle has occurred somewhere nearby and decides to carefully explore the dungeon to possibly find answers and to see if maybe his friends are still somewhere nearby.

Several hours later, Niran emerged from the lair of the fire mage. As he did so, he felt a rush of warmth run over his body as his spells returned to him and he once again could perform his most primary actions. Niran started to make his way up to Fysmahluh in the Black Crags. As he entered the town, he tried to think of where his friends may have gone. He checks the smithies and the pubs, but no sign of his friends. Then he sees a Dwarf with a familiar insignia and begs his assistance in locating his friends. This Dwarf's name is Cogha and says that he is a member of Stoli's tribe, having just helped him to improve upon one of his special skills. Cogha mentions that he saw the group making their way towards a pub at the back of the town where gambling typically takes place. Niran, understanding his comrades' obsession with odds and financial gain, tracks them down.

As he enters the establishment, he sees Stoli and Rook at a table playing Black Jack, not wanting to disrupt any luck they may have been having, Niran looks around for Zephyr. He sees Zephyr sitting by the fire in the back corner of the pub sipping something warm. Niran remembers how Zephyr was injured by the earwig and guesses he has been cured and has decided to rest before their long journey back to the Imperial City.

Niran approached Zephyr and sat down across from him. A flash of anger passed through Zephyr's eyes and he readjusted himself.

"So you lived. Rook said he found you dead," Zephyr said coldly. "Maybe it would have been better for you to stay there."

"Maybe. But that is not what was intended."

"Why are you here? You probably want your weapons."

"The weapons are not what has brought me here. I came to find the three of you and to make amends."

"And what amends would that be? For breaking the very essence of that which binds us?" Zephyr started to become agitated.

"I understand the full implications of what I have done, punishable by the fate which was robbed from me, but I wanted the three of you to tell me what it is that you want. I am full of contempt for my actions and am far from ever entertaining thoughts of that type again. If I do, let me be struck down by your own hand, if not by the hand of our enemies."

Zephyr thought over the wizard's sincere words before responding, "I know you are young, Niran, and full of angst, quick to action, and quite irrational at times, but you have served us well until this point. Let us wait for Stoli and Rook before we agree to anything."

We did talk and I submitted my story at the next meeting and they allowed for me to be part of the quest again. With, of course, the understanding that I will NEVER question the dungeon master again. I was not allowed ALL my equipment back and had to buy some new stuff. This was a story I always kept close to my heart, because it was my first RPG experience where I could understand what this part of the geek world was all about.

I also just have to say, this feels so very geeky thinking back on it all. This reflection conjured up all those images of D&D gamers on TV shows and in cartoons and it kind of makes me giggle. I've always been a geek. . . or a nerd. . . and I just never connected it to anything. I never had a term for it or I was in denial or that being what I was, because of certain mindsets I was raised with. Kind of a nice moment.

How did the whole adventure end? That is for another day. . . and was a huge lesson in getting involved in games that demand a commitment from other people.