Shut Up and Roll #2: That's No Moon




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    Shut Up and Roll #2: That's No Moon

    It was a good old-fashioned mexican standoff.

    Sitting in my sanctum sanctorum (a.k.a. living room), I silently eyed the three goons from across the top of my GM screen.

    They warily eyed me back.

    I slowly reached into my bag of Cheetos and grabbed a handful of the golden nuggets...

    ...which caused one of the players to involuntarily flinch.

    Ha! Weaklings.

    I knew I had won the contest of wills, so I smiled as I deliberately crammed my mouth with crunchy, powdery, orange goodness.

    “So, where were we?” I asked through the Cheetos stuffed in my mouth. The flincher spoke up.

    “Well, we stopped last week in some caves. You had just screamed something about robots before jumping up and running out. Oh, and Bob won’t be here this week. Or any other. He quit- for real.”

    “Bob?” I asked. So that was his name. Huh... I never knew that. I hoped Bob was so much bat fodder somewhere deep in the bowels of the Caves of Infinity. Without further preamble, I launched into the week’s session.

    “You are being held in detention level 216. Imperial Stormtroopers flank the door to your cell. You have no weapons-” I was interrupted by my ringing cellphone, which I stared at as it angrily vibrated across the table.

    “You going to answer that?” one of the cretins asked. I gave him a disgusted look and picked up the phone. I saw it was my agent and almost ignored the call. He had been hounding me relentlessly for three days, wanting an update on the Mike Tyson musical- one I was loathe to give him. Figuring it was time to face the executioner, I pushed the talk button and launched a preemptive opening salvo.

    “Listen, the man’s a psychopath! Impossible to work with under any circumstances! He sicked his tiger on me for Bhaal’s sake! The damned thing almost tore my face off!”

    I could tell it wasn’t working so I continued with another volley. “Not to mention the way he kept staring at my ears- like a starving dog lusting after a scrap of rancid meat!”

    “I wasn’t calling about that. I was calling about EN World.”

    I was relieved. Then confused. “EN-whosa-what?”

    He was exasperated. “EN World! Come on, man- you just started writing a weekly column for them? Delivered the first one last week? Does any of this ring a bell?”

    “Sure thing,” I lied. “What about it? And make it snappy- I’m in the middle of creative time.”

    “They called me and wanted to know what the hell that was you delivered last week. It was supposed to be an article on the ecology of the aboleth.”

    “Yeah, and that’s what I delivered to those sightless Morlocks!”

    “No, you didn’t! I just read that trainwreck. You used the word ‘aboleth’ once... in passing.”

    “Aboleth’s were the main crux of that column!” I whined. “Maybe it was too deep and philosophical... I guess I could write down to their level next time.”

    “That’s not the problem. It was garbage, plain and simple. It didn’t even illicit one response or comment. The readers couldn’t even waste the time to say it sucked.”

    My ego scoffed in hurt outrage. “What do I care for the opinions of bleating sheep? They wouldn’t know genius if it reared up and bit them on the arse!”

    By this point, my agent was beyond mad. “You better care about those sheep! Listen, dummy- if you don’t have readers, those ‘blind morlocks’ at EN World will pull your column. Which means you don’t make money!”

    He had a point. One needed money to keep one’s self fully provisioned in Mountain Dew and Cheetos.

    “OK, OK. I will redo the aboleth thing.”

    “And this week they want you to write about what makes a good GM.”

    “Oh... uh... I was planning on doing something about the new Star Wars game. Fantasy Flight Games just released the beta and-”

    He cut me off. “Don’t do it. Aboleth. Then what makes a good GM. Nothing else. Got it?”

    “Sure thing," I lied again and hung up.

    Three sets of dull idiotic eyes watched as I slowly put down the phone and picked up a handful of dice. “Roll,” I commanded.

    The baboons were confused. “Roll what? Attack? Initiative? What game are we even playing? How did we end up in space jail?”

    “Shut. Up. And. Roll,” I answered as I chucked my dice onto the table.

    The idiots stumbled over themselves as they rushed to comply. To unnerve them even further, I appeared to contemplate their rolls for a time, occasionally shaking my head in mock sympathy.

    “Not good. Not good at all. Luckily, the most important thing is that you have fun. As you know, that is always my goal,” I crooned. This left the simians scratching their heads as they glanced nervously at each other, but I didn’t think the saps were buying it.

    “Time for another tactic! Shazam!” As a loud crack pealed through the air and the room filled with smoke and blinding flashes of light, I used my uncanny ability to become unstuck in game.

    I was then sitting at a computer station in detention level 216. Red and green lights blinked and blipped and bleeped across the control surface. Stormtroopers and Death Star Guards- the yin and yang of every respectable technological terror- strode purposely past as I fiddled with knobs and levers. Eventually, on a small video screen embedded in the center of the console, I was able to see my hapless victims in their cell. I flipped on the intercom to address them.

    “You are being held in detention level 216. Imperial Stormtroopers flank the door to your cell. You have no weapons. You have no tools. You have nothing but your clothes. You are on the Death Star. What do you do?”

    The frightened neanderthals began to grunt and screech in terror. I smiled in grim satisfaction as I continued.

    “You have been charged with terrorism and treason for associating with the Rebels. You are scheduled for termination in five hours time.”

    They started to shout something about using the force to open the door- or mind trick the guards- or some other such nonsense.

    “Sorry, wrong answer. This is the Beta universe... you can’t become a Jedi for at least another year!”

    This led to more terrified grunting and screeching. Finally, once the caterwauling subsided, they decided to hotwire the door controls using a belt buckle. I was not up to listening to their pitiful wailing for the next four hours, so I allowed them to succeed.

    “Okay, somehow you managed to pool enough intellect to to figure out how to open the cell door. The two bugbears standing guard immediately turn in surprise.”

    “Bugbears? Uhh.....On the Death Star?” one of them asked.

    I quickly realized I was using the wrong campaign notes. There was no way I was going to let these clowns know that, so I improvised. I waved a hand across the control panel and lights began to flash and sirens to wail. A panicked voice sounded across the intercom- “The Death Star is under attack! I repeat, the Death Star is under attack!”

    “You nancy boys are on your own! Hope you make it out alive! NOT!” I shouted over the sirens before shooting out of my seat and out the door. I knew they had a snowball’s chance in hades to escape the imminent destruction of this fully operational battle-station, but I didn’t care. Players are expendable... that’s my motto.

    I quickly made my way to docking bay 42 where my mighty steed, Face Melt, awaited. I clambered onto the ancient red dragon’s back while shouting “Away! Fly you fool!” She paused long enough to glance back at me with a bored look before spreading her voluminous amber wings and rocketting into the vacumless void surrounding the rapidly vacating Death Star.

    I cackled madly as we sped away. Now this is living! Escaping certain doom on the back of freaking dragon! I turned back just in time to see the gi-normous explosion that signaled the end of the emperor’s latest toy. I guess the nincompoops didn’t make it. This thought made me sad for exactly .000000000789 seconds before I was interrupted by my beeping phone.

    It was a voicemail from my agent.

    “OK... now I’m calling about the musical. Where are we at with Crazy About Pigeons?”

    Oh, shazbot. That reminded me I still needed to fulfil my contractual obligation on the aboleth article.

    Aboleths are big.
    And scary.
    And strong.
    And they will totally kick your teeth in.

    There... that should do it!
    ...

    Join me next time as I visit the most decadent and depraved of all the conventions- New York Comic-Con! Plus- I go full on Martha Stewart when I discuss new uses for old character sheets.


    Previous Installments:
    #1: Out of the Caves of Infinity... and Beyond!

    Last edited by Stouthart; Saturday, 13th October, 2012 at 03:04 AM.
    Mild mannered programmer by day, earth’s mightiest gamer by night... he is... the Stupendous Stouthart!

    Check out my new weekly EN World column Shut Up and Roll each Friday in October.

    “You have nice manners for a thief and a liar," said the dragon.”
    ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

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