Dungeon Masters all tend to run their own style of game. Some like complex puzzle-solving dungeons with complex traps and mysteries involving hidden rooms and old secrets. I admit to having done that. Some like hack-and-slash adventures where the slaying of hordes of mindless monsters can last for hours. I admit to having done less of that. And some, like me, are all about the people… even if the people happen to be monsters. Monsters can be people too, right? Just ask Herman Munster.
And my favorite kind of character is the random buffoon or fool who is essential to the plot.
Eli Tragedy is such a fool. He began as a computer character whom I used as me in a long ago 80’s computer D & D game called The Bard’s Tale. It was mostly about collecting doodads and dimbledy-dumb in dungeons, and finding the right keyholes, eyeless idols, or shop keeper to use them with. But later incarnations were also me, but as a very wise but outwardly idiotic wizard who always knew the answers to the sphinx’s riddles, but would never tell until it was funny to do so. He also had a number of apprentices. Bob was rather dim. But he could do light spells pretty good… so Eli sent him down dark tunnels to see what might be down there that would want to eat him. Usually over the objections of the player-characters who really wanted to know what was down there, but had grown fond of Bob and his blunderings. And even burly fighters with a lust for treasure can actually have a heart.
Mickey the wererat, was another apprentice who caused more than his fair share of chaos. (A wererat, as I’m sure you know, is a lycanthrope that is human by day, but turns into a rat-man by night.) Mickey had a penchant for stealing the wizard’s magic hat and using it to do horrendously stupid things that created really big messes for the player characters to clean up. How do you stop an army of sentient gummibears bent on painting your castle with pink frosting? It had to be dealt with. (And why did Eli keep that old hat around, anyway? He never used it for anything beyond letting Mickey steal it.)
And, of course, there was the incident with the mermaid whom the players rescued from the Black Reef. She was a bard with a harp and quite capable of making the magical music that helps dungeon divers do their dirty-work deep in the dungeon dwellings of dangerous denizens.
They rescued her, and thanks to a fins to feet spell, were able to take her back to Sharn, the City of Towers, to be the bard for their adventuring group. Unfortunately the fins to feet magic does not include a summon pants spell in it. And how do you convince a mermaid to wear an article of clothing that no other mermaid ever needs to wear?
Walking around town with no pants, however, proved to be a boon in disguise. (Boon as in a good thing, not short for baboon. That would be another tangent entirely, a baboon in disguise.)
The owner of the Broken Anvil Inn, where the adventuring team was living, asked the mermaid to go on stage for a song. She started to sing a seriously sorcery-sort of song… while not wearing pants, and became an overnight sensation in Sharn. She helped his business so much that he offered the adventuring party a place to park their carcass permanently. So now, if you go to the Broken Anvil Inn in Sharn, it is pretty likely the entertainment will be the Princess Anduriel, mermaid bard, singing and playing the harp. And she still won’t be wearing any pants. The crowd loves her for it.
So it should be obvious to you now the kind of Dungeon Master I truly am. And it will also help to explain why my kids are totally mortified by the idea of me dungeon-mastering for their friends. “But, Dad! We have to be able to show our faces in school Monday morning you know!”