Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Bastard Son of a Peasant

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I have knowingly and without shame taken part in role-playing games. With huges books of rules and weapons, character sheets and dice with more than six sides. And I’m not ashamed of the fact either.

I blame, as always, Balders. He introduced us to a space RPG called Traveller which we played across his dining room table along with drink, takeaway food, drink and painful, unpleasant death. I remember my limp body being thrown repeatedly against a forcefield on a ship full of alien spunk until it blew up, taking everybody else with me.

My brother, on hearing this news, summed it all up succintly: “You bunch of sad wankers.”

But it was not enough. Soon, I fell in with another bunch of over-educated layabouts, and we started playing a game called "En Garde!" By post. That's right, not man enough to go out and meet people, we actually played by post. EG! is neither space nor Middle Earth dungeon, rather France in the time of Louis Quatorze. The premise is simple: arrive in Paris as a raw D’Artagnan type, and fight, toady, shag and double-cross your way to the top of the greasy pole, whilst remaining, deep down a sad bastard with a thick rule book and a zip-up Monster Munch pencil case of multi-sided dice.

One of the unwritten rules of the game is that your character’s name must include a dreadful pun. Hence legions of Duncan de Baucheries, Rennes O’Clios and Gordon Zolas. I kept mine to the point: Pompt de Pompt-pompt. He arrived in the big city, the lowest of the low - the bastard son of a peasant - and stayed there. It was only after six months cheating death at the front, that his infamy and fortune were secured with a knighthood and a big sack of booty. Time to get back to Paris and get laid.

I specialised in two things - boinking other players’ mistresses while they were away, fighting at the front for King and country; and robbing other players’ houses while they were away, fighting at the front for King and country. I was, it has to be said, a bit of a bounder. It was also the only sex I was getting outside of my left hand.

The most difficult part was the “female companionship” rule. You had to be seen in public at least once a turn with one of the local female nobility on your arm - going under the groan-making name of Helen Highwater or suchlike - otherwise you’d lose status for “enjoying the company of men”. At the same time, you’d still have to visit your club, toady to royalty, do your regimental duties, and still remember to get up at dawn to skewer your enemies on the duelling grounds. This left precious little time to be a bastard, but you know, needs must and all that.

Pompt came to a messy end. Uncovered as the Purple Vegetable, a robber, cad, all-round bad guy. A spy for the Spanish AND the British whilst sharing the bed with half the high-born mistresses in Paris, they queued up six deep to hack him to death on the Champs de Mars. His last words were “Hey! Mind where you point that thing, you could have someone’s eye out.”

And that ends my confession. I know the score - three Hail Marys and 3d12 damage. I won’t do it again. Honest.

Cluedo, anyone?

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