Where I picked up on the scene, the gang were standing at the edge of Lake Abysmal and putting on the infinite-oxygen aqualungs that Gus had found inside a stray wooden canoe nearby. But Hanna, it seemed, had for some reason already launched her character, Wilteria the Wise, into the water, and had gotten herself cornered by a group of defensive mer-warriors. She was presently arguing with the GM (that's slang for Game Master) about the injustice of these consequences, which seemed, in my opinion at least, perfectly legitimate.
"You already used all your mer-people defense bonus points," growled Erick (I'll call him the GM from now on, to keep it impersonal) at Wilteria. "You got your ass handed to you, you've been drowning for seven minutes, and your magic doesn't work anymore."
Hanna slammed her thick fist down on the table and made an ugly grunting noise. (I'm not entirely sure how I'm supposed to document things like this, but I'll just go with my intuition.)
"But I've got level 3 swimming, remember?" she pleaded.
"Yeah, but you're wearing a full suit of armor..." he countered.
"I'll just take it off!"
"In the water, while you're sinking?"
"Dude!" Hanna protested. "Mer-people can't kill me! I made my character specifically for that! That's why I chose mer-people as my second language and everything! You can't just say 'the mer-people kill you'! I mean can't I just convince them to let me go?"
"I already told you, these are western mer-people, they don't know what you're saying because you studied the eastern dialect."
"You just made that up though! There was no choice for western dialect when I picked my languages! If you changed the rules, you should have said something! It says right here on page 34, "mer-people language". That's it. That's the only language. If there's another dialect, it has to be really similar!"
"It's all part of the plot, Hanna," said Erick patiently. "You'll see why later."
"But I'll DIE, you dick! We just started! Just let me roll and see if I can swim out of it!"
Erick rolled his eyes and looked around for support, but the rest of the gamers were starting to get impatient. So he gave up. "Fine. Roll a D-20. You can swim to shore on 3 or below."
Hanna drew herself up proudly. "THANK you, GAH!"
She picked up the purple D-20 (note: that’s slang for 20-sided-dice) and threw it across the table, where it bounced off my lap and onto the floor.
"12!", I shouted. I was very glad to be helpful.
"You die," said Erick. "You shouldn't have gone under without aqualungs, I mean honestly, that was pretty stupid, admit it."
"Whatever!" Hanna snapped. "This game is so stupid!" (note: ask about dice falling on floor procedure – is there special rule?)
"Anyway..." Back in game mode, Erick addressed the group. "What were you all doing?"
"We just jumped into the water and now we’re gonna avenge Hanna! We’re gonna kick their mer-people asses!" shouted Gus, (I mean, Alabastor the Warrior Prince.) "Right everyone?!"
"Yeah! Let's get 'em!" agreed Valcor (the hybrid beast-man), and the others nodded in enthusiastic consent.
"How many of them are there? You said 30, right?"
"About 30," said Erick.
"We should take the King and the rest will surrender!" Alabastor suggested. "Are any of the mer-people wearing a crown?"
"No," said Erick. "But, they're all females except for one, and he's surrounded by about 5 of the hottest ones."
"He's totally the king," said Valcor.
"Yeah, for sure,” Alabastor agreed.
"So... so it's like bees!" said Alabastor, who was clearly racking his brain trying to solve this puzzle. "Except, the other way around. It's like they're worker mer-people then... so if we kill the king, they'll all die!" he proudly declared. Then he eyed Erick questionably. "Well? ...Is that it?"
"I can't tell you," said Erick. "But... you might be onto something." And he winked.
"What do you think, gang??" said Alabastor happily to the group at large.
"Let's do it!" someone shouted. "GET HIM!"
"Wait wait!" said Alabastor. "The king still hasn't seen any of us, right? Except for Hanna."
"Okay, we should all take out our bows and arrows and aim them at the king, and then we'll all shoot him at once! That way if one of us misses, we'll still probably kill him. Ok, Erick, I'm telling them to hold their fire until my count. And just to be clear, so everyone will understand, I’m going to count down from 5, but only say, 5, 4, 3, and they count down the other 2 in their heads, like in the movies – well, you know what I mean... just so the mer-people don't get suspicious.”
"Good plan," said Valcor. "And also, while I'm aiming at the king, I'm keeping an eye on the other ones in case they try something."
"Good thinking!" said Alabastor. "And I'm looking around at them too, because I'm trying to figure out which one I'm going to try to score with, after we kill the king."
"But I thought they were all going to die after we kill the king," said Hanna.
"You're dead Hanna..." the GM pointed out unnecessarily. (Note- She was supposed to be quiet if her character was dead)
"Crap, you're right though," said Gus. "Is there any chance one of them will survive after we kill the king?"
"I haven't even told you whether or not they're going to die at all when you kill the king,” said the GM. “In fact I haven't even said that he's the king."
"But you did wink!" said Parker. (I, too, had noticed this. It seemed that sometimes Erick would give out a clue, and then later decide that he probably shouldn't have)
"Well, probably at least one of them will survive, I would think," said Gus, winking questionably at Erick. "Are any of the mer-women looking at me differently? You know, like, differently...?"
"There's a fat one that's trying to hide behind a clump of seaweed. She's looking at you like she probably has the hots for you, but she's really shy."
Alabastor sighed. "What about any of the other ones?"
"No, just that one."
"Do mer-women have vaginas?"
"I can't tell you that."
"Can I use my x-ray spell?"** (Gus = awesome*)
"Sure, use that."
"Okay what's her defense level?"
"But you said she's shy, right? So it should be lowered..."
"No, she's tough."
"But she won't be expecting me," Gus argued.
"No dude, it's 7 okay?" said Erick. "She's been working out because she has nothing better to do. She's ready for anything, she knows judo, okay? But, I shouldn't have told you that."
Valcor gasped. "AHA! Soooo, the mer-people have probably been studying with Master Juijimbo, from the Northern Seas of Black Destiny! Right?"
Parker looked so excited he was probably peeing on himself. "I knew it all along!" he kept shouting.
"That's a clever plot twist," said Dwayne. "It really is! Props for that, Erick."
"I knew it the whole time!" Parker gloated.
"No you didn't." said Erick.
"I did too!” Parker argued. “I just didn't say anything, because I didn't want everyone else to know! I thought it might be to my advantage later.”
"Hey that's not cool, man," Dwayne told him, looking offended. "We're all a team here, new kid, we tell each other stuff, that's how this works. If you want to play against us, you should have made a villain character."
"I DID make a villain character, I'm a vampire! That's what I keep trying to tell you, I’m like, why am I even hanging out with all these warrior guys when I'm an evil vampire?"
"You never said you were doing anything else," Erick pointed out, reasonably. "Anyway, it’s true we usually always play as a team here, so if that's not your thing, maybe you should find another group."
"There's not another group, but fine. Whatever."
“You couldn’t have known anyway,” said Hanna as an afterthought. “How could you have known? You weren’t even with us when we met Master Juijimbo...”
(Parker looked awkward, I don’t know if he realized that Master Juijimbo was an actual character they had met, not a famous person he might have known about. Either way, he was definitely lying about knowing. The poor confused kid, always starving for attention...)
"Okay anyway." said Erick. "Where were we?"
"I'm about to shoot my x-ray spell at the fat one who likes me," said Gus promptly.
"Why?" Parker asked.
"Keep up with the game, Parker," said Gus feigning patience. "To see if she has a vagina, so I know if I should try to hook up with her or if we can just kill the king and not worry about it."
"Oh,” said Parker.
"Roll a D-20, Gus." said Erick. (X-ray/gender manipulation – p.230 manual 2. Taking personal note to remember this formula. If Alabastor has a Magic Prowess rank of 14, and the mer-woman has a Gender Mask defense rating of 7 – then a success would happen if Gus rolls anywhere between 10-16. So complicated, and yet, so simple!!)
Gus picked up a black D-20 from the middle of the table and rolled it gracefully. It landed on 10, and he asked Erick excitedly, "Yes! What happened?"
"You shot your x-ray spell and it hit her in the face." said Erick. "It sort of worked, because you found out that she does have a vagina, AND that she's a virgin, but it also exploded in her eye sockets and her brains went flinging everywhere. The rest of her body got blown up too just from the sheer force of it. Her tail fin is still connected to some of her intestines, but her skin and everything else got scattered all around, so, she's dead."
"Gross!" said Hanna. "You're disgusting! That was so uncalled for."
"That's just what happened," said Erick. (I kept thinking that Erick was going to make Hanna sit in the front of the store for not remembering that her character was dead and she kept talking anyways. But maybe he doesn’t have the authority to do that. Maybe she’s Gus’s girlfriend or sister or something.)
"Did any gold or anything come out of her brain when it exploded?" asked Gus. (I would never! think to ask that --Gus is so amazing)
"No.” Erick said. “BUT! as you watch the pieces of her fat and flesh sink to the ground, you notice that whenever it hits the ground, it sprouts up into a whole new mer-person!"
Everyone gasped. "Wow! Nice twist!" said Gus.
"Are they eastern or western mer-people?" asked Hanna.
"It doesn't matter, they're dumb. They're like, retarded. You can't talk to them."
"But I have bargaining level 6!" said Hanna, desperate to be back in the game.
"It doesn't matter!" said Erick. "That only works if you can TALK TO THEM you idiot." (and she was supposed to be dead. I mean, I like Hanna, but honestly? They're retarded, speak a different dialect and she wants to bargain with them? Floating dead under water?)
"Maybe we can trade with them, give them those trinkets we found in that swamp that was haunted by the Pegasus Ghost?" Alabastor suggested.
"They don't want those."
"Damn!" said Dwayne. "Good try though, Gus."
"Do I get bonus karma points for the idea at least?" said Gus.
"Yeah, Erick, he totally should, that was a really good idea," said Dwayne.
"Okay, but your karma is immediately cancelled out because you accidentally call the mer-King a motherfucker in mer-language." said Erick.
"What?! How did that happen? He doesn't even see us yet, remember? YOU SAID he doesn't see us yet."
"Yeah, but that was like 5 minutes ago, and he swam up after the whole thing where you exploded his daughter with your x-ray."
"That was his daughter?! Woah! Crazy!” said Dwayne, Hanna, and Parker, in so many words.
“But I didn’t do that, though!” Gus argued. “I didn't call him a motherfucker or anything, I don't even know mer-language, that was Hanna's skill in the first place! AND you said they were western ones anyway, so they wouldn’t..."
"I said you 'Accidentally' called him that, duh. You just coughed and it sounded like it."
"I coughed underwater?"
"Your magic aqualungs make you able to cough normally." -- (This game is so awesomely complex – I can hardly wait to be as good at it as these guys)
But the game was interrupted by Grandpa Bunker, who as this story has been told, was carrying chow mein noodles. "Hey kids," he said, his voice quivering with age but a warm grin ringing through his tone. The thing about Grandpa Bunker was that he was kind. Sure, the kids knew he was blind, and a few had thought about sneaking out of the store with a comic book, and maybe this explained Grandpa Bunker. It was true he undoubtedly had the acute hearing that came with a lifetime of blindness and would more than likely hear a comic book crinkling its way out the door in the hands of a self serving teenager. But that's not why people didn't steal. They didn't steal because they knew that he would not have said anything. Perhaps had he been more anxious to anger, or exhibited judgement in that resentful way that some elders exhibit towards youngsters, maybe they would have been more prone to steal. But he was one of those people that the town not only liked, but also protected in their own small way.
"Hey grandpa," said Gus. "Is that chow mein?"