This is day nine of the Ten Days of Blogging challenge that I am doing with my wife.
A lot of my readers have asked me: Grant, why are you in my house? What are you doing rummaging through my medicine cabinet? And to them, I say: mind your own fucking business! Fewer readers have asked me: Grant, how do you manage to run those incredible Wednesday Night Dungeoncrawls? Well, Fewer Readers, I’m glad you asked!
See, whilst it may seem like the Dungeoncrawls are simply a product of quick wit and eight years experience as a Dungeonmaster, that impression is entirely false. I am almost completely devoid of emotion and imagination, as my friends will attest, and instead of just “making it up” like some frilly-cuffed aesthete I instead reference the Grand Dungeon Tome for every action that my players make.
I can’t include a picture of the Grand Dungeon Tome because it’s too big to fit in the viewfinder of my camera; I believe it was developed much in the same way as old computers, in an era where size was very much an indication of quality and power. The Dungeon Tome is huge; I’m not entirely sure how I managed to bring it to Australia, let alone get it inside my flat. I believe it is slightly larger than my flat.
NOT A SCIENTIST
Within, each chapter heading contains the phrases that I use in the Twitter Dungeoncrawls, although thanks to the 140-character limit I have to cut them down a little to fit. From there, every conceivable action you could perform is documented, along with every character class, and combinations of the two in a special index with text so fine it briefly pops out of the visual spectrum. I view it with a special sort of microscope. I’m not sure what kind, I’m not a scientist; it came free with the Tome.
Anyway; the majority of my time during the Dungeoncrawls is spent frantically cross-referencing every action you take. When you select “funny” classes like “train guard” or “tiny dancer,” that’s incredibly frustrating for me as I have to delve into the joke appendix and cross-reference these so-called “gags” through the Traditionality Matrix. To be honest, most of you just end up getting the responses intended for Bards. I don’t think anyone’s noticed yet.
A MAD ARAB
The hour-long time limit is for two reasons; one, eyestrain, as I struggle to take in all the details of the book and, often literally, read between the lines. (There are glasses that let me do that.) The second reason is much more pedestrian and is merely a matter of tired arms; the vellum the Tome is hand-written on, presumably by a mad arab, is very thick and turning great handfuls of pages at once in an attempt to find precisely what the goblins think when you try to sell them blue moss, for example, can wear out my muscles. In accordance with the scripture located in the back of the book, I am undergoing a regime of push-ups and calesthenics, to be more ready.
I am considering hiring a staff to assist me, but then, the wisdom of the Tome is not for everyone and even the slightest touch can send a man quite insane. There are legends of chapters hidden somewhere that begin “You are reading the GRAND TOME OF DUNGEONS” and, I am told, tell the future of the reader. Or determine it. I have not gone looking for them; I am happy with a life of freelance games journalism and the occasional jaunt into Dungeonmastery. Although, hah, that phrase is perhaps only apt if we pause and realise that perhaps it is the Dungeon that is mastering us, and not the other way around.
And then, of course, comes the process of selecting a winner. Although I’ve said that “I” judged the winner to be such-and-such in the past, the reality is that every entrant’s name is written down on a scrap of paper torn from the five thousand or so pages that make up the “NOTES” section at the back of the manual. These are then placed into a knock-off second string Sorting Hat from that Wizard Book everyone keeps talking about – what a mouth it has on it, what foul language, what threats of blood-curses against my family it mutters in the night from its hat-box atop my bedroom wardrobe – who selects them. Occasionally it tells me that I’m getting it confused with some “Goblet of Fire,” but it talks such tosh that I’m inclined to ignore everything it selects aside from the winners.
And it is good at selecting winners. It manages to select the most interesting player without reading any of the messages that I receive, filtered down to me by pigeon from the internet post we have on the roof of our building here in the wilderness of Australia. Perhaps it’s reading my mind? I don’t know. Often I wake up and I am wearing it.
BLOOD AND MEMORIES
Anyway. It is with great excitement and a little trepidation that I can announce the Dungeon Tome is finally beginning to pay for itself. Although, not in kind! After all, who pays in blood and memories these days? No; popular tech journalism outlet Gizmodo have, in their infinite wisdom, decided to hire me for money as a professional Dungeon Master once per week. They are giving me the keys to their Twitter account, and letting me steer it. Letting the Tome speak through to their 6,000-odd followers.
Unlike everything else in this piece, the bit about Gizmodo is true. This is ridiculous. I am, very much, living the dream. Although not the dreams that the hat gives me, when I fall asleep and it sneaks upon my head and whispers malevolent nothings in my ear. Better dreams than those.
Anyway; tonight, I shall lead another crawl. And from next week, after I have made my way to Melbourne and back for PAX, I will be sockpuppeting the Gizmodo account for my own nefarious ends. What joy!