Las Confesiones de Sor Teresa

I’ve been charged with writing up last night’s session — the one where the GM was, quite literally, on the floor laughing — but it’s easier said than done. Mental mistakes were made, and it’s difficult for me (the person who made them) to quite reconstruct why. However, I’ll do my best.

We were looking for one last artifact: a pistol with a medallion embedded in it that belonged to one Colonel Beauregard. We’d been sent to a rather unfortunate moment in the past, however — the past self of one of our party, James Jadwin, had just knocked over a bank with his partners. Beauregard was hot on their trail. We could hear the hounds baying in the distance. We were going to have a hard time explaining our presence in that snowy field at midnight, so we took to our heels and ran.

Jadwin urged us not to hide the same place as his younger self, fearing that we might lead the posse there. I told him that if the posse caught us and thought he was himself (so to speak) we could say, “No, no, this isn’t James Jadwin. The *real* James Jadwin is hidden in the tanner’s shed!” Jadwin thought this was a bad idea.

We came to an apparently abandoned barn. But when Jackie “Fingers” McGuire opened the door, someone shot at us. Using a hitherto undemonstrated power, Fingers was able to let the bullet pass through his body without harming him.

“Stop shooting!” he shouted. “We don’t want to hurt you!”

But the fellow in the barn (one of Jadwin’s gang, presumably) shot at us again. So Jackie blew his face off. That boy always was hot-headed.

Of course, the posse heard the shots and came to investigate. Jackie tried to explain, but was stumbling through it, so I took over. I told the posse we’d been weathering the storm in the barn when this bandito came upon us and shot at us. In self defense we blew off his face. The deputy sheriff looked through his stack of wanted posters, and I identified the man we’d killed as “James Jadwin”. There was a $500 reward for Jadwin, and we were all set to collect it the next day.

It wasn’t Jadwin, of course, and *our* Jadwin, 24 years older than the one they were looking for, was just laying low and trying not to attract attention. He was trying to look as old as possible. I identified him as my nephew Alfonso, at one point, which caused a bit of confusion.

I asked the deputy sheriff a few questions about Beauregard and the army, and was starting to feel quite at ease. This is where I get a little hazy. I believe our Jadwin expressed relief at not having been caught. He didn’t say it in language the deputy sheriff would understand, however, but said something like “Boy, I’m not going to get any sleep tonight!”

Aaaaand… that’s when Sor Teresa had her astounding brain fart. Completely forgetting that the deputy sheriff was standing RIGHT THERE, she says loudly, “Yeah, JAMES JADWIN is going to need some clean pants!”

And that just about did in our GM. He laughed. He laughed until his face turned red and tears streamed down his face and he ended up sitting on the floor HOWLING. We were all laughing, even me (although I punctuated it with “Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!!)(Sor Teresa has Tourette’s, apparently).

Josh let us off easy. He shouldn’t have, but he was so out of breath he didn’t have the will to look up all the fiddly Deadlands combat procedures. The deputy sheriff was astute enough to realize that the dead man wasn’t Jadwin — his hair was the wrong color — but he didn’t realize Jadwin was in our party. We got $100 instead of $500, and Scott took back my MVP award (which he’d given me for convincing the guy that Jadwin was dead).

Now I will say, I had the power to spend a blue chip and become an avenging angel of death, and I would’ve done it if the posse had really gotten wise to us and tried to do us harm. It would’ve been completely my fault, so I owed it to the party to fix it. However, anyone who looked upon me would’ve had to make a sanity roll, I was that terrifying, and even if I had warned everybody to close their eyes, I don’t think anybody would’ve done it (unless *maybe* Doug — he has pretty strong self-preservation instincts).

So then the whole party would’ve been insane. But, as Josh might say: “This is different, *how*???”

James Jadwin – 1840-1886. RIP.

OK, maybe I shouldn’t be have been surprised.

Last night my Deadlands character James Jadwin was struck dead by God. Frankly, I’m surprised that God had the balls to do it.

In our continuing quest to put back together the universe that we had so blithely destroyed, our party had acquired the last of three artifacts: an obsidian knife, a medallion-adorned pistol, and a jeweled crucifix. Orders from God, relayed through Sor Teresa, were that we were to place these around the canyon where our characters previously shattered time, and so contain the explosion.

So we have the artifacts, and we travel back in time to the canyon. Who should we see going into the canyon but ourselves, on our way to the Nevadan silver mine where it all started?

Suddenly it hits me … we could either put God’s plan into action, deploying the artifacts around the cavern, or else we could try something much easier—just warn ourselves not to shoot that damned Clock!

Thoughts race through my mind. Do we really want to put God’s plan into action, when God has bungled things so badly already? How do we know that this really is God’s plan? We only had Sor Teresa’s word to go by, and you can imagine what that’s worth! Why waste these cool occult artifacts on a containment field, when a simple holler would do just as well?

Then the metaphysical worries kick in … is it actually possible to alter the past? If I shout at the party of adventurers below, will they hear me, and heed my warning? Of course it must be possible to change the past—isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to do here? I figure that there’s actually little to lose—if it is possible to change the past, then I will be able to shout, and stop the tragedy of the exploding universe before it starts. If it’s not possib le, then I will somehow fail to give a warning.

So I shout “Hey! Don’t shoot the clock!” It was really the only option. Suddenly, before the words can come out of my mouth, I’m stricken dead. Technically speaking, it might have been a heart attack, or maybe a stroke. But no matter. We all know that really I was struck down by the hand of God.

I’ve been pondering why. At first I thought it was obvious—God killed me so my actions wouldn’t alter the past, and destroy the timeline, and wreak havoc upon the world a second time. (I refuse to comment as to whether this was what I was really hoping to accomplish in the first place.) But upon further reflection, that doesn’t make any sense—the whole purpose of our mission was to alter the past, and prevent the universe from being destroyed. So altering the past clearly couldn’t create some kind of catastrophic failure. So we were definitely supposed to alter the past.

The problem is, of course, that I came up with a simpler and better way to save the universe than God did. I made him look bad. So the bitch slapped me down. Hard. Vindictive bitch.

There was a happy ending of sorts … my dying prayer was to be saved by the beautiful goddess Althea. My prayer was granted, as I found myself in Her universe for my afterlife. James Jadwin has successfully emigrated from this universe to enter paradise, thereby making a lie of Sor Teresa’s predictions that he would go to hell.

Clockstoppers Quotes

“Well, hell, I’ve got the clap!” – Cal
“The corn grows as high as the vampire bat flies…” – Scott
“I can make any of jou dead at any time.” – Sor. Theresa

“My suggestion is, if they come and catch us, we all strip.” – Sor. Theresa
“You will report to the stripping angel of death” – Doug

“All of our quotes involve sex or death” – Wendy
“That’s because that’s what you guys think is funny.” – Joshua

“We are all nephews under God” – Sor. Theresa

“It always comes back to the hot nun nooky.” – Paul

Wendy’s character Fingers is made to split the bounty money with the rest of the party, which makes Wendy start sputtering in outrage…
“God says you have to share–” – Sor. Theresa
“–and stop making noises like a parrot.” – God
“…and God says spend it now, because it will be worthless when we get back” – Sor. Theresa

“Perhaps I can offer my services to the entire army…then he won’t be suspicious” – Sor. Theresa
“That’s it! A special blessing for his special pistol!” – Fingers

“Nobody plays bagpipes that loudly unless they’re raping their aunt” – Rachel

“Oooh-kay, you’re standing knee-deep in sh-now” – Joshua
“That’s not where I thought he was going with that” – Rachel

“That’s God’s whore, thank you very much.” – Paul

“Jou can explain jour slave-holding ass to God when the time comes.” – Sor. Theresa

Characters and Motivations

I’ve been thinking about Scott’s post in which he talks about attitudes towards character development, but I think that he may be conflating two different things: approaches to playing the character, and the type of character one plays. I think they’re related, but are not the same thing at all.
Scott’s List was:
1) hero fantasies
2) ditzes
3) competency
4) real life
and although he didn’t number it
5) different as possible from oneself

Heroes, Ditzes (or Eccentrics, as Rachel prefers) are, I think, types of characters, Oneself and Competency are approaches to playing a character, and Different as possible from Oneself is a motivation for playing a type of character.
For instance, one could easily imagine both playing a Hero because it was different from oneself and attempting to play the Hero in a maximally competent fashion.
Actually, the topic of categorizing styles of play, motives for playing, and even types of characters has been chewed over at great length in places like the rec.arts.gaming.frp.advocacy newsgroup and elsewhere.

In Praise Of Evil

Why is that so many of my role-playing persona have antisocial tendencies?

Because I’m such a nice guy, that’s why.

There, I hope that’s clear. If not, read on. You see, there are many possible approaches to developing a character concept. I should know—I go through characters faster than almost anyone I know. Partly this is because I take the roleplaying seriously. I have let characters walk straight into fatal traps that I knew were waiting for them, simply because my character would have no way of knowing better, and I couldn’t come up with any plausible reason why the character would act differently.

Admittedly, most of these characters come from my Friday night gaming at Mac’s. In her house rules, all character stats are randomly assigned, there are no re-rolls, and you play what you get. Such a system makes it easy to roll new characters—I can usually do it in 10 minutes or less with only minor consultation with a rulebook. But it also does not engender any character loyalty. When your character has one hit point and no stat higher than 9, you’re rather tempted to kill them off immediately. I treat my useful characters (eg. Analin the Ranger School Drop-Out) and characters that take a long time to create (eg. James Jadwin of Deadlands fame) more carefully. But I digress.

I’ve seen a number of attitudes towards character development:
1) hero fantasies – think of someone who only plays lawful good characters, who live only to do “good deeds”
2) ditzes – I’m not certain what the motivation is, but someone dear to my heart seemingly plays the same
character again and again in different milieu – the flighty, scarcely sensible Teabull under a variety of names.
(Maybe this is why Sor Teresa is such a refreshing change of pace—plus that sexy accent—grrrowl!)
3) competency – somehow this person’s characters always do the sensible thing, regardless of their intelligence
or wisdom stats, and always have just the right magic item stashed away in a magic sack.
4) real life – the one time that Rachel and I role-played with my father-in-law, he insisted on playing a character
with the same name, skills, and occupation as himself.

My own attitude is that I want to play a character as different from myself as possible. When I look back at the last three years of characters, I have perhaps played two wizards or mages in that entire time. I actively avoid them, even though I make my living doing the modern-day equivalent of magic, and intelligence is probably my defining trait. But after a week of slogging against quantum mechanics, Lagrangians, and code algorithms that just don’t work, the last thing I want to do on my weekends is play a smart, logical, problem-solving magic user, even though when I do play such a person I find them understandably easier to play. It’s just too BORING!

My favorites tend to be thieves and rogues. I would play them much more frequently if they weren’t so generally useless in typical game play, and if it weren’t so hard to come up a good rationale why my character keeps going on all these “feel good, do good” missions with the would-be heroes. I want a chance to rob, steal, and plunder, and to get away with it. Now I never engage in such activities in real life, but if I wanted real life, I wouldn’t be role-playing, now would I?

It’s actually not easy to be evil. The biggest problem is that my fellow gamers, or at least some of them, often tend to be do-gooders. (I wonder … if I want to play evil characters because in real life I’m so nice, what does that say about people who only want to play good characters?) I often find myself stretching to find some reason why my character goes along on the heroic quest, instead of just stabbing everyone in the back, and I probably wind up being a good deal less evil than I mean to.

I think it would be rather fun, actually, to roleplay with a group of criminals. Screw adventuring—our party’s aims would be to rob, steal, assassinate, etc., and to try and get away with it. Escaping from the cops, running from the town watch … what could be more fun?

Is it any surprise that my favorite video game is ‘Thief’?

Not the Sunday Group Game

but because it should be recorded for posterity, Scott recently broke his personal best record for shortest lived character when (in our friend Mac’s D&D game on Saturday) his character was PK-ed before the adventure even began. For some reason shortly after Scott’s character introduced himself Walter became suspicious of him and cast Know Alignment; upon finding out that Scott’s character was evil–I almost said Scott was evil, but that goes without saying–Walter and Mike refused to go adventuring with him. After a bunch of pointless argument, Scott’s character drew his dagger and had at Walter’s character, and a couple melee rounds later Scott’s character’s head was rolling around on the tavern floor.
Scott was understandably a bit miffed at this, and I have to confess that I was a bit puzzled, since I had thought that there was an unwritten group rule to the effect that players weren’t allowed to refuse to go adventuring with other players’s characters over something as trivial as alignment. I had certainly felt compelled by Mac and the group to continue to adventure with Rachel’s character Polly when she was obviously ripping off the party in her dealing with her criminal family (and my character was easily smart enough to figure it out)–granted when Polly died nobody expressed any great remorse or suggested that we try to figure out a way to raise her, but that seemed to be the extent of the reaction against her character’s actual transgressions. Why Scott’s new character’s alignment was such a sticking point I really don’t know; in fact, now that I think about it the same group had been happy enough to adventure with my previous (now deceased) character, who was also evil. Maybe the only difference was that they didn’t realize that my character was supposed to be evil, since he didn’t live long enough to do anything bad.
Of course, at that point, neither had Scott’s character. Interestingly enough, though Scott insists that he wasn’t playing the character as obviously evil and halfway suspected Walter of using Out-Of-Character knowledge in deciding to cast the Know Alignment spell, my character simply presumed that Scott’s character was evil but just didn’t care. I’m not actually sure why I supposed that, since I know that I didn’t have any OOC knowledge; either it was something about Scott’s manner, or maybe it was just that he got along with Rachel’s character….

More quotes

(Because I want to get this little piece of paper out of my life…)

They prefer to be known as “Americans of Necrosis”. — Scott

I am Cornholio Kobold! I need TP for my bunghole! — Fitch the manic kobold

I will sing an irresistible Kobold love song! — Fitch the androgynous kobold

What if it’s infinite because it’s fractal? — Josh, on Infinite City
Then we stab you! (*chuckle, chuckle!*) — Scott, on Josh

I have healed the building with cleansing fire! — Doug

Thoughts on World Destroying

The Deadlands Adventurer’s group will forever be known as the party that destroyed the universe. Really. Here I intend to explore some of the theological ramifications of this turn of events.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping track, our Sunday night Deadlands campaign took a nasty turn when we discovered that an Evildoer(tm) was building some kind of doomsday clock that would destroy the world. As we were led to understand, if the clock ran down, the world would end.

So after careful investigative work (which my character James Jadwin predominantly did at the local whorehouse), we tracked down the Evildoer and her clock to an abandoned mine. There’s the clock—sitting still except for one whirring gear. You might as well have painted a bullseye on it, Josh!

I am relieved to say that I didn’t fire the fatal shot. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t have, perhaps. Our Mormon character Cal (played by Paul) took aim, tossed in his blue chip for good luck, and fired before we could do much of anything. My first inclination had actually been to shoot at the Evildoer and her minions, figuring that the clock itself could wait. But Cal’s shot was true, and the clock stopped, destroying the entire universe.

Now, hindsight is 20/20, but when I think about it, I still don’t think that Cal’s actions were all that unreasonable. The threat as we understood it was if the clock were to run down. What better way to prevent the clock from running down than from stopping it prematurely. Think about it—the ticking clock cliche is that when the clock reaches a fixed time, something explodes. The way to prevent this is to stop the clock, or pull the wire to the detonator, or something equally silly. This is best done with one second to spare. But in general, you WANT to stop the clock one way or another. Cal and the rest of us can hardly be held culpable for assuming that the Doomsday Clock would work this way.

After the End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It, our party found ourselves in another universe, which we eventually discovered was ruled by a goddess named Althea. All of us except Sor Teresa, that is, who wound up going to Christian Heaven. Here’s where things get weird. First, Althea actually appears to us—something the Christian god in the universe we just destroyed had never bothered to do, even when we were on the brink of destroying all of creation. Then she’s afraid that we will destroy her world as well, and we are politely ejected from this universe.

Next thing you know, Sor Teresa is back from heaven as an Avenging Angel or some other weird shit, telling us that God is giving us a second chance, and wants us to reconstitute his universe. We’re given time-travelling clocks to make the job easier. Although the full mechanics aren’t clear to me yet, it sounds as if we we’re supposed to be gathering occult artifacts which we will use to make a barrier around the abandoned mine, containing the explosion.

A whole slew of nasty theological questions has arisen:
1) What kind of God would make a universe that is so easily destrotyed by a .22 slug?
2) Having destroyed said universe, why would this God trust the very people who destroyed it to put it back together?
3) Why does God need us to put the universe back together? Can’t God just do it himself?
4) Why are we playing along with God’s plan? God clearly isn’t who he claimed to be—not the only god, apparently, not omnipotent, and definitely not very wise.

My character James Jadwin was never a very pious fellow to begin with. However, I find his attitudes taking a strange turn. Now on the one hand he knows that there really is a God. On the other, God is a bumbler, and not very awe-inspiring. Should we succeed in putting the universe back together, I wonder if we can have a final showdown with the Big Guy himself.

Parenthetical note: Did I mention that in the course of recovering one of the artifacts (an obsidian blade), our party accidentally committed a human sacrifice on one of the natives? And that this allowed us to recover the artifact in a very straightforward manner? But that is a story for a different time.

Authors Link

I’ve added an Authors link on the left hand side to take you to the Movable Type control panel, so that you can easily add entries even if you discarded the url that I originally sent. You’ll probably have to log in first, and then select the BlogRiPpinG blog as the one that you want to edit. After that it should probably be obvious, but write if you have questions.