Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Am Not Metal

Frost giants are extraordinarily metal, and being metal is always good.

Interestingly, slaying frost giants is also metal--even more metal than being a frost giant. And therein lies a great insight into the nature of metal.

- Zak S., "Playing D&D With Porn Stars"

If there's anything metal about playing Dungeons and Dragons, it would have to be running a home-brew campaign for a table consisting almost entirely of female porn stars. So for starters, bravo to you, Zak S.

I, on the other hand, play a lot of D&D with people who aren't porn stars, though one of the groups I play with is a group I've been gaming with for nearly 20 years now. That's still probably not metal, but I suspect in some circles it has to at least be praiseworthy.

The thing that convinced me of my non-metalness, though, wasn't that I don't look up from my character sheet and see Justine Joli on the other side of the table, but rather because my D&D character has changed over the past year-and-a-half since I told you all about him last.

Yes, it's another post about my D&D character: run for your lives.

A brief recap: Rennal is an elf whose childhood and adolescence** was spent as the psychic plaything of alien intelligences, who, when they finally tired of him, broke him to the point where he killed his father. The elf community who tried him for this crime did not believe him when he claimed to have been manipulated by these aliens, and they forced him to take the surname Maiavar as a sign of his outcast state.

** - If the 3.5 Player's Handbook is to be believed, elves become adults just as humans are reaching their maximum possible 'venerable' age.

At the time I wrote about Rennal, he had just learned how to cast fireball. A being who'd been manipulated by soulless alien intelligence for as long as a human lifetime, and as a result had been cut off from his family and culture, has just learned how to cast an explosive ball of flame.

That, I'd think, has the potential to be extremely metal.

As it turned out, the composition of the party aided him in this. The party also contained a druid who, at that time, was focusing on summoning magic. Another character was a beguiler -- a sort of illusionist/trickster who focuses on mind-manipulation, but who also has a reasonably large stock of utility magic. With summoning, illusions, and utility magic all handled by other party members, Rennal was thus free to focus on being a pure 'blaster mage'; throwing fire around like it was...well...water. In one particular adventure, when the party was ambushed by a group of frost giants who started tossing down rocks from a snowy overhang, Rennal responded by effectively re-enacting the 'napalm in the morning' scene from Apocolypse Now, lighting up the entire ridgeline with fire, then following up with specific-target fire spells to drive the giants into submission. Given the quote at the intro, if Rennal had a Crowning Moment of Metal, that probably would have been it.

Time passed, though, as it always does, and the party changed.

The beguiler left the party, specifically because the beguiler's player finally got tired of having to deal with another player whose playstyle he didn't appreciate, so he left the campaign. The druid slowly changed over from summoning magic to his own category of blaster magic, focusing on the two spells he remembered from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons as being 'awesome' damaging spells.

Rennal has also continued to grow in power since that time. Now, however, he uses his vast arcane might to serve as the team's hypersonic transport and magical item identifier. Oh, and he throws the occasional buff spell on the party fighters to keep the pressure off the 'back ranks'.

If I were metal, I wouldn't care that the party has specific needs that aren't being met and that another character is horning in on my 'schtick' as the bringer of nuclear fire; I'd just go on as before, proving again and again that Rennal has the biggest balls of fire on the planet. But I'm not. I'm giving up the spotlight, letting others have their moments in the sun, and only occasionally showing hints of the unbridled might I could have had, had I been as selfish as the other players at my table.

No, I am not metal. And that's part of the problem.

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