PAX, Day Two: The Empire Strikes PAX


I can't help with the D&D request, but that photo makes me think of Nick Holmes' blog: How not to get laid #342.
I am really pleased to see some more Stranger coverage of PAX this year. It's kind of the biggest damn deal to an industry and a subculture that are really major market forces and it has seemed to me that in the past it has flown way under the radar of even the local weekly, to say nothing of the major media.

Comic-con gets worldwide coverage and PAX gets nada? Lame. Good to see that there is someone taking the time this year, even if Slog stands pretty much alone among non-geek media in doing so. Thanks, y'all.
Imagine this narrated in a nasally nerd voice, if you will - my level 5 fighter was named Sie Vires and she started off a grizzled veteran of the Cold North, a merc from a disgraced, once great family. She was originally supposed to be the stoic, hardass type, but then we tried to play DnD with /nine/ people and she quickly become very angry, very regularly in response to our terrible party - we spent most of the campaign trying to figure out how to kill one another. Our best moment came when we piloted an airship into the frontlines of a zombie invasion while firing canons - our VERY questionable priest of the Raven-Queen began firing on innocent villages. Also the elf ranger shot a demi-god in the back of the head once, and that didn't go well.

The dilemma that Scott Kurtz found his dwarf fighter in during the combat at the PAX game (used the daily Crack the Shell, rolled a 1, got to reroll due to a party member's ability, rolled a 2) happened to me /quite/ often.

@2: There was lots of coverage here of PAX back when Sam M. was still with the Stranger. But then they kicked him away or maybe he left. In any case, last year's PAX coverage was a little underwhelming as a result.
Oh, hey, I just noticed the Red Box giveaway. Nice!

So. Let me tell you about my dude.

I had this notion, you see? I wanted to break the mold a little bit; I wanted to break out of the traditional D&D patterns, but only a little! I was building a courtier character: a charming, slightly foppish dilettante of a fellow. Being that I was 16 or 17 at the time, this seemed like an OUTRAGEOUSLY new and creative alternative to the typical big-ox-in-plate-with-a-greatsword character plan. I named him Gavis Greywood Sendrenail - I mean, you gotta have a ponderous name to go with a complicated backstory. So he's this courtly guy with some real character, and here's the real kicker: I even min-maxed him a bit! I made what I thought was an effective character. He had some levels of sorcerer to back up the nimble, duellist-style swordplay with some ability buffs and illusion. He had some poisons and, man alive, did he have a silver tongue.

I wrote up a backstory, let me tell you. The heir to minor nobility, some intrigue over his father's estate, a problematic entanglement with a Duke's daughter, I was into it! I thought I was making D&D history, I did. His father was dead in a hunting accident; his mother was currently ruling the estate, but the family's claim was in doubt; and to make things a little worse, he'd won a duel with the outraged brother of that Duke's darling girl.

Now, here's where it all goes wrong. Clearly, this guy was built for an urban environment. He was made to make deals and win hearts and play tricks and sometimes to stab some fools. There were plot hooks galore in that backstory! I was working with my DM every step of the way, too! He thought it was great. He was really stoked about the idea of taking a few levels of sorcerer for the ability to buff, too. Unfortunately, I don't think he, the DM, who was otherwise a good guy and a close friend, was really putting two and two together as far as the appropriateness of this character and his plan, because as soon as we start playing, well...

The first quest sends us off into the woods.

I don't remember why. It doesn't even matter, really. The second or third fight we got into was with some trees. Trees! They were made of wood! Poison thorns! So, already knowing how this was destined to play out, I gamely spelled myself up to heroic strength and speed and drew my deadly rapier! And, well, let me tell you about what a rapier does to an animated tree: jack shit, that's what. Thunk. Big knife stuck in wood. A light crossbow? About equally effective, which is to say, not at all. And that nimble, unarmored fighting style didn't work out so well either.

Before we were even out of the introductory part of the adventure, poor, ill-fated Gavis Greywood Sendrenail was a pretty, silver-tongued corpse, perforated with thorn punctures, abandoned on the forest floor.

Thanks, buddy, DM. Thanks for letting me create that super-cool courtly dashing swordsman character for your campaign in the fucking forest.

Anyway, now I'm older and wiser, and that is why I want to play D&D again. I have such excellent memories of how it was always almost awesome.
Did my most excellent story just fail to post? Shit.
Ah, no, there it is. Word.
Pax Plague is a runny nose, dead-heavy feeling affair this year. Maybe a sore throat too, or maybe too much singing on Rock Band.

Adieu my geek friends. I failed my constitution check. Go on without me.
derrick de cleric
Korihor Dlanglorbad - dwarf fighter of indeterminate gender (oh, dwarves!). low on charisma, low on dexterity, low on intelligence, but brave and willing to fight. Due to some simmering family issues, ze is not that pleasant to be around as far as attitude, and carries a mighty stink due to food buildup in the beard and general poor hygiene.
bonus: Korihor is the name of an atheist bad guy in the Book of Mormon! Nerdy!
oh! i forgot! i own a helmet, and would put it on whenever our play went into battle.
I liked to name my characters after medications. My favorite was Cialis. She was a druid with... um... "special" powers.
My favorite D&D character was an assassin named Rhias Blackheart who I played in an ongoing campaign that ran from 1983 to 1986. She was so awesome that ten years later I legally changed my name to Rhias, thus cementing my reputation as the geekiest woman in my social circle. I even wrote an epic poem about her exploits. Fortunately that epic has been lost to the ages - all I can remember is this snippet:

"And so by night I ride - from the sun I hide
But I sleep with one eye open, and a crossbow at my side."

P.S. The crossbow was named "Skeevy Heart", and I still have my original character sheet.

Stranger readers should quickly be able to identify the source of this thread's image:…
I love the PAX posts--keep it up. Isn't there a Lucasarts session on Sunday? BF3? Maybe?

To echo others' points: ECCC and PAX are two examples of alternative and subcultury events that somehow don't always manage to get full coverage in the Stranger, which is odd since the target audiences overlap significantly. So I'm glad to see at least these posts here today.

The Stranger could probably make a fair amount money selling posters of many of its brilliant covers at an ECCC booth, incidentally. Just sayin'.
@4: Sam's covering PAX for the Atlantic, last I heard.
@17, you're right! Fuck yeah, good on ya Sam Machkovech.…
I made a con-artist Changeling Sorcerer, but never told the rest of the party. They were all under the impression that she was a half-elf cook. The DM and I had worked out a loose outline of a backstory involving multiple identities and a long list of angry victims who would eventually come after me.

Unfortunately, it ended up being one of those things where you play with a group once and then everyone ends up getting too busy, so none of it got fleshed out nearly as much as I'd have liked. I'd tell you the name, but I'm reluctant on the grounds that I may end up playing her after all eventually, if people's schedules ever settle down, and I don't want to give it away.
I'd had a string of bad dating luck with several guys named Steven. One of them still carries the nickname of 'Threeve' to this day, since he was the third one, and many of his friends (including his current girlfriend) call him Threeve on occasion, to his annoyance. Anyway, it helped me break the streak by creating a tiefling (devil guys with horns and glowy eyes and the works) character named 'Demon Steve' who was a concentration of all of the worst qualities of my Steves, then letting him be killed. D&D- cheaper than therapy!
I usually DMed D&D. I can't even remember my characters' names.

Anyway, I'm getting the Red Box for my daughter for Xmas. SHE WILL BE ONE OF US.
I can't remember the characters name, but my guy died trying to backstab Orca by teleporting in. All I needed to roll was a 15 or higher and I would have had enough damage to take him to -10.

It was my last night in the deserts of northern Kuwait in 1991. We set up a campaign almost as soon as we got there, and over the course of 4 months we got a lot of time to play. When we got word that it was time to go back to Germany the DM said he had to have one chance to kill us all off. Hence, Orca. I rolled a 12. sonofabitch.
I played a few rounds with this character before everyone in the campaign got too busy to play any more.

I made an elvish ranger named Aliena after some character in a book I'd recently read--the name was the only memorable bit, actually. So I had typical ranger-y skills and such. I also had a brand new DM.

After being the only character to take nature sense, Aliena wound up calming and buying a cart horse to haul loot home from the first adventure, and the other party members didn't want to compensate for the associated expenses. OK, fine. The next game (these are all level 1 characters, too), the DM thought it would be fun to have us tramp through the forest. One player decided that we should totally stake out a clearing "because we're going to get attacked, yo." This was not part of the DM's plan, so he wound up improvising and sending not one but two Drow after a party of level 1s. We all nearly died.

Bonus story of nerdiness: one of my old roommates has played D&D his entire life, thanks to his much-older brother. Roomie's older brother is in a group that has played since 1st edition. One of the original group members died a few years ago, but his character lives on as an NPC in their current campaigns. True story.
Didi Grumfist, Dwarf Barbarian. I crit, I smash, and I smash some more. What I miss most in D&D 4th is great cleave. :(

Also I'm with the other commenters. I love the Stranger, but have always thought its coverage of geek/nerd culture was pretty lacking, considering this is a town that was built on Boeing engineers and Microsoft millionaires. It's a serious nerd town, not that you all would know, since y'all probably don't get out of Capitol Hill much. You've got how many music columnists but can't manage to keep a steady one going for the geeks? Please hire more geeks.
Agreed with all re: great coverage, more coverage!

Ok, nerd time.
Lanreid Quiller was a male half-elven rogue with one eye on his dagger and one looking out for overflowing bodices. (Wait, now he sounds cross-eyed.) Having traveled the world climbing into beds and ducking hastily out of windows, he found himself on a mission to steal a very valuable thing from a very curmudgeonly sorceress. Note to self: sorceresses will always win. To avoid being fried like a chicken on Sunday, he became the sorceress' odd-jobsman, eventually earning his freedom and heading back onto the road--when he quickly blundered into a 'save the world' situation from which he couldn't extricate himself.

Or, at least that's what my party thought for a year and a half of the campaign.

Then came the fateful session when our party was utterly defeated. We're talking 'smashed to bits,' 'should be paste on the wall,' 'why are you going up against someone with both the Hand and Eye of Vecna?' doomed.
We woke up, surprised to even be alive. Suspended in a cage thousands of miles above the earth, we nauseatedly swung in the breeze, helpless. Also--clothesless.
As we awoke, the party realized that good old Lanreid--male half-elf with his hearty "Ha-HA!"--was not in the cage. Someone else was.
A very female, very naked, very pissed-off Eladrin ranger was in his place. Wanting to know where the hell her glamour ring went, why she was naked, and just what everyone thought they were staring at.

"So THAT'S why those whores came running out of his room, screaming."

I still have the first original pamphlet books for D&D and the subsequent first edition bound books somewhere, but they're covered with comments by myself, Gary Gygax, and other people.

My fave was my druid Grenouille who once, when a player got turned into a stone statue, dipped him in dragon's blood to reanimate him, after carrying his stone body through the dungeon (and using it to bash down doors and as a handy chair) - only broke off a couple of fingers before he was reanimated ... the actual person never forgave me for that, and went on to do a successful company that sold AD&D adventures. His girlfriend was hot.
Okay, so, not D&D exactly but still roleplaying:
I was in a relatively new Shadowrun game and we were just starting a mission by taking down a huge mob of low-level mooks. As we are sitting around post-mook-slaying, cleaning our weapons and discussing the next step, I notice the mooks have all been killed by brain-frying or precision knifework, leaving a pile of nearly pristine bodies. I innocently inquire as to the black market value of human organs, and after a certain amount of research it turns out they're worth a lot. Like really a lot. As in, more than we were getting paid for the whole mission. By a few orders of magnitude. So we totally abandon the mission, load the bodies into our truck, sell them all, our characters all retire to Fiji, and the DM never speaks to me again.
Totally worth it.
Your coverage makes me wish PAX happened more often. The STD should go to more local cons and/or Ren Faires.

Recently got some tweener kids playing 4e (oh, the joys of corrupting otherwise cool kids with nerd germs) and we were riffing on character names. It's possible to have an entire party named after kinds of cheese.
Stilton, the dwarven fighter and his paladin cousin Gloucester. Myzithra, the mysterious elven sorceress. Bel Paese, the bard (gender and race irrelevant, like bards in general). The halfling rogue is, of course, Colby Jack.