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Tales From the Tabletop II

Name? Choose wisely...

Here’s yet another fond memory from the bygone days of PnP role-playing.

This tale centers around one of my players creating a new character. Everyone playing the game had many characters. We just picked out characters from our portfolio according to whim every time we sat down at our custom-built plywood and 2x4 gaming table. Everyone wanted a wide variety of options, so we often rolled up new characters whenever we were between adventures with all the characters we had already created.

The character involved in this story eventually became one of my four banes as a Dungeon Master. Two of my players were extremely creative, which usually resulted in good rewards. They each had two characters powerful enough to be a disruption to the world order everywhere they went. Only the existence of a few near omnipotent non-player characters kept them in relative check. One of them was a Drow Elf based upon the same race from the Forgotten Realms setting. These are a chaotic and mostly evil race of underground dwelling elves.

This character began to show signs of danger from the very beginning. My player rolled extremely high on all of the stats during the creation process. There were only two rolls which were more than two away from max, in fact. This qualified my player to create a Drow, which was meant to be a very rare type of player character. Because it was rare, it was one of the things we were always shooting for when rolling up new characters, and he was the first to manage it.

My player immediately began working out an extensive back story for his character as he chose his starting equipment. My die rolls for his potential starting equipment were no less astounding — and foreboding — than his rolls to create the character. He started out with phenomenal stats and phenomenal equipment.

One of my other players, already running one of my “bane” characters leaned over and whispered, “Cripes. He’s going to be a bloody Cuisanart!”

That did not improve my sense of foreboding that this character was going to test my ability to reign in.

With his stats, equipment, and back story in place, there remained only one blank line on his character sheet — a character name.

This had always been a decision one had to make carefully in our gaming group. One’s choice of name had to be carefully vetted in order to avoid anything that could be corrupted into a joke around the table. “Wilburn” would prompt constant “Mr. Ed” jokes. Give a character a surname of “Fordson” and you could count on hearing the Sanford & Son theme song every time his turn came up.

The player in question chose not to play his new Drow character that day. He wisely decided to spend some time considering the character’s name instead. He played a sadistic brawler named Zeothrox for that day’s gaming session.

The next day, his new Drow stayed on the sidelines as Zeothrox completed an adventure he had started the day before. The following three sessions, his Drow was still nameless while he put a Paladin through his paces.

Finally, after completing his Paladin’s first quest to locate and bond with his magnificent war horse, my player pulled out the character sheet for his Drow and made his mark on that long blank line. The Drow’s first name emerged — Razza.

All of the jokes that arose from that were lame, and would never stick. He had succeeded in the first part of the dangerous quest to come up with a name his powerful Drow could live with.

It was summer, and for a few days, we found better things to do than huddle in the basement over our gaming table. When we returned once more to our gaming dungeon, my player pulled out that character sheet once more, and wrote his Drow’s surname — Rogan.

Almost immediately, someone stood up and put on his best “reading it off the teleprompter” voice…

“Hello. I’m Razza Rogaine, and I’m not only the president of the Hair Club for Drow, I’m also a client.”

The hilarity which ensued dulled my sense of foreboding for a time. The character’s surname was changed to Kilsek after a few more days of consideration, after which the Drow stepped forth from the dark recesses of a cave at the bottom of the Great Crater to become the bane I had anticipated.

The damage had been done, and the Rogaine joke stuck with him.

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