Chris's Invincible Dungeon Crawl, Week 4
If there's one thing I've learned during my brief respite from getting jacked up by dragons this week, it's that understanding how your DM operates is the key to having your character survive in D&D. You've got to be able to get inside his head, to know what he's planning even before he does, developing a sixth--nay, almost a seventh sense that will lead your guy safely through the minefield of traps he'll throw at you.
Which is why I've been watching Steve's bootlegs of the 1983 Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon.
I gotta admit, it's not what you might call "very good," despite an all-star cast and crew that includes comics greats Mark Evanier and Paul Dini with the voice talents of Willie Aames (you know, Scott Baio's buddy from Charles in Charge. Also, Bibleman. Also, swore a lot on a VH1 reality show) and Katie Leigh, who pulls double duty doing voices for two of my unfounded obsessions, Christian radio show Adventures in Odyssey and Canadian action/comedy for 13 year-old girls, Totally Spies.
Maybe expecting it to be good was a little much.
Still, Ben loves it, which can pretty much be chalked up to him being ten when it aired, as opposed to any resemblance to actual D&D at all
Here's how it all goes down: Six kids, with your standard early-80s variation in race and gender, are kicking it at the fair when they get on a D&D themed ride--which is something you should never, ever do, kids--and are then immediately sucked through a portal into the bleak, Dali-esque landscape that is the world of D&D. This guy Venger, who we can tell is evil because he has a deep voice and a horn coming out of one side of his head, starts to hassle them, but then Dungeon Master shows up and turns them all into D&D characters. Sort of. Then they get a baby unicorn named Uni who has a sweet red power-mullet and generally serves to be a less communicative version of Snarf from the Thundercats.
Like I said, not a lot of resemblance to D&D as we know it today. But there's one big problem even beyond that one that I think I've been able to put my finger on:
Seriously. In the first episode I watched, Dungeon Master sends the kids to go fight a Beholder because there may be a way for them to get home in the valley where it lives. For those of you not "in the know," a Beholder is a giant evil floating head with a bunch of eyes, some of which shoot death rays. So not exactly the kind of thing you want to send six middle-schoolers to fight, especially when you've neglected to give them weapons.
Yeah, remember when I said he "sort of" turned them into D&D characters? Really, all he did was give them some new clothes and one magic item apiece, only handing out two with any offensive use whatsoever. And one of those was a log. Sure, you can call it a club if you want to, but I've been to the damn forest and I know a frigg'n log when I see one.
But here's the thing: In another episode I saw, Dungeon Master is assaulted by some frog-men, and gleefully takes them out, tying them up in their own net and shooting lightning out of his hands with a cheery giggle, remarking on how much fun it is. But when it comes time to send a handful of children to take out a flesh eating eye-monster, he mumbles something about how flowers can kill it and disappears behind a rock.
"Good luck with that one, kids. Wave your log at him, see if that works."
What a douche.
Also? Uni has got to go.
Anyway, it was a very enlightening experience. If this show had as much impact on Ben as I think it has, I'm pretty sure that his own DM style is going to lean towards cheerily sending us to our deaths while running off to buy a gold medallion and a badass red bathrobe.
Not that I can blame him. Heck, that's how I run my games.