2/22/2001-Memories, Mamby Pamby Memories

What the hell am I talking about?  Meaning out of combat? Emotionally invested?  Sounds like all that mamby pamby and touchy feely crap that the “me generation” was looking for.  Good Lord! The D20 is the stuff of combat!  Grab your sword, run into the room with a big blecky monster and hope you make your saving throw against their breath weapon.  Will you be able to roll an eighteen or higher?  How cool is that?  Well, it’s cool; but lasts about one week in my memory and then it fades away.

 I have been RPGing for over 30 years.  My most memorable moments of playing have nothing to do with combat.  The combats that I do remember, when I think hard to find them, are when I was a GM rather than a hero.  Like, when the 1st level half-orc took all this time to make a spear prepping to kill a harpy and then totally miss her on the first throw.  He stood there for a second, realizing he had no backup plan, so threw a grappling hook and snagged her as she was flying and reeled her in.  In an almost panicky rage he beat her with his punching dagger.  Sure, there were other players attacking her, but it was this one hero who captured the scene.  As a player, my most memorable combat was not with D&D but rather with Call of Cthulhu, where the group was being attacked by large wooden wolf totems.  We were just plunking away at this creature which was like as shooting a tree with a pistol; when we were rescued by Bubba, the red neck supernatural hunter with the right buckshot.  It was like the last scene in Saving Private Ryan, the wolf totem blew apart into splinters and we looked at each other and our pistols with the question “did we do that?”  Then real cause of the explosion emerged, Bubba.

 Why are these combats memorable? Because, these combats follow the same structure as a typical story or movie, just in a microcosm.  Each combat gets to a low point where the protagonists seemly fail, but then miraculously overcomes the challenge.  As an audience, we were highly invested in these heroes and we believed that for a moment we were screwed, only to have something happen that made success possible.  This elevated us twice as high emotionally than if we just walked in and succeeded.

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