Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Weird Pete Makes Me Want to Play Hackmaster

Weird Pete, Owner & Proprietor of the Games Pit
And Grognard Extraordinaire

 And to a certain degree Crazy Eddie does too ...

Eddie's the one behind the counter

In case you haven't yet figured it out, I'm referring to the best comic book of all time, Knights of the Dinner Table. Specifically the most recent issue, number 278. Without giving away too much I want to share two sections of dialogue. Admittedly the dialogue alone doesn't do it justice, you really have to go and buy the zine, but you'll get the idea once I share Pete's rant. 

So Pete runs the friendly local game shop in Muncie Indiana, although some might argue with the label of "friendly" where Pete is concerned. I personally love Pete's shop because it reminds me so much of my hole in the wall FLGS growing up Austin Books, Comics & Games. And the guy who was behind the counter could have passed as a double for Pete, short, chubby, bearded and always yelling at me and my friends to quit pawing product if we weren't going to buy it. Anyway, as issue 278 opens Pete is in the shop when a millennial type comes up wanting to purchase a new game. Pete tries to warn him off it as an inferior game, "At the end of the day it's still a turd son." But the kid isn't having it, this is his game and he wants Pete to ring him up. That's when the fun begins...

Pete: Ho'kay -- you're money. But hey -- If ya ever find you're ready for the training wheels to come off ... come back and see me. I also sell real games, like Hackmaster -- Haar.

At the mention of Hackmaster the kid turns up his nose and scoffs. Nitro Ferguson, hard rolling HM GM, asks the kid why, to which the kid responds:

Millennial: My friends and I actually like playing when we sit down at the table. And having fun. Not dying all the time. And not spending entire sessions rolling up new characters--which can take two hours!

Pete: Oooooh ... I see. Well, I apologize junior. My bad -- I mistook you for an actual gamer. You know -- one who appreciates real risk and a challenge when it comes to high fantasy, but hey you have a nice day! Enjoy your connect the dots gaming experience.

Millennial: "Connect the dots" ... What's that supposed to mean? My adventures are full of risk and challenge.

Pete: Are they really tho ... ? I mean come on ... Where's the risk in a game where death is so frickin hard to come by ... ? I mean geezus -- you really gotta try hard. I sat in a demo once -- I kept trying to suicide my character. It couldn't be done. The GM dispensed healing like bar nuts at a bikini bar. In the end -- I told 'im I had to take a leak. Left the table and never came back.

At this point Nitro knows Pete is getting up head of steam up for a rant and gently tries to warn him off a bit, but there's no stopping Pete now, and his grognard momentum is full steam ahead.

Pete: Oh...? tell me I’m wrong, Victor! (Victor is Nitro's real name) The problem with all these new fangled ass games and rules systems...? They love to coddle the players. It’s like they took fantasy role play ... and put a bicycle helmet on it. Gawd forbid anyone should have to think, be challenged or have any virtual skin in the game. Or, “BOO HOO” — have to roll up a new character. Cry me a river! I tell ya — it really grinds my gears. to see what’s happening to our hobby. And don’t think  Hackmaster is immune. No sir. I see this mamby pamby “kinder gentler” pablum of mediocrity worming its way in!! Ya know — there was actually an article in the latest issue of Hack Journal that was entitled... “Finding Solutions Without Resorting to Combat” I kid you not!!! I’m tellin’ ya — the whiners and complainers really annoy me ... claiming the “old style” of play was somehow wrong or inferior. Heh — we played hard by gawd — coz most anything could kill ya. We’re talkin’ edge of your seat adventures — tappin’ the floors with a ten foot pole ...lookin’ up — lookin’ down. Never knowing what was gonna do you in! And if you died? - you choked back the tears, pulled out a new sheet!! And went at it again. Now that was roleplayin’ Gawdammit!! It took us a dozen runs at the Temple of Unspeakable Evil. We lost 36 player characters. and we didn’t quit, whine or complain about it either. Death meant something. Coz without it — there aren’t any heroes. Somebody fired an arrow at yer buddy — you took it for him. Coz that’s just how ... hey — where’d the kid go?

By this time the millennial has left (with good reason obviously) and Nitro and Patty (another Hackmaster GM) has come in an realized Pete is ranting on without anyone there to rant at. 

Oh my gosh when I read those first few panels I was dying laughing and eating it up at the same time. I mean, look, I know KODT is about satire, and in a way they are satirizing players like me. I mean how much of Pete's complaints have been topics of my very recent posts!? This is as real as it gets. But we shouldn't be surprised, because KODT has had their satirical finger on the pulse of gaming reality for over three decades now. Pete was able to more effectively say what I've been saying in my long winded diatribes and more humorously too. We love you Pete. 

So, a little further in we find out that Crazy Eddie used to be called The Thrasher -- Butcher of PCs!! Back in the crew's Junior High days he had the highest TPK percentage of all GMs in their circle. They called him "dick-GM" -- "behind his back of course" HAHAHAHA! You just can't make this stuff up! Because even though the KODT writers are making it up, it is based almost totally on reality! I so identified with Eddie at that moment I about wet myself laughing! I started playing AD&D in Junior High School, and and a DM I killed so many characters, it's amazing my friends still wanted to play with me--just like Eddie evidently. Eddie does not GM in the Knights, just plays and he is so meek and mild you just would never figure him on being a killer GM, and I won't give nay more spoilers about how this fits into the storyline. I mellowed of course, but I also learned the game better, and began to understand the role of adversary as a GM, not assassinator. Truthfully I never set out to kill NPCs like Eddie evidently might have, but I've written on this very forum about those days and how death was a baptism almost all early players and GMs passed through multiple times. And I'm not the only one, as the comment made recently by Dave that he was on Sparrowhark the XXIII before he ever reached second level. 

Anyway, these portions of issue 278 truly warmed my heart and fired me up. And truthfully made me want to play Hackmaster more than ever. Way to go Jolly and the the KCo team. Love the work you are doing.

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