Archive for February, 2009
Thursday, February 26th, 2009
A strange group of people sit around a kitchen table, chattering and snacking on chips and Cheetos. They talk about history and rules; bitch about politics and life. One by one, they each place a hand-painted figurine upon the hex-squared map that covers most of the tabletop. Then, as the last miniature is placed, the Game Master begins the arcane ritual. Through the magic woven of words, the group is transported from this mundane living room to a land of terror, trial, and triumph. The Game begins.
So, my fellow Adventurers on this world of Earth – what wisdom can be gained by gaming? I have been a Game Master and player from the dawn (well, technically speaking, the mid-morning) of D&D. I have laughed and loved, cried and raged at the casting of the dice. I learned of love and life from cooperative fantasy role-playing.
So now, I’ll step out from behind the Game Master shield that hides the dice and GM notes (or in my case, the laptop computer screen with the dice rolling program and text editor) to share some of what I’ve learned over the years.
Get a Good Group
D&D requires the willing suspension of disbelief that the two-hundred and twenty pound man is actually a delicate Elf Maiden and that the tiny lead figure on the board is actually a huge, ravenous Wererabbit with nasty, sharp incisors. However, it isn’t just the storytelling ability of the Game Master or the imagination of the players that makes for the best role-playing experiences. It is the dynamics of the group.
The real magic of a Fantasy RPG occurs when everyone in the group is intensely involved in accomplishing a quest. All of the characters are using their skills and wits toward a common goal, and the energy and excitement build with the events in the game. If the group is too small, the energy never develops. If some of the players are cracking jokes or reading the latest Phil Folio cartoon, the energy is dissipated. If you have too many people at the table, everyone is waiting impatiently for their chance to do something in the game, and the energy is charged with frustration.
Everyone in the group must be involved in the story. They all need to have skills to contribute to the whole. That’s why traditionally D&D parties consist of a carefully balanced mix of character types. It means that each player has something different to contribute to the game.
So what does this have to do with real life?
Life is not a solo computer game. You are surrounded by people you need to interact with. If you want to really enjoy the experience of life, you have to find people you care about and do things with. These are your real friends.
Nor do you want only friends who are just like you. The greatest synergy in an RPG comes from everyone having something different to add to the game – the Priest chants a protective spell as the Warrior swings his glowing great sword at the Fiery Demon. The Troll Hunter sends his rhinoceros – named ‘Preposterous’ – charging at the Demon’s minions to bowl them aside (er, well, he would if we were playing the World of Warcraft RPG).
No two people in real life are alike, and yet we all have things in common. Many of my best friends have widely different political views and outlooks on life. We come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. We vehemently disagree on many topics. (Rabid Republicans, devoted Democrats, and leftish Libertarians all playing together at the same table – scary thought!) And yet, we travel for miles and waste hundreds of dollars to get together every once in a while to play a game together.
More than that – we learn from one another. I know more about the “War of Northern Aggression” than I was ever taught in school as the ‘Civil War.’ I have listened to first hand experiences from Vietnam War veterans. I know how hard it was to grow up black, brilliant, and poor in an inner city where everyone else looked down on you because you were smart. My friends are experts on many things I never thought about before.
When we game, we put aside our differences and, through the power of imagination, work as a team to accomplish great deeds. The things we have in common in real life – intelligence, creativity, and the love of the game – make our disagreements irrelevant. What we have in common is more important than how we differ. Yet, because we are so different, the game evolves through interplay of our varied thoughts and opinions. The game goes places none of us could have originally imagined.
Life is that way too… You never know where your road will lead or what you will find there.
Don’t Go it Alone
One of the worst ways to break up a game is to have people go off in separate directions doing their own thing. There was the time long, long ago when Corey and I were dual GMing a marathon Halloween Night dungeon using the original “Ravenloft” module by Tracy Hickman. We had eight players at the table. One of them was someone we had met recently when we ran a tournament game at a convention and awarded him the grand prize for role-playing.
Ravenloft is a moody, Gothic horror game set in a place much like Mordavia in Quest for Glory 4: Shadows of Darkness. (Coincidence? I think not.) I was dressed as the Gypsy Fortuneteller who guides the player characters into the game. The table was lit by candlelight. The characters were all trapped in this land of mists and shadows. The only way to escape it was to first defeat Strahd von Zarovich, the Vampire Lord.
The players were all experienced RPGers and the party soon entered the darkened castle of the Vampire. That’s when the newcomer decided that his Half-Orc rogue wanted to do some scouting all by himself.
Bad adventuring decision. Even though we tried to discourage him, he insisted that his character would do just that. Still, the GM’s aren’t there to force players to act a certain way. We just set the scene and tell players the results of their actions – wise and unwise both. So Corey and I took him aside in a different room and played it out.
The lone rogue soon got caught by the Vampire. He was charmed and then dressed in an illusion of Strahd and ordered to sleep in the Vampire’s coffin. As a result, the rest of the party murdered the Half-Orc thinking that he was Strahd, while the real villain got away. They only learned of their mistake after the game was over.
We can Make it Together
The moral of that sad story is that no one should go wandering through the dark unknown by themselves. While you seldom run up against Evil Undead Overlords in the average city (Los Angeles being a notable exception), you will sometimes find yourself caught up in events that are unpleasant and could have equally dire consequences. You need someone at your side.
Corey and I met when he ran a D&D game at a WesterCon Science Fiction Convention. We’ve been together ever since. We work together, play together, and sleep together at night. We also have our occasional arguments and disagreements. (It’s Wednesday –where’s the blog? Um… I… er… the werewolf ate it?) We’ve been through the Sisyphean Nightmare of working 12 hour days for Game Companies who then released our precious creations still riddled with bugs. We have been through periods of time with no work, little money, and no work potential. We’ve also shared the best moments of our lives in the birth of our son, the release of Hero’s Quest, and the creation of the School for Heroes.
The important point is that we do things together. We seldom go off adventuring alone when it comes to important things. We talk to one another and let each other know our deepest feelings.
So when you find the person who is your perfect complement – do what you can to make that relationship last. Treasure the personality traits you share, and value the differences. Be a team rather than a boss and employee. Do things together that you both love. The bonds formed by shared happiness can last a lifetime.
The Play’s the Thing
Clearly, the shared experiences are the best experiences. When our oddball playing group comes to the climax of an exciting adventure, we all feel empowered and thrilled by what we have done. Likewise, going out to a movie together and sharing a meal and discussion afterwards can be a great time. (The movie doesn’t even have to be a good one – we spent hours mocking the inconsistencies and bad science of Jurassic Park.) These shared times make life richer and more fun.
Bruised, battered, and beaten, the last adventurers stand before the dark altar. Most of her acolytes and the rest of the party lie dying on the cold marble floor. As the High Priestess of the Spider Goddess Lolth begins her final incantation, the Mage and Cleric look at each other grimly, and cast their last remaining spells.
The ceiling above the Priestess softens into mud in response to the mage’s arcane gestures. The High Priestess laughs exultantly, knowing that pitiful spell cannot stop her ritual. She has won!
Or has she? The Cleric completes his incantation – Dispel Magic – and the mud hardens into rock once again. Encased in stone, the High Priestess – and her smile – are frozen forever, her ritual stopped. The party has triumphed where any one individual would have failed.
So if you want to have a life that is full of adventure and great times, find some good friends and do what you can to stay together. Our gaming group is scattered for miles across several states, and sometimes years pass between games with our friends. However, we have all been friends through the decades and still enjoy playing together.
With friends like these, the fun will last a lifetime.
Friday, February 20th, 2009
As we’ve looked at some of the school-wide assignments on “Why I Am A Hero” and “Who Am I?” we’ve noticed a common thread. Many of our students start out by saying, “Well, I’m not really a hero yet. I’m hoping the school will help me become one.” That’s pretty reasonable; you sign up for a school because you expect to learn something.
But what is a Hero, really? Do Heroes start out as exceptional people and do extraordinary things because they’re unlike the rest of us? We think Heroes are made, not born, and we also don’t think that there are just two types of people in the world – Heroes and non-Heroes. We believe that everyone has many opportunities to do Heroic things, and that you are a Hero whenever you take such an action.
So the quick answer is, “Anyone can become a Hero.” You just have to care enough to work at it – to do Heroic Deeds and to prepare yourself to be able to do them.
Lessons from Role-Playing Games
There’s an interesting tradition in both live and computer role-playing games that you rarely see in any other genre. When you start an RPG, you are not a powerful Hero. Instead, you start out as a wet-behind-the-ears “first level” wannabe adventurer. We used this technique in Quest for Glory, and you could say that we wouldn’t have a true RPG without it.
An RPG character may have the destiny to become a Hero, but it never comes easily. He has to work, train, and face increasingly difficult odds to fulfill that destiny. This is also the real-life lesson in the book Mindset (reviewed in the Quest Log at A Time for Change). No matter how smart, how athletic, how heroic you are by nature, you have to commit to your goals and work hard at them to accomplish anything really important and meaningful.
You become a Hero one step at a time. Your journey to Heroism might begin by playing games or reading inspirational tales. It might start with a single small unselfish deed. Maybe you helped an old person cross the street or by helping a friend with her homework. Perhaps you volunteered to work with learning-challenged people in your community or just dropped a quarter into a charity collection box. Maybe you concentrated on your work to get a task done on time so that your co-workers could get their jobs done more easily.
All the little “good deeds” we do can add up to big positive changes in the world. Creating change takes commitment, and it takes work, but both of those get easier the more times you do them. And don’t think your work is meaningless because you’re just one small individual. Think about this Starbucks Story:
Paying It Forward
A customer waiting in line at a Starbucks drive-through got impatient and started honking when the driver in front of him seemed to be taking too long. Instead of responding in kind, the “slow” driver asked the clerk how much the next customer’s order cost. Then he paid for both orders and drove off. When the angry driver arrived, the barista told him the previous customer had paid for his order.
Shocked and embarrassed, the formerly-angry driver smiled and asked if he could pay for the next customer’s order. The chain continued all day and people found they were really happy about the unexpected generosity of the drivers ahead of them… and even happier at the opportunity to do the same thing for the next customer.
That’s a pretty amazing change in the lives of that community that one person brought about for about $4… and a Heroic attitude. That same story has been repeated over and over in many different cities. It only takes one person to start the chain, and it doesn’t get broken very often. Every one of us has that power!
I first encountered the expression “Pay it forward” in an article about a generous science fiction author. He helped out a young fan who expressed doubt about being able to pay him back and he said, “That’s all right. Many people have been generous to me when I needed it. Don’t try to pay me back. Pay it forward when you can afford it and find someone else who could use your help.” It’s a very powerful concept.
Not Just for Paladins
When I mention “doing good deeds”, “generosity”, and “helping people,” your first thought might be, “That’s fine for Paladins, but what about us Wizards, Rogues, Warriors, and Bards?”
Well, first of all, generosity and good deeds have no class. The hallmark of a Hero is to see a task that needs to be done and do it, even if he has to sacrifice something. That “sacrifice” might be a few dollars, a few minutes of your time, or writing a blog article when you’d rather be playing World of Warcraft, but that’s what differentiates Heroism from “just doing things.” You make that commitment, take that step, do the preparation, and do the deed because you know it needs to be done. Every time you sacrifice a little to do something important, you are “paying forward” and making a positive change in the world.
Of course, acts of charity are not the only ways to be Heroic. Corey became a programmer for an interesting reason. Sure, it was fun and intellectually challenging, but those weren’t it. It was the late 1960′s and we were embroiled in the Vietnam War. Cold-war tensions ran high and a nuclear war seemed almost inevitable. I had a vision of becoming a key team member on a team developing software for nuclear installations. One day the President would push the red button to launch a full-scale nuclear attack… and nothing would happen. Yes, it’s true – I became a programmer so that I could write buggy software.
As it happens, I didn’t end up going to work for the military, and I suspect they would have found a way to misuse my bad code. Instead, I joined Lori in approaching that same goal by spreading messages of peace and heroism through our games. It took a lot more work for a lot less pay, but will probably be more effective in the long run.
R&D (Research and Development) is one possible path to Heroism. In the Hero test, there is a question about discovering a cure for leukemia. That’s one way a Wizard can make an incredible positive change through Discovery. Barack Obama is the epitome of the Warrior Hero – fighting for change through leadership. By the way, it doesn’t matter in the least whether you agree with his beliefs or policies. The point is that he believes in them and has done a tremendous amount of work to put himself in the position to bring them about. That’s what being a Warrior Hero is about.
Rogue heroes bring about change through trickery and misdirection. Had I stayed with my original military sabotage plan, that would have been a Roguish Heroic Deed. A Rogue in Santa Cruz objected to fines for minor parking violations, so he put on a clown suit and walked around the downtown streets with a bag of nickels. He fed the expired meters just before the police could ticket the cars there. Eventually he was arrested and told to stop… so he did it again. An appeals court determined that he had not broken any law and the city had to pay all court costs. That is the power of a Rogue Hero in action!
As for Bards, they have long been forces for social change. Songs, chants, and newspaper articles did more to bring about the end of the Vietnam War than I could ever have accomplished through sloppy code. You just have to choose where you need to take a stand, then tell the tales that move others to join you. When we write these articles and run the School, we are taking on the roles of Bardic Heroes.
We Can All Be Heroes
Nobody will open a proclamation and declare you to be a Hero… unless it happens long after you have already become one. Heroism is a habit. You get there one small action and one tiny inspiration at a time. Everything Heroic you do makes you a little more of a Hero. But there is no magical moment when you Become a Hero. You simply are a Hero each and every time you use your time and resources to do something difficult that Needs to be Done.
If you are faced with a challenge that seems impossible, don’t despair. Find a tiny piece of it that you know how to do. Take the time to learn how to do some other small piece. Just as a huge software or construction project is made up of tens of thousands of little pieces, so is every great and worthwhile task. When Heroes commit to getting things done, they soon find that others will follow and help. Everyone wants to do things that matter; they just need to be shown that they can be done.
Be a Hero. Do deeds worth doing. Find out how you can lead, how you can help, what you can discover, the changes that need to be made, and what tales you can tell that will make this world a better place.
Thursday, February 12th, 2009
February 14 is Valentine’s Day. Cards and flowers, chocolate and everything pink; love is in the Air! But what is Love, and what does it have to do with Heroism?
When I was in grade school, we made Valentine’s Cards for everyone in class so that nobody would feel left out. If you love everybody, do you really Love anyone?
The Greeks had five words for love – Eros – passionate, sensual love; Philia – love, respect, and brotherhood with your neighbors and family; Agape – having a close connection with everyone around you, the New Testament Biblical love; Storge – affection for your family; and Thelema – desire for status, possessions, or accomplishment.
Love, Lust, and Longing
“Love Ain’t Nothin’ But Sex Misspelled” – Harlan Ellison
Thelema was popularized by Aleister Crowley in the early 1900′s. Crowley translated Thelema as “Will” and made it the keystone of his system of Magic – “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” Crowley was renowned for his dissipated lifestyle of sex and drugs. He believed in Lust, but not particularly in Love.
Still, Crowley made some good points. Much of the time, “I love you” translates as “I want to have sex with you”; or “Let’s go make love,” when there is already a sexual relationship. Much of the ritual of Valentine’s Day, and “courtship” in general, is about trying to establish or strengthen a sensual, sexual relationship. I’m not quite sure about the symbolic grade school orgies implied by kids giving cards to everyone else in the class; I guess it’s actually practice in overcoming shyness in approaching other people… or maybe camouflage for the real relationships that actually go on there. As a kid, I had no clue.
“Dating” has changed a lot over the years, at least the way I see it. “Asking someone out” has always had the sensual, Eros component, but it wasn’t necessarily strictly about sex. You did things together, had a nice meal, watched a movie, or went to the park together to establish a bond of connection and mutual affection, a strengthened Agape. In time, perhaps it would strengthen to Eros, but it was built first on friendship. Advice columns used to be full of questions such as, “Is it ok to kiss on the first date?” I think the usual advice was to wait until at least the third. For women in particular, the advice was to keep a man waiting and wanting more.
Today, dating is a lot different. The “friendship date” is almost non-existent; instead, young people generally go out with a group of friends to do fun activities. They build the same sort of bonds, but it’s with several people, not an exclusive “someone”. When a sensual connection with one person develops, most people skip the long “courtship” stage and move directly into a sexual relationship. “Susan and Dave are dating” usually means they’re sleeping together (or not getting much sleep!) these days.
This isn’t as new as we might think. If anything, the ideas of courtship and romantic love are fairly recent developments – basically, since the early Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, it was often a requirement that a woman “prove herself” by becoming pregnant before she could get married. Many marriages were arranged; sex and friendship were not necessarily thought to be related. The association of Saint Valentine with the idea of romantic love began with Geoffrey Chaucer and other romanticists in the 1300′s.
Hearts? Heroes? What’s Love Got to Do With It?
“What’s Love Got to Do With It?” – Tina Turner
This may all seem unrelated to the ideals of Heroism, but there is actually a strong connection. The romantic ideals of the 14th Century were closely tied to the burgeoning concepts of chivalry. Women were no longer to be treated as chattels (as they had been through most of “civilized” history), but honored, respected, and loved. Knights went to the field of battle carrying the favors (love tokens) of their Ladies and went on great quests to earn favor with fair maidens. While women still held no property in their own name, they had increasing privileges with regard to family possessions and estates.
To be a Hero means to respect men, women, and children of all races and religions. Courtesy and chivalry are part of it. Philia-style Love is another important part. Treating everyone as an individual, and relating to each person on his or her individual merits, is the Heroic way to relate to the people around you. A Hero does not make assumptions about someone just because of race, gender, nationality, or other “group affiliation.” Heroism is person-to-person, one at a time.
When it comes to romantic love, Heroes build relationships based on their partners’ needs first, on their own desires second. Fortunately, the nice thing about love is that the more you give, the more you receive in return. Read “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry, for an amusing and touching take on this. If you just try to “take”, you will very soon find your hands – and your arms – empty. Love is about giving, and so is Valentine’s Day.
Love – A Gift That Keeps On Giving
“Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.”
- Dorothy Parker
When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of gifts, but that’s where the resemblance to Christmas ends. A Valentine card or gift is a very personal present between people who really care about, and are close to each other. They could be lovers or friends looking for a closer friendship.
A Valentine gift is usually something small, but romantic. Flowers and chocolates are always popular. The gift might not be material – A handwritten “gift certificate” for hugs, massages, or (our favorite) D&D sessions can be more appreciated than any physical gift. Cadillacs work too. If you give a physical gift, make sure you include a card with a personal, handwritten message. The gift isn’t really the point; it’s the presentation, the effort you put into choosing it, and the romantic thought behind it that matter.
The point to a Valentine’s Day gift isn’t that it is a bribe to buy your friend’s favor. It is a freely-given present because you care about the other person and want to share something special with her or him. If you are “just friends,” sometimes a Valentine card suggests that you would like a closer relationship; just be careful not to read too much into it. If someone gives you a Cadillac, though, you can probably expect an invitation to the back seat soon after.
A Gift of Gaming?
If you and your loved one are gamers, why not share the gift of gaming? We usually spend our Valentine’s Day (or close enough to it) at DunDraCon, the longest-running role-playing game convention. We don’t actually see much of the convention (although we usually participate in some of the seminars), preferring to spend most of the weekend romantically in our hotel room… along with a half-dozen of our closest gaming friends.
Lori has run several “love-based” RP scenarios at these weekends. In one of them, we had to escort a young Prince to meet the Princess he was destined to marry. Keeping him alive through the journey was only half the problem. Once we got there, we could see that the two were not really meant for each other. The princess was already in love – with a frog (okay, so he was an enchanted frog). Fortunately, our prince fell in love with the princess’s sister, and the frog turned out to be yet another prince – so all’s well that end’s well and they all lived happily ever after. (Or would, if this were a fairy tale… but as a campaign world, well, who knows what will happen next?)
This weekend, we’re all set to do it again, and Valentine’s Day falls on Saturday. I guess that means we should have a Saturnalia. Or maybe just a Sauterne with supper. (Ok, I’m stretching; neither of us drinks… wine.) We’ve been a little too busy lately to think too much about what games we’ll be running, but it’s likely that love will lead the way. Of course, just being there is almost enough – Lori and I met over a D&D table at a convention, so that will always be part of our relationship.
As for sex and D&D, check out Phil Foglio’s What’s New comic strip, in which “Sex and D&D” was a frequent theme when it ran in Dragon Magazine, but it was never quite actually addressed. Eventually, even Phil and his wife Kaja got tired of all the teaser strips and came out with their own X-rated graphic novel series. We’ll leave finding that as an exercise for the adult reader.
Heart and Sole
This Saturday, do something special with the one you love. Go for a long walk together – It’s good for the heart, if a bit wearing on your soles. If you have no one to love right now, love yourself. Think about all the things that make you a valuable, lovable person and indulge yourself just for a day. Learning to love yourself is a vital part of learning to love others.
Get a balloon; visit a place (nearby or far away) where you’ve never been. See the world through new eyes. It’s ok to enjoy a little chocolate while you’re at it. Just don’t overindulge; save that for Easter. Smile a lot; it will make others happier and you’ll probably see a lot of smiles in return. Feel the love!
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you from Corey, Lori, Moira, Silvia, Lorenzo, Mombero, Master Dragon, Mrs. E. Gulch, and of course The Famous Adventurer!
Thursday, February 5th, 2009
“It’s elementary, my Dear Watson.” – or not – since Sherlock Holmes never actually said that. Just as you may or may Not be curious about the Elements that make up the world and all life within it. There have been many attempts to classify the basis of all matter into just four elements – Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. However, such attempts miss out on the heart and soul of true alchemy – the fifth Element.
And what, you may ask, is the fifth Element? Why, Pizza, of course!
A ‘Sedimental’ Journey
Earth is traditionally the element of solidity and protection. As the only element with any real substance, one could say Earth really matters… or at least that it’s really matter. What’s it matter, really? It’s ‘earthential’ to our standing on the planet, and I think I’m on solid ground when I say that.
In Glorianna, Earth is susceptible to Fire and Air loses to Earth. That’s because wood is “earthy” by virtue of being solid, and wood burns. It could have been the other way around, with Fire burning Air, and Earth putting out Fire, but then Water would have been left behind. Blocking the water would have been a dam nuisance to the story line, so we practiced a little damage control by letting Earth “ground” the air. Earth is really heavy, so Air has trouble carrying it, you see. But mostly it was because Fire already had an enemy (and Water has anemones).
If you need protection, visualize rock walls… or build some. In a crisis, stand your ground and remember that the Earth itself is your guardian. Just don’t try to stonewall anyone in authority while you’re stoned; you might find yourself breaking rocks on a chain gang. And don’t wall yourself in.
Air On A G-String (Or On the Side of Caution)
That’s Mozart, not what exotic dancers wear. Or maybe they do wear violin strings; some of those outfits are pretty skimpy. Hmm, air, g-strings, Marilyn Monroe? Uh, where was I?
Oh yes, air. It’s the lightweight, lighthearted element that lifts your spirits (or Marilyn’s skirt). Forget that, it’s an obvious air-or. As we mentioned, air doesn’t like to be grounded, but it could go the other way – Wind and Water, working together, can level mountains. Air is the element of movement, of speech, of music, and of course, the Winds of Change.
A wise person once said (well, actually, it was The Hollies who sang), “All I need is the air that I breathe, and to love you.” The Police said something about, “Every breath you take, I’ll be watching you,” but you can get arrested for that sort of airheaded behavior these days. And how about that Air-ol Flynn? Loved him as Robin Hood shooting his air-ohs straight to the target. But let’s not get too far off the mark here. I have a burning desire to move on to the next Element.
Fire You Looking at Me That Way?
This is the really hot topic; I’m really fired up about it. Besides, they’d fire me if I held my fire this time. I don’t want to start a flame war, but you know how it is – You play with fire, you get burned. So I’ll take my place in the hot seat and just fire away at this energetic element.
Fire warms our homes, gives us light, cooks our pizza (more on that later), and generally adds a little excitement to life. Light that fire! Romantic candlelight dinners in front of a warm fireplace on a cold Winter’s night would be rather challenging without the element of Fire.
Magically, fire adds energy to anything you need to do. Witches light candles and incense in their ceremonies to attract the attention of the spirits and to commit themselves to the ritual. When you need power, visualize the flame that drives you to succeed. Just don’t burn out in the process.
Water You Wadin’ For?
Well, now that we’ve dipped our toes in the water, it’s time to dive in all the way. You may think you’re washed up, but sometimes you just have to come clean. (Note to Lori: This is sinking fast! Can you bail me out? I know, I know, that isn’t really your bail-iwick.) Sometimes you may feel like a very small fish in a very big pond, but if you stick to your (water) guns, you can really clean up some filthy situations. If at first you scrub out, dry, dry again.
Water is the element of healing, love, and new beginnings. When you want to try something new, start with a long, soothing bath. You’ll smell better too. Drink plenty of water and share it with your water brothers and sisters. Always see the glass as half-full. Make no empty promises. Water your house plants every week. Get into the swim of life!
Conserve energy – If you commute to work or school, join a car pool. And when you’re drown on your luck, or drowning in love’s debris, maybe taking a bath financially and in trouble with the loan sharks, look to the healing power of water to wash your sins clean and make it all better.
Get Yourself a Pizza the Action
“The Element of Pizza is best known to symbolize quick energy and regeneration.” – ChaosBurnFlame on a comic book forum.
Without Pizza, life as we know it would not exist. The world of Glorianna was built on the firm but flexible foundation of crisp pizza crusts. Without frequent Pizza Factory™ excursions to fuel the furnace of creativity, few of the Quest for Glory team members would have survived those late night crunches – or the late night munchies – that make up the Sisyphean Nightmare Warren™ of game development.
Dr. Cranium insists that the world is made up of five elements – Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Pizza. However, Dr. Cranium is also a Mad Scientist, and they are sometimes known for their crackpot theories. The Wizards’ Institute of Technocery (also known as “WIT”) has this to say on the subject:
“There are some misguided individuals who insist that the world is made up of five elements. Of course, those of us enlightened in the advanced arts of Technocery know better. Only Earth, Air, Fire, and Water are true elements. Pizza is actually a compound formed by composition from the basic four elements. Earth is present in the form of flour and yeast – and often as oh-so-yummy mushrooms. Water is an essential element of pizza dough, since dry flour is pretty hard to knead and rather messy to toss. Tossing is of course an essential part of the magical development process of a perfect pizza as it incorporates air into the mixture. Finally, Fire is used both in baking and the bold burn of the pepperonis. Nothing is present in Pizza that cannot easily be attributed to one of the other four elements, and therefore Pizza is a compound, not a true Element in its own right.”
Dr. Cranium responds:
“Now what do those so-called-Wizard nincompoops know of SCIENCE? They all run around in dresses and those silly hats and prattle on about their “technocery.” That isn’t even a WORD! They call me mad, but what do they know of madness? We’ll see how crazy I am when I TAKE OVER their silly WIT with my pizza-powered siege engines and my army of Elemental Pizza Warriors in their impenetrable pizza-box armor. THEN who will be the crazy one? Muahahahahaaaaa!”
Confounded Compounded Conclusions
So, there you have it – The eternal, fundamental conflict between the impeccable logic of science and the emotion-driven fantasy world of magic. Will science prove more powerful than Wizardry in the end? Only time will tell. Is pizza really elementary? I’m not sure about that, but it’s definitely alimentary.
Our little fable comes to an end as the elements combine to form amazing new compounds of wonder and magic. Four elements, or maybe five. Every one of them is important. That’s why they’re in the Alphabet Song – You know the line, the one that goes “Elemental Pea.” All I am saying, is give peas a chance and maybe we’ll have whirled peas in our time (or at least flavored with thyme).
Yes, it’s true – Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective, never once uttered those words in the Canon of stories that have come down to us. And yet it’s his best-remembered phrase. The movies made that line famous.