Oblivious player is oblivious.
This story takes place a long time ago, like, pre-“cellphone in every pocket” era. This may be a bit long. I was in my teens and I was hooked on playing D&D. Playing roleplaying games kept me out of trouble and also kept me from indulging in certain….habits. My regular group wanted to branch out with other games like World of Darkness and Shadowrun, but I truly loved playing D&D (2nd Edition at the time). I realized I could get my fix by joining another group at the local gaming shop. The owner told me there were two groups playing D&D and one was actually looking for people to join up. After making a phone call and some arrangements, I returned to the store to meet up with the group.
The group was seven people:
The DM, a college student in his early 20’s. His group had split up, as they do, so he and his friend, Fox, wanted to create a new one. He was a very good DM who was an aspiring writer. He understood the concept of collaborative story telling way before most. He really wanted his players to help drive the story. He was a fast thinker and was able to adapt to change. He wasn’t the most original story teller, copying many ideas from movies and books, but his stories were fun.
“Fox”, another college student, early 20’s and the DM’s roommate. He played a Human ranger. Dual wielder build , think Madmartigan from “Willow”. Fox and the DM seemed to be old friends. Fox was very funny and quick witted. Tall guy with kind of a frat guy vibe to him, I felt like he was going to be an a$$h*!e, but he was more of a “laugh with you” versus a “laugh at you” kind of guy.
“Blue”, a young lady in her early 20’s, playing a Drow cleric. Drow were rare back then, but Drizzt was big and everyone was finding a way to play them. She had a solid backstory so I guess the DM allowed it. She was very bouncy and bubbly IRL, an absolute sweetheart of a woman but she role-played her character completely differently. A dark, pained exile from the Underdark who had critical knowledge about the BBEG of the campaign.
“Scratch”, the youngest in the group. A 14-15 year old kid who was very into D&D. His mom would drop him off. He was playing the mischievous rogue trope, a half elf thief. Not the most mature kid, prone to acting a little childish and bratty, but he would pick on when we were being annoyed and he was a talented player. Apparently he was a theater kid, so his parents thought this was great practice for him. Despite being closer in age to the older players, I tended to talk to Scratch more out of game.
“Bull”, a guy in his mid to late 20’s. Who claimed he worked as a bartender and acted like that was the pinnacle of “cool”. Would always have some story about a “girl he picked up last night”. Carried himself like he was a body builder, even though he wasn’t big or muscular at all. He was a massive rules lawyer. He would find any esoteric rule or optional rule to give bonuses to his character. Bull was a power gamer, playing an elven fighte “archer”. Had a very bad habit of interrupting people when they were talking. But he was funny and a good player. As much as he would annoy you, he could still make you laugh.
“Sapper” our oldest player in his 40’s playing a half-elf druid. I was initially a little weirded out that there was this older guy in the group, but DM and Fox apparently knew him for a long time. DM even referred to him as “Pops” every once and a while. He was an old school gamer who was the ultimate support player. He was the antithesis of “Bull” in that while he knew all the rules, he would be more helpful and remind the other players or the DM if they missed something. He rarely spoke about his personal life. He was a stocky, barrel chested guy.
And finally me. I was around 18 years old and I was playing an Elven mage. I had just started college and still living at home. I was a little oblivious to the world around me and I frequently missed cues and hints. I was the guy who would ask what’s going on while watching the same movie as you. (I’ve gotten much better.) When I played roleplaying games, I was able to focus on the game for some reason, so I really enjoyed playing. I felt I was my “best self” in game.
Initially we were playing at the store, once a week in the evenings. It was loud, a little crowded, and…..smelly sometimes. There were multiple tables with Magic the Gathering players and a large Warhammer type game table with a bunch of older guys. The first game was supposed to last only two hours, but we were having so much fun and we stuck around until the owner kicked us out. The DM had us meet more organically in story rather than the whole “Stranger in a bar” trope. Everyone’s character had a personal stake in the outcome so every character could be engaged.
Our game was going very well. The DM was talented and gave us some incredible action beats. We were progressing nicely and having a lot of fun. Well, most of the time. We had our problem player, Bull. Like I mentioned, Bull had no issue interrupting people and would sometimes step on other player’s turns or even the DM’s. He was the guy that would scream out an action just as the DM was explaining something. You know what I’m talking about? Like this:
DM: “The Lord raises his scepter and….” Bull: “I shoot it out of his hand!!!!” Rolls “I got a 19” DM: “um, the scepter flies out of his hand. The guards train their crossbows on you. The Lord holds his hand and screams “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? I WAS GOING TO SIGNAL THE CHEF TO START DINNER!”
The DM would call out Bull when he would try to add all these weird bonuses to his attack rolls. DM and Fox caught on very quick to all these and the three would argue at length about where he found these and Bull would argue and wave around a legal pad full of notes about why he gets those bonuses. This is before the age of smartphones and the internet as we know it. Bull could never back up his claims and would only say things like “I found this in (insert module)” or in “a Dragon Magazine”. Many of his bonuses were redundant and didn’t make sense. It was annoying and Scratch pointed out to me that when Bull got too animated, the store owner would walk by and he would calm down. After the game, the owner would always pull Bull aside and talk to him if he had an outburst.
One day, the group started talking about moving the game elsewhere. Apparently, there were a few reasons. First of which was Blue. Now, like I said, this was awhile back and female gamers were extremely rare. When the store was packed, there were only two ladies in the place regularly. Blue and an older lady who played Magic. Blue was a very amiable girl who was kind to everyone she met. Her personality was such that the guys at the store instantly thought she was interested in them. Hell, I thought the same thing for a bit, but I realized that her kindness was not flirting. The game was constantly interrupted by guys trying to talk to her. Well, after a while, one of the much older guys in the store started to pester Blue a little too often and the older guys had to step in.
Secondly, Magic the Gathering was blowing up and the store owner wanted to limit our table top time to make way for more Magic gamers. Apparently, Magic made the owner more money. It also drew in younger folks, which made things more uncomfortable. They were louder and less respectful of other people’s space and property. One day, a kid just threw a soft drink across the room, missing his target, and landing on our map, wiping clean most of a battle. No apologies, no action from the owner. DM suggested we move the game to his house. We went around the table and we all, one by one, agreed to move the game to DM’s house. Sapper didn’t immediately agree, but after he and DM went outside to chat for a bit, he agreed. We left the store that night for the last time gaming there. I walked home while everyone else went to their respective cars. I saw DM and Sapper talking to Scratch’s mother, Scratch told me they were discussing the change of venue.
DM and Fox lived in a fairly large guest house attached to a bigger house. Apparently, a cop lived in the big house because there was a police car parked in front of it. This made me slightly nervous, for…..reasons. When we walked in, their dining room had a large table and a large bookcase full of D&D books. This was a much more comfortable venue. We got right to the game and things were so much better. The privacy made us more comfortable and the role-play greatly improved. The players all started to affect voices and accents. Even Bull relaxed a bit and wasn’t quite so annoying. We had a lot of fun for a while. Our campaign saw our party teaming up to fight a Drow wizard who was trying to find an artifact of immense power. Blue’s character was the BBEG’s daughter and vowed to stop him from killing any more innocents. After a while, a love triangle formed between Fox, Blue, and Bull in game. Well…more like a love wedge, with Fox and Blue flirting and having moments and Bull trying very hard to win Blue over. I thought it was very entertaining and Scratch and I started to try to mess with Bull’s character via the old “notes to the DM” trick. Scratch would create fake love notes from Blue to Bull and hide them in his pack. I would cast an illusion to make it look like she was looking at him and checking him out. Bull would react or confront Blue and she would let him down, which would leave him slightly embarrassed and upset. One day, Sapper pulled the two of us aside one day and asked us to stop messing with Bull that way. I wasn’t sure why he said that, but I stopped. Can’t say the same for Scratch, though.
Then things started to get a little uncomfortable. Initially, Blue would ride in with Bull, because she didn’t have a car. I had asked if he could give me a ride too, but he said it would be too out of his way. (He lived two blocks away from me.) I was saving up for a car, so I had to bum rides or take the bus. After a while, Bull offered to give me a ride because “he” realized how close we lived together. When he picked me up, I saw that Blue wasn’t there. During our car rides, he would talk about how Blue was so into him and how they went out earlier in the week or she stayed over his house. When I finally asked why she wasn’t catching a ride with us anymore, he said he wanted to keep their relationship low key. I wondered why he would tell me then, but I didn’t give it too much thought. Blue would always be there before us. When the game was over, I would catch a ride home with Scratch’s mother because Bull would hang out afterwards at the house with the older guys and Blue. I couldn’t hang out because I had school or work early. I guess Sapper hung out with them too, because I never saw him leave. Scratch and I would talk about the game on the car ride home. While I would bring up what happened in game, Scratch would talk about what happened at the game. He pointed out that at the table, Bull would always try to sit next to Blue. Early on, there was a musical chair game every night with all the players shifting chairs. Eventually, Blue nestled between the DM and Fox and Bull would sit across from her.
Fox and Bull would get into arguments often. Fox would try to do something and Bull would spout rules, real world physics, or any other reasons why he couldn’t do that. They started to go at it until Sapper or DM would get them to calm down and move ahead. Bull would do his bonus thing where he would be in a tree, shooting an arrow at an enemy, and he would roll and call out a ridiculous number. DM would ask where he came up with the number, and Bull would start listing:
Weapon Specialist: +1 Dex Bonus: +4 Elf: +1 Master work bow: +1 Master work arrows: +1 Higher ground: +2 Sun behind you: +1 Taking time for the shot: +3 Elevated Position: +2 Hated Enemy: +2
DM cut him off and said “Higher Ground and Elevated Position are the same thing, you aren’t a ranger, and I still want to see where the hell you are finding these BS bonuses. And I don’t even want to hear you say “Dragon Magazine”. Then we would have to wait 20 minutes for Bull to rifle through books and try to find (or pretend to find) where he found the bonuses. One time Scratch said, “You take the time to write down the bonuses, why don’t you write down where you found them so we don’t have to wait for you to find them. “ Bull, snapped at him and barked “F$&* you”! Sapper told him to calm down, that he was a kid. To which, Bull replied “You aren’t my father!” DM told both Bull and Scratch to relax or the game would stop. Bull calmed down and sulked when he couldn’t produce all of the extra bonuses. Blue tried to console him and point out he still hit his target, but he still acted upset.
Things came to a head one day when in an earlier game, Blue was captured in game after she fell in battle and in the subsequent mission, the rest of the party went to save her. Despite Bull’s best efforts, Fox got to her first and had his swashbuckling, two sword flipping, and dashing rescue moment. He even got to scoop her up and swing on a rope to get her out of harm’s way with me sending a fireball at the enemies chasing them so they had an explosion to swing away from! They landed and had an in game kiss, which…they….also…did IRL. Fox, swept her up and laid one on her. Blue was definitely surprised, but she clearly reciprocated the kiss. My jaw dropped. Scratch immediately turned to Bull and blurted out, “OOO, that has to sting!” I saw Bull start shaking. He stood up and started screaming at the DM. “There’s no way he could do that. He killed like 8 guys single handed!” Scratch pointed out that He, Sapper, and I all helped or buffed him with spells or arrows. Even Bull shot and killed one of Fox’s attackers. Bull, knocked over his large soda as he was complaining, and Sapper immediately got up to get paper towels from the kitchen.
Bull started in on Fox, claiming he lied on his initiative rolls and exaggerated his movement to get to her. DM said, “Fox rolls on the table in front of us, and we are tracking movement on the grid. There’s no way he could have cheated”. “BullSht! You are covering for him! You both are trying to make me look bad, you’ve been doing it all campaign!” Scratch interjected “You don’t need their help to look bad.” Bull screamed again “F&% you, you little sht!” Fox admonished Scratch with a glance, but glared at Bull. Blue stepped in, “Bull, calm down, please.” Bull turned on her, “And you let him kiss you! Come on, let’s get out of here!!!” She said, “What? No, I’m …” DM spoke up, “Dude, you need to leave, now. “Scratch, who was smiling at the action, chimed in “Yeah, get lost, a$$h!e!!”
With that, I saw Bull’s hand reach into pocket, I pulled Scratch behind me in an act that, at the time, I didn’t understand why I doing it. Fox stepped back with Blue as DM moved around the table. Bull produced a pocket knife and turned toward DM as he flicked it open. DM pulled a chair in front of him and yelled something like, “DAAA!” Before I knew it, Sapper was rushing into the room. He grabbed Bull’s hand and twisted it hard inward toward Bull’s chest. I heard the knife fall and I saw Bull swing and hit Sapper on his ear. Sapper yanked Bull’s arm behind him and grabbed the back of his neck. He them slammed Bull on the table, (crushing some miniatures) and then slid him onto the floor. There was some wrestling on the floor and Fox and DM rushed over. I couldn’t see what was happening because I backed away and found myself in the corner of the room standing next to Blue. Scratch had slipped out to the other corner to watch the fight. I saw Fox pick up the knife and Sapper barked at him to put it on the table. Sapper then said to DM, “Go get my handcuffs, they are on my belt.” DM ran off through the back door and Sapper directed Fox on how to pin down Bull’s legs. He then told Blue to call the police. After hearing that, Bull stopped cursing and started saying “Ok, Ok, I’m good, I’ll just go. “ Sapper said “Oh, you’re going alright….” Bull pleaded with him, but Sapper kept him down until DM came back with a pair of handcuffs. Like real police handcuffs. Sapper puts them on him and stood him up. He searched him like a cop would and then commanded Bull to sit down in a chair. Sapper then looks at DM and asks, “You ok, son?” to which DM responds.” Yeah, Dad. “
My jaw dropped. It was like that scene at the end of “Usual Suspects”. As Sapper was asking everyone if they were ok, memories started flashing before me. I never realized just how oblivious I was. Here’s a list of revelations that hit me while I was standing there waiting for the police.
First, Sapper was DM’s father. He lived in the big house. That’s why I never saw him leave. That’s why DM would sometimes call him “pops”, he wasn’t being insulting, he was just talking to his dad!
Second, the reason Sapper told Scratch and I not to mess with Bull, was that he was aware there was something wrong with Bull. I didn’t really pay too much attention to Bull when he would drive me to the game, but he talked a lot about how he and Blue had a relationship, I assumed he was telling the truth. I thought Bull was angry because Fox kissed his girl. Obvious to everyone but me, that wasn’t the case. Sapper was aware of Bull’s delusions and he asked Scratch and I to stop messing with him because he just didn’t want us aggravating the situation. Which brings me to the third thing.
Fox and Blue were actually and item! Scratch later filled me in that he figured out they started dating around the same time we moved the game to the house. Their relationship progressed to the point where they were spending the day together and he was taking her home. Or maybe she was staying there. Either way, that’s why Bull wasn’t driving her to game or home. It seemed that she was so nice that she didn’t want to overtly show off their relationship because she didn’t want to upset Bull.
Fourth thing…..Bull was bat crap crazy!!! He apparently was delusional. He truly believed he and Blue were in a relationship, despite all evidence to the contrary. After all this was done, we all sat down and they discussed everything that happened. Apparently, he been asking Blue out since they met and she had been letting him down, but she still was happy to be his friend. Recently, Fox had a conversation with Bull where he broke it to him that he and Blue were an item. Bull apparently told him he was still going to chase after her saying “Let the best man win.” Sometime after that conversation, Bull got it in his head that he and Blue had some kind of relationship. When he saw Fox kiss Blue, he truly thought Fox was kissing “his” girl. Which is why he snapped.
Which brings me to the fifth and final thing. Sapper was a cop. He lived in the big house like I mentioned, and that’s why he was leery about moving the game to the house. He lived there with DM’s Step-mother and another son and daughter who was several years younger than DM. He told DM that they had to hold the games in the in the guest house where he was living with Fox. He also wasn’t too happy about having a minor come over but he and DM talked to Scratch’s mom and later to his father at length. I was always nervous around cops back then…..for…reasons…. but I realized that he was just a regular guy, a guy who was into the same things I was into. Well, ……..not everything I was into.
So this whole internal revelation montage ended, when I heard the sirens of police cars. I was worried about where my backpack was…for ….reasons. They came in and started asking what was going on. Bull started screaming about how his father was a high ranking police officer from the next county over and how they had to let him go immediately. The police got statements from everyone, including me. They arrested Bull and took him away. We all were standing around when Fox apologized to everyone thinking that his actions caused all the problems. Blue apologized because she didn’t realize just how much Bull was into her. Scratch apologized because he thought his teasing pushed him over the edge. I apologized because I just didn’t realize how bat crap crazy Bull was and I never told anyone about his conversations with me. Sapper apologized because he knew we shouldn’t have let Bull play with us. He had a conversation with the store owner who told him that Bull was prone to fits of anger. The owner told him he had calmed down over the years after he suspended him from the store a few times. But the owner still saw that anger bubble out sometimes. DM finally spoke up and said it was his fault. He convinced his dad to bring the game here and allow Bull to play. He said he should have listened to his dad’s intuition. When all was said and done, we all agreed to take a couple weeks off so DM could retool the campaign since Bull’s character was not going to be there anymore.
Sapper, DM, Fox, and Blue went out to tell Scratch’s parents what had happened. She was shocked and according to Scratch, she needed those two weeks to be convinced to let him play at DM’s house again. I saw how upset she was so I didn’t ask for a ride. Sapper offered to take me home, but I politely declined…….for…..reasons and I took the bus. We started up again and DM stated Bull’s character fell during Blue’s rescue.
Bull apparently showed up a day later to get his car. Sapper stood outside and watched him as he got dropped off and he jumped in without a word. Bull got charged and his family got him a great lawyer that got the charges reduced. I’m not sure if he served time, but I heard he got a ton of community service. We added and subtracted people to our group over the next couple of years we played together. Eventually, my original group started playing D&D again and I decided I would play with the two groups.
Years later, I lost touch with Scratch, but through the magic of Facebook, I still talk to the old group. Blue and Fox dated for several years, but eventually parted ways and got married to other people. DM is living with his husband, (another thing I didn’t notice.) I’m actually still very close to Sapper. He was kind of a mentor to me and got me to drop certain…habits, and go into his line of work after I finished school. Now with the advent of online table top gaming, DM is putting together a reunion game using Fantasy Grounds. I’m really looking forward to getting to play with my old friends again.
submitted by NemoWatches
Jordan Peterson: Descensus ad inferos
Welcome to the discourse! This forum is dedicated to the work associated with Dr. Jordan Peterson: a public intellectual, clinical psychologist, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.