Monday, November 20, 2006

Bidda the Unlucky

When our teenage son talked me into joining him in the world of D & D a couple of years back, he gave me the chance to create characters for myself, after using premade characters, and I spent an enjoyable hour or two with him inventing the fantasy life of Fiona McLeod. But it is as Bidda the Unlucky that I have made my name in Dungeons & Dragons and on the LARPing field.

Our son is the kindest of Dungeon Masters. Not for him the power-mongering role of Merciless God, sending his players to their bloody fates without further ado. He makes it fun for us foolish mortals with poor memories to play, even when we open treasure chests with ten dead men, goblins and elves surrounding it, with arrows through their hearts.

When he began the D & D quest, I was doubtful. Long long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I had dated two D & D players. One was a sixteen year old guitarist with chronic asthma, an anger management problem and an attraction to illegal substances (looked just like Kid Rock, but with flat feet); the other was a super responsible Eagle Scout with a Big Brain and a fiendish sense of humor (looked just like Garrett from Quest for Camelot, but not blind). The first would disappear into a drug haze of feverish fantasy play with his buddies, returning half-crazed, in need of a shower and convinced I would find him irresistible in this condition. The second didn't have the opportunity of play while I dated him, Freshman year in college, but recalled the halcyon days of pillaging, questing and playing Clench a Wench with glee.
No wait, that was the SCA.

While the B-version of D & D didn't look too scary from a mothering point of view, the A-version was most unnattractive when our son became fixated almost three years ago, and began memorizing large books of facts, mythology and hit points.

But I tried to be a good mom, and played with him a few times early on with a premade character (pre-Fiona McLeod) named Lidda. Lidda was a halfling with a cool picture, so she was naturally my first choice, though I later discovered that her best qualities were that she could move with stealth, see in the dark and spot villains, hacking and slashing were not her strong suits--important aspects in the D & D world.

However, she was an attractive character, so later, when our daughter came on board and agreed to play, she wanted to be Lidda. Why not, I said, I'll be her twin sister Bidda. From then on, it became clear that Lidda was the smart sister, and Bidda was a mere hanger on, and, as it became even clearer, unlucky as hell. Bidda the Unlucky was an understatement. Every shot with her crossbow went wild, every attempt at opening a door was in vain, even a stab in the dark didn't scratch the skin. I was a questing albatross around the neck of the adventurers, and if D & D were a real world, one of my fellows would have slit my throat at an early opportunity.

Our son was merciful and with a sense of humor, so Bidda was allowed to live, prosper and get her share of the GP (gold pieces) that the rest of the group plundered while I stumbled in the dungeons.

Yesterday I got to be Bidda Live, when I agreed to LARP with our son in the wilds of Mount Hood. OK, not the wilds, just the surrounding area by our friends' cabin, an idyllic old growth area of Forest Service land that fills me with longing for a wilderness life--with a hot tub.

Our son makes duct tape armor, weapons and shields. Don't ask. He is good at it, and his designs are 95% successful, which is pretty darned good. He had brought up these massive swords, hammers and staffs produced from stiff foam rubber and duct tape, and wanted his sister to duel with him, but she was reluctant. Reluctant because she wanted to read, wanted to stay out of the rain, wanted to stay uninjured (and when she did agree to play, it took about five minutes before she was back inside with a swollen ear, despite the padding on the weapons). So I offered to play. He was thunderstruck and pleased.

I was expecting to die immediately. Apparently in Larping (Live Action Role-Playing) there are RULES. A hit to the leg means you lose use of the leg, to the arm likewise, a body or head blow means sudden and instantaneous death. I figured I was Bidda the Unlucky Live on Mount Hood, and that it would take him 1.5 seconds to deal the mortal blow.

Actually it was a fairly equal match (taking into account he was probably making it easy for his old mum to play), and we ended up, three times, killing each other simultaneously, as we both refused to surrender without a fight.

It was fun.

On the easel: Azul
On the laptop: How to Get a Christmas Tree as a Couple
On the nightstand: Third Girl, by Agatha Christie
On tape: The China Governess
On my mind: Christmas shopping, a busy Monday, Thanksgiving, Mount Hood

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