Though it remains a little known fact to those outside their culture, harpies are, in fact, enthusiastic about sports and games. Although most harpy games involve a level of violence that would make professional hockey look like a game of tiddlywinks, Rinloh, our harpy main character, is intent on broadening the horizons of some of her flockmates. We join our hero in a little clearing just outside the harpy nesting grounds at dusk.
I was really interested in some of the games Darin told me about from his home world, and managed to convince Velara and Beatriz to try a round of what he called “D&D.” Jenolen surprised me when she agreed to serve as DM. Some of the villagers helped set up a playing area and a few lamps.
Let’s see how it goes.
“Beatriz, you are playing as a half-elf bard,” I say. “Kinda surprised me you chose that one. Do you understand the character type?”
“It sounded fun,” she replies. “And I like music.”
“And I’m a neko ranger,” says Velara. “Let’s get on with it.”
I glance down at the stack of papers and those chance cubes the littles use. “Anyway, it was nice of the villagers to help create character sheets big enough that we can… hey! Who did this? Someone edited my character sheet?”
“What?” Jenolen glares at me. “I just updated your character with race attributes.”
“You added ‘delicious’ to his attributes!”
Jenolen cocks her head. “Isn’t that a standard race attribute for humans?”
“Nooo! And it doesn’t make any sense anyway. You’re trying to make your characters survive.”
“Don’t give me that look! This ‘Darin’ character makes no sense to begin with. He’s something called a ‘cleric,’ which you said is a wise healer.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“He can’t be that wise if he doesn’t know how quickly we heal on Arvia anyway.”
“Uuugh.” My head droops. This could be a long night.
“So he’s a healer. Is that why he carries a foot massager with him?”
“A foot massager?”
“The stick with that little knobby ball on it. I’ve got this spot under the second toe of my right talon, and something like that would be perfect to–”
“It’s called a mace!”
“Maybe I can get one of the villagers to make me one.”
“Let’s just start the game.”
Jenolen begins. “The three of you start off on your adventure, investigating reports of a missing caprid flock near the northern marshlands. As you fly northeast–”
I clear my throat and glare at Jenolen. “Fly?”
“–As you walk northeast you spot a–this is where you roll one of these cubes right?”
“Yes.” Good. She seems to be picking this up quicker than I thought.
Jenolen picks up the tiny cube, lets it drop on the flat stone serving as our board, then checks a sheet of paper.
“You encounter a crocodile.”
“Excellent!” says Velara. “We can play a game of croc-toss!”
“Noooo!” I say. “Humans do not play catch with live crocodiles. You need to play as if you were really your character.”
“But I’m not a human, I’m a neko,” says Velara, ruffling her feathers.
“Nekos are human-sized.” I turn to Beatriz and snap, “and no. Half-elves also do not play croc-toss.”
“For something you keep calling a game, you sure seem to be against us having much fun,” says Velara.
“While the three of you pointlessly argue,” says Jenolen, “the crocodile moves in to attack. Beatriz, you are closest. You go first.”
Good. Fighting. This should come naturally to these three. Maybe after a few rounds of combat, they’ll get into it more.
“Fine. Time to hunt,” says Beatriz with a broad grin. “I sidestep, then lunge at the creature’s neck for a bite-attack.”
“Beatriz! You are a half-elf bard. You do not have a bite attack!”
Jenolen steps in, “Seems reasonable to me. After all, with no talons it’s not like a claw attack would be very effective.”
“We can’t claw, we can’t bite, we can’t carry the crocodile into the air and drop it on a rock, how are we supposed to fight?” says Velara.
“That’s what your equipment is for. Check your character sheet!”
“Hmmm,” says Velara, peering at the sheet. “Primary weapon is a longbow. There’s even a drawing of it here. Got it!”
“The neko ranger flanks the crocodile, charges in, and pokes it in the eye with a longbow!”
“And my half-elf bard smashes its skull open with a lute!” says Beatriz. “I like this game! Nice and brutal.”
“Noooooo. You don’t understand the rooooooles.”