The week of Christmas we hosted my brother Andy, sister-in-law Dawn, sister Melanie and nephew Dylan. We are a family that loves games, and Andy and I are usually very competitive. I always have a blast, even though I might think it's a little unfair when Andy gets a simple 50/50 question for a pie piece in Trivial Pursuit. One thing Andy did last year in Sedona was be a Dungeon Master for myself and Dylan. We played a game similar to Dungeons and Dragons called Swords and Wizardry.
If you've never played a tabletop RPG, it's very difficult to explain. Basically, Andy created the worlds, and Dylan and I played adventurers and faced peril, monsters, traps, puzzles, and some awesome rewards. The character I created in '09 was a young, charming (rolled a 16 for Charisma) and mysterious Cleric named Orzain "Oz" Thistlecrown. He fought bravely alongside Dylan's fighter Gilliam and won against the evil Frog Cleric and help the mayor of Andronia, and even convinced the head of a local gang of thieves to fight alongside them (for the right price, of course). The bloody battle deep in the dungeon ended with everyone dead except an unconscious Gilliam and, of course, Oz.
This year, we reprised our roles and crept deeper into the dungeon, this time unraveling another mystery and finally finding a new enemy: Kaddo the Wizard. Unfortunately, Oz died on the first day of adventuring. Perhaps drunk from his previous success, or just a lapse in judgement, he reached into a sack of gold only to find out that the sack was not a sack but a "Bag of Teeth", which clamped onto his arm and ended up killing him. Gilliam, dejected, carried Oz back to Andronia for a burial. Trying to drown his sorrows in a pint of Andronia's finest ale, he ran into another stranger in town. Not nearly as charming as Oz, but quite a bit stronger, older and wiser (and maybe a bit crazy), this new stranger, Horace Gentry, offered to take Oz's place for a share of the gold and riches that were sure to be deep in the dungeon.
Gilliam really didn't have much choice.
Horace did indeed prove useful, a couple of times doing a "Turn Undead" to send ghouls and skeletons fleeing from their sight, and more than once bringing his new "Bone Doom" mace down upon the head of an undead creature. A young hireling, Ordalack was hired to bear a torch, but in a miraculous turn of events saved the whole party by managing to throw a dagger to finish of a ghoul that had already paralyzed and disabled the rest of the party. After this event, Ordalack was made a permanent member of the group and a new name for this adventuring troupe was created: "Sword and Scepter".
The party faced ghouls, hideous labs, a "hyenawere", a giant 10 foot centipede, a flock of ravenous birds, poison gas traps and finally a set of water filled rooms so heinous that they almost had the party killed before they finally met up with Kaddo the evil wizard. After fighting through his horde of Skeletons, they were able to withstand the Wizard's power and kill him, losing several party members in the process. In the end, Horace, Gilliam (now level 2) and Ordalack survived the dungeon and returned to Andronia victorous and eager for more adventure.