Dungeons & Dragons & Middle Age — A Short Film

1

January 30, 2015 by T. Gregory Argall

 INT: MURRAY’S HOME OFFICE
The camera pans across the room, showing a cluttered table and a couple of chairs with books piled on them. The camera settles on MURRAY, a man in his 50’s, sitting at his desk. He has a large, hard-cover book open on the desk, and he is scribbling notes on a pad of paper. He pauses, looks at his notes, and smiles, nodding. Putting down the pen, he picks up his iPhone and hits a speed-dial. Leaning back in his chair, he holds the phone to his ear.

CLOSE UP: MURRAY TALKING EXCITEDLY ON THE PHONE

MURRAY
Hey, it’s me. Listen, Saturday night I’m getting everyone together for something special. Everyone. You know, the guys. Yeah. Because we’ve been talking about this for years and I think it’s time we actually did it. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t care that we haven’t played in thirty years. Some things you never forget how to do. Right. So, eight o’clock, Saturday night. My basement. We’re going to play to Dungeons and Dragons again.

CUT TO:
INT: MURRAY’S BASEMENT DEN

A table is in the middle of the room. It looks out of place in the space. The room is nicely finished, with carpeting and wood paneling, and department store framed art. The table is old and worn, discarded from a kitchen forty years ago, but never thrown away. Arranged are six chairs, the original set that came with the table.
MURRAY sits at the head of the table, a battered 1983 Dungeon Master screen set up in front of him. To his right, several old D & D books are stacked on a chair, ready of needed. More books are on the table beside the screen. In the middle of the table is a board with a large-scale map, divided by a grid.
The remaining chairs around the table are occupied by four men also in their 50’s, with various expressions ranging from expectant to nervous to dubious. They are JASON, ANDREW, CJ, and THEO.

DM_screen__large_

JASON
I don’t know about this. I mean, it’s been thirty years since we played.

MURRAY
It’ll be fine.

ANDREW
Jason’s got a point. Gaming has changed a lot since our day.

CJ
Yeah, Red Bull didn’t even exist then.

THEO
What’s that got to do with anything?

CJ
I’m just saying.

MURRAY
And I’m just saying, don’t worry about it. I’ve made it easy for you guys. Here.

MURRAY passes a sheet of paper to each of the others.

ANDREW
What’re these?

MURRAY
These are your character sheets. I pre-rolled some characters for you so we could save time and just get right into the campaign.

THEO
It says here that my half-elf wizard has sciatica.

MURRAY
Well, you do have sciatica.

THEO
I do, yeah. But why does my character have sciatica?

MURRAY
We’re  not as young as we used to be, so your characters shouldn’t be either. I tried to make each of your characters as much like your real selves as possible. You know, so that your moves will be more instinctual, because you’re already familiar with your own limitations.

ANDREW
Limitations?

MURRAY
Skills, I mean. Skills and limitations, but mainly skills. Skills are important in this game if you use them properly. You remember.

ANDREW
Oh, I remember. Remembering things is one of my skills.

MURRAY
Good. Okay. So the four of you find yourselves on the road to Stonehaven Keep. It’s late afternoon, near dusk.

MURRAY places four small plastic figures on the board in the middle of the table.

MURRAY
Jason, roll a twenty-sided die for bifocals.

JASON
What?

MURRAY
On your character sheet, left column near the bottom.

JASON
My character has bifocals?

MURRAY
Look. I just explained this to Theo —

JASON
No, I get it. Fine. I need a fifteen or better.
(rolls dice)
Seventeen.

MURRAY
All right, you spot a group of twelve kobolds appear in the road about thirty feet ahead of you, coming your way. Six of them are archers, with arrows nocked. What do you do?

JASON
I, uh, I run towards those boulders beside the road.

THEO
Yeah. We all do. We run for shelter.

ANDREW and JASON nod in agreement.

MURRAY
Okay what’s your base movement rate?

The four players check their character sheets.

THEO
Five.

JASON
Six.

CJ
Five.

ANDREW
One. Are you kidding me? One?

MURRAY
Bad hip. It’s listed there under “physical impediments.”

ANDREW looks at his sheet.

ANDREW
I have a cane? So, like an ornate walking stick, right?

MURRAY
Check the next line. It’s the kind with the four feet at the bottom, and the rubber tips.

ANDREW
You’re kidding.

MURRAY rolls several dice and looks at the results.

MURRAY
Anyway, the archers loose their arrows. Jason, CJ, and Theo, you make it to the boulder for shelter. Andrew, you… do not. You get hit with an arrow…
(rolls dice)
…in the hip. Heh. Ironic. You take six damage.

ANDREW
I hate you.

MURRAY
I can live with that. The other six kobolds charge towards the boulder, swords drawn.

CJ
I step out and draw my sword.

MURRAY
Roll a saving throw against arthritis.

CJ
What? Fine. Whatever.
(rolls dice)
Three. Dammit.

MURRAY
Your fingers seize up with pain and you drop your sword. The first kobold attacks you and…
(rolls dice)
Wow, natural twenty. You don’t need to worry about your arthritis anymore. He’s cut your arm off.

CJ
What the Gygax?

MURRAY
The second kobold charges and…
(rolls dice)
Heh. He trips over Andrew and…
(rolls dice)
…lands sword-first on CJ, causing fourteen damage. CJ, you’re dead.

CLOSE UP: FIGURES ON THE TABLE
MURRAY’s hand tips one of the figures, laying it on its side.

ANDREW
Ha!

MURRAY rolls more dice.

MURRAY
Andrew, when the kobold tripped over you, his clawed foot sliced your belly. Five damage. You’re dead.

CLOSE UP: FIGURES ON THE TABLE
MURRAY’s hand tips another one of the figures, laying it on its side.

CJ
Ha!

MURRAY
Theo–

THEO
I hit them with a cease and desist order.

MURRAY
You what what?

THEO
Under secondary abilities on my sheet it says I’ve got a law degree. If that’s anything like my actual law degree then, a) it should be listed as a primary ability, and b) I issue them with a cease and desist order prohibiting them from ambushing and/or attacking travelers on this road. I also threaten to sue for damages, namely the loss of two members of our party.

MURRAY
Ah. Okay… The, um, the matter goes before the local magistrate…
(rolls dice)
A winged kobold.

THEO
Seriously?

MURRAY
Yup. His name is Althred Bloodshower. You should call him “Judge Bloodshower.” Or “Your Honour.” Anyway, after hearing arguments from both sides, the judge decides in favour of…
(rolls dice)
…the kobolds.

THEO
Of course he does.

MURRAY
You wanna check my dice?

THEO
No. Whatever.

MURRAY
Right. The judge lowers his gavel…
(rolls dice)
…on your head…
(rolls dice)
Twelve damage. You die.

CLOSE UP: FIGURES ON THE TABLE
MURRAY’s hand tips yet another one of the figures, laying it on its side. One remains standing.

THEO
What?

ANDREW
Ha!

MURRAY
The judge flies off. The remaining kobolds turn to face Jason. They’re maybe fifteen feet from you. Archers in front, sword-wielders standing behind them.

JASON
Uh… I crouch and hold up my shield.

MURRAY
(chuckling)
Sure, why not? All six archers release their arrows.

MURRAY rolls the dice, shrugs, and rolls the dice again. Looking surprised, he rolls the dice again, then again. Getting angry, he rolls the dice a fifth time. Red-faced with frustration he rolls the dice one last time.

MURRAY
What the hell? All six arrows miss you. Stupid dice.

JASON
Oh. Cool. I, um, I stand up, look at all the arrows on the ground around me and then I…

JASON smiles as an idea occurs to him.

MURRAY
What? You do what?

JASON
I initiate a dialogue with the kobold leader regarding supply expenditure ratios and cost effective options for continued ammunition acquisition. Following that I review the platoon budgetary records for the previous fiscal period. I assume they craft their own arrows?

MURRAY
Uh…. Yeah.

JASON
Then I make two proposals. The first is to attach a length of thin thread to each arrow, so that the archers can retrieve arrows in battle and reuse then. Secondly I propose outsourcing arrow production to another group entirely. The initial expense would be significant, but that would pay for itself within the second fiscal quarter through reuse of arrows. Additionally, the time previously spent on crafting arrows could now be spent practicing and improving the archers’ skills. Which, let’s face it, they really need to do.

MURRAY considers for a moments, rolls some dice, and nods.

MURRAY
Okay. The kobold leader accepts your proposal and declares you their Vice President in Charge of Archery Processes. You get an expense account and three weeks paid vac–

JASON
Five.

MURRAY
What?

JASON
Five weeks paid vacation. Or I walk. I’ve got other offers on the table.

MURRAY rolls the dice.

MURRAY
All right, five weeks paid vacation.

JASON
I accept.

MURRAY
Great. You and the kobolds continue along the road in search of other travelers to ambush.

ANDREW
What about us?

MURRAY
You guys can go out and get us some beer and pizza. Jason and I have some serious gaming to do.

THE END

 

Try to be nice to each other.

tga

 

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One thought on “Dungeons & Dragons & Middle Age — A Short Film

  1. Bill Poulin says:

    So Jason’s character is … what? A 1st level Process Engineer? Skill checks on “Finding Fault With Others” and “Being Pedantic”. Automatic -2 to Charisma, leveling up doesn’t earn you more money but does create more work for you… christ, I think this is MY character…

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