It’s time for a bit more name-dropping, I think.
Jim Butcher is a friend of mine. Yes, that Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files and Codex Alera novels. That is, I think he’s still a friend. It’s really difficult for him to stay in touch with people since he became famous and all.
Anyway, Jim used to play a live action role-playing game (LARP) called IFGS when he was living in Oklahoma. This was before his success as a writer, so he was just another gaming geek like the rest of us. We’d go up to Norman from Dallas to play in their games and they’d come down to play in ours, so we saw each other quite a bit.
One particular game was Star of Zorg III, which was a huge game in Norman. It started with a bar game Friday evening and the regular game ran from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. Huge, huge game. I played in it; Jim was a major NPC and maybe even on the sanctioning team for it. Don’t remember for sure.
The problem was that Jim was really sick that weekend. There was some kind of flu going around and he had it bad. The next problem was literally everyone who could be involved with the game was involved with the game. Jim couldn’t drop out because there was nobody left to take his place and he had some important roles to play. Of course, we didn’t know any of this at the time.
As the sun was setting on Saturday, all of the teams gathered together in a big open field for a huge combat with the Forces of Evil. It was amazing! There must have been fifty people out there fighting and slinging spells and such and it took a long time to finish the fight.
Sometime during the fight, I found myself pushing hard through the middle of the combat to engage the big, bad guys in the back. One of them was Jim. He was wandering around the battlefield, casting petrify spells on people that got too close to him, mostly (as I found out later) because he felt so awful that he just couldn’t fight. A petrify spell doesn’t really hurt you, it just turns you to stone for a few minutes, so Jim was creating a lot of chaos among the players without a lot of effort. Good for him.
The problem with petrify is it doesn’t affect someone who is more powerful than you are. I wasn’t more powerful than Jim, but I had some very strong magical protections on me that made it seem that way. This was entirely unanticipated by Jim and the rest of the game staff. I mean, there may have been one or two other players on the field that day that could shrugged off spells like this one.
You now have the background to understand what happened next.
I saw Jim. He was maybe twenty or thirty feet away from me, so I took off, running full speed toward him. Jim is an average size guy, but I’m a really big guy. Not only that, I have a huge shield and sword, and I’m barreling straight for him. Jim calmly points at me and says “Petrify, 11th level”. I’m 13th level versus magic like this, so I yell “No effect!” and proceed to take his arm off with one blow.
Do you remember the old Road Runner cartoons when the huge boulder/train/truck/whatever was about to smack into the coyote? His eyes would get really wide and the pupils of his eyes would shrink to tiny dots? That’s pretty much Jim’s reaction to what just happened. His problem now is this: he has a lot of other spells he could cast on me, but he can’t cast them because the rules state that spell-casters have to have the use of both arms to cast them. Oops. There’s only one thing he can do and that’s use his escape ability, which lets him disappear and run away. So long, Jim!
I did see Jim after the game was over. He had to know how I wasn’t affected by the petrify and I was happy to explain it to him. He also thanked me for taking him out. He really wanted to keep playing, but he was just as happy to go back to his room (tent?) and collapse.
As a side note, there’s a dedication to Plumicon and Ersha at the beginning of Death Masks. Jim and I and a lot of others knew them well. Zorg III was definitely the last time I saw Plumicon and it may have been the last time I saw Ersha…