My Greatest D&D Moment

I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons since 1980. That’s a bunch of years, dozens of characters, lots of GMs, and more adventures than I can recall. (I’ve also played other RPGs, including Twilight 2000, Vampire, Shadowrun, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yes, there’s a TMNT game, and it’s beyond fun.)

Like any other seasoned gamer, I have war stories. I have war stories for days, and I was recently trying to decide which is my favorite. What was my greatest gaming moment ever (to date, anyway – I still play, and you never know, right)?

Here’s what I decided on.

It was mid-1980s and I was playing with what I’ll call the Euclid group (Charlie, the DM, lived on Euclid Avenue). I was playing Arson, a fairly straightforward fighter from a Nordic culture. Large, strong, noble, favored of Odin, etc. He’d have been around 12th level at that point, which was big (this was before I was seduced by power-gaming).

Not sure what we were fighting, but we were dick-deep in honey badgers, metaphorically speaking. Not only were we losing, we were on the verge of a TPK (total party kill). The DM had us dead to rights. We only had one shot left.

Arson was a holy warrior and had, in an earlier adventure come into possession of a Necklace of Prayer Beads. Great item to have if you’re at all clerical. Even better, the necklace contained one of the most coveted of all items: a Bead of Summoning, which allowed you to attempt calling on your deity for help. He/She/It might send a greater minion, some lower level minions, whatever. He/She/It might even come Him/Her/Itself if the circumstances dictated, but if you twist that bead it had better be for a damned good reason. Gods don’t like being bothered by pissant mortals.

But … only a 10% chance of success. So this was as Hail Mary as D&D got in the ’80s.

So Arson twisted the bead. “Roll,” Charlie said. “You want high numbers.”

I picked up my anointed percentiles, shook them hard, and let fly. 00. Swear to all the gods – I rolled a double-aught.

There was much screaming and celebrating, as happens when people who have abandoned all hope realize their favorite characters are going to survive.

Then, as the racket died down it got better.

The Euclid house was sort of a nerd YMCA. At any given time there might be a game going, or people might be hanging out, or people might be trying to catch the bat that got loose upstairs (another story for another day). This night someone in the living room was either watching Apocalypse Now or cranking some Wagner, because as Odin was deciding how to help, the signature crescendo of “Ride of the Valkyries” came streaming into the game room.

The script was writing itself at this point. Through the clouds, to the rescue, came riding a phalanx of elite and very committed valkyries.

We hadn’t been able to win the fight, but they damned sure did. Mopped up. Resurrected our several dead, healed everyone, and rode off without ceremony. But not before relieving me of the Bead of Summoning, which I wouldn’t be needing anymore, would I?

On that day Arson graduated from “big fighter” to near-legend – Odin’s valkyries rode to his call. He went on to become an epic figure and his firstborn grew up to become Odin’s high paladin. Which was quite an accomplishment for a girl.

Mercifully, the stories told about that fight didn’t linger on the fact that it only happened because he was getting his ass kicked…

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