Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Arduin, Whacky Arduin

With the impending fourth issue of Fight On!, the news that it was going to be dedicated to David Hargrave got me thinking about some of the crazy Arduin antics my old gaming crew and I enjoyed back in the early 80’s. Arduin is remembered for many things, but I think chief among them is the infamous pair of tables from Volume I, The Critical Hit Table (p. 60) and Hargrave’s Fumble Table (p. 61). While my gaming crew enjoyed these pillars of Hargravian gaming, we spent an inordinately long amount of time delving into the possibilities of one of the lesser known touches of Hargrave Gonzo, the Whimsey. It was a fairly innocent entry in that same Volume I (p. 47) that started it all:

WHIMSEY WINE: When drunk, anything can happen. The user might become hasted, or turn blue! The dungeon master should have a “whimsey chart” with 20 or more things that can happen, and roll on it.”
That’s all it said, but in those heady days of homebrew madness, I ran with this theme for many months during our campaign. It got to be a bit much after a while, and the whole thing was pure adolescent silliness. Before I was done, I had written five (maybe more) tables of Whimsies, made a playable Whimsey-casting character class, brewed up countless Whimsey magic items, and pretty much made the players dread the damn things after a while. More than one game session devolved into hilarity when multiple Whimsies began going off and the player’s characters got zero adventuring done, no experience, and no treasure. But damn did we manage to have a ton of laughs.

So, in remembrance, I just went earlier today to my gaming closet, and found that tattered old yellow folder crammed with handwritten notes for Arduin. The surviving tables are these:

Basic Whimsey Chart (100 random effects)
New Whimsey Chart (89 random effects)
Nyark Ripplesnap's Whimsey Channel (100 random effects)
Gorfaxio Gondoro's Whimsey Table #1 (20 high level random effects)
Gorfaxio Gondoro's Whimsey Table #2 (20 high level random effects)

As well as The Mar-Vexian Mage, Mar-Vexian Spell Table and notes, and even the Mar-Vexian Super Soldier (a Techno-Whimsey class).

The notes from 25 years ago, or longer, are now embarrassingly revealing. There’s some really whacky stuff in these tables. Much of it is just plain stupid. But somehow it worked wonders back then. In retrospect, the Whimsey was probably the single most important tidbit of Arduin for our wide-eyed gaming group, and it all started with an unassuming jug of Whimsey Wine.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee


dan said...

No examples from your lists? You tease! There have to be some worth sharing. Give in to peer-pressure.

I wish I still had some of the stuff I wrote up when I was younger. I'm sure I would also find most of it embarrassing today, but I recall that I used to make color maps for the adventurers I put together and I wouldn't mind taking a look at some of those again.

Anonymous said...

Those Whimsey charts need to go into Fight On!

Sham aka Dave said...

Dan: Stay tuned for more Whimsey stuff. And I guess I am lucky to have managed to keep a portion of my notes. Much of it is lost now, though.

Geoffrey: They're too big and silly. I'd lose whatever meager street cred I've managed to establish by making these public!

I actually am thinking of an article to submit to FO! and perhaps a reworked 'best of' chart. Not sure yet but I need to get working on that amongst all my other projects.

The Mar-Vexian Mage might be more suitable, if I was willing to alter names since it's full of copyrighted material.

Will Douglas said...

Hell, Arduin was full of copyright material!

But I see your point.

Anyway, I too would like to see some samples of your whimsey tables (but I'll be willing to wait for Fight On! no. 4).

Good stuff, as usual!

ktrey said...

Ah... Arduin.

If you're ever offered jumping beans from a Mad Mar-Vexian mage, you BUY THEM.

Sham aka Dave said...

If you're ever offered jumping beans from a Mad Mar-Vexian mage, you BUY THEM.

Damn skippy! I must remember to go over the Mar-Vexian Mage stuff and see what I can share here.