Author’s Note: To fully appreciate this story you must understand all of the important details and key players. People’s names and the locations in this story have been changed to protect the innocent. Also, I’m relying upon my memory of events from nearly 20 years ago, so God help us all. Enjoy.
This is another T-D-Dubs tale that features the beloved Sluggo, Cornelius Van Brocklin, and Sebastian Daniels. In order to gain a better understanding of these characters, I urge you to read the following articles: Sluggo Killed The Atari Jaguar, Where The F—- Is The Nintendo 64, and Laser Tag.
Sluggo, Cornelius Van Brocklin, and Sebastian Daniels introduced me to the world of role playing games. Before I met those guys, I was familiar with role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, but in my Ohio hometown, I did not know a single person who played role playing games. My education consisted of 12 years of Catholic schooling, and there was this religious youth advisor who always loved to tell some cockamamie tale of a boy who played Dungeons & Dragons to the point where he could not tell the difference between reality and fantasy. The religious youth advisor would end the story by telling us the kid killed his parents because he thought they were trolls. Dungeons & Dragons was more than likely not the culprit, but perhaps this sounds like a case of someone with undiagnosed schizophrenia deciding to kill his family. This was the same religious youth advisor who swore you could summon the devil by playing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd albums backwards. That dude was a real buzzkill.
It was the summer of 1994 when I moved into my first apartment as a college student. Sluggo was one of my roommates, and he was a major fan of role playing games. Instead of getting a job and paying his rent, Sluggo apparently sold his first edition of unopened Magic: The Gathering cards to make ends meet. The money ran dry quickly, so Sluggo was forced to get a job as a student computer lab helper, which interfered with his 14- to 16-hour sleep schedule.
I was a working man in college and waited tables part-time at an Italian-themed chain restaurant. The hours were decent, the tips were nice, and I was given a glimpse into the dirty secrets of their empire. My schedule had me working Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evenings. My Friday shift was a 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift that resulted in some decent tips. The restaurant closed at 10 p.m., but we had to clean up the place, so I was not home until 10:45 or 11 p.m. Waiting tables is a thankless job. If I wasn’t serving uppity yuppies, then I had the denizens of Mayberry who were thrilled to be eating some classy “Eye-talian food.”
When I got back to my apartment, all I wanted to do was chill out for a few and possibly drink a beer or two. One night after a long shift, I walked in and noticed a candelabra was glowing an eerie light in the living room of my apartment. Surrounding the candelabra was Sluggo, Cornelius, Sebastian, and some of their cronies. They were playing a game of Vampire: The Masquerade, a role playing game, so I sat myself down on the couch and said hello to the gang. They resumed playing and after a few minutes I was slightly interested in their game of Vampire. “Slightly” is the key word because there was a part of me that thought Vampire was lame as hell.
If you don’t know Vampire, let me give you a quick tutorial. A bunch of vampires roam around a city during a certain period in time, fight their enemies, and engage in some vampire fraternization. You use a ten sided dice to roll for initiative and for fighting and all that jazz. There is more to the game, but the point of this article is to entertain people and not bore them to death.
Let’s talk about the people in my apartment playing the game. You know Sluggo, Cornelius, and Sebastian. If you don’t, then you should have read the articles I linked for you earlier. Get to work, lazy bones, and don’t give me that TL;DR crap. The rest of the Vampire crew consisted of Dolfman, Bertha, Tyler, and Farrokh. Dolfman was a giant, hairy creature who looked like a computer nerd mixed with the Wolfman. Bertha was Cornelius’ girlfriend and she was a short but stout gal who was a contrast to Cornelius’ tall but gangly frame. Tyler was your almost-a-nerd-but-not-quite-a-hillbilly type. Farrokh was a long-haired hippie who loved being the dungeon master or role playing official or whatever it is called when someone runs these games.
I liked the aforementioned people. They were a chill group, but they were very passionate about their role playing games. They would have group high fives and stuff when they accomplished some goal. They would also make jokes about other vampire clans, but you would only get the jokes if you played Vampire.
Not only was there passion, but there were some moments of dirty play. I’d arrive home on a Friday night from the restaurant, and these cats would be in the middle of some adventure as vampires. There would be moments where Sebastian’s character would do something to piss off Cornelius’ character, so Farrokh would have to play peacemaker. Sebastian’s character even spent time harassing Bertha’s character, which led to some additional peacemaking by Farrokh. I would sit and watch the madness unfold.
My restaurant days came to a close after a few years, so my Friday nights were free. I had an internship in county government, which paid a decent wage, but it got me out of waiting tables. Most importantly, it got me out of working nights and weekends. After a while, you just want to stab your customers in the head with a steak knife. Did I tell you that waiting tables is a thankless job? Tip well, my friends. Tip well.
The role playing gang noticed I was free for Friday nights, so they asked me to join them for a new round of Vampire. I was honored. I was about to become part of the role playing world, but some changes were quickly brewing. Sluggo, Cornelius, and Bertha decided to join some lame ass role playing group. One of the members of this group was a kid named Billy Wonkers. I knew Wonkers from college because he would walk the halls in a strange manner. Wonkers would lean his arm or shoulder against the walls in the hallway and walk to classes. I’m not joking. At times, it looked like he was hugging the wall while walking to class. One day Wonkers stopped by the apartment to hang out with Sluggo, who was awake after 20 hours of sleep. There was no way in hell I would do a role playing game with that freakazoid.
I was left with Sebastian, Dolfman, Tyler, and Farrokh. They were tired of Vampire and they wanted to play Star Wars. There was no need to talk me into playing Star Wars because they had me at Star Wars. Sebastian handed me five books to read so I could understand the whole Star Wars RPG experience. Five books? Was this school? What the hell did I need to learn in order to play a game that involved me rolling a dice? Apparently there was plenty for me to learn. There were rules upon rules. There were aliens I had to know and planets I needed to know as well. I did my homework and learned all I could before our first Star Wars game. I created a character, which was a Givin, and it was approved by the gang prior to our first session.
I was super amped for our first session that Friday night circa 1997. Dolfman, Tyler, and Farrokh arrived to our apartment and it was Friday Night Dice. If I remember correctly, our mission or story involved the characters created by Sebastian, Dolfman, Tyler, and Farrokh getting on board my CR90 corvette. It was pretty awesome being the captain of a ship, but then I soon realized that the crew I had was planning a mutiny, so Sebastian, Dolfman, Tyler, and Farrokh had to help crush the rebellion, which did some serious damage to my ship. Damn! Things only got worse from there because we ended up in some negative zone portion of the universe, and I knew that was bad when the rest of the guys freaked out immediately.
The Star Wars RPG did not last long because Sebastian, Dolfman, Tyler, and Farrokh were invited to play Vampire with Sluggo, Cornelius, and Bertha. The guys said they really wanted to play Vampire, but I think they were pissed that they landed in the negative zone or wherever we were in the Star Wars mystery universe. I was invited to join the game, which meant I had to study a bunch of books about vampires.
Star Wars was fun, but Vampire was borderline lame. It’s like being stuck at a Renaissance fair. I wanted to take out Vader and the empire, not play grab ass in 16th Century Europe. Fortunately, Cornelius, Sluggo, and Bertha quit Vampire after a few weeks of gaming. I was overjoyed.
Sebastian, Dolfman, Tyler, and Farrokh resurrected the Star Wars team, but they hit the proverbial reset button and placed the team in a new scenario. This session had us infiltrating a base controlled by the empire, but Tyler’s character almost got us killed when he decided to lob a thermal detonator at some Stormtroopers. He rolled the dice, and it was the wrong number to roll because the detonator somehow bounced back toward us. The reset button was hit again by the crew. Farrokh had had enough, plus he was dating Sluggo’s ex-girlfriend at the time, which meant his free time was eliminated.
Sebastian, Dolfman, and Tyler decided it was time for Robotech. Guess who spent a week reading a stack of books about the Robotech universe? That’s right, kids. THIS GUY! Robotech seemed to be pointless in my opinion. We were just a bunch of robot pilots fighting other robots. It was cool for an hour, but after a while I wanted to roll the dice to initiate the self destruct button for my robot or mech or whatever it was that I was piloting.
Robotech lasted a few weeks because Dolfman bailed quickly. Sebastian and Tyler wanted to do something different, and they seemed to be out of new ideas. Tyler jokingly admitted that he had an old Marvel role playing game book. Hold the phone, brother. A Marvel role playing game? Awesome! It was called Marvel Super Heroes. Sebastian asked if someone else would run the game and I volunteered. Tyler had a bunch of books to give me and I discovered that Sebastian also had some Marvel Super Heroes books as well. I spent weeks learning the game and developed a mission that could be best described as “100% bananas.” We’re talking ninjas, Predators, and The Obliterator.
Word got to Dolfman that I was running a Marvel Super Heroes game, and he was interested in joining. This other guy wanted to join. I think his name was Billy. All I can remember about Billy was that he instantly pissed me off by creating a character who had some power where he could “phase out” and become some floating orb of energy or something totally lame. Billy deliberately did this to avoid hand-to-hand combat with bad guys. Damn you, Billy.
For the next two to three weeks, I was the game master for Marvel Super Heroes. I think the other guys had fun. Billy, Dolfman, and Tyler all decided it was time to retire from the role playing game scene. A couple of months later, Sebastian moved to Colorado, and that’s all she wrote. Cue the music. Friday Night Dice was over.
TonyDoug Wright is the owner and head writer at Champion City Comics, a webcomics community and comic book site. He is also a proud father and is married to the coolest and most beautiful girl on the planet.