The whispers and commotion is almost deafening, you find yourself in a room a little too small to be comfortable for the crowd that has gathered. A large hearth is at the center of the wall across from you, its fire comforting on a night this cold. The ice rain and snow might have driven some to this place but what you can make out from the whispers is that, like you, everyone just found themselves walking into this place seemingly not of their own volition, like they were drawn.
The only door flew open violently from a gust of snowy wind that was just too strong for the catch holding the door closed. The fire, a beacon of hope to the startled crowd, drove out the cold that tried to fight its way in. Outside only darkness, yet no one moved a muscle to shut the gate to that frozen abyss. The room was now silent, except for the crackle of the logs which seemed to add punctuation to that silence. The darkness that still filled that void began to take shape. A figure, possibly of man, began to materialize, slowly gathering more firelight as it approached. The shape appeared to float rather than walk like spirit from beyond.
Finally, within the doorframe, the shape became whole. It was a man, almost unassuming in stature yet his eyes spoke said that he was so much more than what you saw. He wiped the snow off his coat as he headed toward the fire. The doors hinges groaned as someone closed it slowly, almost absentminded ly as they stared at the figure warming his hands by the fire. Surely this spirit wasn’t a spirit though for they have no need of warmth.
The newcomer turned to face the crowd, the old oaken table with canyons in the wood so deep it must have been a relic from another age stood between them and he. It was then that you clearly saw the features of the man. Eyes, gentle yet deep and knowing sat behind thinly rimmed glasses. His face old yet somehow ageless, was clean shaven save a white trimmed goatee which added character to the timelessness of it all. His hair, silver and long pulled back in a tail banded near the base of his neck. Beneath the coat his shirt was plain as well as his pants and shoes which only gave off an aura of approachableness, not that he was by any means plain.
Those kind eyes scanned the room for a moment, ever brief, and turned from just kind to serious as well if such a thing was possible.
“Welcome,” he said, “I have called you here for one purpose, to hear a legend of such epic proportion and greatness that most who are not hear will disbelieve. But I will not tell it alone, no. YOU!” his hand whipped up and pointed, at no one in particular and yet everyone in particular as it slowly swept in an arc encompassing the whole of the room. “You, will be my co-conspirators in this endeavor. You have all come here from every background imaginable, poor, wealthy, genius, simple, common and uncommon, yet you all are the same. You all have within you a story so bold that you have not dare speak it. A tale so filled with feats of awe that it threatened to shred your sanity when you dream.
I know your stories, all of you. I know what is in your hearts. You” he pointed again but this time singling out one of the attendees. “Within is a man who will master the very energies arcane. He will call lightning from the sky to strike those that stand against him. Flaming spheres will fly from his hand engulfing his enemies in fire. And you” he pointed to a young woman sitting near the table. “I see wisdom in your eyes. Yes, the adventurer in you will guide her companions through the most trying of ordeals and her connection to the divine will call out miracles powerful enough to raise the dead.”
He slowly chuckled to himself, “There, in the back, the shadows hide you well. Yes in you is a girl so crafty there isn’t a prison that could hold her. She moves in and out of the shadows as easily as the rest of us breath. Her adversaries fear her, the most I think, for her blade is a death they won’t see coming. Their eyes dance back and forth in panic they jump and smallest movement or sound, and its only when they see you leaving that they realize you’ve already killed them.” He focused his gaze now on the largest man in the group, “In you is a warrior who’s skill with a blade is only outmatch by his own bravery, and he’ll need both for there are creatures so vile and monstrous aligned against him that the mere whisper of their name send shivers through the hardiest of men. Yes his blade will cut and hew at them until all that is left is bones and a legend”
He paused here but his eye continued to inspect the room. The strange man grabbed a mug that sat on the table and wetted his throat. The faintest hint of fresh pine drifted on the air and his cheeks reddened slightly. “You there, your inner calm tells me of a martial master with indomitable will.” He pointed to another, “In your heart is an exemplar of righteousness, a shield against the evil that corrupts the world. In you, an other-worldly creature with grace and elegance so in communion with the natural world that the very trees bend their bows to her every whim. And in you a hunter who’s arrow always finds its mark.
“The power within you all is great, but so is the forces of darkness that threaten to choke off all life from the world and you’ll need every ounce of courage you can muster. Colossal beasts covered in scales able to breath fire enough to decimate entire cities. Evil tentacled villains able to steal a man’s will and turn them into slavish echoes of their former selves. Fiendish brutes brandishing whip’s of pure hell fire commanding legions of demons pouring fourth from flaming gates. You will all you have and more to conquer them, you will need luck for sure, but most of all you will need each other. For only by stand with your companions can you hope to stand against the darkness.
“Yes you have all come from different places, and when you leave you will all have stories to tell of valor, courage, shame, sorrow, joy, defeat, vengeance, and triumph. You will each take from this something different but be sure, you will not leave here unchanged.
“I see the question on your face. Who am I? Well, my friends call me Gary. But you,”
He reached into a pouch that sat at his waist, a pouch that didn’t seem to be there a moment before. He pulled forth a red crystalline sphere.
“You will call me DUNGEON MASTER!”
With that he tossed the sphere onto the old sturdy oaken table. The fire from the hearth reflected like diamonds in each of the sphere’s 20 faces. As it finally came to rest the silver haired man looked out once again.
“Let the tale begin…..”
RIP Gary Gygax July 27, 1938 – March 4, 2008