Every few months, usually when I’m sitting at my desk typing away, my brow sporting a healthy coffee sweat, a pigeon flies into the office and lands on my desk. It’s a mean bird. One eyed and scarred, a noxious cloud of smoke falling from its ruffled feathers, it hops around on my desk and stares at me with yellow lizard eyes. On its right leg is a small metal capsule.
In these situations one must have bird seed. A rich seedy mix – something you’d find at the avian version of Whole Foods – is essential if you wish to keep the tips of your fingers. And so, when my feathered visitor comes around I dodge the cloud of orange claws and beak and tip some of my primo seed into a container, placing it in the general region of the bird’s terrible head. Then, carefully, I pry open the capsule and unroll the tiny piece of parchment contained within.
On the yellowed, cracked sheet – about the size of three postage stamps – row after row of minute text tell fantastic stories. This one arrived last week:
Six Supergenius artists have become hyped to play Dungeons and Dragons. Three are old pros, having played numerous table top RPGs before, but none recently. Three are complete newbies, eager to give it the old college try. Finally there is me, Supergenius’ acting Game Master, orchestrating this mad capped adventure. Aided by the most well balanced, user friendly and fun edition of Dungeons and Dragons ever created, the fifth edition, we begin the quest one sunny Saturday in March.
Our players arrive one by one to the Turtle Back Inn through an ancient rift gate built in the age of heroes. Each of these six adventurers, for reasons either honestly spoken or mysteriously withheld, are traveling south to a seaside city named Howlingstone. Without a single customer to be found aside from our six protagonists, the lonely inn keeper Lucious Movis gives the players free reign of the facilities with one specific exception. Our heroes are forbidden from entering the haunted third floor lest they upset the Turtle Back’s prized attraction, a young woman’s ghost. Understandably confused, yet amply intrigued, our heroes do their best resisting the urge to “press the do not press button”.
First to succumb to curiosity is Buttermilk (curious thief), who sneaks downstairs past Higgs (mercenary) at the bar, past Nai (beast master) in the stable and right past Max (holy crusader) in his tent in the yard. Buttermilk does not sneak past Hirvos (vigilante) who seems to be waiting for just such a partner in crime. Together they ascend the wall to a third floor window. Prying it open, Buttermilk and Hirvos sneak into the forbidden third floor, using the ghosts fearsome aura to guide them through the dark hallways. Unexpected spooky creeks in the floor raise the attention of Mr Inu Harrie (mysterious scholar), who secretly transforms into a frog to inconspicuously plop behind the two sneaking ghost busters, securing a view of the upcoming events.
One hour into Supergenius’ first game of D&D our players have made for themselves a horror comedy. Brave heroes crumple in fear before the ghost’s terrifying aura before it retreats from the inn. Lucious Movis is trying to rush upstairs to berate his guests, but his old weak bones are stopped with the barest of effort by Nai who happens to be leading the drunken Higgs back to bed. Max watches the ghost fly away and nods approvingly, one less unholy apparition to worry at. Buttermilk rushes out the way he came in, but Hirvos is so beset with fear he’s charging cross the hall to dive through a big glass window. Sturdy craftsmanship proves his down fall as he bounces off the glass and falls to the floor in a heap. Inu Harrie hops back to his room and resumes reading in his room. Morning comes and steep fees have been added to the bill as payment for the lost ghost. Team building and tutorial provided by a ghostly presence makes for a fine beginning indeed.
The last few lines are a bit singed, but I think it’s signed Don. The pigeon has left a present on my desk and is taking enthusiastic bites out of my coffee mug. I’m off for paper towels.
Special thanks to Don Fergus – SG Animator, author of the DnD missives and evidently a pigeon keeper, Alex Yao – SG Animation Director, for the illustrations, and to the whole SuperGenius DnD team – Andrew Hagel, Daryn Olson Kayli Edwards and Naomi Fish. Blathering about pigeons courtesy of Peter.