According to Gabriel Iglesias, there are six stages of fatness: big, healthy, husky, fluffy, damn, and uh-uh. He says he is fluffy. The difference between damn and uh-uh is you are still willing to work with damn. If a “damn” approaches you on a crowded elevator, you will look around, and probably let him on. If a “uh-uh” approaches you on a crowded elevator, you hold up your hand, while pushing the close door button rapidly, and say, “Uh-uh!”
I bring this up because I watched his show last night after Daphne left. It came on after Monday Night Raw, a professional wrestling show. And when I saw Lucas, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Uh-uh!’ and laugh out loud. He glanced over at me, shook his head, readjusted his glasses and started into the library. Dressed in blue jeans and a green and black Hawaiian shirt, Lucas was about my height and maybe three times my girth. He had long, thick brown hair that flowed down to his shoulders. A beat up red laptop bag hung over his right shoulder. As far as I knew, he was a loner. I didn’t know if he preferred it that way, or if he was lonely. I was about to find out, because Anderson, the Game Creator of my weekend BattleHammer game said we needed another player to “enliven the game”.
I opened the large wooden door of the library and walked in. It was like going back in time. The overhead lights were actual chandeliers suspended from the high ceiling. The librarian had an antique Remington typewriter and dressed like a bobbysoxer. The wall lights were arc sodium and cast an orange glow. The chairs in the reading room were stuffed leather and ashtrays were scattered around. I have no idea how the library got away with this the way the media and government were demonizing smoking.
I walked in between the towering bookshelves, the aisles deeply shadowed. I found Lucas debating between “A Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein and “Cobra” by Timothy Zahn. His laptop bag sat on the floor at his feet like an obedient dog. He glanced over at me.
“Are you stalking me?” he asked.
I laughed. “No way, man. My name is Carter. I was wondering if you ever played BattleHammer.”
“Why?” he asked suspiciously.
“The Game Creator says to get some more people. I thought of you because you’re always reading sci-fi and fantasy books.”
“I’ve never played it before.”
I was glad that the suspicion was gone from his voice. I heard interest.
“I can teach you how to play on the way over to the game. We have an all weekend thing scheduled. I’m sure you’ll love it.”
He looked back down at the books.
“Personally,” I said. “I’d go for the Zahn book; I didn’t enjoy the Heinlein one. My advice: get both of them and then choose.”
“With my schedule, I will only have time for one,” he said. “By the way, my name is Lucas Jackson.”
We shook hands, and I was happy to see him reshelf the Heinlein book. I walked with him over to the librarian’s desk and waited while she stamped the card with the due date. We walked out into the spring sunshine together on North Wolf street. A crowd of lacrosse players swaggered by. The captain of the team, who I tutored in chemistry on Tuesday evenings shouted over at us.
“Hey, Blake! Who’s your new girlfriend?”
“Aw, don’t be jealous, Stevenson!” I shouted back. “I’ll still let you fellate me!”
The jocks stopped at that.
“What the fuck did you say, Blake?” Stevenson said aggressively.
“Settle down,” I commanded. “Tuesday evening, seven pm., Chem 101. Don’t forget.”
The reminder deflated his anger and he waved for his teammates to follow him. Lucas and I trotted down the library steps and walked down the sidewalk.
“You shouldn’t taunt Stevenson like that, Carter. He’ll get you.”
“He doesn’t dare,” I said confidently. “He knows I’ll make sure he flunks Chemistry if he does anything. A fail and he’s off the team and loses his scholarship.”
“How can you make sure he flunks?”
“He trusts me to teach him the subject.”
We walked down Wolf St in silence for a block, and then I remembered that I had promised to teach Lucas about the game.
“So, about the game of BattleHammer,” I began, “it is like Dungeons and Dragons in that it uses a D20 system. As a matter of fact, it is the last game created under the Open Game License. Have you heard of it?”
“Right, so basically, to do anything that requires effort in the game world, you roll a D20, add the relevant modifiers and compare that to a Difficulty Class. Beating the DC means you succeed, missing it means you failed. Okay?”
“Yep. I’m with you, Carter.”
“Alright, for playing, that’s basically all you need to know upfront. If anything else comes up, we’ll fill you in as it’s needed.”
We paused to wait for the light at North Avenue, then crossed. We had to hurry a bit because the warning light began to flash when we were about halfway across the busy street.
“The next step is to fill you in on the world and major characters, then I’ll tell you about your character’s future teammates. First, there are the gods. There are a whole hell of a lot of them, so I’ll fill you in on the ones our party has had dealings with. First up is Kellün. He is the god of the elves and woodlands. He has many allies and enemies, but the main ones we are dealing with are Morgrid the Soul-forger and Lucien, the Demon King. Morgrid is the chief Dwarf God as well as the God of the Forge. Lucien, as his title suggests is the king of the demons. Unlike D&D, which separates fiends into two groups, BattleHammer says all pure evil beings are demons. Another deity that I’m sure will pop up in the story is the father of the gods, Chokkan. This god is one of Anderson’s favorites because he is one Anderson created and the game company, Wow-wee, liked so much they purchased the specs for Chokkan. Now, he is the official father of all the BattleHammer gods. Are you still with me, Lucas?”
He waited until we scampered across Federal Street before he answered.
“Good,” I panted a bit. I glanced over at Lucas, who wasn’t even breathing hard. I was a bit envious. “Next are the major players of our game, otherwise known as our characters and the main bad guys. My character is a dwarf warrior named Drago the Clanless. His clan was wiped out by the main bad guy who I’ll tell you about shortly. Drago has vowed revenge. His allies are as follows: Luwaxana, a female elven ranger, controlled by Mike Reynolds; Shauna the Deft, a human thief, controlled by Megan Anderson, the GC’s older sister; and Ox Silverfist, a half-dragon/half-troll Warpriest of Kellün, controlled by Stacy Meers.”
“Wow, a half-dragon/half-troll? That sounds like fun,” Lucas mused, as we crossed East Oliver. It was pretty dead, so we didn’t even bother checking for traffic.
“Does it? Just so you are aware (and I should have mentioned this before), in addition to the half-bloods, humans, dwarves and elves, you could also have your character be a Leviathan, a deepling, or a Gnome,” I said, kicking an empty Pepsi can out of the way.
“Did you say a Ga-nome?”
“I did. In the world of BattleHammer, that is how they pronounce the name of their race.”
Lucas chuckled. “What are deeplings?”
We stopped at the corner of Biddle street and looked for oncoming cars. The day grew dimmer as a cloud scudded past the sun. “The deeplings are a race of underground fairies, similar to leprechaun. They average about four feet tall and are between thirty and fifty pounds. Due to this stature, folks who haven’t encountered them before tend to mistake them for human children. They are long lived like elves and dwarves, and reproduce about twice every fifty years. Deeplings are innate spell casters, and as such, they begin with a free level as a mage,” I responded.
“Cool. What about the Gnomes?” Lucas chuckled again at the pronunciation of the name.
By this time, we were near Patterson Park in East Baltimore. We walked up a pretty steep hill. Lucas took the hill with the same ease that he’d taken our rapid hike from the library. I tell you, I still have no idea how he managed to set such a rapid pace and not even breath hard. My face was hot, my skin greasy from sweat and I was panting like a dog.
“They are another race of midgets,” I gasped at the top of the hill. I motioned for him to stop so I could catch my breath. While he waited, cool and relaxed, I leaned over with my hands on my knees and tried to swallow my lungs again. After about ten minutes, I resumed. “Gnomes average about three feet in height with the women being noticeably taller and stronger. The males are generally smarter and more agile. They are natural pickpockets and rogues in general, so they start with a free level of thief.”
-Hey, Carter, they sound like Halflings!-
-Hey, are you wanna-be hecklers trying to get me sued? It’s bad enough that I’m referring to D&D so much! So shut up back there!-
Twenty minutes later, we arrived in Anderson’s neighborhood. It was a pretty affluent section of East Baltimore, not far from Patterson Park. His folks owned a townhouse that was about twice as wide as my mom’s row house. We walked up to the wide mahogany door and went in.