Like a proud father at his son’s elementary school graduation, James recently shed a tear of pride over the fact that the New York Red Box campaigns have matured to the point where our online discussion is so ingrown and byzantine that after missing a bunch of sessions it no longer makes a lick of sense to him, despite Zolobachai’s status as one of our original pioneers of the Caverns of Thracia (and James’ as founder of the Red Box).
Is it really as hard to understand recent events as it is to assemble IKEA furniture using the original Swedish documentation? No, not at all; everything makes perfect sense and is crystal clear when seen in the proper light! I have merely been remiss in my duties as explainer of the campaign, and will seek to remedy this lapse in a series of posts. To start with:
EVENT: The sphinx Ontussa has developed a powerful erotic fascination for certain members of our party. Khrystos seeks a herb reputed to be a feline aphrodisiac in the hills near the Stronghold of the First Principles, and while Lotur is too troubled by his temporarily fatal immersion in a water elemental to bathe in the ordinary sense, he has been observed using spirits of wine to perform daily ablutions that are not at all usual for him.
EXPLANATION: Ontussa revealed herself recently to be not merely a coin-operated dispenser of information, but a tragic victim of the necromancer Ashur Ram. What a cruelly ironic fate for a sphinx, forced to answer questions instead of posing riddles! (The parts about hanging out waiting for people to come by and eating them if they make the wrong move are immutable.) Of all the ways a NPC could take independent action to endear themselves to the party, giving back a jewel they’d just handed over in payment is high on the list. Perhaps it is this glimpse of her hitherto unsuspected personality that has won the hearts of our PCs.
More likely, it is the more-than-a-glimpse of the feminine attributes of her human half which have been on display all along. True, the campaign features other, non-bestial female NPCs like the charming Philomena and the provocatively-named Maxsielle the Evil High Priestess, and even actual female players like Emurak, White Rose, and thistlyn. But did any of them appear topless in the AD&D Monster Manual?
You might say “no, but neither do they have the hindquarters of a lion, the wings of an eagle, and a reputation as a merciless man-eater.” (That last might not be true of Maxsielle.) Still, the eagerness with which I would embrace lobster-headed Blibdoolpoolp argues that having your image burned into adolescent retinas will overcome a great many obstacles to love.