Guest author Michael Evans provides a look at what a story in certain popular series of spy novels and movies could have looked like if Gary Gygax's idea of truly competitive "chess tournament"-like D&D had actually happened.
The Bond and the Battlefield
James Bond walks into a smoke-filled, casino-like room. The smoke isn’t from tobacco, but from a fog machine that one of the Gamemasters set off to achieve a post-battle effect. The super spy quickly surveys the room, looking for any potential threats or traps. His instincts give him the go-ahead to proceed. He is now just doing one thing and one thing only. He is preparing his mindset for combat.
This is no ordinary room. The dynamics are different here. It’s not individuals facing off against a dealer or machine. Everyone seems to be battling each other, forming shady alliances and trying to be named king. The air is thick and the tension is digging its angry claws into 007’s neck. This is the world of Role-Playing Games (RPG).
Mr. Bond is a gambling man by nature. He once played poker for 37 hours in a row without a bathroom break. He enjoys playing Chicken against 18-wheelers while riding his unicycle. And, he often tries his luck with the BetFair Wonder Woman slot game because he loves the flashing lights, teasing sounds, and, of course, the female superhero. He is an all-in, take-it-or-leave-it competitor, with a taste for blood. In a world of options, victory is the only one in his playbook.
Foxletter, Bernie Foxletter
This particular event is not known by all. It is the biggest, most clandestine RPG convention in the western world. It is the silent Comic-Con of the RPG universe. It doesn’t even have a name. Money can’t buy you in—reputation can. James Bond, known as Bernie Foxletter from Cleveland in these circles, earned his stripes playing tournaments throughout Europe and the United States. Many trophies have his alias inscribed, but if he is to earn one tonight, he has to be perfect on a global scale.
The Pathfinder tables are overcrowded and violent. For a brief moment he thought to sign up for this RPG competition, but after learning that Listverse only ranked it second among the current tabletop Role-Playing Games, he was quickly dissuaded and chose to participate in the game he and his team had never been able to master. The one game that is universally considered the original and most prolific.
Dragons Are Forever
He walks by the Pathfinder bedlam and sees a sign indicating that the second level was devoted to Dungeons and Dragons. He decides to take the elevator instead of the stairs in order to conserve energy. The elevator doors open and he immediately spots his team anxiously awaiting his arrival. There is Liz from Manhattan, Dwight from Scranton and Sheldon from Pasadena—all looking pale with bloodshot eyes. “None of you got any rest,” he says in an exasperated tone. “Bloody rookie mistake!” Liz claims that they were all too nervous to sleep and Dwight agrees while Sheldon asks, “When did you start using the term 'bloody'?”
They hustle over to the quietest corner of the room and begin to discuss key points from the D&D Strategy Guide. Bernie gives his best Braveheart-style speech to motivate his team. They put their games faces on and slowly approach the player’s table. The scene is set and all gloves are off. The super spy is ready for his next adventure that will make all of the others seem like child’s play. He thinks of his fictional hero, Sherlock Holmes, and whispers, “the game is afoot.”
Tomorrow Never Dies
Bernie from Cleveland looks tired as he exits the building. He loosens his bow tie and takes a deep breath while gazing at the crescent moon. He thinks of the long road that brought him to this magnificent place – the old enemies and new friends he met along the way. He is at peace and feels humble. He walks off into the unforgiving night, empty-handed and beaten, but with a slight grin, thinking about next year.