Tuesday, April 26, 2011

X is for: Xeno

This stupid card game...

... meant that for over a year I had to play with a couple of friends who named every magic-user they rolled up "Xeno". Plus they pronounced it "Ex-Eno" for a long time and it drove me crazy. This is the guy:

Yeah. It doesn't particularly inspire me today but boy, back about 1982 a couple of my friends had that card game - which we never played, not even once - and for whatever reason it just stuck with them. Now he does look like about 80% of the D&D wizards in illustrations at the time, particularly those shown on front and back covers, but I never ran into as many "Gandalfs" or "Thoth Amons" as I did "Xenos" and that just seems wrong. Maybe he was really powerful in the game or something. It's not bad art or anything, it just seems sort of generic - other than the style. Turns out it's the same artist who did the work for another game you may have encountered:

They had that game too - I was a little jealous - so maybe that explains their attachment. Because it was awesome. We used the figures from that game in more than one D&D session.

Anyway, Xeno the wizard(s): I killed them. Both. Sorry, but I was hard on magic-users in my early days of DM'ing. I was not at all afraid of having monsters attack from behind the party as they wandered through the halls of the Caves of Chaos, and the M-U's tended to lurk at the back of the party, making them primary targets. An AC of 8 or 9 or 10 and 1-4 hit points almost guaranteed you were going home draped over a mule. I think one of them made it all the way to 3rd level before I killed him in the chaos shrine - death by zombie. I had seen Dawn of the Dead not long before so my zombies tended to be a little more vicious in their attacks than some. They tended to travel in hordes too. Call it an early attempt at a horror conversion that went poorly.

Heck I think that even when we played some computer games they used those names too - Ultima 2, Bard's Tale, even as late as Might & Magic I they may have still been using them.

I'm pretty sure they had Dungeon of Daggorath for their TRS-80 and I'm pretty sure there was a Xeno in it too.
You want a character sheet? For a dead D&D wizard? OK.

Notice there are no hit points marked off here because M-U's tended to die on one hit

 What you want another one? Where a name like "Xeno" might still work? Where he might not die 10 minutes after being created? how about this:

There, that should work. Although that toughness is laughably high for the Xenos I know... maybe that's the player's reaction to his D&D wizards getting snuffed like that... it would be a fitting change..."no stupid goblin with a club is taking me down THIS time"!

So that's my rundown of "Xeno". This was long before 40K would make it fashionable in some circles to declare someone "Xenos scum". This little reflective scrawl has of course now made me want to make a Xeno in some MMORPG, just so I can own a piece of it and maybe give them that second chance I stole from them all those years ago. Should he be a non-human to make it doubly funny, or does that ruin it since the originals were all human wizards? I think a human wizard named "Xeno" has a touch of the ironic or subversive to it that I kind of like now.  It's been long enough that people might think it's cool and original again. You and I will get the joke, though. Just don't tell my friend. I don't want either of them to think I've gone soft.

1 comment:

Sylvia Ney said...

I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm stopping by from the A to Z challenge and I look forward to visiting again.