Welcome all roleplayers to issue # 13 of the infamous
where today you'll read the sad story of the last days in 1988 as
unfolds the tormenting life of an st fantasy freak trying to
conquer the devious pits and demonic traps of the ultimate game
THE LAST DAYS OF A ROLEPLAYING FANATIC
The moist eyes of Hans Lankmeyer blinked once again as the
cathode ray tube of his computer's visual display unit seemed to
blot out; images disappeared, out of focus. Forced to take a
break, Hans leaned back in his chair and checked his watch.
"Seven hours. I've been playing this stupid game for seven
hours and the longest break I had was for peeing. And I still
haven't got the clue I'm looking for. Damn this game."
Hans slowly turned the lid off the thermos and poured his
thirteenth cup of coffee. Sipping the lukewarm liquid with all
the enthusiasm of a child waiting for its turn at the dentists
waiting room he stared at the walls, face blank, trying hard to
draw conclusions from his experiences in the last seven hours of
playing "Valarian and the Demise of the Undercity - Part One, the
Valarian was the name of the character Hans was playing. As a
barbarian gone magician in a world of arcane powers and powerful
warriors Valarian had a lot of historic allies: Tolkien's Middle
Earth, Heinlein's Glory Road, Vance and Donaldson, Feist and
Gygax. Most of all, Valarian reminded Hans of Leiber's Fafhrd and
the Grey Mouser.
Yet now, despite all his experience in the multiple worlds of
fantasy, Hans was at a dead end.
And once more a good day in Crimson's Column. For the first
time in this series of Roleplaying phenomena I present you with
a fantasy story that is not based on any actual software release
for the ST. Don't tell me I didn't warn you.
Especially for Christmas (or, perhaps, simply because no
decent game is available for this issue and my editor feels I
really do have to bother you all with some kind of nonsense) you
will now find a review that does not give hints and tips for an
actual title but might be interpreted - more or less - as a set
of guidelines on how not to proceed while solving a role-playing
game. Basically, however, it's a satire. The non-existing game
I'm writing about is
Valarian and the Demise of the Undercity - Part One: The Sentence
and if you're really lucky some softy will come along one of
these days and decide it's as bad a title for a future
roleplaying fantasy release as any and thus write a game with
exactly that title. Until such time, I will refrain from comments
concerning copyright and such; it would only take the fun out of
suing the aforementioned PB (poor bloke, right?).
For those of you (vulgarity omitted) and masochistic enough to
enjoy reading other Crimson's Column contributions to this
magazine, here's a short list of what's been published. If any of
the material interests you, please refer to the section of ST
NEWS where the making of back orders is explained. Oh, yes - RP
is for role-playing game. If you don't know what SF is, I give
Title Company Type ST NEWS
Sundog FTL SF Solo RP 2.3
Phantasie SSI Fantasy Party RP 2.4
Brataccas Psygnosis SF Solo Arcade RP 2.5
Roadwar 2000 SSI SF "Mad Max" RP 2.6
Barbarian Psygnosis Fantasy Solo Arc. RP 2.7
Leisure Suit Larry Sierra Solo Text/Arcade 2.8
The Bard's Tale Electronic Arts Fantasy Party RP 3.1
Ultima III - Exodus Origin Fantasy Party RP 3.2
Wizard's Crown SSI Fantasy Party RP 3.3
Dungeon Master FTL/Sofware H. Fantasy Party RP 3.4
Police Quest Sierra Solo Text/Arcade 3.5
Obliterator Psygnosis SF Solo Arcade RP 3.6
In the next issue, you'll find an article on Heroes of the
Lance by SSI (a Fantasy Party Action RP).
Now let's get back to Hans, who at this particular time has
the incorrect notion that he's supposed to think like Valarian -
or he'll never finish the game. An absurd notion, of course, not
only because Valarian is a figment of the imagination who doesn't
think at all but principally because the only way to finish any
adventure at all is to try to think like the pervert who
programmed it, which for anyone obscenely foolish enough to play
these games in the first place shouldn't really be too much of a
Where was I?
All during the night, Hans took great pains trying not to
dream of either Valarian or the Great Gate of Serenity which, no
matter what Valarian tried, would not open and thus denied the
great ex-warrior and current master wizard access to the dungeons
of the despised dark servant, the supreme judge Parkas. As soon
as Hans did dream of them, his involuntary motions were curbed by
the sharp and precise pinches of Mary-Beth, who had learned to
live and even sleep with a role-playing fanatic but was not about
to give up her well deserved rest to the powers of imaginary
darkness. Although Hans was usually a quiet sleeper, occasionally
the stirrings of computer madness seemed to bypass the sleep-
induced paralysis of his body and short spasms would interrupt
Mary-Beth's sleep; anytime this caused her to wake up she made
sure Hans woke too.
In those short moments which passed between the time when he
was concretely aware of what he was dreaming and the moment when
Mary-Beth's prodding fingers brought him back to reality,
Valarian, in Hans' dreams, repeated every command he'd executed
to open the gates of the last dungeon. Hans saw himself click the
icon of the mouse on a door, but nothing happened. He saw himself
repeating the gesture of clicking on his character's eyes, then
on the door - nothing. Putting his hands on the door - zip. He'd
tried dozens of tricks and nothing happened, until finally he'd
come to bang his head against the slabs of stone long enough to
lose half his hit points. And still he hadn't gotten anywhere
nearer to his goal.
The next morning, while Mary-Beth was out to college, Hans
consequently repeated every possible solution that came to his
mind. When two hours of associatins and actions yielded nil
results, he threw his hands up in the air, banged once on his
desk and gave up. Here he was, a fourteenth level magic user with
good combat capabilities, every possible spell and armor from
hand to toe, and he didn't even know what to do. And the
strangest thing was, when he'd cast an identify spell on the door
he'd gotten a blank. And, Hans knew, Valarian only received a
total blank if he was trying to identify an illusion.
"So," Hans murmured, "the gates are an illusion, but I can't
get past them. I've tried to disbelieve them, I've touched them -
Hans decided that the best thing to do was get his frustrated
mind off the game and do something useful - like taking
breakfast. After his one "healthy" sandwich with cheese, he ate
seven with chocolate cream. He never even once thought of
anything other than Valarian's unfulfilled quest, and finally he
"Okay, that's it then. If all I can think about is this damn
game, then I'm finally going to do what I hate most: I'm going to
read someone else's damn solution. Blast it, where's ST NEWS?"
Three hours later, cold from walking through half the city
trying to locate his friend Rick (who, as it turned out, had been
at his door while he was out), he came home with a copy of ST
NEWS. Mary-Beth, bright and cheerful, welcomed him with a "Ah,
another illegal copy, have we? One of these days you're going
"It's PD, damn it! And I'm cold."
"Should have waited until I got back with the car. Silly."
Fuming, Hans entered the study and banged the door shut. With
the disk in his hand, he sat down behind the keyboard. After
starting up, he read, "ST NEWS 6.4, dedicated to"
"Ah, shut up!".
Hans hit the return key, shut off the music and searched for
the "Solution to Valarian and the Demise of the Undercity".
Seeing how Rick had stated that this was the right issue, that
only left one possibility.
"Oh, please, not that one."
Slowly, reluctantly, Hans selected his most hated of articles
and checked the subject. He sighed. Of all stories, his had to be
the subject of the outrageous Crimson's Column.
Hans read the last part of the article concerning Valarian's
>> Coming to the door, Valarian smiled.
"What now, Parkas, a mere door to stop a Master Wizard?"
Knowing full well that this was the mysterious gate, Valarian
did not waste precious energy on Fireballs, Lightning Bolts or
Knock spells, but simply cast an Identify.<<
Hans grimaced; before using his Identify he'd used all three
of the others spells, and several more. As a result, his magical
energy was nearly depleted.
He read on.
>> "Ah - an illusion, is it? Then we have but two ways: either
dispel it, or touch it. No problem there."
The magnificent gate slowly dispappeared as Valarian saw the
outlines within of a great hall and readied himself for the final
So far for Crimson's Column, remember that my pet Pterodactyl
Pterry is once more getting his belly filled for the winter
"Shit!" Hans bellowed in rage. From behind the door, he heard
Mary-Beth's not-so-amused voice saying, "Okay, but can you do it
without telling the neighbours about it?"
Hans was mad. Not only did the article fail to answer his
question, but its arrogant author seemed to purposefully play him
for a fool. What the hell did he think anyway? That he was the
only one able to solve fantasy games?
Hans read again, but couldn't get a single clue. Dispel Magic
hadn't worked, and he'd touched the doors with his hands as well
as his head. Well, his helmet anyway. It just didn't work.
In a fit of anger, he took his wordprocessor, typed an ugly
letter to the author of this hated column, printed it and mailed
Three weeks later, Hans still hadn't solved the game. He was
almost ready to write another, somewhat friendlier letter meant
to get a more exact solution when something strange happened.
Hans was at home, quietly stripping excess metal off fantasy
miniatures when he cut his finger for the third time in two days.
Mary-Beth, who saw it happen, warned him.
"If you keep on cutting yourself like that you'd better get
some gloves on, honey."
"Ah, damn it, I'm just too distracted. Anyway, I can't put
gloves on because I'll no longer feel what I'm.....HOLY JESUS!"
"What? What's up?"
"Gloves, that's it! Valarian has gloves; to make an illusion
disappear you'll have to touch it with your bare hands! I've only
got to take off my gloves."
Three seconds later, Hans was in the study, behind his
computer. A few minutes after that, he had Valarian take off his
gloves and put his hands on the stone slabs of the Great Gate of
Serenity - and watched it disappear. His anxiousness changed into
enthralled expectation as he watched the form in the hall behind
the gates: it revealed his final enemy, Parkas.
"Now, you son of a bitch, now!"
A sound of broken glass, a great noise from the other room.
Mary-Beth's agonizing scream. Then, a high giggle. Hans ran for
the door and opened it.
"Mr. Hans Lankmeyer, I presume?"
Hans didn't believe his eyes. Mary-Beth had fainted; in the
room were two figures of fantasy. One, a monster that could have
been a pterodactyl if it hadn't been for the enormous teeth in
its beak. The other, a small female hoovering in mid air with a
set of semi-translucent wings, looked like a pixie.
"What....what did you....what?"
"I asked: are you Mr. Hans Lankmeyer? I'd like an answer."
"Yes. Yes, I'm..."
"Thank you, that's all we need to know. Pterry, go ahead."
With one giant swallow, the pterodactyle monster gobbled Hans,
shoes and all. Nothing remained of him but his glasses, which
Pterry neatly spitted out again. Making some small notes, Quink
- which was the name of the little pixie - put the pencil behind
her ears, the notebook in a pouch and settled down on the
prehistoric creature's back.
"Really, Pterry, I still wonder how you separate those glasses
"Nothing to it - just like oyster."
"Silly. Okay, gal, home to poppa."
That's all, folks, for the thirteenth issue. Like I said, next
time we'll do Dragonlance. Until that moment, heed the warning
that's implicit in this article, and send your kind appreciations
of my work (preferably in cash) in a self-adressed, stamped
envelope with international reply coupons to
Lucas van den Berg
6511 RL Nijmegen
-- The Netherlands --
And if you wonder why I use my pet Pterodactyl Pterry and my
sweet little pixie devil Quink to fetch those of you who lack the
morally acceptable minimum of decency (i.e. good manners), just
remember the poet's words:
Men do their broken weapons rather use
Than their bare hands.
Othello the Moor of Venice