The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

My Life in Polyhedrons – Tournement in Fire

Immediately after Tournament in Stone Warren and I began scheming about how best to win Tournament in Fire. Though our original discussions revolved around how to find four ace players to fill out our team, in time we began to worry about how to make all six of us the best damm team ever.

Step one of our plan was executed at the beginning of the next school year. Our now unofficial club promoted a tournament that Warren and I ran to see who could win spots on our team. I think we had about a dozen people sign up, though maybe my memory is a little fuzzy on that one.

The tournament was a quick little event that we wrapped up in one week’s worth of lunch hours. Then we had some very tough choices to make.

Interestingly, what made the choices tough was not the play of those involved; we knew exactly which four players we wanted. The problem was that two of our players, Jamie (my old friend) and Devrim, told us before the event started that they were a package deal – one of them alone would not join our team.

So we wanted to pick Kory (from the club’s previous year), Quin, Dale (my old friend), and Jamie, in that order. But after long deliberation Warren and I decided we would rather go with Jamie and Devrim (who had just missed the cut), than Dale and the guy who missed the cut by two.

Though it was not intended to, this mini-tourney hugely raised awareness of the HARPGC, and largely contributed to it consistently having two games going during year two.

After we had our team assembled we divided up the rulebooks between us, with each person assigned to know EVERYTHING about their section; especially everything about fire.

Then we began playing a D&D campaign I had designed especially to focus on fire. (I think the Shadowlord campaign is worthy of its own post – so I’ll leave it at that for now.)

The campaign wrapped up about a month before Tournament in Fire, so then we began drilling each other on fire related rules. We started playing single encounters meant to test our fire knowledge – we were the kings of fire.

Then came the actual tournament. Being an event run by a University of Alberta club, a team of high school students entering were hardly noticed – that changed quickly.

As I would learn years later (from Todd, who was co-organizer of Tournament in Fire), the very first monster in the tournament, a gianormous lava worm, was meant to be unkillable. It was a sight to quiver in fear at, not a creature to destroy. We destroyed it. Luckily for us Todd had insisted his co-organizers give it a point value.

The whole first day went smooth as silk for us. We finished the day with over eight thousand points. To put that in perspective, usually the cut off for the top ten teams was around 3.5k and usually the best team after day one had a little more than 5k. We had more than a 3k point lead on the nearest team – all we had to do was show up on day two and the tournament was ours.

Then IT happened.

The organizers of the tournament announced that we had been assessed a time penalty, and not just a little one either; they docked us more than two thousand points. We were furious – no where in the rules for the tourney did it mention time limits or penalties, and somehow we were the only ones worthy of one. Supposedly for going overtime we had to pay 500 points per half hour.

We were all furious, but it was made clear this was non-negotiable. So I told the team to calm down – we still were in top spot and were the team to beat on day 2.

On day 2 we were determined to not get a time penalty again, so we flew threw the adventure. Sure enough we did finish the adventure in the allotted time, and had a combined two day score of 14k – a score that would have won the previous year’s tournament by a large margin.

As the hours went by after the tournament, with us waiting for the other teams to finish, my team mates became more and more nervous, while I grew more and more confident. After all I reasoned – these guy must be wracking up enormous time penalties.

When the final two scores came in, it was revealed that we were third; apparently time penalties only applied on day one. The two prizes were given to the top team and the runner up, though they gave us a special prize of a jar of Hot Banana Peppers for killing the unkillable monster.

I don’t think I could overstate the impact this loss had on my life. It wasn’t just that we worked so hard for so long and lost – it was that we worked so hard for so long and lost when we should have won. I went into an emotional tailspin that by a year later had me attempting suicide. And although I have not been suicidal in many years, it would not be out of place to trace all the failures in my life to that moment. That was the moment I stopped believing in myself, it was the moment I stopped being a winner.

One small bit of vindication came years later when my then room mate Todd was telling me the story of why he quite the Phantasy Gamers Club. He was explaining (not knowing my part in the story) how he was one of the organizers of Tournament in Fire, and that there were some kids who should have won the tourney, but that the other organizers fixed the event so their friends would win. That warmed my heart a little, but was too late to repair the damage.

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December 18, 2010 Posted by | My Life in Polyhedrons, RPGs | , , | 1 Comment