[Actual Play] Primetime Adventures: Dungeon Majesty


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So here's the setup. The television show is about four characters in search of something, in the best Paul Thomas Anderson/Wes Anderson/David Russell/Spike Jonze style. American suburban surrealism, here we come! The point of linkage between the characters is a game of Dungeon Majesty (y'all remember, the classic pen and paper roleplaying game that started the whole thing?) run by one of the characters' younger brother.

The PC cast list:

Andrew Latta ... Philip Seymour Hoffman
Cassie Lauro ... Maggie Gyllenhaal
Alvin Wasserman ... William H. Macy
Ferdinand Klotz ... Owen Wilson

Andrew is a borderline autistic gamer who hasn't actually ever gotten to game with people before, so this is a big deal for him. He made a lot of money in dot-coms. Cassie is an enthusiastic teenager who just graduated from high school with an overly protective mother (her kid brother, Oliver, is the Dungeon Magister). Alvin is a Democratic political consultant who unfortunately works in Indiana. Ferdinand is a color-blind documentary film maker who just moved home to live with his parents. None of them except Andrew has any idea what this "roleplaying" thing is all about. You could say the same about their understanding of life.

The writeups are done in the style of Television without Pity recaps, or as close to them as I'm able to come.


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Oooh, oooh, it's a new Rob MacDougall show. So yes, I laid in the coffee and the popcorn and the encyclopedia because I think we've all learned by now to expect our favorite showrunner to bring the references. But that's what commercial breaks are for, after all. Is everyone ready for a "genre-bending metafictional look at the American heartland"? HBO hopes you are!

Well, we aren't going to waste any time on getting to know the characters -- the opening credits are clearly going to serve as an introduction. Ferdinand the auteur is the color-blind stand-in for the director. Andrew the nerd is the geeky stand-in for the director. Alvin the loser is the political stand-in for the director. Cassie the teenager --

Damn it, MacDougall, why do <a href="http://www.innocence.com/games/pmwiki/index.php/UnknownUSA/UnknownUSA">all your shows</a> have to start with mermaids? I mean, I like a mermaid as much as the next guy but your public is confused. By which I mean me. Does it have to be mermaids? Would yeti serve? We may never know. OK, so Cassie the teenager is the stand-in for the director's obsession with mermaids. Everyone's a bit angstful. Cut to credits; the theme song is "Heroes" by David Bowie. HBO must be spending a fortune on this.

Open on Main Street in Muncie. It's a bright, sunny day and a huge furry paw is leaving a flyer on someone's windshield. The camera pulls back and it's some kind of gigantic owl-headed beast [<em>Ed: that's an owlbear.</em>] wandering around downtown leaving fliers on windshields. Fine, so we've got mermaids, we've got men in animal suits -- I'm expecting a pair of backwoods brothers next.

Sadly, I am disappointed as we cut to Ferdinand and his wench driving somewhere. Apparently Ferdinand doesn't value her career. Well, he's Owen Wilson, you know; he's a little bit more important. Also cuter. He's got an appointment with his mother at the bank so she can finance his movie. "Don't you worry that that tie makes you look like a failure?" she asks. Woo, she's going to be a fan favorite. They take a shortcut to the bank and get caught in traffic. It's somehow her fault, I'm sure.

Andrew is outside what my crack reference librarian assures me is a gaming store. I wouldn't know. It's called "The 20' by 20' Room" and if this is going to be a regular set I may have to pass these recaps off to someone else. There's a dungeon archway made of cardboard leading inside. Andrew interviews to himself that "If you can't be comfortable here, you won't be comfortable anywhere." Yeah, I'd be nervous about going in there too, just for totally different reasons.

Inside it continues to look like a gaming store but what the hell? Angelina Jolie is behind the counter? Is this going to be another one of those fantasy sequences that were old when Ally McBeal had them? She's looking at Andrew as if she has extremely bad taste in men. He freaks out and throws credit cards at her and flees with a book that I'm pretty sure isn't the one he wanted. Also, he grabs a flyer. I'm beginning to detect a theme.

The flyer interviews that someone is looking for, and I quote, "Doughty myrmidons, uncanny thaumaturgists, cunning filchers... and a cleric." I looked all that up for you: a myrmidon is a warrior-type, a thaumaturgist is Harry Potter, a filcher is a guy who steals things (not what <em>you</em> were thinking, there in the back, you refugee from Fark) and a cleric is a guy who prays a lot. Like Jerry Falwell, but useful.

Ferdihunk and his wench are still stuck in traffic arguing as Cassie and some kid who appears to be named Chip walk past. The camera follows Cassie. Cursed camera. Chip wants to know what they're going to do all summer, since Muncie is dead boring. He's got potential! Cassie interviews that her mom won't let her be a lifeguard or really do anything, so she got a job at a coffee shop. Chip wants to know how that happened. Cassie explains that her mom doesn't know about the job. You go! But watch out, the next thing you know your mom will be speaking to you telepathically and you'll be reading Tarot cards. We've seen this happen before.

Alvin is at Magic Beans buying coffee. I wouldn't have cast William Macy in the Giles role, but he seems to be enjoying himself. Who wouldn't when talking to Thora Birch? I'd say that was stunt casting since she was in that awful movie with Jeremy Irons, but Angelina has raised the stunt casting bar so very high. Alvin wants to know why Millie didn't vote: "Didn't you see the ad with the eagle?" And we cut to the ad with the eagle, which is dreadful. Millie interviews that she's not sure what Alvin was running for and points out that her Democratic vote was not going to make a difference in a red state like Indiana. So she's both clued in and clueless, which is kind of cute. Cassie and Chip arrive and Alvin tries to poll them, but his car blew up. That'll put a crimp in the campaign. On the bright side, the flyer on the windshield didn't get burned. Chip keeps trying to flirt with Cassie during all this, but she's woefully oblivious. He's got a nice smile for a high schooler, so I think she's missing out.

Back to Ferdiyum, who is getting out of the car and abandoning his wench. Yay! He bumps into the furry thing from before, who interviews that he is an owlbear. That's Luis Guzman under that mask! Ferdinand objects to this freak of nature and I cheer from the couch. "Are there octopus panthers?" Well, just my second to last boyfriend; he had easy eight hands and was always hungry. The owlbear snides about Ferdinand's tie, which is unfair, and hands over yet another one of the mysterious fliers.

And now we're in Andrew's house, which is not as horrible as I'd feared. His parents seem kind of nice, even if his father is obsessively working on a model of Muncie from... it's gotta be sometime before the turn of the century. His mother is doing two crosswords puzzles at once. Andrew is calling the number on the flyer, which belongs to Cassie. Surely Cassie is not behind these? No, she's as confused as I am. Eventually she puts her mother on, which reduces Andrew to drooling incoherency. "Dungeon... Majesty?" Cassie's mom, Alice, quite rightly assumes that Andrew is looking for someone to tie him up and play miniatures on his chest and hangs up.

Once more, Ferdinand! (I ran out of pet names, but tune in next week.) He's playing croquet with his parents trying to pitch what sounds like the kind of very boring documentary that I would watch out of loyalty to my man. It's about kindergarten. His mother says no, unless... unless he gets a job with Jack Nelson Ford. That's the same Jack Nelson who beat Alvin's candidate in the election, in case you weren't taking notes. I'm not sure how you'd follow this show without, though.

This time we follow Ferdinand's mother, because Alvin wants a car loan from her. She asks him what he does, and he interviews about the ad with the eagle again, and we see another ad in the same series. Ferdi's mom says blankly, "We're not really environmentalists." Hee! However, since she's on the lookout for ways to make her son's life easier, she says she'll give Alvin the loan if he buys the car from Ferdinand. That'll teach him to let his car blow up. For a Giles, he's a real sad-sack.

We pan along the lawns of Muncie, following an enormous 2006 Excrucian SUV. God, those things are ugly. Eventually it arrives at a lawn that's completely, well, not unkempt but it's not like the other polished lawns. It's a Japanese garden, which is kind of nice, really. As the Excrucian pulls up, we see a Jack Nelson Ford logo on the back with a Vote Roger Parker sticker over it, so this must be Alvin's new car. Yes, there's Alvin getting out, along with Ferdinand, and there's Andrew arriving on a Segway. Wait, I want to say that in a squeal. Segway! Ferdisegwayless doesn't have one of those. Hm. I'm keeping an option open on Andrew.

Alice answers the door and tries to turn the pair away. Alas for her, but thankfully for future recaps, they are a persistent bunch. Ferdinand shows the initiative I knew he had and finds Cassie in a wading pool out back. I hate to admit it but I'm starting to dig the mermaid thing here. Especially since Cassie is so relatively well-adjusted. The four of them, along with Cassie's kid brother Oliver, try to figure out what's going on. Oliver explains in a cute 11 year old way that he's running the game and had the fliers handed out and everything's looking rosy until Alice threatens to call the police. "She usually doesn't," says Cassie, but nobody feels like taking the chance and they flee to Magic Beans. I really approve of the coffee shop as a frequent set, as long as it keeps them out of that gaming store.

Ferdibenefactor buys everyone a latte, Including Oliver, which I'd ordinarily frown on but Oliver seems a little weird already so what can it hurt? Oliver cruelly turns all of them down for the game. Alvin's upper lip is quivering. Guy, you were turned down by the voters, how much worse is it to be turned down by a pre-teen? And how are you going to react when Millie figures out that you're making eyes at her and shoots you dead?

Andrew quickly uses his lifeline and asks this online friend of his, named Kestrel ("ooh spooky") what to do. Kestrel ("ooh spooky") ("as long as it still makes me laugh, that's how long I'll do that schtick") says that like the Buddhist monasteries, you must ask three times for entrance. Oddly, that advice works and Oliver says they can all game with him after all. Cassie tells Oliver that she'll help him convince Alice about the game if he'll help her convince Alice about her job at Magic Beans. I get the feeling the two of them do this sort of thing a lot.

Back to Cassie's house. The assembled group has chosen Ferdinand to make the pitch to Alice. Everyone has character references and they promise to run the game under Alice's nose. She hems and haws and lays down a pile of rules that they have to agree to, but in the end she says yes. Which is amazingly generous of her considering the age differences and the general freakiness of the situation.

The four then argue (at the Magic Bean, and I'm getting whiplash) about what characters they get to play. Cassie interviews that she wants to play "the mermaid one." Huh? Oh, the myrmidon! MacDougall, I'm watching you... Andrew snaps up Harry Potter. Alvin and Ferdinand haggle over the other two; Alvin's not too sure about being a filcher. "Isn't that more of a Republican role?" Millie helpfully points out that he could be like Robin Hood, and either that observation or Millie's quirk of a smile convinces Alvin to take the filcher. That kind of backbone is why you lose elections, kiddo. Ferdinand will play the cleric.

Everyone sits around the ping pong table, BACK at Cassie's house, getting ready to play. And... cut.

Next week on <cite>Dungeon Majesty</cite>: Ferdinand, the wench, and Angelina Jolie in that store. Things are not rosy. Andrew gets a package in the mail from Kestrel ("ooh, spooky"). Jack Nelson himself is talking about an opening in the State Senate. And a bunch of kids in black hoodies on BMX bikes are riding across the park, and even I've seen those Peter Jackson movies, so I get it! Yay target audience, more or less. I still don't like that store, though.


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1.2 "Orcs" (Aired 2004.12.22)

Last week on <cite>Dungeon Majesty</cite>, we met our sad-sack group of director surrogates and one owlbear, without whom apparently nothing. Andrew hit on Cassie's mom by mistake, Alvin got a new car, Cassie got a new job, and Ferdinand should get a new girlfriend. I'm available! And again with the mermaids. The kids in the forums are claiming that these don't count because they're Esther Williams look-a-likes with legs. Hate to break it to them, but Rosebud is not just a sled, either.

I'm pretty sure the opening credits changed this week; Cassie's dad is trying to save her from the mermaids this time around. Seriously, MacDougall needs to talk to someone about his aquatic issues. I guess people were complaining that the symbolism was too opaque in the pilot? Alice Lauro ain't living alone for no reason, guys.

We could be heroes. Could we? It's only the second episode, so who knows?

The camera is flying over a golf course. Cut to a men talking on his cell phone at one of the holes -- whoever it is playing golf is talking to the sinister Republican car dealer, Jack Nelson. The frame freezes and we get to see that the golfer's stats printed on-screen with that clickety-click sound effect. His name is Dick Abernathy and he's a seventh level State Senator Chaotic Republican. He also has Take Kickbacks +5, whatever that means. I'm not one for goofy Dungeon Majesty gimmicks but this is kind of clever and fits well with the whole idea of introducing the protagonists in the credits; MacDougall has clearly decided not to waste much time. Probably a good idea given the limited life-span of a show like this.

Back to the aerial shot, which swoops towards Abernathy. Abernathy and Mr. Sinister want to cut the education budget. Wait, the camera is a point of view shot -- there's a shadow underneath. It's not a plane. Don't tell me this is some kind of Dungeon Majesty monster, because I'm pretty sure Luis Guzman can't fly. Holy crap, it just ate Abernathy. Or breathed fire on him. Dragons and mermaids? Why must you toy with my brain?

Cut to that odious store, which is still called The 20' by 20' Room. My research assistant, played this week by my little brother, explains that this is a cute reference to the traditional 10' by 10' room in which monsters live. Whatever. Andrew is playing on his Segway and I'm suffering from consumer envy. Whoops, more freeze-frame with stats. Apparently Andrew is a supergenius with eidetic memory and severe social disadvantages. His allies are "Kestrel" ("ooh spooky"), his parents, and the new Dungeon Majesty group. I want to meet the people who couldn't figure out the show without these titles, I really do.

Andrew sent Oliver in to get a copy of that book of his because he can't face Angelina Jolie. I can't blame him. Oliver interviews that the little tiny figurines he bought are approved for fourth edition and offers to let Andrew help paint them. Aw, it's a bonding moment. They head off to the Magic Bean; Oliver wants a latte, but Andrew notes that Ferdibadboy is no kind of role-model and shouldn't be giving kids latters. And hits a phone pole. I'm going to keep track of people hitting things with their car; that makes two in two episodes. The phone pole is worse off than the owlbear.

The camera pans over and Oliver sees a bunch of kids on black BMX bikes whooshing past. Yeah, we saw them in the preview last week. Andrew, as usual -- how quickly we learn about our friends -- is oblivious. Oliver decides he wants to just get home immediately. The BMX kids start following Andrew and Oliver now, which rather reveals the drawback of the Segway, which is not near as fast as the bikes. Oliver: "They're the black riders!"

Flashback to Andrew going through yet another one of those books where he finds an entry for "Riders, Black." They have fear powers. Geeks everywhere are spoodging; me I'm not so sure. Back in the present, Andrew has jammed on his wizard cap and is making the Segway accelerate. Oh dear god, the music! It's gotta be stolen directly from some 80s cop show, possibly one featuring William Shatner. Andrew blasts through a red light and just barely misses an Excrucian SUV. Is that Liv Tyler driving it? The casting budget on this show must be insane.

Andrew yells out, "Fortuitous rushing fluids," and the kids peel off so as not to hit the car. Andrew, please don't ever say that again. [<em>Ed: it's the name of a Dungeon Majesty spell.</em>] I don't care, it's still icky. Andrew and Oliver are away and safe. One of the kids yells, "We know where you live, Oliver Lauro!" It's so cute when pre-teens discover telephone books. Andrew swears a level 3 wizard's oath not to tell anyone about this. We have geekspoodge sign! Geekspoodge. Heh. Don't blame me, Andrew started it.

Back to the Magic Bean. Is there really a coffee shop like this in Muncie? I'd hang out there. Alvin is reading a newspaper and sneaking looks at Millie. Cassie's behind the counter too; I think it's her first day judging from the way she just made that mocha with cream cheese instead of whipped cream. According to the newspaper, Abernathy has died from spontaneous combustion. I'm guessing that there's a real explanation for this that doesn't involve dragons, but I think someone had to have dressed up as a dragon or something; that seems to be the way the show goes.

Freeze-frame! Alvin is: a third level Political Hack, a Democrat w/disillusioned tendencies, and 36% in love with Millie Butler. But then Millie flips her hair back over her ear and it goes up to 40%. That's really cute and it gets me despite myself.

Chip comes in. Freeze-frame! We run the risk of over-use here, I think. I forgive them because I'm getting to like Chip, and he's a first level Teenager/Gardener who is 85% in love with Cassie. Awwww. It'd be really funny if Alvin and Chip wound up together, wouldn't it? I'm cheering for that.

Chip: "So, how's your little brother's Satanic cult coming?" Hey, good question. Answer: about as well as your social life, kiddo. Cassie is way too busy to be flirting with Chip, but Chip is way too teenager to be noticing that sort of minor issue. He makes a sincerely feeble attempt to ask her out. Cassie skillfully deflects him to Millie. Millie is already chatting with Alvin about politics, though. Or listening to him preach, depending on how you look at it. Wait, Alvin is implying that Millie might want to run for Abernathy's old Senate seat. Wouldn't that be a twist?

Millie quite sensibly thinks she'd hate politics because she doesn't like compromises. That's fair. In fact, she wants to be a divorce lawyer, which is illustrated by a flashback to her childhood in which her dad gets her most precious snowglobe in a divorce. That's just odd, except that Millie seems smart enough to make a hell of a lawyer.

Before Alvin can fully show his disappointment, a bunch of kids from the Ball State swimming team flood in and start chattering. The camera lingers on Dale and Wade, who are played by James Vanderbeek and Seann William Scott respectively. This is why Chip is going to be stuck with Alvin -- they're too cute. Wait, Chip and Dale? MACDOUGALL!

Apparently at Ball State, the mating rituals involve holding your breath. Come to think of it, that's not a bad test, I'll have to remember that one. Dale and Wade demonstrate the rituals of the tribe by holding their breath and hitting on Cassie and Millie. If Wade can hold his breath for five minutes, they win a double date. Chip explains that he can't go out with Dale, Wade, and Cassie because he has prior plans. Oh, Chip, you poor kid. Cassie: "What do I get if you lose?" Well, you don't have to date the kind of cute chimps who routinely hold their breath for five minutes. Nah, she gets to go swimming at their pool. Millie fails to point out that this is a win-win situation for Ball State swimming team members. Some friend Millie is.

Wade takes a huge breath, showing off his over-developed chest muscles, and clamps down. Alvin gets a very thoughtful look on his face and sneakily heads around behind Wade. What's he up to? He's spilling coffee on Wade -- screen freeze, clickety-click. Feat: spill hot liquid on back of neck, Effect: -5 to Hold Breath rolls, Roll: dit dit dit 20!, Me: what the hell did all that mean? It means, I guess, that Alvin fails to distract Wade. Kind of a ballsy try, though. Wade makes it to five minutes just as Millie comes around the counter: "That can't be good for him!" He's damaged goods now, Millie, leave him for the wolves.

After the commercial break, Greg Fowler is meeting with Alvin in Alvin's office. Fowler is apparently a lot like Alvin except successful and 10 years younger. Ouch. He interviews that he really admires Alvin and has ever since he worked for him on the 1988 campaign. Alvin looks like he doesn't remember the guy, so we flashback for a memory aid. The young Fowler is having sex in the campaign office on top of a pile of posters, and his little campaign button is going click click click against the Republican campaign button worn by the nameless woman. That's low.

Greg explains to Alvin that Donald Bellmore the IIIrd wants to run for the Abernathy seat, which is exactly how everyone's referring to it now: the Abernathy Seat. Kind of like a Ludlum novel, but quirky. Apparently Don's grandfather was a big New Deal liberal back when Roosevelt was running the country and Indiana voted Democrat. Because of this, it is obligatory to allow his grandson to run for office even though there's clearly something wrong with him. Otherwise, why hire Alvin? I'd claim this is why the Democrats lose elections, but it worked out well for the Bush clan, so maybe Greg's smarter than I think. Alvin warily agrees to meet with Don Trio.

Cut to commercial, following which I consider flipping over to Monday Night Football so that I don't have to watch an actual Dungeon Majesty game. But I have a job to do. For some reason, Alvin is wearing chainmail that fits poorly. He'd stand out except that Cassie is wearing a tanktop and shorts and a sunhat and has zinc oxide on her nose to guard against the sun, and Oliver is wearing Elton John sunglasses. You know, strike that. Alvin stands out anyway. There is a long explanation of why Alvin is wearing chainmail that seems to boil down to "One freaky subculture told me I should do it even though it's inappropriate for this freaky subculture." Kind of like bringing glowlights to the S&M club.

Andrew interviews about his character. It's good to see him showing some confidence. His character, Werdna, grew up good in a land of evil. Alvin beats me to it: "Like a Democrat in Orange County?" Ferdilate shows up just when I was giving up hope of him ever appearing in this episode, with lattes for everyone, including Oliver. Corrupter of the young! I still care for him, though.

Unfortunately the game has to begin eventually. Fortunately, it doesn't get very far before they have to fight some orcs. Alvin wants to know why they have to fight orcs, sounding exactly like my parents trying to understand video games. He asks about orcs being inherently evil, implying that this is racist. He is so lucky Millie isn't here. Andrew and Oliver are getting increasingly exasperated. Alvin: "Maybe it could be elves instead." OK, that's not a bad idea. Oliver gets really fed up and flees upstairs.

Cassie follows him, but the door to his room is closed, so she knocks because she's nicer than I am. I would have just gone in; eleven year olds don't have a right to privacy. Oliver explains, "There's an 18th level spell of warding on the door. Go away." Poor Oliver! He needs friends his age. Cassie cajoles him in that inimitable Maggie Guyllenhal fashion until he comes out.

Downstairs, everyone's watching TV. There's a Sinister Jack Nelson Ford commercial on, filmed in colors that scream Ferdinand -- see, I was paying attention during the credits. "Screaming" may be literal, here, given how bright the pinks are. Oliver meta-comments, "The TV's busted." Not this hour, my precocious little moppet. Cassie is still hovering around Oliver and his sunglasses slip off... whoa, that's surprising. Oliver has concealer on his face, which is pretty much failing to hide a huge black eye. And I thought the sunglasses were just quirky. MacDougall, you got us again.

Oliver claims, "I went out for the lacrosse team." Cassie is far too bright for him, alas. "Some terrorists tried to hijack our school bus. Not Al-Qaeda, domestic ones." God bless the writers for that reminder. Oliver is coming up with some other story when Andrew shows up and says "Oh, like the Black Riders?" Oliver instantly deducts half of Andrew's experience points. Can he do that? I guess so, although it seems like it ought to be against the rules. Oh, but Andrew violated that level three wizard's oath. Andrew flees in horror.

Alvin comes up and misunderstands the situation for cheap laughs. Well, he is a politician. Once everything's straightened out we cut to commercial.

After the break, Andrew is picking up his mail, which includes an Amazon box. I sometimes think that a hundred years from now, the Amazon logo will be the new symbol of Christmas. Inside there's a beautiful coffee table book about Tibet and Buddhist temples. Cat Stevens is singing in the background -- wrong religion but the spirit is nice. There's a note inside: "Shadowfax, I thought you might get more out of this than another Dungeon Majesty book. Kestrel ('ooh spooky'). P.S.: Don't forget to check for secret doors." Shadowfax? [<em>Ed: that's Andrew, hon.</em>]

Cut to Alvin talking with Alice. He's not so good at breaking bad news; you'd think he'd have had enough practice telling people they lost elections. "Would you like the bad news or the good offer first?" "How about both at once?" "Well, your son has a black eye and I was wondering if you'd like to run for State Senate?" Alice is bemused. "It's all I can do to raise my kids up right." Ah, that ties the issues together nicely. See? Bad presentation on Alvin's part.

Cassie arrives with her own questions to hand. "Can I go on a date this Saturday?" Alice quizzes Cassie fairly mercifully; I think she's too distracted by the Oliver problem to be properly inquisitive. "OK, honey, as long as you'll be home by your curfew!" If I recall correctly, Cassie's curfew is sometime around eight PM. "You'll be all right with Millie and Mr. Wasserman." Alvin: "I think there must be some misunderstanding!" Heh.

Back at Alvin's office, Senator Jackson's secretary calls to set up a meeting w/the Senator. There is light banter which serves to reinforce our understanding that William H. Macy is, in fact, playing a William H. Macy character. Quick cut to the actual meeting, which further hammers home the point: "Why would they want you to run this campaign? No insult meant, but you're 0-8 in your last eight campaigns." Harsh, even if true.

Alvin attempts to banter but the long and the short of it is that this Don Trio guy is in fact fatally damaged in some way, and the Indiana Democratic Party is attaching him to Alvin because that way nobody important will get dragged down along with -- well, with either of them. Alvin interviews that "If the ball comes down on black eight times, it just makes it more likely that it'll come up red the next time." Senator Jackson cheers him on, but both the Senator and I know that Alvin's understanding of probability sucks. God, that was grim.

Cut to Cassie heading doggedly towards Andrew's house. Cut to Andrew inside talking to Kestrel ("ooh spooky") on his computers in the basement. I think they filmed this one in NASA HQ. Upstairs, Andrew's dad is working on Muncie during World War II; there's a little figurine of the original Donald Bellmore getting people back to work. His mom is translating some huge manuscript. Perhaps it's the show bible.

The parents are somewhat disturbed about the presence of a girl looking for Andrew. So am I, come to think of it. Cassie takes herself down to the basement, where Andrew mistakes her for his mom at first. I'll let that one speak for itself. Percentage in lair: 95%.

Andrew lets her in and keeps on talking to Kestrel ("ooh spooky") on IM. I've had boyfriends who do that, just not for very long. There is a slight kafuffle about where Cassie's going to sit, but bless her ever-bubbly heart, she agrees to sit on Andrew's styrofoam peanuts. The mysterious Kestrel ("ooh spooky") is as bemused as I am. Possibly he symbolizes the audience? If he speculates about Chip's sexuality, I'm going to call it a shout out.

Ah, Cassie wants to quiz Andrew about what happened to Oliver. Andrew explains about the oath and the geas and all, which Cassie more or less accepts. Bookflash: Black Riders are always the minions of anti-paladins. Cassie is not any more accepting of that than I would be. It's good to know she has her limits. Andrew says something about random monsters. Cassie: "Not so much in Muncie." Andrew: "You'd be surprised." Cassie asks Andrew what the kids looked like; Andrew pulls out a book. Our avenging sibling points out that this is reality, not a game. Andrew notes that a yearbook is very like a -- what does he call it? A Maelificum Monstrous?

Cut to a yearbook and a Maelificum Monstrous next to each other; Andrew picks out our culprits. Ah, we're at the Magic Bean. Latte, please! There's a sponsored page from Anti-Paladin Auto Body congratulating the class of 2004; Andrew is quivering with happiness when he sees it. Sorry, Cassie, but you're in a Rob MacDougall show and this sort of thing is going to happen from time to time. I share your pain, however.

Chip drops by and IDs the kids as roleplaying geeks who hang out at the game store and at the auto body shop. Andrew interviews about Angelina Jolie and the discomfort he feels when hanging out there.

Back to Andrew's basement. I've started getting this irresistible urge to clean up whenever I see that set. Andrew is talking to Kestrel ("ooh spooky") again. I declare the betting pool on Kestrel's actor to be open; I've got my bet on Kevin Bacon, personally. Kestrel ("ooh spooky") advises Andrew that he has to decide what he's looking for before he can find it. If they can do a show about people IM'ing, how come they can't do a show about TwoP recappers, huh?

Andrew gets the nerve up to ask Kestrel ("OK, it just got old") who he is, and Kestrel logs out. He's Kevin Bacon, you fool! [<em>Ed: I'm betting on Angelina Jolie.</em>] Andrew pulls on his wizardly gear, including a miner's light, and heads out.

Back at the Magic Bean, Chip expresses his displeasure at this whole date thing in about the most passive-aggressive way you can possibly imagine. But he comes around and gives her a brotherly hug. Chip, you know you've got your eye on Ferdinand, even though you can't have him.

After the commercial break, we're at the restaurant where presumably everyone will be having dinner. It's called the Ram Restaurant and Brewery. Not sure what to make of that. Alvin pulls up next to two other Excrucians, identical to his. Creepy! The four kids show up at the same time as Alvin does; he is not really happy about seeing Millie.

Dale and Wade quiz mostly Cassie about whether or not she's going to Ball State and what kind of swimmer she is and so on. They interview that she has a great swimmer's body, and she eats it up. Millie looks a little disgusted but maybe it's all the attention they're paying to Cassie.

Over at the other table, Don Trio is proving himself to be a good candidate with a lot of good answers. He interviews that "God belongs in our hearts, and if He's there it doesn't matter where else he is." OK, I might vote for this guy. Alvin is looking impressive for the first time, rapid-firing questions about Don's politics and how he'd react to various situations and so on. It's a good time for the writers to start showing that he is actually competent.

Cut to Andrew sneaking up on the auto body shop with an incredibly complex looking piece of night vision headgear. "I'm casting Bravery of Hercules on myself." Oh, Andrew. Right before he gets there, the kids on BMX bikes converge on him and you know, I kind of believe that three high school kids could take Andrew out. He says, bravely, "I'm just about to banish you from this plane!" Um... Andrew... Andrew interviews that he has a circle of protection.

As the kids come towards him, he flips some kind of switch on the Segway and jumps off. The lead kid grabs the Segway and ZAP there's a HUGE shock through him. That's an after-market modification, I think. Andrew strikes a bring-it pose, but you know, these kids are roleplaying geeks after all. I'm pretty sure they're crying now. My sympathies are torn.

Ricky Jay (!) comes out of the auto shop, dressed like a mechanic. He's flipping a coin across his knuckles and wants to know what the story is. Andrew explains that he was attacked by the kids. Ricky Jay points out that Andrew is a grown man who perhaps should not be fighting with a bunch of kids. He's less sympathetic than Cassie was. Andrew argues that he had to protect his friends, and Ricky Jay buys that and asks for help hauling in a big piece of metal junk. Ricky Jay got gored and it's seeping and he isn't supposed to lift anything. "Gored," asked Andrew? "By elves, but I don't like to talk about it."

Inside there's a giant metal sculpture of a fist giving the finger. Andrew continues to channel my curiosity; Ricky Jay explains that he's got a lot of people he wants to tell off. He also apologizes for the minions. Good thing Cassie isn't here. "Minions?" asks Andrew. Ricky Jay explains patiently that he's an anti-paladin, and anti-paladins have minions. Andrew seems non-plussed to have met someone more out of touch with reality than he is.

"But why the kid?" asks Andrew. Ricky Jay knows a lot of kids, but they narrow it down to Oliver with the help of a grimy photograph pinned up over his desk. Ricky Jay asks, holding out the photograph, "Is this your card?" Heh. "He paid me to rough him up; he didn't want anything broken but he wanted it to look real." Whoa. Andrew is freaked out; Ricky Jay points out that not everyone is lawful good. Half the audience goes "Huh?" My research assistant says "lawful good means the most good," and promptly gets into an argument with his friend about whether or not that's actually true. Well, that was useful.

Cut back to the restaurant and the date. Mom and Chip keep calling Cassie. Chip, you missed your chance already, and there are no take-backs in love. Dale keeps telling Cassie to come out for the team. Teenage girls are under such pressure these days. The troublemaking swim team offers to take Cassie to the pool. Cassie is introduced to the concept of skinny-dipping. Millie: "I only skinny-dip with guys I'm not interested in." Dale and Wade try to figure that one out for a while.

At Alvin's table, Don Trio gets all serious and reveals his big secret. "Well, I don't know what you've heard, but I'm not a necrophiliac. I'm a necroexhibitionist." EW. Also: EW. Alvin is visibly shaken and more than a little upset. He responds to this by frantically polling both the kids at the other table and, when she calls, Cassie's mom. None of them are terribly enthused by the idea of voting for someone who exposes himself to corpses.

On the bright side, he may have broken up the impending Ball State Swimming Date. Dale: "Maybe I could call you sometime." Wade: "I can feign death and convince people I'm a corpse!" I'm not sure Wade realizes what he just volunteered for.

On the other side of town, Andrew is asking Oliver to release him from the geas. Oliver somewhat grumpily complies. Andrew shows him the Yellow Pages ad for the auto body shop. In an attempt to nail down the award for most unlikely father figure , Andrew asks Oliver why he did it and interviews that he got beat up a lot in his childhood. "I don't know why anyone would pay to have it done to them."

Oliver explains, "I always thought that if I was really in trouble, he would come." "Who's he?" "My father. I always felt like he was watching us somehow. And if I was really in trouble, he would come to help." Oh, man, that's just tragic. I must admit I really like the swings between humor and tragedy we're seeing here; it could easily go wrong but it's great writing so far.

Cassie is at the door; I guess the date is over. She heard the last few exchanges. "Ollie... he's gone." Andrew offers a life lesson drawn from bad gaming fiction, which is kind of the problem to start with in my opinion, but I'm not writing the show. Oliver wants to know how the owlbear gave him this, then, and shows us a ring. Huh? Wait -- we saw that ring hanging around Cassie's dad's neck in the opening credits. Whoa.

Next week on <cite>Dungeon Majesty</cite>: Angelina Jolie is applying makeup to someone... and it's Andrew in full goth regalia! Urk. There's a quick shot of a pool from above, which pans to a diving board, and Cassie is standing on it. A split screen with Alvin and Don Trio talking on a phone to presumably each other, arguing about whatever Greg Foster is up to.

We'd better get more of Ferdihandsome next episode.
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