With the recent death of Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax, I’ve had the opportunity to reminisce about my gaming days and relive the adventures of some of my favorite characters. There’s Blathmac O’Devlin, the Irish fighter with a heart of gold and an adamantine sword who met and wooed a cleric of Elistraee, the drow moon goddess. He’s living the life, that’s for sure! Then there’s Gunnar Gripnshakem, the dwarf with a soft spot for weaving quilts.
But the character I am the fondest of is Dexter Duchovic. Dexter was once-upon-a-time a college English professor with a failed marriage and a weakness for Guinness and cigarettes. Then he was “taken” into the fantasy world where he became a part of the Black Hand Society, a group of adventurers charged with chaperoning a prince named Nigel. Throughout a nearly three-year span of gaming at my Friendly Local Gaming Store, Books, Comics & Things, and under the tutelage of Dungeon Master Extraordinaire and author Steve Creech, Dexter took on a life of complex simplicity; while the world raged around him, Dexter was a calm voice of reason and respectability.
On paper, Dexter is an Illanian Smart (1) Psychic (4) Fire-Starter (2) Adventuring Scholar (4) with a 22 Intelligence and a +17 in both Knowledge History and Knowledge Literature.
Pretty boring stuff.
All you need to know about Dexter is that if you threaten Nigel (who later became king of his homeland, somewhere just outside the borders of Western Immoren) or any member of the Black Hands, especially Danira (who, much to Dexter’s delight, looks an awful lot like Salma Hayek), then he will:
- Make you think that you’re a bird,
- Pick you up into the air a few hundred feet,
- Set you ablaze,
- And, finally, permit you to drop back to terra firma.
Oh, and you will leave a nasty stain.
However, if you’re a friendly sort of chap, then Dexter will probably:
- Roll you a cigarette of fresh hooaga leaf,
- Pour you a glass of wine,
- Invite you to sit next to the fireplace,
- And read to you from Shakespeare or Milton.
Actually, Dexter would more than likely leave the menial tasks to his “intern” Ozzy, a Gobber who is famous for being “virtually naked” in nearly any threatening situation.
Oh, the memories. I could go on for hours!
Dexter represents for me a very unique time in my life. Many things were in a state of upheaval and my bi-weekly sessions around the table with friends like Steve, Lisa, Terry, Alan, Sean, Justin (Mel!!) and whoever else decided to drop in brought me a stability and joy I can’t easily express.
But all good things must come to an end. Due to some illnesses and other circumstances, the Black Hands were shoved to the back burner, just as things were heating up. There is hope (and a rumor or two) that Dexter will continue his adventuring. He still covets a professorship, either at the Merin School of Learned Sciences or Corvis University, and would love to see just how much damage (er, um, good, I mean) he and Chime, a fellow psychic, can manage to pull off without being noticed. Until the group convenes once again, however, Dexter will remain in a binder on my gaming shelf, and in a very special place in my heart.
[The photograph of Dexter that accompanies this post was drawn by a good friend and illustrator/writer Doug Curtis. He’s partly responsible for the Space Hack series of comic books, and when we game together we tend to tear the roof off. Whatever works! Thanks, Doug!]