The Thief That Didn’t Exist

I’ve written about this before but I’m writing about it again because it felt like a big moment for me.

More than thirty years ago I was on Bendermere Avenue across from the Wanamassa School in the late afternoon. We were sifting through the Spelljammer Boxed Set and I agreed to run a game. I had no idea what I was going to do but I did have an image in my head of a floating pyramid on fire drifting through fantasy space. That was enough.

Having just read about in media res in my freshman English class I told the players, as they made their characters, that they were chasing said fiery pyramid through space. We didn’t know why yet.

As folks announced what they were playing, my friend, Pete noticed that no one is playing a thief. He lamented this dearth of stealth and trap disarming. He continued to do so as we traded books back and forth to make characters.

Rob: Jay, what is the modifier for a 16 Strength?

Jay: I have no idea.

Rob: I thought for sure you’d know.

Jay: I’ve never played a character with a Strength that low before.

(Did that happen during this game or am I mixing and matching my memories? Three decades later…who cares?)

“Guys, we don’t have a thief. Someone should ditch their concept and play the thief.” Pete didn’t let things go.

“You had a thief, Pete. Your thief was killed by the dead sun pharoah on that flying fire pyramid.”

“He killed our thief! He’s fucking dead.”

Suddenly we knew why we were chasing that pyramid through space. We learned how ship to ship combat worked. I remember nothing else about that game.

That is the hobby in a nutshell. That is why I love this story and have told it several times over the years. We get our friends to care about things that don’t exist. We dare them to put on imaginary masks and fight for these things and create memories in doing so.

If there’s a better way to spend a few hours around a table with friends I haven’t found it yet.

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