In the early seventies, Ed Whitchurch ran "his game", and one of the participants was Eric Sorenson. Eric plays something like a computer. When he games, he methodically considers each possibility before choosing his preferred option. If given time, he will invariably pick the optimal solution. It has been known to take weeks. He is otherwise, in all respects, a superior gamer. Eric was playing a Neutral Paladin in Ed's game. He was on some lord's lands when the following exchange occurred:
Ed: You see a well groomed garden. In the middle, on a small hill, you see a gazebo.
Eric: A gazebo? What color is it?
Ed: [pause] It's white, Eric.
Eric: How far away is it?
Ed: About 50 yards.
Eric: How big is it?
Ed: [pause] It's about 30 ft across, 15 ft high, with a pointed top.
Eric: I use my sword to detect good on it.
Ed: It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo.
Eric: [pause] I call out to it.
Ed: It won't answer. It's a gazebo.
Eric: [pause] I sheathe my sword and draw my bow and arrows. Does it respond in any way?
Ed: No, Eric, it's a gazebo!
Eric: I shoot it with my bow. [roll to hit] What happened?
Ed: There is now a gazebo with an arrow sticking out of it.
Eric: [pause] Wasn't it wounded?
Ed: OF COURSE NOT, ERIC! IT'S A GAZEBO!
Eric: [whimper] But that was a +3 arrow!
Ed: It's a gazebo, Eric, a GAZEBO! If you really want to try to destroy it, you could try to chop it with an axe, I suppose, or you could try to burn it, but I don't know why anybody would even try. It's a @#$%!! gazebo!
Eric: [long pause. He has no axe or fire spells.] I run away.
Ed: [thoroughly frustrated] It's too late. You've awakened the gazebo. It catches you and eats you.
Eric: [reaching for his dice] Maybe I'll roll up a fireusing mage so I can avenge my Paladin.
At this point, the increasingly amused fellow party members restored a modicum of order by explaining to Eric what a gazebo is. Thus ends the tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo. It could have been worse; at least the gazebo wasn't on a grassy gnoll. Thus ends the tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo. A little vocabulary is a dangerous thing.
The story of Eric and the Gazebo is Copyright © 1989 by Richard Aronson. Reprinted with permission. The author grants permission to reprint as long as all copyright notices remain with the text.
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