Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When Fandoms Collide

Andrew told me about a fan theory he read online.  I took it and ran with it.  Allow me to present...



 (Like this, but in reverse.)

"The name of the game is Dungeons and Dragons," announced Tony to the Avengers.  Seated around the table, they watched him with masked curiosity.  He had used a wide variety of lies to get them to come to his home.  Most of them had known he was lying, and most had come anyway.  They were used to Tony's eccentricities as much as Pepper was.

Tony's basement, garage, and basement were one and the same.  An expansive, modern concrete structure, he had a den that was perfectly suited to his purposes.  He had unceremoniously pushed all his tools, wires, microchips, potato chips, and poker chips off of the largest coffee table and dragged two mismatched sofas over to it.  The sofas faced the open garage with his collections of classic cars; Tony faced away from them, toward the other Avengers and a flickering neon sign advertising a beer company that had long since gone out of business.  The decor was purposefully, artfully decrepit; the stained glass chandelier hanging over the billiards table might have looked tacky if he hadn't paid six figures for it and hired a professional designer to help him install it properly.

There were six of them in total.  Clint Barton (code name Hawkeye) was poised on the back of a sofa behind Bruce Banner, who was sitting in a rigid posture next to Natasha Romanoff (code name Black Widow).  Not knowing why they'd been gathered, Clint had a quiver slung over his shoulder and a Kevlar vest on, while Natasha was in a bodysuit with several tell-tale, knife-shaped bulges along her forearms and thighs.  Tony sat across from them, leaning forward eagerly, pushing papers toward them, oblivious to their dress.  He had already set up a screen around his section of the glass coffee table; one of the dog-eared pieces of cardboard was leaning precariously against Thor's hammer, which took up the end of the table.  It was within grabbing distance of Thor himself, who was leaning back on the loveseat, aloof, while Steve Rogers (code name Captain America) was leaning forward, brow furrowed.  He had already been admonished several times for peeking over Tony's cardboard dividers.

"And this is a training exercise?" asked Steve incredulously, picking up one of the papers.

"Yeah, yeah, sure.  Me and Hank and Reed used to play in college.  It was great.  Hey, Bruce, remember that time I got a Book of Vile Darkness from the spider witch queen and razed that whole goblin village to the ground?"

"Why should we partake in imaginary, inconsequential quests for immaterial glory?" demanded Thor.  "Would it not be better to defeat our foes and reap honor for ourselves in actuality?"

"Well, in D&D, there's no consequences," explained Tony.

"Ahh," said Thor, head bobbing.  Natasha was also nodding.  The idea of indiscriminately killing people who annoyed her without getting in trouble seemed like a good enough reason as any.  Steve, however, looked hopelessly confused; he was examining a dwarf miniature with a look of overwhelmed befuddlement.

"Okay, so we start by picking a DM.  A dungeon master."  Tony clapped his hands together decisively.  "He needs to be a natural leader, someone who already knows how to play the game.  I mean run the... the simulation.  He needs to be good at math, a quick thinker..."  He let his sentence dangle in the air for a moment.

Only one person took the bait.  "Impartial," added Bruce,  "and fair."

"Bruce," said several people at once.

"Him?" protested Tony.

"Sure, I know how to play," said Bruce with a shrug.

"But..." began Tony.  His eyes scanned the room.  "But he needs to be... I mean..."

"Impartial, good at math and knows how to play.  That's Bruce!"  Natasha gave Bruce an encouraging push off the couch.  With a glare, Tony relinquished his seat behind the cardboard screen and switched places with Bruce.

Bruce cleared his throat.  "Well, we start by making our characters.  You pick your race first.  You can pick from this list."

"I'll be the leader," said Tony quickly.

"What?  No!  I will be the leader!" protested Thor.

"No, I'm the leader.  I know how to play so I'll be best at leading the group."

"I demand to be the strongest!"

"Guys, stop," protested Bruce weakly.  He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.  "There's no leader, okay?  And even if there were, the leader doesn't have to be the strongest."

"I am the strongest," said Thor.

"Sure, okay, you can be the strongest.  Just play a barbarian.  So you roll the dice like this and that number goes here..."

"He shall be a barbarian of noble stock, on an honorable quest for vengeance!"

"Okay.  Okay, sure, that's fine.  Tony, human rogue, I'm assuming?"

"Human rogue," confirmed Tony.  "Unlawful good.  Plays by his own rules.  He's on the run from the law.  And he gets a lot of ladies.  He has a really cool helmet that's like, red and gold..."  He had begun sketching as he spoke.  Under his hand, a helmet not dissimilar to his own Iron Man helmet was taking shape.  Natasha rolled her eyes but Tony didn't see.  "I'm almost done," he continued.  "I just need to name him.  I was thinking something sharp, like Arrow, or Quill."

"You're joking," said Clint dryly.
"No, why?"
"Are you serious?  QuillArrow?  You don't think you're ripping off my thing just a little bit?"
"Uh, no.  He's a human rogue, not an archer.  What's the problem?"
"How would you like it if I named my character Jet, or Rocket, or Tank?" challenged Clint.
"I wouldn't care."
Clint searched Tony's face for a moment, then scribbled something on his character sheet, mumbling about intellectual property.  Tony shrugged and went back to drawing.

"Wait, hold on, I don't get it.  What's the difference between wisdom and intelligence?" asked Steve hopelessly, staring at his character sheet.  "I got race, I think, and class... wait... wait, I'm confused, no I don't."

"Let me see your sheet," began Bruce, reaching.  But before he could, Clint shoved a sheet into his hand.

"Is this okay?  He's a little guy who everyone underestimates, but he's got a big long-range gun.  He's a gunslinger basically."

"Yeah, so you want to put your highest roll into dexterity, here, and then your race modifier goes here... wait, this isn't a race on the list."

"No, it's my own race, he's been like, engineered.  Like he's been experimented on and genetically modified.  He has a really dark past."

"You asshole!"

Clint whipped around; Natasha had stood and was staring daggers at him.  "You looked at my sheet!" she accused.  "You stole my backstory!  My character has high dexterity and my character is genetically modified!"

"Bruce, I don't get this..." murmured Steve, holding his head in his hands.  "What does charisma do?"

"This is my character," announced Tony, holding up his sketch.  The character was a slender, well-muscled human, but whether or not he looked like Tony was uncertain, because he was wearing a silver and gold helmet with red accents that obscured his face.  He had a leather jacket on.

"Let me see your sheets.  Look, Natasha, your character is all hand-to-hand combat and Clint is doing ranged.  These guys are separate enough.  It's okay."

"He copied me!" she protested.

"You copied yourself!"

Tony and Thor nodded knowingly to each other.  They had glanced at her sheet; she'd crossed out the character's original name, "Natasha."

"Bruce..." whined Steve.

"STOP!  Everyone just... stop!"  Bruce slammed a hand on the coffee table.  One of the cardboard dividers fell over, and everyone was quiet for a moment.

Bruce took a breath.  "Okay," he said, quietly.  "How about everyone just goes over their backstory so we make sure they're not too similar, okay?"

"My character is a genetically altered assassin," said Natasha quickly.

"Genetically altered," agreed Clint.

"On a quest for vengeance!" said Thor.  He hesitated.  "Maybe altered." 

"Just let me see your sheets," snapped Bruce, rubbing the bridge of his nose.  He reached out;  everyone passed their sheets over.

Bruce's eyes scanned the papers critically.  He pushed his glasses up several times.

"Thor," he began.  Thor perked up a little.  "Thor, your character's intelligence is really low.  I mean, really low.  Even for a barbarian.  He won't even be able to understand abstract thought or metaphors with this score."

"My character does not require high-minded, scholarly thinking.  He is a man of action!" announced Thor proudly.  "He will slay his foes without hesitance and will let no man stop him!"

"Well, okay, if you're alright with that, here you go.  Uh, Natasha, looking good... Clint, your stats are fine, but I don't know about this... you just completely made up your race and class.  I don't know how to assign you any modifiers.  What class is this?"

"He's a tinkerer-gunslinger."

"Okay, but that's not a class.  And this race, what is this, a drawing of a cat?  What is this?"

"It's a creature I invented.  It's got a dark mask and heavy fur and people hunt it for its fur and it's got good night vision and a big bushy tail and stripes and--"

"You can't just make up creatures.  Look, just put down 'fey' for now and we'll sort this out later, okay?  Let's see... uhh... Tony, you're good... okay, Steve, are you still working over there?"

"Yeah, just start without me."

"Okay.  So to justify this as a training exercise, we're going to do this in space, okay?  You guys are on a spaceship."

"It's my character's spaceship," said Tony quickly.

"My character has a spaceship too," said Clint, scribbling frantically on his character sheet.

Bruce rubbed his eyes.  "You're all on Tony's spaceship, okay?  I mean, Quill's spaceship."

"Can I change his name?  I mean, I know I wrote Quill, but he's actually got a code name he uses that's way cooler."

"What, Arrow?" muttered Clint sardonically.

"Not now.  Okay, you're on a spaceship, and you've just received a communication about a threat to a nearby planet.  The threat is coming from a flagship headed by a known enemy.  The enemy is an unreasonable, uncontrollable, unstoppable monster who causes destruction and mayhem where ever he goes.  He is a powerful, unstoppable force of nature, who destroys whole planets without a thought or care for the people who populate them..."  Bruce took a shaky breath. 

"Jesus, Bruce," muttered Tony.

"Maybe someone else should be DM."

"Don't take it so hard, buddy.  Look, switch places with Steve."

Steve looked up sharply.  "What?!  No, I can't be the leader guy!  I'm still making my character!  I don't get this!"

"So you'll be the most impartial judge we can have.  Come on, Bruce can't do it, he's already getting himself upset.  Give him your character.  He'll help you out, right, Bruce?"

Bruce nodded weakly.

Steve hesitated, then shoved his sheet toward Bruce.  The two shuffled around the table so Steve was behind the screen.  Steve's eyes read the paper in front of him quickly and he nodded.  The bad guy was a tyrant who hated peace and freedom and diversity, which made perfect sense to Steve.  Bruce, on the other hand, was looking even more upset.  Clutching either side of Steve's character sheet, his knuckles were white, and his brow creased more and more as he read.

"The enemy is a war criminal!" announced Steve happily.  "He is a threat to the whole galaxy and he must be destroyed to protect it!  He is a very charismatic leader with fascist tendencies..."

"We shall stop this monster or we shall perish in our endeavor!" yelled Thor, raising a can of Mountain Dew.

"Steve, what on earth is this?" asked Bruce quietly.


"None of this makes any sense.  You wrote your race in the name slot.  Is the character's race and name the same thing?"


Tony reached across Natasha and grabbed the rumpled sheet from Bruce.  He looked it over.  "C'mon, Bruce, this character is perfect for you.  Quiet guy who protects others.  Doesn't know his own strength.  High wisdom, crazy high constitution, good alignment... what's the matter, his name's stupid?  Maybe he can only say one thing, and it's his name and race and "yes" and "no" and everything else.  Don't be such a wet blanket, just play the game."

"He's a plant creature and this is a space story."

"So?  Clint's playing some weird fey thing, too.  You two can be buddies."

"My character's way stronger than he looks," said Clint quickly.

"My character is the strongest," said Thor.

"Okay, guys, come on.  So you're on the spaceship and you have to go protect the galaxy now," said Steve, trying to adjust the cardboard partition.  It kept sliding.  With some annoyance, he moved Thor's hammer so that it would prop it up better.

"But just so everyone's clear, I'm basically the leader," Tony said.  "It's my spaceship."

"Yeah, yeah, we got it," said Natasha.  "I want to cast a spell.  Can I do that now?"

"What?  No, you can't... your class isn't a magic class," said Bruce.

"We need a team name before we can play.  C'mon guys, brainstorm with me.  We're on an intergalactic adventure and we're like, protectors of space..."  He snapped his fingers and stood.  "Guys!  Guys!  I got it!"

"What?" asked Natasha.

"From here on out, we'll call ourselves..."  Tony glanced down at his character sheet.  "...StarLord and his Pirate Space Patrol!"

The doorbell rang.  Tony glanced at the monitor on the wall.

Outside, a white-haired, mustachioed man was leaning against the gate with a large Domino's bag.  He was wearing aviator glasses and a sweater over his collared shirt.

"Oh good, the pizza's here.  Geez, these delivery guys keep getting older and older.  Okay, come on guys, put in a ten, don't be cheap, come on..."


No comments:

Post a Comment