Given the opportunity, there was always a one-in-twenty chance of utter failure which could result in possible death.
In the roleplaying game Melvin ran, however, that same opportunity usually allowed a one-in-twenty chance of success beyond any logic as well. That was the beauty of this game; a player could take just about any risk and have a chance at pulling it off. This particular moment was no different, as Vance prepared his stalwart barbarian, Fritz Axeson, to jump a forty foot gap over molten lava to retrieve the famed helm of Ruairi, lord over all dragons. The other three players -- Tom, Jesse and Noah – helped Vance as they could for this climactic moment in the game.
“Can I use ‘Inspire’ to give him a boost?” Jesse asked Melvin.
“He isn’t in earshot of you,” Melvin said.
“Not even if I do it really loudly?” Jesse asked, knowing the answer.
“I told you we shouldn’t have separated the group,” Tom muttered.
“Hold on,” Noah interjected. “Maybe he’ll get a better chance if he set up a bunch of explosives to go off just as he’s about to jump. We just have to calculate the physics and his chance of survival—“
“Noah, no,” Melvin said.
“I got this,” Vance said. He added “If only life was more like this.”
“Speaking of,” Jesse said, “How’re things going with Rose?”
Vance paused in place. Before the others took notice, though, he resumed to reach for his drink.
“Oh, you know,” Vance said. “Just the usual wild nights together. Who could resist my good looks, after all?”
“When are you going to ask her out, Vance?” Jesse asked.
“He knows better than to bother trying,” Tom said. “Though he has a better chance of succeeding with her than trying to make this jump.”
“I have plenty good chance,” Vance said.
“You have to roll a fifteen or better,” Tom said. “Otherwise, you’ll just fall to your death. Not that I care, mind you, but God help you if you roll a one. Last time you did that, it wiped out the whole party, and Mel takes every opportunity he can to screw us all over.”
“He’s right,” Melvin said with a smirk. “Where’s the fun if I don’t give you all a little challenge?”
“It’d be with us and our still living characters,” Noah noted, munching on a slice of pizza.
Melvin leaned back in his seat. “Feel free to run your own game then.”
“Maybe I will,” Noah said.
“I’m telling you, Vance,” Jesse said, “that you should at least try going for Rose. What’s the worst that can happen?”
Vance shifted in his seat. “And what do you suggest, Jesse? Just stroll on up and say to her ‘Hey Rose, you’re hot. We should go out,’ or something? I know my odds. It isn’t going to happen. My track record makes that clear. Tom’s right, it’s not worth it.”
“Tom also thinks you should get on with the rolling already,” Tom added. “I doubt you’re about to break your track record of rolling your worst when it’s most needed, in any case. No need to drag this out any more than necessary.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Vance grumbled. “I’ll just make my roll then—“
“Wait a minute,” Melvin said. “First, I want you to roll for making the running start.”
“What?!” Jesse yelled. “Why?”
“Oh, it’s very treacherous ground,” Melvin explained. “He has to make sure not to trip. Don’t worry, he just has to roll a five or more. I’m pretty sure even he can do that.”
“Want my lucky die?” Noah asked Vance. Vance shook his head, and Al went back to eating his pizza. Everyone watched as Vance threw his red twenty-sided die to tumble on the table. It stopped just in front of Tom.
“Ah shit,” Tom said. “You just had to roll a one, didn’t you? Let me guess – he stepped on some trap where rocks fall and everyone dies.”
“Tempting,” Melvin said, “but no. I’m feeling nice right now. Because of your roll, the ground crumbles beneath your feet. You now have a minus five penalty to your jump.”
“You might have well just killed him,” Tom said. “He wouldn’t be able to roll a natural twenty to save his life.”
“You should have taken my lucky die,” Noah noted.
“Oh well,” Vance said. “It was worth a try.” Vance scooped up his die and carelessly tossed it back onto the table before picking up a player’s manual. “Maybe I should consider a rogue for my next character…”
“Wait,” Jesse said. “Look!”
Jesse fingered at the die that Vance just rolled. The others leaned closer to look for themselves. Melvin pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he peered down at the die.
“Well whaddaya know,” Melvin said. “Looks like you just did the impossible.”
“Ho-ly shit,” Tom said. “Why didn’t you roll that twenty when we were up against that dragon in the last game session?”
“Who cares?” Noah said. “He did it. He got the helmet, the game is over, we won.”
Jesse jumped up and hugged Vance, with Noah and even Tom getting up to do the same.
“Hey now,” Melvin said. “You all still have to get him and that helmet back out, and—“
“Yeah, yeah,” said Tom. “My guy has rope on him, we’ll be with him soon enough.
Vance tried to stop smiling with little success. He stared at the red twenty-sided die sitting on the table in disbelief. He moves to pick the die up, but then stops, and looks at his phone on the table nearby. Vance momentarily looks at the others, busy situating themselves back in their seats, before picking up his phone and beginning to walk out the door.
“Hey,” Melvin said to Vance. “Where are you going?”
“Don’t worry,” Vance said. “I’ll be right back.”
As Vance steps outside the room, he starts calling someone.
“Hello. Rose? This is Vance. I was just wondering if you were busy this Tuesday…”