The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 160: Sol 268

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AMICITAS: Amicitas calling Baltimare, use suit FB for response, over.

ESA: Baltimare calling Amicitas, hello, Fireball, not used to your sending messages, over.

AMICITAS: Mark’s people have gone too far. They sent their universe’s version of Ogres and Oubliettes and ordered us to play it. Over.

ESA: That’s interesting. Why do they want you to play it, over?

AMICITAS: Restricted EVA to absolute minimum for trip to cave farm each day, plus cabin-fever issue. Mark’s people say this game helps with morale. Over.

ESA: Good idea! Sharing experiences is a good tool for building friendships! Over.

AMICITAS: Ugh. Can I talk to Chrysalis, please?

ESA: Suck it up and enjoy your nerd game, Fireball. And stop whining. It’s twice as annoying when you have to decode it, over.

AMICITAS: I appeal to the Dragonlord! Over.

ESA: Ember’s been joining Spike’s game once per month. Sorry, over.

AMICITAS: Please tell me you’re going to rescue us in the next twelve hours, over.

ESA: Not likely. Play nice! Baltimare out.

“So,” Mark said, “since there’s a version of D&D in your universe, who here has played?”

Cherry Berry wasn’t at all surprised when Starlight Glimmer raised her hoof. O&O was a geek hobby, and Starlight lived in Geek Castle Central.

But Spitfire’s hoof came up as well, and that did surprise her. “Huh?” she asked. “You played… um… D&D?”

Spitfire nodded to Cherry before turning to Mark. “Pony named Surprise is… is… master of game. I not play regular. Now and then. Commander does not… does not… get too close to ponies under her.”

“But you’ve played more than once,” Mark asked.

Spitfire nodded.

“Okay. For the rest of you, you’re all going to pretend to be characters in a fantasy realm full of swords and monsters and magic.”

“Oh,” Cherry Berry said, a little too brightly, “just like home.”

“Ignoring that,” Mark said. “NASA sent a lot of prefabricated- that is, already-made- characters for you to choose from. A balanced five-person party should include two fighting classes, a magic user, a healer, and a rogue. A class is sort of like a job. The characters are in the directory D&D slash characters slash prefab. Go ahead and look through them.”

A bit of key-tapping later, Cherry asked, ‘What does alignment mean?”

“Alignment means how a thing is pointed in relation to something else,” Mark said. “In this case, it means how the character’s morals are pointed in relation to both lawful versus chaotic and good versus evil.”


“Hmmmm,” Mark thought. “Well, Boss Hogg and Roscoe P. Coltrane are lawful evil. They believe rules are important, but mainly because the rules help themselves. The Duke family are all chaotic good. They don’t have much use for other people’s rules, but they believe it’s important to do the right thing. Starsky and Hutch are lawful good, mostly, but Huggy Bear is true neutral. He’s out for himself, but believes doing the right thing is also important, and he both breaks the law and upholds it.”

“Huh. So who would be chaotic evil?”

“Hm… hard to say,” Mark said. “Some of the monsters Kolchak encounters? Chaotic evil characters didn’t get many recurring roles in seventies television.”

“I don’t get this,” Cherry said, tapping the screen in front of her with a hoof. “One part of alignment is choosing good or evil.”

“That’s right,” Mark said. “Or choosing to not choose. That’s what ‘neutral’ is for.”

“But the other part is choosing between following laws and not following laws,” Cherry said. “Isn’t following laws always good?”

“Not when the laws unfairly favor one person at the cost of others,” Mark said. “Or when the laws unintentionally have a bad result, like if a person goes to jail for five years because he stole food to eat.”

Cherry Berry shook her head. “You humans are strange,” she said. “You need more princesses. Their wisdom makes sure all the laws are good ones.”

“You wouldn’t say that,” Spitfire muttered in Equestrian, not quite under her breath, “if you spent some more time in Canterlot.”

Fireball looked at the screen, tapping his chin. “So,” he said at last, “what alignment is Letterman?”

Time passed.

“Grizzly Adams is not neutral good!” Cherry insisted. “He’s chaotic good! He moved to the mountains to escape laws!”

“But he’s a druid!” Starlight Glimmer insisted. “Druids have to be some kind of neutral! That’s a rule in our game back home, anyway, and I’m sure it’s the same here!”

“So make him chaotic neutral! It’s not like he goes out of his way to rescue people!”

More time passed.

“Fred Sanford is not evil! He’s greedy, but there has to be something more to being evil than wanting money! And he tries to take care of his son!”

“Speaking of Lamont,” Spitfire said, “is there ‘lawful stupid’ alignment?”

Mark chuckled. “Some people have a theory about that…”

Much more time passed.

“Cletus Hogg?”

“Evil stupid.”

“Danny Partridge?”

“Chaotic stupid.”

“Richie Cunningham?”

“Lawful stupid.”

“Mr. Furley?”

“True stupid,” all agreed.

They never got around to playing that night.

Author's Notes:

It's been a very long, very hot day, which included my getting a scalp sunburn (again) without noticing it until hours after the fact (again).

I'm lucky I managed this crap.

Also: https://twitter.com/i/moments/1004844177304276994

Next Chapter: Sol 269 Estimated time remaining: 13 Hours, 27 Minutes
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