Alice’s Advenures in Ravenloft

Alice's Adventures in Ravenloft

I doodled this picture a couple of weeks ago. I am now following it up with a more detailed description of the encounter. Much like the original book, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but there you go.

There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were playing D&D at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the Hatter was using it as his DM screen and talking over its head. ‘Very unfair for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; ‘only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together around a Chessex battlemat at one corner of it: ‘No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. ‘There’s plenty of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table and picked up a d20.
‘Have some Mountain Dew,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but Red Bull. ‘I don’t see any Mountain Dew,’ she remarked.
‘There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.
‘Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,’ said Alice angrily.
‘It wasn’t very civil of you to touch my dice without being invited,’ said the March Hare.
‘I didn’t know it was your d20,’ said Alice; ‘you’ve got a great many of them.’
‘Twilight was rubbish,’ said the Hatter. He had been looking at Alice’s “Team Edward” t-shirt for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.
‘You should learn not to make personal remarks,’ Alice said with some severity; ‘it’s very rude.’
The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, ‘Why is a Mordenkainen’s sword like a dire badger?’
‘Come, we shall have some fun now!’ thought Alice. ‘I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles.—I believe I can guess that,’ she added aloud.
‘Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?’ said the March Hare.
‘Exactly so,’ said Alice.
‘Then you should say what you mean,’ the March Hare went on.
‘I do,’ Alice hastily replied; ‘at least—at least I mean what I say—that’s the same thing, you know.’
‘Not the same thing a bit!’ said the Hatter. ‘You might just as well say that ‘I see what I power attack’ is the same thing as ‘I power attack what I see’!’
‘You might just as well say,’ added the March Hare, ‘that ‘I like what I roll’ is the same thing as ‘I roll what I like’!’
‘You might just as well say,’ added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, ‘that ‘I game while I sleep’ is the same thing as ‘I sleep while I game!’
‘It is the same thing with you,’ said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about wizard spells and dire badgers, which wasn’t much.
The Hatter was the first to break the silence. ‘What day of the month is it?’ he said, turning to Alice: he had taken his watch out of his pocket, and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding it to his ear.
Alice considered a little, and then said ‘The fourth. May the Fourth.’
‘Two days wrong! I nearly missed Star Wars day,’ sighed the Hatter. ‘I told you that salve of slipperiness wouldn’t suit the works!’ he added looking angrily at the March Hare.
‘It was the highest level salve,’ the March Hare meekly replied.
‘Yes, but some sovereign glue must have got in as well,’ the Hatter grumbled: ‘you shouldn’t have put it in with the vorpal sword.’
The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily: then he dipped it into his glass of Red Bull, and looked at it again: but he could think of nothing better to say than his first remark, ‘It was the highest level salve, you know.’
Alice had been looking over his shoulder with some curiosity. ‘What a funny watch!’ she remarked. ‘It tells the day of the month, and doesn’t tell what o’clock it is!’
‘Why should it?’ muttered the Hatter. ‘It’s a +4 watch of date-telling. Does your watch tell you the year?’
‘Of course not,’ Alice replied very readily: ‘but that’s because it’s a watch and not a crappy fictional magic item.’
‘Which is just the case with mine,’ said the Hatter.
Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter’s watch clearly was a crappy fictional magic item, that wasn’t even from the actual game. ‘I don’t quite understand you,’ she said, as politely as she could.
‘The Dormouse is asleep again,’ said the Hatter, and he squirted a little Red Bull up its nose.
The Dormouse shook its head impatiently, and said, without opening its eyes, ‘I sneak attack the orc.’
‘Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
‘No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: ‘what’s the answer?’
‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.
‘Nor I,’ said the March Hare.
Alice sighed wearily. ‘I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, ‘than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’
‘But it’s the only way to stop the Hare getting past this Sphinx’ said the Hatter.
‘I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alice.
‘Of course you don’t!’ the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. ‘You’ve never been an adversarial DM.’
‘Perhaps not,’ Alice cautiously replied: ‘but I know the point of the game isn’t for the DM to beat the players.’
‘Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatter. ‘Players can stand a good beating. Now, as long as you keep on good terms with them, you can do almost anything you like to their characters. For instance, suppose it were the top of initiative order, just time to begin combat: you’d only have to whisper a hint to the initiative tracker, and we skip straight to the end! Bottom of the round, time for the monsters!’
(’I only wish it wasn’t,’ the March Hare said to itself in a whisper.)
‘That would be grand, certainly,’ said Alice thoughtfully: ‘but then—I should feel bad for the players.’
‘At first, perhaps,’ said the Hatter: ‘but you could keep it on the monsters’ turn as long as you liked.’
‘Is that the way you manage?’ Alice asked.
The Hatter shook his head mournfully. ‘Not I!’ he replied. ‘We quarrelled last March—just before he went mad, you know—’ (pointing with his tea spoon at the March Hare,) ‘—it was at the great convention given by the Gary Gygax, and I had to sing
“Twinkle, twinkle, scimitar!
Carried by that character!’
You know the song, perhaps?’
‘I’ve heard something like it,’ said Alice.
‘It goes on, you know,’ the Hatter continued, ‘in this way:—
“Every teenage boy copied,
Buy one good drow, get two free.
Twinkle, twinkle—‘
Here the Dormouse shook itself, and began singing in its sleep ‘Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle—’ and went on so long that they had to pinch it to make it stop.
‘Well, I’d hardly finished the first verse,’ said the Hatter, ‘when R. A. Salvatore jumped up and bawled out, ‘He’s mocking Drizzt! Off with his head!‘
‘How dreadfully savage!’ exclaimed Alice.
‘And ever since that,’ the Hatter went on in a mournful tone, ‘he won’t let us play the Forgotten Realms! It’s always Ravenloft now.’
A bright idea came into Alice’s head. ‘Is that the reason the Hare is losing?’ she asked.
‘Yes, that’s it,’ said the Hatter with a sigh: ‘it’s always nighttime, and there’s no time to rest up between fights.’
‘Then you keep creating new characters, I suppose?’ said Alice.
‘Exactly so,’ said the Hatter: ‘as the the others get killed off.’
‘But what happens when you have to start the adventure over’ Alice ventured to ask.
‘Suppose we change the subject,’ the March Hare interrupted, yawning. ‘I’m getting tired of this. I vote the young lady DMs for a while.’
‘I’m afraid I don’t know how,’ said Alice, rather alarmed at the proposal.
‘Then the Dormouse shall!’ they both cried. ‘Wake up, Dormouse!’ And they pinched it on both sides at once.
The Dormouse slowly opened his eyes. ‘I wasn’t asleep,’ he said in a hoarse, feeble voice: ‘I heard every word you fellows were saying.’
‘Run a game for us!’ said the March Hare.
‘Yes, please do!’ pleaded Alice.
‘And be quick about it,’ added the Hatter, ‘or you’ll be asleep again before it’s done.’
‘Once upon a time you all met in an inn,’ the Dormouse began in a great hurry; ‘and a strange old man came up and offered to sell you a map’
‘What was it drawn on?’ said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of cartography.
‘It was drawn on treacle,’ said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.
‘It couldn’t have been, you know,’ Alice gently remarked; ‘it’s not solid enough.’
‘So it was,’ said the Dormouse; ‘very solid.’
Alice tried to fancy to herself what such an extraordinary treacle-based map would be like, but it puzzled her too much, so she went on: ‘But why was it drawn on treacle?’
‘Take some more Red Bull,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
‘I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, ‘so I can’t take more.’
‘You mean you can’t take less,’ said the Hatter: ‘it’s very easy to take more than nothing.’
‘Nobody asked your opinion,’ said Alice.
‘Who’s making personal remarks now?’ the Hatter asked triumphantly.
Alice did not quite know what to say to this: so she helped herself to some Red Bull and pizza, and then turned to the Dormouse, and repeated her question. ‘Why was the map drawn on treacle?’
The Dormouse again took a minute or two to think about it, and then said, ‘It was a map to a treacle-well.’
‘There’s no such thing!’ Alice was beginning very angrily, but the Hatter and the March Hare went ‘Sh! sh!’ and the Dormouse sulkily remarked, ‘If you can’t be civil, you’d better finish running this game yourself.’
‘No, please go on!’ Alice said very humbly; ‘I won’t interrupt again. I dare say there may be one.’
‘One, indeed!’ said the Dormouse indignantly. However, he consented to go on. ‘And so this little old man was having a drink with you.’
‘What did he drink?’ said Alice, quite forgetting her promise.
‘Treacle,’ said the Dormouse, without considering at all this time.
‘I want a clean character sheet,’ interrupted the Hatter: ‘let’s all level up.’
He started writing as he spoke, and the Dormouse watched him: the March Hare took a level of thief, and Alice rather unwillingly rolled up a barbarian. The Hatter was the only one who got any advantage from the change: and Alice was a good deal worse off than before, as she rolled a 1 for her hit points and had an appalling constitution.
Alice did not wish to offend the Dormouse again, so she began very cautiously: ‘But I don’t understand. Who on earth drinks treacle?’
‘You can drink water,’ said the Hatter; ‘so I should think you could drink treacle—eh, stupid?’
‘But the map was made of treacle,’ Alice said to the Dormouse, not choosing to notice this last remark.
‘Of course it was’, said the Dormouse; ‘and some rice.’
This answer so confused poor Alice, that she let the Dormouse go on for some time without interrupting it.
‘So he sells you the map,’ the Dormouse went on, yawning and rubbing its eyes, for it was getting very sleepy; ‘and then you go off and fight all manner of things—everything that begins with an M—’
‘Why with an M?’ said Alice.
‘Why not?’ said the March Hare.
Alice was silent.
The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was going off into a doze; but, on being pinched by the Hatter, it woke up again with a little shriek, and went on: ‘—that begins with an M, such as monsters and mermaids and Mycanoids and M…owlbears — did you ever see such a thing as a drawing of a mowlbear?’
‘Really, now you ask me,’ said Alice, very much confused, ‘I don’t think—’
‘Then you shouldn’t talk,’ said the Hatter.
This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off; the Dormouse fell asleep instantly, and neither of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping that they would call after her: the last time she saw them, they were trying to put a d4 up the Dormouse’s nose.

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