Summons in role playing games. There is something so wonderfully appealing about calling forth a terrible monster to do your dirty work for you in an RPG. Most of us can recall with fond remembrance and a glint of nostalgia in the eye the first time we saw the Knights of the Round or Bahamut Zero in Final Fantasy 7. They instilled within us a sense of awe and pride. We were epic heroes who wielded incredible power but fuck that, I’m going to get this Goddamn half dragon half spider thing to stab the boss in the dick with its eye razors and it’s all going to take place in an unskippable cutscene. These summons remain one of my favorite aspect of RPG’s and in that spirit, I want to share with you four summons that I would have if I were to make my own role playing game.
John Candy was one of my surrogate fathers growing up. His movies taught me that flawed men were capable of great things. Patience, love and kindness could come from simple acts and small moments and not every gesture had to be large to be grand. He also taught me that having a relatively minor psychopathic streak in your character was advantageous when someone threatened the ones you loved.
So Uncle Buck would make an appearance in my game.
Pulling up in that 1975 Mercury Marquis coupe and announcing his arrival with a shotgun backfire from the exhaust, he would step out smiling. Not a warm smile, mind you, but a knowing grin, tinged with the drop of cruelty that every man defending those he loved is capable of. He walks to the trunk of his car, opens it and pulls out a simple looking hatchet. His grin widens as his eye narrow and he moves the hatchet in his hand the same way a child carrying a cherished doll would when presenting it to someone for inspection.
The screen fades to black and the sound of tearing meat undercuts what must be the awful noise of someone playing a cello with a hacksaw. Then silence until the trunk closes and the car drives off. When the game screen returns the enemy is a shaking mess of tears and whimpers.
Marjory the Trash Heap
Few things were more comforting and confusing growing up to me than Marjory the Trash Heap. A living pile of trash who appeared to have the demeanor of a waspy 65-year-old woman and who doled out wisdom and advice to the naive Fraggles. She was kind but also firm and blunt in her opinions. Oh, and she didn’t have eyes. I struggled with this for a long time as a kid. A child needs eyes in their tv friends. Without eyes you are just staring into a black pocket that seems to go on forever. That’s a bad place for a child to end up.
However, despite her lack of eyes, Marjory became a fast friend to little boy Occams as she was funny and strange and always had good advice to give those who would ask. As such, I imagine Marjory being in my game with two forms. The first is her in the familiar setting of her trash yard where the party gathers to listen to her speak simple truths and give sound advice on all manner of things. In this form, the party would receive buffs to stats and skills.
Her second form begins with Marjory rising out of out a jagged crack in the earth right in front of the enemy. Her bilious mass would pour forth and coat the enemy and everything close by in a beige colored muck pock marked with broken egg shells and banana peels. Then at the epicenter Marjory would emerge. Her face would form at the top of the large mound, black sink holes and a jagged maw torn out of old diapers and empty cereal boxes. She would open her mouth and rats would spill forth, a teeming mass squealing in delight. The enemy would struggle to move away from her but the muck and mire has seemingly hardened around them. They thrash about but Marjory just stares at them with two empty pits and a mouth leaking light pink and dishwater gray.
Suddenly the enemy seizes up and their eyes go wide and bulge as if they are trying to escape the skull. Marjory stares.
The cracking sound the player hears is the enemy breaking their teeth as they grind their jaw. Shards of broken tooth stab into gum and cheek flesh and blood begins to trickle out of their mouth.
Then the enemy swings its head around violently and repeatedly. Over and over screaming until the blood turns screams into gurgles. Then with a wet snap the enemy’s head comes to rest at a seemingly impossible angle.
When the game screen returns, the enemy lies broken and covered in trash and rats.
To say I like The Dark Crysta
l would be like saying Kim Kardashian likes black cock. It is such a small word trying to describe such a huge and complex relationship. No, for me, The Dark Crystal
is something of a sacred moment and a personal triumph. My feelings for it border on the fanatical. I could write a book on why I love that movie but for our purpose today, I will just say that I was always intrigued by those Crustacean storm troopers, the Garthim. The combination of soulless, mindless killing machine that looked like spider, crab and beetle melded together were both terrifying and enthralling to me as a child. So that’s why I think the Garthim would make an excellent summon for my RPG.
Imagine the enemy standing around when suddenly the world goes dark except for a spot light on them. It is completely silent for a few seconds and then this clicking noise begins. Faintly at first and slowly builds up to a more frantic pace. The sound is cacophonous. Clicking, skittering, squealing noises. Then shapes begin to form. Ebon shines like shark eyes as the light reveals what lies in the darkness. Then suddenly little purple motes of light begin to blink into existence. One pair, then another, then more and more until the enemy is surrounded by them. The Garthim begin to crawl forward, a ring of mandibles and claws and carapaces. Cruel edges end in wicked curves that reach out for the skin and muscle trapped in the circle. Suddenly the wall closes in on the enemy. There is screaming though it is quickly cut off. All the player can hear is the clacking of claws and rustling of carapaces shifting and hurtling themselves towards the growing blood stain on the ground.
When the game screen returns, the enemy is gone. Only the blood stain and shreds of clothing and hair indicate that they were ever there.
Those of you who know me know that I love Lisa Frank. Ever since I was a little boy, I was fascinated with the magenta cats and rainbow unicorns that came from her strange and beautiful mind. I had the trapper keeper and folders when I was in grade school and loved them dearly. As I got older and things like puberty and MTV began to work their magic, I started drawing the Nirvana smiley face on my binders and wearing flannel shirts. I may not have had the trapper keeper anymore but Lisa Frank’s rainbow universe always had a welcome place in my heart. That’s why I want the Lisa Frank universe to be a summon in my RPG.
The scene starts out with the enemies getting ready to attack our heroes. They rear back to strike and their attack hits home. Blood pours out of fresh wounds, teeth tear into bone and muscle and magical energy cooks and chars exposed flesh. However, the heroes do not move or even react. They just stand there and stare straight ahead. The enemies lash out again and again blood is spilled but the heroes will not fall. Then the world around them changes. Cracks start to form in the sky and on the ground. The air is filled with the sound of breaking glass. The heroes start to smile as reality shatters around them. Wider and wider still until the skin splits up to their temples. The enemies turn to run away but every where they look they are greeted by the the heroes wicked grins reflected in the cascading shards of reality. Suddenly a piercing ray of light bursts forth from the cracks in the sky. It bathes the enemies in thick colored bands. Everyone is screaming now.
More rays pour out of the cracks. Rainbow light floods the world. The enemies scream and try to run but their legs won’t support their bodies. Just as they collapse to the ground it stops. They look around to find a landscape at once familiar yet alien. A beach of dark pink sand dotted with rocky outcroppings that shine like sapphires under an impossible rainbow sun. Water the color of a gasoline puddle dances and shimmers. Plants and trees looked dipped in bubble gum sway as a hot breeze blows. Off in the distance a unicorn the size of the tallest mountain slowly walks as the ground trembles with each step. Then a bright green kitten wearing a candy yellow top hat walks up to the enemies. It sits at their feet and meows loudly. The sound that comes out resembles a broken calliope.
Then the camera pans in close to the enemy’s eye to show it is now a milky grey. As the camera pans out from the eye the player sees the heroes are standing over the withered corpses of the enemies.
So there you have just a few boss summons I would love to have in the made up RPG that exists mostly in my head.
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