And then, hope was restored in the form of a man in his 40s. His reaction was certainly the most peculiar of the day. He resigned himself to helping me as if he had to. Could this man have been a true adventurer? Someone who is aware of the demands of being a hero? Perhaps his acquiescent attitude was due to the low level of the quest, and the relatively poor reward for a man of such experience. But something about the simplicity of the task, and the accompanying XP, must have been enough.

Except that my companion reported never meeting him, let alone receiving the spell. I suspect that at the end of his day's adventuring he'll find the scroll at the bottom of his satchel, roll his eyes, and simply delete the quest from his list. He has dragons to be slaying.

Not long after, but long enough to receive a very convincing "f--- off" from one particularly surly gentleman, a couple eventually stopped once they realized this was an attempt to give coins, rather than take. Australian tourists, they were far more in the role of the visiting adventurer, and happily accepted the task with good humor. Unfortunately, despite setting off with cheer in their hearts, they were unable to complete the quest. Spotted standing in the middle of an area of benches, looking around in confusion, yet somehow failing to spot the girl in the bright red hood, they unfurled the scroll, perhaps in desperation, only to discover, "This spell is destroyed by reading it." Their failure realized, they once again went about their exploration of this new zone.

Finally, after another extended period of angry glares, smart refusals and looks of utter horror, the universe was once more brought back from the brink by another pair of girls, this time in their 20s. Enthusiastic, they gladly accepted their task, did not question the story they were told and warmly accepted my heartfelt wishes of luck on their journey. Not only that, but upon arriving at their goal they explained why they were there, handed over the spell and modestly took their reward from the grateful hooded lady. They are champions. Your universe is safe in their hands.

What was learned? Against expectation, and while certainly in the minority, people are willing to help a wizard in distress. Perhaps this RPG convention is not quite the farce once supposed by this cynical player. Or, maybe some people just feel sorry for the berk dressed in a silly costume on a freezing cold winter's day.

And if one thing should be taken from this experience, above anything else, should the fate of the universe ever be in your hands, only bother to seek the aid of girls under the age of 30.

John Walker is now a bit nervous of getting yelled at. He's frequently nervous of getting yelled at for things he writes on his own site at http://botherer.cream.org, and in various U.K. gaming magazines, such as PC Gamer and [I]PC Format[/i]. Yell nicely. He's a bit of a wimp.

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