LSD & NWN: Of Gladiators and Mad Gods

On this plague born night in Neverwinter my friends and I crept like fools into the dungeons of the city prison. We struck down escaped prisoners and continuously both dealt and received death. We left nothing in our wake. Each chest looted, each body reduced to spoilt remains.

Afterward, I indulged myself in run and gun RPG curio that is Realm of the Mad God. I killed many mythical beasts, and a few sumo wrestlers; each attempt ending with the fist of the Mad God ridding me of my life.

Quickly, I’m becoming and old soul.

Yearning and a sense of nostalgia spiral my nights into insomniac contemplations. The theme of the moment being my sense of lost comradeship and the stories weaved with others as a child. I’ve twice written these ramblings, but they show no sign of relenting.

These new stories of Mad Gods and Neverwinter Nights serve to kindle stories times had in the forests of Gladiator, a game from the time of shareware, DOS and 56k AOL internet. The game came into the hands of my brother and I through the games portal of AOL Kids (it was quite a violent game actually, you’d never see such a thing today). Weighing around five megabytes, it took a half hour to download. Upon exit it would tempt you with offers of the full version, enticing you to send your money to the address of the bedroom coders who made it . By then it was likely that they were no longer in the same business, but it didn’t matter.

The strangely branching mission paths, the meticulous management of your squad of mercenary forces, the overwhelming assaults: these were what made the moments of my history.

Fire elementals, due to your inability to hire them in the shareware version, were a thing of legend. They’d show up and rain fire on your troops, your archers and soldiers perishing pathetically in their trail. With a druid, and a bit of time, you could create absurd walls of trees to retreat into and fire at the enemy. Elves could sneak through the trees and hurl boulders at the enemy, and skeletons would burrow beneath the earth and strike you down in swarms.

The game carried a dynamic of chaos, one that lent itself well to a duo of brothers. The constant switching of characters, the macro and micro skirmishes that occurred through the map, it all added to the life of the story.

The now personally iconic “YO!” voice clip would play upon the use of various commands. Troops would gather around you in a single yell. Groups of archers would return fire upon the elementals, and elves would pummel enemies with an avalanche of boulders.

Today, its possible to play the game on a modern system (due to the efforts of dedicated fans and the blessing of the original creators ) in the form of OpenGlad, an open source remake. Interest has waned, and time has taken away hope that the project will ever grow any further. In a few years its possible that Gladiator will, like many other games, fall victim to the the vice of time and the ever changing atmosphere of technology.

Only the few stories of those battles will remain, strung through the little moments of today.

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