Irv the Mole

update: I sent a response to Judd for episode 21 of Daydreaming about Dragons. You can hear Judd’s response to my email in Reply Show Sierra.

Nowadays, there is very little note passing in our campaigns. It used to be after a session there would be a handful of notes. But this practice has fallen out of favor in our group.

At one point, I had a large poster tube that stored all of the crumpled passed notes. At the end of the session, since I typically played host, I would go around the game area, pick up all of the notes and without reading them, put them in the note tube. Slowly this collection built up.

No other session in my gaming history has generated more pieces of notes than the one-shot Rolemaster game that involved Irv the Mole and a motley of other characters.

The session started with a myopic pick-pocket (Irv the Mole), a greedy halfling ex-cultist, a wrongly accused bard, a highwayman (of the non-Waylan Jennings variety), a duelist, a rough and tumble brawler, and perhaps another character, all being sprung from jail and tasked with fetching a cart that was out of town.

A simple quest for a one-shot session. The characters quickly arrived at the cart, and there was a bit of role-playing. The group had found some item of interest in the cargo of the wagon, but Irv had found a secret compartment under the wagon containing a bag of jewels.

Irv’s player sent me a note saying he wanted to keep this discovery a secret, and made a pick pockets roll. At this, I broke the session a bit, looked at everyone’s character sheet, and rolled their opposing perception checks and passed each other player a note saying what they saw (most everyone saw Irv’s pick pocketing).

At this point, the scene tension grew, and the disagreements started flying as fingers were being pointed and an argument was being made about how to split the wealth. There were notes being passed, concerning weapons and looking around for exists. But gasoline was thrown onto the situation when the crossbow happy highwayman said to no one in particular:

You know, we could split this two ways.

At this point, everyone immediately went to writing notes about their character’s actions. Frantic decisions. The halfling realized the highwayman was not talking to him. Mind control spells were cast. Irv knew he had to run. Swords were drawn. Crossbows nocked. All kinds of chaos was afoot. For a good hour or so everyone scripted their actions and we resolved them.

And because this was Rolemaster, everyone knew the crossbow was likely an instant kill (or at least an incapacitation). Also, everyone knew that once that bolt was fired, the person would be relatively defenseless. Casting times were important. Single cuts from the sword could kill.

Ultimately, Irv died as he couldn’t run fast enough. The other details of the conflict are very fuzzy as it has been 10+ years since, yet I continue to look fondly and favorably on that session.

That evening, I believe our gaming group generated over 150 individual notes that we then fed into the note tube.

update: Irv’s player passed away three years ago, and I would love to have back the contents of that note tube. Just for one more reading with my old high school gaming group.

A year or so later, with a rather full tube, we spent an evening reading through all of the notes from the year or so of gaming. It was a magical evening, as we reconstituted actions from numerous unrelated campaigns and adventures. The notes were both from the Game Master (GM 🔍) but also from the player, and often times there was not just the action but the rational and the contingencies. We were able to so easily reconstruct that magical evening when sill Irv decided to take a bit more than he was entitled to.

And to my shame, I have since lost those notes. Those bits of memories that connected me to gamers who no longer game at my table. In fact, I would surrender my game collection to have the Irv the Mole notes again.