Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Superheroes and Teeth

When I was younger, I used to play a lot of “pen and paper role playing games” like Dungeons and Dragons. The one I played the most was a superhero game called Champions. The Champions system was designed to allow any possible character by using a point-based character creation system. If you could shoot lightning bolts, you bought “Energy Blast” and said your power was electric. If you could shoot fireballs you did the same thing but said your power was fire.

The points had to balance out. If you wanted to spend points on the ability to fly, you’d need to pay for the power with a disadvantage such as a secret identity, allergy to a substance like kryptonite, or even a strong moral code (yes, moral codes counted as disadvantages). If you didn’t have enough disadvantage points, you couldn’t have a power. However, you could always go out and have an adventure, get experience points, and spend those. That’s why Superman is so powerful, he’s been fighting bad guys for decades.

As a kid, I always wished I could look at my Champions character sheet. I wanted to know what my powers were (20 points in “irritate brother,” 10 in “procrastination”), what my disadvantages were (15 points in “secret identity”, 30 points in “allergic to homework”), and, best of all, change them around (80 points in “disturbingly attractive”).

This brings us to the issue of my laser surgery, my potential root canal, and why I need to get out more. Earlier this year, I got laser surgery on my eyes. It’s a surgery that I’ve wanted to have ever since I started losing my eyesight back in the fourth grade. Of course, back then there wasn’t much success in the whole “restore vision” thing, so I wore glasses for years.

Then came LASIK and then Wavefront LASIK. The articles about Wavefront said that it could give me hawk-like vision. Finally, I could have the superpowers I always wanted. Er, well, one of them, anyway. I had the surgery done and got impressive results. Predictably, when I went in for my six month dental checkup I found out a filling I had redrilled had failed again. There was talk of a root canal and I had to go in for some painful (if technically impressive) dental work.

You may be wondering why I said it was predictable that my filling failed and how this relates to Champions. The answer: lack of experience points. I haven’t had enough adventures. Part of having two children and taking care of them myself meant I had to forego a number of experiences. Sure, having children experience, but not really that much. A good game master would only give me about six or seven points per child (less for a second child, since you’re supposed to lose results for each time you repeat yourself).

Being as nearsighted as I was would have been a twenty point disadvantage. So, if you assume ten points for my childrearing experience points, there are still ten points I have to make up with a new disadvantage. What did I get? A new, minor physical limitation: sensitive tooth.

I bet you my arch nemesis is going to get a good laugh out of that one.

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