So, I asked my wife if she'd play with me. Now, I'm not sure what possessed her to agree. Maybe our Gauntlet games really softened her up. Maybe she still felt bad over the Steel Magnolias incident. Maybe the "good wife" in her felt a willingness to try out something she knew her dear husband loved! My personal theory is she just nodded and said yes while not paying attention. Whatever possessed her that fateful day, my rather lovely, very un-nerdy wife decided to play multiplayer Icewind Dale with me. I was thrilled.
Being new to RPGs, I helped her make two characters: a Paladin and Fighter/Thief. Soon, we found ourselves watching each other's back in the Spine of the World while desperately trying to stop a dark plot. Time and again, her Paladin and Thief proved they could kick tail and take names. Playing networked, I was physically sitting near her. I kept an eye on how she responded to the game - she was enjoying herself! Icewind Dale's simple but addictive combat mixed with a strong storyline made it the perfect RPG to introduce to a non-Gamer. I patted myself on the back for my choice of game.
Eventually, we learned from a lich that the evil we sought was a demon that escaped from one of D&D's numerous hells. We worked together to hunt it down and confront it in its lair. A fight ensued. It took a few tries, but we prevailed and forced the demon back to his proper home. As the ending cut scene rolled, a sense of accomplishment rolled over me. My dear wife had played an entire RPG with me and had fun doing it!
As the narrator at the end of the game told of what happened to our party after the adventure, his voice began to change. The narrator's voice grew deep and cold. It became the voice of the demon. It swore vengeance on us. It would hunt us down when it returned. It would have its revenge! What an awesome ending to a fantastic game!
"That was an awful ending!" my wife shrieked in protest. "I can't believe I just wasted all that time for that ending! That was horrible! Where's the happy ending? Where's the happily ever after? Nobody even fell in love! I'm never playing another one of these games again!"
And thus my master plan went down in flames. True to her word, since that day she has never played another computer game. Today, when asked about my greatest memory with my wife, I say, "When my wife played Icewind Dale with me." If you ask her about it you'll get an eye roll and a "hmmph" out of her. Well, at least now I have an excuse never to watch Steel Magnolias again.
Bruce Nielson is the designer of The Light Reborn, a critically acclaimed and popular module series for Neverwinter Nights, and runs The Online Roleplayer, a fan site. He was also the producer for the Great Battles of History series created by Erudite Software and Interactive Magic.