You Lucky Stiff
First published: September, 1992. Posted Online: November 17, 2005.
Oh the many angles and directions we could lead the commentary for this episode.
Tim unsuspectingly taking on the role of Ed McMahon.
Why it took them 25 years to rework undead-turning from a hierarchy of specific undead types, into a logical hit dice vs. level system.
The fact that you know the recession is on when everyone is making HamburgerHelper jokes.
Why random encounters almost never know how much treasure they're carrying till you fight or kill them.
The attempts of authority, often self-appointed, to assert itself, resulting in a huge backfire clearly favoring their opposition.
But we have elected... to talk about fat paladins.
In AD&D 1st Edition, the paladin class was highly restrictive. The player creating a paladin character needed to have minimum numeric requirements in all attributes* (most notably a 17 Charisma) except for one: Dexterity. And of course, since most refs allowed for the method of players assigning their six die rolls to the stats they desired, Dexterity always got the lowest number.
So you had the phenomenon of clumsy paladins. It was as though Monty Python and the Holy Grail was deliberately written into the game's... idiom. Seriously, you'd be lucky find one with a Dex in the double-digits.
This brought up a lot of body-consciousness issues. Do paladins overdo the strength training, and skip all the stretches and cooldowns? Are they uncomfortable with their bodies because of their faith, or is it more true that their church took them in and taught them to be dismissive of their own rules-required attractiveness? Barbara once began an epic lay about a paladin in our game: "Her thighs were as alabaster pillars, although she had never seen them."
But layers of fat can provide for a great deal of physical strength, symbolize the ruddy health of a solid constitution, and put that old Comeliness vs. Charisma debate into perspective. Its only serious drawback is the likely detriment to a person's maneuverability. It is the simplest explanation for a multiverse full of klutzes annointed by God.
So unless stated otherwise, as referee of a first edition game, you must assume that a vast majority of paladin characters in your world are devilishly attractive, pious men and women weighing over five hundred pounds, on the rare occasions they are not in armor. Why, you can go to any gaming convention, and see legions already striving toward the Ideal.
*2nd Edition did little to change this, and 3rd Edition still disincentivizes Dex compared to other tempting paladin skills.
Q. ...Hamburger Helper?
A. Ah, those darn tiny letters that won't parse online...