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Literature / The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters

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In 1986, First Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was the only edition. And for an enterprising powergamer, its rules had loopholes big enough to drive a siege engine through.

So what if a group of Genre Savvy characters decided to push all these loopholes to their limits?

They'd be sickeningly powerful. No ... they'd be disgustingly powerful.

Hence was born The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters.

Written by Roger M. Wilcox, and distributed in those halcyon pre-Web days over Usenet, it gained a cult following that eventually led to being translated into Hungarian. Twice. The author wrote a sequel in 1988, The Sick Kids, and began writing a second sequel in 2000 titled The Intercontinental Proliferation of Disgusting Characters (which was completed except for the Epilogue).

This series of AD&D parodies contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Middle Monk, Dirk the Destructive, Sick Sword, Ludicrous Lance, Fantastic Falchion, Horrendous Halberd, Indescribable Ice Pick, Bletcherous Belaying Pin ...
  • Arch-Enemy: Several. Peter Perfect to Ringman, Omnion to Sick Sword, Gross Sword to his sisters, Tiamat to Ringman, the Dungeon Master to Ringman....
  • Big Bad: Although Omnion is the Big Bad of the first story, and Gross Sword is the supposed Big Bad of the second story, the true Big Bad of the Multiverse is really the Dungeon Master.
  • Catchphrase: How many experience points do we get?
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: A "blue bolt from heaven" is an unmistakable sign of the Dungeon Master's wrath. (The specific phrasing is a quote from Gary Gygax.)
  • Death Is Cheap: Even cheaper than in AD&D proper. In the official AD&D rules, a character who dies can be raised from the dead by a living cleric. In this universe, a character who dies can be raised from the dead by any cleric, living or dead — including himself.
  • Descriptiveville: The main city on Central Earth — indeed the only city on Central Earth to be mentioned in any of the stories — is named "Town." Just "Town."
  • Determinator: Ringman. Even though he's just a run-of-the-mill 9th level paladin, he will never back down from standing for just causes - even when his enemies are geometrically more powerful than him.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Bahamut, the lord high god of all good dragons, was held hostage as an Innocent Bystander by Gross Sword in the first sequel.
    • In the second sequel, Unbelievable Sword warns Tiamat, the lord high goddess of all evil dragons, to back off. When Tiamat doesn't, Unbelievable Sword reduces her to ash by flicking Tiamat with his finger.
  • Disney Death: The ending of The Intercontinental Proliferation of Disgusting Characters.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Ringman's warhorse is named Warhorse.
  • Fanservice: No posessions of any kind can travel with a character to the plane of Fordinchuarlikomfterrablaxxuuuuuchh'chh'chh-pt. Thus, when Sick Sword arrives, she's stark naked.
  • Fantasy Contraception: Why do you think AD&D has the ring of protection?
  • First Law of Resurrection: Even Sick Sword and Ringman, who were killed by having their souls annihilated on their alignment planes, which is supposed to erase someone from existence entirely, can come back.
  • Flat World: Central Earth really is flat. (If it were round, you'd fall off!)
  • Fluffy the Terrible: In The Intercontinental Proliferation of Disgusting Characters, Peter Perfect's paladin mount is an enormous undead dragon. He calls her "Fluffball."
  • Get Out!: Said to Ringman in The Sick Kids. Hard.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: Events, birthdays, etc. are all reckoned in years before or after the IUDC.
  • I Call It "Vera": With the exception of Prometheus and (snicker) Hymenslayer, every intelligent weapon seems to be named after its user: The Sick Sword, The Disgusting Dagger, The Ridiculous Hand Axe, The Gross (Broad)Sword, The Unbelievable Long Sword, etc..
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Koenieg tends to spout these. He is a druid, after all.
    Wierd Dough turned to the Great Druid. "Don't you see what they're doing?"
    "All things must exist in balance," Koenieg replied.
    "First torture and now a gang-bang!"
    "The Way exists along the golden path," Koenieg continued.
    'This guy's more like David Carradine than I am,' Middle Monk thought.
  • Idea Bulb: In chapter 7 of Proliferation:
    "Ohhhhh!" the little light spell over Ringman's head lit up.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Sick Sword, while locked in mortal combat with Omnion, gives Omnion corrective eye surgery with a few sword slashes.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Ringman, the wimpy 9th-level by-the-book paladin.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: In the never-written epilog, it's explained how the random magic item tables in the 3rd Edition Epic Level Handbook can allow a weapon or a piece of armor to keep increasing its plus without limit. Unbelievable Sword literally has a +infinity sword.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The worst cases of rules-lawyering in the story often rely on this.
  • Knight Templar: Peter Perfect can come up with the most twisted excuses imaginable to justify his actions as being Lawful Goodinvoked.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Parodying Ghostbusters (1984):
    Wierd Dough: Great, they've split up.
    Everybody else: Oh no! They can do more damage that way!
  • Medium Awareness: All the characters are aware that their universe operates under AD&D rules, and have access to all the rule books.
  • Munchkin: Every disgusting character. Every single one of them. If the author had heard the term "munchkin" at the time he wrote IUDC, he'd have used that word instead of "disgusting character".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Gross Sword's basic reaction at the end of The Sick Kids. Pity he needed to be reduced to 1 hit point first.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Ridiculous Sword's +6 holy vorpal defender frost-brand flame-tongue sun luckblade of wounding, dancing, life stealing, disruption, slaying everything (as in the arrows of the same name), throwing, thunderbolts, red blue green black white brass & copper dragon slaying, speed, final word, and nine lives stealing with maximum intelligence, eight special purposes, and enough artifact powers to leave her set for life.
    • In his original hybrid 1st/2nd Edition incarnation, Unbelievable Sword was an Assassin, Monk, Druid, Barbarian, Oriental Barbarian, Bushi, Fighter, Thief, Bard, Wu Jen, Thief-Acrobat, Sohei/Ninja, Cleric, Illusionist, Abjurer, Conjurer, Diviner, Enchanter, Necromancer, Transmuter, Invoker, Weapons Master (a fake class made up entirely for the IUDC stories), Yakuza, Ranger, Shukenja, Cavalier, Anti-Barbarian (identical to a Barbarian except lawful instead of chaotic), Kensai, Paladin, Samurai, and Magic-User.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Ringman is 9th level, has 18/92 strength (equal to 22 strength in 3rd or 4th Edition), wears +5 plate mail (or +4 full plate, depending on which edition of the rules are in force at the time), carries a +4 shield, and wields a +5 Holy Avenger longsword. By most counts, he would be a very powerful paladin — but he pales in comparison to the disgusting characters.
  • Pair the Spares: At the end of the 2nd story.
  • Parody Name: The main world is called Central Earth. It's like Middle Earth, but not.
  • Properly Paranoid: Unbelievable Sword, when he ticks off the Dungeon Master.
    • In the pocket multiverse dungeon (3rd story, chapter 12), he worries about hidden traps with vorpal sword machine guns, rapid-fire sphere of annihilation cannons, or spring-loaded sword-of-sharpness-firing ballistae.
  • Psychic Powers: Both 1st and 2nd Edition AD&D rules allow a character to have psionic abilities without having to sacrifice any power in their normal character class(es). Thus, all disgusting characters have them.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Danny. You're not the boss of him, maaaaan!
  • Replacement Goldfish: At the end of the 2nd story, after Sick Sword is Killed Off for Real, Ringman hooks up with Izabella.
  • RPG Mechanics 'Verse: The whole reason for these stories to exist.
  • Rules Lawyer: Every loophole and unanticipated contingency in the AD&D rules is exploited.
    • For example, when Ridiculous Sword hurtled toward the ground at nearly the speed of light, she took no damage when she landed — because she happened to land next to a castle's outer wall. She had monk as one of her classes, you see, and monks in 1st Edition take no damage when falling within 8 feet of a wall. If she had pressed the point, she could have insisted that arrows and fireballs couldn't hurt her during the fall either, because the rule says a monk can fall "without taking damage" if (s)he falls within 8 feet of a wall.
    • When a cube of frost is active, the space inside the cube is always 68 degees Fahrenheit, but the cube can only absorb so much cold damage before it fails. They can use this to walk through molten lava or even the interior of a sun unscathed.
    • In 2nd Edition, the scarab of protection gives its posessor a saving throw against spells that normally allows no saving throw. In 1st Edition, though, this is phrased as a saving throw against magic that normally allows no saving throw. "Magic" could theoretically mean any magical effect hedged out by an anti-magic shell, including the powers of all magic items. You could get a saving throw against the decapitation effect of a vorpal sword, the slaying effect of an arrow of slaying, etc..
    • The bad guys use the letter of the rules to undo Peter Perfect's death when they note that the spell that killed him could only do damage to targets "subject to normal attacks." When his bare skeleton hears that bit of information, it snaps up and his flesh grows back into place.
    • The rule that a Wish needs to be described in a single sentence gets interpreted so that you can get any amount of things out of a single wish as long as you manage to list all of them in one sentence.
  • Running Gag: "_____ hasn't been invented yet!"
  • Orphaned Series: Union was written entirely in 1986. Sick Kids, in 1988. The author wrote the first page or two of Proliferation in 1989, then put it on the shelf until 2000 when he discovered the Hungarian translations of Union — this inspired him to start working on Proliferation in earnest. He wrote all 12 chapters of Proliferation, but has never ever managed to finish the Epilog in all that time. The Epilog now contains author's notes about what he intended to have happen.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The Dungeon Master himself makes appearances in the two sequels. He's not a pleasant fellow.
  • Shown Their Work: Several combats throughout the series show the to-hit calculations, for cryin' out loud.
  • Spin-Offspring: The Sick Kids stars, as its name implies, Sick Sword's kids.
  • Stat-O-Vision: In Part 3 of The Sick Kids, Ridiculous Sword pulls Jimmy's character sheet out of thin air and critiques him on his ability scores.
  • Symbol Swearing: In part 3 of The Sick Kids:
    She thought about teleporting upward to give her more time to slow down, until she remembered that the $#@!ing rules didn't allow her to teleport anyplace where there wasn't a solid surface.
  • Talking Weapon: All intelligent weapons are this, and there are a lot of them. The Sick Sword has such a big ego that it only speaks in ALL CAPS.
  • They Call Him "Sword": Sick Sword, Disgusting Sword, Ridiculous Sword, Gross Sword, Unbelievable Sword, Ludicrous Lance, Fantastic Falchion, Horrendous Halberd, Indescribable Ice Pick, Vastly Hugely Mindbogglingly Powerful Pike-Awl, Bletcherous Belaying Pin ...