Saturday, May 18, 2024

A young Elon Musk once sweet-talked a random mall salesman into giving him a Dungeons & Dragons module for free and we think we know which one it is

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Left: Dungeons & Dragons is on display after being inducted Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong museum in Rochester, NY. Right: Not Teenage Elon Musk.

R: AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson L: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

A Ronan Farrow story in the New Yorker highlights an adventure of teenage Elon Musk.Musk and a friend made an unsupervised trip to a mall to obtain a Dungeons & Dragons adventure.While the story doesn’t mention which classic ’80s module Musk was after, we have a guess.

Teenage Elon Musk took a joyride in a boosted car and skipped out of a South African mall with a possibly purloined Dungeons & Dragons module.

A New Yorker story published Monday details Musk’s business dealings with world governments and activities with SpaceX and Tesla but raises a mystery for fans of the nearly 50-year-old role-playing game.

In the story, Farrow tells of a summer evening in the mid-1980s when a teenage Musk and Theo Taoushiani, a neighborhood friend in Johannesburg, South Africa, took Taoushiani’s father’s car for a trip to a local mall to get the latest D&D adventure.

“Elon was my co-pilot,” Taoushiani told the New Yorker of the illicit ride — as neither one of the pair had permission to use the car — or driver’s licenses: “We went under the cover of darkness.”

Once at the mall, the pair discovered they didn’t have enough money to pay for the module. However, “Elon had the gift of the gab,” Taoushiani said, explaining that Musk convinced a clerk to simply give them the adventure, and they would return to pay for it the following day.

“He’s very persuasive, and he’s quite dogged in his determination,” Taoushiani said. In D&D terms, what Musk pulled off here is known as a successful persuasion check.

The story does not say if either of the two returned to pay for the module. It also doesn’t specify the name of the adventure. But with only a few clues, we may be able to narrow it down, or at least make an educated guess at what “passionate” fans of the game would steal a car over.

The mid-80s is when the decade reached maximum flavor potential. For our purposes here, we’ll assume this means 1983-87, or the “Stranger Things” years, as you might know them.

Gaming historian Jon Peterson, author of “Game Wizards” — a book about D&D’s history — speculates that the mystery module could be “Temple of Elemental Evil,” one of the all-time greats of the genre.

Released by original D&D publisher TSR in the summer of ’85, ToEE was a highly anticipated adventure that creator Gary Gygax had been promising to deliver since 1979. For myriad reasons, its drop was delayed multiple times. “So when it did finally appear six years later, it was a big event,” Peterson told Insider over email.

“In terms of ToEE’s history, it picks up from the house campaign run by Gygax at TSR in 1976, the one that the employees themselves all played in,” Peterson wrote, “this was state of the art fantasy gaming for its era — a AAA release — with lots of worldbuilding and diverse environments, the sort of things we get today from a game like ‘Elden Ring.'”

Aside from the release date and hype around the title, the insufficient funds are another potential clue. Obviously, Musk’s net worth was far below its current level. Financial whiz that he is, he might have only been prepared to pay the usual price for a module, about $6-8 at the time.

“Modules were in general pretty cheap, but this was a big one, and fairly expensive even in the US release ($15). No idea what the markup would be for Jo’burg,” Peterson told Insider. “ToEE was not the only $15 module of the mid-1980s, but probably it was the most anticipated one.”

Adjusted for inflation, that $15 module is $42 in 2023 dollars — about the price of a newly released Fifth Edition hardcover from current D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast. 42 also happens to be one of Musk’s favorite numbers. And, I suppose, another piece of evidence that we are all living in a simulation of some kind.

So was “Temple of Elemental Evil” the module they made off with? “I have no idea,” Taoushiani said when reached by Insider, “I just can’t recall.”

Musk did not return a request for comment, so until he pipes up, his choice of adventure remains a mystery. But what we do know is his choice of character.

“South Park” creator Trey Parker played D&D with Musk once and said the SpaceX CEO picked human paladin as his race and class. It’s not uncommon for some players to use their characters to explore their identity — one of the reasons the game attracts many LGBTQ+ players — but more often than not, you typically see someone drawn to playing a character who is essentially a superpowered version of how they see themselves; in this case, a shining (certainly white) savior of the realm of Men facing off against the minions of Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders.

But IRL? Musk’s true class would arrive in a later edition of the game: The Artificer. Essentially magical tinkerers, they are the most tech-savvy of the 12 official classes.

They’re usually gnomes. And bald. And their fantastical devices can blow up in their faces.

Please post your fanart on X. #Gnomelon.

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Left: Dungeons & Dragons is on display after being inducted Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong museum in Rochester, NY. Right: Not Teenage Elon Musk.

R: AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson L: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

A Ronan Farrow story in the New Yorker highlights an adventure of teenage Elon Musk.Musk and a friend made an unsupervised trip to a mall to obtain a Dungeons & Dragons adventure.While the story doesn’t mention which classic ’80s module Musk was after, we have a guess.

Teenage Elon Musk took a joyride in a boosted car and skipped out of a South African mall with a possibly purloined Dungeons & Dragons module.

A New Yorker story published Monday details Musk’s business dealings with world governments and activities with SpaceX and Tesla but raises a mystery for fans of the nearly 50-year-old role-playing game.

In the story, Farrow tells of a summer evening in the mid-1980s when a teenage Musk and Theo Taoushiani, a neighborhood friend in Johannesburg, South Africa, took Taoushiani’s father’s car for a trip to a local mall to get the latest D&D adventure.

“Elon was my co-pilot,” Taoushiani told the New Yorker of the illicit ride — as neither one of the pair had permission to use the car — or driver’s licenses: “We went under the cover of darkness.”

Once at the mall, the pair discovered they didn’t have enough money to pay for the module. However, “Elon had the gift of the gab,” Taoushiani said, explaining that Musk convinced a clerk to simply give them the adventure, and they would return to pay for it the following day.

“He’s very persuasive, and he’s quite dogged in his determination,” Taoushiani said. In D&D terms, what Musk pulled off here is known as a successful persuasion check.

The story does not say if either of the two returned to pay for the module. It also doesn’t specify the name of the adventure. But with only a few clues, we may be able to narrow it down, or at least make an educated guess at what “passionate” fans of the game would steal a car over.

The mid-80s is when the decade reached maximum flavor potential. For our purposes here, we’ll assume this means 1983-87, or the “Stranger Things” years, as you might know them.

Gaming historian Jon Peterson, author of “Game Wizards” — a book about D&D’s history — speculates that the mystery module could be “Temple of Elemental Evil,” one of the all-time greats of the genre.

Released by original D&D publisher TSR in the summer of ’85, ToEE was a highly anticipated adventure that creator Gary Gygax had been promising to deliver since 1979. For myriad reasons, its drop was delayed multiple times. “So when it did finally appear six years later, it was a big event,” Peterson told Insider over email.

“In terms of ToEE’s history, it picks up from the house campaign run by Gygax at TSR in 1976, the one that the employees themselves all played in,” Peterson wrote, “this was state of the art fantasy gaming for its era — a AAA release — with lots of worldbuilding and diverse environments, the sort of things we get today from a game like ‘Elden Ring.'”

Aside from the release date and hype around the title, the insufficient funds are another potential clue. Obviously, Musk’s net worth was far below its current level. Financial whiz that he is, he might have only been prepared to pay the usual price for a module, about $6-8 at the time.

“Modules were in general pretty cheap, but this was a big one, and fairly expensive even in the US release ($15). No idea what the markup would be for Jo’burg,” Peterson told Insider. “ToEE was not the only $15 module of the mid-1980s, but probably it was the most anticipated one.”

Adjusted for inflation, that $15 module is $42 in 2023 dollars — about the price of a newly released Fifth Edition hardcover from current D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast. 42 also happens to be one of Musk’s favorite numbers. And, I suppose, another piece of evidence that we are all living in a simulation of some kind.

So was “Temple of Elemental Evil” the module they made off with? “I have no idea,” Taoushiani said when reached by Insider, “I just can’t recall.”

Musk did not return a request for comment, so until he pipes up, his choice of adventure remains a mystery. But what we do know is his choice of character.

“South Park” creator Trey Parker played D&D with Musk once and said the SpaceX CEO picked human paladin as his race and class. It’s not uncommon for some players to use their characters to explore their identity — one of the reasons the game attracts many LGBTQ+ players — but more often than not, you typically see someone drawn to playing a character who is essentially a superpowered version of how they see themselves; in this case, a shining (certainly white) savior of the realm of Men facing off against the minions of Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders.

But IRL? Musk’s true class would arrive in a later edition of the game: The Artificer. Essentially magical tinkerers, they are the most tech-savvy of the 12 official classes.

They’re usually gnomes. And bald. And their fantastical devices can blow up in their faces.

Please post your fanart on X. #Gnomelon.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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