A few years back, in a fit of nostalgia, I purchased a DVD with the first season or so of the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon (caution: YouTube video). (You can read about the history of the show here.) Two days ago, Firstborn stumbled onto the DVD and started watching it.
The first time I re-watched it, it occurred to me that I'd badly misjudged Eric, the Cowardly Cavalier. Sure, he was obnoxious; sure, he was constantly complaining; sure, he was often trying to get the group to avoid walking directly into the most dangerous areas around. Sure, he criticized Dungeon Master for giving vague (and unhelpful) hints and riddles instead of actual guidance, and for disappearing when the group could most use his help. Thing is, he was very frequently right.
This time, watching it with the boys, it occurs to me that Venger is missing a really obvious opening. I mean, he keeps sending monsters after the kids, or setting traps for them, or using his magic to try to trick them. And I suppose, since Venger is "The Many Faces Of Evil" that such things kind of go with the job description.
But The Many Faces Of Evil would probably have gotten better results if he'd just shown up, introduced himself, and said: "Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot, and that's totally my fault. I was thinking of you as enemies, but it doesn't have to be that way. Why don't you come work for me, instead? I promise that I won't send you anywhere without telling you exactly where you're going and why. It won't just be vague riddles that cause more trouble than they prevent - I'll give you real information. At the end of the year, you turn your weapons over to me and I will see to it that you all return safely to your home. In the meantime, you'll receive generous salaries. You'll sleep in well-appointed houses - or all in one big house, if you prefer - with comfortable beds, excellent food, and hot running water. What do you say? It's all here in the contract, just sign at the bottom."
With an offer like that, I'm thinking that at least half the group would have turned on Dungeon Master in a heartbeat.