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Valor Under Fire

No, not the paladin--the GM.

He had an encounter all planned out. It was a good encounter! There were drow warriors and blade spiders and all the trimmings and they marched up to the castle and demanded to know where Drow-Bob was and what we had done with him.

...it got a little out of hand, after that. About the point where we started comparing the sort of salt we sowed fields with, say. "Dried from the tears of mind-flayers." "Oooh, nice. Mine's kosher."

The exact sequence of events that led to us trying to take the enemy to the brothel is, perhaps, best left to the ages. Then we convinced them to come with us to find Drow-Bob, so that they could see he was happy and hadn't been brainwashed. Drow-Bob was, theoretically, at the Temple of the Weasel, so a group of drow riding spiders and the party on horseback marched through town to the temple, only to find a note that said "Gone Crusadin'" and a couple of interns saying "They went thattaway."

By this point, the party was becoming annoyed. Nobody drafts OUR butler! The drow were becoming annoyed. Where was their cousin? And the GM was becoming annoyed because he'd already made the map for the clearing we were supposed to have the encounter in, but he didn't have one for the town or the temple and how had things gotten so horribly out of control, anyway?

We rode off toward Lowerton, the town that everyone had gone off to.

GM: You see flames. The town is on fire.

PALADIN: What, all of it?

GM: Yes.

DRUID: Now what?

GM: I don't know. I just set the town on fire and now I'm not sure what to do with it.

PALADIN: Oh, don't worry, happens to Rooster all the time...

From questioning some of the not-quite-dead bodies, we determined that our drow were Group A, and Group B had happened to the town, and then made off with our butler.

PALADIN: Damnit! Where's the Lord Marshall? Who's in charge here?!

DYING KNIGHT: I...think...you are....sir...

PALADIN: ...well, shit.

PARTY: (laughs and points)

DROW: (roast marshmallows over the flames.)

PALADIN: (takes deep breath) All right, then. Wilhelmina! Take a deck of cards off the thief and start doing triage. Spades for the dead, hearts if they can be saved, diamonds if they're walking.

WILHELMINA: (the gnome healer) I don't think I'm gonna need many diamonds...

PALADIN: Ceri! (that's the thief) Ride back to town on the double, go to the co-op, tell them to send emergency supplies on the Weasel's tab. Then go to the temple, tell them to get their asses out here immediately, we have an emergency, and if that idiot at the door gives you any trouble, tell him I am the Acting Lord Marshall and I will bust his ass back down to private if he isn't here within the hour!

CERI: Aye, aye, sir! At once!

PALADIN: Rush! You're a druid! How good is your weather magic?

RUSH: Uh...I was gonna go after Drow-Bob.

PALADIN: We have a situation here, Rush! The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, blah blah, somebody dies, very touching, we all cry. Now make me a rainstorm!

GM: (laughs hysterically for awhile)

RUSH: I'm going to be useless after this, you realize.

PALADIN: I will personally carry you home if I have to.

RUSH: ...very well.

(Rush's player gets mad props here, by the way, for a very nice bit of improvised ritual, and the GM gets props for letting him do it. The end target number wound up being 150, and by pretty much burning every healing surge he had and converting it into magic, plus a couple donated by the healer, he hit 158. The sort of glorious moment RPGs are made for, really.)

RUSH: *faints*

PALADIN: *catches Rush*

RUSH'S PLAYER: Are you sure you wanna stand next to him? There's lightning and...

PALADIN'S PLAYER: Rooster asked him to do it, Rooster stands next to him.

GM: It rains. It puts out the fire. The town is more or less saved. It's flooding a bit now. There are people hiding in basements.

PALADIN: Rush, I'm putting you up for a medal. Hang on, wait, I'm in charge! Rush! You get a medal!

RUSH'S PLAYER: *sighs*

PALADIN: *carries druid to infirmary* Okay! You two, start pulling people out of the basements.


RANGER: The gnoll is harmless, This is not an invasion. You can trust me, I'm a...well-dressed lizard woman...

GM: Oh yeah, they're real calm now.

DRUID'S SPIRIT GUIDE: *appears in the form of an owl*

WILHELMINA: Do you have a significant other?

PARTY: ....did you just try to chat up a magic owl?

WILHELMINA: I'm building an ark. For the flood. We need two of every....Oh, never mind...

SPIRIT GUIDE: I have to take the druid back. He needs to be restored by the primal spirits. That was a powerful magic.

PALADIN: I do an Insight check on the magic owl.

GM: Magic owl's tellin' the truth.

PALADIN: All right. You can take him, but if you don't bring him back, I'm gonna dedicate my life to hunting you down, and I'm a half-elf so that's a really long time.

SPIRIT GUIDE: I, too, am granted a long life.

PALADIN: Then think of all the fun we'll have.


PALADIN: I'd bring him back if I were you. *hands over the druid* Don't suppose you have any extra healers around, do you?

SPIRIT GUIDE: No. And I must go. We're getting the band back together.

PARTY (suddenly remembering Ancient Gil's parting words) Ohhhhh....

PALADIN: All right, I've got three laying on of hands left, who's next?

CERI: *returns from town with the cavalry in tow*

GM: Funny thing, but when you passed the Thieves' Guild, there was a note on the wall in thief-sign that said "Not here. Getting the band back together."

CERI: Ohhhh....

GM: You're exhausted. You've mostly saved the town, but now Drow-Bob's captors have a three-hour head start. Your drow are getting bored.

PALADIN: Okay, where's the damn hippie from the co-op?*

DAMN HIPPIE FROM THE CO-OP: Hey, man...we brought organic healing potions, man...

PALADIN: I want organic stimulants. I don't know. Something with goldenseal in it.

DAMN HIPPIE FROM THE CO-OP: These are all natural. They might have some side-effects, though. Some users have, like, reported hallucinations, man...

PALADIN: Don't care.

DAMN HIPPIE FROM THE CO-OP: And they're locally sourced and--

PALADIN: I don't care if they fell out of Vecna's asshole, give me the goddamn pills!

PALADIN: *hands out pills to party* Here. They're organic or something.

WILHELMINA: I'm gonna wait to take mine, so that the hallucinations are staggered a bit.

GM: Picky, picky...

PALADIN: Okay, who's the highest ranking person from the temple here?

GM: It's the cook.

PALADIN: Good enough. I draw my sword and give him a battlefield promotion. Arise, Sir Cook. You're in charge. We're going after our butler.

COOK: Goddamnit. Fine! I want three hundred gallons of boiling water! We've got people to feed!

GM: He wanders off, yelling orders.

PALADIN: When the Lord Marshall comes back from crusade, we are having words. This town was shamefully underdefended. I want homing pigeons in every outlying community so they can call for help at a moment's notice.

PARTY: ....

GM: Jesus, I'm a little scared what happens when you put Rooster in charge.

PALADIN'S PLAYER: I can only role-play a competent adult, alas.

GM: We'll take you to Magfest, have you role-play a competent member of security.

RUSH'S PLAYER: I approve this plan.

PALADIN'S PLAYER: No. Unless I get a big sword.

RUSH'S PLAYER: You can't hit people with it.

PALADIN'S PLAYER: No deal, then. Fizzgig, follow Drow-Bob's scent! We ride!

GM: *begins whistling the Lone Ranger theme*

Somewhat later:

GM: Man, I should just not plan ANYTHING out....

PALADIN'S PLAYER: Yeah, but if we'd just killed the drow, it would've been over in two sessions. You got a burning town AND sending the druid off AND a crusade.

GM: I should just trust the players.

PALADIN'S PLAYER: Let's not go nuts.

*The Adventurer's Co-Op is a longstanding institution in our games.
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You HAVE to read these:


--although it sounds very much like you've actually been in them....

Thanks for the link. Hilarious!

*The Adventurer's Co-Op is a longstanding institution in our games.

My WoD games have a similar institution. Every city interesting enough to have a group of player characters running through it hosts a bar where supernaturals and/or hunters tend to hang out (and also consider it neutral ground). Originally it was a one-off bit that I named "Zanzibar's" after the old website (as it was meant to be a place where one could find members of all of the supernatural groups in the city whether it made sense or not). It was a goth club where spirit cultists and vampires all just happened to hang out so when my Promethean player characters split up to do different things I had an easy way to get them back together.

A couple of years later, I'm running another WoD game set someplace else, when I get ready to do a callback to that original joke for those players who were there for the earlier game (in this case, "Zanzibar's" was going to be a redneck bar frequented by hunters where supernaturals could go if they needed to speak peacefully with the local armed human lunatics). Then I remember "Wait, my WoD games all take place in the same continuity, and I've already done this joke in this universe and I take myself just seriously enough for this to be a problem." So I think for a moment and decide "Screw it. Zanzibar's is a franchise now."

So pretty much anyplace where a group of player characters are going to be (within reason) is at most a 30-45 minute drive from the nearest Zanzibar's. To keep it from getting too silly, I don't bring it up unless it's relevant to the plot (usually only if the group starts trolling bars to find local vampires or some such), but there's generally one nearby. Each one's a little different to blend in with the local color and cover up that they're all owned by the same shadowy council of supernatural creatures, but each one is also a place where supernatural creatures (and humans in the know) can safely mingle, negotiate, and pass messages back and forth as long as nobody starts a fight.

Edited at 2014-02-04 05:13 am (UTC)

PALADIN: Okay, where's the damn hippie from the co-op?*


This. For some reason THIS was what broke me.

Me too. And many other things.

...it got a little out of hand, after that. About the point where we started comparing the sort of salt we sowed fields with, say. "Dried from the tears of mind-flayers." "Oooh, nice. Mine's kosher."

For some reason this broke me - I howled with laughter (and it still makes me laugh.) Everything after that was joyful icing on the cake...

I love your RPG posts.

Just wondering, which side had the Kosher?

PALADIN'S PLAYER: No. Unless I get a big sword.

RUSH'S PLAYER: You can't hit people with it.

PALADIN'S PLAYER: No deal, then. Fizzgig, follow Drow-Bob's scent! We ride!

I could make you a foam one...?

I have this foam pickaxe here that might substitute...

Thank you for posting your adventures in gaming. They are so much fun to read. :)

GM: Man, I should just not plan ANYTHING out....




I mean, okay, the planning does give you a bunch of raw material to reshape when the party… does what they do… but yes, you should just not plan anything out. (Not that that's bad! Just clearly not the way to go with your players.)

You might really enjoy reading through Dungeon World, and even find it useful. Not that you need help—you guys are clearly having a blast, and you're not doing anything "wrong"—but you might find yourself nodding along in agreement and maybe change your approach slightly so you don't feel like "okay, toss all that prep work out the window…" The rules text is available for free at http://www.dungeonworldsrd.com, the most relevant parts would be "2. Making Moves" under "Playing the Game", which explains the basic premise of the Dungeon World system, and then sections 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4 under "Gamemastering". All of that stuff will be directly relevant to D&D even though Dungeon World is a different system.

Dammit I really miss gaming with intelligent people! The lot I have to contend with are college kids with no creativity, the creepy guy who never bathes and constantly talks about how awesome he is (not his characters, him), and the misogynist with anger management issues. *sigh*

I have stern hope that whatever nursing home I wind up in will allow us dice and paper. No feeding the ducks for me, I have trolls to kill!

"This is the first time I've filled out a character sheet in crayon since I was twelve."

This is utterly fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing it! I am about to have to go into a two-hour team meeting, but I will go with a smile on my face.

(Deleted comment)
Ahem. Foam pickaxes. Remember Tunnel 17.

Love your gaming reports; I've become a fan of all the characters involved and have much kudos/sympathy for your DM/GM!

I adore your gaming session write-ups more than words can possibly express.

I always love reading your game write-ups. They're a wonderful combination of hilarious and touching. :)

Your games are the BEST!