Thursday, May 18, 2017

Then Everybody Died. Again.

The first D&D campaign I took part in was in college, starting about 9 months before this blog. Papafred and some of his friends had been running campaigns each semester, and I finally decided to take part.

I went with a Ranger, a human, who in my mind looked a bit like Spike because I was watching a lot of Buffy reruns at the time. Used a bow mostly, or else a combo of a bastard sword and a whip. Because I thought it looked cool when Indiana Jones ran around with a sword and a whip simultaneously in Temple of Doom. I was informed after the fact it was a bad idea not to pick a two-handed sword to be proficient with, because you're more likely to find awesome, enchanted versions of those. Sure enough, we found one and had no one in the party who could use it who didn't already have a better weapon.

Anyway, Will did the Ranger bit to pay the bills to support his family, because his father's maritime shipping business had run afoul due to, it was either because he bet on calamari and the market wasn't there, or giant squid attacks. I hated squids, because they were responsible for the failure somehow. So I knew a bit about boats and such, even though I know nothing about boats in real life. Which made it awkward when the game was on a ship and I was supposed to be able to give orders or know what to do. We were told to pick two magical items to have, I picked Odin's Bow for one, the DM promptly nerfed the shit out of it, something I was informed he always did. Except to his girlfriend's meat shield character, who picked an awesome sword that stole the souls of those killed with it and released them as extra damage. Which worked well for us, but was still some bullshit favoritism.

Especially once the party swelled to nine members, five of which were newbs, including me. There was always confusion in battle, because you had too many people who barely understood what their characters could do, let alone how to work cooperatively with anyone else. And it was a 15th Level campaign, so we were kind of thrown in the deep end. Result being, people died a lot. We had two elf clerics who knew Resurrection, plus a goblin shaman with a wishing orb (handy for the people killed so completely Resurrection wouldn't work on them), and we needed all of them. Every character in the party except Papafred's fighter-thief died at least once. Every character other than his and mine died at least twice. I had an osprey as a companion, it died. So did Papafred's dog companion, and the ninja girl's ferret.

Some immensely powerful being told us to recover a stone from a castle on an island. We land on the island, a dragon appears, and the newb elf cleric is reduced to ash. The goblin wishes him back, but not precisely enough (and I'm sure his deity wasn't happy being asked to bring back an elf). He still hadn't returned by the next day when we reached the castle, and half the remaining party was immediately enthralled by the singing of harpies from within. The rest of us - me, the mage, the ninja, and Solomon's lady elf cleric - rush after them, and find ourselves up against 11 harpies. The other cleric appears suddenly, and attacks the goblin. He's been brought back from earlier in his life, doesn't remember us, doesn't know anything about an elder telling him he needed to be on this quest. We got it sorted eventually.

Then he got turned to stone by a Beholder about an hour later, and shattered by a troll. Because we were all focused on the wooden door at the end of the hall, and nobody checked the open passageway off to the side first. Lack of coordination. I was surviving, but struggling with 2nd edition's rules for archery. Meaning I couldn't use my bow, because the odds were as good I'd hit someone 40 degrees to the left of what I was aiming at as that I'd hit my target. At Level 15, even if I'm not Clint Barton, shouldn't I at least be Speedy, or Kate Bishop? I died because the goblin was fighting a troll, and I had to help in close combat. Because I was too bad a shot to be sure I wouldn't hit the 4 foot tall goblin while aiming at the 10 foot tall troll. I have used a bow for exactly one day in my real life, and I'm pretty sure I could manage that. So we both walked in the Beholders' line of fire and got Death Beamed.

We got through that, found the stone, the meat shield got mind controlled by a cloaked wizard, badly injured Sol's cleric before we could kill the wizard. We grabbed the stone, the castle collapsed, a huge stone hit the lady cleric, she got pulped. We had to leave the unconscious meat shield behind. When they were both resurrected, Sol cast Destruction (or Destroy, something like that) on the meat shield. To be fair, she did have the meat shield hitting on the cleric nonstop the entire game. Though I had my character also clumsily trying to court the cleric's favor as well. Don't know why, same reason I had Will needle the meat shield constantly. I decided it was in character. The goblin had to wish him back again, which was dicey since removing the stone cut our plane of reality off from all others. He couldn't contact his deity, so there was a chance the orb would explode. A chance that increased every time he used it. Good thing we weren't routinely dying in horrible, massively damaging ways that required wishing to undo.

And people just made curious decisions. Ralph told us that about the Orb outside the game, but the goblin kept it secret inside the game. As we returned to port (having been relieved of the stone earlier by the same guy who sent us after it), a meteor shower emerged, which smashed the ship, killed our pets, and left Luc's awesome sword on the bottom of the bay. I volunteered to cast Breathe Underwater on myself and get it. No, the sword will possess you. Fine, get the meat shield in a boat with me, we'll row out, I'll cast it on him, and he can swim down to get it himself. Nah, let's just wish it to us. And the goblin complies. No wonder we died so much, we were fucking idiots.

The campaign didn't get much further. We found an inn, it was a trap by a demon who was pissed we'd trapped him here before he could return to conquer his dimension. He turned all our loved ones into flesh golems and set them on us, plus he rained fireballs on us. He eventually flew off, promising more revenge. I think Andy realized he needed to stop the fight because he'd killed everyone but me, Papafred, and the male cleric. If the cleric had died, I was considering what would happen if my character tried to use the Wishing Orb. Probably one more dead character. Or I was going to say screw it, shake the fighter-thief's hand farewell, and either head to a safe inn to get hammered, or try and track down the demon.

After that fight, I played Will as steadily distancing himself from the rest of the party, being focused on revenge on the demon. I'd resolved killing him was all that mattered. If we caught sight of him, I was just going to start firing arrows, let the DM handwave some bullshit for why I'm not triggering a fight scene before he was ready. We came across a badly injured knight asking for help with a giant monster, I wanted to ignore him. But the monster was on the way to the demon. As it turned out, the monster could only be harmed by +3 or better weapons, and was immune to magic, which ruled me out. A bunch of us had to just sit and watch that fight, completely useless, as it dragged on for, shit two hours? The thing had 1000 hit points, and once you got it down to 1 HP, you had to Wish it dead. That would have been great, survive that thing, then get blown up trying to finish it off.

That was where things ended, so any revenge remained purely hypothetical, along with any resolution of the story. It ended up factoring in to a later campaign I played, but not the next one. I don't suppose it put me off the game entirely, but it was kind of a mess. The party was too large and unwieldy, and the number of times everyone was dying and having to be wished back was ridiculous. Battles seemed to take forever, although this was not something that would change in later campaigns, even with different editions, DMs, and other players.

Next time, whenever that is: The only campaign that actually was completed. Also probably the most absurd.

1 comment:

Kelvin Green said...

Brilliant.

One of the things I like about rpgs is that no matter how much the cover art or mechanics make it seem that it's about fantasy superheroes fighting epic battles to save the world, the moment you throw players into the mix, it all turns into a Coen brothers movie.