My brother and I had taken turns for years being GM for our circle of friends, and we were looking to actually be players in the same game for once. So we signed up for some D&D at the FLGS.
Turns out, the GM was quite a bit younger than us, and pretty inexperienced. But his campaign sounded interesting, so we went in expecting things to be kind of sloppy, no problem. We're Story-oriented more than System-oriented players, so if his grasp of the rules sucked, we were prepared to just roll with it.
Party consisted of:
- Klart the Kobold Sorcerer, fast-talking acolyte of the Secret Apocryphal Dragon God who didn't actually exist, whose Cult he was trying to establish purely for financial gain, played by me.
- Halfling Paladin, who was in love with a human noblewoman and took his paladin oaths to prove to her that he was a worthy suitor, played by my brother.
- Goblin thief/demolitions guy, whose player vanished after that session and we never saw again, which was a shame, because he was hilarious. We still lament the loss of Goblin Guy years later.
- Generic Dwarf Fighter A, played by a guy whose only trait I can recall is an odor that was oppressive even by comic shop standards.
- Generic Dwarf Fighter B, played by the guy who insisted he had sold his homebrew Star Trek RPG to Paramount and was just waiting for his lawyers to finish some things before the check came in and he could stop living in his van (he'll get his own awful DM story later).
- Mysterious cloaked stranger with butterfly wings and Charisma 24, played by the GM's girlfriend.
So we start out in a bar, which we are told is also the major hub for the local Adventurer's Guild. We are given no other information about the city. When we ask, we're told "you know, city... buildings... people in the buildings... magic weapon shop. City." But it's cool, we don't want to be jerks, he's a brand new GM. We figure we can help draw details out of him later without being aggressive about it. He's not forthcoming with any other details though, so we just start brainstorming among ourselves why we're here and what we might get up to.
My brother and I, and Goblin Guy, decide that we already know each other from the "Size Category: Small" luncheon at the Adventurer's Guild. Generic Dwarf B gets mad because we've crafted our extremely silly backstory without including him. I suggest that maybe his Dwarf was our first client, as a registered group of Small Adventurers? Or perhaps we did a job where Team Small Humanoids was matched by the guild with Team Identical Dwarves? He's upset now that I suggested that Dwarf B and Dwarf A are the same, until Goblin Guy points out that they actually appear to have literally identical stats listed on their sheets. But Dwarf A uses a Battle Axe and Shield, while Dwarf B uses a Battle Axe and Mace. Generic Dwarf B is now visibly angry, getting red in the face, but Generic Dwarf A is oblivious to it, and suggests that maybe they're actually twins?
The GM decides it's time to intervene. "You all take 4 points of damage."
What? From what source? Are we under attack? Is it magic?
"No, it's just 'wasting time' damage. Better start doing something quick, if you don't want more."
Obviously, I don't want more, because Klart the Kobold is now at 1 HP. So I declare helpfully that Klart is looking around to see if there are any obvious-looking sources of quests. Shady guys drinking alone, watching us thoughtfully. Bulletin boards with general "PLEASE KILL THESE RATS IN MY BASEMENT" requests. Whatever. He tells me that, no, we are the only ones inside the bar. I say that I'd like to go outside of the bar then, and Goblin Guy says he follows me. Generic Dwarf A interprets this to mean that there's no bartender, so he stays at the bar and starts trying to drink everything, which is a wholly appropriate plan of action for a Generic Dwarf. The GM gets a pained look on his face, and starts flashing sign language at his girlfriend (who has said nothing so far). Neither of them are hearing impaired, they just learned ASL so they could talk behind teacher's backs in school. Then he says "No, you can't leave. Please, don't split up the party. Just... just don't."
My brother and I look at each other and shrug. I declare that Klart is suddenly very interested in these human beverages as well, and he is joining Generic Dwarf A to drink. My brother's halfling attempts to rally everyone to go outside and see if there's anything to do... outside, but rolls poorly on his motivating speech. Dwarf B is still seething, but hasn't said anything since receiving his 4 points of Mercurial Fiat damage. But he pipes up now to stonewall the Halfling's attempt to get the party moving as a unit, declares that he's not going anywhere, and starts rambling about his deep backstory that makes him totally unlike any other dwarf. But it's apparent that he either doesn't remember it correctly, or hes making it all up on the spot, because it's complete nonsense, and he keeps having to backtrack to revise it.
Through all of this, GM and GM's girlfriend have been signing at each other and ignoring us. We are extremely limited in our ability to make things happen ourselves, but he's not providing any action at all either. His worldbuilding so far has been limited to:
- You are all in a bar.
- That bar is in a city.
- There is apparently a Magic Weapons Shop somewhere.
- You take 4 damage.
- No one else is in the bar.
But if another similarly-sized burst of Angry GM Damage flashes through the bar, Goblin Guy and I are dead, which is unforgivable, because our characters are clearly amazing (to us at least), and deserve to shine.
So Goblin Guy looks at the options, and decides to pick Mysterious Butterfly-Winged Stranger's pockets. Might as well go out with style. GM's girlfriend is now frantically signing at the GM. But, again, hasn't said one word since we sat down at the table, while she was quite the chatterbox before. Goblin Guy's pickpocket bonus is insane, and he rolls well on top of it, but the GM tells him that the mysterious stranger has nothing in her pockets.
"But she does, in fact, have pockets?" says Goblin Guy.
"Yes!" says GM's girlfriend emphatically, breaking her vow of silence at last.
"Good. I plant an Alchemist's Flask with a lit fuse." says Goblin Guy, who deserves to have statues built of him.
The DM stares at him blankly. My brother suggests that maybe Butterfly Winged Girl should roll Spot vs. Goblin Guy's Sleight of Hand? In fact, maybe everyone should roll spot, because... well... all apologies to Goblin Guy, but Halfling Paladin would probably object to that sort of thing, if he saw it. GM shrugs and goes "whatever", and we all roll Spot checks.
Only Klart succeeds, and responds by kicking over a table and ducking behind it.
The flask bursts, Butterfly Winged Girl's cloak is blasted off, and she describes in excruciating detail that she's dressed with the extravagance of royal wealth below. And she's immune to fire, the GM angrily declares.
Generic Dwarf A tentatively asks "Are you some kind of queen?"
"YES!" declares butterfly wing girl. "I AM THE QUEEN OF THIS CITY, AND YOU WILL ALL BE EXECUTED AS ASSASSINS! GUARDS!!"
The bewildered GM looks as blindsided by this as the rest of us, but declares that guards start pouring into the bar and arrest us all, and throw us all in jail. No rolls needed.
At this point, I should specify, about an hour and a half has gone by. My brother and I have texted each other indicating that 1.) we aren't trying to be helpful pals to the new GM any more, and 2.) we haven't got anything better to do, so why not be as obnoxious as possible until it kills us. Goblin Guy has shown us the way.
So Halfling Paladin and Generic Dwarf A are in one jail cell, Klart the Kobold and Generic Dwarf B are in another cell, and Goblin Guy is chained up, hanging upside down from the roof in the middle of the room. We're pretty excited, because this is the most detail the GM has offered up to this point. Generic Dwarf B has wandered off at this point to play Hero Clix on the other side of the comic shop, and he's ignoring us when we shout that it's his turn, so I commandeer his character, have him strip naked, and all of his equipment belongs to Klart now. Generic Dwarf B spends the rest of the adventure shivering in the jail cell.
"I... should have said the guards took all your weapons..." the GM shakily begins.
"NOPE TOO LATE NO TAKE BACKS", I shout, scribbling down the stats for Klart's new Battle Axe, Mace and Chain Shirt. The DM does not contest this. Goblin Guy gives me a high five, but then immediately goes back to pretending his arms are chained to his side and he's upside down.
Generic Dwarf A says that if he has his Axe still, he starts hacking at the cell door. He just starts rolling and declaring damage, while the GM stares blankly at him. Hobbit Paladin declares that, since these jail cells are emblems of an oppressive totalitarian regime, he can obviously Smite Evil at them, and he rolls as well. Just as they tell the GM that they've done enough damage to force the door open, the GM declares that a bunch of guards have come down, to escort us to the Queen, who will give us an opportunity to be forgiven if we provide her our services as adventurers. Too bad his attempt to provide a Plot hadn't actually taken place two hours earlier.
So Goblin Guy declares, suspended from the roof, that he is pickpocketing the Guard Captain. Before the GM can say anything, such as "You fail because your arms are chained to your sides", Goblin Guy has rolled. And he has rolled a Natural 20. Every terrible D&D player in the universe knows, 5% of the times that you roll, a Genie will erupt from your d20 and make your dreams come true. There's no denying the power of the Natural 20. None. No logic can thwart it.
So Goblin Guy now has the keys to the jail in his teeth. He swings around a bit and throws them to Klart, who lets himself out and casts Expeditious Retreat, then dashes like crazy past the guards and up the stairs. Sorry, rest of the team, but Klart's highest priority is shooting Queen Girlfriend in the face with Melf's Acid Arrow.
It turns out, they understand, and wish me Godspeed. Halfling Paladin and Generic Dwarf A crash out of their cell and engage the 30+ guards, while Goblin Guy thrashes around trying to bite people from above, and shake himself enough that his remaining explosives will fall out of his pockets onto someone. To the GM's credit, he treats the Guards as though they actually have combat stats this time, and the two with actual mobility manage a fairly credible defense from the door to their cell. Eventually though, they are overwhelmed, and die.
Meanwhile, Klart races through the castle towards the throne room. That's my only description of his direction - "Towards the throne room". The GM doesn't think to question how my Kobold knows the layout of the castle.
There, I find the Queen on her throne, surrounded by more guards. So Klart scream "HEATHENS AND UNBELIEVERS, COWER BEFORE THE MAJESTY OF THE SECRET APOCRYPHAL DRAGON GOD!" I cast my Acid Arrow, and make my Ranged Touch Attack.
Sometimes a Genie pops out of the dice and makes your dreams come true. And sometimes the Genie kicks you in the teeth. Exactly 5% of the time for each.
I declared that Klart's natural 1 meant he had misfired his Acid Arrow into his own mouth somehow, and that he exploded, showering the throne room in far more gore than should be able to fit inside of one Kobold.
Goblin Guy, as the last surviving party member (not counting Generic Dwarf B) declared that he bit down on the cyanide capsule that all Goblin Agents keep in a false tooth, and tore up his character sheet.
And then, we went down the street for late-night tacos, and made plans for a much better D&D game that sadly never came to pass.