With the intro fight thugs dead, James got the pre-written adventure provided by Wizards of the Coast into full swing. The mayor told us how his town had been harassed by a Medusa and her loyal band of kobolds, but it had recently stopped (which was great!). Unfortunately, it had been replaced by a evil cult who had been uniting all types of baddies in a uneasy alliance with the goal of destroying the town outright (which was not great!). They also want to bring doom to the world because blah blah evil cult blah.
The point being: we had to stop them. With murder.
After the jump, how it went down
Or not murder, actually. When he realized their final plans, one of their lower-ranked members chickened out and returned to town to tell everyone. According to him, the army that was being amassed was filled with all sorts of weirdos: two separate tribes of orcs, a group of hobgoblins, a minotaur, an ogre mage, bugbears… a real motley group.
“Why don’t we just get them to fight for us instead?” Audrey asked. “Bad guys are greedy. Let’s just find out what they want and offer more than they cult does.”
“But we don’t have what they want,” Alex replied. “Unless they want two idiots trying to impr-”
“Shut up,” I said, throwing pretzels at him. “That’s a great idea, but we’re not exactly overflowing with gold or weapons.”
“We’ll lie,” Audrey shrugged. “They’re bad guys. The more that die, the better, right?”
Audrey was right – with a little effort, certain factions could be swayed to fight against the cult instead of for them. So that’s exactly what we did – snuck from cave to cave, trying to convince armies of monsters to fight for us.
Whilst spelunking, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the openness of our mission. Nearly all the pre-made adventures from recent versions of D&D focused on barreling through the story to get to the conclusion, but this played more like… well, a video game. It reminded me specifically of Dragon Age, where one had to do tasks to gain the support of different factions for the final battle. Of course, these aren’t elves and dwarves, they’re monsters, so they bring their own special baggage to the party – the hobgoblins decided that they’d rather just eat us (which hindered negotiations) while one of the orc tribes simply attacked us on the spot. Both caused major battles, and both were resolved within an hour. My wizard found himself beaten unconscious in both battles as well.
“You can move, cast a spell, then move again under these rules,” Alex yelled at me. “Stop running into spears.”
Throughout all of this, the verbal sniping and “accidental” friendly fire between Vegas and me was getting to a point that was, well, out of hand. It definitely became less about gaining Audrey’s affections and more about us making the other person look bad (playa’ hating is the scientific term, I believe).
Audrey even snapped at us, saying, “Focus up, nerds. I thought you were good at this.”
We still managed to work together somewhat until we hit a major roadblock in the story – while we’d manage to bribe, threaten, and cajole several groups of monsters to fight on our side, it still didn’t seem like enough. The one thing we needed to round out our crappy army was a leader, and it seemed like there were two options: the minotaur and the ogre mage, both of whom agreed to meet with us at the camp we’d set up in a nearby forest. The only problem was that they hated each other and wanted to kill one another – which meant we had to choose a side, immediately.
“Ogre mage,” Vegas said.
“Minotaur!” I replied, without missing a beat.
“I can speak giant!” Vegas yelped, passing a note to James. “I say the following to the ogre mage and roll a diplomacy check of… seven.”
“Since you said this to him in his native tongue, I’m going to give you Advantage, which means you’re allowed to roll twice and use the higher result.”
“Okay. He nods at you, then starts speaking in an unrecognizable tongue, then both the minotaur and Rudy’s character are struck by lightning.”
The fight was brief, and the ogre mage, minotaur, Vegas (and his remaining servants), and myself were dead when it ended. Alex chose to flee the area entirely, stating that he “looks out for number one.”
“Games don’t normally go this way,” James told Audrey.
“It’s fun! Reminds me of my sorority, only nicer.”
Only Audrey remained behind to lead the stupid army of stupid dorky monsters against the stupid cult or something. I don’t know – Vegas and I took our aggression to the UFC game on my PS3. Soccer kicks all day, baby.
In the middle of an intense lightweight fight, Alex suddenly smacked both of us in the back of the head – right where the “playa’ switch” would be.
“I’m trying to break it,” he muttered.
Eventually Alex and Vegas went home, but James and Audrey were still hanging out when I went up to my room. The game had ended, but they were drinking wine and watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
“The Governor in the comics is way different,” James was informing her. “He’s so much more evil.”
I guess that’s probably a smarter move than me or Vegas, I thought, then went to sleep.
Rudy Basso, an accountant with an English degree, is living proof that your major really doesn’t matter that much. You can read his previous series, Farming Vader, starting here.