A RPG series on player characters I remember fondly.
From time to time I want to write about player characters that I remember well. Recently DM Harald ran a few sessions using Moldvay’s Basic D&D and the Karameikos setting that came with it. We all rolled up characters and Jörg rolled up an elf with Charisma 3. He likes to play elves and that in itself is a recurring joke in our group. This time, however, it was payback time! This was an asshole. Arrogant. Disinterested. Unwilling to fight. Unwilling to come along. Jörg managed to stay on the thin red line separating character aggravation from player aggravation.
When we decided to go vampire hunting in Krakatos, the elf joined us against his own recommendation. We were, after all, just first level characters. After the first session, the elf had been charmed by the vampire and had joined his master as living blood snack.
The next session we managed to free him. Two or three sessions later, however, we were exploring Koriszegi Keep and had good reason to believe another vampire was present. Again, the arrogant elf tried to dissuade us. Again, we ignored him. As we were fighting ghouls climbing out of a hole in the ground, the battle turned against us. My cleric had been paralysed in the first round because he had once again used his cursed holy symbol instead of his real holy symbol. The arrogant elf received a mortal wound. (We’re using the Death and Dismemberment table.) He decides to grapple the ghould standing over my cleric’s body and fling himself and the ghoul down into the hole! Thank you, asshole.
We win the fight, descend into the hole, can’t find the elf’s body, continue into the next room, and see the body lying there, vampire mist covering the floor of the foul cave. Another character, a small lady thief, gets to work and saws off the elf’s head in order to prevent him from rising as a vampire minion at midnight. My cleric, no longer paralysed, is contacted by the vampire. L E A V E . H I M . T O . M E ! the disembodied voice says. I say to the small woman, “leave him be!” But she insists on cutting off the head. And she does. But now the vampire materializes, drains her into oblivion. We scream. The vampire crushes my gnome henchman’s skull. We cry. The vampire turns around. We run.
And all of that because of an elf that we didn’t like.
Way back in 2006, I was happily writing Free Software. At the time, a dude called Greywulf was using it, and I started reading his blog. He was playing role-playing games. I bought a PDF of the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia because he recommended it. I remembered playing AD&D as a teenager. Yeah, back then the PDFs were available for purchase. It was a terrible PDF, scanned, 80MB, with sloppy OCR, impossible to print – but it was official. Greywulf pointed me at EN World. I started reading. Greywulf wrote M20. I finally had enough and decided that I wanted to play! I’d make it happen. I’d find people. And I did. And we played. We moved the campaign to D&D 3.5.
One of the first people I found was a half New Zealander called Marco. He played in many campaigns. Back then we had just started an Asian campaign. He created Kubo. Kubo was a ranger turned rogue with levels in shadow dancer. He fought with a naginata and used both ends of the weapon. He had a shit-ton of attacks. And he really loved kicking ass.
I still remember the party reaching an oasis, looking for a passage to the City of Brass (Necromancer Gamers) and being confronted with a half efreet that could cast high level spells. This guy quickly located the party after they had killed some of his retainers and decided to finish them off. He approached invisible and flying. When the fight began, my players knew they were at a severe disadvantage. They were hiding on a small ledge up on a cliff and most of the could not fly.
In fact, Kubo was killed in this fight. But the others remembered the promise of an evil book they had read and called out for a demon lord: Pazuzu! Pazuzu! Pazuzu! And so it was that the demon lord showed up, resurrected Kubo and killed the half efreet.
During all this fighting, Kubo had slain many foes. Marco loved to describe how he delivered killing blows. This time he went further than that, however: “Can I knock out their teeth? Can I roll a Reflex save to catch them in mid air? Can I?” And so it was done – in bullet time! We laughed.
I was listening to Canon Puncture the other day and they talked about the new segments they want to do and started thinking back to the player characters in my games, the ones I remember best. Let me tell you about Iz the goblin assassin, played by Florian. This was at the very start of my Alder King game; I was still using D&D 3.5.
Iz started as a goblin rogue with a short bow. He was diving into cover and shooting enemies like crazy. Eventually he discovered that the kobold oracle living in the skull of a black dragon was in fact a master assassin and he gained access to the assassin prestige class. He also tamed a griffin living in an abandoned elven tower, painted it black (I figured it was better not to ask how he had done it) and rode on it. At one point the party found a ring of wishes with one remaining wish and he somehow ended up carrying it to the chagrin of the other player characters.
At one point, a random encounter with a bunch of kuo-toa came up. I was fond of using the monster variants from the various monster manuals thus there were harpoonists with sticky shields, there were soldiers, there were crazy monk wizards, it was a great fight. I don’t remember what happened exactly. Somehow most of the party ended up surrendering and being taken away to the kuo-toa village. Iz’s griffon lay there, slain. The stench of blood and burning flesh was hanging in the air.
Iz kneels by his dead griffon, cries and curses. And then he remembers the ring. He crushes the last stone and cries I wish this never happened!
The wish worked: The griffon came back to life, and the power of the wish tried to undo some of the events as well: it rearranged people and pulled Iz and the griffon back into the company of his fellow party members, into the stronghold of the kuo-toa, into the temple of Blubidbloopdoop or whatever the weird kuo-toa god is called, and eventually everything was resolved.
That’s one of the reasons I liked Iz so much.