Tag Archives: humor

WTF, D&D!?

In case you haven’t read it, wanted to turn you on to the Something Awful comedy “blog” series WTF, D&D!?. I read some of the early ones but didn’t realize they were going to keep up momentum with regular posting! Zack Parsons and Steve “Malak” Sumner review, walk through, or run through a variety of RPG materials – mostly D&D with some Rifts and Vampire and stuff, but some newer items like Lamentations of the Flame Princess – and about every other article, I find myself laughing so hard that I’m crying.

So if you haven’t seen it, go check out WTF, D&D!? and start with some of the Monster Manual type readthroughs – OMG, LOL!  (Normally I’d never say that but the abbreviations, you see, it’s like the column name… Never mind.)

PC on PC Violence

There is always a lot of advice about how you never want PCs to actually come into physical conflict with other PCs, how that will ruin your game and you should take any meta-game action necessary to prevent it.

Well, that’s complete and utter crap. Here’s a gaming anecdote about some awesome PC-on-PC violence from an old AD&D 2e Forgotten Realms game I ran.

Bad Neighbors

SPOILER WARNING – this is full of spoilers for the 2e Forgotten Realms adventure “Bad Neighbor Policy” from “Four From Cormyr.”

In general I prefer gritty, low magic campaigns like Greyhawk or even Warhammer Fantasy. But for a change, our group said “Let’s play a high level high magic game!”  This clearly meant the Forgotten Realms, and since I was a crazed D&D DM I had every product put out in the 1e/2e days, so the PCs munchkinned themselves out with high level (10 or 12 or something) powerz and magic items and everything and I prepped a Realms game, which though it went off track, ended up a thing of beauty.

We ran something else forgettable first, but soon began “Bad Neighbor Policy,” in which the PCs are travelling to the Orvaskyte Ruins out in the swamp for one reason or another.  But first, there’s a random interesting location on the way – the “Inn of the Undead,” an inn run by two hot women.  The first, the scenario claims, is “a voluptuous blonde” and the other is a “tall, attractive woman with a luxurious, tousled mane of fiery red hair.”  They are also vampires, as it turns out, and there’s a 12th level necromancer who hangs out with them.

One of the PCs decides, true to form, that he’d “seduce that hot blonde chick who owns the place!”  She says, “Okay…  Come upstairs after closing  and we’ll take a bath together.”  “Well that was easy,” he thinks.  The PC comes upstairs with her, doffs all his armor and weapons and gear and gets in the bath.  Then the other woman, the redhead, comes in too, and the blonde says “I thought I’d ask my sister to join us, if that’s all right.”  The player, nursing a woody by this point no doubt, is all like “Woo, threesome, I win!!!”  They disrobe, get into the bath with him, and and then the fangs come out and ENERGY DRAIN ENERGY DRAIN ENERGY DRAIN ENERGY DRAIN the poor bastard is a vampire himself.  I laughed and laughed and laughed.  It’s scenes like that which make all the BS you have to deal with for being a DM worthwhile.

But it gets better. The necromancer’s there for no stated reason except an “alliance” with the vampires.  So I decide they’re doing some experimentation trying to make the ever-popular vampire that can walk during the day.  There was some spell they published around that time, I think it might have been in the Spell Compendium, where if cast on a vampire, their powers wax and wane over the course of the day but the sun doesn’t kill them.  So the dead PC gets that spell permanenced on them by the necromancer as part of his undead rebirth.  I also decide that the PC has to rest in water not in earth because of the circumstances of his death.  Success, a new weird variety of vampire!

Anyway, the PC wake up as a daywalking water-sleeping vampire and doesn’t let on that anything’s wrong.  “I’m evil now right?  I’m gonna turn them all into vampires!”   The party, upon hearing that he looks “pale and drained” the next morning, just responds “Yeah, I bet.  Let’s get going.”  The PCs travel out through a day or two of swampland to the Orvaskyte Ruins, where they really have a hard time of it what with dragons and cornugons and whatnot.  Half of the PCs are unconscious or otherwise disabled after the final fight – so of course the vampire PC picks that time to strike, paralyzes one PC and drags another off into the swamp for vampirification. The frozen PC gets free and drags the other PCs into the convenient shrine that undead can’t enter in the ruined keep.  (That shrine is actually in the adventure; I didn’t plan any of this.)

So then what unfolds is pure beauty. No hold barred combat between the vampire PCs and the living PCs. For three weeks the players come over and eagerly take seats in separate rooms, and I scuttle back and forth as they try to outsmart and overcome each other.

The living PCs didn’t understand how things were working exactly with the vampires being active in the day – even without their vampire powers, they were still 10+th level Forgotten Realms characters and put down quite a whupping!  The PCs try to hole up in the shrine, but the vampires snipe at them and summon critters to go in and disrupt their sleep, so they’re not getting spells back.  They try to escape through the swamp, but the vampires catch up and attack and they have to retreat back into the shrine.

My favorite part was when the living PCs ventured out during the day and used spells to track down the dead PC the vampires had carted off and stuck under some roots in an icky swamp pond to turn.  One of the vampires is lurking nearby in a tree and summons a bunch of giant crocodiles into the pond.  The PCs come up and one, thinking for some reason that they’re safe during the day, dives right into the muck without a second glance.  All those crocs latched right on and started spinnin’.  “OH JESUS NO!!!” he was screaming as his hit points disappeared.  I had to devise a quick hit location chart to determine what part of him a given croc was attached to.  The rest of the PCs panicked and Lightning Bolted the entire pond killing everything; all the crocs and the PC floated to the top and they pulled him out to see if they were in time to heal him but he was gone below the torso.   Everyone screams.  Retreat to shrine, cast Raise Dead.  The living PCs had one Raise Dead a day which was very helpful.  Sometimes the vampires would catch a living guy and turn them; sometimes the living guys would catch a vampire and Raise Dead them.   They kept this up for hour after hour, session after session.

Finally after a couple sessions of this the remaining living PCs made a successful break for it, but the vampires were faster and got back to that inn first.  One of the PCs, a monk, was suspicious of the inn as “That’s where all the trouble started!” and stayed outside, clinging to the roof to peer into windows.  Another was disgusted by the whole thing and just marched in to get a room.  When he went upstairs and closed the door to his room, the initial vampire PC was standing behind it with bared broadsword.  The monk peeped down just in time to see the inside of the room’s window suddenly become completely coated with blood.  More screams.  In the end, a couple living PCs retreated under cover of magically created fog while the vampires plotted a daywalking vampire apocalypse to take over Sembia.

The campaign ended there (it was supposed to be short anyway), but everyone had a grand time.  People fight hard against DM-run monsters.  But they fight HARD against other PCs.  It was a very meaningful test of abilities for everyone – the DM couldn’t pull a punch if he wanted to, and each opponent wasn’t one of many faceless critters being multitasked by the DM, each one was backed by a clever and bloodthirsty player’s undivided attention.  Each session, I kept asking “Do ya’ll want me to wrap this up?”  But each time, they were excited to get there and continue one of the most exhilarating fights for their lives they had seen in a game.  I was surprised with how long it went, I would have expected one side to get a numerical advantage and then just roll over the other.  But each side could safely retreat and when things started getting bad they fought harder – using one-use magic items, desperate tactics, and more to avoid being wiped out.  I was really proud at some of the stuff “my players” came up with when the chips were down, I saw balls to the wall crazy kickass things happen I hadn’t seen before or since.  It was really a memorable experience for everyone.

Lesson Learned

After that, I would often bring in a “guest star” – some other gamer not in a given campaign – to run a major villain at the climax of an adventure.  “Here, you’re this guy, here’s what you know, you have free rein to defeat them any way you can.”   You could tell by the “Oh, shit” looks on the PCs’ faces that they realized they needed to step their game way up when that happened.  The villains were always extra clever and brutal and self-preserving (and therefore realistic) when they had a dedicated brain behind them.

And sure, the simple “PCs shouldn’t hit each other” advice is all well and good for the 13-year-olds and emotionally maladjusted out there, where people are just acting disruptively or whatnot.  But in a game for grownups, it has its place.

Mock the Monsters!

I saw that Cracked has a new article up entitled “15 Retarded Dungeons & Dragons Monsters“.  It’s OK, but really a lot of these monsters are just kinda stupid, not really humor-article-worthy stupid.  (Insert 4e rust monster joke here.)

For those left wanting more (or better), there are some older articles along the same lines.

Head Injury Theater’s “Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 30 Years Of Very Stupid Monsters” and “Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 30 Years Of Very Stupid Monsters – Part 2” are the best IMO.

Then, Something Awful has “WTF, D&D: 1st Edition Monster Manual, Part 1“and subsequent mockings…


The 10 Greatest Dungeons & Dragons End Bosses

Ooo, I just ran across this article on Topless Robot and it was too good not to share!

I totally agree with some of them – the Slave Lords, for example!  And Strahd, Lolth, and Sakatha are good choices.  Some of the rest are weaker, though, it seems like they’re sticking hard to 1e AD&D for the list.

Some of my picks?  Well, you can’t leave off Bargle, even if (until recently) he was more implict than explicit.  And for more Basic fun, the Master of the Desert Nomads was a fan favorite hereabouts.

2e’s harder. Although if you play your cards right you can fight Orcus!  A lot of these, especially the Greyhawk ones, tended to be sandboxy so there’s not necessarily “end bosses” – like Rary’s stats are in Rary the Traitor but I’m not sure he really counts as an end boss there.

In 3e, the WotC adventures blew chunks, but there were still some excellent end bosses out there.  Sea Lord Drac from the Freeport Trilogy, for example.  And the end boss Xanesha from The Skinsaw Murders, second chapter of the Rise of the Runelords adventure path, is hated and feared by many a PC party.

And, of course, there’s Invisible Christopher Walken!

Who are we forgetting?  Who are the boss end bosses?  And why are there so few, especially post-1e?

Shameful Dungeons & Dragons Characters

One of my favorite genre blogs, Topless Robot, has published a list of the 5 most and least shameful Dungeons & Dragons characters! Take a look, it’s fun.

Here’s my own list of the 5 most shameful…

5) Drizzt Do’Urden.  I agree with the Topless Robot guy, he’s overexposed for sure but was lame even before that.  “Oooooh, the angst!  But I’m sexxxy!  But the angst!  I am mighty!  Pet my kitty!”  Leave it to White Wolf.

4) Elminster.  Has a more transparent Mary Sue character ever appeared in any D&D setting?  He’s old and wise!  But all the chicks want him!  He’s super powerful, and super wise, and super special, and WE LOVES HIM MY PRECIOUS!

3) Anyone from the Dungeons & Dragons movie, which mind-raped all the poor D&D fans that waited for decades for the film to finally get made.  But mainly “Snails,” the incompetent thief played by Marlon Wayans.  Snails.  Wayans.  KILL!

2) Elfstar.  Sound familiar?  That’s right, she’s the cleric (and Satanist, and Fundamentalist) from the infamous Jack Chick “Dark Dungeons” tract!  Apparently she’s a dumb twat.  Black Leaf, too.

1) Mika-Oba the Wolf Nomad.  OK, Gygax’s novel writing skills are not something to write home about, and it’s fair that Gord is on the TR shame list.  But this list is for the most, not the “pretty darn,” shameful.  Rose Estes picked up the mantle of Greyhawk novelist once TSR screwed over Gary and tossed him out into the dumpster.   And though Gygax wasn’t good, she was terrible.  Every Greyhawk fan since has pretended she didn’t exist or worse – check out the Rose Estes Hate Page for some examples of her purple prose.  Mika, with his pet wolf “Tam-Tur,” was a wuss and a rapist (and rape-ee).  And liked pooing on people, and spanking the monkey.  No, seriously.  I wish I were kidding.  He’s the worst of the worst.

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