RPG 30-Day Challenge, Day Ten
Craziest Thing That Happened That You Saw.
There have been a lot of memorable moments over the years. A Rolemaster player rolling 01-03 on % dice three times in a row that caused a failed spell in a barroom brawl to go from putting a guy to sleep to blowing his head off. The Wild Surge that rolled a “random encounter,” which then rolled “Small Fortress,” which caused a full-armed-and-operational super-agent compound to fall on a group of drow slavers in a 2nd Ed D&D game. The unbelievably bad luck of Jacknife, a HERO system villain who was “on paper” the most dangerous psychopathic killer I had ever thrown at any heroes, but in practice was such an ineffectual sad sack the players actually felt bad for him.
But I think the craziest thing I ever saw actually *wasn’t* the result of fringe die results.
It was a 1st ed D&D game I played 20 or so years ago. It was a pick-up game at a friend-of-a-friend’s house, one of very few such events that I went to. I honestly don’t remember the names of anyone involved. I was playing Buskirk, my high-level Cleric of St. Cuthbert that was my go-to character at the time.
There were about 5 of us. We sat in the sunken living room of the DM’s parents’ house. The parents themselves either weren’t there, or never interrupted us. We were in our early teens, or just pre-teen. They had a fireplace, and it was on, so it must have been fall or winter. There was Kool-aid, and one of the players was a girl, the sister of another player. She was playing a multiclass spellcaster based on the main female character from the movie Dragonslayer. Someone else (not her brother) was playing a paladin with a Holy Sword of Sharpness. The sword may have been named Cutter. I don’t remember anything else about the venue or players.
The DM insisted that if someone’s character died, we had to burn the character sheet (which is why I remember they had a fire in the fireplace). This was before easy electronic records. Buskirk was more than two dozen pages of notes and items and spell lists. It was, ultimately, fairly childish, but we were fairly close to children. I felt a thrill of real fear, in any case.
The setup: A castle has suddenly had devils and other dark creatures appear in it, including evil air elementals, and great winds have blown in the doors and shutters. The king is pissed, and we are to go in and find out what is going on, and fix it.
We later discovered that the castle’s sewage system was chutes that lead to a bag of devouring, and someone who didn’t know that had flushed a rival’s bag of holding. A rend to the outer planes had occurred, and was sucking in air, while devils used it to invade the place. The vortex sucking everything into the planar rend got worse as the adventure went on. We had to make some kind of ability checks the DM had created a houserule for. I don’t remember for certain, but I think it was roll 3d6 and roll under your ability score for success (easy enough), but each roll against the vortex you took a -1. So the longer we searched, the worse things got.
The details are fuzzy – it’s been a LONG time. It felt epic at the time. There was both a dragon (interested in claiming whatever new magic this was) and a lich (who had hidden his phylactery in the castle and was now concerned for it.
The climax came as the afternoon wore into early evening, and we knew the game would end soon. We found the planar rend, and lowered a spidersilk rope into it. The paladin slid down the rope. The multiclass spellcaster was right behind him on the rope. Most other characters were helping to anchor the rope. Buskirk was one room away, holding a horde of undead at bay with turnings and high-level spells. I wasn’t even involved in the “crazy” final scene.
The paladin and spellcaster saw that the space beyond the planar rend was filled-to-the-brim with devils. A whole army of the things, with polearms that had hooks and blades and points, waiting for the planar rend to get big enough they could flood into the castle, and teleport away from the vortex. The bag of devouring was visible in the center of them, powering the planar rend. Someone could leap down and destroy it (we’d figured out how, and it required you to be close, but I don’t remember the details anymore–it may have just needed a magic sword). But whoever did that would be killed by devils, in hell, their soul trapped there forever. We’d taken too long to find the rend and figure out the problem. Fixing it was now a suicide mission.
The paladin failed a roll against the vortex, and fell. The spellcaster caught him. He told her to let him go. She refused, convinced we could find another way. We just needed to regroup, and reconsider.
Another PC failed a roll, and got sucked toward the vortex, but at the last second grabbed something. The penalties were rising. We were running out of time.
The paladin begged the spellcaster to release him, so he could save all of reality. She refused, not wanting him to sacrifice himself when she was sure we, we band of adventures who had killed a dragon and a lich on the same day, we could find another way. The DM said we were about to have to make rolls against the vortex, at a huge penalty.
So the paladin used his sword of sharpness to cut off his own arm.
We pulled the spellcaster out of the rend. The paladin, bleeding and surrounded, fell onto and destroyed the bag of devouring. As the planar rend closed, we saw him stand, and tell the devils he would accept their surrender if they wished to give it.
The rend closed. The game ended.