Having chosen or rather been given no choice but to choose a thief, I was ready to be drawn into the Dark Realms conjured up within the twisted mind of Almighty Wally, our host and Dungeon Master.
Wally explained that our party had come across this small village at the foot of the mountains. In recent times, some ancient religious sect had taken over the abandoned castle on a nearby mountain. Since then, strange things and creatures have been seen. The villagers dare not venture out at night due to the presence of werewolves and other creatures of the night. Then last month, members of the cult met the village heads to demand 10 virgins each full moon for sacrifice to their demon God. That first sacrifice was due in two weeks time. The village leaders offer to pay us to go to the castle and defeat the cultists before then.
We, of course, agreed to do this gallant task as they were paying us a lot for a succeessful mission. But the way to the mountain castle is protected by a thick thorn hedge and patrolled by packs of werewolves and Giant trolls. We first needed to visit the labyrinth of Gath because at the centre of the labyrinth was a mural that would tell us more about the ancient castle and a map to guide us through the thorn hedges. Oooo. I listened intently to Wally. Not a bad story to give us a little semblence of sense in what would otherwise be a series of senseless encounters and fights. Before long, our merry band consisting of a Paladin, a Barbarian Warrior, a Ranger, a Cleric, a Druid, an Assasin and a Thief (squirrel jumping up and down, that’s me! that’s me!) entered the dark underground Labyrinth of Gath.
The “Staying in Character”.
Woweee. In the labyrinth, it seemed that everywhere we turned there was some beast or monster to be killed. Most of the time, the Ranger got them at a distance with her bow and arrows. Whatever got past that were soon chopped down by the Barbarians axe or the paladin’s sword. Even the Cleric (or Mage as they called him) and the Druid got the occasional beast using their magical powers or by calling on their deities for help. I was happily sneaking past all the fighting and collecting hidden treasures and artifacts. This was okay for awhile but I soon got fed up of missing the glory and excitement of the fight.
So in the first encounter after the morning tea and rest room break, I decided to live dangerously. We had entered a chamber and there was a giant Troll in it. Every one took their expected action stations. Once again I was expected to stay out of the way until the big heroes dealt with the baddie. But enough was enough, I told Wally that I chose to sneak behind it and attack with my dagger.
Jaime said, “Are you mad? You can’t do that.”
“Cause you’re a thief! You’ve got to stay in character. And what are you doing? You’re pricking away with a puny dagger, for goodness sake!”
“I may be a thief but I am a brave and fearless thief!” I replied.
Jaime appeals to the Dungeon Master to intervene. Wally decides to let me do what I want. He’s sure that I will soon learn the folly of my ways.
I have a small theoretical chance of throwing the dice where the outcome would be that I had a lucky stab at the monster and it just happened to sever the juggular and the monster keels over mortally wounded. Like a gambler at Las Vegas, I blew on the diced and willed for the right numbers to appear. Like most gamblers at Las Vegas, I lost.
The battle goes something like this;
I jump on the back of the troll and stab him with my small dagger. (Roll dice). Miss. No damage.
Troll busy fighting with Paladin. So I try to poke him with my dagger again. (Roll dice) Hit but only 1 damage point against the troll. Equivalent to a bee sting.
Troll decides to swing his club at me. (Rolls dice) Hits me with 12 hit points. Wally tells me this means that I have lost my left arm and am suffering from internal bleeding. My character may be suffering but my adrenaline is up.
Being the gallant thief, I stab away again with my dagger. (Roll dice). My blade breaks off because of the hard troll skin.
Troll swipes at me. (roll dice) Another 15 hit points. Wally tells me I am now splattered all over the cave and am definately dead. Ah well.
They thought that I had learnt my lesson about staying in character but I can be really, really stubborn about learning things. So they allow me to rejoin the group as a new character (also a thief) and I am promptly fried to a cinder while on a suicide run towards a dragon with my little pocket knife. They respawn me again and I die two more gruesome deaths before lunchtime.
Wally and Karen come to me and say, “Look, stay in character or else you’re not resurrecting after the next death.” It seems my attempts to make my thief a hero is not going down well with everyone else. They don’t think I should rise above my station. It’s also slowing down the quest as each time I die, they have to return to the village to get a new thief. Okay, now that my sense of immortality had been lost, I decided to conform and stay in character.
The Great Boredom
Before long, we had killed everything there was to kill in the labyrinth and all we needed to do was exit the labyrinth. Our party turned left, left, left. Dead end. Right, left, right. Dead end. Left, left, right. Dead end. We keep going. Before long 15 minutes of fruitless wanderings had passed. Almighty Wally speaks from heaven, “look you guys are supposed to be bloody scientists! The way out has a simple mathematical solution!”
With one voice we murmured, “Oh, a mathematical solution! Why didn’t you say so!” One hour later we were still stuck in the labyrinth. People were beginnning to yawn, read magazines and nod off. We were going nowhere.
Finally, Wally asked what did we want to do next. We said go left. Not because we knew what we were doing but because we didn’t know what else to say. Wally solemnly rolls his dice and says, “hurray! you are out at the base of the castle!’ Now, we all suspect a bit of divine Wally intervention there but we were so glad to be back in the sunshine we kept quiet.
By dinner time, we had reached the inner sanctum of the castle. Victory was at hand. There were a few minion guards to occupy the heroes. But my thieving eyes was on this beautiful giant crystal sitting in the arms of the bronze idol in the centre of the room. I rushed towards it, skirting the fighting (notice, I am keeping to character) and as a thief would do, I placed my sweaty hands on the crystal and lifted it up. Before Karen the Assasin can call out a warning to me, Wally rolls his dice and proclaims that white smoke begins to rise from the idol.
The cleric and the Druid rush to my side and attempt to call on their Gods to stop the billowing smoke. (Roll dice). The smoke grows in volume.
The cleric and the Druid try throwing holy water on the idol. (Roll dice). Smoke turns black. Team memnbers are blaming me for picking up the crystal. I say, I am a thief, what do you expect! They say, they would expect me to check for traps before picking up the crystal. “Oh” I say.
The Druid takes out some scrolls and begin chanting but the black smoke gets worse and sparks appear.
Then I had an inspirational thought! I told Wally, “I smash the crystal to pieces on the floor.” Wally looks pale as he rolls his dice. He turns paler when he sees the result.
“Um. There is a big explosion, an earthquake, volcanic eruption. The castle collapses. All of you have to do saving rolls to see if you survive.”
The team is not happy with me cause half of them are dead and the other half gravely injured. I am dead for the fourth time. They drag their sorry, battered bodies back down the mountain to the village only to find that the villagers have lost everything in the earthquake and eruption and they were attacked by angry mobs.
Everyone was stunned.
It was almost midnight when Karen and I walked to the bus stop. We had left the place like every one else a little shocked and subdued by the game outcome. We sat at the cold bus stop for a few minutes before Karen turned to me and said,”You know, that almost never happens.” I nod solemnly.
She added, “I wish it happens a bit more frequently. It was so funny.” The bus came and the driver found us laughing hysterically. Karen, Wally, Jaime and I remained friends but I was never ever invited to another campaign. Jaime never got over the fact that his Paladin was lynched by the village mob!