For the most recent episode of Watch Out for Fireballs!, we asked you to send us your best Dungeons and Dragons stories. The challenge, of course, being that we wanted you to tell us stories that weren't on the level of "let me tell you about this dream I had one time".
Well, you guys showed up.
While only two listeners could win the contest, we wanted to honor everyone who wrote in by posting their stories here on the blog as a supplement to the episode. There are seriously a lot of good and funny stories here.
We'll start with the winners, and then proceed onward in an alphabetical fashion.
hngkng (WINNER Via the Something Awful Forums)
My favorite character in D&D was a half-dragon/dragonkin monk in D&D 3rd edition. I was only allowed to play that race because I promised I wouldn't play my usual character, a lawful good person who wants to be a hero to everyone.
So I didn't.
My character was a dick, but not outright evil at the beginning, because even though he was lawful evil, he knew the best way to not get caught doing evil deeds was to do them behind everyone's back. I started small, suggesting we kill prisoners and being overly willing to kill. It wasn't until I hit the level where I was immune to disease when the real fun started.
At this point in the adventure, we were trying to cure a magical disease that was ravaging a town. The rich part of town had shut down entirely, the poor parts were dying fast and horrible, and the whole party caught it (including me when I was still able to). So we went to try to find the source and stop it. When we found the source, I pulled the DM aside to ask if I could steal samples of the diseases without anyone noticing. He said ok, not knowing what was about to come.
When we came back to town, we went to an apothecary to replicate a cure, however, since it was expensive, only I had the money (being a monk, I never needed to spend any) to afford it. So I had him replicate the diseases instead. Oh, I made sure my party was cured, and that they didn't know the difference, but I was going to show the world what I thought of it.
As I said, like in "The Masque of the Red Death", the rich portion of town was walled off, threatening to kill anyone who approached. My party and I, laiden with crates of "antidote" approached. The usual face of the party was SHOCKED as I took the floor to explain we had cured the disease, and all we wanted was the cost of gold to make it, no other reward. The DM, who knew what I had done already, wanted to make it hard, so I took a vial of the "antidote" out, explained that "if I was lying, would I do this?" and downed it. I then rolled a natural 20 to convince them that I was their savior.
It wasn't until "days" later that news caught up with us that the whole town was dead of the disease, and that it was spreading to all of the towns around. Immediately, everyone knew it was me. I never before had ever pulled aside the DN before, much less as often as I had during that adventure, so they knew I was the reason. The lawful good paladin IMMEDIATELY tried to kill me. My character, for the first time ever, was unwilling to fight. The paladin, who out of character knew it was me but in character didn't KNOW, was torn. On one hand, he wanted to kill me, because clearly, I was the one who caused all of this. On the other, I was arguing that he didn't have any proof, and even if I did do something bad, clearly it couldn't have been my fault, I had been taking the antidote at almost every stop we made to distribute it!
That day of D&D almost destroyed the group, but for some reason, they let me continue with the group, but from that point on, I was known as "The Plaguebringer".
Ian MacKenzie McDonald (WINNER Via Facebook)
While a lot of my friends' parents were still riding the BADD wave (Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons), I was fortunate enough to have a father who actually DM'ed for me and the only two friends I could find willing to play.
This was back in fourth grade, and it's an understatement to say that we had no clue what we were doing.
That didn't stop any of us from being convinced that we were the party leader, which frequently lead to game-halting disputes, the most frequent of which were between my friend Bob and I.
Bob lived down the street from me, and until very recently still did. His friend Andrew also played with us. Andrew and I were both Clerics, which actually worked out pretty well considering how brutal Second Edition Advanced (ADVANCED!) Dungeons and Dragons was. Andrew and I gelled pretty well, but one Friday night Bob and I got in an argument over something so inane I still cannot remember it, but he stormed off into the narrative woods separate from the rest of the party. This was after he freed himself from an Entangle spell I cast specifically to keep that from happening, because when you are ten that is how logic works.
Looking back, it is a testament to my father's narrative legerdemain that it never occurred to us that this would have made the game unplayable. Instead, he gave Bob ten minutes of illusory exploration before being attacked by a brown bear protecting her cub.
I think it is important to note how insanely scary wildlife is in 2E D&D. If you've ever played Baldur's Gate, you know that bears are serious business. Of course, I think the furthest we ever got in two years was level 5 and this was near the genesis of our adventure, so this was pretty far from an optimal situation. While Bob was being mauled in short order, Andrew and I decide that it's a fair assumption we could go tromping off in the woods after Bob's character to save him from himself. As an aside, I just remembered that Bob's character was named, wait for it, Bob.
We arrive with Bob still on his feet, and suddenly he recalculates the odds and decides "No, we got this now!" Andrew and I resign ourselves to the situation. At this age, you tend to play the cards on the table. Twenty minutes of Second Edition combat later, we stand totally out of spells, universally bloodied, and victorious. Then the bear's cub attacks. I still remember the frustration I felt when I sighed and suggested "Could we throw the bear's corpse on top of the cub?"
I'm not sure why this seemed infinitely more possible than running away, but my dad with his saintlike placidity, only said "Strength check." Andrew and I hoisted the dead parent and then trapped her offspring underneath its lifeless corpse before dragging Bob away. We were eerily unaware of how macabre this is, which I suppose is why you don't give children weapons and send them off into the woods.
I told you that story so that I could tell you this one.
Months later, Bob has wandered off again. This time we sent him to the next town to pick up more healing potions while Andrew and I attempted to fix a fighting tournament by slipping alcohol into the potions fighters would use to heal between rounds. Again, children. He is on his way back to town when he hears a low, pained whine coming from the woods. Bob ignores our pleas and wanders into the woods to find a wounded wyvern guarding a magical chest. This is the sort of test that, looking back, my father must have known we would fail. Andrew and I are aghast as Bob decides to feed the wyvern all of our healing potion so that the mini-dragon will just give us what's in the chest in exchange, later stating that he also hoped the wyvern would become our pet.
Abandoning all pretense of not meta-gaming, Andrew and I stop what we're doing and run down the road, while Bob is now fighting a fully healed wyvern. My dad allowed for some dramatic tension and the cavalry arrived just in time to save Bob and fend off his mistake. The wyvern decides it has had enough of this and flies off with the chest. I try to shoot down the monster with my two ranged spells and fail. I should note that my father was fucking Smaug when it came to magical items or treasure, so this chest would have presumably been a huge get.
As we stand there, quibbling in our defeat, my father announces "You hear a low growl." We stand, unsure of ourselves, until a young brown bear emerges from the brush. We all look at each other and make the connection. We just fought a dragon, between Andrew and I we have two 'Goodberry' spells, and we're out of healing potions. We run.
From then all the way through to the end of our tenure as dungeoneers, there was this perpetual uneasiness that began to permeate itself throughout any treacherous situation. Camping out in the wilderness? The bear. Emerging just barely victorious from a dungeon? The bear. Fighting off the corrupt palace guards outside the royal ball? THE BEAR!
I still smile at the idea that our most persistent antagonist was a bear we chose to fuck with for no actual reason. Some other kids fought liches and demigods I'm sure, but for us nothing was more deadly than that opportunistic bear.
Until writing this, I never made the connection between this campaign and my father's love for the film 'The Edge.'
Bobulus (Via the Something Awful forums)
My favorite D&D moment was actually from a 4th-ed game a couple years ago. It needs a little explaining, though.
The DM had made a homebrew setting that was the basically a post- magic-apocolypse world. Everything was fucked, and not in the normal 'the crops are dying, the animals have fled' sense, but the 'this waterfall is running backwards and the laws of physics change depending on where you stand' sense. We were as much as scout team as an adventuring party, because things had changed so much that we knew absolutely nothing about the world outside our tiny village. This made our party extremely cautious, since it's easy to imagine all the ways you can die horribly when you can't even trust that things will fall down and not up.
We had a few adventures and then needed to cross a vast (new) desert to reach a port town. It was extremely unnerving because things would happen that were beyond our ken. Strange objects would appear in the sky, hover for several hours, then leave. Our compasses refused to work reliably. The tension levels were ramped up because our DM was running the scenario like a game of Oregon Trail. We had supplies for a certain number of days, pack animals, and our wits. We could choose the pace or rationing, and whether we made out of the desert in time or not was up to us.
Anyway, after several days of this, we hit bad weather. Normally rain in the desert would be a blessing, but the world was fucked, so were weren't nearly so lucky. No, it rained blood. We were all freaking out, because who knows what would happen to someone who went out in that. It could be acid blood for all we knew. Or cursed. Or just really sticky. So we were all huddling in our tent, attempting to wait it out... when our horses started freaking out over the blood rain.
Now, like I said, our party was playing extremely cautiously. And I'd had some bad DMs in the past, so I tend to play extremely conservatively in the first place. So my paladin hadn't really stood out much this campaign. But I knew we needed those horse. If we lost even a couple, we've be slowed down and might not make it out of the desert at all. For the first time, I didn't think about what the smart thing to do would be, but what my character would do.
My character dashed out into the blood rain and attempted to calm the horses. High charisma, a decent roll, the first animal calmed down with some soothing words. But the other horse would not be calmed. It had already pulled out one of the posts it was hitched to, and was seconds from bolting. So I did the only thing I could do. I attempted to physically restrain a crazed horse with a low strength character... and rolled a crit. The DM described how my paladin head-butted the horse so hard that it was dazed long enough to secure it.
My paladin let loose a shout of triumph at the heavens, as the blood rain continued to pour down. I'd saved the whole party. I felt like a total badass.
(Of course, the very next session, my paladin's new boldness meant he spent several days fucked up on hallucinogenic cactus fruit after volunteering to test them for the party, but that's a whole different story.)
Chase (Via Contact)
We were walking between story locations when our GM decided that it had been a while since we had a good scrap. He rolled for a random encounter, and it came up Gila Monsters. Our Brawler, deciding he wasn't in the mood to fight decided to intimidate them away.
He grabs the edges of his coat holds them above his head (like wings), and screams "I'm a larger animal than you!"
They run, and we walk off laughing.
Coyo7e (Via the Something Awful forums)
I had a DM kill off my character, a Neutral Evil Monk, while I was away from a session.
I mostly wandered around talking in bad fake-dubbed lines from old kung fu flicks, and pretended to be a supreme badass martial artist and would proceed to pick on waiters, minor officials, peasants, etc, and then I'd mostly be useless in combat and later brag to the party about how awesome I'd been in the fights.
The clincher though, was that one week the DM spent a LOT of time drawing up a huge map of a village we were supposed to wander into and explore, find quests and gear etc. However, I was already leery enough of the forced plot NPC (a 12 year old girl with superpowers) that I was suspicious and recognized some of the names of stuff we encountered as we first entered the village as the "Hidden Leaf Village" from the cartoon Naruto.
I convinced the rest of the party to say "fuck this place" and we wandered away and killed some shit instead of exploring the DM's painstakingly-created Hidden Leaf Village map complete with cartoon-faithful NPCs.
A few weeks later I caught the flu and couldn't show up, and the next week I showed up to be informed that the DM had "played" my character for me by trying to pick a fight with the first NPC we encountered - a heavily armored paladin on a warhorse. I didn't bother arguing that it was totally out of character for my cowardly bully of a monk to pick a fight with anybody he thought might actually give him a hangnail, it was weird playing at the house of a 45 year-old man while his mom and boyfriend watched Days of Our Lives in the next room.
Also in college. I was part of a gaming group for a couple years where we played a ton of games (Cyberpunk, D&D, Shadowrun, some obscure shit I forgot about) and eventually rotated around to Rolemaster (a basic Tolkien-ish setting but all rolls were made with pairs of d10 dice, with 66 and 111 being exceptionally strange/successful results and you could potentially roll open-ended successes if you rolled 100s back to back, the game also had huge charts of weapon damage descriptions based on weapon type, enemy type, enemy size, etc) and I played a succession of rogues.
Who all died to rats.
I started off dying to a giant rat in my first fight. Made a new rogue. Played for a session or three and died to disease from a rat bite. Rolled up a new rogue. Played for another couple sessions and was killed in a fight with giant bats (winged rats! ). Made a new one. I stayed alive for a couple months and took great pleasure in pocketing loot from the chests I'd opened, bodies I searched, etc, and then got super lucky and found some sweet spider-climb earrings which allowed me to climb any surface as long as I could maintain 3-point contact with a wall, and found a tall sheer wall soon enough, with an enticing opening scores of feet above.
I then managed to roll a 66 and the DM gleefully informed me that a rat came out of a crack between the stones, ran up my shirtsleeve, and then force me to roll (and fail) reaction checks from being ticklish and 50 feet above a sheer stone floor. The party was not pleased by the particolored stain I left on the floor, hissing and bubbling all over my cloak full of busted magical items and potions which I'd secreted away from the rest of the group along the way...
Finally I threw up my hands in disgust and just made the laziest choices I could, chose the worst name I could think of (Cumulo Nimbus), and got exceptionally lucky rolls on all my stats, and he ended up as a 6'5" Slavic rogue who was physically stronger and more fit than even the warriors in the party, but I was feeling depressed and annoyed so I gave him the crippling trait of a phobia and, of course, chose rats. We went on a succession of adventures and, well, no matter what we rolled on encounters, I never saw a rat again. Cumulo Nimbus continued to get excessively lucky physical stat gains as he leveled up, and I've got him in a binder, just begging to find another Pathfinder group to terrorize some day in the far future...
I also have a Fixer who's really, really good at Hacky-Sack from being on stakeout outside of hideouts, and the other guy I was perennially chosen to go out with, deciding that we should start playing hacky sack and smoking joints as a cover, since his guy had dredlocks anyway.. vv
As a final note I noticed that for some weird reason, both my best DM I ever played with and the worst, were both mid-40s and ex-Navy.
Dave (Via Contact)
I've been playing D&D with a small group of friends throughout high school. There was one campaign we had running in particular where our DM was just a massive dick. He built encounters to punish us, and admitted that there were simple ways to bypass quests but never gave us any kind of inclination that such a thing would be possible. For example, he had us retrieve a magical fan that could create massive gusts of wind when used in order to be allowed into a city. After being beaten down by gargoyles and even a white dragon, and we are allowed into the city, victorious, he announced that the gate guard would have accepted any fan from any old crafts shop.
We would play this campaign with a house rule referred to as "critical failures." The opposite of critical hits, critical failures would make you reroll the d20 if you roll a natural one when rolling to hit. Not only do you automatically miss the attack, the second roll determines just how badly you fucked up as you missed. Depending on the roll, you could do anything from simply miss, drop your weapon, or hit yourself with your own weapon. The DM loved this rule, simply because for about a month, all of his creatures seemed to be immune to these critical failures, while it constantly seemed to be screwing us over. Until one particular encounter.
After arriving in the city I had mentioned earlier, we quickly learned of a serial killer rampaging through the city, known simply as "The Ripper" (real original, I know.). We took it upon ourselves to bring him to justice, as a party of good adventurers would be wont to do. We finally cornered him in a museum of sorts, and after splitting the party and having our own individual encounters with him inside the building, we grouped up again back at the entrance for our main show down outside. We were all beaten badly from our encounters, including the Ripper, but he had enough life in him to have a big speech before we all fought him. At the end of his speech, to accentuate his point, the Ripper was going to throw a dagger at our party leader. Was.
The DM had rolled a critical failure, and rolled so poorly on his second roll, that the dagger pinned the Rippers foot into the ground. Our party leader jumped at the chance, and cut the guy in two before the DM could come up with an escape plan. We never used critical failures again.
David (Via Contact)
Our little cadre of of four were assaulting the keep of some villainous person or other, slaying Kobolds and soldiers with reckless abandon. As we were bludgeoning, setting fire to and/or stabbing the last of a small patrol that was sent our way, the last human opponent lowered his weapons and decided to try and bargain with our group.
"I'm only a mercenary, pay me more and I'll lead you to the treasury and be on my way."
As the resident snarky mage, I suggested we toast him. The Dwarf who's player and character stank of ale agreed heartily.
The Halfing however, suggested we do just what he had offered. "After all, a chance for more gold is never to be passed up," he said.
The Elf, as usual, said nothing.
After arguing for a moment, to my dismay we decided to take the mercenary up on his offer. Insisting that I be the last in the group to keep an eye on him we trudged onward. Through many doorways we went until at last we were at a large locked door, as we neared the door the mercenary quickly drew a hidden dagger and stabbed the Halfing that walked in front of him in the neck and turned to run, The dwarf and the Elf quickly giving chase.
So there I was, stuck with a bleeding halfling and a few healing draughts in my possesion, what was I to do? What else could I do? Acting quickly I knelt down and looked the dying Halfling in the face and said "See? I told you not to trust him"
A few moments later I was explaining to my group ( who had caught up and killed the mercenary) that despite my best efforts there was nothing to be done to help to poor little guy and we should carry on.
Also as a side note, the gentleman playing said Halfing got so angry he threw his drink on the floor and stormed out.
Gustavo (Via Contact)
A little bit of background, this was during my early college years, the DM is a huge pot head and I was playing AD&D 2nd edition.
My story involves the character introduction, which usually involves all the players gathering in a local bar, getting wasted and getting voluntary (or involuntary) in local problems that somehow end up being involved into something waaay larger. Sadly for my stereotypical bald oriental monk he didn't get introduced at the bar, instead he was introduced lying unconscious inside the crypt the other players where exploring.
My best friend was playing a wizard/thief and was the first on scene, but he was more interested in the room than the unconscious stranger on the floor. He triggered a trap and seals himself in the room, he then proceeded to disarm the trap and the room starts to flood. He panics and proceeds to use my still unconscious character as a battering ram on the stone door. He obviously fails miserable slips deeper into unconsciousness and starts to float face down in the water.
Eventually we got out of the predicament, the cleric treats my characters wounds and he regains consciousness. He wakes up, with a huge headache, a confused look in his face and a comically sized bump in head. He is confused and slightly amnesiac, he recognizes that the elves and humans are from the far westerly lands but he doesn't know where he is or why he is there. My best friend character explains him that some ruffians gave my character the beating of his lifetime and left him to die in this crypt. He obviously believed this completely honest stranger and decided to help them out on their completely mundane quest. Me, my best friend and the other players still laugh when anyone remembers this scene.
Oh man, its been around 8-9 years since I played that game and its still one of my fondest memories.
James (Via Contact)
My first D&D experience was pretty silly, really.
Back when I was a young'n, my dad would take me along to these big parties with lots of Bluegrass musicians from out of town so they could jam out. While he was downstairs on the main floor playing music, I would usually run upstairs to hang out with the homeowner's son, along with any other kids also brought along that evening by their parents.
So one time he was going to play Dungeons & Dragons with some other kids he knew and I got to watch. The game's reputation had reached me beforehand as one where the limit was your imagination, which kind of overwhelmed me thinking about it.
At any rate, there was an encounter that the party faced that I'll never forget. A giant centipede attacked the party as one does. One of the kids playing along was older than me was kind of hyperactive and embarrassing.
Once the group killed off the centipede, the crazy kid said "I want to rape the centipede!" My friend running the game didn't want to acknowledge that outburst, but this guy wouldn't let it go. So the dm allowed him to do so.
He rolled a D20 and got a one. The result? He took damage from the attempt and was incapacitated.
I never saw the game the same way again, for better and for worse.
Murph Murphy (Via Facebook)
My best D&D story is actually a Shadowrun game. I was a street shaman who was a runner and also had a punk/metal/magic band called Mana burn. In order to do magic, I had to air guitar in order for it to work. The best mission I ever did was to steal the guitar of Jimi Hendrix, as it was a power focus (a powerful magical artifact), as he was "awakened" before the collapse, but didn't know it.
The other D&D story was we had landed on an island. The DM described a thick jungle we would have to traverse and the dangers within. The wizard of the group told us to hold on. He cast "Fly" and then proceed to act like a F14, lobbing fireballs at the tribe of ogres he saw from the air, and simultaneously clearing a path through the jungle.
Russel (Via Contact)
I was a senior in college, in line at the testing center, when I think I see someone I used to play D&D with when I was younger. The line wraps around until we're standing next to each other and I look at him, cock my head, and ask "...Kaiba the Man-Slayer?" He looks back and says "Grublub?"
Spoon (Via Contact)
One of the most amusing DnD stories I've been a part of involved a game we we played through most of high school and into college. It was an AD&D Second edition campaign set in Forgotten Realms. At this point our party was in the low teens in level (which is actually pretty high as for as 2nd edition goes) and while the general party was generally pretty self serving, we ended up on the bad side of one of the canonical evil organizations in the setting the Zentarihm (and yes I've probably spelled it incorrectly).
Through our fights with them, disrupting their plans we come across a plot they had to assassinate the king of Cormyr (the lawful good equivalent of a kingdom). Tracking the assassians to the capital we engage them in a fight near the castle. My friend Scott playing a thief (he had several characters, and most did not last very long), gets the idea to warn the king about the situation. However his way of doing that is to use a ring of dimension door to telaport into the kings chambers, weapons drawn, and shouting "You're about to be assassinated!"
In hindsight not the best course of action. Needless to say we had to fight our way out of the city avoiding guards, paladins, and assassins. Not our party's proudest moment, but we did succeed in thwarting the assassination, and we did eventually clear up that whole mess with the king.