Valor Under Fire

No, not the paladin–the GM.

He had an encounter all planned out. It was a good encounter! There were drow warriors and blade spiders and all the trimmings and they marched up to the castle and demanded to know where Drow-Bob was and what we had done with him.

…it got a little out of hand, after that. About the point where we started comparing the sort of salt we sowed fields with, say. “Dried from the tears of mind-flayers.” “Oooh, nice. Mine’s kosher.”

The exact sequence of events that led to us trying to take the enemy to the brothel is, perhaps, best left to the ages. Then we convinced them to come with us to find Drow-Bob, so that they could see he was happy and hadn’t been brainwashed. Drow-Bob was, theoretically, at the Temple of the Weasel, so a group of drow riding spiders and the party on horseback marched through town to the temple, only to find a note that said “Gone Crusadin'” and a couple of interns saying “They went thattaway.”

By this point, the party was becoming annoyed. Nobody drafts OUR butler! The drow were becoming annoyed. Where was their cousin? And the GM was becoming annoyed because he’d already made the map for the clearing we were supposed to have the encounter in, but he didn’t have one for the town or the temple and how had things gotten so horribly out of control, anyway?

We rode off toward Lowerton, the town that everyone had gone off to.

GM: You see flames. The town is on fire.

PALADIN: What, all of it?

GM: Yes.

DRUID: Now what?

GM: I don’t know. I just set the town on fire and now I’m not sure what to do with it.

PALADIN: Oh, don’t worry, happens to Rooster all the time…

From questioning some of the not-quite-dead bodies, we determined that our drow were Group A, and Group B had happened to the town, and made off with our butler.

PALADIN: Damnit! Where’s the Lord Marshall? Who’s in charge here?!

DYING KNIGHT: I…think…you are….sir…

PALADIN: …well, shit.

PARTY: (laughs and points)

DROW: (roast marshmallows over the flames.)

PALADIN: (takes deep breath) All right, then. Wilhelmina! Take a deck of cards off the thief and start doing triage. Spades for the dead, hearts if they can be saved, diamonds if they’re walking.

WILHELMINA: (the gnome healer) I don’t think I’m gonna need many diamonds…

PALADIN: Ceri! (that’s the thief) Ride back to town on the double, go to the co-op, tell them to send emergency supplies on the Weasel’s tab. Then go to the temple, tell them to get their asses out here immediately, we have an emergency, and if that idiot at the door gives you any trouble, tell him I am the Acting Lord Marshall and I will bust his ass back down to private if he isn’t here within the hour!

CERI: Aye, aye, sir! At once!

PALADIN: Rush! You’re a druid! How good is your weather magic?

RUSH: Uh…I was gonna go after Drow-Bob.

PALADIN: We have a situation here, Rush! The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, blah blah, somebody dies, very touching, we all cry. Now make me a rainstorm!

GM: (laughs hysterically for awhile)

RUSH: I’m going to be useless after this, you realize.

PALADIN: I will personally carry you home if I have to.

RUSH: …very well.

(Rush’s player gets mad props here, by the way, for a very nice bit of improvised ritual, and the GM gets props for letting him do it. The end target number wound up being 150, and by pretty much burning every healing surge he had and converting it into magic, plus a couple donated by the healer, he hit 158.)

RUSH: *faints*

PALADIN: *catches Rush*

RUSH’S PLAYER: Are you sure you wanna stand next to him? There’s lightning and…

PALADIN’S PLAYER: Rooster asked him to do it, Rooster stands next to him.

GM: It rains. It puts out the fire. The town is more or less saved. It’s flooding a bit now. There are people hiding in basements.

PALADIN: Rush, I’m putting you up for a medal. Hang on, wait, I’m in charge! Rush! You get a medal!

RUSH’S PLAYER: *sighs*

PALADIN: *carries druid to infirmary* Okay! You two, start pulling people out of the basements.


RANGER: The gnoll is harmless, This is not an invasion. You can trust me, I’m a…well-dressed lizard woman…

GM: Oh yeah, they’re real calm now.

DRUID’S SPIRIT GUIDE: *appears in the form of an owl*

WILHELMINA: Do you have a significant other?

PARTY: ….did you just try to chat up a magic owl?

WILHELMINA: I’m building an ark. For the flood. We need two of every….Oh, never mind…

SPIRIT GUIDE: I have to take the druid back. He needs to be restored by the primal spirits. That was a powerful magic.

PALADIN: I do an Insight check on the magic owl.

GM: Magic owl’s tellin’ the truth.

PALADIN: All right. You can take him, but if you don’t bring him back, I’m gonna dedicate my life to hunting you down, and I’m a half-elf so that’s a really long time.

SPIRIT GUIDE: I, too, am granted a long life.

PALADIN: Then think of all the fun we’ll have.


PALADIN: I’d bring him back if I were you. *hands over the druid* Don’t suppose you have any extra healers around, do you?

SPIRIT GUIDE: No. And I must go. We’re getting the band back together.

PARTY (suddenly remembering Ancient Gil) Ohhhhh….

PALADIN: All right, I’ve got three laying on of hands left, who’s next?

CERI: *returns from town with the cavalry in tow*

GM: Funny thing, but when you passed the Thieves’ Guild, there was a note on the wall in thief-sign that said “Not here. Getting the band back together.”

CERI: Ohhhh….

GM: You’re exhausted. You’ve mostly saved the town, but now Drow-Bob’s captors have a three-hour head start. Your drow are getting bored.

PALADIN: Okay, where’s the damn hippie from the co-op?*

DAMN HIPPIE FROM THE CO-OP: Hey, man…we brought organic healing potions, man…

PALADIN: I want organic stimulants. I don’t know. Something with goldenseal in it.

DAMN HIPPIE FROM THE CO-OP: These are all natural. They might have some side-effects, though. Some users have, like, reported hallucinations, man…

PALADIN: Don’t care.

DAMN HIPPIE FROM THE CO-OP: And they’re locally sourced and–

PALADIN: I don’t care if they fell out of Vecna’s asshole, give me the goddamn pills!

PALADIN: *hands out pills to party* Here. They’re organic or something.

WILHELMINA: I’m gonna wait to take mine, so that the hallucinations are staggered a bit.

GM: Picky, picky…

PALADIN: Okay, who’s the highest ranking person from the temple here?

GM: It’s the cook.

PALADIN: Good enough. I draw my sword and give him a battlefield promotion. Arise, Sir Cook. You’re in charge. We’re going after our butler.

COOK: Goddamnit. Fine! I want three hundred gallons of boiling water! We’ve got people to feed!

GM: He wanders off, yelling orders.

PALADIN: When the Lord Marshall comes back from crusade, we are having words. This town was shamefully underdefended. I want homing pigeons in every outlying community so they can call for help at a moment’s notice.


GM: Jesus, I’m a little scared what happens when you put Rooster in charge.

PALADIN’S PLAYER: I can only role-play a competent adult, alas.

GM: We’ll take you to Magfest, have you role-play a competent member of security.

RUSH’S PLAYER: I approve this plan.

PALADIN’S PLAYER: No. Unless I get a big sword.

RUSH’S PLAYER: You can’t hit people with it.

PALADIN’S PLAYER: No deal, then. Fizzgig, follow Drow-Bob’s scent! We ride!

GM: *begins whistling the Lone Ranger theme*


Somewhat later:

GM: Man, I should just not plan ANYTHING out….

PALADIN’S PLAYER: Yeah, but if we’d just killed the drow, it would’ve been over in two sessions. You got a burning town AND sending the druid off AND a crusade.

GM: I should just trust the players.

PALADIN’S PLAYER: Let’s not go nuts.



*The Adventurer’s Co-Op is a longstanding institution in our games.

5 thoughts on “Valor Under Fire

  1. Wolf Lahti says:

    I once joined a campaign that had been in progress for some time. All I knew about my character at that point, really, was that she was an Elven Ranger and lived in the nearby forest.

    The GM introduced the scenario: The party (on its way to somewhere) had been set upon by a pack of wolves and taken the expedient tactic of climbing a tree in the middle of a clearing. The GM told me, “You come to the edge of the clearing and see the party clinging for life in the lower branches of a not-too-sturdy tree, while ravening wolves leap and snap at any dangling body parts. What do you do?”

    Me: I stride boldly into the clearing and declaim in a loud voice, “What the hell are you people doing to my wolves?!”

  2. Darla says:

    I do so adore your descriptions of your gaming sessions. My old gaming group wasn’t nearly so creative, but boy oh boy did we drive the GM to distraction by doing things like setting the tavern on fire and going north, when we were meant to go into the tunnels UNDER the tavern and head south. I did so love to see Phillip grind his teeth in frustration…

  3. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    My first Role Playing experience was with the Giants/Drow series of modules. They amount of dangerous, not to say unbalanced magic available to the party in that series must be experienced to be believed. Add to that a not-too-experienced DM and you wind up with a Party capable of reacting to a random encounter with Demogorgon by sending in the two characters who needed the experience. Took all of two rounds.

    Fortunately my SECOND experience was with a rather better grade of DM and somewhat less Monty Haul.

    THAT was the campaign in which a Helm Of Brilliance FAILED its saving throw against a fireball. To this day there is a large section of that dungeon that is melted, and I suspect glows in the dark.


    I miss role playing.

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