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DM: As you guys may not recall, since it’s been a little while,… - The Dragon of Life [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
The Dragon of Life

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[Nov. 16th, 2011|05:19 pm]
The Dragon of Life
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DM: As you guys may not recall, since it’s been a little while, last time—
Damien: On Dragon Ball Z –
DM: You had been preparing the avatar competition. You had consulted with the many clans—
Tyrgol: Except for fucking Stormfist. Uh, Stormhand. Sorry.
DM: …would you like to sum up for the class?
Tyrgol: What?
DM: Would you like to sum up for the class?
Tyrgol: What are you talking about?
Alandris: You’re impinging on his—
Tyrgol: I’m not impinging on anything, I’m adding to his fucking conversation. Keep going. You douchebags.
DM: I forgot where I was.

The DM recalls eventually and reminds them that the Stonehearth clan had been having trouble with the harvest. The thane had gone up to check things out, but never returned or sent word.

Tyrgol: Dun dun dun!
Damien: Green Giant! Must be the evil Green Giant…

The group decides to… shop! The players generally fail to be functional human beings, consuming squishy peanuts and arguing over discipline names and laughing while drinking. Damien discovers “Fully-Loaded Baked Potato” chips.

Damien: Oh my god, I can taste the sour cream! And the butter. Oh it’s the bacon! I’m like that girl eating the seven-portion meal with gum. All those new flavors keep appearing. Uh-oh, I’m turning into a baked potato! …these are fucking good, man. These reminds me of those Taco Night Doritos.
Tyrgol: Those were disturbing.
Damien: You tasted everything! You tasted the lettuce, the sauce…
Tyrgol: I think it was the lettuce that threw me off.
DM: (to the Oompa-Loompa tune) What do you get when you chow down on chips? Playing a game with a bunch of other dips? What do you get when you cram them in your face? You realize you’re a. Dis. Grace. Duhduhduhduhduh the French people are ashamed of you.
Damien: W… what!?

The group continues to update their character sheets.

Tyrgol: CHEESE FOR EVERYBODY! No, oh wait, nope, I forgot some. NO CHEESE FOR ANYBODY!
Damien: Free hats!
Niobhe: Free beer?
DM: Freebird?
Niobhe: Free balling?

In the background, the electronic die begins spasming horribly as it speeds up, then slows down. The group savages the DM for that NPC in Hope’s Ascension that wouldn’t let them into the high-class noble tavern. Damien vows to kill him by stuffing platinum coins down his throat.

DM: It’s the one thing that can turn any PC to evil: Guff from an NPC.
Tyrgol: …yeahhh…
DM: “We are the courageous, heroic champions of right and justice!”
Damien: Ten minutes later the whole inn is dead. “AH HA HA HA!”
DM: “That’ll teach ya to backtalk me!”
Damien: You just see – paladin levels, 12. (makes a sinking noise)
DM: Blackguard levels –
DM and Damien: Ten.

The players vow to end-run the DM by taking off abruptly to go visit Eirien, in their quest to meet ONE of the players from the original Birthright game.

Alandris: It’s like the original Power Rangers. Where are they? Oh, they’re off negotiating an intergalactic peace treaty.
DM: You guys fuck around for a day, just to piss everybody off.
Alandris: Let’s go hunt the Doppelganger.
Tyrgol: That’s right, screw this madness.
Alandris: He could be any of us!
Tyrgol: God, I love chaos. …that’s right, I was supposed to be trying to go back to lawful.
DM: “Oh yeaaaaaaah.:”
Tyrgol: (mournfully) “We better do this right.”
DM: Because you realized you’d be denied dwarf heaven, where staircases ran with booze.
Tyrgol: “Welp, better change me ways!” An epiphany, right there.
Damien: He’d go up to heaven and he’d find a guy who just came from hell. “Take me back to hell! There’s oceans of booze! OCEANS OF BOOOOOOOZE! If only I stayed chaos!”
DM: You don’t go to hell for being chaotic!
Damien: Evil, evil. “Oh if only I’d stayed evil!”
DM: You go to elf heaven.
Damien: Which oddly enough is running with booze. It’s their hell and everyone else’s heaven.
Niobhe: It’s wine and elven mead.
DM: You see Tyrgol standing on a beach. “Ah, at last I’ve reached hell, and the ocean of booze I’ve heard so much about!” (making a dipping motion, followed by an expression of horror)
Alandris: “Light beer!”
DM: No, just like one giant demonic horse taking a piss to fill up the ocean.
Tyrgol: “I’ve had worse.”
Alandris: Or… “Alcohol-free! NOOOOOOOOO!” It’s an ocean of Zima!
DM: “Birch beer?!”
Niobhe: It’s ‘flavored malt-beverage.’

The group elects to proceed with the adventure while they continue to level up. They do, in fact, elect to follow the plot.

DM: The greatest trouble is coming in the southern province of Cliff’s Lament.
Tyrgol: Oh, you mean it’s like far away, it’s not right above ground…
DM: No! You can’t just walk up stairs to it!
Tyrgol: Well shit! What the fuck? Well now it’s different!
Alandris: Is there a way to cross the distance quickly?
DM: …who are you asking>
Alandris: Well, um. Would, um. …um… would… Tyrgol know?
Tyrgol: I’m sorry, what?
Alandris: Is there a way to get across the distance in subterranean fashion?

Discussing various methods of faster transport than hiking their sorry asses, they elect to go demand help from the thane. He grants them assistance and transport, but forces them back to the question of the avatar contest briefly. The group falls awkwardly silent, having completely forgotten their ideas.

Damien: “We must find the truest and most honorable dwarf!”
DM: “The finest dwarf in the land, aye?”
Damien: “We will seat each of them in a chair and before them will be the finest, most delicious beer. And atop that beer will be a baby. All they have to do is kill the baby to get the beer.”
Tyrgol: That’s terrible.
Damien: “We’re searching for charisma here, we gotta make sure it’s a good, loyal person who cannot be fooled by delicious beer. This is not the brightest idea I’ve had in a while… Did I say that out loud, oops?”
DM: “I’ll pretend he’s not with you.”
Damien: I’M BORED AGAIN!
Tyrgol: “Damien sleep now!” You’ve become the Iglar of this story.
Damien: That wasn’t supposed to be out loud.
DM: He says, quickly backpedaling.
Tyrgol: “Send out letters, pigeons, criers, the whole lot. Send the bill to Hendlar.”
Alandris: “Billboards. Dwarven billboards.”
DM: “What kind of dwarf reads dwarven billboards?”
Damien: “The humans call them signs.”
Alandris: Food, Gas, next right. “Gas stations and cheaply prepared food as far as the eye can see! My god… it’ll be wonderful.”
Damien: No one’ll pick up your highway idea when they can ride the Red Car-
Alandris: For a nickel! And yes of course my first step in buying the Red Car was to dismantle it.
DM: Welp, I gotta change this campaign’s direction now that you figured it out. Onto a ship.
Niobhe: Nooooo!
Damien: We instantly appear on boat, too. “All right, go onto the caravan. We’re six months out, got three months left on the trip. NOOOOOOOOOO!”
DM: A cast of characters introduces themselves to you. Roleplay. “Oh god dammit, roleplaying, fuck!”
Damien: It can only last so long.
DM: “I should be rolling a d20 right now!”

The thane assures them that he will see to things in their absence, and even offers them mounts. The group has the rest of the day to themselves, and does nothing with it; the next morning they go up to try to see the Stormhand thane again.

DM: You return to the clan hall. The guard is out there once again, although this time it’s a different guard. His beard is a steely grey, his thews mighty, though as he looks at you it becomes clear that he has but one eye. “What can I do for you?”
Damien: One eye, one tooth, and half a tongue.
Alandris: Butt-eyes.
Tyrgol: “Greetings, fellow dwarf. I’ve come to see your thane on important matters.”
DM: “Why.”
Tyrgol: “Because I was asked to?”
DM: “By whom.”
Tyrgol: “By our lord and master, Moradin.”
Alandris: Stone dragon?
Niobhe: “I am the great STONE dragon!”
Alandris: “And his sidekick… STEELGUARD?!?”
Tyrgol: “And our lord and Overthane Hendlar, I assume his brother would want to know something.”
DM: “I see. Coming, claiming it involves Moradin, and seeking out the thane of the Stormhand… don’t tell me you’re a ‘believer’.”
Tyrgol: “I believe in Moradin, that’s enough.”
DM: “And? This wouldn’t be some fancy schmancy trick to try to get in good with the man you think is the new reincarnation of Moradin?”
Tyrgol: “I’m tryin’ ta talk with Galuf, not Hendlar!”
DM: “Aye, and since ya couldn’t get ta Hendlar with yer… crappy, crappy lies, this would be the next best way, wouldn’t it? Well I’ve got news for you, Mister Dwarf—“
Damien: Wait, you’ve got ‘yews’ for us?
DM: What?
Tyrgol: He slurred his word, shut up.
DM: “I’ve got nnnnnnNNNNNNNNNNNNEWWWWWS! For you, Mister Dwarf. Whatever the common dwarf might think, Hendlar is a dwarf like you or I.”
Tyrgol: “I agree.”
DM: “THEN WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THIS WHOLE CHARADE?!”
Tyrgol: “I need to talk with your thane.”
DM: “FOR WHAT PURPOSE?! Some… divine quest? But yet you don’t believe that Hendlar is the reincarnation!”
Tyrgol: “But I believe in Moradin and that’s what it’s divinely about.”
DM: “Why would you be comin’ here, then?”
Tyrgol: “Because it involves all the thanes! I’ve been talking with ‘em all, and yer brother has yet ta talk with me! The only two I have yet to talk to are the Stonebeard and your thane! This involves the entire dwarven kingdom!”
DM: “Well then, let me see if the thane is willing to give you an appointment!”

A pause.

Tyrgol: Is he still standing there? “No! He isn’t!”

The guard sends a page off. With nothing better to do, Tyrgol drinks, then spots the guard looking longingly at the mug. The page returns.

DM: The dwarf glares at you from under his bushy eyebrows. “Well, it seems you already had an appointment. Which would’ve been good to know to start.”

Tyrgol at last gets in to see the thane, Galuf! He apologizes for the whole mess, though Galuf seems unmoved.

DM: “I’ve heard ye had a bit of an altercation outside. I’m glad to see that no one was choked to sleep.”
Tyrgol: “My reputation precedes me, apparently.”
DM: “Aye, I know a guard or two who knows a guard or two who knows your drinking establishment.”
Damien: Whenever he leaves, he leaves people sleeping. He comes out of the bar, there’s like 20 people sprawled all over the place.
Tyrgol: “If it’s any condolence, I do not start the fights? I end them.”
DM: “Ah, that’s what everybody says.”

The thane demands to know why Hendlar is not automatically chosen. Tyrgol rolls Diplomacy to convince him of Moradin’s will, cursing his negative Charisma modifier. His 17 is enough to get the thane calmer and thoughtful. They leave at least on speaking terms with the thane.

Tyrgol: Next morning the priest I gave that mug of ale from dwarven heaven has hanged himself. “Everything else just seems like a letdown.”

The night passes uneventfully, and the characters are pampered before being taken to their mounts. Horses for everyone but Tyrgol, who has a mighty saddled riding boar. Tyrgol realizes he has one point in Ride and rejoices. The group is generally pleased with this nice callback to Hendlar and the Pony. The harnesses all have built-in garrotes, as well.

Tyrgol: Hendlar got really paranoid… “There’s a possibility I might ride any of these!”
DM: “Never again,” Hendlar vowed. “Never again shall any horse be crippled by their inability to strangle their mount.”
Tyrgol: Oh yes, that’s right. Hendlar had a Wisdom of 8.

For no reason, the talk turns to the brief Exalted campaign, which in turn goes to why spells aren’t useful at the levels you get them at, which turns back to oily Pringles men… which leads to He-Man, which leads to the sexual connotations of ‘Man-at-Arms’. Look, I just transcribe it, I don’t pretend to understand it. Tyrgol finds a picture of an Oily Pringles Man on the back of a sheet.

Alandris: I need to remember to get you to describe our foes more often. “What does it look like? No no, tell me more.” Until I can wring something amusing out of you. I didn’t have to that time. You’re just all, “they’re shirtless… and well-oiled.”
DM: “Greased-up thugs” I believe is how I described them.
Alandris: “Greased-up, why are they greased?! Do they have mustaches?” Wheeee!
Damien: That whole event was just hilarious. We teleport down there and they’re like, “Hey! Oh wait, that’s Barack, we probably shouldn’t kill him. He makes us money.”

The group happily revisits the story of the many attempts on Barack’s life. The party travels south, telling tales of attacks and desolation.

Damien: Tax?
DM: Attacks. (chuckling) They bear rumors of… a tax!
Damien: Damn those taxes!
Alandris: We flee these taxes!
Damien: And there’s like a tax collector coming after them. “Give me your money!”
Tyrgol: “You cannot escape death OR taxation!”

The tales are of the aboveground fields being assaulted by dwarves, monsters, and even the undead! Even the army was slain by the forces!

Damien: “But you made it out, sir!” “Yes, yes I did.” An axe flies up -- (making a motion of decapitation with his hand) “Aww, he was so close! If only we had not stopped him!”
DM: He had three feet to go till safety.
Damien: “I’m only two feet from retirement!”

The party continues onwards before becoming weary… then the players spend five minutes or so complaining that they didn’t stop in town and rest an hour ago.

Alandris: This line of thought will get us nowhere. I’m already pitching a tent.
All: (immature snickering)
Alandris: And by that I mean getting ready to go to sleep!
Damien: He’s like looking at porn. “Ah ha, the tent is ready!”
DM: “That’s a stout tentpole you’re supporting that canvas with.”

Alandris challenges the DM to draw the battle map. The DM tells them the outpost they were seeking appears to have vanished, as if the tunnel itself was scoured completely clean and smooth. The DM calls for a Spellcraft roll from Alandris, which he rolls a natural 20 on.

DM: You hold up some light source or another to the walls –
Alandris: Well first I cast continual flame
Tyrgol: Some sort of light source… aaah, whatever!
Alandris: I cast light.
Tyrgol: Cast fucking light, I don’t care.
DM: Looking over the sign, you believe this stone shows indications of being on the very outermost fringes of a disintegrate spell.
Alandris: (raspy) “This isn’t good.” I mean… that’s not elven. “This isn’t good!”

Irritated, Alandris begins considering a new voice to replace the one he’d forgotten, briefly settling on Bugs Bunny. As they settle down, Alandris casts illumination spells to light their camp, and watch roles are distributed.

DM: All right, who had the last watch?
Damien: Why did you ASK that question, we just discussed it! And he said ‘we had the last watch’.
DM: Because you were confusing. I want you to roll a Listen check.
Tyrgol: Now a spot check. Now an arcane knowledge check. Now a bladder check.
Alandris: A bladder check?!
Tyrgol: Are you full? Do you need to pee? No? Good. Now I want you to do this.
Damien: Check your colon, do you need to poo?
Alandris: 23.
DM: Roll a Spot check.
Alandris: Not good enough, eh? I can… see the fires I lit before.
DM: All right, now let me see your character sheet real quick.
Damien: Oh no! Oh NO! (making tearing motions)
Tyrgol: He’s not going to tear it oh my god he just did.
Alandris: “Well guys…”
DM: This can’t be your complete inventory! That’s okay, I’ll just pick from the items on here.
Damien: Somebody’s stealing an item from him.
DM: All right, here you go!
Alandris: You didn’t have time to erase anything.

A very long pause.

Alandris: Did you?
Tyrgol: (whispering) Look at your inventory.
Alandris: What did he erase – oh.
Damien: I don’t think he knows what’s on his person, he wouldn’t miss anything. Are we playing Ultima Online rules, can you steal the chestplate right off a person?
DM: If your Sleight of Hand is high enough… As the continual flames burn, the tired amongst you slowly wake up.
Damien: Paranoia in our hearts!
DM: All of you roll a Spot check as you look at Alandris for the first time.
Damien: He’s not wearing pants!
DM: None of you think you notice anything different about your comrade.
Damien: (whimpering) What kind of check do we need…
Alandris: Apparently, a natural 20 Listen, a 43, was not enough to hear what was being stolen off my person.
Niobhe: Alandris is now a doppelganger.
DM: The morning is yours, or at least you believe it to be morning. Tyrgol, this seems like a natural time to wake up to you so you call it morning.
Alandris: We’ve lost half the day.
Damien: We go into town.
Tyrgol: We go into the CITY!
Damien: We see a bunch of orogs, in disguise there. “We’re dwarves. Everything is okay here.”
DM: “We are dwarves. Aye aye aye.”
Tyrgol: “It hurts ta look up at ya?”
DM: “We’re all on stilts. Aye aye aye.”
Tyrgol: (plunges a knife into the orog’s legs)
DM: “Ow! My stilts!”
Alandris: How do I feel?
DM: Well-rested. You got a full night’s sleep and are feeling hale, hearty, and prepared to cast as many spells as you possibly can.
Damien: Did someone steal your spellbook?
Alandris: I don’t have a spellbook.

Extremely long pause. Then everyone bursts into laughter.

Tyrgol: He probably didn’t do anything, he’s just making you paranoid. I would NOT put it past the DM to do that.
Damien: (hysterical whimpering) You asshole! What’re we gonna do to him? We’ll be here all day trying to figure out what he may have stolen!
DM: That’s right, despite the fact you have no reason to believe that anything was stolen!
Alandris: No reason – you made me roll a Listen and a Spot!
DM: Yes but you don’t KNOW you made those rolls in-character! You’re not sitting here like, “I didn’t hear anything, this is very suspicious! I didn’t see anything either, this is even more suspicious! I feel like a higher force was looking over my very being!”
Alandris: Subconsciously my character knows the world is out to get him.
Damien: It’s so hard to not be meta! The DM asks you to give him your character sheet, it means one of two things. Your character’s dead!
DM: Well, he doesn’t appear to be dead. Assuming that IS Alandris. The question of a doppelganger has been raised.
Damien: Oh my god, we’re going back to the other game. He’s a clone, better kill him to be sure!
Alandris: You all might as well roll for initiative and attack me now.
DM: You have no reason to believe –
Damien: Put him in your choke hold, if he can’t get your save, it’s him!
Tyrgol: Sad thing is, he’s the only one in this party I have a chance to do that to. I think the rest of you have really good Fortitude saves.

Tyrgol realizes he can combine his knock-out power with the choke-to-death power and is absolutely gleeful. The discussion veers hard into Shadowrun video games. Then the wolfman movie.

DM: WOLFMAN HATE TOUR BUSES!

The group concludes that the famous people associated with the movie were only in it because they lost their asses in million-dollar poker games with Tobey Maguire, and return to the game.

DM: Anyway, here you are in the tunnel with no in-character reason to be suspicious of Alandris, whatcha doin’?
Tyrgol: You incited this yourself, making us suspicious of Alandris. We’re gearing up and head out!
DM: Which way ya headin’?
Tyrgol: Towards the city.
DM: You’re not retreating like cowards.
Damien: That’s okay, we only lost…
Tyrgol: We only lost Alandris. Might as well keep going!
DM: You got a doppelganger that’s just as good. Or possibly a mimic. A very skilled mimic.
Damien: A mimic?! Did he write down the mimic’s stats on his sheet?!
DM: “CR 3, aww god dammit.” “Alandris, cast a spell!” “Uh… Ah! Throw rock spell!”
Alandris: That’s a terrible mimic.

The tunnel grows dark again as they continue. The group dicks around about getting light. Damien wisely notices that the group’s campaigns would take two months tops if they didn’t all dick around so much.

DM: You continue on through the dank deserted tunnels. There’s an odd breeze, just the faintest of things, but it rattles Tyrgol and his breeze detector, also known as a beard. There shouldn’t be a breeze in this tunnel! The fact that there is speaks ominously, for the wind is not coming from you but behind you. As you continue to travel, you see a light in the distance.

Unsurprisingly, the city is smoldering. Corpses are strewn about and all is chaos! Listen checks are rolled; Tyrgol attempts to hand his character sheet to the DM in anticipation of screwing-over. The group looks over the corpses, finding them riddled with crossbow bolts, or slain by massive blows, or even mysterious means! Niobhe sees a group of noncombatant dwarves that appeared to have been fighting against one lone dwarf. She also realizes none of them have had last rites administered. The group quickly canvasses the fallen city, looking for survivors, but find none. Tyrgol discovers kegs of brew left to drain dry and flips his lid.

DM: Listen checks.
Alandris: I refuse!
Niobhe: 27.
DM: That’s good enough. Under the crackle of flames in a moment of quiet, you hear a whispering in the dwarven tongue.
Niobhe: Where are they coming from?
DM: Inside the defecated church!
Damien: I say we break limbs and ask questions later.
Alandris: What spells can I cast now…
Tyrgol: Better be able to cast ‘em quick, ‘cuz I’m kicking these doors open, I’m pissed!
DM: You don’t need to kick these doors open, they’re lying off their hinges—
Tyrgol: I put them back up AND I KICK THEM DOWN AGAIN!
DM: You crush the poor dwarven baby that was hiding behind one.
Tyrgol: “YOUR OWN FAULT!”

Inside, they see the statues are defaced and crude graffiti scrawled over them. Tyrgol snickers at one remark and is smited. A dwarven figure on the altar is the source of the whispers, which prove to be a hoarse, ragged prayer.

DM: He seems still unaware of your presence as you touch him. You realize, looking down on him with this closer vision, that he is bound to the altar by chains. How long he’s been here you don’t know, but he looks weak and ragged. His beard is falling out in clumps, he’s scorched in other places, you can see his ribs through the folds of the robes thrown over him. Nails have been driven into his arms and legs, leaving him thoroughly pinned, crucified practically to the altar. He’s been left here to die, slowly and painfully.
Tyrgol: “NIOOOOBHE!”
Niobhe: I’m going to pry the nails out.
DM: I need you to roll a Heal check as you burst in despite not knowing any of this because Tyrgol went in quietly by himself.
Tyrgol: I yelled for her!
Niobhe: I got a 29.
DM: With the utmost care, you pry the nails out. It still causes him some pain and he cries out sharply as you remove them.
Niobhe: And then I’m going to cast Cure Moderate Wounds on him.
DM: Wasting heals on NPCs, hoo hoo ha ha ha! I mean… He shudders as the healing magic courses through him, restoring his body as well as much of his wits, and he finally opens his eyes. “Moradin be praised…”
Tyrgol: “You’re safe now. At least as safe as safe could be.”
Alandris: (muttering) “I don’t know how safe that is.”
Tyrgol: “Shut up-!”

Damien suggests they shelter here, but Tyrgol refuses to shelter in the poopy church. The priest wearily warns that no place is safe from the leader, a foul skeleton clad in ragged robes.

DM: “No place is safe, my children. Flee! Flee quickly! Also take me with you possibly!”

The priest cautions of the dwarven army and the mysterious beasts with them (chimeras).

DM: (pausing, then clearing his throat) Oh my god, this guy’s voice is hard on me.
Damien: “Can you tell us more?! Continue to talk! How ’bout you tell us the story of what happened? A good ten hour story!”
DM: You’re not getting any combat tonight if that’s how you’re going to be.
Damien: Listening to you suffer over your voice. You text me later, “I can’t talk at my job, thanks a lot asshole!” “You’re welcome.”

They send the priest to hole up in a housel, vowing they will return for him. They then turn to the question of searching the city for more survivors.

DM: If you wish to thoroughly search, you might be at it for a couple of days.
Tyrgol: All right. Shit.
DM: However, most of the buildings are obviously no longer suitable for habitation. You could easily write them off if you are willing to take the chance that there isn’t some dwarven child trapped under—
Tyrgol: God DAMN you, DM! Seriously!

Given how long has passed since the razing, the group assumes anyone else will be dead. The DM claims that the secret change to Alandris’s sheet is his gender. The group continues up the tunnel to the surface.

DM: Ahead of you, you see light. The great doors to the mountainside are clearly open.
Tyrgol: Forcibly or just open?
DM: You can’t tell yet.
Tyrgol: God damn it! This is important!
DM: As you get closer, however, you realize that it’s not just they’re open. They no longer seem to be there.
Alandris: They’ve been disintegrated as well?
DM: As you get close enough to examine then you realize that yes, they have. You’re looking on the outermost defenses, for the fields have been cut into a terrace. Right now, you’re in a mountain that rises almost straight up, a cliff face with great doors carved into it. The bridge that was supposed to provide defense looks odd as you peer at it. Roll a Spellcraft check. Anybody have Knowledge(architecture)?
Tyrgol: (scoffs)
Niobhe: (scoffs)
Damien: Is it a dojo?
DM: No.
Damien: Then I don’t know what it is.

Alandris believes magic is involved, but doesn’t know what or how. Tyrgol’s stonecunning realizes that the bridge no longer has supports; to defend the doors the bridges would have been collapsed, but despite this mechanism being collapsed the bridge still stands. The fields beyond have been wasted and supplies piled up in random-looking stacks. The group tests the bridge and finds it holds their weight at least long enough to reach the center staging platform – at which point COMBAT ERUPTS! Alandris fires up the Lord of the Rings theme as the DM draws the map. Dwarven crossbowman pop up from behind the stacks of supplies and whatnot. Given the distances involved, the group begins looking up the running rules. Niobhe cackles madly over her plans to cast Flame Strike. Tyrgol charges ahead at a full (dwarven) run while the crossbowman fire at the melee. Damien counters with a Leaping Flame maneuver that teleports him immediately next to the crossbowman; Tyrgol takes a hit and a crit for 23 total.

Damien: (randomly) Frickin’ Tyrgol made me listen to ten hours of ‘the hobbits are coming to Isen—the obits are –“ (dissolves into babbling)
Tyrgol: Wow, you can not get that out.
Niobhe: 40 points of damage, 20 of which is fire, the other 20 is holy.
DM: You invoke the spell on him and you see him fling himself to one side. He still takes 20 point of damage from your blast.
Tyrgol: Flings himself to one side, jumping over the cliff side.
Damien: “Ha ha! …Aaaaaaaaah!”
DM: Even as you cast, you watch as in front of you the earth begins to boil upwards. A massive half-torso rises up out of it, thirty-two feet in height at least!
Niobhe: KOLOGARN!?
DM: No, it isn’t even nearly so defined. This shambling mass of rock and stone reaches back to deliver a powerful punch to you.

The group grumbles about the appearance of this monster; Alandris declares Spot checks to be as useless as their Armor Class. The casters roll to determine that this is an earth elemental and has the power to meld with stone. Niobhe takes 57 points of damage from two punches, but saves against being knocked off the bridge by its feat. Alandris Sudden Empowers a sound lance, then realizes what the feat DOES.

DM: Roll your damage and then multiply by half again.
Damien: Was that easier to say than ‘divide by 2’?
DM: No, he’s getting 150%.
Damien: But if you multiply by half –
DM: Half again. The again is the key there.
Tyrgol: Times it by 1.5, all of you shut up.
DM: Divide it by three quarters!
Damien: But then you have to add the coefficient—
Alandris: I hate math class.

Alandris deals 73 damage to the elemental, which fails its save. Another elemental rises from the ground behind the two casters.

Niobhe: Oh god damn it!
Damien: Oh talk about screwing our casters!

The elemental deals two powerful blows to Alandris but neither connect due to his appallingly high AC. The players promise to raise their AC every time the DM asks what it is.

Damien: “What’s your armor class?” “Fifty-seven.”
Tyrgol: Baby steps, Damien, baby steps.
DM: Another bolt strikes you in the chest, punching through your… your… Wisdom armor, as it were, to gouge you.
Damien: He doesn’t HAVE Wisdom armor.
DM: You took levels in Swordsage, you have Wisdom armor!
Tyrgol: Do I? Yeah, yeah, I do.
DM: The second crossbow bolt slams into your stomach just an inch from where the first one hit. You can actually feel their heads collide and bounce off each other, causing even further damage. 22 points of damage.
Alandris: Crit! Are you dead?
Tyrgol: No.
Damien: They’ve only done a whopping 40 points of damage so far. I think Tyrgol has more hit points than me.
Tyrgol: At max… 149.
Damien: “Tyrgol! Go back to the casters, I’ve got these guys!”
Tyrgol: (irritated panting)

Damien uses Bonecrusher on the crossbowman he’s facing, who returns fire but misses repeatedly. Tyrgol uses his teleportation through stone to appear behind the rearmost elemental.

Tyrgol: And then MIGHTY THROW! Let’s see, melee touch attack, resolve as a trip—
DM: You HIT your melee touch attack. Unless you roll a 1 you cannot miss. Its touch AC is SEVEN.
Damien: Oh that’s right, it would have no agility—
DM: It’s THIRTY-TWO FUCKING FEET TALL!

The elemental’s superior strength wins the opposed roll, though. Another crossbowman shoots at Damien and misses. Niobhe casts Banishment on the elementals, dismissing the unharmed one, but Alandris takes 26 damage and Niobhe takes 21. The latter saves and is not hurled off the bridge… the former, not so save-y.

Alandris: Would that be enough to trigger my Divine Wraaaaaath?!
DM: You are knocked off the edge. However, the fury of this indignity triggers your Divine Wrath! You may cast a spell on the way down.
Damien: I would suggest, uh, Fly?
Alandris: I can’t fly.
DM: The ground is reaching up for you rapidly, eager to welcome you into its earthen embrace!
Damien: It’s time for a lot of RP, right there… “I was just casting sound lance on the ground,” thus lifting you up and softening the fall.
Tyrgol: As you ride a wave of rocks down.
DM: You’re under the power of Divine Wrath. You have a lot of story freedom. Make it awesome… make it Exalted something, and you’ll be okay.
Alandris: So I could Exalted-something that’d keep me from falling to my death?
DM: Falling, surviving, something.
Alandris: This is ridiculous…
DM: Go ahead! You’re under Divine Wrath! You have a magic get out of jail free card!
Alandris: Would it give me more than one spell?
DM: No!
Alandris: All right, here goes the Exalted-fu…
DM: Or should I start rolling the 12d6 now?
Alandris: Does a chain lightning come from my hands?
DM: Yes.
Alandris: Damn it. I’m going to send the bolt at this one, then arc it – the fresh one’s gone, isn’t it? Well then, than it than case I’ll have the other bolt hit the cliff face, knocking a piece of rock loose that is big enough so that I can fly up, jump off it, and catapult back up to the bridge! At least enough to get ahold of the bridge?
DM: All right, I need a Reflex saving throw.
Alandris: I’m not gonna make a 26…
DM: It’s not going to be a 26.

Alandris rolls. Natural 1.

DM: Oh no!
Niobhe: Shit!
Alandris: “Goodbyeeeeee!”
DM: You still got your chain lightning off, though. For the record, everyone heard me, I did not wish a 1 on him in any way, shape, or form.
Damien: I looked into his eyes and his eyes rolled a one! They went all slitted for a minute…
Tyrgol: The DM… doesn’t wish us ill ALL the time.
DM: On the other hand, look at what I just rolled for half of your falling damage. Go ahead, look at this.
Damien: Lot of ones – wow. Really?
DM: Six of your 12d6.
Alandris: How many of those did you tip over?
DM: None! That is what they all came out of my hand as!
Tyrgol: Hmm, the work of the divine… wrath.

Alandris deals 80 points of damage with the spell, dealing exactly the elemental’s remaining hit points in damage. He then takes 31 points of falling damage. On 12d6.

DM: Divine Wrath gutters out as you thud into the ground, leaving a you-shaped impression of yourself. Are you still in positive hit points?
Alandris: Yes. Barely.
DM: Ha ha ha ha ha ha, wow. It is amazing how far this whole setup backfired on me. I gotta give you guys credit.
Niobhe: Brofist!
Alandris: (brofists)
Damien: They’re over there cheering “Yay, yeah!” I’m over here trying to beat up the dwarves. They’re gonna get the rope out, get him up, “All right, what’re we gonna do now?” I’m gonna come back over, arrows, bolts everywhere. “What’s up, guys. How’s it going.”

Damien punches a dwarf with Elder Mountain Hammer for 55. Tyrgol, furiously and wearily recognizing that running all the way back to the elementals was a totally wasted trip, turns and angrily runs back towards the crossbowmen. Damien gets nicked for 5. Niobhe heals herself. Alandris… groans, while the baffled DM declares that his survival was the literal hand of God.

DM: If you hadn’t made all those stupid Reflex saving throws, this sure would’ve taken a different turn.
Damien: The RP would’ve been him landing on her. “Why didn’t I take as much damage?“ “I survived!” Thud. That happens on the first turn. We turn around. “Where did everybody go?!” The earth elementals all collapsed into the ground in the same turn.

Niobhe considers another Flame Strike against the dwarf. The DM snickers.

DM: Use up all those high-level spells on the lowly mooks, I love it!
Niobhe: Okay, well, I don’t have to, um…
DM: USE UP ALL THOSE HIGH-LEVEL SPELLS ON LOWLY MOOKS.
Alandris: And make a Listen check while you’re at it! (rolls a die) AH HA HA! NATURAL 20 AGAIN! I HEAR NOTHING!

Niobhe continues to ponder her actions. Alandris calls feebly for rope, so she elects to toss some down to him

DM: How are you going to brace it?
Niobhe: Uhhh…..
Alandris: Tyrgol, come back!
Tyrgol: “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”
Niobhe: I have a 14 Strength, if I tie it around my waist, and do like this –
Damien: (whimpering) Oh no!
Niobhe: I should be able to—
Damien: This is not going to end well!

Niobhe hauls Alandris up slowly. Damien gets shot, then beats the crap out of the dwarf in response. As Alandris continues to climb with Niobhe’s help. Tyrgol smashes through a barricade in a bull rush, bringing the dwarf to the very brink of the cliff… and to 0 hit points. Victory! The field is theirs, and so ends the game.
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