Tales from the Table
Welcome to Tales from the Table, where we share some of our favorite encounters from the RPG tabletop. Tales range from hilarious first-hand accounts from the GM to harrowing tales of near escapes from the player’s perspective.
My Brother and the Faerie Dragon
Many years ago, I was DMing for a group of friends, as well as my brother who hadn’t been playing for long.
The party had survived a rather tough dungeon and were slogging to the nearest town down a particularly muddy trail. Along the way, they came across a faerie dragon relaxing near the path who noticed the approaching troop. For its amusement, the faerie dragon cast a Turn Mud to Rock spell, trapping one, or both, of each party member’s feet.
Although the dragon was very amused by this, he could see some of the trapped motley group were preparing for violence, while others were working their way free. So the dragon preemptively cast a Wall of Force in the shape of a dome over the party. Then he began to taunt the gang by rolling and prancing around on the top of the force barrier.
My agitated brother brought to bear his Wand of Wonder, and let loose with one of the charges. Rolling randomly on the table of varied effects, he got Fireball—which widened the eyes of all the players at the table. When the small pea of flame detonated against the Force Wall it filled the half-orb with roiling fire.
Since most everyone’s feet were trapped and they were in a confined space, everyone took full damage, including my brother. He then needed to roll a save for the wand, which failed miserably. This caused a catastrophic cascade of effects, unleashing the last twelve charges inside the dome.
As he made roll after roll, more mayhem ensued. The crew was joined in the dome by multiple Gusts of Wind, a Stinking Cloud, heavy rain, two mice, one elephant, 1200 butterflies, and shimmering motes of color. An Invisibility spell that covered the wand wielder, turned my brother invisible, which was probably for the best, because if he hadn’t died when trampled by the elephant, I’m pretty sure his companions would have killed him.
All told, three of the five-party members died, and it was the most entertaining day of the faerie dragon’s long life.
Worg, and his Apples
This tale comes from our very own, Daryen O’Dell, from the time that she accidentally made a goblin fall in love with her!
Our adventuring party had finally made it to a town after days of travel. The town was known for being run by a gangster and had some pretty shady people running things, but it was our rogue’s hometown so we weren’t all that worried. We stopped at a tavern, ordered drinks and food, and relaxed for the first time in days with a roof over our heads.
The waiter at this particular establishment was a goblin named Worg. He was a dreary and drab sort, and I (our party’s ranger) felt obliged to cheer him up. We tried our best to chat with him, but after asking him a lot of questions, all we could really get out of him was that he liked apples. Remembering a fruit stand we had wandered by on our way to the establishment, I excused myself to go by a couple apples, which I gave to Worg the next time he came by to fill our cups. He looked surprised, but took the apples and continued on with the night – seeming confused if not a bit happier.
We decided to do a job for the mob boss in town in order to clear the debt of a young woman we met in the square, and upon successfully completing that task, we returned to town and waited to deliver the goods to the mob boss, Big Pete. With nothing to do the whole day, I thought of the sad goblin and decided to pay him a visit. I purchased a bag of apples from the fruit stand and stopped by the tavern. Worg wasn’t working, but the bartender told me how to get to his house, so I stopped by with my delivery! Again, Worg did not seem to know how to react but I felt like I had at least brought him some positivity for the day and was thusly satisfied.
Travelling out of town to continue with our quest, our group put the events out of our mind. After a month of adventuring we found ourselves in need of returning to that town, as we got close to the main gate we ran into a companion of ours, a Gnomish man named Toxely, who was running out of the forest towards town. Our joy at the coincidence was quickly dampened by the roar of a hill giant Toxely had been scampering away from. We battled the giant as it approached but couldn’t seem to deter it – until a few well placed arrows flew from a tree above my head, pelting the giant until it seemed to grow irritated and lumbered back into the forest.
We turned to the tree, trying to get a look at our savior only to find Worg drop from the branches. Our shock was palpable as we looked at the dreary little goblin and asked him what he was doing out in the woods. “I was waiting for you” he mumbled, pulled a wrinkled apple from his pocket, handed it me, and then turned and made his way towards town.
I stood in stunned silence as the goblin retreated back to the main gates, my friends laughing and jesting about the exchange. We had to spend a few days in town taking care of business so we decided to check on our friend Ginny, the woman we helped get out of debt with the mob boss. We walked into the flower shop shop where she had found employment, only to find none other than Worg purchasing a boquet of flowers. Upon seeing us the goblin blushed fiercely and ran out the exit a flurry of petals settling behind him as the door slammed. Not sure how to react, we checked in on Ginny and left to attend to our other business – my friends again teasing me for my kindness to the goblin.
Finally, as we prepared to leave town yet again, Worg approached our group at the stables. He handed me the now slightly battered bouquet of flowers. I stammered a thank you and tried to explain that I was merely trying to befriend the goblin and had no romantic feelings for him. He took it like a champ, though he did point out that I had brought him a great many apples. My friends stood back, doing their best to hide their laughter at the predicament I had put myself in. I, on the other hand, glared at my friends and made a mental note to never try to befriend anyone through their favorite fruit ever again.
Danzo the Great
My players were introduced to an unusual character in one of the games that I ran, who went from being a fun NPC encounter to a crucial part of one of their campaign plots.
While visiting a tavern in an unknown town, they came across a gnomish man at a bar named Danzo – a fighter with an extremely short temper and abnormally high strength. No one could figure out exactly why he was so strong, he just said that he was a descendant of a legendary fighter and that he’s been that strong as long as he could remember. He was actually so tiny that he carried around a human-sized longsword on his back as a two-handed sword, and was accompanied by a human monk that followed him around and took care of him.
The players ran into this strange couple a few times after this, usually either by hearing Danzo yelling about something or stumbling upon him sleeping somewhere. Once they even had to team up and fight alongside them in an attack on a town, and my players really liked the strange fighting dynamic that Danzo brought to the table (he could do a lot of damage, but didn’t have any constitution and was always knocked unconscious fairly quickly).
Throughout the campaign, they kept finding immensely powerful items made by an ancient warlock long ago – these weren’t necessarily sought after as part of the campaign, but showed up in ‘side quests’ (for example, finding a chalice in someone’s old belongings that, when drunk from, provided the drinker with a protective enchantment for a short duration).
Eventually, they stumbled upon a temple belonging to the warlock and found etched images depicting the items; he had created one item for each school of magic and something was supposed to happen when all items were back together, so they started trying to look for them throughout their travels.
The one item they could never seem to find was the sword from the etchings – until one day, sitting around a fire, they started trying to guess where it might be and what kind of enchantment it could hold. They had searched everywhere on the map and couldn’t seem to find it… and “Evocation” was the last school of magic left. Suddenly, one of my players got a strange look on their face. “Evocation… isn’t divine strength or something included in Evocation?”
It came as a great surprise that their small gnomish friend did actually have a valid reason for being so strong, and they had accompanied the holder of this sword all the way around the continent without knowing!
A Tearful Farewell
My husband has been running a solo campaign for me for a few years now. It started as a way for us to practice our D&D skills when we were first learning but I quickly became attached to my character, the world, and the NPCs.
To ensure I wasn’t alone in the campaign he started me out with an NPC boyfriend. That way I wouldn’t be outmatched in every fight. However, after a year of playing I had collected around 4 NPCs that I insisted travel with me on our adventures, and a large network of NPCs that I considered friends. It got to the point that I wanted to keep almost every NPC I met with me and became a lot for him to manage (at one point I had 8 in my party, but that was much later and I didn’t get away with it for long).
Our party was gearing up to stop an evil dragon from coming back to our plane and wreaking havoc on the world. We had cities backing us, royals defending our cause, people knew us on sight in some towns, we were becoming legends.
At this point, my husband had plans to introduce some more NPCs who he intended to have a larger role in the story, so he decided to make some of my party members move on.
In-game we were sitting in a tavern, making plans to prevent the dragon from returning, while also trying to figure out how to put a stop to a war that had been started to distract from the brewing dragon trouble. My party at that point consisted of myself (elven ranger), my NPC boyfriend Iolos (elven fighter), Sam (human rogue), Grog (half-orc fighter), and Lady Breyln (Gnomish wizard).
Sam had been with us since practically the beginning of the campaign, he was orphaned and knew only that his father had been a great fighter. While we sat and planned a large man entered the bar with his traveling companion and that man was a spitting image of our Sam.
After talking to the man our party was shocked to realize that he was Sam’s father, not dead after all. He had returned home to find his wife dead and his son missing and though he searched for years he never found Sam, who had become adept at surviving unnoticed on the streets. Now he chanced upon his son in a random tavern on the way to step into a war we ourselves were hoping to stop.
I knew what was coming, after a year of gameplay (years, in-game) Sam was going to leave our party to travel with his long-lost father, but that didn’t stop tears from sliding down my cheeks as I bid Sam farewell – much to the embarrassment of myself and my character.
Needless to say, my husband did not expect that he would make me cry by taking away an NPC, and either did I! Though that didn’t stop him from sending Grog and Lady Breyln on their way not long after.
A Lesson in Interrogation
In the first D&D campaign I ever played I was a cleric of Pelor, my husband was a Rogue, and two of our other friends were a Ranger and Wizard. We were level 2 or 3 and starting to get confident in our roles, which were well suited for our actual personalities.
We figured out that the undead plaguing the town we were staying in, were under the control of a larger, much more threatening group. As we worked out way through a building we made short work of the dead creatures prowling around and found our way into a secret room. In that secret room was a man, standing in a circle, as though he was waiting patiently. Our rogue immediately disregarded the man, opting to start looting the bookshelves in the corner.
The man seemed to be kind, though tired and worn down by his imprisonment. He told us he was a celestial and went on to tell us how he became to be trapped here. It tugged at our heartstrings, but not wanting to be duped, I tested him by speaking the celestial language and when he responded in kind we decided to let him out.
As we scraped away the marking from the circle the air in the room seemed to shift, going cold as the man rose on demon wings – cackling as he flew to the exit. Before he left he turned to us, sweeping into a bow as he thanked us for our service, as we stood, dumbfounded, watching the demon we let free set out into the world to do gods knows what.
The rogue turned from the shelves, arms laden with stolen items, as the demon flew out. “Guys?! What did you do?!”
4 Little Monkeys… and a Giant Skeleton
-Hylla, Cleric of Pelor
We decide, much to my displeasure, to go back to the cavern where the giant skeleton was waiting. We come up with a game plan and decide that Leoric is going to cast some protective spells on me, the group will distract it, and I will dive out and try to turn it. Aristral (our ranger), starts by shooting an arrow that I cast the light spell on into the cavern as a preliminary distraction, and for good measure, our wizard, Leoric, casts a celestial monkey toward the giant as well.
The monkey lets out a shriek and then, with a thud, the cavern falls into silence. A heavy feeling settles into my stomach and I gulp nervously as Leoric summons another monkey – this time on the skeleton’s back – and as soon as it realized where it is the monkey starts to panic. Ari starts shooting flaming arrows at the skeleton as well. I mess up my turning spell, all the pressure and chaos distracting me from my connection with Pelor. Thankfully, the skeleton is distracted by the flaming arrows and monkey panicking on his back.
Leoric casts yet another monkey, this one landing on the colossal leg of the skeleton, though it is just as terrified as its brethren, and with another splat, it disappears. Thankfully, Leoric follows it up with a fourth monkey as the giant skeleton turns on us. I attempt to turn the creature again to no avail, has Pelor’s light left me?
I run for cover as Aru summons an octopus on the monster’s head. I start to wonder where our Rogue, Steve, has disappeared to, but my guess is he’s off trying to steal the dead Gnome’s armor. In my distraction, I lose focus and the giant’s club hits me, rocking me to the core. I feel the familiar touch of Caribor, Leoric’s raven, transferring a spell of some sort. Finally, I feel Pelor’s light fill me and I am able to turn the monster just enough to send it running to the other end of the cavern, near the entrance to the tunnel.
I take a moment to heal myself, and we take stock – we will most likely have to engage the skeleton in combat rather than throwing celestial creatures at it all day. To my surprise, Leoric suddenly floats up and propels himself across the ceiling of the cavern, landing softly next to Steve who is standing near a few corpses – I guess he wasn’t looting after all!
With a yell, Ari strikes at the still cowering skeleton with her sword, I follow closely behind with my mace, Leoric unleashes his fire spell, and Steve strikes with the strange new sword he acquired – which seems to do a lot of damage to the beast. We lash out again and I can’t help but admire our teamwork as we strike out at the skeleton until its legs start to buckle and it comes crumbling down around us.
A collective sigh of relief ripples through the group and we take some time to catch our breath and examine the items we fought so hard to retrieve. With that done we pack up and are feeling much better about ourselves until Aristral and Leoric catch sight of the 2 wraiths that we sent away yesterday… I feel a break will not come to us for a very long time.
A Comedy of Editions
My husband created a campaign for 3.5 Edition Dungeons and Dragons that he was very proud of, he wanted to flesh out the campaign and make sure it could be played by seasoned players and newcomers alike, so we started playtesting it with our friends. One of our friends we played with was fairly new to D&D and had only had experience with 5th edition, so we showed him the ropes for 3.5 and started the campaign. He started as a ranger and I was a rogue but we quickly learned that he was a certified murder hobo(TM).
After playing through and workout out some confusing bits in the story-and our friend almost getting us killed by asking a mob boss in broad daylight where they get the drugs they are selling on the streets and telling them where we were staying in town- we decided to start over. This time we would start in a new area, with new characters. I chose to be an elven ranger (my personal favorite) and he switched gears entirely by choosing a half-orc druid with a baby polar bear as an animal companion.
My husband, now knowing that our friend tended to make ridiculous choices in character, was fairly lenient in the beginning and gave us lots of chances to figure things out or undo potentially grave mistakes – that was, until, our friend decided to ransack a goblin camp with a barbarian NPC he had befriended (and was trying to seduce). After “taking care” of the goblins who had been minding their own business, we looked over the loot. He claimed a staff, and as the barbarian woman and I were out hunting the next morning he decided to test it out – finding it to be an ice staff.
Excited, he started shooting the staff at everything in the room, firing it off Terminator-style, whilst pretending it was an air guitar, the whole nine yards. He was having the time of his life. Behind the screen, my husband was rolling his dice quietly, occasionally checking to see if he was still firing off the staff. Finally, with a glimmer in his eye, my husband declared that the staff was empty.
Our friend shrugged, “I’ll just try again tomorrow,” he stated, unbothered.
“No, it’s empty, you used all the charges,” my husband explained, starting to laugh.
It was here that we all learned a vital change made to the 5th edition rules. Apparently, in 5e, characters are allowed to roll to see if the magical items will ‘re-generate their magic, or wait a specific amount of time for the item to recharge – however in 3.5 that’s not always the case! Some magic items have a set amount of charges, and once they’re done – they’re done.
At this point in the explanation I had almost fallen out of my chair laughing, our friend was screaming “NNNNOOOOOOO!!!!” and banging the table, and my husband was struggling to explain through laughter.
Needless to say, we all learned a lot that day!