Welcome to Tales from the Table, where once a month we will share one 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. To see your own tale shared here, visit our submission guidelines page!
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, and 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!
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