This might hurt a little at first, but once you get used to it, it’s going to feel soooo good.
Nothing in this world tastes as sweet as being Right. I need to get the words, “I know, right?” tattooed across my chest so when new players congratulate me on hosting them through a dungeon smashing success, I can just tear off my shirt and give my broad pectoral muscles the double-thumbs for emphasis.
Open D&D night at the game shop again this past weekend found me with two players who have already drunk deep of the ambrosia of my particular OSR stylings and become like unto gaming gods. Which was nice, because they have already turned to the manly side, and now they can help me rope players of girl-D&D (read: 3 Edition or later) into taking a shot at playing big boy D&D for a night. These players had previously cleared out the wet, earthen-walled and critter infested reaches of one corner of the first level of the dungeon in which my campaign is run. It’s called “The Dungeon” with an emphasis on that first word because it’s a singular location in The Campaign World. If you want adventure, that’s where you go. If you want to adventure somewhere else, then your characters can wander over to those other sissified D&D tables in the game shop.
As usual, a couple of likely suckers were stood up by their own DM, so they agreed to provide support for my two main dudebros – running a thief and a magic-user. The fresh meat sat down at the table and looked askance at the 4×6 index cards, but figured they could play one night as NPCs, to which me and my regulars hooted at them and slapped our chests. “Those are your characters, bros! If you want NPCs, you gotta got the CHA to bring ‘em. Now sling those 3d6 in order and let’s get spelunking.”
Their giant adams’ apples bobbed like a gal on a date with Ted Kennedy, but no gaming is better than bad gaming, right? One would have made a great thief, but the party had one, so we wound up with two tanks and a cleric, who brought two more NPCs along for the ride, a torchbearer/sack holder and a spear carrier. TPK, party of nine? We have a table ready for you!
The peach fuzz brothers needed a little help getting the feel of the new style of play, but my regular homies (who, it should be pointed out were just like the new guys a few months ago, but have since blossomed into seasoned explorers and survivors under the tender ministrations of Ye Olde Alt-Right DMe,) pulled back on their reins and showed them the ropes.
The dank caves of giant critters were still largely empty. The point guard heard a big bastard snuffling about and they took an alternate route around (what they don’t know was a pair of owlbears*) to get into the goblin caves. They actually found a new entrance to The Dungeon that the goblins use to get in and out, and which they use to take their big dogs for a walk. After marking the location of the new entance to The Dungeon, they went back and blundered into the goblin kennel which sparked one hell of a loud ruckus. The players took too long and had no noise discipline, so the goblins were able to circle around and cut off their known path of retreat. Once the tanks and spear carrier went down, they beat a hasty retreat down an unmapped tunnel.
Pursued by the goblin horde down uncharted stone halls, they found themselves trapped inside a many columned temple complete with a bloated, headless, female stone carving that stood more than twenty feet tall on the far side of a deep chasm whose bottom was filled with the dim red glow and choking fumes of crimson lava. The sooty, dark stoned carving was unadorned save for her had nipples, which consisted of perfectly round, multi-faceted rubies the size of your eyeball.
Well, almost all of them were trapped. The thief, on seeing the red glow up ahead ducked into a side corridor. The torch bearer (promoted to PC with the death of the cleric), seeing this, dropped his torch at the intersection and joined the thief in hiding and in hoping the lit torch was confuse the goblins’ dark vision.
It did. They fled The Dungeon, pursued only by the dying screams of their former allies.
We had an hour left in the evening, and every man jack at that table wanted to rub their dirty mitts all over that statue’s rosy red nipples. The thief and torchbearer knew a back way into The Dungeon. They knew a direct path to a fabulous treasure. They just needed a few more bits of fodder for the cannon.
Ten minutes to roll up new characters. Five to whip up a kid who could carry a torch (it made sense for the stats) and his grandpappy the oldest flail in the west (high WIS, low CON), and this time they wasted no time. Ten minutes to slink through the halls, slowed only by a brief need to distract a wandering goblin patrol dealt with through a clever use of the “useless” spell ventriloquism. That put them in the temple where the thief was able to climb those walls, flick them tiddies, and make it back to the party without incident.
They had time to scout out a few more halls on the way out of the door, and they escaped with a king’s ransom. The good news was, they located the main hall of the goblins. That was due to the gobbo’s own lack of noise discipline as they celebrated their recent victory over the pale giant interlopers. (“Pass me a man-thigh, Sark!”) The better news was, the main hall has a wide balcony around it, which could make for a great ambush location. The best news was, the goblin king’s throne consisted of a stone chest for a seat with a kite shield propped up behind it for a backrest. Clearly a trophy of some sort, one of the new fighters wants to get a hold of it and find out if it is magic. (Spoiler: It is! It’s got an extra +2 AC against missile attacks only.)
They made it out, back to town and all levelled up with fifteen minutes before the fat bastard that runs the local shop ran us out of there. So now they have a full party of second level characters, except for that third level theif – look out, here comes the Cook! Thanks to paying out a tidy bonus, they also have two very reliable henchlings up for a run against the goblin tribe. If only they had more time. Just like with the ladies, the Alt-Right DM knows you should always leave them wanting more.
Their minds were filled with strange new thoughts – do they hit the goblins now? Or track down the big shuffling things? Or maybe they should use the main entrance and break the seal on the obvious tomb doors? Oh, what a strange feeling to master your own destiny! What new delights to be allowed to roam freely and seek out adventure on your own terms!
But really, the best part of the whole night was watching those three guys enter the game shop as boys and leave as men. They seemed to have grown two inches in the three hours we played, and their hunch-shouldered gait had disappeared to be replaced by the swagger heroes of the realm untroubled even by the strange new feeling of brass tackle dangling between their meaty thighs.
*They don’t know the mild-mannered Clark Kentish DM they play under is secretly God’s gift to RPGs, so I ain’t ‘fraid of no spoilers. It’s also one of the reasons why I don’t use real names here. Don’t want the players googling up this site and ruining the fun of exploration.