Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Magicians Birthday

Tales From the Table Top
Location: Dave and Kitty’s Kitchen
Game: D&D 3.5
Mission: Find our way out of here!
Players: Dave (Game Master), Kitty, Leona, Phil, Phil and Mike

I run the Bard.  Why do I run the Bard?  Because our party contains my teenage son and I don’t want to dominate the game with a powerful character.  What better character to emphasize support and team building?  So while everyone is buffing up for combat and initiative, I don’t worry about any of that.  Spells to enhance strength?  If I do get into combat, would a +2 on my Die 6 attack really matter, so why bother?  Initiative?  It doesn’t matter when my Bard songs buff up the party, they don’t take effect till the next round anyway.  I may be packing a Masterwork  +5 rapier, but it hasn’t drawn blood in months!

But there are moments.

There are 5 members in our party, two rangers, a cleric, a monk and my bard.  We’re standing at a door at the end of a corridor that was shrouded in ice.  A quick peek revealed a White Dragon taking his ease upon his hoard.  We shut the door and backed up to make plans.  Encountering the White Dragon was not a surprise.  The temperature had been dropping rapidly as we explored this area.  The final hundred or so feet was absolutely perilous with ice.

Coming back to the door, fully buffed with all sorts of flammables at hand, and we opened the door.  The Dragon slammed us with a cone of cold.  Our two rangers, all prepped with flaming arrows, started to pepper the Dragon, while our Monk, hands covered in fire wraps, stood firm holding a tower shield to mitigate the Dragon breath.  (And what turned out to be a supporting Magic Users spells!)  Our Cleric healed the front ranks in turn, and with each round, we were whittling the Dragon down.

The Dragon, or rather the DM, saw that this long range encounter was rapidly not going his way.  He went down his list of spells and found some kind of dimension door.  The next instant found the Monk looking straight into the Dragon’s maw.
I was amazed!  Other than the surprise, this was wonderful.  “Now wait a minute Dave, are you trying to tell me that the Dragon was losing so badly that the only way it could fix the problem was by teleporting the human buzz saw right next to it”, I asked.

“I just rolled a random PC, that’s all”, he replied.

After taking a chomp and a claw, the Monk proceeded to do what he does best.  He leaped over the Dragon so as to be shielded from the bow fire, and proceeded to lay on a couple sets of “Fury of Blows”, racking up about 150 points of damage on the critter.  Meanwhile the Rangers shifted their focus on to the Mage, while our other heavy hitter, a Cleric with a Holy Falchion ran towards the fray.

The Bard, marched into the cavern, bagpipes screaming “Scotland the Brave”.  The music focus allows long range critical heals on the Monk to keep him in action.  It would take the Cleric 2 rounds to engage the Dragon and 4 for the Bard. 

After two more rounds, the Dragon had had enough and leaped off of its meager hoard into a nearby basin of water.  The Monk leaped after him, engaging the beast in what had to be 32.1 degree water.  The Bard was out of critical heals and reaching the low end of his repertoire with only light heals.  Even with heat wraps and presence of mind, the Monk was accruing damage from hypothermia, tooth and claw faster than we could take them off.  It was also noted that the Dragons wounds were closing and he was beginning to look healthier.  The icy water was regenerating him!

The exasperated Cleric, having run another two rounds to engage the Dragon, was getting pissed off about the situation.  But the Bard unperturbed, marched steadily onward to the now unoccupied hoard.

The enemy Mage retreated to beyond bow reach and was focusing her attacks on the Monk, and despite receiving 5 heals, he was going down soon. 

Now seven rounds into the fight, the Bard had his moment.  I saw it coming many turns earlier, and if the Dragon would condescended to live long enough, the Bard would have the spotlight.

The Bard dropped the bagpipes, which deflated on its own weight with a mournful tone.   Scooping up some of the gold, he stood atop the mound of treasure; a glorious tenor (Charisma of 27) voice rang out.

I challenge you, I challenge you all
For all you own and all you know
And by all the powers of darkness
I will steal what is mine

Surrender now or face my spite
I grant you it may be Friday night
But did you know this day
Also numbers thirteen.*

With the Dragon’s attention fully gathered, the Bard released the pilfered coinage in a steady stream.  It’s catlike eyes narrowed to the barest slit, the whites going instantly red.  It gathered itself for what would be a devastating body blow to the Bard.

The party looked at me in horror and demanded, “What are you doing?”

The Bard was in his element, unconcerned: because for now, the performance was everything.  He removed his feathered cap, his hair waving in an unfelt breeze in perfect sync with the flutter of his cape.  He drew forth his flaming sword which as of yet has never drawn blood, letting it rock gently in front of him with a confidence he did not feel.  I held up the Out of Character card and replied, “I’m buying you guys two more melee rounds.”

The challenge could not be denied, the Dragon leaped, shaking the Monk off its back.  The Monk made his dexterity roll and landed catlike on his feet upon dry ground. 

The Cleric had arrived; the timing was perfect, as was her rolling two crits with her Holy Falchion.  The Dragon was gutted as he flew overhead and fell into ruin upon her.  (Only the Cleric’s plate mail armor protected her from doing an amount of damage that would have squashed the Bard flat.)

The enemy Mage teleported out at that point, and we were left wounded but victorious, sitting on a dragon’s horde.

* Excerpted from “The Magician’s Birthday”, with apologies to Uriah Heep.