Author Archives: paulbaalham

My Act of Wizardly Cowardice

My favourite gaming moment comes from my favourite D&D session. Session 10 of the main 4E campaign I have been in. We had started out as strangers, but by session 10 we were friends, familiar enough with the rules that we could just get on with the game and familiar enough with each other that we were much more relaxed.

Party:

  • Human wizard named Grunnarch (me)
  • Dwarven Fighter named Hal (my wife)
  • Half-elf Cleric of Melora named Jess
  • Elven Ranger named Booth

Upon entering a hamlet, the gang heard someone playing the Fiddle with far more enthusiasm than skill. As they came to the centre of the few buildings that remained, they saw a beautiful tree with eight slightly decomposing people  dancing around it. One of the dancers wore a plucked turkey on his head. The fiddler was standing near them.

Sensing no immediate threat, Jess led Hal and Grunnarch towards the tavern. Booth strode towards the dancers to see if he recognised any of them. Just as Grunnarch was walking through the door he noticed that Booth’s feet were moving in time with the music. Grunnarch pointed out to Jess and Hal that Booth was starting to feel the effects of the dreadful music and they agreed that Booth was in danger and the Fiddler needed to be killed.

A fight ensued. Booth shot people twice in the face, Hal kept getting surrounded by zombies, and Jess was revelling in turning undead. Grunnarch did his usual trick of standing at the back, pinging off spells, but unfortunately a zombie decided to go for him and he ended up toe to toe. Grunnarch kept retreating towards the tavern door and suddenly had an idea. He decided the best thing to do was to go through the tavern door, lock it behind him and come out of one of the other doors he could see, he could then blast the zombie from afar.

Grunnarch stepped through the door and put the bar down to lock it. A smug grin appeared over his face as his beautiful plan was in motion. Outside, the fighting continued. Grunnarch opened a door which he assumed would lead into a room containing another external door. The room was the main part of the tavern, with tables, chairs, a bar and zombies. Grunnarch quickly (and quietly) shut the door and stood in the corridor wondering what to do next. He was worried that he couldn’t go back out of the door he had used to come into the building as the zombie would still be there. He decided to wait for the others to come and get him.

Unbeknownst to Grunnarch, the fight outside had finished. The rest of the group healed some villagers and explored the rest of the buildings.

…Grunnarch sat on the floor waiting. A bug crawled across his arm. He killed it. I considered this an encounter.

Jess, Hal and Booth managed to find some more zombies to fight in a distant building.

…By now, Grunnarch was getting worried. He couldn’t hear anything outside, but the door was thick. He decided to set a Magic Mouth ritual in the wall opposite the entrance he’d come through, which would relay a message (which I wrote on a note and gave to the DM) for the gang when Jess was standing in the entrance.

After defeating more zombies, the trio decided that they had better see what Grunnarch was up to. Jess strode up to the door that Grunnarch had disappeared through and tried to open the door. It was locked. A very brief conversation ensued about whether to break the door down, but the trio were reluctant to attract attention. They went through the other door, into the bar part of the tavern. All of the zombies that Grunnarch had seen were in exactly the same place. The gang quietly made there way to where Grunnarch had been and could see no sign of him. Jess investigated the first room and Grunnarch rushed out and in his relief gave her a big hug. The gang decided to go back outside. Jess unbarred the  door and walked out. As she stepped into the doorway, the Magic Mouth ritual sprang into action, and a mouth appeared on the wall to proclaim in Grunnarch’s voice (the DM made me read out the note I had given him when I set the ritual):

“I am hiding under the bed in the first room on the right. The door on the left leads to a room full of zombies”

Grunnarch was slightly embarrassed. Everybody else laughed.

What I love about this memory, is the DM was great. The story took place over about an hour and a half of play time and juggling all of the fights while still having the wits about him to see that Grunnarch’s plas would be frustrated by Grunnarch’s actions without being cruel about it is something I’ve not been able to live up to as a DM so far. But I will one day.

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