In every Roleplaying Game, sometimes in every session, there are those moments so amazing, by both players and game masters, that leave everyone at the table speechless for a few seconds, but later spark those stories we tell our other friends, about our legendary RPG accomplishments. TVTropes.org defines these moments, in entertainment, as Crowning Moments of Awesome (CMA), and I have to say the name fits.
But of course, not every moment can be fantastic and there often are moments so bad they have a similar reaction and become part of the game’s blooper reel, moments when things went so south that it can only inspire laughter at the absurdity of what just transpired. Sometimes it’s just something that spiraled out of control into insanity, but sometimes, it’s just players and GMs making some very poor choices. These, following the naming convention from TVTropes.org, are the Dethroning Moments of Suck (DMS), the heights of the Epic Fail.
The following are a collection of stories from some of my games, sitting both in a player chair and as the man responsible for the madness. I will go over important game rules for each story, to make it easier to understand how amazing or ruinous these moments were. Some of these stories are in fact the origin and basis for the types of GMs and Players.
For this first issue, I’ll focus on stories from a certain Star Wars game I played a few years ago. There’s also a bonus story that happened to friends of mine.
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JEDI MMA (CMA):
My Role: Player
System: Star Wars The Roleplaying Game Revised Edition (Wizards of the Coast)
Relevant Rules: Health based on Vitality (stamina) and Wounds (the tender bits, a very small number). Martial Arts feats (1, 2, & 3) increase unarmed damage by 1d4 each and lower the critical chance of feats by 1 point, down to 18-20. House-ruled use of the D&D 3.5 Improved Critical feat meant unarmed critical was 15-20. Critical Hits deal damage directly to Wounds. Jedi add extra damage dice to Lightsabers but through quest, character applied the bonus dice to unarmed attacks, making the damage 3d4 (base) + 4 (Strength Modifier) + 3d8 + 2 (combat glove modifier), to a Wound-wrecking average of 24. Heroic Surge feat gave extra actions on turns. Toughness Feat adds +3 to Wounds.
So, my character, Jedi Consular Tak Lian, was on Nar Shaddah, the Vertical City, or as I call it, the happiest place in the galaxy. He was there looking for information, but the contact wouldn’t say anything unless I entertained him, which meant entering a Martial Arts Tournament. I had my eye on it from the start since one of the fighters was a slave and being the good guy I am, I wanted to free him, and I knew I could do it if I made his freedom or my slavery part of the betting.
So, what’s the moment of awesomeness? The gamemaster, a good friend of mine, spent TWO HOURS coming up with a full roster of fighters for me to fight all the way to the finals, and each was nastier than the one before…but they never got the chance to act! My character was a consular, but after maxing out everything social related I turned him into Bruce Lee the Force-User, and I had very high Initiative bonuses, meaning I acted first on EVERY fight.
Thanks to my insane critical and mad level of damage, every single one of the fighters died from ONE punch, even the one where my GM stacked Toughness feats on him, giving him the highest Wounds seen in the entire campaign…one hit kill through the entire tournament.
Of course, he grew increasingly frustrated and couldn’t believe what was happening and I was just simply laughing my ass off! By the end, I’d won the tournament, rescued the slave and Leveled Up 5 levels to Level 20.
I can still see the look on his face!
A SERIES OF (EFFORTLESS) UNLIKELY NARROW ESCAPES (CMA)
My Role: None, happened to another player in the game
System: Star Wars The Roleplaying Game Revised Edition
Relevant Rules: Saving Throws, Reflex, Fortitude and Willpower help your character survive dangerous situations. A Natural 20 on a die is an automatic success.
So, the gamemaster in this particular campaign was a monumental pain in the ass, and enjoyed messing with us over and over, doing the same things, because he knew some would get angry. Funny thing is they never worked on me; I knew him too well and knew how to sidestep all of them.
One of the characters, the player another friend, was the GM’s prime target and he did EVERYTHING in his power to screw him over, from stealing his spaceship, mugging him, blowing up his apartment, to pretty much make it so any time he spent money, it would be wasted, and every reward he received, was lost forever.
But, the thing the GM didn’t count on is that this player is the origin of The Unbeatable player type.
So, the awesome thing about this was the GM tried to blow this character up in about ten different ways: blowing up his apartment with him inside, strapping a bomb to his forehead, blowing up the car with him inside and high-level explosives in the trunk, blowing up a ship, assassination attempts, numerous assassination attempts…AND THEY ALL FAILED.
It wasn’t because they were done half-heartedly, or half-assed, but because each of them required a Saving Throw, sometimes with insane penalties, but this player rolled natural 20s on each roll, sometimes coming out completely unscathed from an otherwise un-survivable situation.
JUST DROPPING BY FOR A CHAT…WITH THE ARC-NEMESES (CMA)
My Role: Player
System: You guessed it…Star Wars RPG Revised Edition
Relevant Rules: Diplomacy skill lets you change attitudes towards you, even (potentially) turn enemies into allies. Characters have access to Force Points, which let them roll up a number of six-sided dice (d6), add them up and improve a roll by that amount.
So, nearing the end of the campaign, when the bad guys had revealed themselves and the crap had hit the fan at full speed, I suddenly had the very suicidal idea of going to KORRIBAN to try to talk to THE SITH about a truce until such a time when we could resume our moronic fighting, which meant until after the plot had been solved.
I hijacked a ship and took it to Korriban whereupon they immediately and predictably shot me down. After a crash I walked out of, with more than a few scrapes, I found myself surrounded by no less than 50 Sith, because the GM didn’t like the Rule of Two and wanted a ton of Sith jumping around. Among them was a slightly homoerotic Sith lord who fought like I did, fists and impossible gauntlets seemingly ripped off straight from Tekken, because the GM didn’t want me upstaging his villains. The guy wanted to fight me, but I my Jedi wasn’t a Consular for nothing, I knew how to talk, so after going into a 5 minutes speech in which I pretty much promised that we would fight but I wanted to talk to his boss first, I rolled my Diplomacy Check and the die came up 20, plus my whopping +35 on the Diplomacy skill, meant I had 55 to change his attitude…which at worst, Enemy to “Helpful”, needed a 45…so the Sith Lord LET ME PASS to see the big boss in town.
If that wasn’t enough, on the way we came to a SECOND Sith Lord, this one very apathetic and frankly annoying, but with a very odd curious side, always asking why…he was itching for a fight, but again, I decided to go Talky-Jedi on his ass, and launched into another spiel, taking advantage of his natural curiosity to convince me the reason I wanted to talk to Big Boss was interesting enough to warrant my continued existence, but this time I didn’t want to screw around, not wanting to tempt fate, so I rolled up my Force Point dice, 6d6, coming up with a 15 result, which with my 15 roll on the die and my 35 Diplomacy meant he was looking at a 65 result, even higher than last time. Thus, the bridge Troll let me pass to see the boss.
When it came to the boss, I already knew what I would say and launched into the epic I had planned for him, which became not a monologue but a conversation, each trumping the other and the GM changing the flow trying to trip me and actually make me fight…but as I said, I knew the GM and how he operated so I managed to come out on top, but then he asked me to roll Diplomacy for the whole thing…the look on his face was priceless. Why? Well, because again I spent my Force Point, and rolled up 6d6 and came up with a result of 30…and my die roll came up a natural 20. All of that gave us a beautiful result of 85…
In the end, I had a chat with three Sith Lords and then the biggest and baddest of them all gave me his Spaceship for me to take so I could get off the planet safely.
I will forever remember my GM’s face.
DIE HALFLING! (DMS)
My Role: None, didn’t happen or involve me in any way.
System: Dungeons & Dragons 3.5
Relevant Rules: Halflings are small creatures…they’re Hobbits.
This isn’t my story, but it happened to some friends. They were playing a campaign, one of them a Bard and the other something else. One night, they stayed at an Inn and after a good meal and some less than subtle introduction to the populace (one of those moments when players really screw up and think laying low means being very obvious), the pair decided to go to sleep.
In the middle of the night, strange noises woke them and they realised they’d been robbed. On the windowsill and holding a rope, was a small statured figure with their belongings. The bard jumped out and down the window after them, taking her crossbow with her. As she landed she swathe small person run away, warned them to stop, and when they didn’t, she yelled, “Die, Halfling!” before shooting them in the back, killing them instantly.
She stepped up and walked to the felled thief…to discover it was not a Halfling…but a child, a small human child.
The player turned around to the GM and said “WHAT?!” to which the GM only laughed…maybe hard enough to leave himself breathless.
This story was a moment of suck for the Bard, but it was a moment of awesomeness for the GM.