Welcome to another exciting issue of RPG Triumph…and Defeat, where we tell the great stories from RPG campaigns, both the amazing and the downright humiliating. These are the stories, our legends, we tell our RPG friends, and even those that don’t play.
On this issue you’ll find three stories, from my Scion and Pathfinder campaigns, which you’ve already read of in the previous issues. Every day, more stories from these games keep popping up. There’s also a bonus story, one I read about and laughed at a long time ago.
BIG HUGS (DMS)
My Role: GM
Relevant Rules: Epic Attributes gave characters Knacks, which allowed them to use the attribute for interesting things. A series of strength knacks in particular, gave characters the ability to improve the crushing damage from their grapples, from bashing to lethal to aggravated.
Scions can have Creatures, such as a Coatl, as loyal servants.
During the second story arc, the players hunted down Jotunblut on earth (see Marvel Comics Copyright Infringement (CMA) on issue 2 for details on the plot), and it had taken the form of Jekyll & Hyde. The characters followed Hyde, trying to find a moment of weakness to use against him.
Between the first and second story arcs, one of the characters, the Aztech Scion, received a Coatl from his father, Tezcatlipoca. Coatls are feathered flying serpents, their shape similar to Chinese dragons. They’re useful but aren’t too powerful.
While the rest of the characters were stealthily following Hyde, the Aztech Scion decided enough was enough, and sent his Coatl ahead of them to stand in Hyde’s way, to stop him from leaving.
The big snake landed in front of their enemy and bared its teeth at him…so he killed it, grappling and crushing it in the deadliest hug ever. It took him (me) maybe 10 seconds to decide what to do, and another 3 seconds to roll the dice and deal 20 points of aggravated damage, of which he could prevent 1, taking 19 in total, more than twice his health. The player lost a pet for nothing and all stealth was gone, forcing characters to retreat (which here means run the hell away before the were also squished).
There was a collective facepalm around the room.
Strike, you’re out! (DMS)
My Role: GM
System: Star Wars The Roleplaying Game Saga Edition
Relevant Rules: When characters roll a 1 attacking in combat, they automatically fail and a second d20 is rolled, if the roll doesn’t overcome the check’s difficulty, it’s considered a critical failure. If you roll another 1, GMs take your critical failure to another level.
When Saga Edition first came out, I called a few friends for a test run campaign, meant for a few sessions while we tested the system out.
One of my players had a Corellian Military Police officer, on a mission on Coruscant, in which he ran into and was cooperating with a Jedi. They were in a safe house treating the Jedi’s Padawan, who only minutes before had tried to kill them all, having been brainwashed into doing so.
Deciding on the course of action, the Jedi and the player left the apartment and came face to face with a man dressed like a Mortal Kombat reject, including Scorpion-esque mask. It was a Force user, and instead of carrying a Lightsaber, he carried Lightclaws on each hand, Wolverine-style. He also wore a Stealth Field generator, which he turned on to force them to fight an invisible enemy.
They were clearly on the losing side, but they managed to get a few shots in. They fought shoulder to shoulder in a cramped hallway, preventing the masked assailant from circling behind them.
Sadly, there was a downside of their strategy and it became very apparent when I rolled double 1s with the Jedi, the critical failure effect being that he made his lightsaber swing too wide, striking the player…and then I rolled the attack and came up 20, a critical hit that downed the player in one hit.
It was funny as hell for me, not so much for the player. To this day he hasn’t forgiven me for it.
Game Breaking (CMA)
My Role: None, read this story on an old forum.
System: World of Warcraft RPG
Relevant Rules: In the game’s incredibly unbalanced first edition, there was a 2nd level spell called ‘Kaboom!’, which lets casters detonate themselves, dealing double their level in d6 damage and dying in the process. Arcanists (Wizards) have the lowest attack bonus. The spell True Strike gives an automatic +20 bonus on the next attack roll. Maximize and Empower Spell feats maximize the damage of a spell and make it doe 1.5 damage respectively. Still Spell allows casting spells without using gestures. While grappling, on each turn characters roll opposed checks and whoever wins controls the grapple and can decide to end it or deal crushing damage.
It was the final battle of the campaign, the players fighting against the main villain. The GM had planned and designed the fight to be extremely challenging, but he didn’t account for his players thinking outside the box.
The party’s wizard cast True Strike on himself, ensuring his next attack would hit as long as he didn’t roll a 1. Then, to the GM’s surprise, he walked up to the main villain and grappled him. During the villain’s turn, the Wizard won the grapple check and remained in control and the same occurred on the wizard’s next turn.
This is where it gets interesting. The wizard had prepared Kaboom as one of his daily spells, modified with Maximize, Empower and Still, meaning he could cast the spell while grappling. As a 20th level Wizard, Kaboom would normally deal 40d6, 240 Maximized and 360 with Empowered.
Even when it was clear what was going on, the GM couldn’t see it and said, “Ok, I roll Reflex with the villain,” only to be stopped by the Wizard, who shook his head and revealed the point of his plan. Being in a grapple, the villain would take the spell at point-blank range and would be unable to move, negating his save and taking the massive damage.
The villain was gone, the GM shaking his head and ripping the sheet to shreds, but at least the wizard died so the GM thought, “They screwed me, but one of them died. It’s a cool ending.”
It was then that the Cleric added insult to the injury, casting True Resurrection, which didn’t even need a body to resurrect the Wizard, bringing him back to life, grinning at the GM.
It was a moment of glory, of awesome, for the players, but a moment of suck for the GM.