So we met yesterday at Dice Age Game Emporium once again to ask the eternal question. “Are we level X now?” Bill toyed with us, played with us, and led us on until we finally gave in and played the game.
In the end, Veep got his wish. He was able to get the gnome paladin into the HMO. It was a hard sell, but eventually, the gnome paladin decided that she needed the eternal blessing of the CAFC.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I met Mike and Sue at Don Taco. We had a delicious lunch. The invitation was extended to the entire group, but for some reason, Shari, Collin, Bill and Eric decided not to come. I found out that Sue does not like having enchilada sauce covering her enchiladas. She had dry enchiladas, and a bowl of the red sauce. She would dip her fork into the sauce then scoop up her food in the dipped fork.
Now me, I like lots of sauce on my enchiladas. When we make enchiladas at home, we use the crispy tostadas, and layer up the pan of enchiladas like Italian lasagna. Well, more like Mexican lasagna. Layers of tostada, chicken, sauce, tostada, chicken, sauce, with lots of cheese on top, and black olives to garnish. This makes a nice plate of saucy goodness. Some people insist on rolling up enchiladas. I prefer mine like the Mexican lasagna.
But where were we? I was dissecting Sue’s eating habits. Now, I am not being critical of them, just noting them. We had a nice conversation about kids, parents, people in general, all punctuated by Sue’s dipping her fork into the enchilada sauce and then eating a bite of semi-dry enchiladas.
In the faint background, I swear that I could hear Collin calling out “GOAL!” faintly.
We left for the Dice Age Game Emporium, and upon arrival, we found that Eric had moved the tables around, and was sitting patiently waiting for us.
Now humans are interesting creatures. We are one of the few animals in the world that change the environment for our specific needs. We build roads to allow us to travel more quickly and efficiently, then we specifically choose to underfund the maintenance of the roads, so we get potholes. Then we bitch and complain about how the potholes damage our cars. In the end, we pay way more to replace tires and car rims, and various suspension parts on our cars than it would have cost to adequately tax ourselves to repave the roads. Instead, we seem to take some obscene pleasure in complaining about the problem and how much it costs us, instead of deciding to make sure the maintenance is made to fix it in the first place.
So Eric, upon arriving at the Game Emporium moved the chairs around and tables around to not only give us a nice large table we could all sit around, but also turned it at exactly 37 1/2 degrees from normal to apply a nice amount of Feng Shui. Eric arranged eight identically uncomfortable plastic chairs, two on each side around the tables. As soon as Sue arrived, she changed out her chair with a comfy one. Relying on her wisdom, I followed suit. I figured that if Sue was going to be the one who broke the spell of Eric’s Feng Shui, then it wouldn’t matter if I followed. Sue’s actions already destroyed any balance that Eric worked so hard to achieve.
Mike sat down next to Sue and proceeded to get out snacks. After a while, Bill, Shari and Collin came in. Bill was ready to start the game. Eric, Sue, Mike, Collin, Shari and I… not so much.
It didn’t take long until Bill buried his head in his phone, figuring that at some point, we would start playing the game.
Then like a bunch of partially trained cockatiels, one after another, we all started calling out to Bill “Have we leveled up yet?” and “Polly wants a cracker” followed by “Who’s a pretty girl?” and then “Are we 3rd level yet?”
Bill crossed his arms on the table, and sank his head into his arms, moaning softly, once again regretting his decision to try to be a DM for this group. I am not sure, because of the constant parrot like banter about leveling up, but I think Bill was weeping softly, thinking about how he could have spent the afternoon doing something productive, like changing the oil on his car, or maybe cleaning his bathroom instead of dealing with us.
But Bill was stuck. Once again, he fell prey to the carpool idea, and arrived with Shari and Collin. None of us were going to help him get away… We all wanted to play D&D, well at some point, we all wanted to play D&D, maybe just not yet.
So it takes a while, and eventually, we all settle down and are ready to play. Imagine the first day of preschool, where the kids are all supposed to settle down and take their nap, and every kid is super hyped up on sugar, and no one wants to have a nap. Each kid peaks the sugar high, then crashes and whether or not they are ready for the nap, they collapse onto the floor in a deep post sugar rush, and they are super cranky about doing anything… Well, that is pretty much what every Saturday afternoon is like for the DM. And yet they keep coming back for more.
The breaking point came when Eric made a video of Mike’s Necronomicon. Mike made a Necronomicon during his last week of employment, and has been carrying it around ever since. He retired to become a chicken farmer and beekeeper, and of course, owner of his own private Necronomicon. The tongue is worse for the wear. We are not really sure why, but it seems that the tongue has taken on a rather grey pallor. None of us really want to know what Mike does with this book on his spare time, nor why the tongue looks so well used, and the eyes have a glassy look to them.
The point being, after Eric made the video, it appeared that all of the steam had been used from the players, and in a short lull, Bill decided we should get started.
We take a long rest. This long rest is punctuated by multiple questions from the party in the vein of “You said that we would level up after our next encounter… Is a long rest an encounter?” and other such things. Bill tried his best to not look impatient, or exasperated. You see, we figure that this is a good opportunity for several adults who have had kids to express to Bill what having kids is like. Make him think about birth control… a lot.
Oh, yes, Bill. If you thought we were difficult to deal with, six adults asking rapid fire questions about the same thing you just said no to… Nope. This is nothing. Try it for real with a real kid. Those condoms look pretty good right now, no?
Now, none of us know what Bill really wants or does not want regarding kids. Well, maybe Shari and Collin have an idea or an inkling. That doesn’t mean that we all won’t try to influence Bill to think about putting off a family for a while.
So what did we do? Well, we at least got to the top of the stairs, with a long rest. HP replenished, spell slots opened up. We were ready to continue. Or at least start.
We all started out of the room with the dead goblins and Splish and Splash. We go through a door, and find a nice reception area with a person behind it leading to three areas, Security, Engineering and Legal.
As we enter the reception area, we are pulled into a conference room and approached by a human who is from the NRA, the Neverwinter Regurgitation Association, or some such thing. We were told by the NRA operative that they have been trying to figure out what is going on in this factory. Every time an official NRA spy is in the factory, they disappear. As in dead. The NRA knew that something was going on in the factory, and needed inside people. There appeared to be someone in the NRA who was giving away details to the factory managers and getting the NRA operatives killed.
He wants us to work for him, and he will pay us to help figure out what is going on. He suggests that we take out security first, then work on taking out the legal staff and engineers. If we can get passes from both Engineering and Legal, we can use the passes to go up one level. He tells us that we need both passes to be able to go up a level.
He offers to pay us 100 gold pieces each if we take out security. So we move on.
Now Bill draws out the security area, which starts out looking like an anus. Well, it actually looks like a circle with a missing part on it. Normal people might think it looks like something other than an anus, but pretty soon, the cockatiels at the table start chirping about anus’ and sphincter like things.
The security area has multiple doors. We enter the ring and the party pauses. Things are normal. We have many choices in front of us, and we stop. Things degenerate around the table as we start to talk about local politics, President Trump, and I look at Bill, and he has this look on his face like “We were so fucking close! Why?”
Finally, Mpence, or VEEP, as he prefers to be known as decides to go and open up one door. The one on the left as you enter the first room. Inside that room is one bugbear and two floating balls with tentacles and eyestalks. Lola follows me. Veep goes up to the three monsters and starts his spiel about how he is from demi-human resources, and has an exciting new health care opportunity for the factory workers. Things are going well, until Lola starts her bump and grind routine, distracting the bugbear from the sales pitch. Veep decides to go on through the next door, being guarded by the two floating ball things. He finds it very hard to continue through. The floating ball things seem to be keeping Veep from continuing on.
Meanwhile, Lola moves away and closes the door behind him, leaving Veep with the bugbear and two floating balls. The floating balls attack Veep, and Veep ends up hitting the bugbear with the inflict wounds spell. The bugbear is hurt, but not dead. I retreat, and before I can get out of the room, one of the floating balls hits me with a pink ray coming from an eye socket, and I realize that I was wrong to attack the bugbear. The bugbear was my friend. The floating balls with the eye sockets are my friend.
I continue on out of the room with murderous intent of taking out the horrible beasts that are attacking the security sentry.
As I leave, I realize that the bugbear is not my friend, and I should kill him. I close the door between the two floating balls and me, leaving me alone with the bugbear, and I kill him. I strike him with my mace from behind, and kill him good.
The door that my “friends” or rather HMO members and future HMO members went through is locked. There is nothing I can do. So I go back to the reception desk, and inform the receptionist that there is a group of rampaging beings in the building, and they are being led by a horrible awful gnome paladin who wants to destroy all that this company stands for. The rest of the rampaging party are thralls to the evil ways of the paladin, and should be spared. Only the gnome paladin needs to be killed.
Bill looks at me (Rob) like “Why?”
Hey, I gotta play the character. The paladin is competing with me for potential HMO customers. Therefore, the paladin must be either converted herself, or die. This is business, not personal. I have a quota to meet, and she is not helping me meet my obligations.
Bill decides that the receptionist is not going to help me TPK the party. Instead, he has the receptionist respond to me that Security will take care of this.
So I trudge back into the Security area, needing to kill the eyebeasts to get into the area with the rest of the party.
Veep doesn’t know it, but Lola locked Veep out, with the intent of letting Veep die. Oh well, all is fair when it comes to business.
The party is having a bad time of it. They are using all of their magic and abilities in the non-boss monster encounters. Bill seems to be very happy, since most of the powerful magic and abilities will be gone when the party finally gets to the boss monster. He seems really pleased with himself. His grin gets bigger and bigger while he writes secret notes on his yellow legal pad, flipping pages back and forth, getting more and more excited about the obvious TPK that is about to become a reality.
Veep goes the other way, and ends up killing both of the eye beasts with his crossbow. He ducks out from behind a door, shoots the crossbow, then ducks back behind the door. The eye beasts keep trying to hit him with rays of different colors, but Veep is on a mission, he can’t convert these monsters to the CAFC HMO, so they must die.
He continues through after killing off the two eye beasts and goes through two more doors just as the final battle is coming to a conclusion with a full on beholder. Things evidently didn’t go well for the party. They were attacked by a bevy of eye beasts, and rounded the corner and found a beholder.
Apu decided that he would kill the beholder on his own. It didn’t go as well as Eric wanted. Apu was picked up and slammed into the roof of the Beholder’s lair. He was dropped, things happened.
The entire adventure came down to one moment.
Here is the deal.
Apu wanted the glory kill of the beholder.
Veep wanted to admit the gnome paladin into the CAFC HMO.
At the end of the boss battle, the player order was Apu, then Veep. The gnome paladin was down. She was negative hit points.
The beholder was down to one hit point.
Apu had to make a difficult decision.
- If Apu stabilized the gnome paladin, then Veep wouldn’t get to admit her to the CAFC HMO, however, Veep would likely kill the beholder.
- If Apu killed the beholder, then Veep would be able to move to the paladin and convert her to the CAFC HMO.
Decisions, decisions. Apu went for the glory kill. He struck the beholder with his dagger, killing it.
That meant that Veep ran up to the gnome paladin and took two drams of blood and used the Spare the Dying cantrip on her.
The gnome paladin was saved! Well, her soul was not bound to a demon, but she would live, and Veep had another convert to the CAFC HMO.
Life is good.