As a wife, there are a few times when I get to shock my husband. Sometimes the shocking thing is amazing (Hey honey, I’m pregnant!- not now, just that was something amazing I shocked him with a few years ago- BREATHE CHARLIE), sometimes it is gross (most of these happened during my pregnancy), sometimes he thinks it is “Just plain wrong, Jaimie, you were obviously raised in a barn!” (this was because I actually LIKE Johnny cake, AKA sweet cornbread).
But never, is shocking my husband more rewarding than when he’s running a campaign.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go into a game thinking, “How will I mess with Charlie tonight?”
- Okay, sometimes I do, but not often, and he almost always deserves it. (More on that in another post.)
Usually, I’m just hanging out with our friends and we all just end up doing the exact opposite of what Charlie has planned out for us. If any of you have read my husband’s blog, you’ll know that he is a very good and experienced DM, and that our usual gang of adventurers is somewhat… well… in the South, they call it eccentric. Now -being that people in our gang have been known to do things like spider climb up a wall and onto the ceiling in order to drop down on top of a beholder, build themselves a giant tube encasing their body from floor to ceiling (wall of stone) leaving a slit just big enough for their familiar to get in and out to deliver spells, and sell party members that have botched more than 3 times to the enemy for money to repair the stuff that was broken in the last battle, Charlie has had ample experience to plan for his plan to backfire.
Seriously, the man has a backup plan, for the backup of his backup plan. He’s got notebooks filled with s*&^ he can throw at us in any given situation… that is until we decide to do nothing.
A couple months ago, we started a new campaign. Charlie started us all out in a village and let us know that there were several options we could choose for adventuring, some local big-wig was looking for a troop of adventurers, the local temple was having issues, and there was a big scary old stone fortress just waiting to be plundered by people dumb enough to venture inside. We all knew that Charlie had planned this, but for those of us at the table, at least this night, we wanted to be “regular people.”
Instead of going out and adventuring, we all looked into joining the local guilds and got jobs at the same inn. A female character and I got jobs as barmaids/waitresses. Someone got a job as a cook, and two of our party got a job as “entertainment” for the inn. And that’s what we did for four hours.
Don’t get me wrong, we had fun. I laughed more that night than I had in a few sessions. The “bards” kept botching one roll and getting a natural 20 the next so their form of “entertainment” was unique. We got to haggle with the butcher and the vegetable shop owner over prices in order to pocket the extra coin, which led to inferior meat and the “cook” making something absolutely delicious (good rolling) that ended up killing a few patrons and giving most of the rest a case of the trots. (Nothing like “killin’ xp when you weren’t event trying to kill someone.)
But, I know games like this tend to throw Charlie. At first, he can’t tell if we just think his situations are lame or if we are just in one of our random moods. He keeps giving us opportunities to do something exciting, and we keep turning them away to go do the stuff we think is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY at the time.
THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT WE’RE GOING TO PAY 4 GOLD FOR THIS MEAT, WE HAVE RAT TRAPS SOMEWHERE…
Every once in a while we’ll accidentally get his hopes up. I’ll announce to the table, “The tips in this joint are lousy, I’ve got a 19 charisma, and I should be rockin’ it. Oh, WAIT WAIT WAIT, I have an idea.” This is when Charlie leans forward wondering if I’m going to take the get rich quick scheme someone in the guild told me about earlier. “I’m undoing the top two buttons on my blouse and flirting- not in a ‘come and get me way’, mind you, but in a ‘if you tip better I’ll spend more time smiling at you’ way.” Then I’ll sit back in my chair noticing the other waitress doing the same thing, and wondering if I should tell her that because she’s only 3 feet tall everyone can see down her blouse, and am amused.
Nights like this go very well for the players. Nothing much is accomplished, but we’ve had fun. Yes, we know eventually Charlie will find a way to get us out of the inn and on our way, we just hope he doesn’t burn the place down because it is actually kind of nice and if our cook doesn’t poison people anymore we’d like to use it as a base. But that would probably be bad because the bards are robbing everyone blind… but that’s okay because even if they can’t “perform” they’re pretty good at conning people out of their money. We just hope they don’t sell us to the shady guy in the corner for some quick coin. And while we’re all thinking this, Charlie lets us go. That’s one of the things I like about playing for him. Every once in a while, a night at D&D isn’t filled with death and destruction, rescuing the damsel and saving the world. Every once in a while our characters get to be real people, and that makes them more special to us.