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Tales From the Tabletop

Never get on the Dungeon Master's nerves...

There were some grand moments in my old PnP role-playing days that I will think fondly of until my dying day. This is one of them.

My gaming world was one of my own creation, put together in the fashion of Frankenstein’s monster from numerous sources. It was quite the “Monty Haul” campaign, which means that loot was abundant. I balanced this by giving the monsters and other beings in the world access to the same hauls of magic. Finding magical items in even the most mundane locations was common, and the players often lamented whenever they found any treasure that wasn’t of earth-shattering power.

One day, upon having emerged victorious from a battle, the players were examining the spoils from the creatures’ lair as I rolled them up. As far as they were concerned, the rewards from their hard-fought battle were pitiful, and hardly worth the effort. The chest contained a staff of healing, a gauntlet of demon control, an orb of entrapment, several mundane items, and one more magical item. One of my players listed them off as I rolled them up as, “a band-aid stick, a glove of imp charming, and an orb of butt-hair knotting.”

The last magical item in the chest rolled up as a mystery item, exuding a powerful aura of magic, but having a minor effect in reality. The player who held it would believe the item was performing some great service for them, though it had no real effect.

I knew instantly what it was going to be, and how to take advantage of it right away. I continued to roll, but the dice handling was all for show.

I explained that the final item was nothing they had ever seen before, and naturally, they were intrigued. It was a small, perhaps two-inch orb of translucent stone that seemed to pulse with magic. When the player who had been so creatively naming the booty picked it up, I told him he felt a tremendous surge of strength.

Being the strongest character, the leader of the party, and a bit of a bully, he naturally deposited it in his own pocket. The character was a gorilla of a man, in more ways than one. He was closer to seven feet than to six, at the upper limits of natural human strength, and hairy as a gorilla as well. He was the perfect subject for what was going to come next.

The Necromancer who called the fortress they had invaded home discovered the intruders, who were paying little attention to anything other than their looting. He began a chant to raise the monsters they had just slain as undead zombies, hoping to surprise the party.

The party was experienced with the undead, so one of them recognized the signs before the creatures could even manage to rise from where they were slain. They were ready for the battle, and the odds quickly turned in their favor. Two excellent rolls even managed to completely disable two of the zombies instantly. Then, the player with the mystery orb raised his sword to do battle.

I told him to roll an extra d4 of for his damage, which he took to mean that his newly acquired orb of great strength was aiding him. He was quite surprised when his mighty overhand blow missed due to a feeling like the stinging of a dozen needles in his backside, altering his aim slightly.

The battle continued, and his companions mopped the floor with the shambling monsters. The player with the orb, meanwhile, continued to miss with the great sweeping arcs of his enchanted blade. He was constantly being assaulted by some sort of magical needles striking his backside.

My player had his fill after two more failed attacks, and left the remaining undead to his companions. He instead began seeking the hidden or invisible wizard who was firing missiles at his derriere. He found nothing, and he was still searching long after the second battle with the creatures had ended. While bending to look under a crude bed, he was once again assaulted by the unseen assailant.

A player’s observant character heard noises coming from down the hall, and the party hurried in that direction to meet the new threat. More monsters meant more spoils of battle, and they were unhappy with what they had already obtained. As they broke into a run, the player with the mystery orb felt the stinging needles striking him with every step.

During the battle that followed, the player once again proved to be almost useless, as he either missed or did minimal damage due to the barrage of stinging needles. Once they examined the booty, he ordered the party out of the fortress, hoping to find a way to shield himself from the annoying wizard.

The party returned to their own fortress via magical means, and the player leading the group enlisted the aid of a wizard to learn more about their spoils. They were hoping for hidden powers in a couple of magical blades they had obtained. It was during this divination that the player learned the source of his discomfort. The wizard informed him that the orb he carried was a cursed item created by a mad mage…

An orb of butt-hair knotting.

He refrained from making up creative names for unimpressive magical spoils from that point forward.


This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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