DM Tip: "Tell me how it dies"

Kill It With Fire

This tip comes courtesy of my DM, @WolfSamurai who in turn got it from his DM, @DMSamuel, and is a quick and easy way to engage your players.  When a player character kills a monster, instead of describing its untimely end yourself, turn to your players and say, “Tell me how it dies.”  Passing off this small bit of narrative to the players empowers them, allowing them to roleplay their hero’s triumph, and revel in the gory (or whimsical) details.  You’ve also offloaded a small part of your already tremendous workload, freeing up some mental bandwidth for more important tasks (like rallying your minions to show those pesky PCs who the king of the dungeon really is).  You will probably want to save the narration of your unfortunate villain’s fate for yourself, but your players will likely find being handed some narrative control is rewarding and fun.  Little things like this help engage players, allowing them to feel more immersed in the action and more like active participants in the story rather than passive bystanders.

Gamma World: Blank Origin Cards

Since there have been a few requests for blank versions of the One Inch Square Gamma World Origin Cards I have uploaded the backgrounds I made/modified. The images are in PNG format.  Enjoy.

Downloads:

Gamma World: Legion of Gold Origin Cards

A Bright Future Ahead Of You

With the release of the final Gamma World expansion, Legion of Gold, I have produced a series Character Origin cards in the same style as the Famine in Far-Go cards and Core Rulebook origin cards I released previously.  These cards are a tool to speed up character creation and aid play.  Have your players roll their origins and then hand out the appropriate cards to them.  These double-sided cards reprint almost all of the information found in the origin section of the rulebook, including the origin’s name, description, full trait information, critical hit ability, and power names.  They contain all the information a player needs while creating their characters and serve as a handy reference during play.  Since power descriptions are too lengthy and really deserve their own cards, I have only included their names.

Character Origin Card Sample (Front/Back)

DOWNLOADS:

Props: Invisible Ink

Durin's Door

The moon now shone upon the grey face of the rock; but they could see nothing else for awhile.  Then slowly on the surface, where the wizard’s hands had passed, faint lines appeared, like slender veins of silver running in the stone.  At first they were no more than pale gossamer threads, so fine that they only twinkled fitfully where the Moon caught them, but steadily they grew broader and clearer, until their design could be guessed.”

– The Fellowship of the Ring

Invisible letters and glyphs are a great fantasy trope and can make for really interesting and engaging props in your game.  In your world, the letters or symbols could be drawn in Mithril ink that is only visible by moonlight,  arcane magic that is triggered by word or touch, or simply disappearing ink that’s exposed by heat or chemical reaction.  It could be a map, a secret door, a spell, or coded instructions from the king.

Invisible ink markers seem to be hard to come by these days, but I was able to find a company online that sells them.  Unless you have a black light at home already, you’ll also need something like this mini black light keychain to reveal the ink.  Other than that, all you need is some paper (see tips below).  Draw up an invisible map or letter, hand it out to the players at the appropriate time, and watch them puzzle over this mysterious prop.  Don’t give them the light, of course, until they’ve determined how (in game) to make the letters appear.

Here are some tips:

  • Use clean, bright white paper, for best results.  If you use colored paper the ink may not blend in completely.  Paper that comes with a pattern already printed on it (e.g. a scroll pattern) seem to work okay, but your mileage may vary.  It may not work well over printer ink (if you prink out your own scroll texture, for instance).
  • The hidden letters are easier to see under blacklight when the room isn’t brightly lit.  A good excuse to turn down the room lights for atmosphere.
  • Consider hiding the secret message on a page with other words or symbols drawn on it, like at the end of a handwritten letter, or on a map.  A handout with words or drawings on it is much less likely to arouse the suspicions of your players than one that appears to be completely blank (of course, if you want them to be suspicious, then go right ahead and do so).
  • DMs that make their own 3D terrain can even use the markers on them to draw hidden doors, runes, or other magical features.  The ink dries clear on craft paint just as it does on paper.
  • I wouldn’t recommend drawing on your vinyl battlemaps with an invisible ink pen as it’s unlikely to come off.  It should, however, work on Gaming Paper.

Props: Echo Mic

Props can go a long way toward adding realism and enhancing the atmosphere of your game. I am a big fan of props and try to incorporate them whenever possible. Here’s one I’ve gotten to use recently: The Echo Mic.

Echo Mic

The Echo Mic is just a simple plastic tube shaped like a microphone housing a spring or coil of metal. When you talk into it, it adds a metallic echo to your voice. You won’t win any Oscars for Sound Design with this thing, but its cheap and relatively effective (mileage may vary depending on the quality of your voice acting).

The Echo Microphone is most useful for creating ghostly, eerie, or otherworldly voices. The cries of the undead, the distant moans of zombies, the voices of ethereal beings, etc., are all good candidates, enhancing the atmosphere of a room or encounter or giving weight to an important NPC. As an example, I recently used it to help roleplay the character of Sir Keegan in Keep On The Shadowfell, emphasizing his ghostly dialog. It can also be used to create unusual sound effects by tapping the sides or rapping it on a table.

You can find his prop for just a few bucks at a party store, toy store, or online retailer.

Gamma World: Character Sheet

Saw Boss, Wheeled Plant

Let’s face it, the character sheet that comes with Gamma World is… lacking.  I’m all for simplicity, but the one in the box just doesn’t cut it.  Yes, it is colorful.  Yes, it will fit in the box.  Yes, it says Gamma World on it.  But I want something more robust.  So as a GM with more time on his hands than common sense, I set out to create my own.  I present to you, the One Inch Square Gamma World Character Sheet:

Front (click for large version)

The front side features just about every bit of information you’ll need in front of you during play.  The most important items are highlighted with a bold border to help them stick out.  Sections that are used in creating the character but aren’t directly referenced in game (e.g. the columns of various bonuses for skills) are slightly greyed to set them off.  Wherever possible, hints are given in cells to show where a particular bonus or bit of information should come from to speed up character generation and add clarity.  Here’s an example of the front side filled for a first level character.

Back (click for large version)

The back side has a place for the player to record which powers, etc., they’ve taken at each level as well as a large area for notes.  There are also places to record which Alpha and Omega cards the player has in order to keep track between sessions.

The character sheet does not have space for power descriptions (though one could use the “notes” section) as it is assumed that players are using some sort of cards or printouts with that information on it.  And of course I recommend the Character Origin Cards found on this blog as an aid in character creation and play.

Download:  One Inch Square Gamma World Character Sheet [PDF]

Gamma World: Famine In Far-Go Character Origin Cards

Dyno-MITE!

With the recent release of Gamma World:  Famine In Far-Go, I have produced a series Character Origin cards in the same style as the core rulebook origin cards I released previously.  These cards are a tool to speed up character creation and aid play.  Have your players roll their origins and then hand out the appropriate cards to them.  These double-sided cards reprint almost all of the information found in the origin section of the rulebook, including the origin’s name, description, full trait information, critical hit ability, and power names.  They contain all the information a player needs while creating their characters and serve as a handy reference during play.  Since power descriptions are too lengthy and really deserve their own cards, I have only included their names.

Character Origin Card Sample (Front/Back)

I have also updated the original set of cards to fix typos, adjust the order in which the information is presented in some cases, and remove some extraneous wording from the front of most cards.

In addition, I  have created a handful of extra cards to serve as quick references.  They are as follows:

Critical Hit Benefit / Uber Feature Card:  At 2nd level, players can place the Critical Hit Benefit side of this card under the origin card of the origin from which they chose their critical hit benefit to serve as a reminder.  At 10th level, the Uber Feature side of the card can be used to remember which uber feature has been chosen by placing it under an expert power card, omega tech cards, or an alpha mutation.

Omega Tech / Salvaged Gear Card:  The Omega Tech side of this card gives the run down on Omega Tech card rules, particularly the Omega Charge roll.  The Salvaged Gear side details how salvaging works, and can be placed near or under salvaged Omega Tech cards to distinguish them from non-salvaged tech.

End of Encounter / Difficulty Class By Level Card:  This is intended as a GM quick reference card.  The End of Encounter side gives a run down of the common things that happen post encounter (e.g. Omega Charge check, changing Alpha Mutations, handing out rewards, etc.)  The Difficulty Class By Level side reprints the chart of the same name from the rulebook as well as the list of skills found in Gamma World.

Core Rule Origins / Famine In Far-Go Origins Card:  This is intended as a GM reference card.  The Core Rule Origins side lists all the origins from the Gamma World Rulebook, the Famine in Far-Go Origins side lists all the origins from the first expansion.

DOWNLOADS:

Gamma World: Character Origin Cards

That’s One Big Bug

Gamma World, by design, has a much simpler character creation process than the 4th Edition D&D rules from which it mutated.  It simplifies the gameplay experience while at the same time greatly reducing the time between rolling up a character and actual playing him or her (or it!)

However, the concept that characters should be able to be rolled up and ready to play in 15 minutes suffers from a fatal flaw, and it’s a flaw not in rule design but rather a matter of resource limits:  There’s only one rulebook.  And since you can’t buy rulebooks separately, the beginning of your Gamma World session is likely to involve a fair amount of book passing.

To address this issue, and in keeping with the card theme of Gamma World, I have produced a series of Gamma World Character Origins Cards intended to be printed and handed out to players when they’ve rolled for their origins.

Gamma World Character Origin Card (Front/Back)

These double-sided cards reprint almost all of the information found in the origin section of the rulebook, including the origin’s name, description, full trait information, critical hit ability, and power names.  They contain all the information a player needs while creating their characters and serve as a handy reference during play.  Since power descriptions are too lengthy and really deserve their own cards, I have only included their names (For power cards, I recommend these fantastic cards by AH_Anarchy).

The cards are standard size (2.5in x 3.5in), come 9 per sheet, and are intended to be printed with the descriptive information on one side and the trait information on the other.  You’ll probably want to print a few copies of each to have enough to pass out when players roll duplicate origins.

DOWNLOADS:

(Credit:  The card backgrounds were based on designs by Wizards forum user Nasty_Nick and based in part on the AH_Anarchy designs).

Gamma World: Omega Tech By Salvage Level

Omega Tech

In Gamma World, the occasionally arduous task of doling out magic items to players is replaced by a simple draw from the Omega Tech deck.  But as the DM, you might sometimes wish to set aside a specific item as treasure, either for thematic reasons, or because the item is particularly cool (or zany).  If you’re looking for an item that you intend PCs to keep for awhile, you’ll want to choose something that has a salvage level.  Not wanting to flip through my cards every time I want to set aside a salvageable item, however, I created this chart with all of the Omega Tech sorted by salvage level.

Spoiler Alert: This chart contains information about all of the Omega Tech cards, including those found in expansions, booster packs and promo cards. If you are a player or DM who wants to preserve the mystery of the random deck, stop reading.

The chart is sorted by the salvage level (“N/A” if the item can’t be salvaged) and contains the name, equipment slot, and source (Ishtar, Area 52, or Xi) of the item.  It also includes the rarity (Starter, eXpansion, Common, Uncommon, Rare, or Promo) of the card, the set the card comes from (Starter, Legion of Gold, Booster, or Promo), and the number of the card.

For convenience, I have also made the chart available in PDF format.

Gamma World: Omega Tech By Salvage Level

LVL NAME SLOT SOURCE RARITY SET #
2 Electro-Flail 1-Hand Melee Ishtar S Starter 42
2 Mk 1 Laser Pistol 1-Hand Ranged Ishtar S Starter 45
2 Mk 1 Power Armor Armor: Heavy Ishtar S Starter 46
2 Freeze Ray 2-Hand Ranged Area 52 S Starter 68
2 Force Pike 2-Hand Melee Area 52 S Starter 69
2 Fizz Neurojack Neck Ishtar C Booster 10
2 Inertial Armor Armor: Light Area 52 C Booster 26
2 Duralloy Shield Arms (Shield) Ishtar C Booster 31
2 Cerametal Armor Armor: Heavy Xi C Booster 36
2 Stun Whip 1-Hand Melee Area 52 U Booster 61
2 Autodoc Waist Area 52 U Booster 62
2 Photonic Spear 2-Hand Melee Ishtar U Booster 68
2 Repeating Gauss Rifle 2-Hand Ranged Ishtar U Booster 75
2 Power Fist 1-Hand Melee Ishtar U Booster 76
2 Holoshield Arms (Shield) Area 52 R Booster 101
3 Unstable Vibroblade 2-Hand Melee Area 52 S Starter 41
3 Mass Pistol 1-Hand Ranged Area 52 C Booster 27
3 Vibro Sword 1-Hand Melee Xi R Booster 115
4 MK III Scout Armor Armor: Heavy Area 52 X LoG 6
4 Mindbore Orbiter Head Area 52 C Booster 28
4 Omniscient Goggles Head Ishtar C Booster 32
4 Disruptor Pike 2-Hand Ranged Ishtar C Booster 33
4 Laser Whip 1-Hand Melee Xi C Booster 38
4 Grav Shield Arms Area 52 U Booster 63
4 Servo-Assist Beacon Armor: Light Ishtar U Booster 70
4 Diskthrower 1-Hand Ranged Ishtar U Booster 71
4 Mini Tank Vehicle Area 52 R Booster 102
4 Neural Baton 1-Hand Melee Area 52 R Booster 103
4 Energy Mace 1-Hand Melee Ishtar R Booster 109
4 Gunport Armor Armor: Heavy Ishtar R Booster 116
4 Heavy-Lift Harness Vehicle Xi R Booster 117
5 Gunsight Orbiter Head Area 52 U Booster 64
5 Jet Boots Feet Ishtar U Booster 72
6 Dimensional Shuntshield Armor: Light Ishtar X LoG 7
6 Holoscanner Held Item Area 52 C Booster 29
6 Plasma Sword 1-Hand Melee Area 52 C Booster 30
6 Force Axe 2-Hand Melee Ishtar C Booster 35
6 H11 Blaster Rifle 2-Hand Ranged Xi C Booster 39
6 Meltdown Orbiter Head Area 52 C Booster 40
6 Energized Armor Armor: Heavy Area 52 U Booster 65
6 Thunder Grip 1-Hand Ranged Area 52 U Booster 66
6 Force Shield Arms Ishtar U Booster 73
6 Electrostaff 2-Hand Melee Xi U Booster 78
6 Inviso Armor Armor: Light Area 52 R Booster 106
6 Skycycle Vehicle Area 52 R Booster 111
6 Rad Armor Armor: Heavy Ishtar R Booster 114
6 Interface Goggles Head Xi R Booster 118
7 Phoenix Neurojack Neck Xi R Booster 112
8 Grav Mortar 2-Hand Ranged Area 52 U Booster 67
8 Gravity Hammer 2-Hand Melee Ishtar U Booster 74
8 Marauder Armor Armor: Light Xi U Booster 79
8 Force Field Projector Held Item Area 52 R Booster 107
8 Black Ray Gun 1-Hand Ranged Area 52 R Booster 110
8 Plasma Sphere 2-Hand Ranged Ishtar R Booster 113
8 Screaming Meemie 2-Hand Ranged Xi R Booster 119
9 Fusion Lance 2-Hand Ranged Area 52 R Booster 104
N/A Flash Neurojack Neck Xi S Starter 43
N/A Leaky Fusion Rifle 2-Hand Ranged Xi S Starter 44
N/A Tangler Waist Xi S Starter 47
N/A All-Seeing Egg Consumable Area 52 S Starter 48
N/A Unreliable Jet Pack Consumable Area 52 S Starter 49
N/A Music Box Held Item Ishtar S Starter 50
N/A Hand Rocket 1-Hand Ranged Ishtar S Starter 51
N/A Radiation Orbiter Head Xi S Starter 52
N/A Sentinel Orbiter Head Area 52 S Starter 53
N/A Prototype Power Fist 1-Hand Melee Xi S Starter 54
N/A Adrenaline Pill Consumable Area 52 S Starter 55
N/A Endeavor Neurojack Neck Xi S Starter 56
N/A Optic Neurojack Neck Xi S Starter 57
N/A Erratic Rifle Hound Special Area 52 S Starter 58
N/A Cracked Ray Gun 1-Hand Ranged Area 52 S Starter 59
N/A Photon Grenade 1-Hand Ranged/Consumable Area 52 S Starter 60
N/A Blather Gecko Special Area 52 S Starter 61
N/A Razor Grenade 1-Hand Ranged/Consumable Ishtar S Starter 62
N/A Enviromask Head Ishtar S Starter 63
N/A The Patch Consumable Ishtar S Starter 64
N/A Science Comp Held Item Xi S Starter 65
N/A Spy Comp Held Item Xi S Starter 66
N/A Envirocape Neck Area 52 S Starter 67
N/A Inflatable Friend Special Ishtar S Starter 70
N/A Eternalight Held Item Ishtar S Starter 71
N/A Plasma Deflector Ring Xi S Starter 72
N/A Animatronic Toy Held Item/1-Hand Ranged Xi S Starter 73
N/A Envirogloves Hands Ishtar S Starter 74
N/A Cognition Anchor Ring Xi S Starter 75
N/A Face Mask Head Ishtar S Starter 76
N/A Fish-Killer Grenade 1-Hand Ranged/Consumable Area 52 S Starter 77
N/A Autoskeleton Waist Area 52 S Starter 78
N/A Headmounted Laser Head Area 52 S Starter 79
N/A Dim Photonic Spear 2-Hand Melee Ishtar S Starter 80
N/A Flame Thrower 2-Hand Melee Area 52 X LoG 8
N/A Flaregun 1-Hand Area/Ranged/Consumable Area 52 X LoG 9
N/A Matter Bomb Prime Consumable Area 52 X LoG 10
N/A The Patch II Consumable Area 52 C Booster 6
N/A Hypno-Ray 1-Hand Ranged Area 52 C Booster 7
N/A Dream Grenade Consumable Ishtar C Booster 8
N/A Hoverboard Feet Ishtar C Booster 9
N/A Enviroboots Feet Ishtar C Booster 34
N/A Portacomp Held Item Xi C Booster 37
N/A Hospice Beacon Held Item Ishtar U Booster 69
N/A Artificial Blood Consumable Xi U Booster 77
N/A Chamelon Shield Arms (Shield) Area 52 U Booster 80
N/A Teleport Pads Held Item Area 52 R Booster 105
N/A Phase Cape Neck Ishtar R Booster 108
N/A Rifle Hound Special Area 52 R Booster 120
N/A Dehydrated Man Special Ishtar P Promo 3

Don’t Split the Party… Unless One Of Them Is A Video Gamer

The following is a humor a piece I wrote for the awesome Hawty McBloggy in November of 2009. I have reprinted it here for posterity. Enjoy.

Outside the sky is dark and gray, and thunderclouds loom as if portends of doom, lightning momentarily illuminating the eerie landscape. But no one can tell here in the dark, foreboding dungeon. Only the flickering of torchlight and the wizard’s light spell dares pierce the inky blackness; only the occasional drip of water and the party’s heartbeats pounding in their ears can penetrate the silence. The brave adventurers battled their way through the Crypt of Blood and stand now before the tomb of the powerful Under Lich. The Heroes of Nerrath assemble: the brave dwarf fighter Stonebrow, master of the axe; the powerful elven wizard Varis, skilled in the arcane arts; the wily halfling rogue Finian Underfoot, pickpocket extraordinaire; and the pious human cleric Redgar, servant of Bahamut.

“Oh my god, you guys are SO GAY,” interrupts the uncouth half-orc.

“Shut up, Eric, the Dungeon Master is setting up the adventure!” shoots back Redgar in hushed tones.

While exploring the dangerous crypt, the adventurers rescued a half-orc barbarian who had been taken prisoner by the priests of the great Lich…

“Taken prisoner?” asks the half-orc, incredulously. “More like kicked-their-asses.” He flexes a bit in a display of irrelevant machismo. “I probably let them think I was their prisoner so I could get all up behind them and be like ‘pap pap pap!’ no more evil cult dudes!” The last bit he punctuates with an anachronistic two-fingered gesture.

Whatever. Fine. The adventurers were joined by a half-orc barbarian from the Stolian Wastes, a loner with a troubled past, who calls himself Skullcrusher.

“That’s not my name,” insists the half-orc.

Ugh. Fine. Skullfucker.

“Heh, yea!” he chuckles, looking around at his companions who stare back at him with a mixture of disdain and unease.

The heroes find themselves at the entrance to the tomb of the powerful Under Lich.

“I sense eldritch magic and powerful evil!” exclaims Varis, excitedly.

Fag,” coughs the half-orc.

“Why did we invite him again?” asks Varis, impatiently.

“Cause he’s my brother, and none of his buddies are online so he was bored,” explains Redgar, embarrassed. “C’mon, Eric, don’t be a dick.”

Ahem. The Tomb of the Lich awaits the adventurers.

“I’ll say a prayer to Bahamut, asking for his blessings in battle,” responds Redgar, placing his hands together in the universal symbol of prayer.

“I’ll sneak up to the door to have a look,” says Finian Underfoot, inching along the wall.

“I will cast silence so that he can’t hear our approach,” says Varis, waving his arms about, and punctuating the word “silence” while staring daggers at the half-orc.

“This is a crypt?” asks the half-orc, gesturing about. “It’s just a bunch of squares. Why are the walls blue? And what’s that supposed to be, a pillow?”

“The black pen stains the battlemat, so we have to use blue,” explains Stonebrow, readying his axe.

“And that’s not a pillow, that’s supposed to be the Lich’s sarcophagus, but the ink smeared a bit,” adds Finian, with a hint of disappointment.

“Okay, whatever,” says the half-orc impatiently. “I’m gonna go fuck this guy up.”

“Wait, don’t!” exclaims Varis the elf, reaching out to stop the burly barbarian.

The half-orc raises his fearsome double axe (“Of awesomeness!”) and rushes across the doorway. Unfortunately, he is oblivious to the Glyph of Warding trap just beyond the threshold.

“Gods dammit,” sighs Redgar, hanging his head.

The trap is sprung and magical flames issue forth from the mystical runes on the floor. The fireball engulfs the half-orc, and he is badly hurt–bloodied, in fact. The Under Lich is distracted from its evil ritual and howls at the adventurers. The heroes hope to gain initiative…

“I’m quick!” says Finian the halfling. “Yes! I got an 18! I think I’ll be first!”

“I’ll probably be last,” a disappointed Stonebrow adds. “I got a 6.”

“15″, “13″, the others chime in.

“Whatever, I’ve got like a 40,” the half-orc declares.

“You can’t have a 40, you’re just a stupid barbarian,” whines Varis. “Finian Underfoot is clearly first.”

“No way, I’m way faster than that stupid Hobbit,” says the half-orc, beginning to stand.

Whatever. He can go first. He’s new. It’s fine. The barbarian charges through the doorway, emerging from the other side of a wall of magical fire. And?

“Like I said, I’m all up in his business,” the half-orc answers, impatiently.

He swings his mighty double axe and…

“What are you looking at me for? Am I supposed to roll something? Like all these dice?” He looks confused. “Okay… I’m awesome.” Somewhere the sound of many small polyhedrons dancing across a table is heard. “I got like 30. I wasted him.”

“No, just the 20-sider, Eric,” says Redgar, impatiently.

The barbarian swings his mighty axe but is unable to hit the wicked undead lord before him.

“What? No way, I totally fucked him up!” The half-orc pretends to stand over the Uber Lich, repeatedly crouching and standing.

The Lich’s dead eyes glow with an unholy light. He levels his bony hands at Skullcrusher (“Skullfucker!”) and a blast of necrotic energy hits him squarely in the chest. The half-orc yells in pain and falls to the ground… dead!

“Oh my gods,” exclaims Finian, a look of horror on his face.

“The Under Lich has felled the barbarian!” adds Varis. “He’s too powerful!”

“Whatever, what’s my respawn, like ten seconds?” asks the dead half-orc.

“What’s a respawn?” asks Stonebrow, genuinely confused.

“No, Eric, you’re dead,” says Redgar flatly. “That’s it.”

“What? That’s queer!” scoffs the dead barbarian, still hissing with necrotic energy. “Whatever, I’m getting something to drink.” He stands and walks away, the scent of burnt half-orc hanging in the air.

The evil undead lord turns his gaze now upon the remaining companions, who stand in awe, having just watched their comrade smote by his powerful magic. What will they do now?

“I’m going to ‘Do The Dew’,” says a disembodied voice. “Taking one from the fridge, brah.”

“I never run away from a fight, but this undead abomination may be too much for us lads,” admits Stonebrow the dwarf, in an unconvincing and muddled Scottish/Irish accent.

“I concur, we should flee with great haste,” agrees Varis the elf quickly, turning to leave.

Redgar the cleric looks around at his companions and sighs, pleading with them, “Guys, we gotta go grab Skull… effer. We need to take him to town and see if someone can resurrect him.”

The Under Lich utters words of unholy power and skeletons begin to claw their way up from under the crypt floor.

“And I heard something about Cool Ranch Doritos,” calls the disembodied voice again, amidst the a strange cacophony of sound, not unlike cabinets roughly opening and closing and pots and pans rattling. “I wanna crush a bag, where they at?”

If the half-orc had been paying attention earlier, he would have heard that rations are available on the table in the kitchen. Not that he put any gold toward their purchase or anything.

“But, we’ve got all this treasure,” interjects Finian the rogue. “We can’t carry him and the loot!”

“I know guys, I’m sorry.” Redgar braces himself and wades into the sea of skeletons to grab the body of his fallen comrade. “Maybe we can come back for it.”

“But the door to Temple of Blood only opens during the Blood Moon, once every three fortnights!” complains Varis the elf, watching as his companions quickly shed the various treasures they had fought so hard for and follow Redgar into the crypt.

“God, you’re such a pussy,” calls the disembodied voice again, between crunching sounds. “You should have been called Vulva!”

You’re a vulva,” mutters the wizard, reluctantly joining the fray and aiding his comrades in rescuing the body of the fallen half-orc, for reasons he can’t quite comprehend. The battle is pitched and the heroes themselves barely make it out alive, expending the last of their resources to escape in one piece, chased through the catacombs of the Temple of Blood by an army of skeletal warriors. But they do escape, managing to seal the doors behind them, collapsing in a heap.

“You guys still dorking around with that Udder Lick that I fucked up?” The crunching had stopped and the disembodied voice was now coming from the half-orc’s corpse.

“C’mon, let’s get this over with,” sighs Redgar the cleric, saying a few prayers to keep the body of his comrade from stinking too much as they drag him back to town many miles away. The road is long, arduous, and slow going. The scenery slowly crawls by and the effort of dragging a couple hundred pounds of dead weight exhausts the companions. Finally, the town of Glennhallow appears over a rise like a shining beacon to the downtrodden adventurers. The guards at the gate see their predicament and usher them in without hassle, knowing that if they tarry long it could be too late. The four companions make their way to the temple of Avandra, hoping that the acolytes there will know a ritual that might bring the fallen barbarian back from the realm of the Raven Queen. As they approach, a sister of the order of Avandra rushes out to meet them. “My dear heroes,” she exclaims. “What evil hast befallen you? Come inside, we must…”

“Oh. My. God.” says the half-orc’s slowly bloating corpse. “I hate cutscenes. Skip please. SKIP!”

Redgar sighs yet again. “We can move this along, I guess.”

The party meets with the woman and she says she can resurrect him. They perform a ritual. He springs to life.

From somewhere, a strange ringing is heard.

“Hello?” says the formerly dead barbarian. “Yo, this is Eric.”

“The ritual was a lengthy one, and used most of what little resources our order has,” says the sister, ignoring the annoying ringing that, again, had someone been paying attention, would have been set to vibrate. “I must ask for compensation in exchange.”

“Of course,” Redgar says, “How much must we donate to repay this boon?”

“We brought your friend back from the brink. We’d need at least 1,000 gold pieces as ‘payment’ for our services.’

The adventurers look around the table at each other.

The dwarf shrugs. “I’m wearing most of my loot.”

The rogue nods, “Yea, and I bought the last round of healing potions and this cloak I’m wearing.”

They both turn to the cleric. “Look, I know he’s my brother but… I spent most of my gold on rituals and components. I’m tapped.” The three look to the wizard who has been strangely silent. “You know, Varis, I haven’t seen you buy any gear in a while. You must have a few gold tucked away.”

Varis the Elf feigns ignorance, looking at his nails, before snapping at his companions. “C’mon guys, I was going to buy a +1 Staff of Storms and rain down thunder and lightning. It was going to be so cool!”

Redgar slaps his wizard friend on the shoulder, “C’mon, man, you’re the only one with the coin.”

“Fine!” shoots Varis. “This sucks. Here, take it, take all of it.” He throws a sack of coins at the Sister of Avandra’s feet.

The half-orc stands up. “My clan’s online,” he says, furnishing a coat from seemingly nowhere and slipping it on. “I’m outta here, gotta go do some real gaming. Modern Warfare 2, baby! Peace!” And with that the half-orc barbarian, known to his friends as Skullfucker, strode from the Temple of Avandra in the town of Glennhallow and disappeared, perhaps forever.

“Modern Warfare, psh,” dismisses Stonebrow the dwarf, as the wizard Varis walks away mumbling about his precious staff. “I’d rather a sharp axe, a strong shield, and a party of true adventurers any day, right laddies?” His accent is somehow less muddled, and almost convincing.

“God dammit,” cries the voice of Varis, a beacon of sorrow. “He ate all the Doritos!”