Fake War Stories
February 26, 2012 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Fake War Stories "Whenever a group of gamers get together, there's always a period of swapping crazy gaming stories. Role-playing (tabletop or LARP), war gaming, FPS--everyone has a funny story to tell. We've already gotten a number of pretty funny ones." [via mefi projects]
posted by Blasdelb (69 comments total) 85 users marked this as a favorite
Stories of things the happened in the ether. Love it
posted by exois at 9:11 AM on February 26, 2012

I should probably write up a story about the Gallente Ice Interdiction in EVE Online. But it involved something like four layers of market manipulation, griefing, extortion, and scamming, over more than a month. I'm not sure I have the energy to describe it all. Maybe after lunch.
posted by ryanrs at 9:28 AM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

These were partially the DM's fault for being unfamiliar with Druid powers bot nto completely, and eh was always quick enough to improvise when we ruined his plans.

Anyway, I was a mid level Druid, and we were trudging through the jungle on out way to whatever cave we needed something from, rolled an encounter, and found ourselves facing several leopards (or tigers or something). One of them huge. The DM was licking his chops when I win initiative and say, "I cast charm animal on the big one."

"What? You can do that?"

"Yes." I roll a natural 20, and acquire a very large leopard as a new best friend as the DM excuses himself. It turns out that he's planned a whole thing with us being captured and becoming involved in this jungle society of intelligent leopards who sacrificed to gods and stuff and I'd just charmed their king. It worked out to be interesting, though, because now we were allied with the Leopard Kingdom against whatever evil we were fighting.

Another time, for fun, we rolled our characters as level 20's for a day campaign. We get to the climactic room with the mummy lord and his minions or whatever and I say, "I'm gonna summon a blue whale on top of them."

"You can't do that."

"Yes I can, it says I can summon any animal."

"Alright." He rolls some random dice. "Well, they're dead."
posted by cmoj at 9:34 AM on February 26, 2012 [33 favorites]


I have a real weakness to Eve stories. I'm not a huge fan of PLAYING the game, but I could LISTEN to stories about that game for just about ever.
posted by Imperfect at 9:37 AM on February 26, 2012 [7 favorites]

Early in my first experience with D&D, our party was looking for a particular mine where orcs were doing some bad things, idk, who cares. We came across two of the guards and kept our distance without being noticed, and decided our best chance of finding the place was to listen in on their conversation. Unfortunately, all our Orcish speaking characters were too big and armored and terrible at espionage-related tasks to pull this off.

We debated a while until I had an idea. I asked our DM if I, a gnome bard (shut up), could sneak over to them, listen extremely carefully, and come back and repeat the sounds I'd heard to the rest of the party for them to translate. He glared a DM glare at me and said simply: "I'm thinking of a number." I took the die in my hand and calmly rolled a natural 20 of pure destiny.
posted by jinjo at 9:38 AM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


OK, but it'll take a couple hours at least. That campaign generated more forum rage than a metatalk thanksgiving.
posted by ryanrs at 9:52 AM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is one of my favorite things about D&D: all of the stories told when taking a break from telling stories. Thank you.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:58 AM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Second on eve online stories, take your time, we;ll be here.

(I usually prefer to stand behind a hotshot at a video game also)
posted by sammyo at 9:59 AM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

But this is not all that unusual. Kids will talk about what happened during imaginary games, I bet there's great discussion about quirks of fantasy sports.
posted by sammyo at 10:02 AM on February 26, 2012

I was playing as a Half-Elf Ranger a long time ago, and got really lucky whilst rolling the character. Stats up to here, lemme tell you.

Despite this, I had absolutely terrible luck rolling during combat. How bad? Our party trusted the currently spell-less wizard to hold a critical hallway over me. It was bad.

Anyhow, despite my ineptitude, we managed to bust through this evil temple, defeat the crazed mummy at the end, and recover the enchanted, legendary bastard sword that was hanging on the wall. (Well, a +1 bastard sword, but it was so far the first magic weapon in the campaign.) Being the only one in the party who really USED swords of that type, it went to me. And with it, my luck changed too.

Rolling twenties came as naturally to me as breathing. During one fight, I killed four goblins before the rest of the party had even rounded the corner. The difference was night and day.

My character had always been a bit aloof, but now grew positively stuck up. I was a whirling death machine! I was a god!

Arguments ensued. The provenance of my skill came under question. Until finally, it came out: "Without that sword, you'd be just as useless as you've ALWAYS been!"

In a fit of pique, I threw the sword away. It landed in the bottom of a river, and everyone stared at me. In particular the DM. "You're... You're sure you're just going to leave that there? It's a MAGIC SWORD."

But I was determined. What good was being impressive in combat, when your fellow party members saw you as nothing more than effectively a scarecrow that allowed a fancy magical sword to swing about and be awesome?

So we left the sword and carried on. As it turns out, my rolls didn't switch back to being as terrible as before, and I proved to continue to be a competent fighter for the rest of the campaign.

But the DM took me aside a few months later, and let me know just exactly what I'd thrown away. Turns out that the sword I had was actually a legendary artifact that grew as it killed, gaining XP along with me, and growing in bonuses, up to +5, inflicting fiery damage, and granting magical abilities.

Still more importantly, it would grow in intelligence as well, eventually to the point where it WOULD have taken me over entirely, and I WOULD have been nothing but a scarecrow allowing the sword to enact its will.

He had an entire plot set up for this, whole cities full of NPCs to betray and win back the trust of, and had planned on taking me aside a few weeks into the transformation to let me know how the changes were altering my character, and had confidence that a) I could have pulled it off without the other players noticing until it was too late and b) it was going to be awesome.

And yet instead of the accusations and redemption happening over a few month's time, it happened in an afternoon. The first afternoon. Probably forty-five minutes after first acquiring the sword.

I still imagine that sword down there some times, at the bottom of that river... Just conscious enough to realize how close it had come to being released, but not powerful enough to really do anything about it...
posted by Imperfect at 10:03 AM on February 26, 2012 [90 favorites]

I'm reminded of the time a high-level party I know solved the "get the Macguffin from the dungeon" problem with an Earthquake spell and a summoned Earth Elemental. To be fair, the GM had been messing around with them, so he'd earned it.
posted by immlass at 10:03 AM on February 26, 2012

Imperfect -- plot left hooks like that are a large reason why, when I was DM'ing, I just stopped coming up with character-specific plots that couldn't play out longer than three or four sessions. It's just too easy for characters to go off script, or die, or just not pick up on a tasty bit of bait. And, depending on your players, it's far more interesting to just leave them to their own devices, figure out what they find interesting and roll with it.

I was running this homebrew campaign that borrowed warforged (artificial quasi-droid race of hand-wavey provenance) from Eberron and had a player who elected to play a warforged barbarian. In this world, the warforged were basically a manufactured slave race utilised by a Lawful Neutral/Evil empire and being exported to all sorts of kingdoms who liked the cheap labor without looking too closely at whether these creatures had a soul or not. And I had this whole plot setup where the warforged character would start to figure out that not only does he have a soul, but his soul was harvested from a melange of political prisoners and summoned/trapped celestials who were tortured and channeled into these mechanical vessels from a factory set up in Pandemonium as run by a covert cabal of diabolists and a fallen angel with a grudge, and it would be this Pinocchio-via-Hellblazer onion of a plot that would be unveiled through this guy's roleplaying over 20 levels.

His barbarian dies at level 5 from a stupid set of rolls in a goddamn wandering monster encounter, and the player decides to play a gnome bard instead. Oh well.
posted by bl1nk at 10:35 AM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Behold: The Head of Vecna.
posted by Mitheral at 10:43 AM on February 26, 2012 [22 favorites]

Each issue of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book/magazine contains a page or two of stories like these sent in by readers... most of them are pretty hilarious! I haven't played D&D for over 25 years, but I still faithfully read KotDT every month, as it's brilliantly funny and brings back fond table memories.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 10:54 AM on February 26, 2012

Imperfect -- plot left hooks like that are a large reason why, when I was DM'ing, I just stopped coming up with character-specific plots that couldn't play out longer than three or four sessions.

My own DMing style leans heavily away towards writing plot lines for PCs, and towards finding inventive solutions to problems. Having run Call of Cthulhu for a while, I loved the solution the Vampire player on the front page of the blog came up with, trying a non-powered solution to a problem where the GM, unfairly I thought, chided them on not using a powered solution for. But of course it's a different system -- if Call of Cthulhu players had used magic they'd have probably lost a good amount of sanity, and a direct confrontation they likely wouldn't have even have survived it as guns are damn lethal in CoC.
posted by JHarris at 11:01 AM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I remember accidentally stumbling onto a really high level quest in Baldurs Gate Two and being totally unprepared for the boss battle on hand and then....hitting my lighting bolt between the doorframe just as the guy walked through, and it bounced around off the frame enough times that it killed him. I will never in a million years be able to replicate that trick.
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 AM on February 26, 2012 [8 favorites]

Okay, first of all I'm crazy happy to see my stuff (back) on the blue (and another use of the me tag :D). I'm really glad you all dig this particular project.

Bwithh, I'd love to see if Rich Burlew would be into this, but I'm not a member of the OotS forums. I hate being that guy and just joining a site to be all self-promotional. I've been reading OotS since forever though.

It would be great if someone would be a MeFi ambassador for this project over there (and maybe on Penny-Arcade?) So if anyone here is a member of those forums and does post this project there, please message me.

Finally, there are a lot of great stories in this thread already. With permission, I'd love to post some of them to the site. I'll only do so if I receive your explicit permission here in the comments, of course.

Game on.
posted by bradleyvoytek at 11:12 AM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, how rad would it be if this project really got its legs because my buddy skewedoracle talked me into posting it to MeFi projects?
posted by bradleyvoytek at 11:15 AM on February 26, 2012

We had a new DM that got sick of our lucky rolls as we stumbled through some frozen wastes. So, in a fit of pique, instead of secretly /adjusting/ the play, he just dropped a duo of mithril golems on us. (Yes, you read that right.)

Naturally, we aced all the rolls, including the desperation tweaks any DM falls back on when things go awry.

So, there we were, 4-5 low-level n00b characters sitting on the largest pile of mithril ever seen in one place. Seriously, this DM managed to bankrupt the entire plane, and maybe more, of mithril, and we were the owners. Before we could solidify what the hell we were going to do now that we were, literally, the richest beings in 7 planes, the regular DM stepped in next game and had the gods magically exchange all that lucre for some nice stuff and a pat on the head.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:18 AM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

There should be a taxonomy for this (I realize that is my answer for everything, but...):

I. Player-Based Problems
A. Failure to pay attention to setting -- The GM has described, say, a 10' x 1-' room, and the Wizard casts a Fireball with a radius of 30'. Or the Eagle in the FPP links.

B. Failure to pay attention to abilities -- Deciding to cast a spell that takes, say, 10 rounds to cast in combat.

C. Failure to learn the system -- "Oh, wait, spending all my Magic Points does what?" "I'm 5th Level; I will attack the Purple Worm!"

D. Failure to engage with the world -- Players insisting that their characters will do things that go against every in-world instinct.

II. GM-Based Problems
A. Failure to describe setting -- I was listening to an audio CoC game where I (and the people playing) clearly thought they were in a two-story house. They spent quite a bit of time looking for stairs up, deciding that there must be a hidden door somewhere, before the GM told them (rather crossly) that it was a one-story building. A game I was in years ago had a GM smugly tell us that we were ambushed because the world had a 25 hour day, and we failed to account for that in our guard rotation....

B. Failure to remember player abilities -- don't throw mooks with lightning guns against the hero who is immune to electricity. Unless your want them to go down in a hurry.

C. Failure to accept player cunning -- If you have too clear an idea of what is going to happen, you will get bent out of shape when the players don't follow your script. The more you try to get them "back on track," the more they will deviate. Sometimes, this mean not anticipating player insanity. "Let's Summon Youg-Sothoth!" "um...."

D. Failure to explain clearly what is going on -- Players are not necessarily going to catch your subtle clues. If a clue is necessary to move forward, be prepared to outline it in flashing lights. This is fixable -- faced with a particularly complex plot, and feeling they had run out of leads, a detective character in a game said "I am going to make a big board of clues and stare at it, trying to make sense of what's been going on." This gave me a chance to recap what they knew of the conspiracy, what leads they had followed and which were left untouched, and smooth over a few errors when I had to adjust things on the fly to account for player actions.

E. Failure to anticipate the game system -- This is a serious problem in games that require investigation of any sort. Before you make the players roll for anything, make sure that you are OK with them failing. Yes, 5 characters with Spot Hidden skillss of 50-80% can and will not notice the crucial diary....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:22 AM on February 26, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm a fairly new DM, and my first game was a 4E Eberron setting (with various tweaks of setting). Everyone in the party is in hock to the lord of a House for various reasons, and they have become his own personal army, errand boys and girls, and retrieval crew. This is maybe their second major mission, after a general fuckup of the first, and their job is to escort a scientist mage via lightning rails (a magic train) across most of the continent, including via secret track through some fairly terrible areas.

I had learned to work in backdoors, as combat could end up taking a long while. At one point, the plan was for the train to be forced to stop, as it was being set up for an ambush by some dinosaur riding Halflings. The party was either going to have to fight their way out versus some foes with much more maneuverability, or negotiate their way out. I had cached various goodies on the train that they could use to negotiate with, if they chose to give them up, including a very rare and valuable crystal that would basically end the encounter in their favor and earn allies of various Halfling tribes. In addition to these treasures, on the train there was the party, the creepy scientist they were escorting (who was secretly working for the other side, and would become the end monster once the magical clockwork heart went off and transformed him while the party was fighting a bunch of zombies), the engineer, the engineer's assistant (also secretly working for the other side), and a manservant.

In charge of the negotiation was our Half-Elf character, a player who was already at this point legendary for her terrible rolls, especially in clutch situations. Now, though some of the Halflings spoke common, this Half-Elf character spoke Halfling, had Diplomacy bonuses, and as part of her background had actually spent a bunch of time with various Halfling border tribes, as a quasi-legendary raider, which would have provided her additional bonuses during the negotiation.

The way it was supposed to work, the party would negotiate for permission to continue traveling, with speeches made by the Half-Elf, and various bonuses or detriments depending on what they offered or didn't offer in tribute. If they offered the real prize (assuming they found it), they would have just breezed through.

And then the Half-Elf started talking and rolling. And was just hitting natural fails, along with a couple 2's and 3's for variety. The party was getting desperate, but they really didn't want to give up the crystal, so instead they offered the manservant as a slave to the Halflings. I was agape, because I hadn't honestly expected it. But it was a fitting tribute, and gave enough of a bonus that they were able to pass through without having to try to survive the guerrilla warfare of the Halflings.

It was a great bit of play, and I'm sad that a bunch of the players had to move away before we were able to finish it.
posted by X-Himy at 11:23 AM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh yeah, earlier in the game, one of the mages decided to use his magical trampoline to bounce some characters to the ceiling of a cave, where they proceeded to rain death upon a bunch of horrible things. And a later session involved the party trying to puzzle their way through a non-Euclidean maze as they tried to stealth their way through it at night to plant bugs and gather information on a rival House. In the meantime, some of the more larcenous characters decided to try to loot from someone's private collection, which netted them a bunch of zaps, set off some intruder alarms, and forced my backup plan, which was a rescue that incurred even more debt.
posted by X-Himy at 11:31 AM on February 26, 2012

You have … successfully rubbed your balls on his sword.
posted by hal9k at 11:45 AM on February 26, 2012 [7 favorites]

I think my only intruiging story was in World Tree (very strange but intruiging furry RPG). Improvisational magic is a crude, childish, style of magic with a hilariously complicated system of rolling. the game was big enough I had also been dubbed co-gm in charge of magic. unfortunately power leads to corruption, and I nudged the gm to use some suggested optional rules in the book that gave me a lot more flexibility.

improv magic has one thing going for it, crude, simple spells at sometimes stunning levels of power. being specialized in it, I could really up the ante. so a massive fight breaks out in a huge game, about a dozen pcs and two dozen enemies. and I see about flexing my magical muscle by summoning FLAMING BEES! Cause you know, the only thing to make this battle better would be bees! and I roll, and score stupidly well to see how much power I can grab. then I roll, and succeed even more stupidly well, and after a small pile of math I giggle and hand the gm the stats for Fire Bees. at power 120 or so. 30 is the normal range.

for more fun, it was a quadratic spell. higher power equal more powerful as well as more bees. gm looks st the dozen or two FLAMING BEES OF DOOM (tm) I have. rolls one attack. instskills the enemy. declares victory as the enemy is routed by my one spell, chased off by giant flaming bees.

I gained a lot of followers that day :)
posted by AngelWuff at 11:51 AM on February 26, 2012 [8 favorites]

I don't think I'm understanding the first one correctly. The tone of the story is really hostile towards the new player, but from where I'm sitting it reads like she took care of two encounters, single handedly, with two spells.

Sure, she can't use those particular spells again, but if I was in her position I wouldn't ever play with that group again, so that's no big loss.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 11:52 AM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Stories like these are one of the biggest reasons I play these games.

I've run a couple sessions of ACKs recently, starting at 1st level, and I'm loving the random encounter and treasure tables on hand, as well as the ability to hire 0th level henchmen ("ordinary men"! ha!) starting at 1st level.

Game before last, they (a wizard, a warlock, a bladedancer, a cleric, and a spellsword) took the trouble of hiring two of these ordinary men to go with them into the dungeon. After an impromptu arm-wrestling contest to determine which guy was the strongest, they piled their funds together and bought the guy the only suit of plate mail in town, which lowered his exploration and combat speed below the rest of theirs.

With the help of their henchmen (and ACKs sleep spells, wtf), they cleared the dungeon without much trouble. So they load up their henchmen/mules with a chest full of treasure and head back to town. I was rolling random encounters every six-mile hex, so on the way back, in the middle of the night, 6 wights get rolled up and amble into their camp.

Everyone flips their shit and runs away into the woods as fast as possible (good stats are scarce when you roll straight 3d6s). The henchmen, having slept in their armor (the other guy had gotten some chainmail), were slower than the players and the wights, and died horribly behind them.

The players made it back to town, hired some new henchmen ("The others went to the big city to spend all the treasure we gave them!"), and headed back to camp, where they found their treasure untouched and no bodies or monsters of any kind.

What they don't know is that the guy in plate mail was rolled to come back as a wight.

I'd be a terrible GM if that wight didn't have dim memories of home. :)
posted by edguardo at 11:55 AM on February 26, 2012 [8 favorites]

One of my groups of players and their long-time characters (3-4 years) found themselves investigating strangeness in a region that they determined was caused by a spell caster. Wizard weather, crop failures, animals changed in form, all sorts of oddness. In true murder hobo form, they climbed up to said spell caster's mountain fastness and broke in through the cellar, confronting sladdi minions and weird monsters that were the result of various experiments. As they progressed through the place, they saw that he was 1) obviously of much higher level/more powerful than the group and 2) not so much evil but rather a chaotic neutral mad scientist type.

Eventually they confronted the wizard in the grand hall of his fortress, and found he was willing to discuss the situation with them, asking them why they felt the need to break in, kill his pets, ruin his experiments, etc. The party spokesman started telling him how his experiments were having negative effects on the countryside, hurting the local farmers, etc. There is a bit of heat in the discussion, with the wizard getting somewhat defensive and arguing about how his experiments are important and so on.

While this is going on, the player with the combat wizard declares that he looks at the party's fighter tank, who simply shrugs. He then looks at me and says "Fuck it. Fireball."

What followed was a one-sided total party kill, as said high-level wizard and his minions responded to the unprovoked attack by tromping the group into goo.

Many adventures have passed with that group of players since then, but the phrase "Fuck it. Fireball" has never been surpassed in its infamy.
posted by moonbiter at 12:08 PM on February 26, 2012 [9 favorites]

So we're in the far future, me and my buds, trying to make ends meet. We just rescued the Mayor's daughter from a bunch of All-American gourmet terrorists with names like Chad, Chet, Brad, Chip (don't ask). Suddenly - call on our future phones! The remaining gourmet terrorists - holed up in the Water Treatment Plant for the city! Dastardly! They're going to poison everybody! OH NO!

'Eh,' we say as one. 'We buy a bunch of bottled water and stay inside for a few days.'

The DM looks down at the thick sheaf of notes he has prepared, sighs, tosses them in the bin.

Mind you he had his revenge at the climax of the campaign when it turned out all the missions we'd been blithely doing for our mysterious mission-giving chick (retrieving a nuclear warhead, obtaining military decryption codes, planting a black box) were actually at the behest of an evil AI and we'd just been tricked into nuking a city.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:08 PM on February 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

On further consideration, telling the whole interdiction story would take way too many words. So I'll start by linking to some stuff other people wrote.

Gallente Ice Interdiction Announcement on Kugutsumen.com
The key point is the economic discussion in the opening paragraphs. It's not an exaggeration. Oxygen isotopes are very important in EVE. People will keep buying it even if the price doubles. Switching to a different fuel is a lot of work, potentially requiring several months of skill training time.

The rest of the announcement discusses the nitty-gritty game mechanics of the NPC Space Police (CONCORD). You probably don't care about that. TLDR: CONCORD punishes hostile acts, it does not prevent them. CONCORD is easy to game as long as you're willing to sacrifice your own ship in the attack.

Eve Online: End of an Ice Age?
Another description of the Ice Interdiction by some random blogger. Less discussion of game mechanics. Probably a lot more readable for those of you who don't play EVE.

Goonswarm: They are doing something with Ice and Oxytopes
Initial reactions from the player base on the EVE Official Forums. Caution: contains bad posting.

So that's the official story of the Ice Interdiction: Goons are choking off the oxygen isotope supply by mass suicide attacks against ice miners in high security space. Presumably they are also making a killing selling off stocks they purchased before the announcement was made.

But that's only half the story. There are another couple layers of fun that went on behind the scenes on the GoonSwarm private forum. (unfortunately I can't provide links)

First were the reimbursements. Most of the costs of the suicide runs were paid by the GoonSwarm Alliance. After suiciding your ship, you could file for reimbursement. This, combined with the in-game insurance mechanic, made suicide runs very cheap.

Then there was the hate mail and tears, also known as forum porn. Every time an outraged miner sobbed, cussed, or raged at a goon, the chat logs were saved and posted on the forums. There were daily prizes of 50-100 million ISK for the best tears and rage logs.

And then there were the scams. There was a whole army of goons who went through the killboards and emailed the victims with offers for the "Ice Miner Amnesty Program". For a 500M fee (worth more than a month of subscription time), ice miners would be allowed to mine in the interdicted ice belts. These blatant extortion attempts usually netted even more rage for the porn threads.

On occasion though, a miner would pay up. With oxygen isotopes trading at nearly triple the usual price, it was easy to appeal to the greedy ones. Even though everyone knows Goons are scammers and liars, the Amnesty Program made a certain amount of sense to an outsider. It was perfectly in-character for Goons to turn their operation into a huge protection racket. So some miners would run the numbers and discover that there was a lot of profit to be had, even after paying exorbitant fees to the Goons. A few corps even paid several billion ISK to get access for all their members.

Naturally the whole amnesty program was complete bullshit and the miners who paid were murdered all over again.

The best part of the extortion scam was that no goon would ever let on that it was a scam. Whenever a paid-up miner got ganked, there was always a story about the master list not getting updated, or the suicide ganker was a goon who went rogue, or maybe the guy they paid the money to was a random goon scammer, not an official Amnesty Program Coordinator. Some especially stupid ice miners paid the extortion fees two or three times before they caught on that the whole thing was a massive scam. And of course, all the chat logs went to the porn thread.
posted by ryanrs at 12:13 PM on February 26, 2012 [17 favorites]

When we incorporated the house rule of the "hero point" from the James Bond game into our D&D games, the games went from plain-Jane D&D to a bunch of guys all trying to do wacky stuff to earn and spend hero points. No one could just swing a sword any more -- every combat encounter was suddenly Evening at the Improv.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:14 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

BTW, I should mention that the GoonSwarm Alliance did not make significant amounts of money from the ice interdiction. When you factor in the reimbursements paid out for suicide ships, the alliance itself just about broke even.

Individuals in the alliance leadership, especially people on the finance team, made a huge amount from their own personal investing. Many common goons made billions from the scams. But the benefit to the alliance as an organization was mostly that it kept players interested in the game and kept them logging in each day.
posted by ryanrs at 12:49 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

oxygen isotopes 1-year price graph
posted by ryanrs at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2012

God I love Goonswarm stories.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:17 PM on February 26, 2012

Well, much as I hate the ganking in other games, I must admit that EVE has the absolutely best bad guys of all the MMOs. Which, I guess, makes them the worst guys.
posted by hat_eater at 2:00 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

At a convention once, I took part in a Traveller adventure hight Whiteout. We were the crew of a small merchant ship stranded on an icy backwater world with a fried Plot Device, and we had to accumulate yea much money to pay for repairs. "Good," I thought, "a decent convention adventure should have a clear-cut goal but offer some flexibility in how to solve it."

We canvassed the other ships in port, but none could spare the Frazzinator we needed. Two of our six-man crew went into the small attached town to see if we could sell our cargo of snow removal machines. Alas! a competitor had been here two weeks before and sold an entire shipment, so there was no further need. I asked the GM: "So, this world which, [checks info handout] has a population of nine million people and where the temperatures almost never get above zero at the equator now has no further need of snow removal machines?" "No." "Ah."

While in town, our two crew members met and were assaulted by a knife-wielding drunkard. He wound up in custody while I, the pilot (we had no real medic) patched them up. In his drunken rantings, he had mentioned "the beasts" in the wilderness outside of town. "Ah," we thought, "we will kill or capture these beasts for a reward." But no, no reward on offer.

I combed the ship for anything else we could unload. No other cargo, and apparently we had spent the last of the ship's funds on the snowblowers. Anything we bought had to come from pocket change, and four of the six of us started with zero credits. The other two had about 1600 credits between the pair of them: for comparison, buying cold weather gear for all six of us cost 1200 credits. Yes, clothing sufficient to ensure we would not die used up three quarters of our resources.

We learned at last that we had a buyer for our snow machines, some 800 km north; and and a bonus, this same buyer had sponsored a geological expedition into the mountains some 300 km north of town. At last, after two and a half hours, the objective hove into view.

I should point out in passing that this was nominally a four-hour game. After the four hours was up, there was to be a two hour gap and then another different game in the same spot. Early on, one of the organizers swung by and told us the afternoon game had been cancelled, so we could take as long as we liked.

We all believed we were still in it for four hours, I wonder if the GM decided he would expand his masterwork to ten hours; if so, he did not canvass us. It would account for the way the rest of the session went.

At the three-hour mark, we were still buying whatever cheap gear we could afford. We rented a massive all-terrain vehicle and a trailer to haul our snow removal machines. We proceeded north, as the GM rolled extensively on the random encounter tables. Mostly it was just local fauna, which we ignored. He would then roll some more, and mention more fauna, which we bypassed as well; with time limit both in-game and at the table, we were not messing about with the local wildlife.

Three encounters will stain my memory for many years to come. Remember we are traversing a vast, empty plain of snow and ice, headed north. 2-300 km ahead are some mountains; some 500 km to the east is a forest.

1ST ENCOUNTER: The GM tells us the way is blocked by some herbivores traversing the road. We tell him we wait until they pass. He rolls a die and tells us the seething mass passes before us for six hours. I wonder aloud what tens of thousands of bison-sized beasts would be eating on a vast plain of snow, and he reminds they are headed east to the forest -- they are migratory. I wonder to myself why they left it then, and if perhaps they wore backpacks full of supplies.

2ND ENCOUNTER: He tells us the way ahead is blocked by a wall of snow. Further questioning of him reveals there has been an avalanche. In the middle of the plains. "Where did this snow come from?" I ask, now gaining a reputation as a troublemaker. "From the mountains," he tells us. "What, the ones still 150 km away?" I speculate privately that perhaps the herbivores were escaping the avalanches. We asked if we could use the snow removal devices and he said it would not work; we asked if the ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE could climb the snow, but alas, it would not.

3RD ENCOUNTER: (verbatim, as best I recall)

"You see a large object blocking the way."

"What is it?"

"You cannot tell, just that it is a large object."

"Okay, but is it artificial, natural? Is it a living being of some sort?"

"You cannot tell."

"Okay, when you say 'large,' how large are we talking?"

"... it is a large object."

"St-Bernard large? Elephant large? Aircraft carrier large?"

"You cannot tell. It is dark out."

"We have headlights."

"It is snowing too."

"How far away is it?"

"Ten metres."

"And we cannot tell anything else about it?"


"We have to get out and look at it, don't we?"


Turned out to be a bearlike creature about the size of an elephant. We retreated into the shelter of the all-terrain vehicle rather than be dismembered, and did not emerge any of the next six times he told us we encountered one.

Finally we were obliged to get out and walk. We encountered another bearlike creature and engaged in combat. As I had no combat skills and no weapons, I excused myself for a few minutes to get a drink of ginger ale. When I returned, everyone was packing up. "What, did it kill us?" No, but we had run past the four and a half hour mark and other players had obligations. I am not sure how many actually had obligations and how many were merely trying to find the way out they thought I had found, but we wrapped it up there.

It was ultimately a pacing problem combined with a lack of imagination. We were more than two-and-a-half hours into our four hours before we learned what we were supposed to do (investigate the disappearance of the geologists). This is the narrative equivalent of having the Ghost finally talk to Hamlet in Act III, or having Bond meet with M for the first time an hour into the movie. You can maybe delay the setup in an ongoing game where things will be continuing for another dozen or fifty sessions, but everyone present knew of the time limit.

Some GMs fear structure because it smells of railroading but this was three hours of shapelessness follow by an hour of railroading-a-go-go. As well, Traveller's encounter tables were always formatted to give you an understanding of where things fit into the ecology. The entries might say 'herbivore, 400 kg' and give a brief block of stats. On Earth, depending where you were, that might be horse or a camel or a zebra or a llama or even a turtle. This guy Friday kept it merely as 'herbivore'.

It would have been trivial to say, "Ahead the roadway is blocked by a meandering herd of rogas. They are massive shaggy, six-legged beasts, and you can see the steam from their breath hanging like a thin cloud over the herd and condensing to a thin dew on their horns and ruffed backs. There must be thousands of them, making their way slowly from west to east. You cannot go any further forward right now and you will have to park the ATV for at least an hour or two." instead, it was, "you see a lot of herbivores and are delayed for six hours." What better way to keep your players at arm's-length from the game...
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:01 PM on February 26, 2012 [7 favorites]

I must admit that EVE has the absolutely best bad guys of all the MMOs.

The head of GoonSwarm, The Mittani, is also the head of the elected players' council, the CSM. He won the last election by a significant margin, and the majority of his votes were from outside GoonSwarm. He may be hated by know-nothing hisec carebears, but he has the support of a lot of the more serious players in the game.

The Mittani is the reason why I started playing EVE. I hope he buys my vote in the coming election.
posted by ryanrs at 2:28 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

one time i stuck mario between blocks
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:32 PM on February 26, 2012 [9 favorites]

In one of the funnest campaigns I ever played, a friend of mine was that particular breed of D&Der; a pack rat. Anything that wasn't nailed down - and quite a few things that were - ended up in a bag of holding, and he was carting around the most useless pile of miscellaneous shit for much of the campaign.

My character - Baron Ovaries - was a bard, and as the most charismatic of the group, was generally the one having conversations with NPCs when we needed information.

We were dealing with a recalcitrant dwarf who had an amulet we needed. After downing a potion of dubious provenance I was hoping to persuade him to give it to us, but an astonishing series of just terrible, terrible rolls - like four ones in a row - meant that
a) The potion wasn't charisma-boosting, per se, it was a love potion
b) The dwarf was not giving me the amulet but
c) was growing increasingly amorous, and, uh, increasingly insistent, and every damned roll I made was exacerbating the situation.

My fellow PCs thought it was hilarious that my bard was on the cusp of being raped by a dwarf. I was at a loss, and had no idea what to do next, my rolls being so bad I was determined not to touch the dice again.

As the dwarf leaned over, grunting sweet nothings and making a grab for my nether regions, my pack-rat comrade quickly shouted, "I place the giant serpent's eyeballs into his hands!"

Such inventive improvisation with something so seemingly useless he had been carting around for weeks evoked a spontaneous applause from the group. The die 20 he rolled certainly helped, as the dwarf screamed in horror and fainted. We stole the amulet and got the hell out, all due to the most uncharismatic member of the team, half-orc barbarian Fangula Bastardo.
posted by smoke at 2:32 PM on February 26, 2012 [12 favorites]

Damn you Afroblanco.

I burst out laughing, reading the FPP text. Because I thought of this.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 2:52 PM on February 26, 2012

I cast atomic wedgie on everyone in this thread.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:47 PM on February 26, 2012

You want war stories? Play ARMA.

I built a mission once which was based on a bombing gone wrong--the players have to escape from the vicinity in the darkness while helicopters circle overhead, tanks patrolled the roads, and small parties of infantrymen stalked the fields.

While we were trying to cross a road, the Russian APC, whose route I had created, stopped in front of us. The soldiers got out and started looking around. Voice comms went completely silent. Rain fell. The Russians said something in Russian and got back into the APC and drove on, the motor dwindling into the distance.

It was a moment before someone said: "I have paid for entire games that aren't as scary as this mission, SMM."
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:26 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is just what I needed.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:46 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

It seems like a lot of these problems are ultimately the result of differing assumptions between the GM and the players.

For example, the "I summon a blue whale to crush my foes" situation. The GM could rule that you cannot summon a monster inappropriate to the environment, that it must naturally be viable there and so the whale cannot be brought into existence in the air, because whales don't live in air.

But, if he did rule thus, he'd have to consider that while the player might not have known that, the player's character, having knowledge of the rules of magic of his world by virtue of having trained to use the spell, would have known that. It's a case, IMO, where the GM should allow the player to take back the action.

Or, he could allow it. It makes for a great story to tell later, but there is a danger that blue whale nukes ("What's this thing coming up towards me? I wonder if it'll be friends with me?") could end up being a go-to thing for the players. If it works once, logically it should work again, and that's could be a problem for wilderness travel as the shattered wreckage of whales comes to punctuate the landscape at each place the players encounter resistance.
posted by JHarris at 5:05 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

just throw a fucking whale at it that's your answer to everything!

A good GM would have a side plot on how random whale fall corpses cause causing a really dangerous uptick in the local monster population - all that free protein and fat just THERE
posted by The Whelk at 5:08 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

A canny GM would make it into an arms race, as struggling suvivors from whale bombings leave and tell village elders, and before long the PCs themselves have to look out for gigantic plummeting sea mammals. There are a lot more enemy spellcasters than player ones.
posted by JHarris at 5:16 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think the high point of one of our D&D campaigns was an elderly Halfling paladin with a giant ear trumpet whose mount was a large tortoise. When the situation called for him to charge into melee, the rest of the party held action for 4 or 5 rounds to give him enough time to get there.
posted by subbes at 5:21 PM on February 26, 2012 [7 favorites]

Perhaps after the PCs do their best to lay low and survive the infectious spread of whale vendettas, this arms race leads to a shortage of whales. Concerned and powerful wizards then send the responsible PCs on an epic quest to retrieve a MacGuffin required to save the remaining whales as they become harder to summon but the whale bombing meme spreads.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:24 PM on February 26, 2012 [8 favorites]

Concerned and powerful wizards then send the responsible PCs on an epic quest to retrieve a MacGuffin required to save the remaining whales as they become harder to summon but the whale bombing meme spreads.

If this involves sending the PCs to San Francisco in the '80s, I'm in.
posted by Etrigan at 5:26 PM on February 26, 2012 [9 favorites]

In the old days of playing Battlefield....


My buddy and I were in a jeep, travelling along a bridge. At the far end, an enemy jeep is coming towards us, and our passengers start exchanging (ineffective) small arms fire. We get closer.

"Ok, I've got a plan, I've seen this done before"


"At the last moment, I'll swerve right into the path of the enemy jeep, and right before that we'll both jump out. Both jeeps will collide and explode, our enemies will die, but we'll be fine."

"Uhh.. ok"

At the last moment, I swerve towards the enemy jeep, but their driver instinctively swerves away from us as well and we fail to make contact. But my friend and I have both already jumped out of the jeep.

What happens is my passenger friend on the right, jumps out and falls right off the bridge into the canyon below and dies. Me, the driver on the left, jumps out right into the path of the enemy jeep and gets run over.


Never trust your truck driver. 6 of us packed in the back of an armored carrier. You could just about see the outside world through a tiny slit in the side of the vehicle. Suddenly the carrier stops.

"Hey, driver? What's happening?"


Then an explosion and we all die.

Turns out the driver had seen an enemy with an RPG appear at the side of the road... and he exited the vehicle and ran away to save himself, completely neglecting to mention this fact to the rest of us. -_-
posted by xdvesper at 5:32 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

When we incorporated the house rule of the "hero point" from the James Bond game into our D&D games, the games went from plain-Jane D&D to a bunch of guys all trying to do wacky stuff to earn and spend hero points.

An early game that uses a similar system is the surprisingly cool Ghostbusters RPG, which has "brownie points." Later on the system was revised for the revision of Paranoia as "perversity points," which practically state anything a player does that makes the GM laugh, or he thinks is clever, should be generously rewarded with points, which are intended to be represented physically as poker chips at the table.

Paranoia's rolls are scaled along D20 lines, but before rolling you can spend perversity points, on a one-for-one basis, to give yourself bonuses on any roll. Other players can also spend in your favor and -- significantly -- they can also pay to give you penalties. Players can spend points for or against each other, you can even end up with situations where some players want a roll to succeed and others want it to fail, and so they bid against each other, each trying to outdo the points spent by the other side.

Since Paranoia is a game where your most dangerous opponents are the other players, this happens fairly frequently.
posted by JHarris at 5:32 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

A lot of our Star Wars d20 games just ended up like an RPG recreation of Space Asshole.
posted by subbes at 5:34 PM on February 26, 2012

Eventually the players get magically summoned by a party of blue whale adventurers for use as shock troops against giant squid.
posted by JHarris at 5:36 PM on February 26, 2012 [14 favorites]

In the games I've played, stealing other players' perversity points has also been fully condoned by the GM.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:41 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

(More recent versions of the Summon Monster spell explicitly say "Creatures cannot be summoned into an environment that cannot support them. " Such as mid-air if they can't fly. For just this reason.)
posted by kyrademon at 5:44 PM on February 26, 2012

"Concerned and powerful wizards then send the responsible PCs on an epic quest to retrieve a MacGuffin required to save the remaining whales as they become harder to summon but the whale bombing meme spreads.

If this involves sending the PCs to San Francisco in the '80s, I'm in.

Oh god, Player Characters anywhere near the Nuclear Wessels in Alameda would be a terrible terrible thing....
posted by Blasdelb at 6:08 PM on February 26, 2012

The best thing about playing with the same group for 20+ years is all the shared in-jokes and remember when stories:

Back in the declining hoary days of 1e AD&D TSR had went crazy with expansions (as they are wont to do) and our 7ish level party had an original Bard, a pair of fighters, an unearthed arcana cavalier (min/maxed to the hilt), a dwarf cleric, the DM's "NPC" Druid, and a supposedly 5th level ogre barbarian about as bright as a sack of hammers who was, unknown to the party, really a 20+ level wizard who had cast an illusion on himself to appear to be the ogre. The ogre was equipped with a "magical" amulet that could be called upon to produce magical effects (really the wizard channelling his spell casting ability).

The ogre's shtick was to twist requests for assistance into detriments to the asking character. The party picked up on this pretty quickly and stopped asking however the Cavalier just wouldn't leave it alone and was bound and determined to get useful assistance out of the ogre; much to the amusement of the DM and the rest of the party. One time we're traversing a dungeon and we come into a corridor about 70' long before it Ts off. About 30' from the T is a 30' long pit of death that the party needs to some how get across. The Cavalier, in a fit of brilliance, asks the ogre to toss him across the pit. A request that the ogre doesn't even need to try to twist. As he picks up the cavalier the cavalier's player comes to the realization that this is going to be bad. Without discussion the ogre tosses him across the pit with all his considerable might. The cavalier clears the pit all right. In fact the Cavalier's trajectory is still arcing upwards when he impacts the stone wall 60' away. The good news is the cavalier actually breaks through the wall and now that he's unconscious and on the other side of the wall he makes a pretty good anchor point for the rope he was trailing which allows the rest of the party to navigate the pit without injury.

Another time with a different DM/party we come across a pair of rooms. The first room off of the corridor has bias relief frescoes covering the walls featuring dwarfs at work at forges. And each forge has actual flames coming from it maintained by a flow of natural gas. Across from the corridor door is the entrance to a magically brightly lit room with a pair of very ornate brass bound stone doors across from the entrance. This room is featureless except for the aforementioned doors. When the party steps into the brightly lit room a magic mouth set above the doors intones "Choose Wisely".

So the party starts attempting to open the doors. First up is the thief who unable to detect any traps decides the magic mouth is there just to waste time so he walks up and grabs the right hand door knob. This results in him being thrown across the room and a loss of half his hit points from an electric shock. The cleric, the supposedly wise one in the group, sees this and proceeds to attempt to open the left hand door. An electric shock tosses him across the room and actually renders him unconscious. For the next three hours real time we attempt to open one or both of the doors through increasingly rube goldbergest means. We try forcing the doors with assorted tools which results in shocks or no effect. We attempt to destroy the doors through means magical and physical. The thief spends half a day of game time attempting to find secret door releases in both the lit room and the fresco room. At one point we blow out all the little forge flames, wait for both rooms to fill with natural gas, toss in a delayed blast fire ball and then close and barricade the corridor doors. This results in the destruction of the frescoes and singed hair on on the PCs but has no effect on the shocking doors. Finally we give up; pack up all our stuff; and leave the room. As the last PC exits the brightly lit room with an exasperated good riddance the magic mouth intones "You have chosen wisely".

This last is from the first heady months of 4e. Same guys play as the first story except for the Cavalier. 4e for us up until the point of the story had been fairly role play light concentrating more on the mechanics of a new system and the coolness of the assorted character archetypes. Anyways we'd worked the party up to ~14th level with a good mix of controllers, strikers, defenders, and a leader. I'm playing an Eladrin sword mage who has ramped his feats and powers to pretty well always strike first even on mediocre initiative rolls. One of the defenders is, unknown to pretty well everyone but the player, extremely pious. We spend the night in a wilderness cabin that turns out to be a magical trap set by a group of hill giants. We get ambushed by said giants in the middle of the night and spend the next 6 hours running for our lives. When the chase runs down we stop running in a forest clearing roughly the size of a Canadian football field. At the centre of the clearing is a massive tree that makes an inviting place to rest and regroup. About half way through our rest we find ourselves surrounded by about 200 wood elves. The elves are pissed off that we have desecrated their holy tree and for penance they want our help to defeat the giants. This sounds good to us (after all we can just skip out when we go to fight the giants) right up until the elves want us to agree to be put under a geas so we don't just skip out on the agreement.

The pious defender suddenly gets religion and turns our tactical combat players into super role players. He figures his god wouldn't like him putting himself under the control of the elves. We refuse the geas, the elves refuse to let us leave, we say "bring it". The Eladrin gets to strike first as usual, goes nova and manages to take out 13 of the elves on his first turn. Sadly for our heroes the rest of the elves get to strike before any of the other heroes and turn the party into pin cushions. TPK. From then on whenever encountering lopsided odds someone is sure to exclaim in their best Saffron imitation "Please. Nobody died last time".

JHarris writes "If it works once, logically it should work again, and that's could be a problem for wilderness travel as the shattered wreckage of whales comes to punctuate the landscape at each place the players encounter resistance."

Usually there is an unspoken agreement between the players and DM that if the DM allows this clever rule exploit this one time then the players won't do it or variations again. The player win the fight in a decisive manner, the DM gets on to the next thing and both sides get a good story. 1e AD&D was basically nothing but a big ol' pile of rules exploits. Using the same exploit over and over again would be boring.

Which reminds me of my favourite attempted exploit. One of our fighters gets his arm chopped off and we don't have the party resources to reattach it. We do however have both the mend spell (which only works on inanimate objects) and the raise dead ritual. The DM wouldn't let us kill the fighter, use mend to reattach his arm and then raise him.
posted by Mitheral at 6:16 PM on February 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I would have allowed it, but have the arm and the rest of the player animated separately, so that it could get a bit... uncooperative. Also I would have thrown hostile clerics at the group.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 6:34 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also I would have thrown hostile clerics at the group.

You can add this sentence to anything.
posted by JHarris at 6:40 PM on February 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

Our house rule modified summon creature to the caster searching for intended creature and knew how far away it was; summoning, well, summoned the creature and they'd try they're best to make its way to the caster. Or they can scan for nearby creatures and decide to summon them or not.

If someone summoned a whale while in a cave, well, a whale would then go and beach itself trying to get terrestrial.

Instead, this became a compromise between the caster and the GM, with the later determining whether something was available in a practical way.
posted by porpoise at 7:15 PM on February 26, 2012

Chaotic Neutral Halfling Rogue-type. Somewhere around Level 10. And I want a Pirate ship. Bad. So the Dragon Shaman and I come up with a plan to steal one which will also stick it to an evil Duke that we've got beef with, and in so doing smooth things over with those players more in the northwest corner of the alignment chart.

Basically, there are these magic items that don't get brought up as often as you'd think, called "Feather Tokens," and they are surprisingly cheap considering the ramifications of some of their magical effects if used properly. Basically, they are magic feathers that you assign command words to and they instantly become some pre-assigned thing from a short list. Like, an "Anchor Feather Token" turns into an anchor, or a "Bird Feather Token" into a bird. Etc.

We bought a shitload of "Tree Feather Tokens" and some other assorted items. We got through Marsember and down to the water's edge, far enough away not to be seen, and the druid transformed into a shark. Having the best stealth skills, my Halfling rode on the shark's back to the docks, where we picked out one ship and then went around embedding these tree feather tokens into all of the others. We get back and the party splits up to take the dock's in an ambush. As the druid transforms back, however, a city guardsman comes up and starts questioning us about swimming inside the city canals, as apparently that's against local code. What was clearly supposed to be a lightly humorous situation for me to diplo us through took on a darker turn as I decided that I didn't have time for this and the LG characters were gone anyway, and I pulled out my +1 anarchic "cop-killer" bow and just shot the guy dead

So with one group heading by land, the druid, shaman and I pull out a "swan boat feather token" (these are real look them up) and paddle off to glory. I had set some of the tree tokens to go off when I shouted "avast" or something like that, and it certainly alerted the crews when a bunch of 60-ft oak trees appeared out of nowhere and cracked their hulls in two, but for maximum fun, I had the rest of the tokens set with triggers phrases like "to arms!" and "man overboard!" for a snowballing-chaos-effect.

When the others meet up with us, there's only one ship remaining intact, we're on it, what looks like a screaming and very confused forest is floating around us, the crew of our new ship has decided that they're clearly not getting paid enough to fight us and just surrendered, and the druid is calling lightning storms down on the dry docks and setting fire to a massive portion of the district.

The LG Ranger was a little traumatized, and it didn't help that I kept traying to tell her that it was all okay. Once we got back to Suzail we'd get letters of marque, so it would all be on the up-and-up.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:16 PM on February 26, 2012 [15 favorites]

My turn! (I love this stuff)

Once we were playing Shadowrun and the GM was running a store bought adventure. Around the half way point of the game, the runners have to travel from one city to the next. Along the way we hear a shot, and one the van's tires has been blown out by a bullet! The Rigger makes the skill check and stays on the road (reinforced tires, so we didn't have a flat per say). So we look out of the van (not stopping) and see we are being followed by a glider and the shots are coming from there. At the same time a large motorcycle gang, waving chains and shotguns, is seen further down the road gaining on us due to our reduced speed. We roll for initiative: our sniper goes first, leans out the window, and fires one shot at the glider, hitting the pilot in the head, killing him instantly and sending the glider crashing to the ground. Next up, myself as the mage, I cast a Force Wall across the span of the highway and roll well enough to place the wall close to the bikers. GM rolls. Every single biker (9 of them) fails the roll and crashes straight into the wall at 95 mph . Encounter ends, high fives all around! GM picks up the adventure book again, pauses, then bursts out laughing as he reads us aloud the Adventure Notes on said encounter (paraphrasing): "This encounter is designed to wear out the runners and use up a lot of their ammo, so that when they arrive back in town they are low on supplies and health and thus more susceptible to negotiate." Total supplies used in that fight: 1 bullet. Susceptibility to negotiations: zero.

Another time we were playing AD&D (2nd edition) and the characters were summoned before the infamous Lord of the North (whom the PCs had heard a lot about but had never met, he was a serious badass in our world's meta-geopolitical game). So as the Lord of the North is basically acknowledging that the PCs could be somewhat useful to him, our ranger decides to get lippy with him:
Ranger - "Screw off you over-important prick, we will not work for you."
Ranger - "Bite me."
Lord - "DIE" *casts Power Word: Kill*
Ranger - *fails save, dies*
Rest of the group - "What the heck were you thinking, ranger!"
Ranger - "Well, I didn't think he was going to kill me! And besides I might have made my save..."

Later in that campaign one of our friends was really excited about the adventure he had spent all week preparing. So we all eagerly sat down to play. After a rather interesting intro we faced off against a group of hobgoblins in a cave, and dispatched them easily enough; all of a sudden, on a shelf above us, appears a drow priestess in full battle garb. She declares us her slaves and starts casting.
*roll for initiative*
The initiative order is Thief (PC), Priestess, rest of party. The thief, who had is bow already in hand due to the fight with the hobgoblins, fires an arrow at the priestess.
*roll to hit: 20! critical*
So the DM asks: "ok how much damage on that arrow, no sneak attack?"
Player rolls the die, and says: "8 pts of damage..."
As the GM starts to write down the damage on his sheet, the player then adds "but it doesn't matter because she is dead."
DM - "What do you mean she is dead? She has over 70 hp!"
Thief - "Well, maybe, but that was an Arrow of Slaying +4 vs Drow"
...pause, DM blinks...
DM - "Let me see that sheet." Player hands Thief character sheet over to DM.
...DM reads character sheet...
Then the DM crumples up his 6 sheets of adventure notes and tosses them over his shoulder and says: "Well, that's that then. Adventure over." He also mutters "bastards" under his breath, we all grin. It turns out the drow priestess was going to Charm us all and use us as her pawns in a large political power game in the Underdark and she was the key character in the adventure. Without her, no game. We never did remember where the Thief got that Arrow of Slaying from, but it was on his sheet. And from that day on whenever we are facing an obvious important NPC or monster someone will invariably look over his sheet and say: "I think I have an Arrow of Slaying for that."

In another campaign (this time D&D 3.5) we had a party that was working directly for the king of the country. The two main party members, as far as the kingdom story line was concerned were: Lord Hek, Captain of the Guards (lvl 12 fighter) and Mobius, High Inquisitor (lvl 11 Diviner, with no offensive spells, to this day one of my favourite D&D characters). Anyways, the PCs were following up on a series of murders and the trail had led them to one of the large noble houses. After breaking into the house the party found its way to the 3rd floor, and were faced with a massacre. Body parts and blood of the house guards were everywhere, we were stunned. With this evidence we were sure that the lord of the house was the guilty party. Then, out of an adjacent room, come streaming a bunch of royal guards and the lady of the house (who has an evil snarl on her lips). She then shouts out: "Guards! These men have come to my house and killed my men as you can plainly see. In the name of House Raven, arrest them at once!"

Just as Mobius starts to speak to try and Diplomacy his way out of this predicament, Lord Hek yells: "Off with 'er head!" and picks up the die. Rolls a natural 20. With his Vorpal Blade. With the mage still at a loss for word and Lady Raven's head falling from her severed neck, Lord Hek declares:
"I am Lord Captain Hek, and this is Mobius the High Inquisitor! By order of His Majesty the King we have tracked and found the instigator of the serial killings, Lady Raven who is now dead at our hands. You will secure these premises and await further orders while we report back to His Majesty."
...pause, gaping maws all around...
Lord Hek - "IS THAT CLEAR?"
All the guards, in unison - "YES SIR!"

And that is how, Lord Captain Hek, saved the entire party from a long series of adventures focused on imprisonment, false accusations, and fall from grace. All hail Hek!

And I have a lot more to share as well, but I have to go to bed now. Man do I miss D&D (sadly we have few opportunities to play anymore).

posted by Vindaloo at 7:38 PM on February 26, 2012 [14 favorites]

During a one-session break from a longer campaign (we were going to have a couple of absentees from our regular Savage Worlds game), I ran a one-shot GURPS Old West game. Four players generated a small gang of outlaws. but it ended in a TPK, with Fred's (unplayed) character as the sole survivor of the Rock County Gang by virtue of Fred having to work late that week.

At the beginning of the session, they were fleeing westwards from Kansas to avoid certain legal entanglements. Nonetheless, they found they had a supernatural menace aboard. In a tunnel in the Rockies, their train was stopped. They had managed to evacuate most of the train, with almost all the passengers fled out the far end of the tunnel. They had scoured the train's cargo car for anything to aid them in fighting a monstrous evil and found some supplies for a mining concern in Colorado, including explosives. They knew that their foe was in one particular passenger car and they had a plan. Well, "plan" may not be the correct term.

Note to interested parties: igniting an improvised fuel-air explosive in a tunnel when all the party members are carrying a dozen sticks of dynamite each (and the guy setting it off took the disadvantage of Unluckiness) is not the kind of thing anyone does twice. It was a spectacular ending, I will give them that. And when they said one-shot, they really meant it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:46 PM on February 26, 2012

Gen Con 17. I was 15. Played a weird Star Fleet Battles game in a big room where we had these 4" by 4" starship pieces with 12" inches of string attached to the middle for aiming. As the 15 year old in the group, I got some crap minor race ship with only missiles. The battle space was a 20' by 30' room. Crept up on a capital ship and fired a tight spread from about 2'. Wiped that fucker out with 5 missiles. They ganged up on me after that.

In college was playing Fire in the East, the titanic Eastern Front game. Was so sure I had enough to hold the key spot to protect the Dnepir River bridges near a rail junction. A powerful stack of Germans approached, but I knew I had enough. Suddenly the biggest stack of aircraft I had ever seen appear over me and my buddy mowed me down like grass.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:48 PM on February 26, 2012

Oh god I just remembered some more.

3.5 Campaign, based around an old crazy-long Monte Cook adventure. Most party members were pretty standard and straight-laced, but I was playing a CN Human Dervish/Fighter min-maxed to crit like a mofo (twin scimitars, the works) and another guy was playing as a half-orc barbarian. I'm more likely than most to piss off other players by seeing these sessions as a buffet of hilarity, but I didn't hold a candle to Chris (who had never played before) and his barbarian.

Chris was a law student (well, we all were, really) of the most stubborn kind, but also good with outside-the-box thinking, which meant that every time the DM (my roommate) would tell Chris that he couldn't do something, or that the game wasn't really designed to be played in a certain way, Chris would argue it to a standstill until the DM would figure out a way to roll it, or what the hell the consequences of this new fresh hell would be.

This came to it's greatest point when the barbarian (who also had some drunken master levels) scooped up the remains of a defeated ooze and put it into one of his empty bottles. A little later in the session, we defeated one of the banewarren thingies - a crystalline construct of pure malevolence. The barbarian, of course, picks up pieces of the broken crystal and starts "feeding" it to the ooze in the bottle, and names it "Roger."

The next session, Roger broke free, and we had a (fairly difficult) encounter with a Crystalline Ooze, a creature the DM had to create mostly from whole cloth during the previous week just to keep up with where Chris was taking things.

Around one of these sessions I too received an evil, conscious sword like in Imperfect's story up top. I knew from the beginning that it was evil and conscious, but I was under it's spell, so I wasn't going to give it up. I named it "Madame Pointystick." The fun part here was that I wasn't being pulled away or anything when the sword spoke to me. All of the players knew this was going on, but because my character wasn't saying anything, the other PC's "didn't" know, and so we had to go for two or three sessions while the party's primary melee unit was being openly corrupted and all the character was saying about it was bragging about how great the sword was and how much she loved it. They were finally able to justify making me get rid of it when it turned me on the rogue. *sniff*

More sneakily, at one point Shea (my dervish/fighter) was captured and replaced with a shape-shifter thing, and I was the only player to know about it. The DM gave me a sheet of abilities and instructions to try to split up the party and kill them off individually. When the time came for party-splitting to be momentarily justified, the only other PC who went along with me was... my ex-gf. We went out onto the patio away from the rest of the group and I had to kill her. That sucked. I mean, she got rezzed a little later, but still. And then, when we reunited with Shea, she had been soul-swapped into the body of a Bard and was basically useless (not having the bard's CHA skills) so she just angrily kept "singing" "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am!" at top volume until someone figured out a solution. (I later found out that something kinda sorta similar happened in an OotS strip, but I hadn't started reading it yet at that point.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:26 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, right, and the Exalted game, where I was brought in at the last minute even though I didn't know anything about the game or universe and nobody around was particularly good at explaining it, but I was an Eclipse caste Solar, which meant that my special ability was to create unbreakable vows with a handshake. And also apparently that my charisma was through the roof. I didn't really see how this was going to have any use in whatever the hell we were doing, so as we met at the required tavern at the start, I just wandered off over to the bar and started hitting on one of the women there. After a while of this derail, the conversation sort of went like this:

GM: Her boyfriend emerges from the men's room and comes over, seeming very protective and possessive of her.
ME: Oh, hey, man! How's it going?
GM (as boyfriend): ummm...
ME: I was just talking to your special ladyfriend here. She had great things to say about you.
GM (as boyfriend): um... okay. Good to know.
ME: Damn glad to meet you both. I don't want to be in your hair, so I'll let y'all be, but never let go of this one, okay? Lever let anything happen to her.
GM (as boyfriend): Okay. Will do.
ME: Promise me.
GM (as boyfriend): I promise...
ME: Shake on it?
GM: ... are you really going to do this?
ME: Of course!
GM: The random man at the bar shakes your hand, setting on a flare of Solar presence which lights up the entire town as if it were mid-day. The formerly happy couple immediately feels the weight of an unbreakable promise fall upon them, while the entire bar, and really whole town, loses their collective shit at knowing that Solars are around.
ME: Oh. Do people not like Solars or something?
posted by Navelgazer at 11:02 PM on February 26, 2012 [8 favorites]

Every once in awhile I would get bored playing the original Medal of Honor and would go on a team killing spree. These would end up being the funniest games I could remember.

Heres how I would do it typically. First, I would make my screen name the same as someone else on my team. So, for example, there would be two players with the name Congo15 on the same team. Then, I would make sure my avatars uniform was the exact same as the player I was trying to copy. Once this was done, its time for the fun to begin.

I would start by being very stealth about it. Maybe shoot a team mate with a bullet or two in a gun fight. Not enough to cause anyone to say anything. Then I would step it up. Say another player and I would be hiding in a church tower, I would get out look out the window.. and then slowly turn towards the other player. Bang. I would then change my screen name to something else. The killed player would then say "Congo15 is a team killer!" and the real Congo15 would say "Whay are you talking about? I didn't kill you!". Then maye I would chime in saying "Yes you are! I saw it!". After a while longer, I would switch again back to Congo15 and do another team kill and switch back again. Usually by now, they are killing the innocent Congo15 on their own accord.

I would then copy a different players name and unifrom and do the same thing, eventually making my entire team look over their shoulders and start killing each other due to paranoia of not knowing who the team killer really was. Once they starting not trusting each other, the other team would simply crush them. And then I would change to the other team.. oh memories.

posted by amazingstill at 8:22 AM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't role play. But one time my college roommate's buddy Dan is at a con and creates a character with low intelligence, low charisma, and ridiculously high physical constitution. In one encounter, he decides to screw with another player who had been needling him about his character's intelligence. So Dan's character pulls out a stick of dynamite and lights it, saying "What's this do?" The other PC doesn't seriously think a player would do this, but isn't aware of just how stupid and strong my buddy's character is... until the dynamite goes off. Dan is barely scratched. Instant kill for the other player. Dan says "I may be dumb, but you're dead." And the game continues sans needler.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:49 AM on February 27, 2012

Or, he could allow it. It makes for a great story to tell later, but there is a danger that blue whale nukes ("What's this thing coming up towards me? I wonder if it'll be friends with me?") could end up being a go-to thing for the players. If it works once, logically it should work again, and that's could be a problem for wilderness travel as the shattered wreckage of whales comes to punctuate the landscape at each place the players encounter resistance.

Not that it mattered much for our one-off campaign, but it did make it prohibitively difficult to retrieve our loot.
posted by cmoj at 6:15 PM on February 27, 2012

Did you find the pot of petunias?
posted by JHarris at 6:37 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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