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Gaming Stories: The Worst Ever

By Shamus
on Friday Jan 4, 2008
Filed under:
Tabletop Games


Today I posted a bonus feature on Chainmail Bikini describing the writing process. In there, I talk about how hard it is to find good gaming stories of bad gaming. I’ve exhausted a lot of the stories relating to my own experience playing tabletop games, and now I rely on the misfortune of others to provide the fodder my our gaming comic.

I just realized that I could pull a Scott Adams and solicit anecdotes from readers. That might be fun, and if nothing else it might be therapeutic for the victims to share their experinces with everyone else. (So we can point and laugh.)

So how about it? What’s the worst single event you’ve ever endured / witnessed at the gaming table?

Comments (200)

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  1. I play 4th ed D&D at the Anime and Gaming Club at my uni, and I’m trying to start running a campaign as we speak (also 4th ed). In our first night playing D&D (which was the first time the club ran it), we just did a big honkin’ game with about fifteen premade characters stumbling around the dungeon, since we only had 2 DMs.

    So we started outside the dungeon, roasted a bunch of kobolds, and trekked inside. We were greeted with a big creepy blue arcane circle on the floor. Cue everyone looking at their skill lists to see what they have trained;

    RANGER: Can I use Dungeoneering to investigate the creepy blue circle? (strictly speaking, not the right use of the skill, but nobody knew what Dungeoneering was for anyway).
    DM: Sure.
    (good roll)
    DM: You can tell it’s some kind of portal.
    WIZARD: Can I use Arcana to check what kind of portal it is?
    DM: Sure.
    (okay roll)
    DM: You can tell it’s a teleporting portal, but you can’t tell where it leads.

    Yeah… a teleporting portal. Great.

    After that, the DMs called in some ogres. During the fight, a foolhardy type decided that he was going to jump into the teleporting portal and find out first-hand where it led. Because the DMs were lazy, it wound up shooting him out of the well outside. The foolhardy type jumped back in so he could rejoin the battle, thus wasting his turn.

    Then a Paladin had a crafty idea. He used a knockback move to ram an ogre into the bounds of the teleporting portal. The ogre got shot out of the well, but there was a problem; the well was significantly smaller in diameter than the ogre.

    Cue shower of ogre guts outside.

    ——-Story break———-

    Much later in the year, when everyone was FINALLY settling into their campaigns, I wound up in a somewhat dreggish party. The three regular members were me as Big Rakuran (the Goliath Warden — basically, a Big Dumb Fighter x 1000), a nervous wizard guy, and a cleric who didn’t talk much. We filled in with whoever showed up with a character sheet that week.

    We were running one of the low-level adventures in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide; something to do with a goblin’s lair and a kidnapping or a theft or something, I wasn’t paying attention. There were also zombies for some reason. Three great things happened;

    1. The Wizard launched a Scorching Burst at two adjacent zombies. I don’t know about pre-4e, but for area attacks in 4e, you roll separate attack rolls for each enemy, and one damage roll. In this case, though, that rule got a bit out of hand. The Wizard rolled a 20 for one zombie, and a 1 for the other. We decided that the fireball had gone inside the first zombie, utterly incinerating him but containing the flames. We roleplayed one zombie screaming and the other warming his hands on the fire.

    2. Next enounter. A closed door, possibly locked, we never checked. Probably goblins on the other side.

    DM: How do you open…
    DM: You don’t wanna…

    I knocked down the door. I thought that this would net me a surprise round, but it seemed the goblins were prepared for such an eventuality. We all got utterly ganked. Since, as the party’s Heavy Weapons Guy, I was already the go-to guy for breaking open anything that refused to give up treasure (barrels, pots, etc.), this led to many jokes about my taking the Preferred Enemy (Inanimate Objects) feat.

    3. The night ended halfway through that debacle with the goblins. DM made us promise to keep our hit points and such firmly remembered, and took a photo of our positions. What he didn’t take into account was that the party halved in size between that night and the game next week. With half our line gone, our positions were horrible. Once the cleric and I were unconscious, and the wizard surrounded, the DM decided that he would restart the encounter for us and cut some monsters to shave the level a little (it was already a hard encounter).

    Luckily, we were able to round up some more players before setting up the encounter. This conversation between me and the wizard (all in-character) is the best bit of role-playing I’ve ever done.

    WIZARD: Big Rakuran must wait until I’m ready!
    WIZARD: If you wait before you knock the door down, I’ll give you this!
    (At this point, the wizard held out his hands with an imaginary object, forcing me to rhink of something that could distract Big Rakuran from his inability to turn a doorhandle. Given Big Rakuran’s mental age, this wasn’t difficult.)
    WIZARD: Now, Big Rakuran, I’m going to use my magic to make the goblins want to open the door. And when they do…
    WIZARD: With face.

    Wizard uses Ghost Sound to imitate some Goblins knocking at the door. Wizard aces Bluff check. Goblins utterly fail their Insight check. Goblins blithely turn doorhandle. Goblins crushed to death by door. Remaining Goblins scared shitless. Score one to the roleplayers.

    So, to those of you who enjoy playing blunt instruments, always remember; wait until the baddies are turning the doorhandle before you give them a taste of door.

  2. Regiment says:

    This one’s actually from a fantasy LARP, but that’s close enough, right?

    The PCs (probably about 25-30 of them, all total newbies at their first event) were in a town besieged by vampires and zombies and stuff like that. The mayor was desperate for help, but unbeknownst to the PCs, he was actually in league with the head vampire. By the end of the event, his secret allegiance would be revealed and he would serve as a sort of miniboss – strong and a good fighter, but no special powers.

    Anyway, the PCs proved surprisingly resistant to all of the subtle hints that the mayor was secretly evil, when they suddenly found an incredibly suspicious sealed letter addressed to the mayor. This letter was from the lead vampire, was found on the body of another vampire, and detailed the mayor’s evil dealings with the vampires. Ideally, the PCs would find this letter, read it, and confront the mayor. It was idiot-proof.

    The PCs took the letter, stormed the mayor, and said “We found this letter for you. Here you go!”. The mayor took the letter back, sealed and unread.

    Since this was the newbies’ first event, they had to win in the end, so the mayor randomly started stabbing people. If I recall correctly, that was a good enough clue that the mayor was evil.

  3. Hatim says:

    Man, I can’t believe anyone would read this far.
    I can’t believe I read this far.

    So me and several of my friends decided to start a 4.0 campaign near the end of our senior year, the very first campaign for most of us including the DM.
    I personally had only played 3 or so encounters before this. Unfortunately, most of us had a lot of other things going on and even till now we can’t get everyone together when we meet. So our second, maybe third encounter we only have four player’s, bard, cleric, rouge, and me a hybrid monk/ranger. Our DM decides to have just a short combat “memory” so we could develop our character’s back-stories; this doesn’t go as planned. Many hijinks and oddness later, including having our bard successfully tank with only her basic melee, I found myself on top of a twenty foot cliff as I had ran towards the enemy archer and killed him. Now as a ranger I did have a crossbow and the position dominated the whole map.

    I decide to jump off the cliff.
    After rolling 2d20 damage and bringing myself down to 12 hp, well under the amount I started with the DM ruled that I had managed to break both of my legs. I did win an argument with the DM somehow that as a monk I could still move my speed with my hands or something.
    Even worse, instead of actually engaging in melee after this I pull out my crossbow and take potshots at the enemy who at this point were about dead.

    Another incident happened later in the campaign at level 3 (the first was at level 1) when while trying to find a holy temple so we could penetrate and place our star-seed within it (believe it or not the DM didn’t see the Freudian implications) we managed to eventually locate the temple. By this point it was well into the night in-game so I propose we set up camp nearby and comeback in the morning. The party instead decides to chop down a tree, light it on fire, and roll it down the hill to the door of the temple to see if there were any enemies. The conversation went something like…

    DM – As the log rolls down the hill you see a great variety of things, most crushed underfoot. At the bottom of the hill though, the log hits a mound that gets up in anger.
    Me – I run.
    DM – What about the rest of you?
    Wizard – Hey guys we can totally take this! (to DM) You said this area was swampy and all difficult terrain?
    DM – Yes. (evil grin)
    Me – (to DM) Remember I ran.
    Wizard – …So I just attack it with fire as it goes up the hill, the defenders will stop it before it gets to me, the leaders can heal them, and the rogue’ll stab it in the back until it dies!
    DM – set up your pieces and roll initiative.
    Me – (still to DM) So, I’m gone. Completely. Not going to end up dead.
    Wizard – now why would we end up dead?

    I borrow another player’s monster manual and look up shambling mound’s page.

    Wizard – pfff, its only a shambling mound, we can probably take it.

    The DM decides to take pity on us and further describe the creature, not a shambling mound, but a stormrage shambler a level 11 elite with the ability to move with a speed of 8 on swamp.
    even after this point the wizard was unhappy that we didn’t fight it.

    P.S. @Rhazzy
    So everybody was expecting the Spanish Inquisition?

  4. Rakku says:

    So we’re playing through a DnD campaign and the DM tells us that in front of us is a bottle with a potion inside, although we don’t know what it is. Before anyone gets a chance to ask if they can investigate further, the guy playing the dorky little Construct says “It’s probably in character for me to drink that, so I drink it,”
    His character immediately drops to the floor and everyone panics, trying to figure out what the hell just happened. He looks for all intents and purposes dead, so our Wizard says “I’ll defibrillate him with my Lightning spell,”

    Except…turns out he wasn’t actually dead, it was a Romeo and Juliet-esque potion that simulates death and wore off after a while. And the Wizard rolled for damage done with the Lightning spell and dealt the exact amount of damage to kill the Construct entirely.

    My character, the sorceress, had to run all the way back to the town to enlist the help of a priestess of the goddess of death and darkness (which sounds like an AWFUL idea but we didn’t want to lose our OP Construct) and he was resurrected. Except then it turns out that when the priestess said she’d want to be paid she didn’t mean money, she meant something that “may or may not be your soul”. Damn.

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