Tales

Just Business

Posted on June 16, 2017

For a change, I opted out of DM’ing my group’s upcoming campaign. Taking my place was one of my regulars, who suffered under my harsh rule for years. When he set up the new campaign, he asked me specifically to take on the role of party leader. I knew he had payback in mind. Fair enough, says I.

I selected a Human Ranger, Crukas, and deliberately avoided maximizing him. In fact, I put in only two oddities—rather than running a traditional party, Crukas would instead hire the other characters as employees in his monster hunting business, and I added a note under his personality stating that Crukas takes his business VERY seriously.

The rest of the party was fairly balanced: a Warlock with a taste for fire; a constantly hosed Tiefling Monk; a Life Domain Cleric who avoided all melee combat; and my personal assistant/spymaster, a Human Rogue with an imaginary friend.

The game proceeded normally for precisely one level's worth of encounters.

DM: The room is empty, save for the gnawed-upon bones of—

Me: I smash the skulls.

DM: What?

Me: And if any corpse looks even the slightest bit meaty, I tell the Warlock to torch it.

DM (Furiously crossing something off his paper): Fair enough, moving on. At first, he thinks he's just being too obvious with his clever ambushes. He starts making the traps more subtle... A tapestry hangs from a nearby wall, fluttering softly in an unseen breeze. To one side of the room stands a beaten statue holding aloft an orb, obviously of the house's master, but your gaze is drawn to the far door. From somewhere beyond it, you can hear the sound of children singing—

Me: Yeah, yeah, children singing, whatever. Torch the tapestry but don't touch the door behind it, and NOBODY touch the statue.

DM: Oh, don't worry about the statue, it's just a cheap bit of vanity. It's not even made out of stone. Instead, it’s made of wood.

Me: Oh. Then burn the statue and get ready to back out of the room.

DM: (Grumbling, more paper crossing)

By the time we hit level four, he’d started noticing the pattern.

DM: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU TORCH THE PLACE?!

Me: We're not looking for hostages, and anything valuable enough to worry about will survive the fire.

DM: But—okay, I can work with this.

Me: Everybody take up position. I want anything that doesn't look at least kind of human shot full of holes, then set on fire, if it runs out that door.

DM: (Cross cross cross)

Our last fight probably infuriated him the most. We were confronted by the Big Bad, who’d made his elaborate appearance and demonstrated his power by casually crushing the throat of the man we were sent to save.

DM (As Big Bad): Now you see how easily I could snuff out your—

Me: We're completely in your power, am I right? Nothing we do could possibly stop you?

DM (As Big Bad): Uh, yes.

Me: But you have plans for us, so we're not going to die just yet?

DM (As Big Bad): Ah, but eventually your deaths are assured—

Me: I cast Cure Wounds.

DM: On yourself? How much do you heal?

Me: On his victim, and I heal 9 points.

DM: But he had his throat crushed.

Me: Which makes him dying, not dead. Unless there's a reason it wouldn't work?

DM: (Rubbing forehead) Not that I can think of. Sure, why not.

Me (to the revived NPC): Considering YOUR chances of survival, I'd like to get paid NOW. (to the Big Bad) You don't mind, do you?

You see, when you're a serious Monster Hunter, all of your tactics, for any situation, revolve around one fundamental rule: always, ALWAYS, make sure you live long enough to get paid. Everything else, including the steam coming out of the DM's ears, follows.

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