Random Isn’t Always Better

Posted on April 20, 2017

As a DM, you sometimes have to make snap decisions. We were playing through a campaign and three of my five players went into a cave, after being told by me that it was shallow and had only one way in and out. They felt confident that the gold they saw right in front of them was clearly meant to be shared.

To be honest, they hadn't been meant to find the cave this go-around, so I started filling in as they went off book (as any good DM will do). I knew they were mostly going to snap up some coin, but I decided to throw in a wand at the last minute—I hadn't exactly showered the party in magic items.

While they were in the process of scooping up treasure, another player accidentally roused the bandit camp set up quite close to the cave. The bandit standing guard saw the party’s torchlight inside the cave, and one of the bandit leaders (a Half-Dragon) stormed inside. Realizing they were suddenly trapped and in dire straights, one of the players picked up the wand and activated it.

Now, I'd thrown the wand in and figured it was either going to be a buff wand or a damage spell wand, and it would get sorted out when the party got back to town. No plan survives first contact with a chaotic good party, however. I'd been thinking invisibility (for the party Rogue) or fireball (probably also for the Rogue). I decided it was only fair to roll for it, given the now-dire situation, and of course it came up invisibility.

The table got real quiet as I said, "The Half-Dragon disappears from view..." they all looked at each other, hope glinting in their eyes as I finished, "However the roar he lets out shakes the cavern."

The Rogue wasted no time in yelling at the player brandishing the wand, saying, "Would you like to duct tape some flame throwers on his hands so he can cook his food first?"

The next week the party agreed that no more magic items would be used prior to extensive testing. My kids are growing up.

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