Page 323 - Shaggy Showdown

13th Aug 2013, 6:00 AM in Swarm of the Century
<<First Latest>>
Shaggy Showdown
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)
<<First Latest>>

Author Notes:

Newbiespud 13th Aug 2013, 6:00 AM edit delete
I've discovered that, like Elusive and the Thieves Guild, the Diamond Dogs are another source of exposition that I have to restrain myself on, lest I flood the dialogue with far more information than I need.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: February 20th.



Raxon 13th Aug 2013, 6:01 AM edit delete reply
Very nice touch with the nine kennels bit. Bravo.

Today's story time is about being unarmed and extremely vulnerable! Let's hear it!
Digo 13th Aug 2013, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
No such thing. :)
As long as any of my characters still had their skills and imagination, they were still armed and dangerous. Even Amaya.

Amaya was a 16-year old emancipated girl who worked as a consultant for the FBI. Her specialty was Occult and Magik studies and she was part of the "X-Files" department.

On one mission, she was harrassed and seized by a gang at the mall that wanted to play around with her. Amaya had no weapon nor armor, but she had brains and her feet.
First thing she did was scream out "Rape! to get everyone's attention. The second thing she did was kick the gang-member that held her in the nuts. She then ran to the mall security as a crowd showed up and got angry at the hoodlums for picking on an innocent girl. ;)
Mink of Snow 13th Aug 2013, 6:19 AM edit delete reply
Good Girl
Raxon 13th Aug 2013, 6:36 AM edit delete reply
I do have one for this.

A wizard in the DCU. Nth metal acts as an antimagic thing. Yeah, you can see how this goes. But wait! I decided that wasn't bad enough! Ergo, I present for your approval, Null Shock Syndrome. Basically, your magic is an actual part of you. It can even be distilled and made tangible. Nth metal rips the mana from your body. If you only have a tiny bit, it is merely excruciating. If you have more, well, good luck staying conscious. If you have enough, the shock of it can kill you.

I find it amusing how mages are among my favorite classes, and yet I put them through the wringer so badly.

Sooo... Yeah. Epic level wizard/bard/monk NPC. Rendered pretty much totally helpless. Because one character plays a thanagarian, and he playfully tapped Raxon with his nth metal axe.

And then they were all screwed because they lost their source of buffs, heals, and support.

Seriously, you don't get much more vulnerable than dying.

Despite "Raxon" dying there, I can't wait for everyone to see it when "Raxon" shows up later and punches the warrior in the nose for it.

And before you ask, yes, I transplanted a D&D 3.5 character into the DCU. He's level sixty, and severely underpowered for his level. Three clashing classes, all with different stat focuses. Incredibly powerful, but in the DCU... Well, there's not one, not two, not even three, but something like six people who are invulnerable, can fly, have super strength, and can fire instakill lasers out of their eyes.

Off the top of my head? Superman, Supergirl, Power Girl, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr, Mary Marvel. And that's just the ones that live on Earth. Let's not even start on the dozens, possibly hundreds of offworld characters who are that powerful. Heck, Supes has a whole city of kryptonians in a bottle. This is a world where a post-epic level D&D character is run of the mill. In fact, it's amazing how well the two worlds mesh.
Zuche 13th Aug 2013, 7:54 AM edit delete reply
Digo, I understand how tactically sound that approach was, but please don't ever do it again.
Digo 13th Aug 2013, 8:07 AM edit delete reply
Such a situation has never come up before or since that one time. I think it's safe to assume it will forever be a one-time incident.
Kynrasian 13th Aug 2013, 8:28 AM edit delete reply
Funny you should mention it.

In our most recent session of our D&D Next playtest, me and our halfling rogue were about to be executed by hanging.

Now, I say I was "vulnerable": I usually have an AC of 18 (which is good in D&D Next), and I have access to an ability that allows me to reduce damage by 10 points at the cost of my reaction, so under normal circumstances, I'm even harder to kill than our AC 21 Dwarf Cleric, on account that he has a Dex modifier of -1 and no damage reduction.

So, as I said, me and the Halfling Rogue are about to be hanged, and just as we were being led out of our cells I asked my co-DM before putting on the manacles if I could put them on slightly loosely, and passing the check that's exactly what I did. When we were taken to the gallows, our Halfling Rogue struggled and attempted escape, which managed to distract everyone while I slipped out of my manacles and began casting a spell.

Now, this is the part where I ought to mention that I'm playing a dragonborn sorcerer, and somehow in D&D Next, draconic heritage sorcerers get to wear heavy armour and use martial melee weapons and while my spells allow me to get along fine without the latter, the inevitable Str/Cha ability score split makes it very dangerous for me to attract attacks without the former.

Just as we're about to hang, my spell goes off, which was invisibility. For some reason the archers surrounding the scene were able to react immediately by firing at exactly where I'd been standing. After all was said and done, including my optional damage reduction, I was on 19hp. So I jumped and glided over the crowd and over to a manhole that one of dwarves opened and a couple of opportunity attacks later (on an invisible person, I know, I'm not sure how that works either), I was down to 1hp. The very next attack would kill me.

Following this, our Rogue got to the manhole and started climbing down, then our Dwarf Fighter took out most of the guards near us and climbed down himself, our Dwarf Cleric healed me and also climbed down and lastly I climbed down and closed the manhole cover. Our Elf Ranger was too far away to make it to the manhole cover but they didn't get a good look at her face.

Now on 16hp, I still wasn't in a very safe position, and when the next encounter set off, I spent all of it hiding behind one of our dwarves.
terrycloth 13th Aug 2013, 10:53 AM edit delete reply
I once had a character that was a hippy enchanter specializing in magical basket-weaving. His specialty was 'friendship bracelets' that cast 'charm person' on anyone who wore them.

At one point he and his friends were locked up in a cell in a sort of floating plant city without any equipment whatsoever, on some trumped up charge or other (that I think they were actually guilty of, but the people locking them up were *bad guys* so it didn't matter).

Now, being an enchanter, he couldn't do much without raw materials, but the cell was woven out of the roots of the flying plant, so... bingo. He also needed magical equipment and *proper* materials, but those were just skill penalties. It was something like -5 for no equipment and -2 for low-quality raw materials, which meant that he wasn't making anything useful fast since it was an exponential system and each +1 or -1 doubled the time or effect.

"So how long are they keeping us in here for?"

"You've got about a week before you go to trial."

"I'll take extra time and build a directional explosive to knock off the door of the cell. Fast-burning roots like a thermite charge, kinda."

I got some help from the other party members, who managed similar improvisation -- the alchemist used our blood as his component, etc.

"We'll take the whole week to make it as powerful as we can. Base time to construct something simple is 1 minute, so that gives us... +15?"

Like I said, it was an exponential system. We were really glad that we'd built a *directional* nuke.
Digo 13th Aug 2013, 11:26 AM edit delete reply
A shape-charged nuclear weapon? You know, you practically made an Orion Engine! XD
Raxon 13th Aug 2013, 7:27 PM edit delete reply
Nukes, by default or by design, only really have one direction of energy displacement.

Kynrasian 14th Aug 2013, 6:58 PM edit delete reply
That has got to be one of the best lines I've ever read.
Emmerlaus 13th Aug 2013, 10:56 AM edit delete reply
I was Gming that game for 2 friends of mine. It was based on a premade adventre that turned out disastrous because of player recklessness and ONE bad roll.

There was a hidden temple o the island, who was guarded by Lizardfolk. They activated a weapon that shot large laser on the humans living on the island, making things go down in fire (not living things however, just objects).

The group was hired to find the source of it and stop it.

There was a Goliath Paladin and a halfling Rogue. They adventured in the jungle and after a few encounter with Lizardfolks, they finally found the hidden temple. The halfking wanted to go stealthy, not being seing by patrol... ut the Goliath Paladin just didn't care enough for that. So yeah, they were spotted...

Knowing the ray make their things start on fire (but not living beaing), the Goliath decide to put everything he own in his Bag of Holding while they hide for patrol. Unfortunatly for them, a mage spot them with a Detection spell and fire the laser beam at them...

They roll to see if their objects are damaged... As a generous GM, I decided I would only damage their objects on a 1 on the dice...

The Goliat roll for his Bag of Holding... and got a critical glitch.

So the bag and EVERYTHING he own implose and he lose every piece of equipement he had.

The player who was a Paladin earned a valuable lesson: Its not because you're a Paladin that being stealthy is bad. Sometime, its even necessary.
LegendofMoriad 13th Aug 2013, 5:46 PM painful adventure edit delete reply
I think I've DM'ed that adventure. It ended with my party getting itself killed in a forest fire. Oddly enough, it had nothing to do with the laser. They brought that on themselves.
Tatsurou 13th Aug 2013, 11:32 AM edit delete reply
I actually one time turned such a situation to my advantage.

See, I was playing an amazon swordswoman. Now, despite everything in background and stats that said she should be incredibly strong and well balanced and all that, because of how I picked feats and everything else, she was LITERALLY helpless in a combat situation without her sword.

One time, she was captured by a large group of orc males, and they took her sword away.

Now, because of how I'd balanced stats and feats and whatnot, as long as she was armed, she actually took LESS damage the less armor she was wearing, so she was wearing the - practically cliché - 'traditional' amazon garb. The DM was certain I was trapped, completely helpless. He forgot about my CHA score of 19 plus modifiers.

I flirted with the orcs - all of them at once - talking about how the traditions of my people declared I surrender myself to the warrior - or warriors - who defeated me, and that I was now at their mercy. I added a few actions and hand motions to enhance the statement suggestively. As all the orcs started getting excited, I seemed to realize just how many there were, and mentioned how none of them would enjoy themselves if they were constantly pushing each other out of the way, and neither would I. So I asked if they would be so kind as to take me in turns.

The orcs proceeded to tear each other limb from limb as they fought over who would have me first. In the ensuing chaos, I retrieved my sword and waited. The only orc to survive the fray had lost an arm in the process. I took his head off in one swing from his now undefended side while standing behind him.
uhluhtc 13th Aug 2013, 2:04 PM edit delete reply
I felt the need to post on this one, as this is one of my favorite/terrifying moments as a player.

So, I was a young D&D player, on my very first campaign. My group had been captured and left to dangle over a hungry white dragon. Somehow, I manage to convince him that not eating us is a better idea and to instead help us seek revenge against the wizard that imprisoned us.(Note: This was a 1st edition dragon, when they were neutral and not evil)
However, the bad guys noticed the lack of us being eaten and sent goblins, bugbears, etc. to kill us. With our new friend Snar the white dragon, we manage to beat them. However, a loose fireball kills Snar. But that's not all! From some unknown hidden spot, a wizard then animates the burnt skeleton into a draco lich! Mind you, we were about 5th level or so. The new draco lich demands we put down our weapons. We do so, cowering as we do. Goblins arrive to put us in chains and likely kill us. I decide, for some mad reason, to not allow this. Instead, I punch the draco lich. Yeah. The DM stares at me, slack jawed.
"You punch the dragon?"
"I punch the dragon."
He sighs deeply as I ask if I hit with my roll. He looks at his notes..."Your punch goes through harmlessly and the illusion dissipates". Yeah, the fireball and animation was an illusion. I honestly believe that is was an illusion from the start, as now that I know the DM better, I know he would never doom us that hard without us screwing up royal. To this day, that character tends to be braver than is healthy.
Zuche 14th Aug 2013, 12:36 PM edit delete reply
White dragons were chaotic evil back in 1st edition too, not that allowing exceptions caused any harm. Also, do I understand this correctly: an illusory fireball felled the dragon? I've no problem with the ruling, and the resulting story was entertaining. I just want to be sure about what happened.
John Biles 13th Aug 2013, 7:37 PM DEATH TO ALL GOBLINS edit delete reply
The story. I was a halfling thief, Forgotten Realms, 2E, named Bungo. I missed the first half of the session due to a date. I come in and find out the party had tea with goblins, everyone failed their poison saves, even me, and were now naked at the bottom of a mineshaft into an old Dwarven mine now controlled by Duergar.

So they put me in a sack and used me as a CLUB. This nearly killed me but enabled Grettir to leverage his 18/93 strength to kill Duergar right and left and then we were able to get some weapons and I got armor that fit while everyone else was naked or naked with shield.

My tiny revenge.
Anno1066 14th Aug 2013, 9:50 AM edit delete reply
Here's one purely on a guy having the dice mess with him. I was playing in a higher-level 3.5 game when our party ran across a group of six brightly coloured, demonic ponies.

Yes, it was his version of the Mane Six, though the DM had done this solely because he thought getting beaten by the MLP cast would humiliate us. He hadn't watched the show and wouldn't on principle.

It was pretty grim, though. Our cleric got hit by a death effect and our bruiser got effectively immobilized right off. The ranger, however, is the focus of the story. I don't remember exactly what spell he got hit with, but he failed the save and the effect was that he went bugnuts for a number of rounds. Mechanically, he immediately dropped his weapons and 'ran in a random direction' each turn until the effect wore off.

So, the ranger's player got himself a scatter die and, on his turn, he did his thing to figure out where he was going. He blitzed right off the map in the first turn of this, so we ignored him for the duration; though he did keep telling us where he was each turn. It was a pretty long fight to boot.

On the last turn of the spell, the ranger blitzes back onto the map and comes to a stop right on top of his swords.
Thubby 14th Aug 2013, 6:38 PM edit delete reply
entire team was captured due to a series of failed will saves against a trap.
frenzied berserker wakes up naked. he rages, breaks free, beats 3 guards to death with a combination of his fists, the chair, and each others limbs.
he then rampages through the facility at -13hp (and dropping), finds and proceeds to attack the party rogue who wisely plays dead.
the rogue then sneaks off, frees the rest of the party while the entire facility is dealing with an unkillable monster. they manage to get the party cleric to the berserker before his rage ends and heal him since he was at -231
Digo 13th Aug 2013, 6:03 AM edit delete reply
Unreliable BBEG narration and OP familiars? Oh yeah this is a D&D session! :D I like the Nine Kennels comment, that was clever.

I'm very much looking forward to September.
Zuche 13th Aug 2013, 8:03 AM edit delete reply
Huh. Took me way too long to get that one. Very clever.
FanOfMostEverything 14th Aug 2013, 6:30 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, the "Nine Kennels" thing was fantastic. I'm always a big fan of subtle world-building touches like that. Among other things. :P
Zuche 13th Aug 2013, 6:13 AM edit delete reply
Weird. I can see Saturday's comic just fine, but today comes up blank above the comments. The problem is definitely on this end, though.
Mink of Snow 13th Aug 2013, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
You managed to work in Spike's fantasy self, nice touch.
And RD says he needs to be nerfed? She's a barbarian she should be ecstatic about something super powered on her side.
Demonu 13th Aug 2013, 6:26 AM edit delete reply
Not if it's hogging the spotlight from her.
Digo 13th Aug 2013, 6:29 AM edit delete reply
Possible that RD wants Spike nerfed just so RD can shine as the main combatant in the party (Some players can be a bit sensative when minor NPCs are as skilled as they are).
ADemonicPresence 13th Aug 2013, 8:08 PM edit delete reply
i argue for balance almost constantly, often to the detriment to my party members, and even if i'm the one being OP.
Dalking 13th Aug 2013, 6:51 AM edit delete reply
Rarity not getting to save herself is a pretty nice inversion of the episode. That's one of my favorite parts of this comic.
DarkVan 13th Aug 2013, 7:23 AM edit delete reply
Dragons riding ponies...Mass hysteria!
Ponikon 14th Aug 2013, 5:37 AM edit delete reply
I'm pretty sure I've seen 34 of this somewhere...
Syth 13th Aug 2013, 7:25 AM edit delete reply
Familiars that do the killing is almost as bad as a DM's pet PC. The game is made for players, not pets. Not to mention it can slow down combat by throwing in more combatants in the rotation.

Masterofgames 13th Aug 2013, 7:49 AM edit delete reply
Oh I don't know about that. Sometimes it can be fun to mix and match a bit.

For example. Problem: A housecat can kill a level 1 wizard.

Solution: Play a housecat wizard.
Raxon 14th Aug 2013, 5:44 AM edit delete reply
Pffft. I will see your housecat wizard, and raise you a midget pixie sorcerer.

Yes, you can actually play as a pixie one size class smaller than normal. You will start out with 1d1 health. This gentle creature can carry a whole gold coin!
Zuche 13th Aug 2013, 8:02 AM edit delete reply
I'll agree that it can be excessive for any group of more than four players, even when the player and companion have to share a set of actions between them. I think I'll bring that up at tonight's meeting for Encounter DMs. Thank you.
Digo 13th Aug 2013, 8:12 AM edit delete reply
My pony familiar was often expected to fight in combats, but a 3 hit point creature with a -3 penalty to attack and only a 1d3 damage rating is hardly worth bringing to the front line. XD

I usually kept my pony to the job of carrying my equipment and handing me specific scrolls or spell components in a fight.
However, I did put in their background that my pony familiar dreamed of growning up to be a strong warhorse despite that she was the runt of her lineage. So we did have cute moments where my little pony acted tough.
MumaKirby 14th Aug 2013, 12:13 AM edit delete reply
As a DM a large number of my (planned) helper NPCs are actually just 'pet pcs'.

Typically ones I've wanted to use as a player character, but have never played in a high enough level game to use them. Because I like the journey to shape the character, if I have a high level character in mind, I would rather just start them at high level, rather than force them down a path that might not make sense for the game.

A good example of journey shaping the character was an encounters game I played. My group fought a bunch of Drow, and my Spellblade spent most of her time fighting the lead Drow's pet spiders. After the encounter, we leveled up. One of the things available to her was a spider crawl ability.

I never would have gotten it, and she probably wouldn't have even considered it, if not for the combat.
Zuche 13th Aug 2013, 7:58 AM edit delete reply
This is not looking like a fun game for Rarity. I do not look forward to the consequences.
Digo 13th Aug 2013, 9:21 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, I'm having bad flashbacks to my often forgotten android doctor-ninja from the Firefly/Star Trek campaign.
Night Watch 13th Aug 2013, 10:02 AM edit delete reply
Seriously, this session looks outright designed (railroaded, even) to punish Rarity for playing her character.
Lyntermas 13th Aug 2013, 10:49 AM edit delete reply
Lyntermas does somewhat seem like that, huh? Possibly the DM's intent was either to teach Rarity to rely on her fellow PC's more often, or perhaps this is a type of revenge for Rarity's behavior in an earlier campaign.
Zuche 13th Aug 2013, 11:07 AM edit delete reply
Either way, it's not casting the DM in a good light.
Digo 13th Aug 2013, 11:35 AM edit delete reply
I've had bad lighting deliver a better picture. ;)

These dogs have been resistant to her social skills, they've taken her weapons, they keep her surrounded to prevent any subterfuge-based escape skills...

Syth 13th Aug 2013, 11:37 AM edit delete reply
She split the party.
All consequences are her own problem now.
Digo 13th Aug 2013, 12:56 PM edit delete reply
I thought it was the GM that split the party, giving her the private mission to collect the gems?
Zuche 13th Aug 2013, 1:02 PM edit delete reply
Not all of them. I'd like to remind you that this all started with the DM handing Rarity a note and calling for a private meeting. She has expressed guilt over inconveniencing the others, only to be reassured that the DM had left them something to keep them occupied.

I don't see how that justifies what's happened to her character.
Midnight 13th Aug 2013, 8:01 PM edit delete reply
Cuz you can't be fair all the time to every character all at once. When you split the DM's attention too much, somewhere has to give, and the rogue's usually the prime target, since they can eat a whole session up all by themselves when you let one get started. ;p
Indigo Steel 13th Aug 2013, 4:41 PM edit delete reply
Indigo Steel
For all we know, deep down, Rarity's enjoying being the damsel in distress and center of attention.
Jennifer 13th Aug 2013, 6:32 PM edit delete reply
I don't see a problem. The GM has simply read the Evil Overlord List and is having the Diamond Dogs follow it. What self-respecting villain would allow a captured thief access to her tools?

On the other hand, a self-respecting thief would be prepared for the possibility of not having her tools.
Ponikon 14th Aug 2013, 5:40 AM edit delete reply
But where could she possibly be hiding them now? She isn't wearing any-

Better leave this unanswered, eh?
Dalking 13th Aug 2013, 7:14 PM edit delete reply
If Rarity could just clap her hooves and be free, it would kind of invalidate the effort that the party has gone through to go rescue her. I for one would be pretty unhappy if I fought through all these enemies and traversed a dungeon just to open a door and find the rogue admiring a gem on top of a pile of diamond dog bodies.
Raxon 13th Aug 2013, 7:37 PM edit delete reply
And then the rogue is a dragon! TPK, roll new characters.
Dalking 13th Aug 2013, 9:10 PM edit delete reply
But they already beat a dragon. I'm sure he went and told his dragon friends how frightening ponies were.

Now that's a universe. Every other race is scared of dragons, but dragons are scared of ponies. And the ponies just graze peacefully, waiting for the day to show their human captors just what they can really do.
Zuche 13th Aug 2013, 10:15 PM edit delete reply
The divide between needing no help and being unable to do anything about your situation is vast. Maybe she is okay with this. It's just difficult to see how, unless her goal is to manipulate her team into feeling they have to look out for her.
Brickman 14th Aug 2013, 6:04 AM edit delete reply
It seems even worse when you remember from a few strips ago that his intended solution for finding her was for Twilight to do it *by stealing one of her signature spells*. So what little she HAS accomplished was supposed to be done by someone else stealing her role in the party. This scenario really does look custom-tailored to make Rarity helpless, which is odd since I'd expect him to be fuming at Twilight instead right now.
Zuche 14th Aug 2013, 6:33 AM edit delete reply
Good point, Brickman. I'm really not getting what the DM is playing at here. I believe the intentions are good. I'm just not sure about the execution, but admit to feeling we're missing important details.

The fascinating thing is how Rarity has taken everything. Her show of support for Spike's effectiveness in combat is particularly noteworthy. Something's going on here, and I doubt it's a game of Parcheesi.
Midnight 13th Aug 2013, 7:53 PM edit delete reply
I can honestly say I've never been completely disarmed and helpless. Plenty of my friends have (with or without my help in that matter), but never me. Not saying I'm the most clever person in the world, it's just I've never been caught that badly off guard. The closest I can come to, is when Trixie got caught without any of her gear, and in her own lie.

Trixie's a sorceress, that's gone to great lengths to convince others that she's a wizard, with great success on that score. She's also a bit of a socialite, mainly to get away from the common rabble and her traveling companions, take your pick. She ended up getting nabbed on her way to a local gala, no not a grand galloping one, and held ransom for a few days, knowing that the wizard's friends were loaded, and that she didn't have spellbooks or anything with her at the time.

It took forever to figure a way out, cuz not even her traveling companions knows she's not a wizard! She had to keep any magic she used down to the bare minimum, lest they start putting 2 and 2 together. Eventually it came down to illusions and fools. The illusions suckered the fools.
Digo 14th Aug 2013, 1:25 PM edit delete reply
Excellent work! There's no spell better than using the 'ol noggin.
Destrustor 14th Aug 2013, 4:55 PM edit delete reply
Yes there is. A spell used in conjunction with said noggin'. I will forever respect "color spray" and "grease" for their boundless opportunities for creative use.
Actually, most 1st level spells are extremely versatile when used right.
Suburbanbanshee 16th Aug 2013, 1:27 PM edit delete reply
Witness Lawrence Watt-Evans' ingenious novel, With a Single Spell.
Malatov 14th Aug 2013, 8:10 AM edit delete reply
The GM has been messing with Spike's stats? He's kicking major ass? I feel secret of my excess coming up.
Tatsurou 14th Aug 2013, 10:59 AM edit delete reply
So, instead of him going giant dragon because of greed over his birthday presents, it's the DM desperately struggling to find a way to explain how Spike grew so powerful? That could be interesting.
Flora 15th Aug 2013, 1:06 AM edit delete reply
okay so I'm just posting to say that though I've been interested in DnD for years I've never made any real efforts to play it...until I found this comic and, more importantly, all the stories you all share in the comments. It all sounds like loads of fun and idk how well it'll go but I'm poking around, trying to see if I could join something, and I just wanted to thank you all for being the, ah... inspiration? idk. just THX 4 UR KEWL DND ANECDOTES, MANG.
Oscelot 4th Sep 2013, 3:20 AM edit delete reply
I would sincerely love to read more on the expanded diamond dog and thief's guild. Have you thought about posting blog posts with more backstory elsewhere?