Page 597 - That Old Standby

21st May 2015, 6:00 AM in Fall Weather Friends
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That Old Standby
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 21st May 2015, 6:00 AM edit delete
We've had a few Story Time sections about plot twists and things of that nature, but any stories about plot twists that were basically totally improvised?

That, or for something more on topic, stories about ancient burial grounds (native or not) in your tabletop games.

Also, one week until page 600 and Everfree Northwest!

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Raxon 21st May 2015, 6:03 AM edit delete reply
I had the Ancient Foreigner Burial Ground in a game once. It was a deep, bottomless pit where the dwarves tossed elven spies.

It was also the waste disposal pit.
Toric 21st May 2015, 6:29 AM edit delete reply
Aren't those usually the same thing? To dwarves at least?
Raxon 21st May 2015, 7:12 AM edit delete reply
elf tombs, cesspits, they're all the same, really.

Best part is I asked about the pit. Turns out it emptied out the side of the mountain... Right into the forest.
Toric 21st May 2015, 7:36 AM edit delete reply
Well you can't expect dwarves to pollute their OWN home with elf corpses.
Toric 21st May 2015, 7:44 AM edit delete reply
"Their faces are fem, they don't resemble men, and of this you must be sure: that elves are the sickliest thing around and sadly there's no cure."

Gotta love the anti-elf anthem.
Icipall 21st May 2015, 8:06 AM edit delete reply
Been a long time since I last heard that.
Digo 21st May 2015, 7:46 AM edit delete reply
This all sounds so much like something my last GM came up with in his D&D game.
Arrr! 22nd May 2015, 9:49 AM edit delete reply
Well, I can't cure ya' of bein' an elf... but I can cure ya' of bein' a LIVE elf...
evileeyore 23rd May 2015, 11:11 AM edit delete reply
So you play Dwarf Fortress then?
Disloyal Subject 24th May 2015, 5:19 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
Praise be unto Armok.
Digo 21st May 2015, 6:06 AM edit delete reply
I don't know if this one was improvised because we're still dealing with it, buuuut--

Fallout Equestria: The party has spent a few days in the town on Oakville after escaping a nasty mafia family that wanted us dead. The town had a corrupt mayor that the party managed to kill, thus freeing the town from her rule. We also helped save a couple lives, help make the town economy warm up again, investigate a money laundering scheme, and fight off a pirate invasion!

At this point we're well on our way to becoming heroes of the town who would welcome us back at any point if we needed a place to stay. Twice the GM had noted how we've done the town a lot of good. The last thing we were planning was to help the town gather food for the winter.

And then the mafia shows up and takes over easily because we're all spent after defeating the pirates. The citizens give in without a fight, an NPC some of us trusted sold us out, and we're forced to flee into a snowstorm or risk getting captured by the family and executed.
Dragonflight 21st May 2015, 4:13 PM edit delete reply
If I'd had that thrown at me, I'd be thinking there was an excessive amount of mind control going on here. Either that, or the GM is basically railroading their story down your throats, regardless of what you do.

I hope it's not the latter. I was in one of those once. We all had such high hopes, but in the end, no matter what we did, only the NPC's could actually do things that advanced the plot, and our contributions were somehow always marginalized. At the end, we were deliberately flaunting our powers in front of television cameras just to clue people in on the fact that stuff like this exists, and the GM kept coming up with ways to prevent it from working.

In the end, we sat him down and explained why the game was ending. He took it fairly well, but it was *years* before he tried running anything again. Which is why I'm hoping your GM is not the latter.
Jennifer 21st May 2015, 6:08 AM edit delete reply
Good grief! Laughing in surprise here. This strip continues to go in unexpected directions!

I imagine Applejack here with the same skeptical voice she used in the latest season premiere: "Uh-huh..."
Toric 21st May 2015, 6:28 AM edit delete reply
I think someone actually called this on the last page. Even so, gotta love Ponyville. You could actually believe that they built their town over or adjacent to an ancient evil tomb without ever realizing it was there. Still, interesting that the tomb is favoring a Pegasus in a town built by Earth Ponies. Think the DM is sneaking in some World-Building?
Digo 21st May 2015, 7:50 AM edit delete reply
The last campaign I ran had the interesting "quirk" that all the major cities were built over ancient dungeons. However, unlike the usual wilderness dungeons full of goblins and 10'x10' rooms with a single treasure chest, the under city dungeons were very technical in design (doors that open themselves when you approach, mechanical guards that fire bolts of lightning, teleportation rooms that take you to other rooms in the dungeon, etc.)
Dragonflight 21st May 2015, 4:09 PM edit delete reply
My favorite example of that in gaming is the original Might & Magic games. Where after several versions of games on the old C-64 or Apple machines, you finally realize *why* the gameworld has an actual square border.

You find a metal door at the end of the third game, which opens into a metal hall with indirect lighting. This opens up into a huge bridge, a giant window, and the huge SUN which your ancient colony ship is slowly falling into. Your goal is to save the ship, get the thing pointed at the original colony world, and keep an eye on the medieval civilization living inside now that you finally know the truth. It was an epic ending for the trilogy.
Mykin 21st May 2015, 10:21 AM edit delete reply
"I think someone actually called this on the last page."

That would be me and I'm still surprised that I got that one right. But yeah, I doubt the tomb is favoring a Pegasus so much as it is just hating the earth pony for some odd reason. Probably is the tomb of some unicorn that has a vendetta against earth ponies. Who knows? I'm just surprised that the DM threw this kind of a curve ball and it far.
Bombom13 21st May 2015, 5:31 PM edit delete reply
I don't think it is only favoring one or spiting the other. The previous page implied, to me at least, that it was doing both. Applejack is getting some major debuffs, and Rainbow is getting serious boosts.
Cygnia 22nd May 2015, 10:32 AM edit delete reply
Maybe they're against Applejack's family specifically? Like the Bisons vs the Appleloosans?
Disloyal Subject 24th May 2015, 5:20 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
Not to be that guy, but:
'Bison' pluralized is still just 'Bison.'
Improve your Improv 21st May 2015, 6:33 AM edit delete reply
I've recently introduced a 'Player ran NPC' into my PbP games. It's a character ran by a player, but is free to interact as she pleases.

Currently, she's with the pirates who are the storyline's main antagonists and who are in possession of a stolen item that needs to be returned. The main party is aware that the stolen item is on board the ship.

I have the Player-NPC there to see if she'll run off with the item. Her entire purpose is to force me to alter my plans on the fly as someone acting outside of the actual plot.

It's actually working very well as it allows someone who is neither a good guy or a bad guy to provoke deeper character development of the bad guys.

Rather than sitting around behind the scenes doing nothing as the players do their thing, the NPC which I do not control is forcing them to react and become more real. Plus I have can point her in directions that totally hose my plans if she feels like doing so.

A purpose-built GM foil ran by an excellent RP'er is turning out to be quite fun.
ANW 21st May 2015, 6:41 AM edit delete reply
Ancient tomb, ancient tomb.
No I go- no wait wait, bingo.
Contest Time.
What was the best and the worst prize you got at the end of a tomb adventure?
Winner of the worst gets a signed copy of A. K. Yearling newest copy.
Winner of the best gets a signed pith helmet from Daring Do.
(Both completely fake and will not appear in real life)
May the best(and the worst) win.
Gimme' the Prize 21st May 2015, 6:46 AM edit delete reply
I went through one tomb adventure that rewarded the entire party with... ANOTHER TOMB ADVENTURE!

I'm not sure if that was good or bad, though.
ANW 21st May 2015, 7:26 AM edit delete reply
Kinda depends, what did you get from that tomb.
Gimme' the Prize 21st May 2015, 7:30 AM edit delete reply
The second tomb led to a castle-crawl, followed by a zombie town, and then ANOTHER TOMB!
ANW 21st May 2015, 7:37 AM edit delete reply
What did you get at the end of this tomb chain?
Digo 21st May 2015, 7:52 AM edit delete reply
A headache from the Tomb-ception?
Toric 21st May 2015, 7:40 AM edit delete reply
Well, we fought this undead guy with a +1 fae-bane shortspear in his crypt. The DM made a mistake and was rolling against the party's elves as if the bane applied. He was heartbroken when we revealed that they didn't count. He decided "to hell with it" and made the shortspear bane against fae AND elves, bumping it up to a +3 weapon at lvl 5.
ANW 21st May 2015, 8:09 AM edit delete reply
Was that your prize?
Toric 21st May 2015, 7:41 AM edit delete reply
Mummy Rot is the worst prize ever. Half the party received it after delving into a fairly small and unimportant tomb with six mummies and a naga in it. It literally took over a week for us to get rid of it.
Digo 21st May 2015, 7:51 AM edit delete reply
Best prize I got: a +1 longsword.

Worst prize: The middle finger from a d'jinn.
ANW 21st May 2015, 8:10 AM edit delete reply
What did your party do to get that?
Digo 21st May 2015, 9:58 AM edit delete reply
The middle finger? Went exploring a dungeon for a fabled magic lamp to grant wishes. Turned out to be an evil genie was was partly behind the fable and he banished us to a desert with no equipment as "thanks".
Specter 21st May 2015, 8:25 AM edit delete reply
Best: A spare of the moment love story between one player and npc (it was good, and had nothing to do with any Twilights.)

Worst: Nothing. No recognition of victory, no "good job", no "thanks for avenging ___", just nothing. Seeing as my character couldn't come out of that intact, he did acquire a kind of PTSD, and ASPD.
Digo 21st May 2015, 9:55 AM edit delete reply
I like your 'Best' one. Those can be really sweet scenes.
Specter 21st May 2015, 11:01 AM edit delete reply
Thanks, it was rather sweet from what I saw. The npc was one of the daughters of a mafia overlord who was taken by one of the father's rivals.

Suffice to say, the player in question had fallen in love with her, and pretty much volunteered when the news was out. Of the group, one other and I were the only ones to also go look for her (out of eight players, the rest trying to dismantle the mafia's operations).

I got a kick out of your "worst prize" as well. Pretty much is the definition of "watch what you wish for"... depending on how the encounter went of course.
Digo 21st May 2015, 4:14 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, definitely got nothing short of twisted wishes come true. :)
daftdeafdave 21st May 2015, 3:36 PM edit delete reply
I got a book entitled "My first dungeon" from one of them

Disloyal Subject 21st May 2015, 6:26 PM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
Best? Archeotech: thanks to a few absurdly strong party members, we were able to carry a pair of destroyed Thallax battle automata out of an Adeptus Mechanicus sanctum we raided alongside our employers' forces, and our Techpriest was able to harvest their Heresy-era guns, replacing his own (perfectly good) arm with one and trading the other for an experimental power sword for our melee specialist.
...the facility we navigated to find our Knight-Titans probably counts, too, but the only things we fought there were Tyranids invading shortly after our own arrival, so I'm not counting it.

Worst? Um... Well, for a first-level party of two, a masterwork tower shield, a well-thumbed copy of the script to "The Lusty Argonian Maid," and a few dozen bottles of good-quality brandy is a pretty good deal. I haven't crawled many tombs, to my shame.
dzonewolf 21st May 2015, 11:35 PM edit delete reply
I have no experience as a player, but my player's, AKA, little brother and mom, have thus far been unable to decide between a zebra rifle that fires Balefire enhanced rounds, a stealthsuit with a built in AI, or the carapace of a Queen Fire Ant they chased Charity, of Project Horizons infamy, around wearing. She been about to get eaten by one when they took down the queen, which shut down all her workers/soldiers.
Joe the Rat 22nd May 2015, 5:51 AM edit delete reply
Best Prize: A clever boss battle.
Worst Prize: A Cleric.

On our way to deliver an IMPORTANT and URGENT message of NATIONAL IMPORTANCE, we get diverted at our night's camp by a group of zombies asking for help. Seems a few hundred years back, this crazy priest-wizard-mayor person decided to make himself a really big tomb, and also not stay dead. This also trapped the souls of everyone around for a couple of centuries.

So - keeping in mind we are on a mission to stop a war - we take a couple of days to poke around and see what we can find. Killing zombies and looting tombs as we go (our resident priest found a hat with tentacles that started creepy ominous chanting in his head when he wore it, I got a magic sword), we find the boss monster - done up mummy style (complete with giant canopic jars)... and all-but immune to our attacks. A little experimenting (and a bit of clumsiness) reveals that the JARS are what's protecting him, so we run around the room (well, everyone else. I got ghoul-paralyzed in round 3) smashing jars and fending off his ghoul soldiers, and then finishing him off. I love having nonstandard puzzle monsters.

Oh! The Cleric. Yeah. The last jar had the soul of a cleric - a few centuries ago he was the chief torturer for the empire, and had a few centuries to reconsider his life choices, and was given a second chance by the local god of good guys. Now, normally having new party members is a good thing. Unfortunately:
1) He was a DMPC
2) He was voiced with a bad Peter Lorre impression.
3) All of his healing magic was range: touch. <shudder>
GrandFinale 22nd May 2015, 8:50 PM My Worst Prize edit delete reply
The worst prize I ever got from a ancient tomb was being burned alive.
By my own teammates.
Cygnia 21st May 2015, 7:17 AM edit delete reply
I end up improv'ing all the time GMing my 7th Sea Game. :D

I had a social event planned for my players, where Luc would run into yet another of his comrades-in-arms, albeit not a happy connection, Ulfen would catch the attention of a member of the R+C and Soledad would be drawn into a "debate" between Padre Jose and my version of Bishop Yago.

Those were all my notes.

Somehow, it turned into a missing person's hunt as the host of the party went MIA, absconding with a LOT of Ponzi-schemed $$ including a donation made from the Bishop's personal funds, two of the host's boats leaving in two separate directions, Theah's dumbest unguilded Jenny ending up ambushed into a closet, the missing man's accountant ending up in a grisly fate at the hands of the Bishop's "personal" touch and the the host himself finally turning up drunk and naked and broke in the Eisen quarter after being scammed by his new courtesan who has successfully left the city.

And Uflen finding out Luc may have been involved in the massacre of an Eisen village during the War of the Cross.
FanOfMostEverything 21st May 2015, 7:28 AM edit delete reply
Oh, I've improvised entire plot arcs, like the holy war that stemmed from a careless use of prestidigitation. It's part of the fun of making the players' actions have long-lasting consequences.
Specter 21st May 2015, 8:17 AM edit delete reply
... What?

I was not expecting that one, in fact, I don't think anyone was expecting that one. Also, how does dungeoneering work for that? Is it a part of history/geography or something?

(holds side od head) I guess this can go under "evidence" that the Fallout is Dragons game is really an attack against everyone's sanity. The song remake in episode 0 should have been clear evidence in that one.
Disloyal Subject 21st May 2015, 6:49 PM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
In 4e, Dungeoneering, Arcana, History, Nature, Religion, and arguably Streetwise are the 'Knowledge' skills. In 3.5, Dungeoneering mostly covered familiarity with the underground and bizarre monsters like oozes and aberrations; I'd assume that the DM called for Dungeoneering to bypass Twilight's high modifier in History.
Guest 21st May 2015, 9:57 PM edit delete reply
Dungeoneering to discover a dungeon, naturally.
MuffinMark 21st May 2015, 8:55 AM edit delete reply
Does it count if our entire campaign for 3 months was improvised? Because it turns out that dumping the entire Material Plane into the Feywild will mess up the GM's plans.
Winged Cat 21st May 2015, 2:42 PM edit delete reply
It counts. I'd hope so, since our campaign was over a year and improvised. The first arc was supposed to be a field trip to Zebrica, to get the group working together and give anypony that wanted to learn Alchemy an excuse to do so. Instead we wound up unlocking an ancient entity (by stumbling into its tomb - technically an ancient burial ground) that started devouring Zebrica, and many of the resulting arcs (finding the Elements of Harmony which had been missing for decades, starting and resolving a war with the changelings, and so on) were reacting - directly or indirectly - to that.
Mabbz 21st May 2015, 10:12 AM edit delete reply
In my MLP campaign, the players were unknowingly playing a role in the original nightmare moon incident. One of the few scenes I had planned was the one where Princess Luna would reveal herself to have been NMM all along and have been playing them for fools.

Then the moment arrived, and on a whim I suddenly completely altered the scene. Luna was now a misguided goody, who had been trying to steal the Elements as part of a completely non-violent coup that was intended to be more or less just a plea for attention. She'd force three day of night, then put everything to normal once everyone had been seen how beautiful her night was.

Then she found out that two innocent ponies had been killed by the players who had thought they were dangerous criminals. She had a breakdown and allowed herself to be possessed by the nightmare forces as a way to escape her guilt. Another player got possessed too due to her guilt at killing one of the innocents.

T'was fun.
Crunch-bite the Bold 21st May 2015, 10:13 AM edit delete reply
Given the look on Applejack's face I was expecting to see her making "Choo choo" sounds by the end of this strip. Maybe next time....
Mykin 21st May 2015, 12:13 PM edit delete reply
I don't think I've ever been in a tomb in a game before. Weird, I know. They seem to be a major staple for any adventuring party but I've somehow dodge them so far. As far as plot twists that were basically totally improvised? I got one, though I'm not sure if I've told this one before.

In the prologue of one of my PbP games (the one with my oracle in the post apocalyptic remnant city setting...seriously, what is up with games today and its fascination with the end of the world??), it was basically set out that the DM was going to have the keep we were in destroyed by a big scary young dragon. It was basically suppose to set the tone for the entire thing but then our witch, with the kind of common sense that's similar to lemmings, decided to talk to it and ask why it was trying to kill everything. Somehow, this event caused our DM to throw out everything he had planned and instead have the dragon just rant at her while the rest of us got a trap ready and we blew it sky high after crippling its wing. So instead of us trying to survive after the destruction of the last safe place in the land, we were now going out for the specific purpose of strengthening it and any nearby parts of the city in an attempt to push the dragons (and their minions) out.

I guess this is less of a plot twist and more of a reconstruction of the plot. But it was still improvised on the spot and our DM managed to set the tone he wanted for it by having us confront murderous orphans later on, so it was all good.
Disloyal Subject 21st May 2015, 6:53 PM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
My first dungeon as a DM was mostly tomb, but I've never played through a proper one yet. The closest was the hidden sanctum of a Mechanicus space station that I mentioned above. It's a little uncomfortably heretical to shoot down servants of the Machine God alongside xenos, but freeing the automata we destroyed to the comforting embrace of death was worth it.
Akouma 21st May 2015, 2:08 PM edit delete reply
Blah blah story about the ghost paladin blah.

It's been a while though. So basically, the players were in a monastery that had been besieged. They were planning how to lift the siege in a war room, which since it was in a monastery I pointed out how it looked old and rarely used. So naturally one of my players starts looking for secret doors in the room. While the war council is supposed to be happening. He rolls a decent check to find it, and on a whim I tell him that he finds one. Inside is a set of leather armor, sword, and shield, which should easily have decayed since the last time they've probably seen the light of day. Another player rolls Arcana and yeah, it's magic as all hell. So they research it after lifting the siege. They find out that it resurrects the chosen (divine-class) wearer as a ghost in times of need (with the only corporeal bits being the weapons and armor). And so the paladin who originally discovered it immediately tries to make himself the chosen wearer. They find out the wearer has already been selected and try to figure out who he was and if they can recruit him for the army they're forming.

By the end of campaign, he was holding the line against an army of demons trying to stop the PCs from fighting the boss monster. So that worked out for them.
daftdeafdave 21st May 2015, 4:04 PM edit delete reply
Hard to know what's improvised really. Apart from THE BAD GUYS WERE BEING COMMANDED BY MECHA-HITLER WHO WAS RESSURECTED BY ZOMBIE RASPUTIN. That was definitely improvised. And then our dear pal psychotic fridge robot turned on us because he couldn't recover from berserking :(
j-eagle12212012 21st May 2015, 4:42 PM edit delete reply
Well that was unexpected... CMC Tomb Raiders Yea!!!
Grant 21st May 2015, 6:38 PM edit delete reply
Well, strangely enough, there was one about that Tomb of Horrors. The party was going through it and doing well enough. Then to make it markedly different they ran into a group of undead busy building an area up. Turned out that now it was actually a good replica of the place meant to lure strong adventurer's in to the famous Tomb so they'd be killed and raised as undead soldiers.
Guest 21st May 2015, 9:55 PM edit delete reply
Our DM is awesome. One of his standing rules of DMing is that a crit *always* has to be meaningful. In combat, it's not just extra damage, it's always an interesting change to the combat landscape of some kind. And out of combat, a crit on a skill check of any kind always produces a meaningful bonus of some kind, above and beyond what you were trying to do in the first place.

So, in our first session of 5e, after being tipped off by some bodies sunk in a pond, we're tracking down something evil lurking around our caravan's camp, which turned out to be a succubus controlling and draining people. After taking her and her mercenaries and thralls out faster than expected (thanks to a critical smite by the Paladin), and freeing her rather disoriented prisoner-snacks, we're checking over the area before leaving, and our wizard rolls a crit on her Perception check.

In what we later found out was almost complete improvisation, our DM said she spotted a rocky entrance a ways off through the trees, with five guards, all wearing similar insignia to the mercenaries that were aiding the succubus. After escorting the prisoners back to our camp to join the caravan, we snuck back towards the cave to investigate. Two of us disguised ourselves as mercenaries, using an armband we'd swiped earlier, and bluffed three of them into thinking we were some of the mercenaries and that they should go chase down the adventuring party that had attacked us and freed the prisoners (in the opposite direction of our camp, naturally). These were not the brightest of tin cans, and we managed to find out that the prisoners were wanted for something more than succubus chow. We just barely incapacitated the other two, not dead but knocked out with Sleep for a while, and quickly made our way into the cave while that lasted. We picked up some torches from wall sconces, and at the first bend in the cave we noticed that their light passed straight through the walls. Deeper in, we heard chanting, so we left the torches behind and snuck ahead to find a ceremony raising a demon. With the sleep spell on the guards soon to wear off, we ran back out just as the demon turned on those raising it.

Afterwards, our DM mentioned that everything after our wizard critted Perception was improvised on the fly; he figured he'd find a way to tie it all in by the time our caravan reaches its destination in the city of Svartalfheim. Judging by how gloriously off the rails our 4e campaign has gone ("A dragon! You made a dragon!" "I didn't mean to!" "Undo it! Undo it!"), I have no doubt he will.
DragonPrime 21st May 2015, 10:08 PM edit delete reply
It could be some form of Unhallow effect - weakening the good characters (like Applejack) and strengthening the evil ones (like Rainbow Dash). It's m theory on this and I'm sticking to it!!
The MunchKING 22nd May 2015, 8:05 AM edit delete reply
The MunchKING
Oh yeah, I forgot rainbow Dash was CE in this one.

Wait, didn't they get rid of all Alignment based effectors in 4th Ed?
daftdeafdave 22nd May 2015, 9:54 AM edit delete reply
Ehhh I gather the philosophy behind that decision was to make sure players weren't mechanically forced to play a certain alignment (either that, or they just really liked the idea of a paladin/warlock). I don't think Unhallow effects would be problematic.
Evilbob 22nd May 2015, 6:49 PM edit delete reply

I swear half of our plot twists are basically totally improvised... Our GM's motto is, "I don't prepare shit", after all...

Not that that I can confirm it because the Fallout game is still going on...
HOWEVER. That one game I mentioned way back when? The one with property loss, wanton violence, unintentional spontaneous immolation, and eventual incarceration and incapitation? Yeah. That was due to ONE totally improvised plot twist. Everything just went downhill after that...