Putting the “Fun” in Failure

The most fun I’ve ever had playing D&D (not running a game) was a campaign run by my RPG mentor and owner of the shop I used to play in all the time.  Unfortunately, the campaign only lasted three sessions because I was apparently the only one having fun.  Everyone else hated the game for the exact same reason I loved it – we were horrible.  Everything our group touched turned to crap.  I’ve detailed one of those failed encounters from this campaign before, but I really wanted to write about all three sessions to illustrate how much fun you can have in a game just by failing miserably.

For the TL,DR crowd who haven’t read my previous post, the campaign took place in the Forgotten Realms city of Waterdeep.  We were a group of 2nd level Rogues playing in 3rd edition attempting to start a thieves guild in the city.  Each of us had three PCs we could “swap out” depending on the mission and one of those was allowed to be up to a CR-3 creature (mine was a werewolf).  The DM was very old-school in his approach and he did not coddle us as characters at all, which probably provided a lot of the fail that went on.

We hadn’t done anything other than set up a guildhouse when someone busts in from a much more powerful thieves guild demanding 500gp or they’d kill us all for poaching on their lands.  After a quick look at our shabby tools and lack of anything cool, the Tony Soprano wanna-be took pity on us and gave us 24 hours to pay, even giving us a mission to help us out.  He said he’d pay us 1000gp for a magic item held by a certain person in town so we’d have enough to pay him.  We, being the stalwart adventurers we were and completely disinclined to acquiesce to the request…immediately said “Yes sir thank you so can we shine your shoes sir?”

So we do a bit of research and find out that our mark always went to the town square at a certain time on a certain day of the week.  Lucky!  And convenient!  So we make out a plan of attack.  We spread ourselves around the city square and would each take a run at stealing the magic item off the guy.  We placed ourselves so that our best pickpockets would get the first swipe and so on until they got to the end of the line where I (with my werewolf character) and a half dragon would give it a shot then pick a fight as a distraction and try again.  So our most nimble pickpocket sneaks up and…

Rolls a friggin’ 1!

The mark had a bodyguard who is about to draw his weapon and #2 in the chain decides the plan’s now screwed and, being a Tiefling, decides to cast Darkness.

In the middle of a city square.

In a city that doesn’t exactly look highly on Tieflings in the first place.

So I use the confusion to put on my Registered Pet collar (yeah, I bought one just for situations like this), shifted to wolf form and got the hell out of there, while the guy who botched shoved the mark down and ripped the magic amulet right off him, but didn’t have enough actions to run so he threw it to someone else down the line who did manage to run.

Massive Charlie Foxtrot situation later, we got back to the guildhouse with the amulet.  Only to have the bodyguard show up with the city guard demanding we give it back or get arrested.  We feigned innocence well enough they almost bought it, but they demanded to search the place.  I honestly believe the only flat-out success we ever had in the entire campaign run happened next.  We managed through a combination of Sleight of Hand (replaced in 4e by Thievery) and Bluff to manage to pass that amulet around between us while they searched the guildhouse and us so that they didn’t find it.  We paid the bribe and had 500gp left over.

This was our last successful mission ever.

Our second mission and my only experience with a TPK was detailed in the link above.  It was bad.  Please read it and laugh at my suffering.

The final mission we took up was a smuggling operation.  We were hired to leave the city, pick up a wagon full of contraband in barrels (I can’t remember what it was, but I think it was Dwarven Ale and they didn’t want to pay the city taxes or something like that).  We spent probably two or three hours strategizing exactly how we were going to go about it.  We discussed every possible option to sneak these things into the city, going over scenarios and counter-scenarios and counter-counter-scenarios with Plan A, B, C, D, E, and F with each one having two fall-back plans and eventually, after a lot of work, we picked the best option.

Wait, did I say “best option”?  I mean we decided to try to just wheel the damn cart straight through the city gates.

I can’t even remotely understand why we possibly would’ve picked that stupid plan other than the other ones we came up with must’ve been even more moronic.  Maybe we thought the inspections were random?  I have no idea.  Long story short, we wheeled the cart straight up to the gates, were found, tried to bribe the guard but didn’t have that much money to bribe with, so we were immediately attacked.  Two of us managed to escape, three were arrested, and three were killed.  The best death, though, had to be my friend’s halfling.  My friend had decided to stand up and draw his sword standing next to the driver of the cart.  He didn’t have enough actions to attack anyone, so he just stood there waiting for his next turn.  The guy driving the cart decided to charge straight through the gate when everything hit the fan, which jerked the halfling right off the cart causing it to roll over him and kill him instantly (I believe the DM used the word “bisected”).

I really loved that campaign, but no one else did.  So we went back to our generic “Here’s a dungeon with a bunch of monsters now go kick in doors” game, which I hated.  Maybe because I kept trying out new character concepts and never managed to keep a character alive for more than two sessions.  Oh well, it gave me a lot of experience in creating characters and I think I can honestly say I’m the first person to ever attempt to create a Gnome Bard-barian (it seemed like a good idea at the time!)

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Published in: on February 27, 2011 at 12:36 PM  Leave a Comment  
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