Second Darkness

DM Comments 03: Smoke Ladder

Chapter One: Shadow in the Sky

 
As I've mentioned before, I play in another D&D group in French. I've had roughly three characters, two of which entered a campaign part way in as, do to how few times they play, their campaigns go on for years. Recently (about a year ago) one of their campaigns finally ended and I was able to create a new character from the beginning. I decided to make a gnome wujen, a class I had never played before. On a side note, when the other players found out I was playing a gnome, they all decided to make either gnomes or dwarfs. Anyway, as I looked through the spells, many of which are unique to the wujen, I decided to pick a very unique spell called smoke ladder. All it does is it creates a ladder of smoke twenty feet plus five feet per level. This ladder can be carried around and weights nothing.

It has turned out to be my greatest of spells.

It seems that every session, a situation comes up where I can use it. Whether its climbing a tree after everyone repeatedly fails their climb checks. Or going to the top of a tower instead of risking the interior. I have saved someone from a pit trap after they were unable to climb out. I have spanned a crevasse that we had no way of going around. I have placed it upon a slippery floor, so that we wouldn't fall. And at one point I had a very annoying kobold NPC with me that I despised. So I summoned a smoke ladder to go down from a tower. After my character (Scalpelexis Twiddlefingers) went down, the kobold started to follow. At which point I dismissed the ladder, killing him in the fall. The DM forced an alignment change on my character from chaotic good to chaotic neutral, but couldn't deny that it was one of the funniest things he had ever seen.

In one of the earlier sessions, I had been tasked with slaying some cockatrices for a mage. After I succeeded, I decided to take a handful of feathers as you never know when they could come in handy. Last session with my character part of the group of players a year later, we were tasked by a dryad to go to a cave and kill a bunch of cockatrices to prove we were worthy enough for the information she had for us. Now a meta-game player (essentially someone who uses rules to maximize their character) would have gone on the quest because of the experience points it would have garnered, and in my case a level up as I wasn't missing much. However, I had Scalpelexis say to the dryad that we had taken shelter in the cave on our way and had destroyed the cockatrices already, and showed her all the feathers I had collected. After I nice 16 bluff roll and a 1 on the dryads sense motive check, the DM had the dryad give us the info. The other players were disappointed that I denied them xp because of my wit, but I was laughing in my head as I had found a simple way around a combat situation. The DM did award a few xp just for my character of course.

So why am I writing about my character? Well, for one, it gives me a chance to talk about him as he is starting to become one of my favorite characters of all time. Two, because every session brings an unexpected occasion where unique situations can be bypassed with unique ideas. Everything does not have to be hack and slash, we win the day. Everything does not have to be linear even though it looks that way. Last session, you all showed a perfect example by talking down the drunks when you could have easily dropped them with a sword thrust. Then there was the stab to the eye of Lymas through the peep hole.

As a DM, I absolutely love seeing things like that, as my other DM enjoys all of Scalpelexis's unorthodox moves (and there have been many). Using or bending the rules to get from point A to point B by using the pentagram theorem (another thing that happened in my last French session) can be more fun that simply fireballing a group of enemies. And I think this current group of characters runs the risk of finding alternate means to succeed as they are a little underpowered compared to MoK.

We have had similar ideas in the past, though not many. The one that always comes to mind is the rolling rum, where we often lit a rum barrel on fire and rolled it into an enemy-filled room with the predicted consequences. If there is something you want your character to do, and you don't see a way in the rules to do it, there is a good chance we'll make it work anyway, or at least give your character a chance at it. After all, it's near impossible to use your whip to loop around a dragons mouth to prevent it from biting or using its breath weapon. Running along its back to get to is eye however, is a possibility.

I have no complaints at all with how you are all playing. In fact, I see advancement in your level of play that overmatches all the previous years. It is why being a DM for you all is so much fun. I know there will be a little bit of unpredictability in every session that is not covered in the words of the Second Darkness campaign setting. The only thing that should ever hold your character back is your own imaginations which, even at 2am, are always ready to bluff that ones fireball burned everyone in the room because the floor was covered with oil. Til next time.

Chris

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