Sunday, January 24, 2021

"Painful" Lesson Regarding System Differences


Just a head's-up that today's post is something like 96-103% PC storytime and if that's a turn-off consider this your warning to just come back to the Tavern tomorrow. Also, kind of adult content, possible trigger? Adult content as in Porky's, not as in serious adult content ;)

I've mentioned before that I had a HUGE gaming dry spell between 1996 and 2003, or so.....not that other years were bountiful, just better. I had picked up HackMaster on my honeymoon in late 2002 and we started hitting the FLGS (Favorite Local Game Store) the next year. One friend I made through the FLGS was Rob.

Rob was a medically retired Army vet who happened to be stationed in the same place I was....at the same time even. He was just in the next barracks over and in another unit so out paths just didn't cross "back in the day". Of course we hit it off playing many games at the FLGS and I eventually got into his gaming group. Ugh, that group was painful with Rob as a GM, way too social and mental for my tastes. We'd have entire sessions where no dice were slung. Not my style of game. We used to joke that Rob had his detail settings set too high...he could tell you exactly how many field mice were f*&king in a specific pasture 3 counties over.

Some of us ended up getting together for another, "looser" game that Rob wanted to run for us and this would be my real intro to D&D 3.5 since I could start from scratch with my PC, and I had finally gotten a PHB. I probably should have spent more time reading said PHB, but if I had then the rest of this story never would've happened.....

Anyway, I have a habit of running a very specific type PC whenever I start a new fantasy RPG in that I try to make the absolute best Archer that I can. This time I went with some sort of Elven Cleric of a gawd (I know, but "gawd" is an old HackMaster habit I'm not keen to drop) that had a bow as a preferred weapon. One casting (I hope I remember the spell name right) of True Strike and I'm pretty much guarantied to hit my target, especially after I multi-class a bit into Fighter.

I end up naming this PC BALADAR (yes, it is capitalized!) after a big joke we had while creating PCs. The bit was some back-and-forth about two gamers who get married and have a kid they decide to raise as a self-aware PC. BALADAR was the name we came up with for this poor bastard kid. 1st Day of Kindergarten BALADAR.....btw he speaks of himself in third-person....is sent to school with a pinned note showing his stats "My Intelligence is a 7!" and that 1st day is rough. "BALADAR wants a juice-box! BALADAR wants a nap!" After describing BALADARs various foibles, and laughing for a good half hour at this piece of group fiction, I HAD to name my next PC BALADAR.

We started this new game as 1st level nobodies in a desert seaport. As a group we decided that we didn't want an "urban" campaign and would rather get out of BFE (if you don't know this one......consider yourself fortunate to not have lived there). We didn't have much money between us and figured that it would be much better to get paid to travel to somewhere else instead of the alternative. Working as a caravan guard seemed easy enough, all we had to do was secure employment. BALADAR took off with our Sorcerer.....basically our most Charismatic PC to go find a caravan merchant that needed more muscle.

After some effort we finally find a group that could use more manpower but there's a hitch. The caravan matron, a large attractive-forty-years-ago-maybe, woman has her pick of new guards and why should we be picked up instead of another group? The Sorcerer pitches our abilities.....having a Cleric and Sorcerer as well as a couple of fighters (one was actually a thief, but why mention that?) could prove useful, but to no avail. In what I'm sure is a bit of the GM fucking with the player, the Matron would much rather get a little kick-back in the form of being "serviced", by the Sorcerer. The desert can get cold and lonely at night, after all......

Now these little side discussions between NPCs and PCs were rather common in Rob's games to begin with, and usually not held at the table, so those not actively involved rarely pay much attention. Hell my PC isn't even actively involved....he's just "there" off to the side, but I am trying to listen in the best I can.

So here we have, in-character, some old-fashioned straight-up sexual harassment Quid Pro Quo. Can't get much worse, right? Well the Sorcerer decides instead of taking one for the team, or declining outright....., he'll go ahead and pimp out my PC instead. Wait, what?

He does the old, "My buddy at the bar wants this on his tab.....*waves at guy to get him to nod and/or wave back*" trick and this part I completely fell for 'cause I didn't hear the lead-in. The GM has me enter the conversation and explains that not only did the Sorcerer explain that BALADAR was more than happy to "service" the Matron, my acknowledgement from across the room was considered binding. 

Again....wait, what?

Of course the Sorcerer has hightailed it and BALADAR isn't going anywhere until the deed it done, as it were. This is when I had what I thought was an epiphany....BALADAR wasn't a 1st level Fighter, he was a 1st level Cleric. I have just the spell for this occasion (I hope at least one of you sees where I'm going...): Command.

Command (Enchantment/Charm)
Level: 1    Components: V   Range: 1"    Casting Time: 1 segment   Duration: 1 round    Saving Throw: Special   Area of Effect: One creature
Explanation/Description: This spell enables the cleric to issue a command of a single word. The command must be uttered in a language which the spell recipient is able to understand. The individual will obey to the best of his/her/its ability only so long as the command is absolutely clear and unequivocal, i.e. "Suicide!" could be a noun, so the creature would ignore the command. A command to "Die!" would cause the recipient to fall in a faint or cataleptic state for 1 round, but thereafter the creature would be alive and well. Typical command words are: back, halt, flee, run, stop, fall, fly, go, leave, surrender, sleep. rest, etc. Undead are not affected by a command. Creatures with intelligence of 13 or more, and creatures with 6 or more hit dice (or experience levels) are entitled to a saving throw versus magic. (Creatures with 13 or higher intelligence and 6 hit dice/levels do not get 2 saving throws!)

BALADAR casts Command: Orgasm Yeah, suck it GM! I got over on your little machinations, anc screw that other player too!

Should work, right?

Yeah......no. That spell block above...that's for 1st Edition D&D, which was what I was used to. D&D 3.5 run the spell a bit differently...d'oh!


Enchantment (Compulsion) [Language-Dependent, Mind-Affecting]

Level:Clr 1
Casting Time:standard action
Range:Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target:One living creature
Duration:1 round
Saving Throw:Will negates
Spell Resistance:Yes

You give the subject a single command, which it obeys to the best of its ability at its earliest opportunity. You may select from the following options.


On its turn, the subject moves toward you as quickly and directly as possible for 1 round. The creature may do nothing but move during its turn, and it provokes attacks of opportunity for this movement as normal.


On its turn, the subject drops whatever it is holding. It can’t pick up any dropped item until its next turn.


On its turn, the subject falls to the ground and remains prone for 1 round. It may act normally while prone but takes any appropriate penalties.


On its turn, the subject moves away from you as quickly as possible for 1 round. It may do nothing but move during its turn, and it provokes attacks of opportunity for this movement as normal.


The subject stands in place for 1 round. It may not take any actions but is not considered helpless.

If the subject can’t carry out your command on its next turn, the spell automatically fails

So now I'm fucked, literally?

We get back to the game table and the GM explains to the other players what happened and how bad I failed to thwart the Sorcerer's manipulation. Good news though! We can still take our place as caravan guards for this trip since BALADAR stayed true to his "word" and made sure the Caravan Matron was "pleased" with her hiring decision.

Yeah........not sure if I was more pissed or disappointed. I know I'm an adult and if it really bothered me I could have shot a proverbial flare up and waved the bullshit flag. I got worked over and thought I could flip the script through creative spell use, but nope. I'm not sure how this scenario was supposed to have gone, not sure how I would've gotten revenge either, but that's because it was all too much for BALADAR.

He died in out very 1st combat encounter. Since 3.5 isn't exactly thought of as an overly deadly game I'm thinking he died of shame, it just took a while for the dice to come around to do their part.


  1. "Orgasm" is a noun anyway, so it wouldn't have worked in older editions any more than "suicide" did. And amusingly, most of 3.5 silly little list are nouns as well, or at least could be.

    No idea where you get the idea 3.5 wasn't a dangerous game at 1st level. The d20 rules killed just as many PCs as TSR editions did. You didn't see really durable low-level PCs till 4th came along with the idea of a 4-encounter workday so any individual fight wasn't very dangerous - although 5th coddles PCs a lot more IME. 4th tacitly encouraged the GM to play combat like it was a wargame and the last fight or two before a rest were generally terrifying for low-tier characters as their resources ran dry.

  2. "Orgasm" is also a verb, at least according to my dictionary. I do agree with you on the lethality bit, but as I recall at the time, that wasn't how we saw the game, at least locally.

  3. 3.x was supposed to have a 4-encounter adventuring day as well. An encounter with CR equal to party level was supposed to use up about 1/5 of party resources, so after 4 of them the party would be low enough to want to rest.


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