My Fiction – The Hobbit: A GM’s Tale (Part 2)

By the by, the fraternity in my story is largely based on one of my actual acquaintance. Yes, I went to a nerd school, but this particular fraternity was nerdy even by those standards. Legend had it that once it was the football fraternity and had a few engineer and theater majors around to keep the house grade point average up. One fateful day, most of the football players failed out, leaving the nerds to recruit the next batch of brothers. So they recruited fellow nerds. And indeed, I know of a GM who was stuck with a game of nearly 14 players, and unfortunately for him, most of them showed up every time.

Also, Origins was lots of fun. Okay, on with the parody! Because I can’t seem to write what I’m supposed to. ARGH!

Chapter 2 – Roast Mutton

“Okay, quiet down everyone,” the GM said. “And we’re missing a lot of people. Great. So we’ve got Bilbo, Thorin, Kili, Fili, Dwalin, Ori, Gloin, and Bombur. Okay.” He passed out the character sheets. “Our adventure starts on a spring morning with Bilbo arriving just in time at the inn. The dwarves already have ponies packed and ready to go, including a tiny pony for Bilbo. Everyone’s in a pretty good mood.”
“Except me,” Martin said. “I just ran out of my house without any money or supplies. And I’m grumpy because I had to run.”
“Oh, don’t be like that,” Mike Jackson said. “Dwalin gives the halfling a spare hood and cloak so he quits whining.”
“Bilbo takes it but I’m sure he looks stupid. This thing must be huge on him.”
“Yeah, it does look kind of funny,” the GM agreed. “Gandalf has a horse, and you all ride off. Gandalf is going to take you to the town of River Valley, where a powerful high elf may be able to help you decipher that map.”
“Cool, elves,” Martin said.
“At the start of your journey, the weather is pretty good. You travel through farms of the halflings,” the GM said. “But soon you get to more desolate areas. There aren’t any towns or any farms and there’s a risk of bandits.” The GM rolled a die behind his screen. “But today no one is bothering you. However, it’s started to rain and get chilly.”
“This sucks,” Martin said.
“Agreed,” Terrence said. “But we are hardy dwarves, so none of us are going to complain.”
“Oh, fine, I guess I won’t either,” Martin said.
“It keeps raining and raining. You cross a bridge and can see the river is high because of all the rain. Now it’s getting dark. What do you do?” the GM asked.
“Well, since that wizard’s here, let’s find a dry spot to camp and get him to light a fire for us,” Terrence said.
“Actually, Gandalf’s gone.”
“What? Where did he go? When did he leave?”
The GM shrugged. “He just kind of wandered off awhile ago. You didn’t notice. But hey, you’re the ones who complained about sharing XP with an NPC.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Terrence grumbled.
“And Dori was looking forward to a hot meal,” Nyugen said.
“Nori too,” said Steve.
“Hey, remember, you’re hardy dwarves, not some soft halfing,” Terrence growled.
“Hey!” Martin exclaimed. “No, wait, I can’t get mad. Bilbo is a soft halfling.”
“Okay, whoever has the highest survival skill roll a check for me to see if you can actually make a fire,” the GM said.
“What if one of the people who isn’t here has a higher skill than we do?” Fred asked.
The GM rolled his eyes. “Fine, you tell me what the highest score is, and if someone who’s not here has a higher score, I’ll roll for them.”
“No way,” Jackson protested. “The GM can’t roll for us.”
“Oh, fine; one of you can do it, alright?” It turned out that the absent Mike Baker’s Gloin and Amal’s Oin had the same score. “Fine, Fred you roll for Gloin and George you roll for Oin.”
The twins rolled their twenty sided dice.
“Eleven,” said Fred.
“Thirteen,” said George.
“You guys didn’t roll very well,” the GM noted. “That won’t do it. You just can’t get a fire lit tonight. It’s too windy or too rainy.” The GM then rolled a few dice behind his screen. “Thunder rolls right overhead and a pony makes a run for it.”
“Damn it!” Terrence said. “Thorin yells at Kili and Fili to go get it.”
“Okay, I’m going to need dex checks from Fred and George with a plus two for being scouts, and then a handle animal check from each of you.”
After several subsequent rolls, Kili and Fili managed to retrieve the pony.
“That sucked,” Fred said. “Stupid pony nearly drowned me.”
“I’m sorry, but you were at a minus to your handle animal because the pony was scared,” the GM said.
“I should have caught it before it got to the river,” George said. “So what did we lose?”
The GM rolled a die and checked his notes. “Oh, bad news, that pack was full of food.”
“Damn it!” Terrence swore. “This really sucks. What are we going to do now?”
“Juan, make a spot check for Balin.”
Juan rolled his die. “Hey, 21!”
“Okay, great. Off in the distance, you can just see a red light, like a campfire.”
“Oh, hey guys, a campfire,” Juan said. “We should go check it out.”
“We don’t know whose fire it is,” Martin said. “JR already rolled to see if we’d get attacked by bandits.”
“Yeah, but there are fourteen of us,” Terrence said. “Let’s just sneak up as close as we can and then send in the thief to make sure everything’s fine. If it’s a bunch of bandits, we can probably take them.”
“Hey, why me? It could be dangerous,” Martin said.
“Because you’re the thief and have the highest stealth score,” Fred sighed. “Look, Kili and Fili have a plus two each and that’s the highest of all the dwarves.”
“Oh, wow, that’s pathetic.”
“Yeah, and that’s why you’re doing the dirty work,” Terrence sighed.
So the group rounded up their ponies, snuck up as close as they could, and then sent Martin’s halfling in to take a closer look.
“Okay, dwarves, please go wait outside for a minute while I talk to Martin,” the GM said.
“No problem. We’ll get some snacks,” Steve said.
In a minute, they were left alone.
“Stealth check, please,” the GM said.
Martin rolled his die. “Hey, 22!”
The GM rolled a die behind his screen. “Okay, you sneak up to the fire without a problem. You can smell roasted meat and ale.”
“Mmmmm,” Martin said.
“There are three people around the fire. Give me an intelligence check.”
Martin looked confused, but rolled as instructed. “Um, 11.”
“That’s enough. Yeah, those three people are totally trolls.”
“Trolls! What the hell? We can’t fight trolls! I mean, there are fourteen of us, and thirteen of us are fighters, but still, trolls! We can’t even get a campfire lit and I don’t think we can use theirs to light some torches. I wish that stupid wizard was here.”
“Well, he’s not, so what is Bilbo going to do?” the GM asked. “The trolls are talking about how much they’d like to eat a human or something instead of mutton.”
“Eww. Okay, okay, trolls aren’t very bright, and they haven’t seen me, so I’m going to try to pick one of their pockets,” Martin said.
“Okay, which one?”
“The biggest one, I guess.”
“Okay, you sneak behind him no problem. He’s got a purse on his belt. It’s almost as big as you are.”
“Oh, well, even at third level I should be able to pick that,” Martin said. “Unless I critically fail.”
The GM nodded. “Roll your sleight-of-hand check.”
Martin rolled the die. “[Expletive]! I got a one!”
“Ooo, this a bad time for a critical failure.”
“Is there ever a good time to critically fail?” Martin asked sourly. “The guys are going to kill me. I have one job in this party, and I just blew it.”
“I won’t tell them you critically failed. They can just assume the troll critically succeeded or something. Anyway, as you try to pull some large, bulky item out of the purse, the troll notices you and grabs you. ‘Hey, you, what are you doing?’ he yells.  He has really bad breath.  Like, really bad.”
‘Can we eat him?’ another troll asks.”
‘I taste terrible!’
‘Maybe there’s more around. Is there?’ he asks, shaking you. Roll a will save.”
“Um, ten.”
“You’ve got the condition ‘shaken.’ You’ll be at a minus one to any actions or saves for… five rounds after the troll lets you go, if he does. So how do you answer?”
‘Lots. I mean, no, no one else,’ Bilbo replies,” Martin said. “‘Please don’t eat me! I’ll cook you breakfast!’
The GM rolled a die. “Okay, well the trolls start to get into an argument about whether they should eat you or not. And that escalates to a fight, and the troll holding you drops you. Roll a perception check minus one.”
“Hey, 17,” Martin answered.
“Okay, roll sleight-of-hand, minus one,” the GM instructed.
“Alright, 23!”
“As you roll under the bushes, you notice a small key, well, small for a troll anyway, on the ground one of the trolls must have dropped. You grab it instinctively.”
“But now roll a will save, minus one.”
“Only a nine,” Martin said, frowning.
“Okay, you’re too stunned and scared to move, but you are out of sight.” The GM texted Juan. “‘You hear noises in the direction Bilbo went. You can’t make them out. What does Balin do?’
Outside the library, Juan consulted with the other players and texted back, “‘Balin sneaks up to the fire to figure out what’s going on.'”
The GM texted Juan to come back into the library. “Okay, roll a stealth check.”
Juan frowned and rolled. “Hey, that’s a 10. I’m actually doing pretty good.”
“You walk into the clearing and see three trolls fighting with each other and you don’t see Bilbo.”
“What, wait? Trolls! I, um, I have no idea what to do.”
“Well, you’d better do something in three….two….
“Wait, um, wait!”
“One….” The GM rolled his die. “Oh, no, one of the trolls sees you standing there and tries to grab you. And he catches you!”
“Damn it!”
‘Hey, there is more to eat in the woods,’ says one of the trolls. ‘Let’s set up an ambush.’” The GM texted the other players one by one, and one by one they were captured by the trolls.
“This sucks,” said Steve, munching on some chips. “How did they hide from us?”
“Because none of you bought up your perception check scores,” the GM replied.
“Yeah, because that’s what the thief is for,” Mike Patterson said irritably.
Martin just kind of shrugged.
Terrence walked into the library last. “Okay, I’m going to stay out of the light and yell, ‘What’s going on here?’
“Ooo, ooo, I yell back, ‘There’s trolls!’” Martin said.
“Oh, right, the trolls forgot about you,” the GM replied.
“Okay, that’s it! I’m taking down some trolls!” Terrence said.
“Terrence, Martin, roll for initiative,” the GM directed.
The fight was brief and ended with Thorin tied up with the rest of the dwarves, although he got a few good shots in. Martin had Bilbo attack a troll and he got swatted into the bushes away from everyone else.
“Well, damn it, I guess the adventure ends in the second session with us eaten by trolls,” Terrence said. “This sucks. Maybe it’s a good thing all those other guys missed tonight. Martin, why didn’t you have Bilbo give us a signal or something, like an owl hooting?”
“He doesn’t know that! He’s a thief, not a scout.”
“Relax, guys,” the GM said. “I’ve planned for this. The trolls start arguing about how to cook you. They discuss squashing you or roasting you or just eating you raw. Bilbo, are you going to do anything?”
“I don’t think there’s anything I can do. I can’t sneak up and free them and I don’t want to get eaten.”
“Okay then. The argument turns into a fight. Everyone make a listen check.”
The players rolled their dice.
“Bilbo, Balin, you think there’s something weird going on with the trolls. They act like hearing voices that you aren’t.”
“Huh,” Juan said.
“So the trolls just keep arguing and fighting until suddenly a booming voice says, ‘And the dawn take you!’” the GM said with a flourish. “The sun suddenly comes up over the horizon and the trolls turn to stone! Gandalf walks up to you. ‘I can’t leave you alone for one night.’
“Oh, I get it,” Martin exclaimed. “Gandalf was using an illusion spell to make the trolls hear voices and keep them distracted until the sun came up.”
“Exactly. So, who said he wouldn’t need the wizard?” the GM asked.
Terrence glared at him. “[Expletive] you. If he hadn’t run away, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“Dude, it’s not a big deal,” Nyugen said. “We’re alive, and now we get to loot the bodies.”
“Oh, hey, yeah, and see if they have a stash around here. Good idea!”
“Okay, search checks everyone,” the GM said.
After the rolls were made, the two scouts found a trail up closer to the mountains and eventually a hidden door, but it was locked.
“Can’t you knock the door?” Terrence asked the GM.
“Gandalf shakes his head and reminds you that a knock spell works on magically locked doors. This one just needs a key.”
“Hey, how about our thief pick the lock?” George asked.
Martin looked down at his character sheet. “I’m really not that good it, but I can try.” He rolled, but failed his check. “Damn it.”
“Ahem, you did pick up something that might help,” the GM said.
“Oh, right. Hey, I have this key.”
The key fit and they raided the troll stash. There was some food to replenish their supplies and some weapons.
“Gandalf takes a sword and hands Thorin a companion blade,” the GM said. “The blades have elven runes on them and are clearly very, very old.”
“Score! I was wondering how we were actually going to slay a dragon,” Terrence replied. “I’ll bet this is magical.”
“Gandalf seems to think so and thinks you can find out more in River Valley. Martin, roll a perception check.”
“Natural 20!”
“Great. You see something shiny in the dirt and dust it off with your foot. You realize it’s probably a dagger made for a human but you can use it as a short sword.”
“Sweet! I take it and put it in my pants.”
The Mikes were snickering audibly.
Martin looked at the other young men. “Don’t say a word. He doesn’t have a belt and none of yours will fit him.”
“That’s fine,” Terrence said, stifling a laugh.
“So how come we don’t get magic weapons?” George demanded.
“Maybe you will, later. The adventure isn’t over.”
“We want a complete inventory of everything we found in this troll stash,” Fred said. The others nodded in agreement.
“Fine,” the GM sighed. “We’ll end here. Hand me your character sheets and I’ll email a list of everything to the entire group. You can figure out how to divide it up. See you next week!


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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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