Where is the truth in this ep? We go back only so far, to the very heady days of the d20 and 3e D&D revival, when that seemed to be the only thing that people were playing or wanted to play. Our gaming-group-at-large at the time was quite a number of people. If I had to guess, I’d say anywhere from 10-20 people floated in or around three different groups. We played a LOT of Living Greyhawk at the time, so there was no shortage of things to do. At the same time, a few regular campaigns were running.
One of the groups I had minor contact with was planning a get-together, with beer, food and just hanging about. They decided gaming should be a part of this (good choice), but they all wanted to play. So they came to me to GM something for them. It was a higher-level encounter, plenty of 10 – 13th lvl PCs. While my GM skills certainly were passable, I didn’t have a real strong grip on some high level powers and class abilities and how to best use them. Still, I accepted the challenge, figuring that a brute force approach would provide enough entertainment for the evening, and possibly give them enough of a challenge.
I also knew I could get an ace in the hole, with my friend Shayne to assist me. Without question, one of the best power gamers I’d ever had the pleasure of rolling dice with (and against). I sought his help for what I knew would be some of the more… troublesome players. Shayne happily accepted.
While designing my encounter, and thumbing through the DMG, I came across Prestige Classes once again, and focused in on the Shadowdancer. As the wheels in my mind turned, I realized I could take this class and attach it to the frost giants I was preparing for the upcoming session. My desire to utterly crush the players took over, and I went nuts on the whole thing.
As the encounter unfolded, and I sprung my shadowdancing trap, it took the players a couple rounds to figure out what was going on. Once they did, the look of “you dick” on their faces was priceless. “A SHADOWDANCING FROST GIANT?!?!? WTF?!?!?”
After the reveal, it did not take them long to start dealing with the problem. My skills, or lack thereof, in handling high powered abilities and characters showed their true colors as their superior tactical minds over came my tricks.
A popular phrase of astonishment at the time was “you’re humping me here!” After that evening, I earned the “distinction” of having that phrase changed to, “you’re Huss-ing me here!” The phrase has now become synonymous with any type of encounter that defies logic or believably, even in a game of magic and monsters.
But what about my ace in the hole, Shayne? Where did my GM Assistant fit in? Well, in the beginning he was of great assistance, utilizing magic items and other tricks to stymie the players. As the evening wore on however, his fondness for the beer at the get together got the best of him and he failed his Fort Save. With the encounter only three-fourths over, his tactical assistance was now nil.
In the end, everyone had fun, the encounter really meant nothing, and we had great stories to remember more than a decade later.
So, what about you and your games? Has a GM ever pulled what you consider a “dirty” trick? Have you ever been a GM who’s done one? How did it play out? Would you do it again?