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Gandalf was a 20th level fighter


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#1 TheGlen

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 09:01 PM

Gandalf lied, he was no wizard. He was clearly a high level fighter that had put points in the Use Magic Device skill allowing him to wield a staff of wizardry. All of his magic spells he cast were low level, easily explained by his ring of spell storing and his staff. For such an epic level wizard he spent more time fighting than he did casting spells.  He presented himself as this angelic demigod, when all he was a fighter with carefully crafted PR.

 

His combat feats were apparent. He has proficiency in the long sword, but he also is a trained dual weapon fighter. To have that level of competency to wield both weapons you are looking at a dexterity of at least 17, coupled with the Monkey Grip feat to be able to fight with a quarter staff one handed in his off hand at that. Three dual weapon fighting feats, monkey grip, and martial weapon proficiency would take up 5 of his 7 feats as a wizard, far too many to be an effective build. That's why when he faced a real wizard like Sarumon, he got stomped in a magic duel. He had taken no feats or skills useful to a wizard. If he had used his sword he would have carved up Sarumon without effort.

 

The spells he casts are all second level or less. He casts spook on Bilbo to snap him out his ring fetish. When he's trapped on top of Isengard an animal messenger spell gets him help. Going into Moria he uses his staff to cast light. Facing the Balrog all he does is cast armor. Even in the Two Towers his spells are limited. Instead of launching a fireball into the massed Uruk Hai he simply takes 20 on a nature check to see when the sun will crest the hill and times his charge appropriately. Sarumon braced for a magic duel over of the body of Theodin, which Gandalf gets around with a simple knock on the skull. Since Sarumon has got a magic jar cast on Theodin, the wizard takes the full blow as well breaking his concentration. Gandalf stops the Hunters assault on him by parrying two missile weapons, another fighter feat, and then casting another first level spell in heat metal. Return of the King has Gandalf using light against the Nazgul and that is about it. When the trolls, orcs and Easterlings breach the gates of Minos Tiroth does he unload a devastating barrage of spells at the tightly pack foes? No, he charges a troll and kills it with his sword. That is the action of a fighter, not a wizard.

 

Look at how he handled the Balrog, not with sorcery but with skill. The Balrog approached and Gandalf attempts to intimidate him, clearly a fighter skill. After uses his staff to cast armor, a first level spell, Gandalf then makes a engineering check, another fighter skill, to see that the bridge will not support the Balrog's weight. When the Balrog took a step, the bridge collapsed under its weight. Gandalf was smart enough to know the break point, and positioned himself just far enough back not to go down with the Balrog. The Balrog's whip got lucky with a critical hit knocking Gandalf off balance. The whole falling part was due to a lack of over sight on behalf of the party, seriously how does a ranger forget to bring a rope? Gandalf wasn't saved by divine forces after he hit the bottom, he merely soaked up the damage because he was sitting on 20d10 + constitution bonus worth of hit points.

 

So why the subterfuge? Because it was the perfect way to lure in his enemies. Everybody knows in a fight to rush the wizard before he can do too much damage. But if the wizard is actually an epic level fighter, the fools rush to their doom. Gandalf, while not a wizard, is extremely intelligent. He knows how his foes would respond. Nobody wants to face a heavily armored dwarf, look at Gimli's problem finding foes to engage in cave troll fight. But an unarmored wizard? That's the target people seek out, before he can use his firepower on you. If the wizard turns out to actually be a high level fighter wearing robes, then he's already in melee when its his turn and can mop the floor with the morons that charged him. So remember fighters, be like Gandalf. Fight smarter, not harder.


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#2 Aethyr

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 06:53 AM

Very eenteresting.
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#3 ra88

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Posted 06 September 2015 - 11:38 PM

A very interesting read. If Gandalf is actually a fighter, are you assuming he is a human? In the Lord of the Rings mythology, he's a Maia.


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#4 TheGlen

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 12:01 PM

Of course he's human.  He discovered by posing as this demigod wizard people are going to listen to him and fear him.  Nobody gives high level fighters the time of day.  Look at the Fellowship, four high level fighters that nobody takes seriously or just scoffs at them.  One wizard and he's the automatic party leader.  Gandalf puts out all these stories about his background being this all powerful inhuman archwizard and people quake when he walks in.  That's how smart he is, he knows if they fear you, half his work is already done.


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#5 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 09 September 2015 - 02:56 AM

The case of Boromir vs. the killer DM

So after reading a long conversation about Gandalf being an epic level fighter, it has been brought to my attention that Boromir was killed not as a plot device, but because he was getting too close to the DM's girlfriend. The facts are quite obvious for all to see, those in the gaming community have seen it far too often. One PC gets all the DM's favoritism, the closer they are to the DM the more good stuff they get. Poor Boromir got too close to Frodo, so he had to die.

It's apparent Frodo is being played by the DM's girlfriend. All the signs of favoritism are there. Frodo gets picked to be the Chosen One. At level one he's given not just the epic level artifact, but on top of it all he even gets gifted a substantial amount of money in Bilbo's house. So he's now the heir to Bilbo's fortune, who was obviously the DM's old character. After that it's all about Frodo, the Nazgul at the watchtower attack only him, causing drama centered on Frodo as he's rushed to the elves. Once there he's immediately gifted magic armor and weapons by the DM's old character. In Moria he gets a get out of death free card when the DM suddenly remembers that mithril chain would somehow absorb all the force of the troll's spear, where anybody else would have crushed ribs as well. In the final fight, not one Uruk Hai finds and attacks Frodo, despite the rest of the party being swarmed by them.

Now look at poor Boromir. Boromir was the nicest one to Frodo. When Gandalf forgets just because he's a high level fighter with tons of hit points and can survive climbing a mountain without assistance, Boromir points out Frodo's freezing to death. When Gandalf falls to what seems to be his death, again Boromir is there for the Frodo. When Frodo is grieving heavily outside Moria the taskmaster Aragorn wants to keep the party moving to the next encounter, but Boromir wants to give Frodo's player time to roleplay her grief. Finally the DM's had enough. Boromir has to die. The signs start almost immediately. When Galadriel gives out gifts most of the party gets magical weapons or artifacts. Boromir gets a belt. Not even a magical one. Not even important enough to be included in the movie. Sure Gimli gets only three hairs, BUT THAT'S WHAT HE ASKS FOR. Every other member of the party without a magic weapon gets one, except Sam who gets a magic rope which comes in quite useful not to far into the story.

So the party gets to Amon Hen, that's when it all comes to a head. Clearly the DM has been talking to his girlfriend because Frodo is suddenly hostile to Boromir, who has been nothing but supportive this entire adventure and been the shoulder to cry on. When the Uruk Hai finally attack, look at how the monsters are paired against the heroes. About half a dozen each head for Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, while a full three dozen at least make a bee line for Boromir, Merry and Pippin while none go after Frodo and Sam. You've got at least five dozen Uruk Hai and you give two members of the party a pass in the big fight? That reeks of favoritism. So you've got Boromir facing down forty fighting Uruk Hai with Merry and Pippin along side him. Except none of the Uruk Hai go after the hobbits, they all concentrate on Boromir. The hobbits have to forcibly engage the Uruk Hai because none are attacking them, despite taking fire from the hobbits. No, every single one of them go for Boromir. When Boromir wipes out the entire first wave, he blows his horn to let the others know his situation. This also draw all the other Uruk Hai, which for some reason don't attack Aragorn unless he attacks first. All them go straight for Boromir. Finally after Boromir has completely exhausting himself killing more Uruk Hai than the rest of the party combined, then the boss shows up and easily takes down Boromir as he's low on hit points by this time.  Seriously Lurtz?  Three straight confirmed criticals?  Not suspicious at all.

Once Boromir is down, Lurtz can't hit Aragorn to save his life. Every attack either misses or Aragorn shakes off easily. The fight takes just long enough for Boromir to bleed out, as Gimli and Legolas are still nowhere to be seen. So the DM gets his wish and kills off the character of the one guy that was nice to the DM's girlfriend. The DM then makes sure nobody else will get a chance to be the next Boromir by sending Sam and Frodo off on a side quest, far away from the rest of the party. Boromir's player quits the game in disgust and the party splinters into three groups. The DM made his life so much more difficult out of sheer jealousy.

 
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#6 Hal

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Posted 09 September 2015 - 08:33 AM

Maybe he is using Rolemaster and just grabbed a few minor spell lists :)

 

Hal :hal:


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#7 ra88

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Posted 09 September 2015 - 03:56 PM

Maybe he is using Rolemaster and just grabbed a few minor spell lists :)

 

Wouldn't he also be overcasting a lot if he's a "low level" wizard? 


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#8 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 11 September 2015 - 02:17 AM

skuboglesby: this is my original LOTR character, his name is Gundalf and he is Gandalf’s brother who uses a gun

lauren-draws-things: i’m glad i’ve saved this image for so long

tumblr_inline_n8411ds5ue1rn9btx.jpg


Source.
 
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#9 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 06:03 AM


 


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#10 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 03:09 AM

5GDoKUy.jpg
 


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#11 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 04:50 AM

#2 Pippen
There is a fine line between being the comic and being the nuisance. It's all too easy to forget the opinion that matters is the audience, not the comic. Even if everyone loves your work, you will always have detractors. It's when all you have is detractors and yet you still persist in your antics are harsher measures called for. Pippin never learned this.

Pippin was supposed to be part of the comedy team with Merry. Two chaotic hobbit thieves with larceny on their mind and a snippy remark on their tongues. They started harmlessly enough, simply stealing fireworks and laughing about it. When they were finally introduced into the actual campaign it was in the middle of a vegetable heist, and they were able to show of their stealth skills with an intentional easy escape from the Nazgul. You would think a quartet of hobbits moving their full speed wouldn't even make a mounted Nazgul sweat, but the DM let them get away for dramatic purpose.

Unfortunately this made Pippin think he was invisible. In short order he openly gives away the secret quest to the first people who actually asks him about, bringing the wrath of the Nazgul on him and getting a man killed in the process. Pippin doesn't care, and doesn't even change his ways even after Aragorn tries to set them straight. When Gandalf shows back up and reassumes command, Pippin still thinks since Aragorn put up with him, the much more veteran player Gandalf would as well. Pippin thought wrong.

Pippin finds that Gandalf is not stoic like Aragorn, and doesn't brook mischief well. After being rebuked by Gandalf for interrupting his thinking, Pippin spends the rest of the time chucking rocks into the water and giving away their position. After the Watcher in the Water nearly TPK's the lot of them, you'd think he would learn. No, just a few minutes later after Gandalf gives the explicit advice DO NOT DO ANYTHING, Pippin up and does something. After another fight in which Frodo nearly dies except for DM enforced plot armor, Pippin still hasn't learned anything except Gandalf really, really doesn't like him. Fortunately for Pippin, the likelihood of finding himself abandoned and tied upside down to the first tree they find outside of Moria is reduced when Aragorn 'forgets' to throw Gandalf a rope.

Since Aragorn doesn't really care if the hobbits live or die, Pippin goes under the wing of Boromir, who had been training them earlier. Gimli isn't the kind to hang around new players and Legolas can't have the hobbits cut into his preening time. Unfortunately Aragorn does the math, and if the four hobbits side with Boromir then Boromir is the new defacto team leader. Now that Boromir is between Aragorn and a leadership role, and the DM and his shot at Frodo's player, he isn't long for this game either. While Merry and Pippin show they can actually fight, the fix is in as every Uruk Hai concentrates on Boromir, despite taking casualties from the two hobbits. Eventually Merry and Pippin are captured while Boromor starts looking like he's cosplaying Shuna Sassi.

As Pippin and Merry are carted off, Pippin fails to realize that Merry is actually roleplaying and annoys the crap out of the Uruk Hai until the game slows down so Merry can actually figure out what's going on. Merry realizes there is no rescue coming, and they escape as soon as the Rohirrim distract the orcs by killing all of them. After a brief chase by an orc boss, the DM has to kick the two back into the plot by having the tree they climb actually turn out to be an ent who physically carries them to the next plot point. Even though the DM tries to write the two out of the story by having Gandalf instruct them they go far, far away and never come back, Pippin decides to head to Isenguard even though he doesn't have a clue Saruman has actually done something to enrage the ents. The DM realizing Aragorn is completely off script now ends that plot point by having the Ents clean out Isenguard.

Finally reunited with the rest of the party except for Frodo and DMPC Sam, Pippin spends approximately one night before screwing up so badly Gandalf decides to personally take him under his wing before Aragorn forget to throw him a rope as well. Pippin finally starts actually playing the game instead of doing random stuff and making snide remarks. He's put through a series of minor tests, like climbing onto the beacon, sneaking past guards and even trying to use diplomacy on Denethor. He botches the last one badly, but two out of three aren't bad.

When Sauron's army finally shows up, Pippin realizes just how disposable he is, and that Gandalf didn't actually hate him. Sure Pippin annoyed Gandalf to the point of madness, but Gandalf finally noticed Pippin wasn't trying to be annoying, but he'd never roleplayed before and had no idea what to do. When the orcs assaulted the upper levels of Minas Tirith Gandalf lets Pippin know combat for the first real time on his own. While Gandalf slaughters the first nine orcs he sees in a single turn, he holds off one action so Pippin can get a shot in. Finally Pippin realizes it's about team work, even if the epic fighter's body count has reduced Sauron's army by several percentage points by himself, he hasn't hogged all the kills.

Pippin gets his chance to show what he has learned under Gandalf's tutelage. Rather than run and hide when Denethor fails his sanity check, he gets Gandalf instead so they can save Faramir together. Gandalf lets Pippin do all the heroics, and after a crash course in a hobbit's allergic reaction to the encumbrance rules, Pippin saves Faramir by himself. A major victory in the roleplaying history of Pippin's player.

So while Aragorn gets a kingdom and wife, Legolas gets to drag his people to a victory party they did little to help accomplish, Gimli makes bank selling priceless spell components in Galadriel's hair and Frodo probably gets a restraining order against Sam, Pippin gets to go home with Merry. While Merry has risen to the occasion without help or prodding, Pippin is ready to try again as well. This time a bit more mature and hopefully a lot less useless.


#3 Gimli
As the initial party failed due to a lack of diversity, the DM has to brings in more players. To back the three rookie players who have have no idea what to do, he brings in four veteran players to get the campaign going. Adding to the goofballs Merry and Pippin, part time PC Gandalf and the forlorn Frodo and DMPC Sam are the secretly malevolent Aragorn, power gamer Legolas, the ill fated good guy Boromir and our topic today, the old school gamer Gimli. But even a stock dwarven fighter bent on carving his initials on every bad guy he finds can't save the party.

Gimli is a pure fighter, not as creative as Gandalf's take, but more of the classic heavy armor heavy weapon fighter. He solves all his issues through violence, to say charisma is his dump stat is an understatement But Gimli knows how to play the game without having to game the system. He knows the system like the back of his hand, he's got every chart memorized, his rule book is so tabbed it looks like a peacok. Fortunately he keeps his knowledge internalized, and doesn't fall into the trap of being a rules lawyer.

Gimli reinforces every stereotype you can have about a dwarf, he's rude, violent and hates elves. The player tries to roleplay this, but it quickly becomes a self parody. His only answer to everything is apply more axe. Orc mob? Axe it. Giant death metal octopus? Axe it. Nigh indestructible plot device artifact of doom? Axe it. Eventually you can tell he finally gets tired of the campaign when he goes comedy relief for the last third.

After leaving Rivendell with a brand new axe, Gimli is looking for things to kill day one. He's genre savvy enough to know his best chances at massive amounts of axe to face is only going to happen underground. While Gandalf is trying to take the logical route despite the DM dumping blizzard after blizzard on him, and Boromir wants to the sensible route so they can have opportunities to restock and rest on occasion, Gimli is gunning for Moria. He claims its a great dwarf hold where they will have nothing but friends, but he knows it's going to be a dungeon. In every campaign he's played in since that first Gen Con at Gary's house you go underground, you get monsters. He feigns surprise finding all the dwarves dead and goblins everywhere, but he's smiling on the inside. It's axing time.

Gimli learns in Balin's tomb that the game has changed. When the big fight happens the goblins go for the lighter fighters, Aragorn, Boromir and Gandalf. Gimli in his full armor has a hard time catching the goblins, as they avoid his axe knowing he's a dedicated fighter with little chance to hurt him. Instead they swarm the disguised Gandalf, and are slaughtered when the 'wizard' reveals his 10 attacks a turn. Gimli will have to adjust his tactics. While that's anathema to many players, Gimli is wizened enough to know a change is needed.

Gimli's veteran gamer status is proven once again in Lothlorien. When the DM is handing out magical goodies to everybody but Boromir, he blanks on what to give Gimli. He's loaded down with master crafted weapons, his armor is high quality, and the concept of stealth is lost on him. So he asks Gimli what he wants. Gimli wisely asks for a single hair. The DM almost laughs at this seemingly foolish request and tells him "fine, you can have three." Gimli is just dumbstruck by the DM's generosity. He then sites chapter and verse of the going price for a single strand of hair of an ancient epic level elven queen sorceress. It's in the seven digits. And the DM just gave him triple what he asked for. The DM scrambles to find the book and quickly learns what Gimli has already memorized. Gimli is now wealthy beyond measure, and since it was in front of the party there are no take backs. The DM has to acquiesce, but vows to get even at being taken advantage of.

After Gandalf and Boromir perish in unfortunate 'encounters' it's clear Aragorn wants the party leadership, despite that job being explicitly for Frodo to assume. So Aragorn decides first they are going to get Merry and Pippin then catch back up with Frodo and DMPC Sam. Legolas just wants more fighting and the promise of dozens of Uruk Hai is much more tempting than forest fun time with Frodo, who by this time doesn't even want to play anymore. Gimli has two options, go with Aragorn or Frodo. Because he's a stock fighter, he has nothing in survival skills. He holds his nose and heads off with the team killer leading the way.

After futilely chasing the Uruk Hai the trio are unable to catch their prey. This despite the move penalty from the Uruk Hai's armor, Aragorn's ability to ignore rough terrain, and a lack of food aside from just bread. Aragorn constantly reminds Gimli its his fault because of him being a dwarf. Eventually Gimli starts getting snippy with the DM over Aragorns constant prodding. The DM responds by having Eomir threaten combat after Gimli extends a greeting to the Horse Lord. For the rest of the campaign everything goes south for Gimli. But to Gimli, a hostile DM is just another charm of the game. When the DM immobilizes Gimli with the implausible explanation that the warg he just one shot landed on top of him and weighed far more than the dwarf could lift, Gimli responds by showing of his expansive knowledge of grapple attacks and takes out the orc sent to coup de gras him with ease.

When the DM finally gets over his vindictiveness and stops throwing mounted encounters at the dwarf, Gimli sets in for a good old fashioned castle siege. While Legolas gets to show off all four of his prestige classes he's tapped into for a single ability, Gimli gets to show there is no school like old school. So while Aragorn is busy getting the hundreds of elves entrusted him slaughtered by charging a pike wall instead of closing the thirty yard break with Uruk Hai corpses with his expert archers and Legolas is auditioning for Disney on Ice, Gimli simply jumps into a crowd and starts hacking. His experience begins to show as he knows exactly the distance he can clear from his number crunching and where he needs to place himself to the get the most of his cleave feats. When all is said and done, Gimli's kill count is far higher than both Aragorn and Legolas, killing twenty on the wall and another twenty on the bridge and countless more in the breach, he graciously tells Legolas he merely beat him by one to keep the power gamer from flipping out over being beaten. Gimli may be an old veteran, but he doesn't lord it over the others.

The DM however didn't appreciate his grand battle being dominated by a player who knew all the cliches and stereotypes and knew how to exploit them. As punishment Gimli for the last third has very little to do, even in the great fight because of Aragorn's stalling he arrives late. Though Gimli does have a positive effect on Legolas, the elf stops looking for the best combinations and power moves and instead starts looking at tactics and how to predict encounters. But for Gimli aside from the mooks he's thrown as a gift, nothing in the last part is geared towards him. Even in the grand crowning scene Aragorn gets to be king, Legolas has his people show up and the Hobbits gets some love, Gimli gets nothing. Not that it bothers him, next week he's looking down the “player's wanted” board at his game store. There are more things that need an axe to their face.

#4 Legolas
So the backup party arrives at Rivendell to salvage the campaign. You've got a human fighter played affably, with a mix of skills and feats that make for a solid party member. There's a dwarf that is pure tank, heavy armor with lots of hit points and a weapon mix for killing anybody at any time. A God PC playing a fighter posing as a wizard that was just supposed to be there for a session but came back for more. And then there's the guy that builds his character from ten different spat books, comprised of four different prestige classes taken just far enough to get the front loaded abilities. You know that character, he goes by many names. Minmaximus. Detective Munchkin. Legolas.

The rest of the munchkin doesn't have any idea just how power gamed Legolas is. Gandalf and Gimli have suspicions, especially since Legolas' books needed to build just his character dwarfs the stack you normally need to play a GURPS supers campaign. The books range from official splat books, to some of the drek that was churned out with the 3.0 OGL spamfest. A glimpse at his character sheet shows two and a half pages to list all his abilities, and two and a half lines to explain his character background. He's used every optional rule in the book, found ways to take useless disadvantages to gain quite useful advantages.

The older players immediately smelled twink when Legolas revealed he was half snow elf and got to walk on the snow while everybody else had to trudge. When Gandalf wanted to see the rule, Legolas immediately whipped out his dog earred copy of Bastards and Bloodlines and tried to justify why he had two elven racial traits by blood, and a third set of traits because he was adopted per the rules in the Hero Construction Guide. Gandalf is just stunned, and never directly addresses Legolas for the rest of the adventure. Gimli takes a dislike, as he has been playing for ages and has a built in disgust for the power gamers. Legolas doesn't even notice, because he's just so cool like that.

Legolas gets to show off in Moria, where because of Pippin's blundering it's a straight slug fest the entire way. Legolas reveals that his character is a gestalt fighter/rogue from Unearthed Arcana with a single prestige level of Thief-Acrobat from Complete Adventurer just so he can get fast acrobatics, kip up and steady stance. He explains this while he's standing on a troll's head for a multishot backstab straight to the cranium. The hobbits are wowed by this. Gimli just hates him even more.

Despite losing Gandalf, Aragorn takes the party straight to Lothlorien to load up on cool elf stuff, something Legolas is all too keen on. Sure enough he gets this awesome magic bow of awesomeness. He points out it would go great since he put a few levels on Deepwood Sniper for the extra critical threat and damage and with his two levels in Ninja he can move around without anybody seeing him. Gimli would have been angry at this, but he was too busy counting all the gold he was going to make from the DM gifting him super valuable spell components.

When the final fight happens, Legolas is happy slaughtering Uruk Hai, showing off all the cool abilities he's found. Splitting from Champions of Ruins lets him double his rate of fire, letting him mow down the Uruk Hai like nothing else. Gimli wants to know how many arrows Legolas even has as they have not resupplied even once so far. The elf happily show the DM gave them a large budget, he simply converted them to darkwood, reducing the weight to next to nothing and allowing him to carry several hundred since he was under his encumbrance value. Then he just turned and went back to shooting Uruk Hai. When the encounter was over and Boromir was dead, Legolas sided with Aragorn to go publicly go after Merry and Pippin, but in reality go looking for more Uruk Hai to kill.

Their side quest unfortunately ends in vain as Eomir had already stolen all the kills. Tromping through the forest looking for victims, the trio come across an surprisingly not dead Gandalf. Legolas immediately prostrates himself, knowing that even his power munchkin abilities were not match for Gandalf's epic levelness. Instead of being homicidal, he kicks them back into the plot. Greatful, they head off to go talk to Theoden, where Legolas shows off the one level of monk he took for tone against Wormtongue's mooks. The huge fight they were looking for is coming. Life was good.

After a quick skirmish where Gimli had to get a DM ruling on whether kip up actually applied to mounting a horse backwards. The DM finally ruled for Legolas, because he thought it was cool. Though Aragorn falls in the battle, his whines about his crappy luck get him another saving throw so Legolas didn't have to be bossed around by Gimli. As a doomed company of elves arrives to help balance the forces, Gimli has a side bet for Legolas. A bottle of the good stuff to whoever kills the most. Thinking it was taking candy from a baby, Legolas gladly accepts.

The battle is everything Legolas could have hoped for. A target rich environment and he's standing on a wall while Gimli has to sit and watch. Everything is going great, he's got a large lead going until the Uruk Hai reach the wall and Gimli gets in the act. Then it starts to fall apart. Legolas faces his number one foe, a leveled Uruk Hai mook with a magic belt giving him DR against piercing. The oversight allows for the destruction of the wall, and Legolas is thrown off his game.

While Gimli charges into the mass and starts cleaving, Legolas tries to regain his composure by using a shield as a skateboard firing as he goes. While it looked impressive, he only managed to kill two orks, even after successfully arguing his thief-acrobat skills would give him no penalties. As Gimli catches up to Legolas in the kill count, Legolas starts to realize he's out of his depth in mass combat. The mooks are dead, now the higher level monsters remain, and they don't fall to arrows as easily. Legolas settles on a supporting roll while Gimli and Aragorn slaughter another twenty Uruk Hai each outside the great doors of the hall. When all is said and done, Gimli has over sixty confirmed kills to Legolas barely breaking 40, though the dwarf lies and just gives a number just one higher over the elf to avoid hurting his feelings.

The last third of the adventure quickly becomes the Aragorn show. Legolas does show a bit of spite towards Gimli by wasting a feat slot on a Alcohol Tolerance just to win a drinking contest with the dwarf. While Aragorn runs around getting gifts showered on him and generally taking center stage every single scene he can, Legolas is still trying to figure out how he lost at Helm's Deep. Gimli starts to show him basic tactics and predicting attack patters are much more useful than just power combos and front loaded prestige classes. Instead of focusing all on just his bow, he could have spread out his feats to include melee as well to get around damage resistance for example.

In the big battle at Minas Tirith Aragorn gets the trio to the battle late, just in time not to save Theoden. Despite having an entire army of plot devices at their disposal, they do get to mix it up some. Legolas takes Gimi's lesson to heart and instead of trying to kill the Mumakil, he uses his mighty ninja acrobat skills to take out the Howdah instead, then takes out the beast with his patented stand on their head and shoot them technique. Gimli was impressed that the elf actually learned how to think his way to victory, but was less than thrilled at him wasting an action just to look cool on the dismount.

At the final battle they both come to the realization that Aragorn has no idea whatsoever what he's doing, as his tactics nearly get everyone killed except finally for DM intervention and the bad guys running away because the DM is just finally tired of the campaign. In the big wrap up scene, Gimli admits that perhaps a little showing off is allowed, and Legolas concedes tactics beats min maxing if you know what you are doing. Legolas asks to be in the next campaign, begging to keep his character even though its set in the past. The DM agrees, not paying attention as Frodo's player has already stormed off.


#5 Merry
All gamers have to start somewhere, we all know the awkwardness. You're sitting a table with a 1st level character hoping that a goblin doesn't roll a 20 on their first attack. You've got no skills, no cool gear, just some crappy hit points, no saves to speak of and maybe if you're lucky one or two good stats.
A good number of us make gimmick characters and try to be funny. A rare few get past just stabbing people and cracking jokes. Meriadoc Brandybuck is one of those rare few.

Merry started as part of a gag party, let's be honest how long do you think three halfling thieves are going to last? The party was so lopsided the DM had to throw in a DMPC in Sam, and had to invite somebody to play a more experienced warrior character in Gandalf. Merry starts off with his partner Pippin running around and being obnoxious, just like 1st level characters are wont to do. Even after Gandalf has to start working evenings and can't play any more and is replaced by the LE Ranger Aragorn, Merry is more concerned with having fun than progressing the plot. He steals from all sorts of NPCs, and violates the first rule of setting up camp along with Pippin and DMPC Sam by making the party unnecessarily visible.

All that changes once the party gets to Rivendell. Here new players join and Gandalf can finally start making game sessions again. Instead of the cold and emotionless Aragorn Merry is now tutored by the warm and friendly Boromir. Merry makes a conscious realization that the party doesn't need three thieves and multiclasses to fighter under Boromir's tutelage. Old habits die hard though when he again gives away his position to the Watcher in the Water and nearly gets the party killed. Merry then swears to stop goofing around and starting actually roleplaying.

Unfortunately for Merry other factors are at work, and after Aragorn conveniently lets Gandalf fall to apparent death and then is intentionally too late to save Boromir, Merry is kidnapped with Pippen by the forces of Isenguard and then promptly forgotten about by Aragorn. Merry starts to play smart by feigning unconsciousness so he can quietly look for a way out. When Eomir provides a distraction he's finally able to make his escape. Then Merry realizes Aragorn isn't coming. He does the math, somehow super ranger Aragorn can't catch up with malnourished Uruk-Hai that are exhausted despite a marginal head start for three straight days?

Merry shows that he's been spreading his skills around when he has to explain to Pippin inxay alkingtay on the ingray and gives the history of the trees that move. Both characters have been together from the start, this is common knowledge. But where Merry wisely put points in Local Knowledge and Gather Information, Pippin has squandered his skills by dumping all his spare points into Profession: Ecdysiast. Merry finally makes his break and drags Pippin with him where they are able to get help from the friendly and completely randomly placed Ent Treebeard who just happened to be the one tree they climb when they are getting owned by an orc.

Knowing Treebeard is an attempt to get this plot under some semblance of what the module calls for, Merry goes along with the DM's plan and runs with it. Gandalf's player is able to make a brief one session appearance, having healed from the falling damage and replaced his ruined robes. He warns Merry and Pippin away from the murderous ranger, and to stick with Treebeard, then gives Aragorn some made up story about how Gandalf died and was reborn so is now immortal so Aragorn won't try to arrange any more accidents. Fortunately Gandalf sends Aragorn on a wild goose chase away from the hobbits, so Merry is at least safe from his wrath.

The DM concentrates on Aragorn and his bunch as they are the more experienced and more fun according to the DM. Merry spends his time wishing something would happen while Pippin still just runs around being goofy. Merry's player starts changing Merry's planned level progression into more strategy and tactics than just pure damage. Merry learns from the highly intelligent Gandalf's straight fighter build that you don't need a high strength to be an excellent fighter, that intelligence can be just as dangerous to unsuspecting foe.

Merry gets thrown a bone when the DM has Treebeard discover Saruman's destruction the Fanghorn Forest, and gets a front row seat to the March of the Ents. While all he gets to do is occasionally make an attack roll with a rock, he does get to make a joke about Saruman regretting waking up to mourning wood. Finally Aragorn shows up and discovers Merry has already defeated Isenguard, so now Aragorn has no excuse but to take the hobbits with him.

The reunion is brief as Pippin is still in his unfunny prankster mode gets messed up playing with an artifact so Gandalf takes him off on a side quest which is mainly an excuse to keep him from causing any more chaos in the campaign and teach him how to roleplay. So Merry is off with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas to go fight evil. Only Merry is much more serious now, and getting to be a decent roleplayer. Aragorn has a bit of a snit when he finds out he's under Theoden's command and scarpers off, taking everybody in the party but leaving Merry behind because Aragorn really hates people that roleplay actual characters instead of just fleshy parts of swords. Fortunately Merry gets Aragorn's left overs when Eowyn takes a shine to him. Roleplaying to the hilt Merry wins her favor and charges into battle with the Rohirrim, mostly to spite that prick Aragorn.

Merry's evolution comes to its fruition when he finally faces a big boss by himself, with only the NPC Eowyn to help. Merry knows Eowyn is supposed to be the one to kill the Witch King, she's the ONE and PCs need not try to steal her thunder. However Merry was paying attention to the exposition earlier and remembers no man can kill the Witch King. While arguing semantics over whether hobbits are a separate species from men and therefore no held to the same restrictions would be pointless as the DM wants to show the party how badass his NPC in Eowyn is, Merry has a brilliant idea. Merry argues the prophecy says no man can kill the Witch King. It doesn't say anything about non-lethal sneak attacks to the undead kidneys however. Merry doesn't strike the fatal blow, but he lets the SOB know that Merry wasn't going to let that boss fight go by without taking his pound of flesh. DM is livid about Merry using logic and stealing part of Eowyn's glory so he makes up some lame excuse about an undead aura that severely wounds Merry and destroys his magic sword in retaliation. Doesn't matter, Merry is his own hobbit now. We should all be like Merry.


#6 Aragorn
The Golden Rule of RPGs is never split the party, but the Fellowship manages to split the party into three different groups, all with their own mission. This is normally the fault of an extremely bad DM, and this DM was undoubtedly one of the worst, but the true culprit behind this complete mess can be pinned on one character, Aragorn. If it was not for his own narcissistic agenda and desire to be the leader, this quest could have been wrapped up in a third of the time.

Look at his character. The original party was three hobbit thieves, a DMPC hobbit fighter, and an epic level warrior running around fooling everybody into thinking he was this demigod wizard. Well the epic level guy was there to get the campaign started with a little nudge, but he bowed out as the extremely experienced player had a conflict with his work schedule. No problem, the hobbits have to get from Bree to Rivendell and drop off the ring. Just grab a random ranger guy from the tavern, just like a million adventures in the past. Only this guy doctors his character background so much it's almost a story in itself. He's not just a ranger eating at a tavern. He's secretly the lost king of Gondor under an assumed name. Oh and there's this smoking hot elven chick waiting to jump him when he gets to Rivendale. Plus he's from a super race of men letting him live well longer than normal men. Then a whole bunch of ghosts owe him a favor because they wronged one of his ancestors a long time ago. Most DM's would have brought out the Magic Marker of Veto to counter this background, but this DM didn't care and just stamped it okay. There's your first problem.

So Aragorn is dragging this party through an extremely combat light adventure as befits a bunch of third level thieves. It's already a pretty badly designed adventure, as he's taking a bunch of thieves on a woodland trip with no locks to pick, no traps to detect and pockets to pick. But Aragorn is showing off his awesome ranger skills right and left. At least until he goes exploring by himself and doesn't even bother to set a picket, and Frodo gets stabbed for his efforts. Fortunately since the DM has eyes for Frodo's player, it all works out because like magic a pouty eyed elf princess shows up and whisks Frodo away and uses some rectomancy to pull a magic spell right out of her ass and wash always all the Nazgul. Aragorn then decides that his long lost elven love is this pouty eyed elven princess rectomancer right here.

So we're at Rivendell and the DM introduces the new players. Gandalf is back, his job schedule clearing up. You get an older experienced player in Gimli, a min maxing twink called Legolas and a guy who's actually built a believable character in Boromir. Aragorn immediately sees the threat in Gandalf and Boromir. Gandalf is a beast in combat, there is no way Aragon could take him, even with a surprise round. Gandalf is sitting on so many hit points and feats he's walking around unarmored knowing he can soak whatever they throw at him. Boromor on the other hand is likable, he cares about the other characters. He plays with the hobbits, talks in character with everyone. If the rest of the party start to like him, Aragorn's position is threatened. They have to go.

Aragorn's jealousy is apparent. When Frodo drops the ring Boromir picks it up and starts monologuing about how such a little thing can be the cause of this epic quest. Before he can even get started and express his emotions Aragorn cuts him off hard demanding he give the ring back to Frodo. Without a second thought he gives the ring right back, even patting Frodo on the head playfully. Between his popularity and genuine friendship with the rest of the Fellowship and his closeness to Frodo, the DM's personal target, Boromir is a marked man.

Aragorn gets his first chance with the Balrog. Gandalf dispatches the demon easily by luring it onto a bridge that couldn't support the weight. Taunting the demon forward it plummets straight to its death when the bridge predictably collapses. However the DM sees the threat Gandalf poses with his chances with Frodo and the Balrog some how gets an attack of opportunity while falling, scoring a critical hit with the whip. The DM's plans are foiled when Gandalf easily passes his save to grap on to the ledge. Here is where you throw the guy a rope. Only Aragorn doesn't even bother. An experienced ranger, who had just been mountain climbing, didn't possess one of the most basic items that even comes with the starting ranger kit? Pull the other one. Aragorn just coldly stood there until Gandalf failed a strength check and plummeted to his seeming death. One down.

After the party leader is gone, the party splits between Boromir and Aragorn. Aragorn wants to keep going the dangerous route by the river. Boromir proposes the much more sensible route inland where they can restock on supplies, especially since they still don't have a cleric. Aragorn begins to formulate his plot. When the Uruk Hai show up Boromir takes the brunt of the assault. With 90% of the Uruk Hai attacking only him, he's low on hit points quickly. When he finally takes out the first wave he signals for help. Aragorn leaves Gimli and Legolas behind to go “help” Boromir. Only Aragorn arrives far to late, despite having to movement penalties in the forest and not even being attacked by Uruk Hai who are all rushing to attack just Boromir. Alas, Aragorn arrives too late to save Boromir, even though the poor man is at round -7 HP when Aragorn finally moseys over him. Then Aragorn for three straight rounds doesn't do a thing to stabilize Boromir. No healing spell, no medicine roll. Just waits for the guy to expire and steals his magic bracers before the body is even cold.

With Frodo leaving with out them and DMPC Sam guilt tripping Frodo into a free ride, it's up to Aragorn to catch up. Sure Merry and Pippen have been kidnapped, but they are no further than twenty minutes ahead, being carried by exhausted and heavily armored Uruk Hai. Aragorn could have easily rescued those two, then swung back and caught back up with two hobbits walking cross country with no outdoors skills whatsoever. What does Aragorn do? Decide he doesn't want to be part of the Ring quest anymore, and goes off script by heading to Rohan.

Somehow the characters in Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, traveling light and rested can't catch up to a body of Uruk Hai running in full platemail with just a marginal head start. No he goes and tries to pick a fight with Eomir and about 50 Rohirrim. When Eomir FINALLY gets Aragorn to go in the right direction by then Merry and Pippin's players have gotten tired of waiting to be rescued and head off on their own. There they find Gandalf, who survived the epic plunge because 20d6 falling damage is nothing to a 20+ level fighter. Cost him a new set of clothes, and a freshly made up story about now being Gandalf the White. Aragorn knows Gandalf's player is miffed about the rope and convinces the other two to jump him by “accident”. Of course Gandalf quickly shows these guys aren't even his weight class, so Aragorn has to be second banana once again, and it steams him. Fortunately Gandalf is just there for a cameo as his work schedule pulls him away again.

When Aragorn gets his first big solo fight he embarrasses himself, getting caught on a worg and crit fumbling his saves before going over the cliff. Time for a new character normally, but Aragon's player whines until the DM relents and Aragorn turns out to be mostly dead instead, saved by the power of his pouty elven princess rectomancer. Aragorn gets back to Helms Deep and quickly realizes Theoden is in charge, not him. A bit more whining and suddenly two hundred elves show up a gift from Aragorn's would be father-in-law or something like that. Exactly like the Rohirrim warriors, except better in all aspects. Of course Aragorn embarrasses himself again as his poor tactics gets every single one of them killed. Fortunately Gandalf is able to get off work early and saves Aragorn with a massive case of deus es machina again.

So Aragorn is stuck in Theoden's camp, still not in charge. While Theoden rounds up thousands of troops like a true ruler, Aragorn will have nothing of it. Aragorn dodges a bullet when Pippin's player screws up for the last time and Gandalf takes him off to teach him how to roleplay. Aragorn turns on his whine powers on the DM and gets an NPC to suddenly show up with GODSWORD +5, +20 when wielded by Aragorn that he just hands over with a quest or any requirements. Aragorn leaves Theoden's camp because if can't be leader, he will take his GODSWORD and play elsewhere. He doesn't even take Merry out of sheer jealosy. Merry turned out to be the best roleplayer, going from some newbie that just wanted to cause trouble to a responsible player that thinks before he acts and leveled up with some balance and well thought out construction. Well Aragorn doesn't need people that are actually going to play the module, he wants people kissing his ass. So Merry wakes up alone.

Aragorn pulls his magic sword and gets all the ghosts to be his new people. Aragorn tests out his new army on some pirates, who without magic weapons don't even stand a chance. Aragorn smirks as he thinks how much he is going to show up Theoden when the Army of the Dead shows up. Then gets an evil idea. He knows Theoden is in for a tough fight, and the Army of the Dead outclasses anything the bad guys throw at his. Aragorn stalls his advance, forcing the ghosts to travel at the same speed as the boats even though they are much faster and don't tire. By the time Aragorn arrives Theoden is just minutes, along with thousands of Rohirrim. As he expected the orcs can't even hit the ghosts and the route is complete. Sure thousands of his allies needlessly had to die, but it's about what Aragorn wants. Everyone who has stood before him dead or gone. But then the reunion with Frodo is announced, and Aragorn's position as the center of attention is threatened once again.

Aragorn tries his hand at true leadership by marching out to attack Sauron. He blows his tactics check and leaves all his cavalry behind. While Aragorn's selfish bungling got a lot of the Rohirim killed, their mounted forces still numbered in the thousands. Aragorn reveals he hasn't put a single point into diplomacy by badly botching his talk with the unarmed Mouth of Sauron. After botching pretty much all of his diplomacy checks he beheads the unarmed man from behind, and while under a flag of truce. Aragorn then shows a complete lack of tactics by allowing his force to be surrounded, and takes on a armored troll by himself that was more than a match for him. The DM finally has to save him by playing a Get Out of Death Free Card in the form of an army of giant eagles and timing the destruction of the Ring simultaneously. The orc horde then completely forgets that even though Mordor blew up, they still outnumber Aragorn's army several times over, and were winning a few seconds ago.

DM quickly wraps up the campaign by letting Aragorn getting crowned king despite getting most of his men killed through bad tactics, showing no grasp of diplomacy whatsoever, and having shown no proof of any administrative skills at all. But Aragorn gets his crown, his pouty elven princess rectomancer bride, and the promise of hot elven sex. Sure Boromir, Theodin and Gandalf had to be eliminated first, but it's all about the Aragorn baby.


#7 Frodo
As the realization set in that the entire Fellowship of the Ring was just an extremely badly run game, Frodo has gone from the DM's pet character to be revealed what he actually was. The poor bastard being played by the chick the DM had eyes for. I was fooled into thinking Frodo was some sort of Pollyanna Mary Sue type character, but the more I watched the more I felt sorry for the poor girl playing the hobbit. It rapidly became obvious Frodo didn't want to be there anymore.

It was obvious Frodo was supposed to be the center of the game. Frodo was the first player we were introduced to, a 1st level hobbit thief that everything had to be explained for. Everything was given to Frodo, from Bilbo giving not just the One Ring to Frodo to get the story going, but then willing all of Bilbo's wealth to the hobbit. Starting out with several thousand gold pieces at first level must be nice. The DM then gets an old friend to play an epic levil wizened mentor in the kill crazy yet highly intelligent warrior Gandalf. So you've a lot of money and a super high level mentor, what could go wrong? Frodo starts to catch on the DM's motives are less than benign.

Frodo has some adventures and levels up fairly quickly. Never really gets in a fight until well under way. The starting party starts extremely small, apparently it's going to a hobbit thief love fest so the DM adds Frodo's sudden and long time best friend Sam as a DM PC so they'll at least have a fighter in the party. How does Sam get hauled on the quest? By being caught eavesdropping through a window. Apparently Gandalf has a real job because he takes a few weeks off from the campaign. So Frodo and his merry band have a lot of adventures, pick up another player to replace the warrior god Gandalf and finally get in a real fight at Weathertop. Whereupon Frodo gets curbed stomped and the DM comes to the realization 3rd level hobbit thieves ain't got jack for HP.

Frodo gets hauled to Rivendale where magical elves fix him right up. And there is the DM's old character fresh with a new magical weapon and armor just for Frodo! The DM breaks down and finally adds several more characters to the party as a two fighter/three thief mix isn't going to work. So Gandalf finally comes back after his work schedule clears, and three old gaming hands in the form of Gimli, Legolas and Boromir show up. The fix is revealed when Frodo takes on a cave troll while the rest of the party is doing their thing and Gandalf feigning being a hapless old man to lure the goblin closer as he goes from Gandalf the Grey Wizard to Gandalf the Ruddy Cuisinart. Cave troll hits clean and takes Frodo straight to the minus lots column on his hit points. But low and behold, the magical chainmail retroactively has a DR rating just enough to bring Frodo back to positive numbers. The rest of the party looks surprised, but Frodo is beginning to release the game is rigged.

With Boromir and Gandalf showing actual true friendship towards to Frodo, the DM decides to get rid of them. They are only two to try and help the poor girl play her character the way she wants, they are the characters Frodo is attaching to. So they both bit it. Gandalf due to a 'lucky critical' by the Balrog after Gandalf takes him out with an engineering check, and Boromir after being pretty much only guy out a party of eight attacked by about 100 Uruk-Hai. So Frodo decides to head off and be a background story. Only the DM won't have that, and send best friend and buddy DMPC Sam in a total guilt trip attempted drowning to get Frodo to keep going. The other five guys get left behind without a thought.

Then Frodo starts to catch on that Sam wants Frodo all for himself, just like the DM has removed anybody close to Frodo. Frodo now is running a solo game, but those never work for long so the DM gets a second player in on that in the form of Smeagol. This time there is no mistaking Smeagol for a sympathetic shoulder. Low comeliness, limited combat abilities a very chaotic neutral alignment and the fact the regular player can only make about half the sessions alignment means this isn't a character to latch on to. The DM volunteers to run Smeagol's split personality Gollum as an NPC while the regular player is away, but that isn't going work long term. Frodo wants real companionship. Something the sycophantic DMPC Sam isn't providing. Even after the DM gives Frodo what he wants in the form of really cool elephants, the plot has to get moved along. Frodo tries to end it all by diving straight into the Dead Marshes but Smeagol is there to convince the player it will get better now he's here. A guest PC in Faramir shows up as a pregen brother of Boromir. Faramir is very quickly reminded what happened to Boromir, and Gollum is given a beat down by Faramir's followers that's blamed on Frodo. All to make DMPC Sam the only one Frodo can trust, and by extension the DM the only person sticking up for Frodo's player. Faramir gets the hint and kicks Frodo on his way with no help at all. Left alone again with DMPC Sam and part time PC Smeagol Frodo again tries to end it all by giving up the artifact to a Nazgul, but Sam coincidentally criticals a grappling attempt so the game can go on despite Frodo obviously not wanting to play anymore.

After DMPC Sam once again tries to guilt trip Frodo by falling down right in front of the Easterling army, Frodo realizes how badly the game is rigged when his elven cloak magically looks like a rock, despite it doing nothing of the sort in the rules. Smeagol saves Frodo several times and serves faithfully as a guide, no matter how much DMPC Sam keeps blaming Gollum on all the troubles they are having. Frodo is going through the motions at this point. Finally after a the DM and Smeagol get into one too many fights Smeagol's player takes off and it's all Gollum from now on. Frodo decides the line is crossed and just walks right into Shelob without a fight. DM panics, has DMPC Sam singlehandedly defeat Shelob while revealing the wound wasn't fatal and Frodo wakes up none the less for wear. While a single hobbit slaughtering an entire tower full of orcs and Uruk Hai would be ridiculous, fortunately all the bad guys slaughter each other and DMPC Sam cleans up the last few. But Frodo is done with this game, the player doesn't even know why she keeps coming except for the DM's pleading.

The last adventure has Frodo slowly march towards Mount Doom with not one of the tens of thousands of orcs once making a spot check to notice their hairy feet or Caucasian features. Nope, just walking to Mount Doom surrounded by bad guys on every side and not one of them put a single point into spot. Totally legit. After listening to DMPC Sam moralize and preach one too many times Frodo just sits down and doesn't care. The adventure is over for all Frodo cares. No problem, DMPC Sam, despite weeks of starvation and constant marching just picks Frodo right up and carries him to the epic conclusion spot. Where Frodo rebels and refuses to finish the damned adventure. Middle Earth can burn, not going to throw the ring into the fire. The line has finally been drawn. No problem, DMPC Gollum suddenly appears and forces the One Ring into the fire. Fine, Frodo decides to go with the ring. Nope DMPC Sam catches Frodo at exactly the right time and Frodo lives! Except for all the lava, but don't worry heat convection doesn't work in this game as they can sit right next to lava that will set cars ablaze at forty feet but not scorch hobbit lungs at two feet for some reason.

So the wrap up is uncomfortable to say the least. All the PCs have one last wrap up session where new star of the campaign Aragorn gets to be the king with the hot elf wife, and the hell with everybody else except Sam and his hot new hobbit wife. Finally reunited with Gandalf, the only character that actually cared about Frodo, but at this point Frodo is happy to see anybody but DMPC Sam. Look at the reunion, Frodo is ecstatic to see everyone, Merry, Pippin, Gimli, Legolas, even scene stealing Aragorn, then DMPC Sam walks in and all the joy Frodo had at seeing real people just quickly fades. When Gandalf's player is announcing he's retiring the character by sailing with the elves Frodo is all to quick to sign on, leaving DMPC Sam far behind. Frodo's player probably quit the gaming scene for a while before signing up for Cyberpunk 2020 campaign, hopefully competently run with actually players.

 
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#12 Pencil-Monkey

Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 06:14 AM

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THE SIEGE OF MINAS TIRITH
 


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#13 Pencil-Monkey

Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 12 October 2016 - 08:28 AM

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Grandma... It’s me, Anastasia!


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