It’s All Fun and Games

by Kaesy

“Berlyne. Would you mind explaining to me why Enel Lanum just handed me a character sheet and background for a dragonborn paladin named -” For a moment, Noah spared Berlyne from his stony stare as he turned it instead on the papers in his hands to read the name in question off them, as though it were too unbelievable to trust to his memory and must be uttered with physical proof available. “Bue Bue the Bodacious?” He held the evidence out in front of Berlyne’s face so she could see it for herself.

Berlyne sighed. “Look, I didn’t think Chara would be interested. But she started looking through the Player’s Handbook you lent me and thought it  looked fun, and you did say it’s better to have three or four people than two – “

“And I said I probably had a third person,” Noah grumbled.

Berlyne continued, undeterred. “And Chara’s okay, so I told her she could probably join. And then she told her stupid boyfriend he could, too, without asking anyone. You can just tell him you have too many players.”

Noah shook his head. Enel would tell Marcus, and Marcus would tell Idony, and then he would never know peace.

“He’ll probably get bored of it and quit a few sessions in,” Berlyne reassured him “We can put up with him that long.”

“Right…” Noah agreed, but the long look that passed between them spoke a different sentiment.



In the end, there were five of them, plus Noah – Chara and Berlyne, their respective boyfriends (well, actually, Noah could never tell if Apen and Berlyne were dating or not, and he wasn’t going to ask) and Noah’s younger cousin Avidan. Nearly twice the amount of players he’d planned on, but not an unmanageable party size, and he barely had to tweak his original concept.

“Okay, so to start out, you’re all passengers on a boat, traveling between these cities.” Noah pointed out their location on the hand-drawn map he’d laid on the table. “Why don’t you all describe yourselves for each other?”

Enel opened his mouth immediately, but Apen was more prepared, laying a detailed illustration out on the table. Depicted therein was a very detailed but rather generic wizard – long beard, fancy robes, pointy hat. “This is Artaxerxes. A human wizard.”

“Not a halfling?” Enel said teasingly, bending to pat Apen on the head.

Apen leaned away. “No! Why would I play a halfling wizard, that’s so unoptimized-”

“Because your shoooort!” Enel continued in a sing-song voice.

“We’re making fantasy creatures, they don’t need to have any tie to what we really look like-”

Noah sent a look towards Berlyne, who mercifully was able to interpret it and get things back on track. “I’m a female wood elf ranger.” There was a moment of silence as the group waited to see if she had anything more to add, but when it appeared she didn’t Enel broke in.

“I’m a dragonborn paladin, I’m blue, and have a big dragon head, and breath lightning!   And my whole family was tragically kidnapped by giant eagles -”

Noah cut him off. “You don’t need to tell your backstory now. That’s what roleplay is for.”

Apen frowned thoughtfully. “How did eagles manage to carry off a bunch of dragonborn?”

Enel threw his hands in the air. “I don’t know! I wasn’t there, that’s how I escaped being kidnapped.”

“Are there even giant eagles in Dungeons and Dragons?”

“Well -” Was as far as Noah got before Chara was speaking over him.

“Of course there are, it has all kinds of crazy stuff.” She looked at Noah. “Right?”

“Well, it has to potential to have a lot of crazy stuff, but it depends on the setting-” It was time to end this before it got any further out of hand. “Avidan. What’s your character?”

Avidan looked startled for a moment, having probably been tuning out the previous discussion. Noah didn’t blame him, but didn’t want him to get in the habit of it, either. He wanted him to be involved. “Um, I’m a tiefling, so I have purple skin, and horns. And I’m a rogue, so actually you probably don’t see me.”

“You aren’t invisible, just good at hiding.”

“I’m hiding. Everyone else on this ship looks crazy.”

By ‘everyone,’ Noah assumed he meant Enel. “Well, they saw you boarding.” Avidan shrugged, and Noah looked to Chara for the last description. “What about you?”

Chara smiled and leaned her elbows against the table. “Well, I’m a half-elf, so I have sort of pointy ears, and I’m sort of tall but not super tall, and I have really long red hair but it’s all up in buns right now, and I’m wearing a sort of peach colored dress but also with pants under it so I can run around and kick bad guys because I’m a ninja! And my name is Azalea.”

“The class is monk, not ninja,” said Berlyne.

“I know, but I am a ninja, and you guys know that monks are ninjas, so why can’t I just call myself a ninja?”

“So you’re all on a boat,” Noah said quickly. “You can spend some time talking to each other and get to know each other’s characters to start out.”

The players looked at each other around the table, unsure how to start. Enel grinned. “Hi guys! My family was kidnapped by eagles.”



“Did we get any XP last time?” Apen asked, as soon as they sat down, his character sheet before him ready to be edited.

“You didn’t have any encounters,” Noah pointed out.

“We didn’t have combat, but we had social encounters. Surely that has to be worth something.”

“Alright, fine.” Apen lit up. “You get five XP.” Apen deflated.

“Five? Five XP? After a five hour session? There should be a minimum XP wage. One XP an hour. That’s slave XP!”

“I’m the only slave here,” Noah muttered.

“Apen.” Berlyne gave him a long, even, look. “Just take the XP.” Apen sighed and scratched the new number down on his sheet. Berlyne turned her eyes to Noah. “I do want to fight something this time, though.”

“Well, you could always fight each other.”


“No, Avidan, you can’t kill Enel.”


“Okay, so where we last left off…” Noah trailed out, prompting the  players to chime in with what they remembered.

“Uh, we told some guy we’d check out these goblins causing trouble in the forest.” Enel started out.

“Some guy?” Avidan said with outrage. “You peasant, that was the crown prince in hiding!”

“Wait, really?”

Noah restrained himself from sighing in front of the players. He was here to give them a good experience, not try to push them in a certain direction. That way they had to learn to live with their own decisions. But he did sometimes wonder why he put in as much work as he did. Avidan picked up the most on the story he was trying to weave with the setting, but unfortunately he was not the loudest voice in the group. Besides that, Enel had somehow ended up as the only one in the party with a significant number of points in Charisma, and thus had become the designated party face without ever gaining much of a clue what was going on.

“So you were at the edge of the forest,” he prompted again. “Camped next to the river.”

“Right, we need to figure out how to cross it,” said Apen, getting down to business.” Are there any trees on this side?”

“There’s a few.”

Apen looked to Avidan. “Justice has pretty good dex, right? See if you can climb from one tree to the other side and take a rope across for us.”

“Sure.” Avidan rolled. “Uh… three.”

“You fall out of the tree on the same side of the river.”

Apen frowned and checked his spell list.

“Maybe I could jump across,” Chara posited.

“How deep is the river, Noah?” asked Berlyne.

Honestly, they’d all have died without her. “Less than a foot. You can just walk across.”




“Okay,” Apen said, leaning over his detailed battle plan that he’d spread out over the table. “Bue Bue and Azalea go through first, here, to clear out the first wave of guards, and Justice behind to cover you. And you and I-” He motioned to Berlyne. “We’ll take out the guards on the wall and then meet them inside. Now, I’ll be saving as many spells as I can for the Dragon King -”

“You know,” Berlyne put in. “I get that the Dragon King is really evil and all. But I get the feeling that we’re still a little too low level for this.”

“But he has to go down!” Chara protested. “If we don’t do it, who will?”

“Us, when we can actually take him.”

“But we’re here now.”

“Yeah,” Avidan mumbled, leaning back with folded arms. “We’re here because someone decided to follow a random NPC to town and promise we’d free their family -”

“Hey, Barty is great!” Enel said, punctuated by a flailing motion. “And it’s an adventure! We’re adventurers! This is what we do.”

“If you could listen to the plan -” Apen said irritably.

“Actually, I think I might sit this out,” Avidan said casually. Apen looked at him agape. “What? I don’t think we can do it.”

“We definitely can’t if we split the party! Now, let me go over this one more time.”

As he went on, Berlyne looked over at Noah, who has remained quiet the whole time. He’d been trying not to give anything away, but there must have been a hint of a smirk or a glint in his eye for her to pick up. She turned to Avidan, and they shared a subtle nod between them.

“Okay, everyone ready?” asked Apen.

“I charge the gate!” Enel announced.

“Roll for initiative.” Noah knew he was smiling now. Apen, Enel, and Chara all did.

“I’m staying back with Justice,” Berlyne announced instead.


            “We told you we didn’t think you could do it.”

Chara and Enel looked at each other nervously. Apen’s eyes widened, and then he schooled his features into determination. “Alright, then, you two won’t get any XP from when we destroy this thing.”

“As you charge the castle, you see a dark shape in the sky above you,” Noah narrated.

“Can you describe the dark shape?” asked Enel.

“The dark shape is -”

He cut in again before Noah got any further. “Does it look like a whale?”

“Not even remotely.” He smiled. “It looks like a dragon.”

Things were mercifully short after that point.

There was a wide range of expressions around the table. Enel looked a bit sick, probably because Noah hadn’t spared any detail in telling the trio exactly what damage they took before they expired. Chara just looked a bit confused, as though she hadn’t considered this to be a possibility. Apen’s face was frozen in shock as he scanned his character sheet over and over, trying to find some flaw. And the two survivors, of course, were unbearably smug. Noah didn’t mind leaving them to the consequences of their folly, but he was glad Avidan had escaped. Justice had pages of backstory, and hardly any of it had been figured out by the rest of the party. Apen’s wizard may have been highly optimized, but he’d been pretty flat on a character level. And Bue Bue the Bodacious… the less said about that, the better.

“Okay, I think we’ll stop there for tonight so you three can roll up your new characters.”

“We’re really for real dead?”

“Yes, Chara, you are really for real dead. Now maybe next time-”

“I want to play a catperson for my next character!”

Noah looked Enel dead in the eye. “And I want players who aren’t complete disappointments, so neither of us is getting what we want.”