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The random vat of unknown magical goo

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
Strange things happen when I am unable to properly plan out my game. Don't get me wrong, I don't railroad my players. I simply prefer to have at least a general idea what I will be doing in an upcoming session. Usually, this involves me asking my players what their characters intend to do next after a session ends. Often this means I have a number of monsters set aside as a backup plan if they should go in a way I do not expect them to. A monster encounter is very time consuming, and can often take an entire session, which gives me time to work on what is behind the next door.

A few sessions ago, the players progressed through their combat encounter faster than expected. They made it to a portal which I had expected to be the mark of the end of the session... However, there was 4 hours left in our game. I did not even have a map prepared for what lays beyond the portal.

This called for some hastily prepared mapping, and ideas being pulled out of thin air. On the other side of the portal, the group had found an unusual fountain which had rejuvenating properties. They found that by drinking from the fountain, they would regain 1d4 healing surges. Furthermore, they found what we later called "The random vat of unknown magical goo". Both were there for a reason, but the party did absolutely horrible on their skill checks, and have no idea what they are for yet.

The random vat of unknown magical goo was pretty much demanding experimentation. The Ranger eventually threw a rock in, and had a +1 rock fly back at him. He found this to be amusing. I had hoped he would then carelessly throw a weapon into the vat, but he wisely went for further testing instead and dipped the end of his 10 foot pole into the vat. This time, the submerged end took on properties similar to rubber, and it became limp and bouncy. The vat turned out to be excess arcane energy which had been concentrated into a psychical form. By now, the party had learned that if they throw something into the vat, random things will happen. They chose not to question what the vat was for (and had a horribly low result on their skill checks anyway), and we spent the next 4 hours throwing things into the vat. Here is a small list of some things that were thrown in, and the results:

  • A tanned wolf pelt which the ranger was using for a blanket ==> A Wolf Pup which has been named "Doggie".
  • The other wolf pelt he was using for bedding ==> A tiger skin pelt.
  • Waterskin ==> Water elemental
  • Everburning Torch ==> Gained the ability to cast Scorching Burst once per encounter as a close blast 3.
  • 1 GP ==> 1 SP
  • A days worth of Rations ==> A bottle of fine wine laced with a knockout poison, which they only discovered after the Invoker drank some.
  • The Rangers +2 Magic Longbow ==> A stick of Zebra Wood which reverts back to his bow when on the ground. (An item that turns into a stick when not on the ground is actually a trademark enchantment of a wizard they once worked for. Long story.)
  • Another ration ==> Summoned an Angel of Gruumsh

And so on. Each time I would roll a d20 and consult a table I threw together. This would determine how helpful the effect would be verses how useless it would be. Silly stuff got mixed in with somewhat useful stuff. A lot of everything would revert to the way it was after an extended rest.

The Angel was not too happy about being summoned, and this brought on a skill challenge. I had determined that success would mean it would fight with them for a short while, and failure would mean it would attack them instantly. In spite of the Ranger besting the Angel at a challenge of Arm Wrestling (seriously) to prove his strength, things were going bad they were most likely going to fail. My players found a third option: The Fighter gave him the wine as an offering, and scored a natural 20 on his bluff check (And, amazingly enough, the Angel got a natural 1 on his opposed insight check.) This would mean that the Angel would drink from the wine. By the end of the skill challenge, after the party lost, the Goodnight Tincture kicked in, and he fell unconscious. This gave one free coup de grace to the party, which hit fairly easily. The ranger happens to deal somewhere between a hell of a lot of damage, and a godly amount of damage (depending on his crit die) when he scores crits. To make things even more insane, he can make another attack with his off hand weapon when he crits with his main weapon (which, as a part of the original attack, is also a coup de grace and will also crit when he hits) . Long story short, he managed to pull off 104 damage to a creature that had 141 to begin with. This is normally enough to slay the target outright, but the rest of the party put their parts in as well. The rest of the group had readied actions so they could all attack at the same time (and because the Angel was already dead, there was no reason not to let them have their fun). The Fighter threw down a coup de grace worth 50 damage, and the Invoker did another 55. This was a total of 209 damage to a creature that only had 141 HP to begin with. This is 3 HP short of its negative bloodied value!

So, what the hell happened? My players, famous for doing things that make me want to remove their eyelids with a sheet of sandpaper, managed to collectively achieve a crowning moment of awesome. They took an item that I threw at them for the sole purpose of screwing with them a little, and turned it against me. It was used successfully in a very clever way which turned a bad situation into a solid win for them.

My entire world has been turned upside down..

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Updated 05-23-2010 at 04:54 AM by Teksura

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  1. Ao's Avatar
    That was a good story. Wish I coulda been there for it.
    Updated 05-18-2010 at 07:18 PM by Ao
  2. sexyfunkymonkie's Avatar
    That sounds like so much fun... I'm stealing it. At least, parts of it. I just want to know what you would have done if someone had:
    1. jumped in
    or 2. taken a drink from it

    Granted, these are both horrible ideas, but I've heard far worse from some of my former players.
  3. Teksura's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by sexyfunkymonkie
    That sounds like so much fun... I'm stealing it. At least, parts of it. I just want to know what you would have done if someone had:
    1. jumped in
    or 2. taken a drink from it

    Granted, these are both horrible ideas, but I've heard far worse from some of my former players.

    Actually, when I told the story to my evil master, he called everyone a chicken, and proudly announced he would have jumped in the goo head first just to see what happens without care for the consequence because it'd be damn funny either way.

    Jumping in and drinking would have roughly the same effect in the sense that I wouldn't treat them any different. Both would be "Apply random effect on the Player Character". The actual result would depend on the dice roll. A really good roll would do something like granting them damage resistance against a specific type they would encounter later (good roll), increasing their speed (good roll), making them large sized maybe with reach (average roll), make them weakened until the end of their next turn anytime they fail a saving throw (bad roll), make them vulnerable to a specific damage type (bad roll), or whatever else came to mind. Everything was just made up on the spot with only a rough idea of how useful it should be based on a single d20 roll. So, throwing yourself in could do any number of things, including changing your race for a day or mixing up your defenses for a while. Anything. But as awesome as the possible good rolls could be, there is an equal risk of having something horribly bad happen.
    Updated 05-20-2010 at 08:14 AM by Teksura
  4. Ao's Avatar
    I created something similar a while back. The group of players participated in a contest and the reward for the winner was some gold and a chance to roll a pair of 6 sided dice that were carved from the bones of the demon Belial.

    The artifact was known as the Bones of Belial and they worked on a similar principle. If the player chanced a roll of the dice, there was a 50% of something good happening vs something bad. Only one player could win the contest and they had a choice of rolling or not rolling.

    The results ranged from minor effects at the top of the bell curve to more potent effects if they rolled a result on one end of the curve or another. Now that you've reminded me of it, I should really rewrite the description of the artifact. I lost the chart and descrption long ago. Perhaps it'd be more fun to make it 3d6 instead of 2d6...

    Either way, the chance of getting something beneficial vs something harmful will remain 50/50.

    I was inspired by the Deck of Many Things. I love those things
  5. Teksura's Avatar
    Deck of Many Things is always fun.
    Updated 05-21-2010 at 08:57 AM by Teksura