Thursday, 1 March 2012

What Was Your First RP Kill?

    I recall the very first game of 'Dungeons & Dragons' I played in a vague, mist-filled way that long past memories seem obliged to do. Something very much like hitting fast forward on your TV recording device - you only get to see snatches of a frame here, a frame there. So it is with my memory of the first kill as a newbie role player.

    The scene was outdoors, I recall. At the time it was vitally important my character (this was a solo venture run by my DM friend, I hasten to add) find a certain cave system.

For the life of me - and my character - I wondered why a cave would be so important? Why couldn't I be fighting a dragon, or... or...? Well, sadly, that was the limit of my fantasy knowledge of beasties - dragons.

    So, another fast forward: having found this all-important cave system, my erstwhile character marches in. Subtlety, tactical planning, survival, none of these were at the forefront on my mind. My character was invincible.  He wore padded leather armour! I mean, what could possibly harm him? He carried a short sword--granted, it was rusted, being a hand-me-down from his long dead father--but what could stand against such a beast as he?

    The DM dutifully request I roll a percentile. I don't recall what it was I picked up, but I know it wasn't the d100. The look of bemusement and despair in my friend's eyes stays with me to this day. He wasn't the most kindly and patient of people, even as a spotty teenager--and believe me, he WAS very spotty. Actually, coupled with his page boy hair cut, pale and pasty complexion and angry red spots, he (upon reflection) cut a fine figure of a nerd. Anyway, I digress...

... correct dice rolled, the DM smiles. "You hear a shuffling of feet in the dark ahead of you. What will you do?"
    I pause. I think. This has to be a trick question. I see the impatience growing on my friend's pimpled face.
    Pressure! Think! "Attack!" I blurt.
    For a change, my friend rolls his eyes instead of the dice.  Not a good sign. He then sighs heavily.
    "Attack what?  You don't even know what's there!"
    I'm feeling embarrassed now. "Ok. I wait?"

    "Too late," he says. "You've made your statement of intent." He rolls his dice. "A Bugbear jumps out at you. It wants to kill you."
    I'm not liking the smile on his face as these words slither from his thin lips.

    I now know it was a 1 Hit Die monster.  But it might as well have been King Kong.
    What the hell is a Bugbear? Images of a teddy bear with a bug-eyed head carrying a weapon spring to mind. Not good.

  The combat was brief, I know that much. I also know my character died after the next turn in the cave system. I also know my then friend was not a good, patient, nor understanding DM.

  So, that was my first taste of rpg blood: a Bugbear. How about you? Do you recall your first role playing session kill?


Amanda Heitler said...

Curiously enough, I don't. I suspect because I too suffered from an inpatient and rather sadistic DM. He was the ruthless type and it often took hours just to walk down the corridor poking and prodding every step of the way. This to the point that we all took to showing up with an armful of new characters.

At some point we must have managed to kill something because one day we did level up, much to Malcolm's disgust. I think his personal goal was to try and stop us ever being level 1 squishies, but the day we defeated him was a great day indeed. It also convinced many of us to keep playing and to learn to DM.

Mark. K. aka - EvilDM said...


I know exactly what you mean, and it was mainly for that reason that I took to DM'ing. Initially I thought it would be boring, but once I realised I was always involved in the action, I couldn't get enough. This was hammered home to me many years later as I became a player for one of my group who wished to DM. The first instance my character was knocked unconscious and I had no option but to sit out the entire combat, it made me realise my true calling was as the DM, and not the player.

Jedediah said...

I remember one kill in particular. It definitely wasn't my first one, but the first that wasn't just shrugged of. 7th Sea, our own 1880s steampunk version and my character killed two attackers with his knife, in one smooth movement (epic roll...). He's not a violent man, but he will defend himself. The problem is that his fiancée (another PC) had watched the whole scene and she had no idea that he was capable of anything like that. It lead to some very cool roleplay between the two characters.

Mark. K. aka - EvilDM said...

Don't you just love those crit dice rolls that create an epic moment that's etched firmly in your mind.

And that kind of role play interaction is priceless! Thank you for sharing :)

jaice john j said...

great post..

Matt said...

Awesome post. I don't remember my first encounter too clearly, but I do remember an early one...

The party and I were traveling through and underground stronghold, when a group of orcs put my cleric in some serious danger. I did what any preteen would do and ran... fast! I dumped my party, opened a door and blindly proceeded into the next room, plunging face first into a gelatinous cube. At least the party got some use out of my stuff.

Soon after I began GMing my own games and while I rarely use them, gelatinous cubes are still one of my favorite monsters.

Mark. K. aka - EvilDM said...

Classic stuff, Matt! That's the thing I love about role playing, those moments, though often disastrous, can be laughed about in the re-telling. I've also noticed that when listening to a group of p'n'p role players reliving old memories of pat encounters/situations, the casual observer can be forgiven for thinking they are talking about actual happenings - that is until mention of [insert chosen monster/mob here]' then the penny drops.

And that is the other aspect of rpg I also love - the passion it breathes into its players & DM/GMs alike.

Just as a quick addition: aside from Gelatinous Cubes, Mimics are the next best for comedy value moments. One past player of mine discovered a throne within a cave chamber. Me, thinking it would instantly raise suspicion. But no. This guy was in a mad rus o sit on the bloody thing. That was his first, and nearly last, encounter with a Mimic. But we did laugh so hard, even Rob (the player concerned) couldn't see straight for several minutes for laughing so much.


Marian Perera said...

I always wanted to try gaming, but never knew anyone else who was into it. So I played with gamebooks instead. My first was a Fighting Fantasy book called "House of Hell", and I think my first death was either being eaten by a ghoul or sacrificed by a bunch of devil worshippers. Needless to say, I was hooked.

Zavi said...

The first room of a random cave, it was the first time playing for all involved, but I got into it quickly. We crawl through a tunnel and there is the goblin guard, asleep. I, being the rogue of the party, snuck up, clapped my hand over his mouth and dragged him silently back to the mouth of the cave. We interrogated him and, learning nothing, I slipped my blade through his neck.
I didn't even have to roll... I never thought about it.

Mark. K. aka - EvilDM said...

Hehehe... I'm starting to feel slightly sorry for the Bugbears, Goblins and Orcs that seemingly get thrust into the paths of beginner role players. Life must be tough enough living in caves without the intrusion of wide-eyed, fresh-faced mages, rogues and warrior types eager to prove their worth and smite all in their path to glory.

Nicely told Zavi :)

@Marian - fighting fantasy books were a great intro, but I feel so sad reading your comment for missing out on the group experience. Have you grouped with other players since?

Hana said...

Mine, though you already know it Mark as you were rolling against me, was a barbarian would-be-rapist. My female barbarian and her companion had been arrested, corrupt guards and all that, and while in jail I was visited by the baddie (can't remember what his name was or what he did - sorry Mark!) and his barbarian crony. The male barbarian takes a liking to my character and let's himself into her cell to try to over power her, unfortunately for him I scored an impressive roll on my knee swing to his crotch. Then still on my lucky streak I managed to hit him a few more times in the crotch and on the head till I had him on the floor. Then to finish him off I rolled a perfect critical blow to his head against the wall.

Mark. K. aka - EvilDM said...

Thinking about it still brings tears to my eyes... and such jammy rolling with those dice! Been a long time since I witnessed highs and crits tumbling one after the other for one player. I still think your dice warrant closer inspection... :p

Hana said...

Bah I would never cheat! The Gods just didn't want Skirrow to be violated by that scummy guy.

Joshua said...

To me, I would warrant, my first slaying to be had was with a down-and-out humanoid ranger. Our group was always fine with playing monster races as PCs. It was a kobold, for those wondering, and right from the start he was disadvantaged. I'd played 2nd ed. somewhere in the past as a (surprise), burgling hobbi--[i]halfling[/i] that never got a single kill to his name before back when it was me and one other kill, so he wasn't my first character.

Anyhoo, this kobold was the more dragon-y sort than horned dog thing, as we were playing 3rd ed. The campaign was established in a very icelandic setting that ripped off the map of Icewind Dale (yoink!). His stats were mediocre at best, the cold was terrible, everyone hated or at least picked on the poor guy for being a 'lesser' humanoid, and he was basically an indentured servant to the sorcerer PC, and could speak nothing more than lower draconic, so could only talk to aforementioned sorcerer. The plot was rather rail-roaded, but that actually turned out to be a good thing, and there was proper party tension for good role-play. (A former player in our group was that right sort of an ass in and out of play that it worked for that campaign. He left the group after the ranger killed his character...)

We were in a battle almost from the start, with most of our roughly 130-man strong expeditionary being ambushed and soon killed, (of which even named NPCs were fragged). The character did participate, but was jokingly ineffective in the terrible blizzard with his horse bow. It wasn't a kill, but as our group was eventually narrowed down to a handful of stragglers stranded at the cliffs of the ocean, and the BBEG was mowing down our party without challenge or injury, my ranger pulled through with a lucky crit, sending an arrow to a joint below his blackened helm, that held his courage firm... before being the last body cast from the port to the waters below. Suffice to say, we got better; our Greek Epic-style gods pulled strings, for this was an epic quest.

My character's real victory first began at our first monster lair. Tasked with ridding the place of foul creature for a nearby town, we stumble across our first stuck door, reinforced. After the monk silenced a sentry (with our heavily-clad dwarf and his wheeled tower shield, for ease of use, far in the rear) we came to the door. The dwarf unwilling to set aside his shell of steel, left our monk to attempt setting the door, and even with his great strength score, failed to budge it after a careful listen past the door. The puny creature, as disadvantaged as he was, gave a great bellow from his miniature lungs and flung the door wide. A sharp snap of twine was issued, and but inches above his head a single arrow flew; to which the monk simply swatted aside. Wide-eyed and brimming with energy at his nearly impossible feat, the ranger almost completely missed the rather angry and very startled troll (we think it was a troll). (We assume it was flabbergasted how some laughably small thing just broke open the back door.) Then, to all of our surprise, the character with his poorly-rolled hit points and shoddy To Hit then proceeded to single-handedly best the beast with his own teeth.

"Vorel-Oth", indeed. ("Beautiful Tooth")

Joshua said...

Maybe should mention that non-human PCs are more of a rare, guilty pleasure of mine. I've almost always been the 'guy that only plays humans' most of my player career. Only ever played one dwarf (cleric) and one elf, which I was subject to convincing that I simply must, and that it must be a grey elf, and no other. That one was also my only wizard; and played in my favorite stereotype that wizards need to be creepy knot heads, complete with pipeweed dependency, schizophrenia, and a rat familiar he believes always has its own opinion for everything he may care to care about. I even developed random tables for him and the rat that utilize my long-neglected facial expression d6 set.

Mark K said...


That really put a grin on my face, picturing the carnage of NPCs, only to have a diminutive figure of a Hobbi-halfling save the day! Classic tavern-telling stuff of legends!

As for that arsey player of yours - we all get them, but it's so satisfying when they leave in a huff never to return, and the remaining party roll to see who gets to 'dismantle' their character in some gruesomely imaginative, and often comic, way.

Regarding your wizard character - yes, we had one of those too, played by a guy who was a lecturer of Chemical Engineering, holding a PhD. God, he could be insufferable at times!

Great posting, Joshua - many thanks for taking part ;)