Two weeks ago I asked fellow gamer friends to share stories of when their GM/DM screwed up. They were more than willing to contribute, and I’ve recorded the results here. Some of this is paraphrased, and some comes in the form of direct quotes, depending on the length of the story, the way it was related to me, and the hilarity of the blunder. So kick back and remember to thank you DM later for not pulling these on your party.
Rifts: Spend Hours Buying Equipment…
This comes from a friend of mine who, if cyber augmentation becomes a reality, will be first in line to get an iPhone shoved into his skull. This is his tale of a gaming group’s circle of trust being violated by the GM’s shitty sense of timing.
“We had all of the [Rifts] expanded world material. Every weapons table, loadout, and cyber augmentation, and we were passing the books back and forth getting ready for the game. We went so far as to write out custom stencils on our armor, like they had in Full Metal Jacket, like Born to Kill and stuff. So we started the game after like, over an hour. We had a movie going while we bought our gear so I knew it was a long time. So we start the game and our GM says: ‘Ok, remove all equipment from your character sheet. You wake up in a coalition holding cell.’
“And we asked, ‘Where’s our gear being stored?’ And he said: ‘It’s been broken down and recycled by the coalition quartermaster.'”
Rat In A Maze
J, a browncoat, told me about a game in which the GM had organized a battlefield map, complete with cutbacks, turns, sandbags, killing fields, barricades, traps, and ambush points. It was a warzone. He had a detailed overlay with a starting point, indicating where the players would begin their trek to the objective, like the 1979 movie The Warriors, trying to fight their way through hostile territory.
Unfortunately the GM didn’t cover up the undiscovered segments of the map with a piece of cloth or paper, and the players could clearly see where the metaphorical “cheese” was in the maze. Instead of slogging through a gauntlet of pain and bullets, the players climbed over a few hills and obstacles like it was Double Dare challenge, and progressed no further than 2 inches across the map to reach the objective.
“His initial reaction was to protest, saying there was a hill there, and we couldn’t go cross-country.” J told me. The GM later bemoaned; “But…there’s all this other stuff I’ve prepared for you!”
4.0 Vampire Surfboard
OP Gamer Rob reminded me of a D&D 4.0 group we’d taken part in, where we had to convince the dungeon master to allow the use of adjusted combat modifiers. Basically this means that if we wanted to perform a tricky task while in combat, the DM would assign a difficulty score based on how likely he believed a successful outcome. Want to balance on slick river rocks while sword fighting? Roll a dexterity check with a -2 penalty. Trying to stand atop a circus ball during a duel? That’ll be -10.
Rob, playing a Vampire, rolled no less than three checks, two of them being natural 20’s. What was he trying to accomplish mid-fight? He rode an unconscious, aggressive, humanoid dragon-kin down a river like a surfboard. In a cave. Out the mouth. And down a waterfall. He never missed an attack during the fight.
This is also known as pulling a Legolas.
After that fight our DM no longer allowed “Combat Shenanigans”.
3.5: Evil Wizards Must Die
During another game with OP Rob in a completely different group (with Rob as the DM) we were introduced to a Big Boss, in the form of an evil, malicious, condescending, trash-talking wizard. As Rob put it later: “He was totally going to be a re-occurring villain. You know, the evil emperor type.”
That was until, with the help of many buffs from my talented party, I decapitated the wizard in a single round before he could get away. Rob had placed him at a safe distance on the battlefield opposite us, to intimidate the players before he fled the scene like a cartoon villain. I was playing a White Raven warrior from the Book of the Nine Swords expansion, and managed to clear an impressive distance and score a critical hit before he could disappear in a puff of farts and snoody laughter.
We again encountered him in a later game, when Rob tried to resurrect him as the intimidating figurehead of an evil hoard. I dressed as one of his brutal warlords, whom we had killed earlier, so I could get close to the wizard and cut him down before the battle could begin in earnest.
Finally, the Evil Wizard made one last appearance in a recent Pathfinder game, which Rob assumed would be an easier setting to drop in the mustache-twirling Archmage. Rob also armed him with better spells, higher armor (mage shield + mage armor precast) and a narrower room of thugs so I couldn’t catch his wizard alone in an alleyway somewhere and take his lunch money.
But I happened to be playing an extra-planar priest. When I laid eyes on the bastardly caster and his grim hoard of magic-enhanced orcs, I sprinted past the bodyguards and used Planetouch, which is usually a passive teleport spell. After a very lucky roll on my part, the Evil Wizard blinked out of existence.
When asked which plane I sent him to, I smiled at Rob and said: “The one that’s incompatible with human flesh.”
— Joe the Revelator
The Werewolf Card
Lastly, a friend of mine submitted a few stories of his GM wiping the party with what should have been a few challenging scenarios. One of these involved crossing a cavern by jumping on unstable stone pillars, over a chasm filled with gelatinous cubes, while being surprise-attacked by a colossal centipede. The bard took the honorable way out and threw himself into the chasm. The others died messy.
But then there’s his story of the Deck of Many Things…
“…One of my friends [the GM] used the Deck of Many Things, which included some of his own home-brewed cards,”
“Our party came into a deserted town, and after searching an abandoned house, we found the deck of cards. Of course everyone drew a card from the deck, which resulted in one of the players turning into a zombie, one player getting a bonus to his stats, and another player getting transported away to fight a dread wraith, which killed his character promptly.”
“In another game we all drew a card and came away relatively unscathed, except one of the [players], who was cursed with lycanthropy. Later in the evening, under the full moon, he transformed into a werewolf and proceeded to slaughter his NPC wife and children…and then the rest of the sleeping party. Since then anytime my friend GMs and our party encounters a deck of cards or something way above our level, someone jokingly says, ‘Hey, if you don’t want to keep playing this campaign just say so.'”
Thanks again to everyone who contributed stories of party debacles, and here’s to hoping at least half your games don’t end in abject failure. Except OP Rob…may your evil wizard burn eternally in the hot place. — Joe