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View Full Version : Say D&D Was Real-Being a PC in the 21st Century: Ajadea's Story



Ajadea
2011-03-28, 08:40 PM
Joining Cogidubnus (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=189905), The Glyphstone (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192581), Swiftmongoose (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192262), Tychris1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192409), Herpestidae (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192799), and Zolkabro (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192267) as a PC when Life 2011 meets D&D 3.5.

All characters here are fictional, as are names and such. I'm not going to Dan Brown stuff here.

Chapter 1: What Sort of DM [Jess]

I am not a social person. I don't really watch the news. I do get the Oregonian though. It's enough to get me to understand what's going on within a few hours of it starting. That picture, that gesture...the person depicted is casting Mirror Image, apparently. A couple hard pinches verify that yes, I am awake. So that means...hopefully, I'll have a character sheet. Thankfully it's the weekend, I'll have time to stat myself up.

I get a sheet out and begin writing. My hand almost seems disconnected from the rest of me. When it is done, I can only wonder who's the DM here, so I can go punch their face out. The ruleset is Gestalt. But I am not gestalted. I am a Profoundly Gifted Human Child//. Seriously, it was written just like that. Str 10, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 18, Wis 8, Cha 12.

Apparently being able to take Calc classes at age 13 translates into an LA 0 template. Profoundly Gifted is a bit like that Unseelie Fey template I keep hearing about. I can use all mentally-keyed trained only skills untrained [explains how I made that Spellcraft check], I get couple untyped bonuses to some skill checks, and look. The fact I regularly have sensory overloads triggered by loud noises is there too, as one of the possible randomly rolled drawbacks [without drawbacks, the template appears to be a LA 1 template]. Anything I hear with a Listen DC of -5 or less provokes a Will Save (DC 10+|Listen DC|), which means a minimum DC of 15, or I am sickened. You know what the Listen DC on a battle is? -10. Seriously? I could have lived without the template.

There's also the fact that Child does not grant skill points. It's just my Intelligence modifier of +4 multipled by 4+the human bonus, for a grand total of 20. 2 ranks in 5 different skills: Craft (Sketching), Knowledge (mathematics), Knowledge (D&D 3.5), Knowledge (Greek Mythology), Profession (fiction writing), and 8 'uninvested'. So it's more like I have 12 skill points. That's nice. You know, I was expecting a little more out of my 18 Int.

I have the Inattentive and Tonguetied (-4 Diplomacy, Intimidate and -4 Perform) Flaws and the Nearsighted trait. But two of my feats, like 8 of my skill points, aren't doing ****. I have Able Learner and Skill Focus (Sense Motive). That is it.

I have a d3 hit die, no weapon proficiencies, no armor proficiencies, no weapons, no armor, and a single class (or rather, racial) feature from being a child: In Flux, which lets me train my stats up (which is good, cause they are crap), gradually releases my skills and feats, and also lets me assign and reassign the skill points and feats I have access to with a week of training (4 hours/day) until my 15th birthday. And I have -500 XP. At 0 XP, I will hopefully have some sort of actual level.

So...I'm screwed. Very, very, very screwed.

There are 4th level gestalt characters running around out there. I am a singleclassed 1st level PC with a homebrewed NPC class that is basically a crappy version of a chameleon.

Well, first things first; I text my gaming group. I have the sneaking suspicion that I am not the only one who got royally shafted in the class department.


Chapter 2: Get Creative [Jess]

Getting on Facebook reminds me of something; a lot of gifted kids play D&D, and the West Coast wakes up last in America. So that makes approximately...30 people with 18 Int spread all over the USA who I vaguely remember from summer camp who also have D&D classes and know what to do with them. Maybe a quarter of whom have not accumulated enough life experience or age to be anything other than a Child//. Most of them don't know what Gestalt is.

Suddenly I am struck with a horrible mental image of gifted casters creating some sort of Tippyverse. It's the sort of thing people say when they're half asleep, but when you have caster classes...yeah. This is NOT going to go well, given a few years. Most of them have likely never heard of the Tippyverse, but they'll figure it out. The economy is all kinds of screwed. Wall of Iron? Create Food and Water? Even Mending can run a carpenter out of a job pretty damn fast. What is the motivation to earn money if you have auto-reset traps to make food for everyone? Or to cook? What is the motivation to keep people doing things at all, other than simple trap maintenance? Second, no one is going to learn to protect the environment if a team of druids or clerics or whatever can drop Auto-reset Purify Water spell traps into the Gulf Coast and just cleanse the atmosphere a bit at a time with researched spells. I bet you could make cars run off magic if you tinkered with them long enough.

It is almost inevitable that these exploits will occur. On the plus side, homebrewed magic might actually let us go Faster than Light. We might visit Gliese 581 in my lifetime. Awesomeness.

My phone vibrates. I've been lost in thought for half an hour. I look at the name. It's Alexis. "Hey, Lex." One thing I've noticed about me and my age peers is that we have a tendency to shorten any name over two syllables down to just one or two. It might have something to do with the fact we speak too fast for anyone else to understand. I, Jessica, become Jess. Alexis is Lex. Marcus is Mark. Veronica is Nicky or Nica. "Jess, did you see the news?"

I roll my eyes, despite the fact he cannot see me. "I don't really watch TV, Lex. If you mean the Mirror Image guy, then yeah." I know he's about to say something, so I barrel onwards. "Template. Long story, but I can make Spellcraft, Knowledge Whatever, and UMD checks untrained, among other things, and I must have made the Spellcraft check. Don't tell me, you're a Child gestalted with Blank Space."

"Child doubleslash Monk actually is what the sheet I filled out says."

"I...wait, that makes sense, cause you take karate or something, right? And the terminology is gestalt child slash monk." A call waiting beep sounds and I frown into the phone. "We should conference call. I don't even know if I can carry out a multiple-person chat on phone."

"Works for me."

I hang up and answer the call waiting. Mark, natch. "Jess, did you hear-"

"Yes, stop talking, get on Skype a minute ago." I hang up again without waiting for a response and dial Veronica.

"Yes?"

"Nica, it's Jessica. Get on Skype, conference call about two minutes ago, about the whole Dungeons and Dragons thing."

"Got it." She hangs up on me.

I stuff my phone back into my pocket as I open up Skype. The boys are already in chat, and I join the call.

"Neutral Good Profoundly Gifted Child Nothing" is the first thing I say.

"TN PG Child Nothing, -650 XP" Mark says, frowning at the camera. "Isn't gestalt supposed to have a second class? And, like, not be at neg XP?"

"Yeah, but none of us are old enough to even be PCs by D&D standards."

Veronica enters the mix of conference call and group chat a second later. "Wait, you guys have classes too?" And then it mostly breaks down.

uh yeah

"What'd you get?"

"LG Profoundly Gifted Archivist doubleslash Child."

I groan. "Gestalt, not doubleslash, people." Type it like //, say gestalt

"Lucky!" Mark facepalms.

"Archivist? Um, can someone tell me what that is?"

a cleric that casts from a book like a wizard with abilities kinda like a bard keyed of knowldege

*knowledge

"Anyone have stats?" Str 10, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 18, Wis 8, Cha 12, Able Learner, three feats unspent, load of unspent crud,

"Yeah, hold on Jess." Alexis' head dips offscreen for a second. Str 13, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 12, Combat Expertise, Improved Unarmed Strike mb, Stunning fist mb, two unselected and a load of skill points to spend

"Where'd I put that sheet?" str 8, xex 14, con 10, int 18, wis 10, cha 11. skill focus escape artist, dodge, two unselected.

"Escape Artist? Really?""Skill Focus? Really?"

"I know, sucks, right?"

str 11, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 18, Wis 14, Cha 10, able learner, smatterings, one unselected

"Ooh, Smatterings. Nice, Nica."

"Wait, check the back of your sheets. I think there are decimal points there."

"That might be the In Flux thing we have."

"Makes sense."

"Where should we meet?"

"Hey, if this is a party, don't we need a leader?"

"Party of kids."

"None of whom have less than +3 to Int."

"And two of whom have no class features."

"Point."

"Still, a leader might be good. How do we decide?"

"Well, Jess and I have the most Charisma, so we could check the decimals."

"0.5."

"0.3."

"Well, crap."

"Congrats, Jess."

"Wait, it rose!"

"What?"

"Cha Decimal went to .65."

"So, us acknowledging your leadership ability raises your Charisma?"

"Um..I guess. We have to face facts though, there's no way we're getting anywhere without XP. Now, if any of you try this when I'm DMing, your character dies horribly. But we're going to milk the roleplaying XP mechanic, so that we can stand a chance against a world with the mean level being around 3 to 5. By raw, In Flux isn't going anywhere for the next year or so for any of us, you know, so there isn't a reason not to."

"Do we get roleplaying XP?"

"I'd assume so, or no one would learn things."

"Optimization time?"

"Hell yes. Which one of you has Dungeonscape?"

"You're going factotum?"

"I have one good stat."

"Point."

"Mark, you should go shadow-whatsit swordsage gestalt swashbuckler. Int and Dex to damage, Dex to attack."

"What synergizes with monk?"

"You'd make a good archivist too, actually."

"So, how are we going to earn roleplaying XP, o wondrous leader?"

"You'll see..."

Chapter 3: Who Mourns For The Catfolk? [Jess]

"What does chalk, a frisbee, water balloons, scissors, cardboard boxes, a gallon of water, a tape measure, duct tape, a stopwatch, a broomstick, and your calculus work have to do with XP, great leader?" Mark asks an hour later.

We are grouped at a picnic table in the park, the aforementioned things piled around it. The park is more or less equidistant from all our houses. Lex is the exception; he can walk, not bike, to it, and still arrive before any of us. Lex grins. "My friend, with enough duct tape, you can do anything."

"Does killing it with scissors give me XP?"

"No! And seriously, stop calling me that!" I snap at Mark, who smirks unrepentantly, though he does put down the scissors. "Look, we need to figure out how much of 3.5 is bleeding into our world, so we can figure out how to survive. This is especially important for you, Lex; if combat rounds do not exist, Deflect Arrows basically becomes Infinite Deflection, and an epic feat at second level is possibly one of the coolest thing I've ever heard of in D&D. Movement isn't broken into discrete five-foot blocks, which is a start. I think the d20 mechanic does apply in certain situations; there's no way I could have identified the Mirror Image guy so quickly otherwise. So I figured we should test a couple of the physics-defying exploits in 3.5; commoner railgun, splash weapons, and instantaneous directional changing."

Nica sighs and puts down her prayerbook. "And if any apply?"

"Well, the second isn't that big of a deal, but the other two mean physics is dead and the way the world works may officially become 'magic'. Or, you know, it just ends all together."

"Well that's not depressing at all," Lex says sarcastically, shaking his head and standing up. "I suppose we need to mark out five foot squares, then?"

"If you want to run the water-balloon test first, then yes. The cardboard's for a target. I figue we can just stack them. Unless someone wants to be drenched in water."

I get three blank stares in response. "Okay then. I'll fill the balloons up. Someone tape the boxes into a target, please?" Uncap the gallon jug, stretch water balloon over, and invert for a few seconds. Tie, repeat. Ten minutes later, we have a precarious cardboard tower target, nine water balloons, and a 15 by 15 area marked out in 5 foot squares on the basketball court.

"My aim is crap, so one of you should do the throwing. I'll draw a ten-by-ten target for the other test. Stand 10 feet away, so right about...there. We throw three times on the intersection, three times at the target, and three times at an empty 5 foot square. We're looking for improbably hit squares, wildly different diameter between ground-targeted splash weapons, anything like that."

"I'll throw," Nica says, grabbing a water balloon and lobbing it at the cardboard target. Direct hit, water splashes over the 5 squares in front as well as the target, which fell over.

"Hold on, lemme put that back up." Lex darts over and resets it as I sketch out the second set of squares a little ways away. I hear two more splashes in quick succession, then someone taps me on the shoulder. "Well, our water balloons don't seem to hit the squares behind the target unless we miss," Lex says. "Sometimes they barely hit another square at all."

"Gotcha. That's good. Makes sense. Can you resketch the 15-by-15? We need it for one of the ground-targeted tests."

The feeling of him leaving and the sound of footsteps are enough of an agreement. I get out of the way so Nica can test on the intersection.

"It's AC 5, you should be able to hit it fairly easily," I call out, heading back to the table and glancing at a few things. Good. "Let's see now...hold on, Mark, you can climb that tree right? About ten feet up, maybe?"

Mark glances over at the tree, sweeping his red hair out of his face. "Yeah, why?"

"I won't be able to see when the frisbee changes direction very well. If you're up there, you might be able to see when-or if-it slows down."

"Makes sense. Give me a minute to get up there."

I grab the frisbee and head over to the big tree. Lex and Nica follow a second later. "Balloons seem to be normal," Nica says from somewhere behind me. Mark gives me a thumbs up, so I throw the frisbee up and turn to address her.

"Great. Can you mark off 3 30-foot lengths on the sidewalk?" Nica nods and heads back to the table to get some chalk.

"Frisbee looks fine, slows down like it should!" Mark calls.

"Lex, can you and Mark run the test a couple more times? I'm gonna go help Nica."

"Sure, Jess."

I head over to the sidewalk and kneel down by Nica, holding the measuring tape for her. "Tape doesn't go much over 15 feet," I point out, scribbling a large blue mark on the pavement. "We'll have to measure out 6 half-lengths. So what do you think of this thing? You did check if you can cast spells, right?"

"Yeah, I can. Watch; Soldeiuan," she says, running her hand through her long brown hair. It begins to glow with yellow light. It looks warm, toasty, and cuddly. I don't think you can cuddle light, but the description fits nevertheless.

"Nice."

"I know!" she squeals as we mark the second half-length with another blue streak.

"Hey, do you think it'd be a good idea to arrange a sleep-over to figure out what to do after this?"

"At Lex's house, right?" Nica draws another mark, green this time. We meet at Lex's house for our games, though I'm the DM, due to the fact he's got the most books, a decent amount of minis, and enough lego figures for the rest.

"If he's OK with it. Dad should be. School won't get started for another two days at least. Maybe more if things go badly enough."

"I'll ask Mom and Dad if I can head over."

"Sounds like a plan. Can you go get the stopwatch?"

"Yeah-oh, nevermind, Lex and Mark are coming over now, and Mark's got it."

"Great, let's start!"

I stand up, and hear a rustling sound from the little grass-filled creek. I look, and red eyes look back at me. "On second thought...let's get out of here."


Chapter 4: Never Thought [Jess/Lex]

"What?"

"****! Don't you see the eyes?" My tone is more than a little panicked. I mean, there are red eyes, right in the reeds, and apparently only I saw them. Me, with the Wisdom penalty and the Inattentive flaw. My assumption is backed up when Nica shakes her head. "Aren't you the one with the-oh, never mind, just...back away. Slowly. I don't know what it is, but I don't want to take chances."

Nica looks at me like I'm crazy, but follows my lead. To be completely fair, I might be going crazy. But Nica's hair is still glowing, and I have a character sheet that self-adjusts. So, um, I'll go with the hypothesis that the eyes are really there, thanks. Not like today could get any weirder as is.

"Jess, what's wrong?" Lex says from right behind me. I'm not as shocked as I perhaps should be-I am fully aware that I tend to lose most of my pitiful spacial awareness when scared or overloading. The eyes close and seem to disappear.

"Jess thought she saw eyes in the creek."

"I don't see any eyes."

"Same," Mark says. "Come on, don't we have a test to run?"

"They were there, I saw them," I say, sounding more sure of myself than I feel.

"No offense Jess, but your Wisdom is crap, and your Spot is worse. I don't think there's anything there, let's just get this out of the way, OK?" Mark says, rolling the frisbee around in his hand.

"I thought I was the leader," I point out rather dryly as we head back the way we came.

"I thought you didn't like being leader," Nica says, honest curiousity in her tone.

"Well, no, but I don't like my position being spontaneously taken away from me either."

We're back at the sidewalk now, and I take my place in line, but I cannot shake the feeling of something watching me, threatening me. Lex stands at the side, stopwatch in hand. "Three. Two. One. G-holy crap what is that?!"

A scream of pain splits my mind, and I shake. Crap, must have failed my save. I whip around and see two kobolds attacking Mark. A small crossbow bolt sticks out of his right arm, and a second flies over my head. Somehting seems to click-or snap- in my mind. "Get out of here!" I yell, charging towards one of the kobolds. You can't AoO with a ranged weapon anyways. The click of crossbows being loaded barely registers in my mind as I grab at the little kobold's arm and slam into the ground, padding my impact with the kobold. I feel bone snapping under my weight, the screams of the kobold, but I guess the fear effect doesn't stack.

The terrible thing about being gifted is that you know how to prioritize, and my friends are more important than a kobold. I tune out everything. Almost as if I am dreaming, I shift my weight to better crush the kobold's ribcage, ignoring its strangled pleas for mercy. I actually smile slightly, though I do not notice at the time. No matter how much I might deny it, no matter how Good I am the rest of the time, I do like this sort of control. I've caught flies to rip the wings off them, drowned spiders and ladybugs just to watch them squirm. The momentary pleasure overrode the guilt I later felt.

Which still does not adequately explain why I unsheathed the dagger, holding the kobold down with my other hand as it wriggles underneath me. The pommel digs into my hand, it almost feels like a dream. I half expect to feel wax instead of flesh under the blade of the dagger when I shove it into the base of the kobold's throat.

0.2 seconds later, pain explodes in my back, driving deep. I see red for a moment, before slumping forward and falling into darkness and blissful unconsciousness.
---
[Lex]
When the kobolds leapt out at Mark, I wasn't sure how to react. Even worse was Jess charging one of the kobolds. Then I remembered I was one of two people in our pathetic little party with actual class levels.

And 1d6+1 damage against a kobold actually meant something.

What else was I supposed to do? I ran forward and kicked the kobold in the gut. Not very well, but I did. The kobold ignored me, somehow, firing it's crossbow straight into Jess's back. I took the opportunity to strike its muzzle, and it fell over, unconscious and dying. Naturally. Things only have 4 HP, and I did a minimum of 2 damage with each hit.

"JESS!" Nica shrieks. I look over and **** she's got a bolt in her back and is bleeding out Nica is kneeling by her, yanking the bolt out and **** that's a lot of blood and she's only got 4 HP and was that kobold a rogue if he is please don't be dead oh gods please don't be dead you're my friend and I never thought of this part I never thought that she could die like that.

I run over, footsteps sound behind me I am half collapsing half kneeling by Jess pulling her off the kobold and is that a dagger in it's throat? images flashing in my mind of Jess being repulsed by violent video games and always being there so kind and helpful and she must have done it and I never thought she could have done such a thing but the dagger is proof, damning proof that my best friend can kill, that she has killed

Mark must be behind me because he was still conscious when the bolt hit and why isn't Jess waking up! "Why isn't she waking up?" and I don't know who spoke- whispered really broken voice high like a small child's and Mark would probably be laughing right now if Jess wasn't possibly dead.

"Is she..." I can somehow recognize the voice as Mark's. "Can you..." I ask, and I realize the broken voice is mine.

"Poisoned, unconscious, and I'm out of healing spells. Made my Heal check."

"So will she..." Do I want the answer?

"I don't know."


Chapter 5: Luck [Lex]

"What the hell do you mean you don't know?! She's alive, isn't that good enough?!"

Nica looks at Jess's character sheet-Mark must have handed it to her. "She's at -4 HP still- I only prepped Cure Light wounds once, and Cure Minor Wounds three times, she must have been at -9 before I healed her, I used a CMW on Mark too, and I want to keep the last CMW in case she destabilizes. The poison is Black Adder Venom. Deals 1d6 Constitution damage, and I failed the check to know how to remove it...she's already taken some Con damage, and could destabilize if we move her. If she takes 4 or more Con damage, she has only 1 HP at full...." Nica looks and sounds absolutely crushed. The little rational part of me says that there was a 45% chance she would have failed that heal check, and that Jess destabilizing is highly unlikely anyways. The rest of me wants to smack her in the face for not being a cleric, not prepping more heal spells, not being able to be absolutely sure that Jess will survive.

"Let me try. I've got just as good Wisdom as you do." I'm not entirely sure what to do either, and I end up staring at my hands, almost hoping I'll spontaneously take levels in Pathfinder paladin.

"Three failed checks against DC 11? This is like the time I rolled 3 natural 1s on that Power Attack, critically fumbled, and then rolled nearly max damage against myself. I guess all we can do is hope Jess makes the Fortitude saving throws," Mark says, crouching down.

"Didn't she rule that you bashed your own brains in?" I dimly remember the description of Nargle the halfling barbarian's death being absolutely hilarious. It doesn't fit with the moment.

"Yeah. Good times, though." Mark's tone is clearly a very bad attempt at hiding his shock, and his eyes are still...well, I don't know. My brain feels frozen.

"We should probably take her up to your house, Lex...it doesn't feel safe here anymore."

I look back at the kobold who's probably bleeding out behind us, the stiff, smashed, kobold not three feet away with a dagger in the base of it's throat, and I have to agree. We've been coming here for years, really. It's always been somewhere we could run to when we were scared or bored or lonely. And I know I'll never be able to see it that way again.

"No, we shouldn't," Mark says suddenly. "We should wait a minute-here, you've got the stopwatch, right? If she takes Con damage, we should know it before we move her."

It makes sense, and I nod my agreement, but I want to get out of here now. 60 seconds tick by as we wait with bated breath, then Nica reads Jess's character sheet. "HP -7, Constitution 5."

"Dammit."

"Failed both her saves? What is it with us and luck?"

"I don't know. I don't know." I wish I knew. I wish I could do something. I head back to the table and gather up our stuff. I remember my character sheet and check it. "Hey, I'm at -217 XP, and you're at -183 XP, Nica. Mark, you're at -312."

"So kobolds are worth XP. Big fricking whoop. Right now, I don't really give a crap. Lex, can you carry our overconfident leader?"

"Yeah..." I head over and kneel down by Jess, trying to figure out the best way to carry her. At least she's small...

"You know," Nica says, "We're going to have to explain this to Jess's dad..."

I stop in the middle of working out how to pick Jess up without aggravating the still visible wound in her back. "Oh. Right."

"I'm beginning to understand why D&D has a minimum starting age," Mark comments, rubbing his arm.

"We'll have to make do. Who wants to call Jess's dad?" No hands go up. "Someone has to."

"You do it."

"I'm going to carry her."

"Can we do this after we get out of the park?"

"Yeah."

Nica and Mark run over to the picnic table and start gathering up our stuff. I hoist Jess over my shoulder, and silently thank the local DM for giving me a good enough Strength score to carry her as a Heavy load. Then I remember that if there is a DM for this, she-or he, but I've been associating DMing with Jess for a while now- didn't bother to give us decent classes, any equipment, and put Constitution poison on the kobold's crossbow bolts.

"Ready?" Nica's question shakes me out of my reverie. I take a last look at the park. Chalk marks and bits of water balloon on the basketball court. The cherry trees with their pale petals. Kobold corpses on the bright green grass, red blood drying to brown. Crossbow bolts sprinkled around them. I nod.

"Let's go."


Chapter 6: Above the Crowd [Sasha]

A knock sounds at the door and I groan, shoving the cat off of me and dusting off the bits of cat fur and chip crumbs on my shirt. "Coming, coming, hold on." A series of knocks follow. "I said coming!"

When I open the door, I freeze. My little brother's back and hands are bloody, and he carries one of his friends over his shoulder. She is pale, too pale, has a tear in her shirt, and a hole in her back that seems to be in the process of healing. His friends are not in much better condition; the other girl has glowing hair and blood down her front and the boy has streaks of blood drying on his left arm.

"What the hell happened to you?!" I exclaim, gaping at the sight, not even caring how utterly stupid I must look.

"Kobolds," the boy says, shoving past me and dodging into the bathroom.

"What's a-" I ask, as I step aside.

"Can't talk now sis, but you have to call Mom, the-"

Something clicks in my mind. I'm not a certified genius like Alexis, but I'm not an idiot either and it doesn't take long to put two and two together. "Oh. My. God. You got the powers, and creatures are attacking you."

"Exactly. Call Mom, call Jess's dad, and Nica's parents too, if you don't mind." Alexis and the girl who doesn't look like she's bleeding to death are heading to the guest bedroom when the boy tears by with dark towels, antiseptic, gauze, and dressing pads. I am incredibly confused, but I grab my cell phone and set in Mom's number.

And get the goddamn answering machine. I hold back a swear and speak as clearly as I can. "Mom, Alexis and his little group of friends are part of the people who have gained powers." I pause, remembering the unconscious girl's name. "Um, Jessica Li is kinda almost dead, so I have to go. Don't worry too much about it, you don't need to come home early. No offense, Mom, but I don't think your presence will make things easier." I hang up, and check on Alexis and his friends. Telling Jessica's rather legendarily overprotective father that his 'baby girl' could die if a stiff breeze hit her wasn't exactly appealing.

"Nica, d'you know how to use this stuff?" he asks, spreading towels out on the bed. Alexis sets the unconscious girl face down on them, brushing a strand of black hair out of the way as he turns her head so she can actually breathe.

The other girl-Nica-nods as she looks the rest of the stuff over, apparently oblivious or uncaring about the fact that her hair, which is normally light brown if I remember correctly, is glowing yellow. "I've got a rank in heal now, actually, so yeah, I know what I'm doing." A rank in what? My head is spinning, and I feel a migraine coming on.

"Why don't you call 911?" I ask, frowning at the scene unfolding before me. I wave my cell phone. "If you're too busy, I can-" Alexis holds his hand up as he interrupts me. "They'll be full of patients anyways, and Nica will be able to heal her to full HP tomorrow."

'Nica' strips off her bloody long sleeve shirt and dumps it on the floor, checks Jess's wounds, and then, apparently satisfied, curls up on the ground and closes her eyes. "Wait, what?" I ask, glancing at her. "Isn't she supposed to keep an eye on your friend?"

Alexis nods, closing his eyes and sitting down next to the bloody unconscious girl, slumping down and looking far too old. "She's more or less out of healing spells, and I don't think Jess is going to get worse for the next 8 hours. We don't have another spellcaster, much less another healer, and Jess has constitution damage, which is going to make her about as sturdy as a china doll or something for the next week. We can't do anything right now."

And I have been thinking, and watching, and now I see a nearly dead girl in our guest room, my baby brother looks like his dreams have been been completely crushed, and the world is socially imploding. I have an idea. "Can you give me these powers?"

He looks up at me, and I don't see a bit of the vitality and creativity I've come to expect in his eyes. "I don't know."

The boy, the one who got the towels, frowns. "No harm in trying. Lemme go print out a sheet for you, Sasha." He dashes into the office and I turn my head back to my phone. Someone has to tell Mr. Li about the fact that his child could die at any moment. No one wants to. Hell, I bet if Jessica was conscious, she wouldn't want me to call him. My conscious temporarily appeased, I turn my head to the sheets of paper the boy hands to me.

"What am I supposed to do with these?"

"Fill them out," he says slowly, as if I'm some sort of retard.

"With what?"

"Stats. Numbers, mostly. You'll know what feels right."

But nothing comes to mind, and I sit there for the next ten minutes feeling like an idiot. "Are you sure everyone can become a whatever you guys are?"

"Gestalt PCs? Not sure. I think so." And I hear his unvoiced words: I hope so. He probably wants me to be a healer like the sleeping girl next to my feet, so that I can keep his friend alive. But I am clueless, and that itself could be a sign.

"I don't," I say bluntly, sweeping away the papers. "As far as I can tell, it is a select minority who has gained these powers. And I am clearly in the majority of helpless civilians. You got lucky, and I didn't. As much as I hate to say it, you and I are on completely different levels, and it's not because I kicked your collective scrawny asses in everything."

"Hey!" Alexis says, but I ignore his outburst.

"It's because you have these powers and I don't. You are better than me now, and I guess I have to learn to live with it." I sigh and stand. "I need to call Mr. Li." The boys freeze as I take Jessica's phone out of her pocket-Mr. Li always responds to his little girl's calls- and dial his work number.

He picks up immediately. "Hi Jessica sweetie, what's going on?"

I grimace at the babyish endearment and form my sentences. The words catch in my throat, but I force them out. "Mr. Li, this is Sasha Kimball speaking. Your daughter is in critical condition at my house, due to the crazy things that have been happening today."

He hangs up immediately, and I can only dread what will happen next.


Chapter 7: Moment of Respite [Lex]

"You couldn't tell him he didn't need to show up?" I ask Sasha, groaning.

She shakes her head. "He hung up before I could."

Mark frowns, and I note that he must have washed the blood on his arm off in the bathroom when he went to get the towels. "I'll set the timer, seeing as we're going to want Nica to get up as soon as she has enough rest. Um, she'll need about 7.75 hours more of rest and quiet, and she's not going to get that with Mr. Li here, so can you do me a big favor and take Nica to your bedroom so she can sleep?"

"Yeah, sure nerd," Sasha says affectionately. She picks Nica up with ease-even though she's rather tall, Sasha is taller, and Nica is ridiculously thin for her height anyways. When she heads out, Mark and I glance back at Jess.

"Goddamnit," I say under my breath.

"Your eloquence is truly unmatched," Mark says sarcastically. "Anyways, I'm just glad Nica prepares spells like an arcane caster, rather than like a normal divine caster."

"Remind me to tell her to leave spell slots open for situations like this."

"No freaking kidding."

We sit in awkward silence for a few minutes. I think on the day. Mirror Image Guy in the paper, calling Jess, joking around on Skype, effectively playing like stupid toddlers in the park, and then there were kobolds, and everything went crazy. A realization, a terrible one, hits me like a ton of bricks to the face. CR 1 freaking half encounter, and we nearly lost someone-might still lose her. How many monsters are out there? And Sasha, as much as I hate to admit it, is right, most people don't seem to have any powers.

There are probably others out there, fighting similar battles. How many really died, like Jess almost did? How many people decided to murder others-cats, dogs, people-for simple XP? This can't be limited to the US. How many people out there...damnit. It's near impossible to think on that scale. So I shove the thoughts out of my mind. "We should probably go bury the kobolds or something. Don't need rotting bodies in the park." My voice sounds laughably hollow, but Mark either doesn't notice or doesn't care.

"Works for me," he says, and we head out. He grabs a trash bag and I stop in the kitchen to set the oven timer and in the garage to get a shovel. We're probably not really going to bury the bodies, but there is no way I'm going to touch a mashed kobold with my bare hands. And the thoughts of the kobold crushed underfoot bring up more mental images I don't need, don't want, and I shove them back down, away into the corners of my mind.

The kobolds are beginning to go stiff, and their open eyes are glassy. Mark kneels down by one and picks up the light crossbow one was wielding. "We're proficient, or at least you and Nica are. No sense in letting weapons go to waste in a situation like this. Look, here are some more bolts, and the other kobold had a dagger too, and this gold piece here, and-"

I cut him off with a gesture. "You're looting them?"

"Well, duh!"

"I-" But he has a point. We need something to defend ourselves with. I sigh, and kneel down next to him in the bloodied grass, grimacing at the feeling of cold scaly flesh against my bare hands. I try to say something, but I cannot frame my thoughts in words, so I settle for "This is absolutely disgusting."

"Yeah, I know, but you have to admit this is useful stuff."

We end up with a furry haversack, three tiny gold coins, two Small heavy crossbows, three green-fletched bolts, 14 red-fletched bolts, and a Small dagger. Neither of us are willing to touch the dagger in the smaller kobold's throat, a necklace of teeth does not appeal, and the armor is useless in any case.

I scoop the kobolds into the trash bag, and Mark grabs the loot, putting it all in the leather bag except a single crossbow, loaded with a green bolt. We walk back in silence, except for the sound of corpse hitting sidewalk through the trash bag. "Do you think you're proficient with crossbows?" I ask, hefting the corpses into a neighbor's dumpster.

Mark shrugs. "Even if I'm not, I will be as soon as I get a real level in something. We can check my sheet for new classes after we get this kobold blood off everything."

The sound of a car motor draws our attention, and I look up. Then swear, loudly, in a language I dimly recognize as Spanish and no, I couldn't speak Spanish yesterday. It's Jess's dad. This is not going to be easy.


Chapter 8: Nowhere Safe [Jess]

Consciousness comes slowly. My back feels like a horse stepped on it, breathing feels like getting smacked, and I feel like crap in general. I glance at the clock. 10:00, same day. Clock? The last thing I remember is the field, and killing that kobold, and then a blast of pain to my back. I fell unconscious and...no, that explains it. I was dying, hit stable thanks to the aid of someone-probably Nica-and then rolled well on the ten percent chance to become disabled and conscious. I was...dying. Huh.

Well, there wasn't a tunnel. A lot of 'absence'. Absence of light, color, sound, life, texture...creepy place. I don't remember much, except for the feeling of 'undecided'. Due to the circumstances surrounding that experience, I find myself rather unwilling to see if a return to that state of absolute nothing is possible. I slowly push myself up onto my forearms and try to look at my surroundings. Lex's guest bedroom? I guess it makes sense.

My ears start working next, and I hear a loud conversation. ****. Seriously, people yelling at each other is DC -5? I slump forwards carefully and bury my head in pillows. Footsteps, hurried ones, enter the room. I really don't give a crap about who it is at the moment. "I'm calling an ambulance." Oh. Dad, seriously? Way more expensive, much less effective. Someone get that guy a Player's Handbook? Now I actually need to wake up and argue.

"Why the hell do I need an ambulance now?" I ask, flipping my head around to better see Dad. He looks tired, worried, and like someone grazed him with an acid splash on the way here-that's worrying. I make a note of it-there are other hostile casters in the city.

"Jessica, you have a hole in your back!"

Critted by the other kobold's crossbow, probably. That makes sense. "Yeah, but an ambulance takes me to the hospital, where I'll be hooked up to various crap for another three weeks or something. Nica-Veronica," I amend (Dad doesn't do nicknames), "is a healer, she'll be able to fix me up within 24 hours."

"7 hours," Sasha says from somewhere out of sight.

"Your friend is one of the people who can do things like throw fire?"

"Sorta. You know those gaming books I like for D&D? Those rules, specifically the character creation ones, are becoming reality. The-"

"I see. I suppose it is more logical for you to stay here so that she can heal you. But after that, we're leaving. I don't want you to get caught in this!" I know he means well, but he needs to think a little more.

"Everyone's going to get caught in this change. I got lucky, Dad, do you understand that?" He doesn't seem to, as by his expression, he is about to start guilt-tripping me again. I am not going to have any of that, so I continue talking. "Over the world, monsters are likely popping up. So are people like me, who actually have" or will have at any rate "the ability to fight them. As soon as I get healed, I'm going to be heading out again. I am going to fight, and I'm going to risk death again. Because there are things out there that very few can fight. And many of those few might turn to homicide in order to gain power. The fact that I have a chance to ever gain enough power to put myself on equal footing with the things that are showing up is enough for me."

"Unacceptable! I will not let you risk your life on these stupid heroics!" I hear more footsteps, but I really don't care who's there.

"People are going to die out there. If I can save any of them-"

"How? You said it yourself, there are others with magic or whatever it is from those books. I don't want you to risk your life to save two nameless strangers who will just die next week. You can't be everywhere at once, sweetie."

"Don't call me sweetie, and stop being condescending! Who do you think you are anyways, to decide that my life is worth so much? The way I see it, if everyone looked at things like that, with the way things are now, we're going to destroy humanity through lust for power and carelessness. I can't change what happened. But I'm damn well not going to ignore it, Dad, and you can't ask me to. I have a chance. That's more than others will get."

And he's still not buying it. Goddamnit I hate my family at times like this. "Dad, listen. There are spells that can kill people in an instant. Without L-Alexis, and Mark, and Veronica, I am not going to have a chance. With them, I'm stronger. A lot stronger, actually. We can support each other and afford to specialize."

"So what you're saying is that you're not leaving unless I kidnap you."

"Odd way to put it but highly accurate." More footsteps in the room. Presumably Lex and Mark. My hypothesis is confirmed when both of them speak in near unison.

"You're awake?!" "What the hell?"

"Stabilizing rules. 10% chance to wake up if tended to."

"This is why we make you DM."

And Dad is now completely confused. "DM?"

"Not the point, Dad. Just...go. I'll call you if anything happens. I'll be fine."

He looks torn, but he nods stiffly. "Please...be careful. Come home tomorrow."

"I will." I will be careful, anyways. Might not come home.

He leaves the room. Lex can stay quiet for about that long. "Says the girl who charged a kobold barehanded," he snaps.

"Shush."

"You did!"

"And killed him before the rest of you could deal with the other!"

Lex looks rather shocked. "I thought you didn't like violence."

"D&D is becoming real. It revolves around killing things and dressing up in their stuffs. I don't think I'll survive with a self-imposed Vow of Nonviolence."

Now all three of them look shocked. Oh well. It's not my job to keep them happy. I just want to keep them alive. I bury my face back in the pillows. "Going to sleep now. Wake me when Nica can actually heal me up."


Story Continues Here: (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=10756846#post10756846)

Chapter 9: Without Mercy
Chapter 10: Games We Play
Chapter 11: Adventure Time
Chapter 12: Why, Why
Chapter 13: Not Alone

Zolkabro
2011-03-29, 01:16 PM
Your story is great, very interesting take on it. I feel sorry for your characters, though.
I like it!

My character has only just turned 15, so he has only just avoided your predicament. When I planned my story I wrote him as 14, but then I realised the problems with this so I made him older. I never even considered doing the whole classless thing.

Ajadea
2011-03-29, 01:31 PM
Jessica is an Author Avatar of me: 13, studying calc, interested in linguistics, and with stats comparable to Vaarsuvius. My RL gaming group really is made completely of people who haven't hit 15.

I find it interesting to explore the consequences of not being able to drive, being considered minors, and knowing a thousand ways to do something and having about five ways open to you.

The Glyphstone
2011-03-29, 01:44 PM
Now you're making me feel old.:smallfrown:

Glad to see the alternative perspective though, it'll definitely be interesting.

Jade Dragon
2011-03-29, 01:47 PM
Alright, I'm a teenager, and your child rules don't really fit me. For me, with D&D rules, it feels like I'm transitioning between an NPC class (expert, to be exact) and a PC class (ranger). I've got proficiency with bows and light martial weapons (or at least bows, I'm a good archer), and I've got some of my skill points spent, some not.

Ajadea
2011-03-29, 02:07 PM
Are you younger than 15? Anyone over that is treated as an adult for the purpose of classes, which means that In Flux is gone and they actually get to be a properly gestalted character.

The Kid Group is a 13 year old, a 12 year old, and two 14 year olds. The 14 year olds actually have classes on the other side. It's Jess and Mark who got thoroughly screwed over on the class department.

Jade Dragon
2011-03-29, 02:17 PM
Are you younger than 15? Anyone over that is treated as an adult for the purpose of classes, which means that In Flux is gone and they actually get to be a properly gestalted character.

The Kid Group is a 13 year old, a 12 year old, and two 14 year olds. The 14 year olds actually have classes on the other side. It's Jess and Mark who got thoroughly screwed over on the class department.

I'm younger than 15.

Tychris1
2011-03-29, 02:31 PM
Two things I have to say.

1. Where do these kids live?
2. I'll tell you this one in PM.

Edit: Oh and nice story, glad to see some low level characters around here.

Ajadea
2011-03-29, 02:34 PM
I'm younger than 15.

The hypothesis the party is running on is that normally, you don't start at -XP, so it is likely that when you hit 0 XP, you become a full character, regardless of age.

Or, you know, you're a Child//Ranger.

Zolkabro
2011-03-29, 02:37 PM
I'm younger than 15.

Nice to know I'm not the only one!

Ajadea
2011-03-29, 04:20 PM
Two things I have to say.

1. Where do these kids live?
2. I'll tell you this one in PM.


Oregon. If it takes you more than an hour to get somewhere in town, you are doing something wrong. Oregon is big, but its cities are tiny!

Ajadea
2011-03-30, 07:45 PM
Chapter 3 is up.

Do they get XP for the dead catgirls?:smalltongue:

Zolkabro
2011-03-31, 01:16 PM
OK, I am confused. Are they testing how their levels affect stuff? If so, what are the water balloons for?

Nice cliffhangger, though.

Jade Dragon
2011-03-31, 01:34 PM
OK, I am confused. Are they testing how their levels affect stuff? If so, what are the water balloons for?

Nice cliffhangger, though.

They're testing splash weapons.

Ajadea
2011-03-31, 01:35 PM
Water balloon is a splash weapon, and they're basically testing how much of D&D is bleeding over (instantaneous directional changes for falling objects, weird radius for splash weapons, d20 mechanic) and they were about to test the railgun, but that needs to go on hold.

Zolkabro
2011-03-31, 03:00 PM
Water balloon is a splash weapon, and they're basically testing how much of D&D is bleeding over (instantaneous directional changes for falling objects, weird radius for splash weapons, d20 mechanic) and they were about to test the railgun, but that needs to go on hold.

Oh, right. Now I feel a bit stupid that I didn't understand that the first time I read it through.

Well, thanks for clearing that up all the same. I'm looking forward to the next part!

Ajadea
2011-03-31, 08:44 PM
Chapter 4 is up.

Do you have any idea how much damage a crossbow bolt does?

The Glyphstone
2011-03-31, 08:50 PM
Medium Hand Crossbow: 1d4/19-20/x2
Medium Light Crossbow: 1d8/19-20/x2
Medium Heavy Crossbow: 1d10/19-20/x2

Drop one die size for Small PC weapons.

Ajadea
2011-03-31, 08:52 PM
*sigh* Rhetorical question. I should have added an emoticon. I just didn't know which would be appropriate.

The Glyphstone
2011-03-31, 08:52 PM
...sorry...

Ajadea
2011-03-31, 08:55 PM
That came across wrong didn't it? My brain must not be working properly. I wasn't annoyed at you, I was annoyed at myself. Lack of vocal inflection sometimes makes it difficult to express what you mean.

Zolkabro
2011-04-01, 11:15 AM
Holy crap this last part is shocking.

By far the best bit so far, it grips and terrifies. Well, not exactly terrifies, but I was swearing inside. A lot.
Very vivid, and I am left reeling. Brilliant.

Ajadea
2011-04-01, 01:37 PM
Chapter 5 up.

For all the drama, you do have to remember about the D&D rules.

Zolkabro
2011-04-01, 04:09 PM
Chapter 5 up.

For all the drama, you do have to remember about the D&D rules.

I did remember that you don't die at 0 hp, but I thought she would die from the poison. That hasn't been ruled out, but I am surprised the poison didn't kill her off almost immediately.

The Glyphstone
2011-04-01, 05:15 PM
I have to wonder now, because my brain works like this - what would happen if one of you got a negative level? You're already below level 0, so the standard precedent of 'reduced to 0HD = dead" gets wonky.

Ajadea
2011-04-01, 06:02 PM
I did remember that you don't die at 0 hp, but I thought she would die from the poison. That hasn't been ruled out, but I am surprised the poison didn't kill her off almost immediately.

You can't have HP lower than 1 from a negative Constitution modifier, 7 Con damage is average for that sort of poison (she'd have had to gotten maxed poison damage both times to die from Con damage), and -7 hit points is fairly close to dead.


I have to wonder now, because my brain works like this - what would happen if one of you got a negative level? You're already below level 0, so the standard precedent of 'reduced to 0HD = dead" gets wonky.

Getting a negative level would kill any of them.

Zolkabro
2011-04-02, 08:50 AM
You can't have HP lower than 1 from a negative Constitution modifier, 7 Con damage is average for that sort of poison (she'd have had to gotten maxed poison damage both times to die from Con damage), and -7 hit points is fairly close to dead.



Getting a negative level would kill any of them.

Thanks for clearing that up!

Savannah
2011-04-02, 05:40 PM
*sits down with popcorn*

Jade Dragon
2011-04-02, 05:49 PM
*sits down with popcorn*

*directs to other threads linked at the first post*

Ajadea
2011-04-03, 01:05 AM
Chapter 6 is up.

Not everyone got powers.

Ajadea
2011-04-04, 02:48 PM
Chapter 7 is up.

Mostly talking, with some considerations about what this all means.

The Glyphstone
2011-04-04, 10:03 PM
Wait, now I'm confused. Who is the narrator of update 6, and is it that person or the original narrator in update 7?

Ajadea
2011-04-04, 10:56 PM
It's Alexis. The member of the party who isn't unconscious, and isn't Mark.

The Glyphstone
2011-04-05, 08:00 AM
Okay, then I'm more confused, because your narration has the person writing update 6 as 'Sasha'.

Maybe you should add a "cast of characters' or something.

Ajadea
2011-04-05, 10:03 AM
Blargh.

I thought you were confused in chapter 7, because I don't think I ever used Alexis's name or nickname in it.

Chapter 6 is Sasha, because I didn't think any of my 4 main characters were going to be coherent enough, and chapter 4 and 5 already showcased the shock and them calming down.

I understand your confusion: I'll put narrator names at the top of each chapter and each time when I change in the midle.

Zigg'rrauglurr
2011-04-05, 10:56 AM
Ajadea.
Just wanted to drop by and say that, yours is the most talented writing of the "Say D&D Was Real-Being a PC in the 21st Century" series. Excellent work and please keep posting. I'm dying to know what happens to your party.

Edit: Oh. I had no issue telling apart who the narrator was in each part, but it will be easier to read if you put the narrator name at the beginning.

Jade Dragon
2011-04-05, 12:32 PM
Blargh.

I thought you were confused in chapter 7, because I don't think I ever used Alexis's name or nickname in it.

Chapter 6 is Sasha, because I didn't think any of my 4 main characters were going to be coherent enough, and chapter 4 and 5 already showcased the shock and them calming down.

I understand your confusion: I'll put narrator names at the top of each chapter and each time when I change in the midle.

It's confusing as it is. Rick Riordan did the same thing in the lost hero, but that wasn't entirely in first person, more of a mix between first and third person.

Zolkabro
2011-04-05, 12:34 PM
It's confusing as it is. Rick Riordan did the same thing in the lost hero, but that wasn't entirely in first person, more of a mix between first and third person.

In that there was the name of the narrator in massive letters at the beginning of each chapter. Pretty easy to tell them apart when half the page is filled up by their name.

Tychris1
2011-04-07, 02:53 PM
You know, normally I would start being sentimental with all this drama in the past few updates. But all I can think of is the MASSIVE damage a car would have when it hit's a few kobolds at 60 miles an hour.

Also Zigg I'm pained, hurt even by your statement (Yes I am that much of a glory hog, so sue me.).

Ajadea
2011-04-08, 10:49 AM
Driving is illegal for them, and hard to do on grass. :smalltongue:

Chapter 8 is up.

Look up Stabilization Rules before you kill me.

Zigg'rrauglurr
2011-04-08, 11:00 AM
Yay! Updated just as I was browsing the forums!!
Gonna read it now.

Ty, pain is good for you, it will fuel the anger of your story. :P
Seriously,I want to see more darkness in your story before I make a comment.

I would write a story on this universe, D&D to reality has always been a pet dream for me, but my take would be too horrendous to contemplate and sligthly above the levels allowed in these forums... I tend to play Evil you know?

Edit: Yep, wonderful piece Ajadea. Keep it up!

Ajadea
2011-04-11, 06:07 PM
Hit the character cap :smallyuk:.


Chapter 9: Without Mercy [Jess]

"I have what."

"5 Constitution damage still."

"That means, at best, two more days of sitting around doing a lot of nothing and feeling like lethargic jelly. Dad's gonna be real pleased," I groan, rubbing my eyes.

"Yeah, sorry," Nica says, casting her gaze down and biting her lip. "Can't do anything about that one."

"I know." I don't get why she looks guilty, honestly. Not her fault she isn't level 3. "While we're here though, we can plan builds to work off each other...hmm. We've actually got pretty good stats for Int. focused builds." I close my eyes and visualize the point buy formula, then recall the stats we got. "Yeah, lowest total scores-that's you, Mark, is 29 point buy, and highest is Nica with 33. Overall, that's higher than the elite array."

"Why am I screwed over on stats?"

"Because you spend too much time playing MMOs and not enough doing other stuff. Also, Nica's little sister can pick you up, and she's like 7," Lex says, flopping down on the end of the bed.

Nica shrugs. "Four points isn't a huge difference."

"-1 penalty to +1 bonus isn't big?"

"Not really," I say, looking up to the ceiling. "So, the Intelligence focused classes I can think of off the top of my head are Beguiler, Duskblade, Archivist, Factotum, Wizard, Wu Jen, and Psion. And the ones that don't need high stats to function decently are one-level dips in Dragon Shaman, Warlock, Wildshape Ranger into Master of Many Forms once they get their wild shape, Inspiration and healing focused bard, maybe self-buffing Duskblade...not a shabby list."

"Bards don't need stats?" Nica asks, looking thoughtful. "Bards aren't crap?" Mark says, looking incredulous. "How can someone who sings at people be good?" "Dragon Shamans don't need stats?" Lex says a beat behind the other two.

"Inspire Courage doesn't rely on Perform checks, and buffing spells don't need high save DCs. Bards are awesome once you start looking in splatbooks, there's this nice exalted feat for them."

"Huh."

"We need direct damage, tank, skilluser, scout, face, and utility spells. Hmm..." Nica says, looking thoughtful. "Beguiler is a good scout and face, Dragon Shaman can tank, and to extend the metaphor, a warlock is a bit like a turret..." We all snicker a bit at that one.

Mark groans. "I'd love to be a warlock, but there is no freaking way I'm getting on Lex's shoulders."

"Nor would I want you to," Lex replies. "And who decided I was the tank?"

"You're over 5 foot 6. That's good enough for me."

"Jess has better Constitution."

"Why am I the one who has to become a pincushion!"

"You aren't a spellcaster."

"Maybe I should be, if it'll get me out of tanking." I think on builds for a moment. The memory of a crossbow bolt driving into my back isn't going to leave in a hurry. And I know I nearly died, in order to apply the stabilization rules. "Someone has to take at least 7 levels in druid, or find someone who is willing to," I say flatly.

Mark frowns. "Why?" I groan inwardly. Come on, my friends aren't babies, they should know...

"1 grand of oils and incense and weird balm crap is still easier to find than 5 grand of diamonds." It takes a while for Mark to process the implications of what I said. He's always been very present-oriented. He doesn't think about the ramifications of his actions for himself and especially not for others.

"Oh."

"Yeah," I say scathingly, flopping back on the pillows. "Oh. I'd have thought that you'd be aware of the risks by now."

"Look, I didn't ask the kobold to shoot you!"

"Yeah, I didn't either, but I did think the chance of the kobold getting a crit was low-which it is, as there was only a 1 in 90 chance or so of the critical getting confirmed from a first level kobold warrior. The difference is you froze, and I acted knowing the risk." I say the last to my interlaced fingers, then glance back up at their eyes.

Now they look all uncomfortable and tense again. What did I do this time? "Seriously people, this isn't a game anymore," I say, making sure to slow down and enunciate, slipping a bit into what Nica and I think of as a Vulcan voice. "We do not get 'rerolls' or 'do-overs'. We have got to make the most of what we have. Personal survival and survival of the party are our top priorities, followed by survival of other non-homicidal PCs, followed by creating and protecting a sanctuary, preserving our family and non-PC friends, keeping enough people alive to avoid a regional population bottleneck, and protecting the population at large, though the best way to do that may be to target and-and kill the people who would attack them." I feel the ghost of a dagger hilt in my hands and shudder. Stop thinking Jess, stop thinking about the people I'm going to leave with broken families, ruined homes...stop thinking about the people I'm going to have to kill to protect others, people who have names and lives and ideals and families and...stop it! Stop thinking. Stop feeling this crap. I can't afford this, not when my party members keep freezing up when I lay out perfectly logical long-term plans. Come to think of it, I think I've figured out a justification for why so many paladins are played as bat guano insane Lawful Stupid idiots. It's easier than feeling sympathy and trying to be Good. Trying to know when to show mercy and when to judge, when to make the killing blow because at this point I fear that I'm the only one here who will do such a thing intentionally and none of these wonderful genius friends of mine will be unable to check their blows when necessary. I bury my hands in my face for a moment.

My response to that rant is silence. They still seem to be processing what I said. They usually would have gotten it by now, and I'm fairly sure I wasn't babbling at 120 kph again. Dear gods they haven't been thinking about this at all have they. I slam my hands down on the bed and lunge forwards as best I can without making my back hurt again. "Oh stop looking at me like I've grown a second head! I'm not becoming an ettin! People are out there with second level spells, we've got about as much combat potency as a dire badger and two cats, and the majority of the population, government included, is more like one cat and no badgers, dire or otherwise. We can't do anything if we're dead."

Nica and Mark shrink back as one at my outburst, and I cringe internally, curling into a ball at the edge of the bed. I didn't mean to scare them...Lex puts a large, comforting, hand on my shoulder. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine. You," I say, pointing accusingly at my friends, "need to figure out whether or not you're all going exalted and taking a vow of nonviolence, or if you're actually going to fight and stop going all squeamish and squishy every time I mention killing something or dying." And yep, there's another flinch. Mark looks stiff as a board. "You slept through lunch...we made soup, do you want some?"

Suddenly, I remember my stomach, and am struck with a feeling of hunger. "That'd be great, thanks Mark." He runs out, and I scoot back into the pillows.

Nica sits back down on the left edge of the bed, closer to me this time. When did she get up? I didn't notice. "Jess...you aren't talking like yourself."

"I apologize. Which of my speech patterns do you prefer?"

"You're the only person I know who talks like a robot on accident, Jess."

"It's not about your 'speech patterns' it's about what you're saying! I'd have thought you'd be the first one to advocate taking up a party-wide Vow of Nonviolence, not deriding us for being, yeah, a little grossed out by the idea of killing someone. And right now, I'm afraid," Nica admits, and I note a slight furrow in her brow. "But I'm not sure if what I'm afraid of is the things out there, or what you're sounding like. You don't sound like you."

"I am not all 'sunshine and rainbows'. No one is," I say, crossing my arms over my chest.

"Yeah, but right now you sound like a psychopath."

And that hurts. "Maybe I am. I do not believe the inside perspective is the best point of view to judge my quirks by, as I do not perceive them as quirks. I am merely trying to prioritize and be realistic. There is a high chance we will have to kill, in self-defense at least. Psions need no verbal or somatic components to use their powers. A spellcaster can take Silent and Still Spell. A wildshape ranger can shapeshift out of their bonds, a dragon shaman or a binder who binds something or another can burn them away. Only death will prevent them from hurting us. I want to be moral, but when faced with a stranger's life versus my own or that of my friends, I have to look at myself and admit that I would choose my own every time."

There is no response, and we wait in awkward, tense, silence until Mark comes back with the soup. He puts the tray on my lap and I take a grateful bite of chicken, noodles, celery, and hot peppery broth. "Ank oo."

"Didn't your dad teach you not to talk with your mouth full?" Lex asks as Mark takes a look at the room and darts out again, ostenisibly to get Lex's 3.5 books. Nica goes with him. Conflict avoidance, I guess, though I see no conflict involved in admitting that I might not be the best bard or dragon shaman candidate in the party due to my likely inability to obtain exalted feats and not-insignificant chance that I will soon lose my Good alignment entirely. Whatever. Frees me up to run a wizard.

I swallow. "Yeah. He also taught me to speak English like a Vulcan with a Mainland Chinese accent, so I'm not listening to his linguistic advice."

"Fair enough. So, about those builds, we want a buffer?"

"Only if we get a decent summoner in. It's part of why I suggested druid, a fochlucan lyrist might be actually feasible here. Even if our druid and bard are separate individuals, which they shouldn't be due to Green Whisperer progressing music, casting, and all those extra goodies, Dragonfire Greenbound Wolves are a thing to fear."

"And...I have the best stats for this, am already on my way to having evasion, and am of an alignment capable of becoming an exalted fochlucan." Lex groans. "I know it's tactically decent and all, but seriously? Singing monk summoning plant things?"

"Inspire courage works with dance, oddly enough. So more like a capoeira-using monk with a whip summoning creatures."

"Whip?"

I shrug. "You're going to be a bard. Why not?"

"Because...how exactly did I become a Neutral Good Monk in the first place?"

"Call it homebrew. Bards having to be non-lawful is stupid, and maybe this monk just has to be non-chaotic."

"Fair enough."

"Let's see now...Mark should be our scout, seeing as he has good Intelligence and Dexterity. Oh, hey Mark, can I see those books? How do you feel about being a beguiler?"

"Umm...okay...."

"Great, now let's get building a party!" As we set to work scribbling down potential builds, I could almost believe we were setting up for a game, rather than real life. I rather want to believe that, but I shove those delusions away. We aren't kids anymore. This isn't a game anymore.

I have to lead. I have to judge.

I have to kill.


Chapter 10: Games We Play [Mark]

After everything went horribly wrong, I kinda figured school would be closed. It isn't, for reference.

After doing things like killing kobolds, shooting green rays out of my hands, and watching Nica actually use magic, going back to school seems incredibly surreal. I guess the world wasn't going to end because of a kobold or two...

I'm a warlock now, filled my last two feat slots with Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot, cause we need the range. Jess became a factotum. Kinda scary. She described using inspiration points as being able to not only get a perfect idea, or recall something with crystal clarity, but being able to apply her ideas with only imagination and intuition. In other words, absolutely terrifying.

The bell rings and I slam my locker shut. Writing. Hooray. I sling my backpack over my shoulder and run to catch up with Jess. Due to the ways our birthdays fall, Jess and I are both in seventh grade, while the other two are in ninth grade taking a load of AP classes. Being born only a few days after the Oregon cut-off point combined with her drive and intelligence basically means she's about three or four grades below where she should be. I'd be nearly the same way, I guess, if I actually cared about my grades as much as she did, and if my birthday wasn't in May.

Jess isn't moving very fast. She still looks pale-understandable, considering she has a whopping 8 Constitution at the moment. "Excited?"

"No," Jess replies, voice flat and quiet.

"Come on, you have to admit this is pretty cool."

"No. It really isn't."

Snap out of it Jess. Seriously. Four kids save the world? This is going to be the best thing ever. A real adventure, with magic and monsters. "You love magic."

"Yeah. I'd rather not have the monsters with it. You know, a girallon is running amuck in Central Park."

"You're joking!"

"Keep your voice down!" she hisses at me. Did Jess get up on the wrong side of the bed or something? "And look, I'll show you after school. But there are pictures."

"Really puts the kobold thing in perspective."

"Yeah, you could say that."

We take our seats, but I can't pay attention. It's like one of those books that Jess liked when we were in elementary school, except instead of the kids going into the wardrobe, the things are popping out of everywhere. I doodle a few panels of me being awesome, sniping the girallon from the trees. And a few more about a closet with things pouring out of it. When the bell rings again, I slam my notebook shut and head out for lunch.

I don't care what Jess says. We've got class levels. We aren't going to die. Reincarnate is only a fourth level spell, after all. Lex is becoming some weird druid monk bard thing and Jess's dad keeps incense in the house, so we'll have access to it.

We'll survive. Genius kids like us? No way we won't make something good out of this.

This isn't a game, Nica keeps saying.

But really, it is.

A game with dice in our heads, people as figurines, and of course, the monsters to fight.

And we can lose. But I think we'll win.

Chapter 11: Adventure Time [Mark]

Four days go by and absolutely nothing happens within three hundred miles of here. The girallon is in Central Park, the first sighting of undead happens in New Orleans, air elementals show up in Kansas, and it's my friends in Southern California who seem to reliably hit 4th level.

I slam the textbook in front of me shut and throw it on the floor. Homework has to be the most pointless, boring, thing in existence. I swear, we just did this work last week, and the week before that, and in school too. No one uses handwriting anymore, math doesn't change all that much when you change the numbers involved, and coloring is for babies. "What are they thinking?"

"I doubt that they are."

I whip around in my chair and Jess is sitting on the windowsill. Which had been closed when I began working. "Close your mouth, Marcus. We are not codfish," she says in a very formal tone. As if she is quoting something-not quite sure what.

"But-you-" I splutter. For reference? My room is on the second floor of the house, nearly eight feet away from any trees. The walls are brick, true, but...really. A calmer part of my mind notes that she seems to have gotten a haircut, and she has a claw hammer hanging off her belt.

"No one answered the door," she says casually, swinging her legs in and ducking under the window.

"Yes, I'm alone right now but how the-"

"Mouth. Close it when it is not in use," she advises, glancing outside. "As for how, I'm a factotum remember? And I've got ranks in Disable Device. Also, you left the big ladder out, which was a stupid idea."

I grimace. Factotums are officially the most terrifying class in 3.5. "And you couldn't call me because..."

"Because I thought I should tell you face to face that there are more evil things spilling out of random places. Nixie in the river, for instance."

"What?"

"Nixie. Charms people. It's making a mess of things."

"And you needed to tell me this now because..."

"Because I'm going to go kill it and thought I'd need backup."

Homework, XP. Video games, actually battling some monster. Easy choice. "Count me in."

Jess glances around. "You are going to clean this place up when you get back, right?"

"What are you, my mother? I'm fine with the way it is. Come on, Jess. Let's get going. The normal way." We head out, and Jess closes up the ladder.

There are quite a lot of hills between here and the river, but it really is not that far away from Nica's house.

Except we don't actually stop at Nica's house. Or Lex's. "Hey, er, shouldn't we get the others?"

"Lex is at the dojo, and Nica probably wouldn't be interested. I think she might actually take a Vow of Nonviolence," Jess says, sounding rather incredulous. "Seriously, the fact that someone could consider that she qualifies for exalted feats at all is a little scary."

"Someone being good is scary?" Seriously Jess, you're supposed to be the one who corrects definitions, not messes them up.

"Good? No. Exalted? Little bit. Exalted is like celestial-levels of being good. Qualifying for any of them is seriously insane. Qualifying for Vow of Nonviolence means that she can never deal lethal damage to another humanoid, even in self-defense. Which is stupid, considering our most dangerous opponents would be other PCs, who are all going to be-you guessed it-humanoid."

"So, like, if she takes that Vow, then a guy comes after her with a gun, and she has only one round to act, what can she do?"

"Right now? A lot. But she can't kill that person, or even willingly let us kill that person for her."

"...You're kidding."

"I wish," Jess mutters. "In any case, our plan is as follows: I'll run in to attack in melee, you provide ranged backup with those eldritch blasts of yours. Stay at maximum range so the nixie can't charm you. If she tries to charm me, I'll get better saves with Inspiration, and I'll also get an AoO on her."

"Hey Jess, what feats did you get anyways?"

"Catch Off-Guard, then Font of Inspiration twice. Pretty amazing feeling."

She has 5 Inspiration points now? That's totally going to end well.

But by then we're at the river. There are already several stopped cars, all empty except one. A guy is getting out of that one, waving enthusiastically to someone we cannot see. "He's gotta be charmed," I whisper. Jess frowns. "Crud," she hisses. "There have to be at least two nixies here-see, five cars, and they can only charm thrice a day each. And they've got SR, I think, so you could have issues with blasting them."

She actually uses thrice in normal speech. That's Jess for you. "Well, how am I supposed to help?!"

"Let's draw their attention first: throw an eldritch blast now," Jess says, dropping her backpack to the ground and removing the kobold's crossbow from it. "Here, take it. It'll be more reliable even with the size issues." She draws the hammer from her belt and I realize why she'd had that with her. Not sure what Catch Off-Guard was. Maybe it was Pathfinder.

I grab the little crossbow in one hand, and nod. "On the count of three." Time to do this. "One."

"Two."

"Three!" Blast goes out and a little green scaly girl-might as well be a Martian with those antennae-pops out of the ground. Instantly Jess charges, swinging the hammer straight at the girl, into her hip, which buckles. She falls over in one hit, screaming wordlessly, tumbling like a rag doll and staining the grass with dark blue blood. Another three-two girls and a guy-pop up, shouting in a language I don't get. Jess charges them, and they scatter into the river as her hammer swings where they were a second before. The charmed guy from before blinks at us. "Hey! Kids! Get outta here!"

Like hell we will. Jess half runs, half tumbles, down the side of the bank towards the river. I follow her, feet and heart feeling like they pound in unison. There's one! I fire, and miss it by a good four inches. I curse loudly, exploding the water in front of them with my words.

Behind us, a wave of eight other humans breaks out of the river, some screaming in fear, more yelling accusations at us. "Murderers!" "Mommy, what happened?!" "Bastards!" "You killed our friends!" "Where are we?" "I'm calling the police!"

"Ignore them," Jess snaps loudly, skidding into a sharp turn near the bank. I keep following. One stops and points at Jess. She blinks, exhales sharply, and shakes her head like a wet dog. I reload the crossbow and shoot it, hitting this time. It falls and sinks with an inhuman gurgling sound.

"Wha-?" "DAD!" "Excuse me, police-" "Get them!" "Honey, let's get out of here!" People flee out of cowardice, flee because the charm is broken, drag loved ones away, pursue us.

Jess charges again, leaping over and into the water, claw of the hammer breaking green flesh and bone like a light pick would, exposing brain and tearing into it. I scream a single word that rubs my throat raw, breaking a branch over the head of the last one and sending it scrambling long enough to panic it, long enough for me to explode it with a well-placed eldritch blast.

And damn, that was fun. Adrenaline courses through my system, making me dazed, almost slap-happy, keenly aware of the people around us, some in awe, some terrified, most running away. Jess paddles to shore, breathing hard, but grinning broadly. She is soaked, clothes sticking to her and making me very glad she dresses in dark colors all the time and is wearing a hooded sweatshirt now. I mean, otherwise it'd be like seeing an older sister in a wet t-shirt contest-pass the brain bleach, please!

Jess carefully sheathes the hammer. "Enjoying your first moments as a proper gestalt?"

"I..." I blink. "Seems we beat the others to it."

"There are benefits to little secrets," she says, pulling her hood up over her head-perhaps to hide her face. "Let's head back. I've got nixie blood all over me-did you really have to explode it?"

"Yeah!"

And we break into laughter. Wake up, go to school, watch some news, kill some evil fey, all in time for dinner. This is adventuring, and it is awesome.

Chapter 12: Why, Why [Nica]

you WHAT?

killed some nixies!!1! Mark types back. Facebook has effectively blown up, so I've been watching it lately. Hence why I was using Facebook chat instead of my phone. And why I got this message from Mark over Facebook, saying that, apparently, he went out to kill some fey for...why?

you ARE aware that nixies are TN, right?

they charmed ppl @ river
looked ce to me!

they were just defrnding themselves!
*defending

u weren't there, don't speak sylvan, how do u kno?

work on your spelling. they were more or less teleported into a world that they do not understand, next to a not exactly empty road. i'd be scared.

u arnt a nixie

No, I'm not. I have the ability to empathize and sympathize with others, though. I spin in my chair and lean back. What was Mark thinking? Was he thinking at all? The things spilling into our world aren't supposed to be here, true. But they aren't just fictional monsters, not just constructs of our imagination made for XP farming. Nixies have the intelligence of a human. They are sapient, they can think, they can lead meaningful lives. I turn back to the screen, and lose a little hope for humanity.

there just sum rndm fey. why do u care?

He has to ask?

because i have MORALS.

sheesh, dont need 2 shout.

yeah, I need to shout. you aren't listening to me. just because they are little green people with antennae doesn't mean that they aren't capable of feeling and thinking like humans.

huh.
jess' idea. ask her.
she said they were evil.
shes the 1 w/the MM memrized
she wouldnt screw that up

He's right about that one. Jess wouldn't mess something like that up. Which means she deliberately lied to Mark...why? To get him to kill the nixies?

Why? She should get this, get that they've got potential. Mark's the one with the questionable morals. Not Lex, not me, and not Jess.

But then again...she's changed, rather radically, since this mess with D&D began. She murdered a kobold, had a near-death experience, gone to school with Constitution damage for the last week, and has been rather more testy than normal overall.

I guess it's hard to reinvent the mental images I've held since...well, for a decade, actually. But they don't fit anymore. Jess doesn't fit anymore.

What's changed?

Why has she changed?

I call her, and get the answering machine. Odd again. She wears pants with pockets to avoid missing calls. What's going on now?

"Jess, we need to talk. As soon as possible."


Chapter 13: Not Alone [Nica]

I don't hear back from Jess the next day. Or the day after that. I've been everywhere looking for her-all of our houses, the little shop down the road, the bookstore, the gaming store, even the park. I call both Mark and Lex, but she hasn't chatted with them either. Mark apparently is a full gestalt though. That can't possibly be the only reason Jess lied to Mark and killed a nixie family though. It can't.

Except it could. I close my eyes and remember her angered rant a week and a half before. She sounded desperate, angry. She wanted us to fight, didn't believe that we could defend ourselves in our half-gestalted first level state. Slowly, it seems she is becoming correct. The news grows worse every day. It isn't just the creatures entering our world anymore-now things and people are changing into them.

Some changes are small-human to high elf, changeling, or illumian, for instance, or German Shepherd to blink dog, oak tree gaining a dryad. Some changes are larger-human to orc or dwarf, tiger to rakshasa, paper lantern to will'o wisps. Some are absolutely insane. We're talking about humans becoming kobolds and minotaurs, anacondas becoming naga, horses becoming hippogryphs. Even the bloody inanimate objects are getting in on the action according to the New York Times- overcoats becoming cloakers, statues in museums waking as stone golems, and even more.

I shudder to think of waking to find my form perverted in such a way, much less being awake for such a change. People have been consumed by their own beds which apparently decided to become mimics, slain and torn back into unlife by their own shadows suddenly gaining sentience, gutted while gardening by a wisteria vine turned deadly assassin.

There is no shame in admitting it-I am terrified of this. But it hasn't touched our hometown yet in any huge way. All the changes and summonings so far have mercifully been of the smallest sort. Dire rats, a few swarms of spiders, a krenshar or two, a satyr that didn't seem to have a single possession to its name. Someone became an illumian down in Roseburg-the Oregonian was all over that. And very few were touched by this...whatever it is that gives class levels.

It was a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. The longer the Willamette Valley stayed normal, the better.

Two hours later, aka right now at the mall, fate decided to let me down in the most spectacular way possible. It is the only possible explanation for the aranea that spontaneously appeared in the food court, and the three people who stood up as one and attacked it.

Ajadea
2011-04-22, 01:04 PM
Chapter 10 is up. I know, it's short.

Fiery Diamond
2011-04-22, 02:00 PM
Good story so far! Keep it up! (And keep up the writing in general too, you're doing a pretty decent job of it, 'specially for your age.)

I need to get on the Arts&Crafts forum more often. I didn't know there was this thing going on. I would have expected it to have ended up on the Roleplaying Games forum or at least mentioned there.

Ajadea
2011-04-22, 03:45 PM
:smallredface: Thanks. I do enjoy writing this story, and it's good to know people like it.

This did start on the Roleplaying games forum, but people decided that the actual stories should be in Arts and Crafts.

Mercenary Pen
2011-04-22, 06:29 PM
Enjoying this, have attempted to start my own 4e continuity, and would value comments, etc.

Dragon Elite
2011-04-22, 07:34 PM
I like this, it's great. You have great descriptions of how the classes feel to play.

Tychris1
2011-04-24, 01:55 PM
Ty, pain is good for you, it will fuel the anger of your story. :P
Seriously,I want to see more darkness in your story before I make a comment.

You have to understand that I'm forced to comply by the forums rules, and I'm not that far in the story so I can't have my character killing people willy nilly.


Plus, people aren't naturally evil, there has to be something that pushes them to it, and even if they are evil they still have a concious (Or atleast in the beginning where they aren't fully embraced in the darkness.

Ajadea
2011-05-09, 01:48 AM
Back, finally.

Chapter 11.

In which Jess is a scary factotum charger, Mark makes things go boom, and assumptions that should not have been made are made.

Zolkabro
2011-05-10, 12:13 PM
Chapter 11 is great, one of the best yet.

Ajadea
2011-05-10, 02:08 PM
Thanks! I think the story is really kinda heating up now, what with 2/4 characters now being full gestalt and me personally speeding up the rate of monster appearances.

Thelas
2011-05-11, 12:28 PM
Joining the chorus of "I like this, it is good."

Daftendirekt
2011-05-11, 12:51 PM
Joining the chorus of "I like this, it is good."

I second that.

Ajadea
2011-05-12, 11:37 PM
I have a chorus? Cool!

Chapter 12 is up. Speciesism is frowned on by certain members of the party.

Ajadea
2011-06-02, 12:17 AM
I hate hate hate writer's block. Now that it's gone, I can get a chapter up!

Zolkabro
2011-06-03, 05:07 AM
I like the new section, good cliffhanger. I am glad that at least one of us has kept going, even if the rest (including me) seem to have ground to a halt.
Keep writing, please!

Zigg'rrauglurr
2011-06-27, 08:37 PM
Ajadea, just came back to say that I'm still lurking on this thread hoping for a continuation. I am truly intrigued by the plot on your story and hope you continue it.

Keep it up! :smallsmile:

Ajadea
2011-06-27, 11:36 PM
The next month is filled with summer camp, moving, and applications for school. This is one of the least important things on my to do list, so I will declare it on hiatus until further notice. Truly sorry people.