View Full Version : The Epic Level Playground (a short story)

2011-06-02, 05:25 PM
The Epic Level Playground
By Myself

Part 1"Yaaaaaaaargh!" A goblin shouted in his guttural tongue. A treant's foot pinned pinned him down in the mud, then moved on to trample over the rest of his squad.

The goblin soldiers fired a volley of arrows at the monster. The arrows stuck in the treant's wooden bark armor to no effect. The creature swung one of its mighty arms and sent several of the group flying off to land in the mud.

Their cries mixed in with the general shouting and yelling that filled the rolling battlefield where creatures of every type fought, defeated, and rejoined melee in dozens of small groups. Fireballs and lightning flew through the air where spellcasters exerted their powers, rending monsters and sending charred husks flying.

One of the goblins ran up to the crazed treant, dodging its flailing arms to smash a small vial against one of its legs. The vial shattered with a fwoosh, sending fire racing up the treant's side. The treant roared in agony as its coarse exterior became the fuel for a burning flame, and then the fire caught its leaves and they became a living crown of flames.

The treant threw itself down and tried to roll the fire out; to no avail. The flames engulfed the woodland creature and in less than a moment only a charcoal body remained.

The few remaining goblin soldiers rushed back to their caves for safety, but before they reached them they were distracted by the cries of one of thier number that suddenly doubled up, clutching its body, which was ballooning out rapidly. The squad rushed for cover behind a fallen titan as the transformation yielded a nightcrawler where the goblin soldier's clothes now lay, ripped to shreds. The creatures screams attracted the attention of every creature on the battlefield, sending a good number running for cover. The rest ran directly towards it, attempting to destroy the threat to their victory.

Despite the ineffectiveness of the mass of spears, arrows, and even bombs being thrown at it, the goblin-turned-nightcrawler knew fear at the threat of the united army charging toward it; a fear that was justified by the pain and dizziness of a group of spells hitting it and pinning it down with webs, grease, and a myriad of effects. It roared, and a portion of the group froze in mid-run, then wheeled down into the ground, swallowing another portion of the troops in its gargantuan maw while it burrowed into the earth; attempting to escape the mass of enemies.

The worm left a giant pit and about half the enemy troops still able to fight in its wake. They quickly fell in among each other, slaughtering themselves. After a minute or two of hiding, the nightcrawler felt itself safe enough to try to return to the surface and make for its goblin caves. It was mistaken, however, as a colossal dragon grabbed it with outstretched claws as soon as it peeked above ground, dragging it up into the high heavens and roasting it alive with its flaming breath. The dragon's dull red scales lent themselves to camouflage in the clouds above, and its ragged and bloodily torn body showed the reason for its care. Despite the magical flailing of the worm, it could do nothing to free itself from its captor. Only rarely did its magical flailing have an effect, and even then it could not escape its burning fate. When its movements ceased, the dragon let the creature fall to the ground. Searching the area for enemies and finding none, it roared in triumph, before a ray sent it plummeting to the ground and its own death.

The sniper was a lone human figure, flying above clouds.

"Well, I win." The man said smiling, and even as he did so, the horizon went dark. Before the sorcerer's eyes a list appeared, with his name at the top, and a series of numbers to the side. The plane dissolved, and the wizard disappeared.
Part 2 "Good job Shorn." One robed figure said to another. They were two of a group of six men standing around a circular room.

"Yeah, lucky." Said another in pants and a long jacket, with a rueful look on his face.

"What, Jared, lucky that I cast Mind Blank on myself at the beginning of the fight, so that a great red wyrm couldn't find me and kill me?" Shorn replied, with a smirk on his face.

"Hah, that's the way I went out as a planetar." Another commented from a comfortable position on a sofa chair.

"Did you go psion this time again, 'Ram?" Shorn asked.


"I've tried that, and I don't know how you expect to win like that." Shorn replied.

"You just don't like 9th level powers." A fourth joined in. "While I prefer the strength of a sorcerer, I enjoy the versatility of a psion. Sure, you can't Gate in a bomb to terrorize the field-"

"Unless I Assimilate something that can do that." Ram interjected.

"Right, unless that-"

"Or use Fusion with a spellcaster."

"We get it!" He countered, but with a smile rather than a glare, and the group burst out laughing.

"Anyway, I get what you're saying Mark." Shorn responded. "It's just not my style."

"Yeah, you know I'm more of the aggressive type." Ram answered.

"Well, come on." A fifth interrupted. "You know the drill."

"Yeah, yeah." Shorn answered, and summoned a table with an empty glass for each, a bowl of olives, and a dusty bottle with dark liquid inside.

"Lim's just mad 'cause he went out first." Ram said while Shorn opened the bottle with a corkscrew.

"I know how you feel Lim." Jared answered. "I was second out, by only a few seconds."

"Here you go guys." Shorn said, handing Lim and Jared the first two filled glasses. "No hard feelings."

"Nah, don't worry about it." Lim answered, taking a light sip and letting it sit in his mouth.

"How'd you go out?" The last asked, taking a glass from Shorn.

"Anda, I was the first one the dragon attacked. He had a few of Mark's buffs on him, and a few of his own, so I didn't even know he was there. Of course, I tried defending myself, but I'd already used my contingency and time stop spells, so there wasn't much I could do."

"Yeah, I think my Mr. T probably did the most damage against the worm." Anda continued.

"By the way, clever move Shorn, saving a Pao for one my goblins there at the end." Ram threw in. "I didn't think you had any 8th level slots left, and Nightcrawler fit in perfectly with your Negative element."

"Heh, thanks Anda." Shorn answered. "I wish it had done more against that dragon though. I just got lucky that someone else had dispelled the dragon's buffs before, or I would've had to tried my Wall of Greater Dispel Magic and hoped for the best with my Shivering Touch."

"Yeah, that was me with Disjunction." Anda answered. "Kinda dumb of me, I guess, since between that and Mr. T I didn't have many other slots to play with."

"Well, it's all good." Mark answered. "You win a lot, and it felt good to come in second this time."

All of a sudden there was a knock at the door. The group looked up from their chairs, and Mark stood up to open it. A man with long star-inscribed robes stood in a brightly-lit atrium with clean white carpet, looking a little nervous.
Part 3"Hello." Mark greeted him. "Come on in K. I think you know Shorn, Theram, Limmer, Andarius, and Jared."

"Thanks, Markonius. Yes, I knew everyone except Limmer." K said, and the group watched as he stepped into the less-well lit room with dark screens of glass and comfortable chairs in the middle.

"Last again." Lim sighed, and the others chuckled. "Oh well, nice Robe of Stars."

"Thanks." K said again, and joined the others in a little laugh.

"No need to be nervous." Mark said as he shut the door and walked up next to the man. "We were all new once, and there's nothing wrong with an old functional equipment. You can call me Mark, by the way."

"Thanks, uh, Mark."

"Guys, this is Karthenorial, or K, as he's known by his friends." Mark announced. "I just met him a few months ago, when he first gained access to epic spells, and I've been teaching him how to use it. He's a good man."

"Thanks Mark." K answered, smiling as he felt more at ease. "I just finished with the Couatls and Solars a couple days ago. I erased their memories and sent them back like you suggested and I've been enjoying the power I got since then."

"Nothing naughty, I hope." Shorn said with a grin.

"Right, 'cause you've never done anything 'naughty' Shorn." Ram countered, and the group laughed again with the ease of friends who know everything about each other.

"No, nothing bad." K replied. "I explored the multiverse, took a look at some of the different planes, met people in Heaven, that sort of thing."

"Oh yeah, we've all done that." Anda answered. "I go to the celestial realm all the time to chat with old adventuring buddies."

"Well, pull up a chair K." Jared added.

"Here, we'll make space." Shorn said. He waved his hand and both his and Mark's chairs moved over to make space for a seventh, which then appeared.

"Thanks." K answered, and sat in the offered seat.

"So, have you ever been in a group like this before, K?" Mark asked.

"No," K responded, "how does it work?"

"Well, Shorn likes talking, and he just won our last game, so I'll let him explain." Mark answered.

"Sure thing Mark." Shorn picked up. "K, you know the spell Simulacrum right?"


"Good. Now what you're going to do, is make an epic spell that works just like that, except a little differently. Basically, the spell is to make a version of you just before you got your epic spellcasting power, which we call level 20 for the sake of convenience. Alternatively, you can make any other level 20 version of yourself you'd like. For example, Mark and Ram like making psions instead of being wizard and sorcerer, and Anda, who's a cleric, usually makes a sorcerer."

"Ok. Wait, a cleric?" K looked at Anda in surprise.

"Yeah. Ehlonna, my deity, doesn't keep me on the go all the time, so I spend my free time hanging out with my friends here."

"Wow. I didn't know deities did that."

"She's mostly concerned about her forests, and unlike some epic spellcasters, I don't see it as my personal mission to slay each and every one of the evil deities that brings harm to people."

"That's pretty cool."

"I know, right?"

"Yep. Anda's like our own personal Medic, y'know, if any of us ever needed a cure spell again." Mark said and the group laughed, then Shorn continued his explanation.

"Anyway, this spell I'm talking about has to be is going to be different from simulacrum in another way: you don't want this body to have a will."


"Well, you can say you don't want it to have a mind, brain, soul, whatever. The important thing is, you don't want it to have a sense of self. The reason is this: we 'Magic Jar' ourselves via another epic spell that has no distance limit into the body before the game starts, and creating a soul just to have it jar'd is kind of a no-no."

"Yeah, a few people, like me, get iffy when you do that." Anda said.

"Right, and you don't have to use an actual jar when there's no soul, so it's win-win all around. Anyways, once you've done that, you join our game. What we do is create the bodies, jar into them, and step through that gate over there." He pointed to an archway between two of the screens that led into darkness. "And off we go to the battlefield we've made ahead of time. You know we're in a demiplane now, and that's what the battlefield is too. We give ourselves a little bit of prep time, usually 10 minutes for casting Contingency plus maybe another minute for prep and summoning minions, then it's go time. Usually the battlefield has an island for each of us, with water and boats between them, plus houses, caves, forests, and whatever you could ask for, so it's pretty interesting. The winner is the last one with any troops standing."

"And in this last game, that was you?"

"Yup, and Mark was second, because even though he wasn't still alive, he had summoned a dragon that was." Shorn answered. "For the purpose of relieving tensions afterwards, the winner has to buy everyone else drinks. I usually go for a bottle of fine wine myself, and serve people in reverse order of the rankings. Feel free to have some, by the way." He summoned another glass on the table in front of K's chair.

"Thank you." K replied. "I have to say, I'm honored that you guys offered to let me join your group. Not to mention everything you've told me Mark."

"Don't worry about it." Mark said. "I mean, the gods learned a long time ago that having infinite power is, in and of itself, boring. They can alter reality at will, so what is there to do, really, besides enjoy works of art and form new relationships with people?"

"That's why we play games." Ram answered. "I like this war crafting game in particular, especially the way we do it."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, doing it one way gets boring after awhile, as you can imagine, so we mix it up a little bit. Usually we'll throw a few random effects onto the battlefield, like making it half Consecrated and half Desecrated, or put fast healing springs in places, etc. This time we each chose an element. I was Positive, Shorn was Negative, Mark was Fire, Jared was Cold, Anda was Earth, and Lim was Air. Then we each summoned creatures and cast spells that reflected that element, like how I Greater Metamorphosed into a planetar."

"Oh, on that note, I have a question."


"Wouldn't it just make sense to Gate in as many titans, or tarrasques, or great wyrm dragons as you can and win?"

The group laughed.

"So you're one of those types of wizards." Jared said. "No offense."

"It's so-so." Shorn answered. "What you can summon, someone else can banish, imprison, or heck, sometimes even drop with a Phantasmal Killer. And I can tell you from personal experience that it's no fun to use all your 9th level spells Gating in Great Wyrm Red Dragons only to have 3 other people hit them all with Banishments. Then you're left with 0 9th level spells while everyone else has all of theirs, and you're pretty much out of the game."

"Oh yeah, so what does happen when you're out? You just wait for everyone else to finish the game?"

"No, these screens show different views of the battle, and if one of us is here, we'll show you how to work them. By default they follow each of us."

"Wow, pretty neat."

"And going off that note about summoning monsters," Anda added, "keep in mind that the winner is the last one with any troops on the board, so even goblins can be pretty useful, with their natural instincts to hide in the ground."

"At least until someone drops a Cloudkill in their caves." Lim added with a grin, and Anda laughed.

"Yeah. By the way, I've got to get going." Anda said, standing.

"What, called out by your mistress?" Shorn asked.

"Yeah. She's got another mission for me, something about a battle with fire demons."

"Have fun with that." Mark commented.

"Oh I will. I'm thinking about just making the forest and its inhabitants flame-, bite- and claw-proof." He left through the door, shutting it behind him.

"Well, with him gone, that leaves a spot open." Shorn commented. "What do you say, K?"

"If you guys don't mind."

"Definitely." Lim said amidst general assent. "I say we do elements again, and I call positive this time."

-The End-

What do you guys think? PEACH!

super dark33
2011-06-03, 05:02 AM
spoilering {spoiler tags, not telling details} the story would be nice.

2011-06-04, 01:21 AM
Wait, is it true you can just spend epic-level making gigantic armys of high-level monsters fight against each other for no discernible reason?


Awesome. Is this a one-off or a series? Because I would like to see more of this.

2011-06-04, 03:20 PM
Wait, is it true you can just spend epic-level making gigantic armys of high-level monsters fight against each other for no discernible reason?


Awesome. Is this a one-off or a series? Because I would like to see more of this.
Thanks! It's a one-of, because I think I ought to start with short stories before committing to a novel/series. Otherwise it could be the start of a novel.

I actually think this works better as a primer than as a short story, since there's no plot conflict, and I've laid out exactly how to run a level 20 mage arena.

@super_dark33: What does that mean?

2011-06-04, 06:28 PM
He means that you should put the above tale in spoiler tags so that it doesn't take up half the page.