The Party-Pooper’s Tale

For RPG Blog Carnival—you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to try to fit “D&D” when you’ve got a system-neutrality policy. You could also call this one “Why I Swore Off New Adventuring Parties”.

Walking into the tavern, for me, is like walking through molasses. It’s what everyone does. Only reason I’m doing it is that otherwise I’m going to get thrown into jail or contract amnesia. Probably both. At least the figure at the table is wearing bright red this time. Either he wants to be different, or he learned from the fact that I punched the last black-cloak in the face. Who says unarmed doesn’t mean dangerous?

To list the other people at the table would require me to end the sentence with “Walks into a bar”. The elf and the vaguely orcish-looking one are bickering over the value of magic vs. steel. The representative of one or another of the three smallfolk races has her hand wrist-deep in the pocket of a human lady with a four-loaf cleaver—quite a feat, given that last I checked chainmail bikinis don’t have pockets, and it’s pretty clear that she’d gut the little one if she were copping a feel, and even more so when you consider the little one’s also winning the argument by saying ‘words’. Something about Diplomancy, whatever that is. There’s a fellow in black, muttering “angst” over and over.

“Excuse me,” I ask, “but would any of you be interested in helping me locate the phoenix so I can be there when she rises from the ashes?”

They all look at me like I’ve grown an extra head.

“Will there be gold there?” the elf asks.

“Will it be a fun fight?” the orcish one growls.

“Can you eat it?” At least I know which kind the small one is now.

“Is it a matter of world-threatening urgency?” Ms. Chainmail Bikini asks.

“Will it listen to my tale of eternal suffering?” Angsty intones. The rest look startled that he’s actually constructed a sentence, much less making eye contact with me. As if embarrassed, he goes back to his “Angst, angst, angst.” Pity; that one has nice eyes.

The red-cloak just shakes his head.

“No, no, no, no…” I list off. I have to think about the last one. Will something that has to die every so often want to have to deal with someone whinging about how his village made him feel like an outcast and then all got themselves killed by orcish raiders before he could Show Them All? “Probably not, though her song should distract you from your own troubles.”

“Then what’s the good in it?” It’s hard to tell which started first; they all ask at about the same time. Then go back to listening as the red-cloak starts telling them about how they can spill the blood of some dragon or other over the edges of its very shiny horde FOR GREAT JUSTICE and then mope about the unfairness of it all over dragon-steaks. I know this kind: taking the time to look at the scenery on the way to an event that only happens once every hundred years is a foreign concept to them. Pity; I was looking forward to it.

Maybe I’ll have better luck in the library.

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