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Copyright © 2004 Chris Gonnerman

Once upon a time back in High School, I started a new campaign with my regular player group. They all began in the same village, which was home for most of them, and went out exploring a ruined castle in a nearby swamp.

Now, I had decided to hold back on the magic (my last campaign having gone "Monty Haul") so on the ground floor of the ruin the only magic item they found was a glowing crystal Dagger +1. The mage in the party won the toss and got it. Of course they fought some monsters and got some treasure, and being beat up they went back to town.

That night, as the party's mage (I forget his name) lay sleeping in his bed in his mother's house, the two dwarves, David and Draper (don't ask me how they decided on those names) decided to steal the dagger. Now this was the Moldvay/Cook D&D rules, so the dwarves had no particular thieving abilities.

They stripped off their armor outside, crept in the unlocked front door, and David tried to sneak across the mage's room to attack him with his sword. Draper remained at the door to the mage's room with his short bow, arrow nocked. I decided what David's player had to roll for the sneaking, and he blew the roll.

The mage awoke, grabbed the dagger from under his piled-up dirty clothes, and saw by its light two dwarves in their skivvies with murder in their eyes. Quite reasonably, he turned and jumped out the window.

He made his roll, and landed on his feet, so he ran at full speed into the village (for his mother's house was on the outskirts) screaming for help and holding the dagger high. He was dressed only in his undershorts. Both dwarves blew their rolls for jumping out the window and landed in a heap.

The mage ran to the house of his friend Andrew, a human fighter who used the morningstar. Andrew answered the door just as David arrived, and Andrew got the initiative and hit him. David fell in a heap.

Draper, evil intent in his eyes, raised up his shortbow to fire at the mage; but another character, Gallarando, came out of the bar just up the street with his shortbow in hand. Initiative was rolled, and Gallarando got it. Andrew and the mage rolled also and didn't do as well as Draper, so only Gallarando had a chance to attack before Draper did.

Gallarando had been drinking all night (it was after midnight); there were no rules for this in the B/E D&D so I decided on -5. He was also at long range (-5 again I think); anyway he needed a natural 20 to hit.

He got it. Imagine the players at that point...

Draper hadn't recovered from injuries suffered in the ruins, so he didn't have many hit points; and Gallarando's player rolled a 5 or 6 (I forget). Draper was slain.

The mage thanked Andrew kindly, promising him half his (the mage's) share of treasure the next time they went out. Andrew replied that he hadn't liked those dwarves anyway, and it was his pleasure to be of service. Then the mage (in his underwear) went down to the bar and assumed Gallarando's tab (which was substantial by then).

David's player was cool about dying; he just did it for fun. His next PC was a staunch ally of the mage. Draper's player (who had been a dupe in the whole mess) was mad about it, but he quietly rolled up another character (a dwarf named Draper) and joined the party at their next outing.

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A Shot in the Dark Last Updated 08/28/2005