The Saving Throw
Beginning of the Beginning Dec. 1, 2005
Bringing you tabletop gaming goodness since...well, today.

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And so it begins. . .

Welcome to the very first edition of The Saving Throw!

The Saving Throw is a weekly column on tabletop (or pen-and-paper) RPGs and collectible card games. This is mostly a submissions-based column accepting four different types of submissions. Three sections of this column were already announced: Gaming Hall of Fame, Fan Adventures, and Fan Reviews. Based on feedback from a reader, I have decided to open another section. The Guides section will be the place to submit your wisdom for your fellow players, gamemasters, and RPG or CCG designers.

This week, all the submissions were for the gaming hall of fame, but I know this is only temporary. I have faith that you will start contributing guides, adventures, and reviews before long. In fact, I know you wanted to, but RPGamer mail was down for so long and you couldn't. Of course, I just told you about the guides section, so that might just be a factor as well. Well, here's your chance now. Submission guidelines are here. *hint* *hint* *wink* *wink*

At any rate, I decided to feature two hall of fame stories this week; normally, I'll only be featuring one per week. You can see how the presence of oxen once saved my party from a group of very lucky skeletons, how The Wyldflame made a change of gamemasters into a very sad and touching moment, how our wonderful weekday Q&A host learned the meaning of death the hard way, and see some examples of extraordinary good and bad luck from Yotaka.

Also, I've created a new channel on IRC (EsperNet), #savingthrow, specifically for this column. Feel free to stop by.

Oh, and I probably should explain this week's gaming tip. Every gamemaster has certain buttons you really don't want to push. With the gamemaster I'm most familiar with, you don't want to tell him you're bored. As gamemasters go, he is very rarely evil or cruel, which is sometimes a rare thing among gamemasters. However, once he is informed that you're bored, he will quickly make things very interesting for you. As in, a-garrison-of-stormtroopers-finds-and-chases-you-down kind of interesting. It is effective; you aren't bored anymore. Well, assuming you live, anyway.

Anyway, onto the column!

Gaming Tip of the Week
"Telling the gamemaster you're bored can be hazardous to your character's health."
- Nwash

Gaming Hall of Fame
Today's First Featured Story: Night of the Oxen
Funniest Gaming Moments submitted by Nwash

   This story takes place in a realm my friend created, in a cursed land he named the Shattered Lands. We were gaming using Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Second Edition rules. The involved party included three player characters and one NPC (non-player character): a female paladin, a dwarvish fighter, a male ninja, and a female druid. I was playing the ninja, and the druid was the NPC traveling with us. I don't remember our exact levels, but they ranged between third to fifth, I think. At any rate, my ninja is a secretive character; the other party members really just think he's another fighter.

At any rate, we were on our way to a nearby village and were within sight of it when we encountered a group of fifteen skeletons. It's a cursed land; undead wander out in the open. We really weren't afraid as skeletons were the weakest of undead creatures, so even outnumbered, we were prepared to meet them with little concern. It is at about this time that our paladin decides that she wants to try to turn (scare away) the skeletons.

Now, the real me already had a queasy feeling about this. Our DM (dungeon master, which is the game's term for gamemaster) had mentioned to me several times that he wondered where undead went to when they were turned. He had never said anything to the person playing the paladin, however.

Being an exceptionally good sport, and knowing that I essentially had inside information on the game which my character was oblivious of, I stayed quiet as I waited for the inevitable.

At any rate, the paladin gave a rousing performance which succeeding in scaring away six of the fifteen skeletons ready to do battle with us. Now, mind you, the Shattered Lands were cursed. I'll bet you can guess where those six skeletons decided to go, right?

Yes, they decided to go terrorize the nearby village. All of our characters being of good alignment, we naturally did not see this as an acceptable situation. Thus, my ninja and the druid, the weakest of us, decided to go follow the skeletons and defend the village while the paladin and fighter took care of the other nine.

Somehow, the curse of the Shattered Lands managed to infect our dice as well. I have rarely seen such an astronomically unlikely sequence of low die rolls for the players and friendly NPCs mixed with an nearly as unlikely sequence of high die rolls for the enemies. I mean, skeletons are generally not even difficult for first-level characters, much less third, fourth, and fifth-level characters. While, in our defense, I can say the DM secretly doubled the HP of these skeletons, the progression of the battle was indeed one-sided...though not one-sided in the way I'd expected.

Yes, that's right. We were losing! We couldn't hit them, and when we did land a hit, it was for pathetic damage. Meanwhile, they were hitting us with alarming frequency and dropping us to precarious HP levels. Even the paladin and the dwarf were making no headway in their battle, though they were not in as precarious a situation HP-wise. I was getting pretty desperate.

With that desperation, I began looking through the spoils I had accumulated in previous battles. I noticed that I had some potions of animal control, and a deviously clever idea was born. I calmly asked the DM if there were any large animals in the village, such as oxen. He decided that there were indeed oxen in the village, and so I consumed one of those potions of animal control.

Suddenly, the spell on my dice was broken. I gained control of four of the large creatures (the most I could), proceeded to have them break out of their pen, and they trampled all of the skeletons down into the ground with relative ease. We were saved.

Since I was playing a secretive character, I saw no need to inform anyone of what I had done. Instead, I just had the oxen calmly return to their damaged pen, leaving this quaint little village, as well as my fellow party members, under the impression that their beasts of burden had mysteriously decided to rise up in defense of their home. Needless to say, I do believe those four oxen were very well treated until the end of their lives, and no doubt the story of the "Night of the Oxen" will be told in that village for generations to come.

Today's Second Featured Story: Leaving the Pack
Most Dramatic Gaming Moments submitted by The Wyldflame

   My group and I have been playing Werewolf: The Apocalypse from White Wolf Publishing for the last dozen years or so. In this game you take the role of the Garou (werewolves), who work in packs fighting a losing battle to perserve Gaia (the Earth) from the "hell bent on destroying everything" entity known as the Wyrm.

What you need to know
   The story here involves characters my players had been using for over six years; a pack known as The Silent Howl. The Silent Howl, a group of "freelancers" working out of New Orleans, consists of the Alpha (leader) Sekhmet-Rain-Maker, Sage-Wind-Over-Mountain, Rahn-Runs-Like-Legless-Dogs, Rune Alterone, and Renoa Kest.

At the time of this tale I was (as I usually am) the Storyteller (or gamemaster) and was ending my time as Storyteller so I could actually be a player for a while, letting Sage's player take over the Storyteller duties. With him taking over something would have to be done about his character Sage. For years I had used creative (though legitimate) excuses to keep my character (Sekhmet) out of the action. He and I collaborated for all of an hour before the idea came to us. I'll spare you the more boring details and get to the goods from here...

The Story
   Sekhmet is a noted messenger, leaving him to travel the world and sometimes take some rather brutal jobs in order to gain and pay back favors. Fortunately, he has the rest of his pack to call on for backup. This time around, Sage stayed behind, deep in meditation while the rest of the pack was sent to New Mexico to help track down a legendary artifact and the group who went missing searching for it in the first place. After a long search and a longer, exhaustive battle, the group was victorious. Returning bloody and broken with the prize in hand and hopes of renown and glory in their hearts, they are met by a fellow messenger. He delivers a handwritten note with a wax seal (actually written and sealed before the game). Sekhmet opened it, and as Sekhmet's player, I begin to read aloud, my voice trembling slightly as I did so (despite the fact that Sage's player and I penned it just hours earlier). It read:

To my dearest friends,

Words are a poor medium of expression for the thoughts that I must convey.
These are times when we must make a choice, for better or for worse, and walk on.
When one must tread a new path, not because the old footsteps have grown cold, but because the nature of the journey has changed.

It is with a heavy heart and shaking hand I pen this, but alas... I wax on pleasantries.

My friends, my family, I must depart. It pains me so, my heart is a-flutter. I go now to my people. Where, I cannot say, but know that I revel with thoughts of you all. Things must be done, but I have also with me the hope that they will be...for when they are, to all of you I shall return.

But that is later, this is now. The pack must carry on. Though my body is afar, my spirit is near, and I shall watch over as best I can. And so now...

Rahn, your journey has just begun, stay true to your path.

Rune, you shall become a great warrior, should you ever master your tongue.

Renoa, find yourself and you will find there is light in us all.

Sekhmet, have trust in my absence as you had trust in my presence, faith shall guide you.

My love...forever...

   When I had finished, one could hear a pin drop in the room. What was just moments before a lighthearted moment in a game we loved was now an aching wound. As I looked up I saw their glazed eyes. These were four grown men and a grown woman trying desperately not to cry in front of each other. It was hardly the first time, nor the last time, that we and our characters have become one. That day, our characters had lost not only a good friend, but part of themselves. That loss echoed in all of us for that night and the powerful victory meant nothing next to what was lost. We played on and continue to do so even today, but that moment has forever lived on in our memories. As a final note, the letter hangs on my wall to this day.

This Week's New Hall of Fame Entries

Funniest Gaming Moments

   Night of the Oxen by Nwash

Most Dramatic Gaming Moments

   Leaving the Pack by The Wyldflame

Luckiest Gaming Moments

   Brilliant Bluffs by Yotaka

Unluckiest Gaming Moments

   Critical Fumbles by Yotaka

Most Embarassing Gaming Moments

   At the Hands of Goblins by Matt "Wonderslime" Demers

This Week's Guides

Want to be the first to submit a guide to The Saving Throw? Read more...

This Week's Fan Adventures

Want to be the first to submit a fan adventure to The Saving Throw? Read more...

This Week's Fan Reviews

Want to be the first to submit a fan review? Read more...

Upcoming Releases

Pendragon, 5th Edition
Dec. 12, 2005, $34.99

World of Darkness: Chicago
Dec. 12, 2005, $39.99

Dungeons and Dragons, 3.5 edition
Spell Compendium
Dec. 25, 2005, $39.95


Tabletop Gaming News
Wizards of the Coast Searching for Freelance Writers
Source: Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast is looking for freelance writers to design RPG adventures and supplements, and they are giving everyone a chance to be considered for freelance design work. To be considered, interested individuals must prove their skills in a design test which consists of submitting a 2,500 to 4,000 word Advanced Dungeons and Dragons adventure. This adventure should include a map and a new feat, spell, or magic item. The adventure cannot be set in Eberron or Forgotten Realms, and must be playable using only the three core rulebooks for version 3.5.

Currently, there is no deadline for interested individuals to attempt this design test. Additionally, there is no limit to the number of times one can attempt to pass the test. Adventures submitted under this test may also be submitted to Paizo Publishing for inclusion in Dungeon magazine.

U.S. and Canadian hopefuls must submit a hard copy of their adventure by mail. Those outside the U.S. and Canada can submit their adventures by e-mail.

More details can be found here:

White Wolf Publishing Releasing Pendragon, Fifth Edition
Sources: White Wolf Online, Wikipedia

On December 12, 2005, White Wolf will release the fifth edition of Pendragon, a role-playing game based on Arthurian legend. Specifically, it is based primarily on a fifteenth-century romance novel, Le Morte d'Arthur.

Pendragon was originally published by Chaosium in 1985, a publisher which has a penchant for producing tabletop RPGs with a literary basis. The fourth edition of the game was later published by Green Knight Publishing, who released it as a single, thick manual entitled King Arthur Pendragon. Green Knight sold the rights to White Wolf in 2004. The original edition was written by Greg Stafford, who has returned to write the fifth edition.

Pendragon is not a dungeon-crawler style of tabletop RPG. Instead, adventures in Pendragon tend to be military, political, or even spiritual in nature. Players take on the roles of knights who perform chivalric deeds in Arthurian tradition. In general, there will be only one adventure per year in a Pendragon campaign. The time between adventures is critical as well; player characters manage their estates, get married, and have children during this time. A Pendragon campaign may span generations, with a player retiring a character in order to play the character's heir.

When released, the Pendragon handbook will retail for $34.99.

And so it ends. . .

And this brings this first edition of The Saving Throw to an end. I'll be back next week with even more tabletop gaming goodness.

Until then,

Shawn "Master of the Oxen" Bruckner

Columns That Came Before
The Annoucement

In This Column
Today's Hall of Fame Stories
Upcoming Releases
Tabletop Gaming News

Gaming Hall of Fame
Funniest Gaming Moments
Proudest Gaming Moments
Most Dramatic Gaming Moments
Most Creative Gaming Moments
Most Ridiculous Gaming Moments
Luckiest Gaming Moments
Unluckiest Gaming Moments
Embarrassing Gaming Moments

coming soon...

Fan Adventures
coming soon...

Fan Reviews
coming soon...
Review Scoring

Sending me stuff
Submission Guildines

The other stuff
Tabletop Gaming Primer
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