The Saving Throw
Most Embarrassing Gaming Moments May 24, 2006
These are the gaming moments that only the good sports will share. These. . .are moments of shame.

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Just Offer Your Life
  contributed by Nostrum

This story is about the first time I ever played a tabletop RPG in my life. The system used was GURPS (Generic Universal Role-Playing System), a point-based system based on developing a concept, and "buying" the abilities he/she can use. The system is much more flexible than other game systems such as Dungeons and Dragons. The story was about a futuristic Earth, where a field of energy exterminated technology, and the balance between Technology and Magic was shifted back. A strange religion, only known as "The Church," took control of this new world, where non-believing users of magic or other kinds of skills were persecuted. The campaign originally consted of a charismatic summoner who could summon Pokemon, a strange magician with double personality that drew magic from his home plane based upon the card game "Magi-Nation", a samurai skilled in a sword style eerily reminiscent of the "Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu" from "Rurouni Kenshin" (and who had an eerier fixation to his horse), a pyromaniac, pyrokinetic elf, and a wooden golem-like creature/botched creation with knowledge of rune magics. I did not introduce my character until much, much later, as they started before I knew them. My character was a follower of a rival religion based upon a goddess of creation and a triad of deities, and the idea was to restore technology to the world, even if magic disappeared. A final note: the system I was using was from a supplementary book, and the religion's beliefs and the pantheon was done by me.

When my character was finally introduced, he was put in a dire situation: he and some of his fellow believers in the rival religion were captured by Church knights and sentenced to death. The character was all tied, unarmored, and about to be burned. However, he had a trump card in his hand, an idea suggested by the gamemaster himself: Divine Intervention. The rule, which was on the supplement book I was using, stated that on rare occasions, the character may request intervention of the deity itself to act on his behalf. In short terms, it was the "mother of all bonuses," so to say (and pointed out by one of the other players). Thus, seeing as that was the only choice, my character begins prayer, expecting his goddess to act. The ground trembled, and time almost halted, while the voice of the goddess was heard by the character. Her first question was simple enough: what do you want from me? The answer was swift: to deal with my enemies. Then it happened...

The idea beneath divine intervention is that the character "summons" his/her god, asks for a favor, and gives something in exchange. Then, a roll was made to see if the god accepted the "gift", and acted accordingly. The dice roll is the typical roll of the game to confirm the action, consisting of three d6 dice. If the dice results were equal or lower, the action was confirmed. However, a spectacular "gift" would not require said roll. The second question was the most feared: what will you give in exchange? The GM gave no clue, but almost all people were practically giving me the answer: give my life. Of course, a n00bie player, who just barely started to play, would not think giving his character's life to be an appropiate barter item. Or, at least, that I thought. I gave some thought to it, but n00bdom eventually won. And then I gave my answer.

"Take enough of my life to make me unconscious."

That alone was enough to make everyone in the table scream aloud, "You screwed it, man!" Everyone was furious. The GM, following the rest of the rules, gave me the dice and allowed me to roll them. The amount, however, was insignificant. Only a critical success (a result of three ones on the d6 dice) could save me, and surely it was not one of those occasions. The ground calmed, and the knights resumed their actions.

The predicament I was in was eventually solved: the summoner and the samurai were teleported nearby, and the knights were derailed away by a combination of a stampede of horses and a swarm of "electric mice," but nobody looked at me the same way. The runecaster player told me then, "Man, you were about to get the 'mother of all bonuses,' and you screwed it."

Ever since then, I learned a very important lesson. First, in a tabletop RPG, it is valuable to have Common Sense (ironically, that is a purchaseable skill, and my character actually had it bought), and not only that, to use it. Second, I learned that, when dealing with a god in a life-or-death situation, one's own life is the right "gift" to give. Either that or a life of eternal and unquestioning servitude, but life truly is priceless.

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