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The Saving Throw
Contest Entry July 26, 2006
Gaming moments with multiple endings, but only one is the real ending.

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The Magical Dwarf
  contributed by Nwash

This story comes from the first adventure in a realm I created which was at roughly a wild-west level of technology and which had fantasy elements such as magic and races such as dwarves, elves, gnomes, and so on. This was really just being used to test an extremely early and incomplete version of my tabletop roleplaying rules; we didn't play more than a few adventures in this realm. I don't recall what everyone was playing; I know one character was a human gunslinger and another was an orc fighter.

The orc fighter was currently working as a bouncer in a small town tavern. The other characters were here as well, as these were still the days where we were upholding the fine tradition of having the player characters initially meet each other in a bar. The characters all noticed an unusually-dressed dwarf loudly telling stories about his exploits; he appeared to be quite drunk. Now, in this realm, there was a common misconception that dwarves were incapable of casting magic spells; the truth was that they were less magical affinity and thus it was rare for a dwarf to study spellcasting. Thus, when this dwarf claimed to be a mage, the many poorly informed individuals in the bar started laughing. "Everyone knows dwarves can't cast magic," one of the patrons said.

The dwarf, quite offended, rose to prove otherwise. Patrons with any wisdom suddenly paid close attention, realizing that they may be in danger. The player characters were among those concerned for their lives. This concern would prove to be justified.


 Which ending is the real one?

A.

The dwarf was paying no attention to where he was aiming when he started casting his spell. The player characters realize that he is facing directly toward the bar's storeroom, that the door is open, and that the bar appears to be fully stocked. They wisely decide to flee the premises even though they don't know what spell the dwarf is casting. It turned out to be a minor fireball spell, and so the player characters were given a bit of a push when the contents of the storeroom exploded, destroying much of the bar and setting the rest of it aflame. Those who weren't wise enough to leave already now do so, slightly burned and shaken. The dwarf also survives, though he is the most injured. The orc fighter is now without a job and can freely join the other player characters.


B.

The dwarf unwisely choose to cast a dancing flames spell. With this, he moved the flames through the air in fast, precise patterns. The patrons gradually relax and watch the show in awe, beginning to believe that despite his drunkeness, he has the flames under control. For a time, the flames did remain safely away from the other patrons and the dangerously full storeroom. That ended when the dwarf suddenly belched, causing a distraction, and one of the flames struck his beard, setting it aflame. Naturally, his focus was now completely on his beard, and he lets the other flames go where they will. One heads into the storeroom, setting some of the product on fire. The dwarf is oblivious to this, instead running outside to find a way to extinguish his beard. The bartender, servers, and patrons quickly follow and manage to escape the inevitable explosion. The orc fighter is now without a job and can freely join the other player characters.


C.

The dwarf starts working on his spell as the player characters start trying to stop him. With the combination of the distraction this caused, his own drunkeness, and simply the low dwarven magical affinity, he critically fails on his spellcasting attempt. No one there will every know what spell he was attempting to cast. Instead, sparks fly out of control nearly everywhere and a minor shockwave knocks everyone over, spilling drinks and breaking bottles, even in the storeroom. Everyone in the bar starts fleeing as they get minor shocks from the sparks as one of the sparks ignites the spilled alcohol in the storeroom. It eventually explodes, but only the dwarf is seriously injured, as instead of running, he stood there confused about what had gone wrong. The bar is nearly destroyed in the ensuing fire, though, and so the orc fighter is now without a job and can freely join the other player characters.


Results for this Contest Entry
The correct ending was A.
There were 8 total guesses made. 0 were correct and 8 were incorrect.
The author would get 19 points for this story if he wasn't hosting this contest. (3 points + 2 per incorrect guess)


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