The Saving Throw
Funniest Gaming Moments Dec. 1, 2005
These are the gaming moments which the mere memory of still induce laughter.

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Night of the Oxen
featured on Dec. 1, 2005 contributed 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.

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