The Saving Throw
Unluckiest Gaming Moments Dec. 29, 2005
These are the gaming moments where sheer statistical improbability was the greatest enemy.

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Know When to Walk Away
featured on Dec. 29, 2005 contributed by Beaudoin

One of my friends decided to run a short-term Dungeons and Dragons campaign over Christmas break this year. As he was generous, he decided to start us all at 10th level. This story concerns the second session of that campaign.

Our party had just entered a room inside a dungeon containing one sole item: an ivory box containing a deck of cards. Immediately upon seeing this deck, the passageway to the room was sealed and three demons appeared. The lead demon, a glabrezu, had a proposition for us. We could either defeat the three to escape, or each of us could draw at least one card from the deck, a Deck of Many Things. The demon then sweetened the deal slightly, saying that if we dared to draw two cards, he would grant us magic items. Seeing as how we were still in terrible shape from an earlier fight with a red dragon, we decided to play their game.

For those of you who arenít aware, a Deck of Many Things is an artifact in Dungeons and Dragons, the effects of which can and often are simulated using a deck of playing or tarot cards. The deck contains 22 cards, half of which bestow beneficial effects while the other half bestow curses. Typical benefits include getting magic or valuable mundane items, extra experience, or stat boosts. Curses include a forced alignment change (murder if youíre a Paladin or Cleric), permanent Intelligence drain, or losing all real wealth you own.

I drew first and came across bad luck. The two cards I drew resulted in my magic items being destroyed, and my character receiving the enmity of an outsider. Another player had it even worse, however, as he drew the card which cast Imprisonment on him.

Luckily for us, there was a scroll of freedom (the only spell which can undo Imprisonment) elsewhere in the cavern. We left to search for it, and eventually found it. The problem with Freedom, however, is that it must be cast where the Imprisonment spell was cast, i.e. the room with the demons. We go back, and lo and behold we need to play their game again. I forget the results of all the card draws, but some choice examples were one player having his soul (somehow) taken from his body on three separate occasions, the imprisoned playerís cohort turning against him, and my player getting the enmity of three more outsiders (in addition to the one I had earlier). The few benefits we received didnít really compare to this string of misfortune.

I never did trust Decks of Many Things, and the entire session served to solidify my opinion.

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