Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Backstory-Induced Madness

We have another submission, this one from the author of The Beer Mug Paladin! Enjoy:

Backstory-induced Madness

You know, character backstories can be great fun and they can offer all sorts of plot hooks and fun for the whole group. They can also encourage players to act really weird, especially when you have that one player that can't keep out of character knowledge out of character.
One of our group's players made a character that played a very big part in the campaign's over-arcing plot. After some back and forth planning with the DM the player came up with the character that we'll call "Sally." Some time ago Sally was an evil sorceress that tried to perform a ritual that would extend her lifespan, a group of heroes tried to stop her but were too late, she performed the ritual. The ritual worked too-- after a fashion, it turned her into an infant version of herself that couldn't even talk yet, much less be the wicked tyrant that she once was. The heroes gave the baby Sally to a copper dragon to raise and hopefully prevent her from growing into a threat to the world again. By the time the campaign Sally was a precociously talented spellcaster of about ten years old and her origins were left rather obscure, the copper dragon that Sally thought of as her mother knew, but that was about it.
In this campaign I played a samurai, who was called "Jin," that was purposefully a less competent, but snarkier version of another player character. The other samurai in the party even called my character his sidekick. Then there was this guy... we'll call him "Wally." Wally was absolutely enamored with building "CoDzilla" type characters, and since he enjoyed making spellcasters to bend the rules, he frequently used high-int and high-wisdom characters whom, regardless, did the stupidest action available to him at any one moment. Since he did these actions without consulting the party in any way, his characters tended to die faster than a typical orc. He even had one such character introduced along with Sally, described as one of the dragon's servants.
Sally's player made the mistake of letting Wally in on the character's origins. During the next session, Wally decided that he was immediately suspicious of the charge his copper dragon mentor gave him and should act on this immediately! While the party was taking care of some business in a town Wally's character cast a crazy amount of buffs on himself in the blink of an eye, making himself really big and, through a misinterpretation of how buffs work, inhumanly strong, (in 3rd edition D&D, bonuses of the same type did not stack. Conveniently, if you forgot this, and many people did “forget”, you easily wound up with super-strong characters). After doing so he charged towards Sally to tried and tackle her. Keep in mind, at this point I know nothing about what was going on, either in character or out of character. All I see as a player is what I see as a character-- a gigantic man screaming and running to tackle a ten-year old girl. Needless to say this looked really bad and frankly, insane. I took it on myself to interpose myself between Wally's CoDzilla and Sally and hopefully have this craziness explained to me. This resulted in the following exchange:

Wally: "Looks like I'll have to bull-rush you! What's your Strength bonus? Mine's 18."

Me: "...My Base Attack isn't even that high..."

Wally: "Haw! Yeah that's what I thought! Owned!"

And owned I was. After Jin was reduced to a speedbump, Wally tackled Sally and teleported back to the copper dragon's lair with her and demanded an explanation of what and who Sally was. He got his explanation but I never got mine. This sort of became a theme with Wally-- always coming up with excuses for his latest CoDzilla to be suspicious of Sally. Anything Sally said from then on was always “Very interesting!” to Wally's new characters whether or not it was the first time they'd ever seen Sally. Being the sarcastic little jerk that I am I had my character feign unwarranted suspicion against his character. I think the irony might have been lost on him. It went something like this:

Me: “So, what are you doing?”

Wally: “...Sitting on a rock.”

Me: “Really? That's very interesting!”

Wally: “...What?”

Me: “I have every reason to be suspicious of you!”


  1. Ugh, I hate meta gaming.

    Will we have more stories about this group?

    1. I played a binder once, mostly because I love the fluff. I was going to keep my class a secret to play up the mystery of the new PC they rescued from the dungeon, but one of the other players took my sheet told everyone my class and told me it sucked (which is probably true, but I wasn't really going for an optimized character in a 8 +/- player group.)

  2. @Papa Mistre: Really? That's very interesting...

  3. I had a guy do that I smacked him on the noggin for his efforts. Act a thug meet the bigger thugabug.