How a set of thieves tools started one amazing campaign: Part 1: Enter the Arena

A blackscale lizardfolk makes a set of thieves tools, instantly breaking the DM's game and starting a campaign of great renown.

2 points

My brother and I recently found a game store that runs Dnd 5e every Saturday night. We were both excited and couldn't wait to play. When we signed up, we were immediately placed at a table with a DM who had something fairly unique in mind: he intended for the players to play as Blackscale Lizardfolk, and explained that we had all been captured, along with our entire clan, by an evil king who wanted the swampland we lived in. 

He forced us in cages and starved us for a week before selecting the clan's champions to fight in gladitorial combat. Each of us was given different stat arrays to choose from, with the DM allowing u3a to change classes if we wanted to. There were six players in all, including my brother and myself. There were three spellcasters, two Blackscale Savagers (Barbarians) and myself playing a Blackscale Hunter (Rogue) named Ird the Crafty with my brother being one of the Barbarians, named Gurhki the Clueless, both of whom were also brothers. 

The Dm described the crowd in the arena as overtly hostile at our party, booing and jeering as we entered the field. In the middle were three alligators, two normal sized ones and one BIG one. These were the totem animals of the clan, who had also been starved by the humans and forcex in here. The party went to work going after the feral beasts, but I wanted no part in the fighting, choosing to instead try and escape. As the only member of the party that spoke common at the time, I made an appeal to the crowd to try and convince them that I was a human that was accidentally tossed in with the Lizardfolk. "Please", I begged. "I do not belong here! I am a human just like you! Save me, I beg you!" The DM had me roll persuasion at disadvantage… rolled a 6. A drunken man in the crowd stumbles and laughs yelling "Here's your help, monster!" and tosses a dagger at my feet. I pick it up and sneered a thank you back at him, and proceeded to help finish off the remaining gators. 

The crowd roared in delight at the bloodshed, rewarding us by tossing rotting food for us to collect. The DM allowed us to harvest the body parts of the dead gators, daying that we could use our 'Cunning Artisan' abilities to craft simple weapons and armor from the hides of the fallen creatures before the guards send us back to the holding area. We licked our wounds and waited for the next match, handing out the food and gator flesh to the rest of the clan. I decided to use my surroundings to find anything to help disguuse myself as a human. 

With a good disguise roll the DM says I might look human-ish if I was obscured by darkenss and if people saw me from a distance, but it meant I could roll persuasion without disadvantage. The party laughs at me, playing it off as Ird being a little snake trying to slither his way out of trouble. We entered the arena again, thus time having to face a pack of whargs totaling six in all. Once again Ird, my character, begged the crowd to believe he was a human. "Please don't you see!? I am a human, save me!" This time I got an 8, and a little boy, seeing my plight, grabbed a shortbow and quiver from his father's belt and tossed them at my fight. 

Ird groans in exasperation. My brother actually did pretty good this time, with Gurhki killing two whargs in one turn, before the other four began to maul him, nearly killing him. Ird felt indifferent, but still managed to kill one of them via sneak attack, using the shortbow I was 'given'. With the whargs dead, the PCs relished in there victory, with Gurhki working the crowd "Gladiator" style, causing them to erupt in cheers, throwing more food down to us. 

Ird, however, was much more cynical, as even if we were victorious in all the rounds of combat, we weren't never given any promise of freedom or if we would still remain alive. 

But when the DM had us once again harvest the remains of our foes, it got me thinking: the guards have let us make basic weapons, armor, and shields from the dead animals and have allowed us to keep not just what we made, but also the items we were given by the crowd, without consequence. So potentially we could make just about anything of a basic nature. I put my theory to the test, using the dagger from earlier to try and craft a set of thieves tools, more specifically, a lockpick, and informed the DM of my intention to make them and pass them off to the rest of the clan

He stops and looks at me, a look of realization crossing his face. "Uhhh…okay, roll survival." I think I rolled just shy of a Nat 20, and the DM calls a break. He would later admit that he did not expect any of the players to do something like this, and had called the break because he literally had no idea how to proceed. This coming from a DM that had been running games for 15 years since the days of 3.5.

We get back to the session with the DM telling the other players what I had done. Everyone is on the edge of their seats, wanting to know what happened. The DM describes the guards giving each other anxious looks,  murmuring under their breath how they were going to be severely punished. The rest of the players didn't know exactly what was going on, but I did. I just wanted to know if the plan worked.

We entered the arena once again, this time to boos and jeers even greater than before. An announcer informed us of the blackscales horrible deception: the entire clan had escaped, and even a few humans had helped them. 

I almost lept out of my chair in happiness. Ird would die happy knowing the future of the clan was secure. But the DM was not done. He described two doors on opposite ends of the arena opening up: on one end out came three Blackscale hatchlings, holding crude weapons and shaking with fear. Aparrently not everyone made it out. The other door showed several humans in the same position. These were the ones that helped the clan escape, and were now themsleves captured. One of them was a wizard who spoke draconic, who said they helped our people to freedom, and had another plan to help us escape. I would put the crowd in a riotous frenzy, pointing out how these supposed moral figured were forcing us to fight our own young. "Do we not also have a right to live? Look what the filthy fleshies make us do, forcing hatchlings to fight! This is not right, and you know it!" With a 16 on my persuasion roll (finally!) I cause half the crowd to turn on each other, starting a giant brawl and distracting the guards. The party pretended to fight the humans, with Gurhki not getting the memo and nearly blew the whole thing by advancing on the guards. Some quick persuading on my part got Gurhki in the loop, and once the guards were thoroughly distracted, we struck. The wizard turned one of the walls into ice, and one of our spellcasters, a Blackscale Vineweaver, wrapped vines around the wall amd pulled them apart, causing small but passable holecto appear. 

Quickly killing the guards and rescuing the hatchlings, we escaped through the hole, finally tasting freedom after over a week in captivity. At this point the DM allowed two of our spellcasters to play an NPC character he had lined up. One chose the wizard from before and the other choosing a female human spellcaster named Karen (and yes, she is also a Karen). 

Our ordeal was not over, as seventeen royal guards catch up to us. This was it, the final fight. The human wizard goes first, and immediately casts fireball, much to the DMs shock, as he forgot this particular NPC, now a PC, had this spell lined up. 17 guards instantly turned to 4, with one mercilessy lightninged to death. My turn came, and I did something that would live in infamy: taking my dagger, I point at and told the guards; "Enough blood has been spilled this day, no more needs to be shed. Leave now, and your lives shall be spared. Tell your king if he comes for us again, there will be dire consequences". Two of the remaining guards retreated, heeding my words, but one didnt. 

"No!" he yelled. "I will not leave until my honor is satisfied!". The guard drew his sword, and I was ready to go mono y mono. But I had used up all my actions. Now, it was Gurkhis turn, who had been receiving a karening from Karen. But since he didn't speak or understand common, he assumed Karen was… flirting. He picks her up, runs towards the last guard, and fails both of his attacks, flailing his axe and screaming in draconic. 

Fortunately our DM was not one to miss comedic timing, rolled a wisdom save for the guard… and failed. "You know" the guard said, his voice cracking, "Honor is sort of a VAGUE concept so I'm just gonna go." He books it, promptly ending the session. 

The DM explains that my persuading the guards to leave us alone was going to have huge in world consequences, which after several incredible sessions, culminated into a campaign that the game store is not going to soon forget. Its wrapped up now, but there are so many moments that were so awsome that it still resonates with everyone involved. I later asked the DM what he thought about the thieves tool incident, he said that in all his 15 years DMing it was one of his top 5 favorite moments as a DM. And this was the first game of his I ever played in.


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