Let me regale you with the tale of my parties beloved Oohgie, a Honorary Dwarf.
Our party consisted of good friends that had known each other: a reformed That Guy, and Lucas the veteran. We had a pretty decent group -- consisting of a Dwarf Warrior, Human Paladin, Human Warlock, Tiefling Rogue, me playing a Half-Elf Ranger, and a Human Mage.
We were in the relatively early stages of an epic campaign, and had been greeted by a sudden surge of slightly stronger enemies. What made these enemies slightly sturdier? Well, according to our DM, they had been gifted with heavy armor that could only be described as 'slap-dash metal riveted together by clumsy hands'. This led us to a few leads in town that culminated in the hearing of an Ogre that had taken up residence in an abandoned forge and began crafting rudimentary armor and weapons for the local minions, and of course this led to our first quest: Kill the Ogre, stop the attacks.
After what felt like an hour of minion stomping and quest cruisin', we found the forge, and killed a few of the outlying minions to prevent an unwelcome intrusion with the upcoming boss fight. We prepared ourselves. Without a cleric, we had to be especially careful with potion rations, which added some fun to the game. We had the Tiefling sneak in and make sure we could sneak up without any trouble, or annoying traps going off. She gave us the all clear, and we shuffled inside, praying our sneak checks held up.
Inside the large forge, we followed the sound of clanging metal and deep grunts. Lucas took the lead, preparing to call in a few favors from Bahamut, with Raj the Dwarf following closely behind him. When we turned the corner, the DM informed us that we saw the large shape moving around the anvil and smelter, which we all knew meant the Ogre. I asked to roll for initiative, to sneak in a shot and perhaps swing the battle to our favor, but Lucas had another plan.
Lucas rolls for a diplomacy check, and takes the lead by speaking with the Ogre.
“Why are you making armor for evil?” Lucas asked.
The Ogre stopped and turned around in surprise. The DM apparently was surprised that we did not flat out attack, and he asked us for a moment to pen something down. After his pen stopped, he cleared his throat.
“Make armor here. Ogres no like make armor, so make armor for gob-gobs. They like.”
The Ogre then went on to tell us about how he discovered a book about crafting, and decided to try making some himself. Judging from the simplicity of the story, our DM had not expected us to be diplomatic and just threw together something to explain why an Ogre would want to spend his time with a hammer and anvil instead of hunting adventurers and eating goats.
As the story dragged on, and we learned that the Ogre had been kicked out for finding a book from another culture, we slowly kinda silently agreed to avoid killing him, since the image of this 9 foot tall Ogre tinkering away at an anvil to make small-medium sized armor was too funny to pass up. When the Ogre got to the part where he revealed he could not read the book which was a Dwarven guide apparently, and was just following the pictures, Lucas decided to chime in.
“Why don't you come with us? We have a Dwarf who can translate the book for you, and you can learn to make better armor.”
The DM looked a little confused, but decided that the Ogre would be allowed to be a friendly NPC in the party if we all allowed it.
And thus we were joined by Oohgie the Crafting Ogre.
First thing we did once we went into town was calm the mob that had appeared and attempted to kill Oohgie. Five diplomacy checks, a bluff check, and almost a third of my gold later, the town relents and lets him stay with us for the night. Oohgie was really excited by this prospect and asked if he could visit the blacksmith Lucas had to explain that was probably not a good idea. Since there was not a room in town big enough to hold him, we told Oohgie to sleep in the stables.
“Oohgie understand. Oohgie try not make hummies mad.”
That night, before ending the session, we joked about how silly this all was, taking in an Ogre that did not want to fight. We told some jokes, made a few jabs at how we thought the Ogre was going to bite the dust, and called it a session.
Next session, we woke up, paid for food until the next town, and left the inn, picking up Oohgie from the stables on the way out.
During the journey, Oohgie kept bothering Raj, the Dwarf, and asking about 'Crafty-Smiths' and 'Clang-clang tools'. Now, Raj is my Dude-bro I have known for years, and even though this is obviously bothering him answering every question, he at least tries to be nice to the insistent pestering. In hindsight, this was probably our DM's attempt to leave Oohgie behind so he could get back to the campaign, but we managed to persist and kept him with us to the next town.
This time, we decided that we cannot afford to argue Oohgie into town or spend half our income. Being a ranger, I offer to set up a camp just outside the town's borders so that we can keep Oohgie and hunt some pelts for extra income. Raj offers to stay in camp with Oohgie and I. As for Lucas, he started heading into town for the temple. Finally, the rogue, the wizard and the warlock will search for quests.
As we set up the tents, I ask if it is possible to use Oohgie as a deterrent against monsters in the local area. The DM allows a roll, and with a 17, says that Oohgie's natural 'musk' alerts the other monsters in the area to stay away. Raj stayed behind as I pick off some local wildlife for our dinner.
While I hunted, Oohgie asked Raj more questions about the book.
“How Oohgie make?”
“You can't. That needs a bar of iron and a forge.” Raj answered.
“Oohgie make forge?”
“I, uh, don't think there is enough materials around here to do that.” Raj explained as if talking to a child.
The Wizard returned to our camp, letting the Rogue and Warlock threaten a local mayor for a better reward. The Wizard proposed he make a temporary forge for Oohgie using some spells and his fire magic. As for iron, the group has a bag of holding full of old weapons we had earned from defeating a minor demon. Oohgie, who was ecstatic at the idea, asked if he could make armor for his 'Dwarfy friend who read Oohgie book'. Not seeing the harm in such an idea, we agreed and Oohgie set to work.
In the morning, when we had awoken, Lucas, the Rogue, and the Warlock had also returned to camp. After we explained the plan for the newest quest, we gathered up our things and decided to wake Oohgie up. Turns out the poor bastard had spent half the night banging away at the old pile of scrap and made a chest-piece, aptly titled by the DM as 'Oohgies Chess Peace o' Protect', which was described as a hodge-podge of metal sheets roughly slapped together. Raj, being such a Dude-bro, offered to wear it despite it having one less protection point against slash. As the DM described Oohgie's dumb smiling face, I felt a pang of guilt for making fun of him.
Many quests continued on with Oohgie the Crafting Ogre, who had the neat ability to craft a piece of armor or weapon every 1d4 nights, and the DM would use 2d20's to determine the item he crafted. About two months of in game time passed, and Oohgie had made us some slightly less than useful items, with no sign of improving. Sometimes we would sell the things he made; other times we wore them for Oohgie, just to make him happy. By the fifth quest, I had an 'Oohgie's Wristy Gerd Gloves'.
When we finally located one of the main storyline quests, we also happened to pass by a temple of Moradin, which had two dozen forges surrounding it for his followers to craft weapons for Paladins. It was like trying to hold a 9 foot tall child back from a toy-store.
“Oohgie see Crafty-Smiths! Maybe one teach Oohgie make better armor!”
“Best not rush them, Oohgie,” Raj said, rolling for a diplomacy check to calm Oohgie down.
“But Oohgie want make better armor for friends.”
That hit us hard, and Lucas, being the de facto head, took the lead.
“Oohgie, you can't enter the forges. They are only for Moradin's craftsmen.” Lucas explained.
“Only Dwarves are allowed in.”
Oohgie seemed a little confused, before whimpering like a hurt animal. We decided to drag him back to a tent outside town and let him calm down there, but not before he made a decision looking at those forges.
The next few sessions were filled with a mix of heartache and heartwarming. Oohgie tried extra hard to make better armor, and Raj now found a full time hobby, teaching Oohgie to read Dwarvish script. Every now and again, Oohgie's efforts paid off, and his armor would be as good if not slightly above what we were wearing, but it still was terribly built and barely held together. Just a result of something so big not having the dexterity to make the fine tuning of professionally crafted armor. Every now and then, Oohgie would ask the group, specifically Raj, how he was doing.
“Oohgie Dwarf now?”
“Not yet, I don't think. Maybe if you try harder,” Raj said.
“Oohgie can do.”
Oohgie seemed to become more determined every day, clanging away at his magic forge, combining what little scrap we found for him to throw together. He also began asking Lucas for help with contacting Moradin to become a Dwarf. We tried doing what we could in our spare time, but we also had to focus on the Big Bad Evil Guy of the setting, since we did not want to derail the whole thing for our DM who had been a pretty chill dude up to this point about the whole thing.
We told Oohgie that we had to fight a big bad guy, and that we needed to focus on saving the world. Oohgie seemed to understand, and asked for a little bit of metal, promising to stop asking if we got it for him. We relented, and turned over the last pieces of metal for him in exchange for him helping us on the quests. The DM told us that Oohgie is not designed for the combat levels we were at by this point, but he could help a little if we were careful. Worst case scenario, we pull him back, Lucas performs Lay On Hands, and we are good.
We slowly uncovered a conspiracy that ties to an ancient forgotten god, one who was worshiped as the god of destruction and undoing. Pretty sweet stuff as we kept getting closer and closer. The armor from Oohgie stopped showing up; but it was okay as we found cheap armor. We made an effort to save the pieces that Oohgie had crafted for us, out of loyalty to our curious, big Crafty-Smith friend. Oohgie never seemed to ask for metal anymore, but we heard him clanging away every night before we would fall asleep.
The lessons continued, with Raj teaching Oohgie more and more about Moradin, but he could not answer the most spiritual of them, only being a warrior who happened to be a Dwarf. For the questions about the god’s methods, Lucas was there to answer his questions.
“How Oohgie talk to Moradin?”
“You pray, and ask for guidance.” Lucas said.
“Moradin show Oohgie how make better armor?”
“If he sees fit, he shall guide you.”
“How Oohgie know?”
“You will not, but you have to believe.”
After awhile, Oohgie began splitting the time between speaking with Lucas about Moradin, which he thought was the quickest way to becoming a Dwarf, and practicing his rudimentary Dwarvish, which he used to read his first book. He faded more and more into our groups 'project', a background character. We still cared for him, but we just could not afford to baby-sit him as we leveled up. He also insisted on having Lucas ask Moradin if he was a Dwarf yet.
“Moradin make Oohgie Dwarf now?”
“That is not my place to tell, Oohgie.” Lucas said.
“Oohgie pray but Moradin not talking. Did Oohgie do it wrong?”
“It is not my place to tell, but I believe the gods work in mysterious ways.” Lucas said reassuringly.
“Oohgie understand. Make better armor soon for friends.”
As we cleared out more and more dungeons, we started to realize that we had made a mistake dragging Oohgie along. He just could not keep up to our leveling up, and he could not get any useful perks. He started to become a hassle. By the time we were at the final stretch of the quest, facing the ancient cult summoning the god, we had a silent agreement to leave Oohgie behind, lest he get hurt.
We executed the play perfectly. The last town before the invasion, we told Oohgie to stay with the magic forge and practice alone for a few days, and that we were going to get him more metal to work with. Of course the big lug agreed, and after casting a spell to keep the fires going for a week, we set out, Oohgie clanging away happily. We did not look back. But you can be damned sure we did not leave with a smile.
Two hours into the dungeon, and we knew we had messed up.
First off, we failed one too many sneak and bluffs, and that meant the cultists had finished their mission in summoning the god of undoing. He was essentially an Orcus without the secrecy. Pragmatic as hell, he immediately begins to cast a bunch of seals and spells that trap us in the room, and then debuffs our armor to the point that it is unraveling back into scrap.
Our Warlock was protecting our Wizard with a low level demon, and our Rogue was stealthily trying to pickpocket the dead cultists for anything that might help. Raj and Lucas led the attack, and I was firing a volley every chance I got, rolling for anything that might break his ungodly armor. We were using everything, and had run out of potions. Lucas had no more Lay On Hands available thanks to a dozen cultists cutting off his prayers to Bahamut. It was only now that we regretted not having a cleric.
The god approached Lucas and Raj, and without a hint of a monologue, proceeds to wreck their faces. He breaks Raj's armor, shatters the divine shield Lucas was using, and then readies his next round of spells.
And then, the DM rolled for initiative…
From behind me, a large metal sphere flew out and thumped the god. Not enough to hurt him, but it was a high enough roll to disrupt his spell.
“Oohgie done crafting.”
From behind us, standing in the large doorway, stood an Ogre, clad in a terribly mismatched set of armor emblazoned with a hammer of Moradin on its chest piece. In his right hand was an enormous hammer the size of a stone column and made of the same dented metal. Suddenly, all the nights of clanging made sense. Oohgie wanted to help, and we just thought he was a burden.
Oohgie charged forward, rolling a 17 on his first roll, and with the god suffering from 'stupification' because of his entrance, landed his first hit. It was the most damaging hit we had done to the god, and it had been dealt by an Ogre that was wearing what looked like the rejected arts and crafts project of a preschooler.
We sat there for a moment in stunned silence, as the DM described the armor and hammer he carried, calling it a crude mimicry of the holy hammers and suits of armor worn by paladins of Moradin.
“You no hurt-”
Three hits, each one doing a little less than the last, but still doing something. During this affair, the Rogue finally hit a natural 20, and found the cultist leaders emergency reagents to shut the whole spell down on his corpse. She rolled for the toss to Lucas, who had enough armor to take another hit if he needed to get close. Oohgie roared and attempted a grapple, using his natural modifiers to hold him, a god of destruction, for a brief moment.
“Oohgie palydin now, too! Help Moradin, help Lucas! Like real Dwarf!”
We felt a pang of guilt .
We had left this guy behind so he could not bother us with his quest to becoming a Dwarf; but here he was, wearing that stupid smile, wearing that stupid armor, and pulling that stupid move. Lucas sighed heavily and we all rolled for our respective abilities. There was a brief moment where we thought that we had this thing down, until Lucas and our Warlock stopped and realized the flaw in the plan.
“Oohgie still is not high level.”
With that, our turn ended, and the DM rolled for the god's attack versus Ooghie’s grapple.
I wish I could say Ooghie had a natural 20. I wish I could say that his modifier gave him just enough to hold the god down. But I can't.
The god rolled 14.
Ooghie rolled 5.
The DM then informed us that not only did the god break the grapple, but now had stunned Ooghie long enough to cast a spell of 'Destruction'.
Point blank at Ooghie's chest.
As I said before, very rarely did Oohgie craft armor that matched the level stats of armor we bought in town.
He was wearing armor that was almost 2 levels below his current level. And his current level was lower than any of us.
Oohgie collapsed in a heap, and the god turned to face us.
For those that do not know, our Warlock was once That Guy. He had a major falling out with the DM and Lucas, and reformed himself. He never got along with Lucas, but he was willing to not be a jerk as long as Lucas did not call him out on stuff again.
This was the only time I saw our Warlock look across the table and ask Lucas for help.
“I need a favor. And I need it now.”
Lucas moved to cover the Warlock, who charged forward with a series of demons in tow. Our Warlock may have been a bit of a jerk, but he was a jerk with a good amount of demons on call for favors.
He called every single one of them in.
The DM, knowing what this meant to us, did not bother to ask for our rolls. Every demon snuck in a hit, and with a Dwarf at his heels, a Wizard freezing his balls, and a ranger firing arrows into every square inch of flesh exposed on his hide, it was no wonder the god never saw our rogue behind him with the sealing amulet and scroll of desolation from the cultist leader.
Before the god even returned to the astral plane, we rushed to Oohgie, who was managing to hang on by the merest thread of life possible. Lay on Hands was next to useless, and with no potions, we all knew what we were watching. We were watching Ooghie die, and even after we had killed a god, conquered dungeons, and leveled evil kingdoms, we could not save our friend.
“Oohgie sorry he got in way.”
“You didn't, you did great-” Lucas said trying to comfort the ogre.
“Oohgie sorry he not make good armor like Dwarf.”
“We love your armor, big guy, don't think like that.”
I had never seen Lucas try so hard to call in a favor from Bahamut, or roll so desperately for a miracle. Even the Warlock was searching his sheets for a demon who might help without too hefty a price. No such luck.
“Oohgie know why Moradin no talk to Oohgie. Oohgie hands too big n' clumsy, so Oohgie not make small armor nice and pretty.”
“It's fine Oohgie, just hang on, we are going to save you.” Lucas said with tears in his eyes.
“Oohgie knew he not good Crafty-smith when he saw Dwarf temple, and Crafty-smiths look at him funny, but Oohgie try anyways.”
I am a touchy-feely guy, and I know Oohgie was a figment of our imagination, but when you see Lucas, a veteran who lost his left leg to a bomb before he was twenty five, holding back tears, you know it was not just me being blubbery when I say that we were tearing up.
“Oohgie not good Crafty-smith with armor and weapons, but Oohgie good crafty-smith at something. Oohgie can make good story.”
At this point, our Rogue hid behind her screen, and the Warlock just stared down at his sheet, having stopped searching for his demon to deal with.
“Oohgie think Dwarves make good armor and stories, which why Oohgie wanted be Dwarf, but Oohgie understand he not Dwarf, and he not be Dwarf ever.”
Oohgie's breathing began to slow, and Raj grabbed his hand, holding it as best as he could.
“You could be a Dwarf, Oohgie. You could be the best Ogre Dwarf in the land.”
Oohgie closed his eyes and smiled
“Oohgie like that. He go sleep now.”
And like that, our party lost Oohgie the Crafty-smith, and we all think a little something died with him inside all of us.
We looted the dungeon, killed the remaining cultists, and made our way back to the nearest village, one that happened to have a temple and forge for followers of Moradin. When we entered the town, we all took notice that the forges were louder than ever, and half the town seemed to be gathered around the temple. Naturally curious, we moved closer.
At first, we were rolling to push through, until Lucas used a favor from Bahamut to project a holy shout and clear the path. We got closer and closer to the entrance, we saw more and more Dwarves, some wearing the emblem of Moradin, others in the attire of his sacred blacksmiths. As we reached the entrance, knowing we were not allowed in, we asked a priest if he could tell us what the fuss was. The priest asked us if we had been involved with the destruction of a god of undoing.
Of course we were, so he led us inside. Deep inside the mountain, past the pillars, and past the gorgeously carved hallways and stone arches, and into the deepest parts of the forge's sanctums. We witnessed dozens of Dwarves mill around, throwing around orders and commands in ancient Dwarvish. The priest pointed to what had been causing the ruckus.
“We received divine word that Moradin the Creator has ordered a statue to be erected to honor the fall of the god.”
The Dwarves tugged out a large, metal and marble statue from a crafting vault.
“And the appointment of a new Apprentice to his mighty forges in the halls of his domain.”
There, crafted by the finest Dwarven artisans, was an enormous, thirty foot tall statue of Oohgie, complete with a golden hammer, a silver book of Dwarven crafting, and a beard befitting a Dwarf.
'Oohgie Good-Crafter, Honorary Dwarf of Moradin and Crafty-smith of the Forge.'
That was the first time I cried playing D&D.
After a year of sessions in D&D, I elected to have my hero, the Half-Elven Ranger, retire into God-hood as a Deity of Honorable Hunting. Upon ascension, I asked for a favor. As great as my weapons were in the mortal realms, the fact was that I needed something more suited for godly duties, so they needed to be reworked. And I knew exactly who I wanted to remake them.
Moradin welcomed me into his forges, obviously happy to have his apprentices practice with their skills in crafting weapons fit for gods. When I asked if it would be possible to have someone specific work on it, he knew exactly who I wanted, and led me to a grand hall where dozens of Dwarves were gathered around a large figure clanging away happily at an anvil.
There, wearing his iconic slap-dash armor over an enormously enlarged Dwarf robe, was Oohgie, wearing the biggest, dumbest smile you could ever imagine. He looked up, smiled, and picked me up, laughing and hugging as I tried not to cry. When he finally put me down, I showed him what I had wanted to show him ever since he left our group. I held up my hands, and showed him what I was wearing for celestial armor.
There, on my hands, were 'Oohgie's Wristy Gerd Gloves', battered from years of use and adventures, and raised to the level of a god's armor.
And that… is the story of Oohgie the Honorary Dwarf, and Crafty-smith of the Forge.