A little background might be required to really understand the depths of this story. The group I was playing with had gone through several campaigns before this story happens. We were all well seasoned players, if not entirely well rounded.
Normally, our campaigns would close after our charcters reached just past level 10. The Campaign we were on had started in 2nd Edition (AD&D) and had converted to third fairly early in the campaign. As a result, our regular DM wanted to see what the higher levels of the newly printed 3rd edition were like. It was the longest campaign we had been involved in up to this point.
The group was composed of a Human Barbarian, A Human Rogue, a Half-elf Rogue/Fighter, A Dwarf Fighter, two Bickering Wizards, and my High Elf Cleric Of Lathander named Mere’al. He had been orphaned and left at the church at an early age and until he started his life traveling, he had known very little of the world and was notoriously guilible.
Late in the campaign, one of our tasks was to infiltrate the lair of a Dragon. That is where this story begins. Upon entering the labarinth of tunnels that served at the dragon’s home we immediately ran into a stumbling block. There was a large tribe of Kobolds that served the dragon as slaves. They had made their underground village in the caves leading into the Dragons lair; a type of biological early warning system for the dragon within.
Our party was not short on resources, but with a potential dragon fight on the horizon, we didn’t feel we had any to spare. We brainstormed tactics we could use for get passed them ranging from all the party members sneaking through to trying to restrict ourselves to just the lower level spells. None of the options felt like the right solution.
We started trying to think out of the box for other methods of getting through. We determined that trying to rush though fast enough and confront the dragon with their breath attack had too much risk of the kobolds causing significant damage to our party on the way, wiht no guarantee of the dragon using their breath attack on the kobolds. Using enough invisibility spells would be risky as well, since the Dwarf was notoriously loud.
It was then that my Cleric stumbled upon a thought. A single spell he had with a large range that would devastate the Kobolds with a single spell if the tribe could be brought close enough to all be within range, Holy Word.
Mere’al proposes the use of the spell to the party, which everyone agrees has potential. My Cleric’s initial idea was to charge in and make as much noise as possible, gathering the entire tribe to fight our group and then use the spell.
Many of the members felt the could make the spell… more efficient.
The group knew from markings in the village that the Kobold tribe worshipped Kurtulmak, the parton god of Kobolds. The Wizards had a few Illusion spells memorized that they didn’t see the dragon being effected by and the proposed they enspell Mere’al to look like the God of Kobolds. Then they just have him walk into village and let the kobolds gather.
Mere’al was reluctant to fool the Kobolds into believing that he was their god, as that seemed blasphemous to him. The wizards and the two rogues kept up their insistance that this was the way we should get through, as this was the best idea anyone could agree on and, after all, I wasn’t impersonating my god, so how could it be that blasphemous.
The argument that finally convinced Mere’al that this was the path that should be taken was that Holy Word, for all it’s power, only effected evil creatures. It had very little to no effect on neutral aligned or good aligned beings. Only those who were already down the path of evil far enough would be effected, and what would be wrong about cleansing the world of evil?
They had Mere’al convinced. The party prepared him, casting layers of illusion and glamour over his already holy vestments. With a quick breath, he walked down the path to the village with his arms raised. Illusionary voices could be heard from the caves around the village that recited passages from Kurtulmak’s teachings.
The ruse worked. The entire village came out of their small huts and started to gather in worship and reverence. Their scaled arms reaching to touch what they saw as their god and savior.
That is when Mere’al spoke the Word.
Instantly, hundreds of kobolds drop to the ground, already dead. There was no fanfair; no chance to fight back. They were simply corpses at his feet. The plan had gone without a hitch. Mere’al had made sure that our party was as prepared for the upcoming battle with the dragon as we could be.
That was when he noticed something. There were still small sounds in the village, little movements in the huts. It suddenly hit him that this village had one type of kobold that would certainly not be considered evil, because they had not lived enough life for anyone to judge them. He had just created dozens of orphans, if not more. He looked about quickly for anyone who survived the blast, but at this point the dragon had been alerted and there was no time. The party left for their big encounter, leaving any of the innocent, as well as Mere’al‘s innocence, behind.
To this day, Mere’al isn’t sure if the sounds he heard were Kobolds that were outside of the Word’s power or if he had left innocent children parentless – even if the parents were evil. After the campaign Mere’al opened an orphanage both to honor those who raised him and as penance for what he may have been a part of.