This story is from my early college years. I had just gotten into D&D with some dormmates of mine. It just so happened to be a homebrew campaign set in Ancient Greece using the 3.5 edition ruleset. Think Homer’s Odyssey, but with more fantasy added in. The DM was fairly new yet he was an avid believer of the rule of cool, even before he started watching Critical Role. If we could sensibly reason it he would allow it. He also loved making jokes in game via the items he gave us. Designing an entire loot pool himself of items. Which eventually became why this entire story happened.
Ill give each person their respective nicknames we had. The party is as so: Me, Persian, a Human Weapon Master Fighter. Who’s weapon specialization was a sentient chain whip attached to his arm that he used to grab people, and if he could, toss them around using his strength check, and yes it was a homage to Prince of Persia the game. Gimpy, the Duergar Dwarven Defender. Who happily used two shields, because and i quote, “a dwarf’s gotta protect his front and his back on the high seas” and was the only one to worship a greek god, Hephaestus. Captain Shenanigans, a Half-elf Swashbuckler Dread Pirate who more often than not got himself into the funniest situations due to bad rolls. Hence the Nickname. Finally, Tiny, Halfling Barbarian Frenzied Berserker, and yes it is just as funny to watch be played as it sounds.
Where this particular part of the story begins, we had just hit lvl 13 and were heading to help siege the city of Troy for Agammemnon. We knew this was coming and had tried our best to prepare for it yet at the time we felt extremely underwhelmed for it. So given that we had a few weeks to prepare we decided to explore some islands on our way to Troy. The DM would roll three dice a D8 to determine the conditions for what type of enemy archetype would we find, a D4 for which loot table would he use (Homebrew at a 4 or 1-3 for normal), and finally a D20 for what kind of structures we would find if any.
Well the dice gods smiled on us that day. As we came across a Wizards Sanctum Retreat, using the homebrew item pool, and a metric ton of undead to go along with a Lich.
We decided to use our ship to start bombarding the beaches full of undead with hollow cannonballs filled with holy water in order to clear a path for us into the Tower at the center of the island. Shenanigans and his crew of the ship scoring fairly well on accuracy, give or take a few pockets of undead. Gimpy leading the charge on the beach both shields raised like a charging turtle. Tiny following up in a frenzy, again the DM had a lot of fun describing the hilarity of such a sight. Then me leading up the rear with my fresh lvl 1 of Weapon Master taking out any stragglers i could with my chain whip. It took about two sessions, but we finally made it up to the Lich’s throne chamber. Only to find him already dead and its phylactery destroyed due to a cannon shot and a critical hit by the Captain. Disappointed we couldn’t fight him ourselves, we shrugged it off and we immediately rushed to the treasure chamber behind the throne. Which was also the Lich’s personal research study.
Here is where things went from Homer’s Odyssey, to one of the best “Wait it does what…?” moments any of us ever had. Each of us got to roll from the homebrew table to see what loot we found, one each, inside of the chamber. Gimpy got a talking shield that only gave insults, often remarking on how he wasnt a proper Dwarf if he didnt carry a battleaxe. Tiny obtained an elixir of giants growth, meant to triple ones normal size thus changing modifiers. To which Tiny’s player gave a prompt fist pump to the idea of an orc sized halfling barbarian even if only temporary. Shenanigans obtained a blueprint for an arcane battleship (think a modern day Destroyer but with ballista and cannonballs instead) which he was first excited for then realized there was no way we could get the materials in time to siege Troy with it. To which the DM simply smirked knowing this is what the player had been wanting the entire time only for it to be just out of reach. Then there was me.
I rolled a nat 20. At this point we all hear the DM go, “Oh no…” very quietly. Raising an eyebrow in confusion, for how could a nat 20 possibly provoke that kind of response? He then provides a brief description of my character walking over to the Lich’s workstation and grabbing a bag. Just a plain leather looking bag that when opened had nothing inside of it. Being as no one in the party used magic, we couldn’t determine its function or check for any magical properties. I tried turning it inside out. Upside down. Nothing happened. Feeling genuinely jipped i sighed and put the bag on my belt thinking “Hey at least i got something to hold potions in.” Meanwhile the DM looked like he was going to have an aneuryism.
Before we could really do anything more we began to feel the tower rumble. Looking out the nearest window the DM described that we saw hordes of undead had started coming out of the sea. Slaughtering Shenanigans crew and sinking his ship. As they began using their sheer mass to start scaling the side of the tower. As we all began to think we were screwed beyond belief. In character i thought to myself out loud, “Man if only we had a huge amount of holy water to throw down at them or something”. To which the DM then told me to roll a d20. Confused i rolled it and got a 13. Suddenly the bag on my hip got heavier, looking inside there was about a half dozen flasks of holy water inside. Pulling them out each player looked at the other in confusion as Gimpys player spoke up, “Uhm, your bag didnt have anything in it i thought….now it has holy water, what kind of bag is that?” i shrugged. Emptying it out the window to briefly halt the undeads advance. Even if only a little.
While me, Gimpy, and Tiny were trying to discuss the bag and how to deal with the undead. Shenanigans pulls out his battleship blueprint. He looks at it. Looks at my bag. Looks back at the blueprint. Repeats another 3 or so times before yelling out “By Hephaestus’s right nut i have an idea!” we all burst out laughing uncontrollably at the sudden randomness, and after laughing for a good bit we finally regained composure and asked what his idea was. In character he turns the blueprint to me. Pointing specifically to the materials list of metals, wood, magical crystals and the like. “Take your bag, point the open end out the window.” nodding i complied. “Now think to yourself that you want the exact amount of components this blueprint says!” And this is where we began to finally realize what the bag did, and why the DM said Oh no. After this session we learned it was his homebrew item, “The Bag of Requests”. An item he didnt expect us to be able to get yet he loved the idea of it. Where after thinking of something you needed you would then roll to see how much, or if anything, you got of said item you requested. Only up to three times a month in game. Now each of us is grinning ear to ear as i proceeded to think just as the Captain ordered. The DM having me roll a D20 again. A 19. Which as it turns out a 19-20 was needed for the bag to fully fulfill a particular request. Unlike the 13 i rolled earlier.
Suddenly the bag began to shake in my hands, and in a desperate attempt to stop what we were doing the DM had me roll a strength check to keep hold of the bag. I failed unfortunately, but Tiny had quickly drank his elixir and asked to add his strength roll to mine. The DM allowed it and it worked just barely. As me and Tiny are holding onto the violently shaking bag for dear life, literal tons upon tons of iron, wood, and other components began to flow from the bag in chunks large and small. Which began to cascade to the ground beginning to crush the undead under the sheer weight. Before we knew it the entire area all the way to beach was covered in a copious amount of materials. Observing the aftermath in complete shock we were dumbfounded, except for Shenanigans who would have kissed himself for his idea if he could. We asked to tally up how much xp that would be, the DM shrugged admitting he didnt expect us to be able to kill them all and he would have to figure it out before next session.
The next session rolls around and this is where we then came across the second issue, how would we make use of all of this in order to make it to the Siege in time? None of us had any crafting skills whatsoever. We had no crew to operate a ship anymore. No tools to build even a basic wooden ship, and only one more use of the Bag of Requests. Then Gimpy’s player lit up like a light bulb had gone off. “I call in the favor of my god.”
Earlier in the campaign he had completed a set of tasks set by Hephaestus in which his reward was for one favor of his choice to be granted at a later date in accordance with his gods domain powers. We had just had no need for it, or any idea of what favor to ask for, until then. Gimpy yells out to the sky, “Hephaestus i have need of you!” Not going back on his word the DM asked in his best godly voice, describing the air beginning to tremble around us as we hear, “To what favor does a son of the earth ask of the mighty Hephaestus?” to which Gimpy replied, “Please oh mighty Hephaestus use these materials we have gathered, and these plans we have found to build us a mighty vessel worthy of your name, as well as a crew with which to man it for your glory.” The DM granted the request while shaking his head smiling, having known he was the architect of his own destruction so to speak.
And so, that is how a group of non-magic users somehow managed to get their hands on an absurdly powerful magical artifact, so that they could besiege the city of Troy in an Arcane Battleship, manned by bronze automaton. Much to the Dread Pirates glee, and the DM’s misery of all his preparations being thrown out the window. This is why you should always be careful what items you include in your campaigns.