It has been well over six years since this story took place; when 5th edition was still somewhat fresh and new to all of us. It still bothers me and I hope that the player behind Fizzerban, is okay and to forgive our stupidity. Without a doubt, you were the heart and story mover of the group. The campaign fell apart after your ‘explosive’ exit of both campaign and chat room.
So to begin and give context, there was six of us including the DM. Most of us were young idiots when we started out playing 5e in a home brew campaign. Of the six, only half of us were experience players; the DM, the Wizard, and a problem player that I will get to shortly into introducing. The other half were newbies that just did not know what was happening until it was too late that we came to realize the errors of our complacency.
Let’s begin with introducing the party. First and foremost, the main victim of this story. Fizzerban NacCreed, an Evocation Human Wizard that is probably the most sane and hardworking spell caster of our chaotic party. Then the party ourselves. Zenned, our problem human fighter; Veil, my Drow rouge; Kars a Barbarian Half-Orc; Sophie, an Asimar Cleric of some unknown god (never been revealed); and Sieg, a Dragonborn Monk. Then are our DM, but their involvement is a moot point and their problem will be revealed later. To add context as well, we all rolled for our ability scores at level 1. With Zenned having an absurd amount of good high numbers despite roll20’s usually unforgiving RNG. On the other side, Fizzerban had sublime score with only their Intelligence being just over 14.
The rest of us were more or less better spread out in our score stats. We were only allowed one roll for all our numbers but could place them however we want.
During the first few sessions, there was no problems, at least not in the surface. No noticable problems that we newbies would had notice but Fizzerban’s player likely did. Now Zenned, he at level 1 immediately start out with a full plate armor and a war mount. See the problem? Yet, I and the others just rolled with it. Likely not Fizzleban. I would not be surprise if Fizzerban privately spoke with the DM about the reasons why this happen.
Though whatever happen, the case stood that Fizzerban was just in the same position as we were; standard gear and in fact looked far less impressive than any of us of the party. I doubt Fizzerban would have ask the DM for the same treatment. They likely would ask why Zenned was so armed to the teeth at level one. Something we did not ask about at all.
Also to add context, we all were in Skype. This was still being used (unsure now if it is still usable or not), so everything was online. Anyway, our first few session was mostly handling small quests for the town and guild to gain strength and reputation. Zenned, without asking or consent, became the face of the party despite his overly cocky and arrogant attitude; Fizzerban made many attempts for conversation with the NPCs and fellow party members; but Zenned would simply overshadow the conversation with their loud voice and high rolls.
I should add that Zenned was a variant human. Thus they took the Lucky feat to always increase the chance for a high roll. The rest of us, were sadly just ignorant brain dead murder hobos and mostly just went with the flow. Ten sessions later; with plenty of level ups due to our DM wanting us to play high stakes and better monsters. It was then that Zenned’s true nature reared its ugly head.
We made base in a port city that was renowned for its strict laws, and clear rule of no usage of magic within the town’s parameters. Fizzerban was originally singled out as the Wizard hobo, despite the progression in levels. The wizard looked dirt poor, shabby, and had no real magic items to benefit them, since the ‘rolls’ just never were in their favor. I do not know why Fizzerban stuck it out, but the player behind Fizzerban was master tier in tactics and applications of their spells. Even more so, the Wizard would consistently talk with the NPCs and help them out whenever possible.
While Zenned, on the other, had a large amount of magic items; even had three attunement items, +! Shield, and Mithral Armor; yet the fighter just charged into every battle, out muscles, or in most cases ‘out rolled’ all their situations. The other key thing was that Zenned never interact with the NPCs much outside of getting a quest and turning it in for reward. All business.
The rest of us had our own personalize magic items which were also very good and sadly kept us satisfied enough to not see the problems brewing in the horizon. If only we realized how suckered we were in our glory seeking and level gaining ways.
Now, the first situation we found ourselves in. Children were being kidnapped by an unknown force and no one knows why. Fizzerban, a scholar and researcher, plus the player was extremely good in their metagame balancing, managed to guess the culprits being something of the Fey or Cultists. Zenned, abusing their Lucky Feat, and wearing the Headband of Intelligence (Yes somehow the fighter took the headband to take their 17 intelligence to 19 or something) began rolling to overrule Fizzerban’s deductions.
Sadly, the DM made the players roll and well you can guess it. Zenned managed to out roll Fizzerban and while Fizzerban’s deductions were correct. Zenned took the credit for it, oddly the player behind Fizzerban did not make any protest about this. The wizard just asked on how will we proceed from there.
Fizzleban accurately guessed that a Hag is behind this situation. Sadly we did not know enough about what type of Hag was behind it. The rest of our party, plus players, did not know a thing about Hags other than old crones that would cast spells and maybe eat children.
It did not add well that we did not care for the children at all, but rather the possible treasure and experience the Hags could give us for another level up. Not Fizzerban though, the old wizard was focus on saving any and all children if possible. Also the wizard/player knew a lot about Hags and covens to which he made sure to inform us all in text writing so that we did not misheard a single careful note.
Thus we began our investigations and eventually found ourselves in the borders of the Feywilds; no thanks to Fizzerban but to Zenned’s absurdly high rolls despite for some unknown reason to me and the party. Despite Fizzerban doing a lot of leg work and engaging in conversation with other beings around the area. Zenned just wanted to kill them all and take their loot. We, as fools, were also in the same mindset as Zenned.
For all of their hard leg work. The DM made Fizzerban took a level of exhaustion because they were suddenly told to roll a Constitution Saving Throw and Fizzerban rolled a natural 1. This is going to be important for later. Especially with the events after we found the two story layer wooden house in a magical swamp at the Feywild borders that shouted out. “Hag Home”
Our party, despite Fizzerban’s desire to sneak in and check for the condition of the kidnap children, were not at all subtle with their greed and desires. Thankfully as I was playing a Rogue, I decided to join Fizzerban, and to our surprise Sieg also joined us.
Less than a minute in game, about 10 minutes in real life, Zenned, Sophie, and Kars got bored and began storming up the house’s wooden panels, making lots of noise (thanks Kars for roaring in rage you dumb oaf), alerting not just the Hag, but the whole freaking coven of Hags and the Succubus that was working with them.
Thankfully we managed to reach the second floor and saw there were 4 children tied up and gagged. Sadly there was a report of nine children missing. Fizzerban, using the Fly spell, flew to the children to quickly remove their bindings just as the other half of the party began making noise downstairs.
What happen you wonder? Well the bad guys were smart. Too smart. The hags called up their guards, the succubus vanished, and then the three hags rushed upstairs and found a meddlesome wizard and two other interlopers taking their kidnapped booty away. I and Sieg had one child each and were able to move quick enough to get away from the reach of the Hags.
Sadly not Fizzerban, the wizard took a vicious beating and could not keep hold of one of the kids they grabbed. Zenned and the others made mince meat of the guards and rushed up into the second floor; just in time to see two of the three Hags vanish with Dimension Door, an unconscious Fizzerban, and one remaining Hag that was getting ready to kill the downed wizard.
An Action Surge, up cast Guiding Bolt, and Reckless Great Weapon Master attack later. The third hag was instantly slain and the house with all its treasures were for the party’s taking.
Now comes our second problem. After securing the house, by setting it on fire after pillaging it completely, and making sure the two rescued children were with us. Fizzerban attempted to informed the rest of the party that there were still two more children to be rescued. Yet Zenned spoke over Fizzerban saying that this place is cleared of danger and we should immediately head back home with our prizes.
This should have clued us noobs that Zenned was a selfish power gaming prick, especially with what followed afterwards. Fizzerban shaking in rage stood tall and said no, loud and clear, to Zenned. Fizzerban’s player typed in their next words rapidly with Zenned making their reply loud on speaker.
“There are still two children in the hands of those monsters. I will not abandon them to whatever fiendish fate”
“Just a couple of kids Frizz. You cannot become a legend if you worry about every little pebble on the road.”
Remember that line of Zenned for later please. I sure did. Anyway, the player behind Zenned began rolling Persuasion to persuade Fizzerban to see ‘reason’ and leave with the party. Us, being morons, just followed suite with Zenned’s natural 20 roll; but not Fizzerban. The weak wizard solemnly shook their head in dismay and perhaps looked at all us in disgust and just said, well typed their reply.
“Then we part ways here. Go for your glory. I shall seek out the remaining children.”
The player behind Zenned began raging about how Fizzerban could resist the high roll persuasion, the DM told the player to clam up and to remember that all rolls are not the end all be all. Hypocrite. I’ll get to that later. Zenned’s player was then spouting other nonsense like the golden rules of partying in DnD. Like ‘Do not split the party’ and ‘solo power gamers are not fun to play with’. Looking back, I should have gone with you Fizzerban. I could only imagine what hellish solo session you have had with the DM.
A few weeks, in real life, past and our party was split. The DM made it clear that Fizzerban was going to play a few solo missions while the main party will be handling their own things. Zenned was not please with this and called out favoritism on the wizard; this one time, all of us told the player to shod off, with the player behind Fizzerban simply stating, with a near dead monotone voice that I’ve come to realize was their actual speaking voice and not Fizzerban typing a reply.
“You could have just come along with me. I never forced you into any decision.”
Zenned’s player, and in fact all of us, became silent. No offense Fizzerban, you sound scary when you talk normally; but that explains much on why you mostly talk through text chat. I’m sorry I mean no offense by that statement, but yeah I did not expect that and that voice return much later. Though yes, to give context here; Frizzerban’s player never spoke out loud in the group chats. They always had their video and mic off, but were very speedy in type chat. I dare say Fizzerban is/was the fastest typist I have ever met.
Anyway our party split after the stunned silence of Fizzerban’s player finally speaking and then becoming silent. Mic muted once more and resuming the speed typing. Thus the events went like this:
The main party was enjoying their reward and Zenned somehow rolled a deception high enough to fool both the people and the saved children that everything will be alright. The lie being that our party has many members and that Fizzerban was not alone in their quest to save the remaining children.
Personally, Veil (myself) and Sieg became to become wary of Zenned and attempted many times to pull the fighter to the side to talk about their foul behavior. Sadly, Zenned did not heed our concerns and due to their superior equipment and abilities; all of us were afraid of fighting Zenned at the risk of being completely bodied. Somehow we instinctively became sheep to the sheep herder or the hierarchy of pack animals.
Our party took some more quests and entered an unnamed tomb that was infested with undead and a lich. Our levels were growing rapidly and gained more items and things. About a month in game had passed, no signs of the other children or Fizzerban, the townsfolk were becoming anxious with us, we were slowly feeling the pressure, and Zenned was as aloof and carefree as ever.
In fact, we ended up learning, through the players’ view not the characters, that Zenned obtained some cursed item that turned them into a powerful weretiger at night and they would silently go out on a killing spree to feed their hunger.
Sadly due to Zenned abusing the Lucky Feat and rolling high (I swear that player hacked roll20); none of us as characters, or the port towns people were able to figure out that Zenned was the culprit. Things were getting more tense until a fateful morning in real life.
Our party’s players were at their wits end about what to do, till the ping noise of someone entering chat. At first we all thought it was either the DM or Zenned’s player. No. It was Fizzerban. We were ecstatic of the player’s return after a month of not being around. As per usual, the player replied by typing; I suppose after hearing our comments about their voice made them stay with typing in conversations.
We learned the player was handling real life work related stuff and spoke with the DM privately to extend their solo mission enough that it would work for party’s favor upon return. This explains why we were able to raise up 2 more levels and adventure stuff.
No doubt, we were happy to have our unspoken moral compass back and were about to fill them in with what they missed. To our surprise, Fizzerban’s player type in clear bold letters to not let them know and they will find out their own way. This should have been the red flag to warn us that something was amiss with Fizzerban. Especially, since the player chose not to interact much more with us or get an update on the campaign. We were just too ignorant to realize it when the game session began.
DM and Zenned arrived, Zenned being very surprised and the DM clearly not. After some jibes from Zenned, mostly expecting Fizzerban to be rolling a new character due to the how impossible it would be for a single wizard to handle two hags and possibly a succubus all alone.
Well, dawn of the morning in game, the people of the town were still asking us of the condition of their missing children; some parents even becoming outright hostile to us but dared not to attack us due to our battle power. Honestly, I was feeling sadden due to the added fact that me being drow, the people were even more afraid to interact with me. Some of the townspeople were asking for Fizzleban, the wizard that was friendly to them despite the harsh rules laid on them being a spell caster.
It was here our party, sans Zenned, were consulting on that Fizzerban was the one to reach out to the people despite being banned to use magic within the city limits. As we were wondering where our wizard was. The town crier was screaming at the top of their lungs, we all rolled for perception to hear what was being said and sadly only Zenned rolled high enough to hear the message which the DM whispered the message to them.
Many of the townspeople began murmuring to themselves, none of them sharing what they heard to us as they did their best to creep away from our presence and out of the tavern. Zenned, with their mithril armor, decided to sneak out the tavern with an obvious lie that we could not insight well enough to see through. I decided to break this idiocy of ours, despite it being too late, to go follow the crowd of people.
Lo and behold, at the entrance of the port was Fizzerban with ALL the kidnapped children and more people that were taken prisoner by the Hags and their fiendish allies. The DM gave us all a very short cliff notes, not very helpful but it was the best we were going to get; that Fizzerban, struggling pass his exhaustion level to persuade the feys to aid them in saving the innocent children from the Hags that were clearly making plans with fiends and beings that would ruin the chaotic nature of the Feywilds. Fizzerban even managed to gain the aid of a unicorn under some condition or another to save the innocent maidens from being turn into foul hags that would bereft the noble magical being its virgin riders.
Many chose not to aid Fizzerban, and to the DM’s surprise, the wizard did not press the matter and push forward on their own; as the wizard knew time was against them and with careful usage of spells and few allies that joined them; sneak into the castle. Freed the prisoners, armed the ones capable of fighting, and fought with both spells and even in melee against the hags till they and their allies were slain.
However, due to the magics of the Feywild, and likely some other bull crap the DM pulled on Fizzerban. The wizard aged drastically into their late 60s. Mind you, Fizzerban was only in their early 20s when we all last saw them in the Feywilds. Also, Fizzerban was now dealing with a 4th level Exhaustion.
All while still looking even worst than a hobo with rags for clothing and even their book was damaged to the near point of completely falling apart. We, the party and players hear all of this and were wondering how many solo sessions did both Player and DM had for the wizard to be in this condition. Sadly Zenned did not see it that way and had other plans.
The prick fighter began trying to hog all the credit and glory for themselves and the rest of the party, while attempting to make Fizzerban’s effort look small in comparison. Many of the saved people were initially against it and even claimed that the wizard was mostly alone when saving them, getting them armed, giving them proper care and even magical items that would benefit Fizzerban much more than them.
Zenned was not having any of that and using high persuasion rolls, attempted to make the people that Fizzerban saved to give up all the items to our party. That we loaned all those items to Fizzerban to aid their solo quest in saving the children and other captives while we were handling other important dangers to the port town. I was disgusted by this and so were the other players; we even questioned why the player behind Zenned was doing this and their mocking answer was this.
“What’s eating you? This is what my character would do. It is only a game.”
I think, this is what broke Fizzerban. Both character and especially player. As the wizard began to walk away, without a word to any of us, from the mix emotional crowd of people. People that were reunited with their loved ones, family being put together, friendships being reforged, and our slimy party apparently gaining the glory that we rightfully did not deserve at all.
Zenned took notice of Fizzerban’s departure, due to their absurd passive perception; and thankfully the rest of us did too. We decided to follow while Zenned remained behind to continue with discussions of the returned items that were never ours to begin with.
Fizzerban’s player typed that they cast haste on themselves to move as quickly as possible away from the outer town limits within the minute the spell was available. Truth be told, we were all confused by this and Zenned began accusing Fizzerban in being the BBEG.
Thankfully, the DM told the player to be quiet as Zenned was busy with negotiations. Zenned crudely tells us, the party, that if Fizzerban is an enemy than all their equipment is fair game to everyone. Somehow, maybe thankfully we were gaining our own awareness and individualism thinking; and we did not believe Fizzerban was up to something evil or plotting against us.
Back to the hypocrite of the DM’s comment about rolls. Fizzerban managed to double natural 20 roll on their stealth despite the exhaustion disadvantage they were suffering. Making even our best trackers to lose all trace of the wizard as they exited our vision. Despite our combine Perception and Investigation managing to beat the score of Fizzerban; the DM in a way railroaded our roll attempts despite Zenned getting a lot of free passes.
Eventually Sophia had to use an orb of scrying to find the hasten age wizard sitting alone by themselves about an hour away from our location by a burning campfire. When we rushed to Fizzerban’s side, little did we know what was about to happen.
We finally caught up to Fizzerban, sitting silently by themselves in front of a small burning campfire, looking at it intensely and curled up sitting with their knees close to the chest. The DM was about to explain the scenario to us, but once again that the player behind Fizzerban spoke out.
“If I may DM. May I please speak the scenario to those that have come to see me?”
I think the DM had other plans, but they relented. I do not know what was said in those private messages but I swear that this happen and it was. Impactful. Especially when Fizzerban’s player spoke these next lines (I apologize for not remembering word for word):
“You approach the ragged withered form that you know for certain is Fizzerban NacCreed. You remember that the wizard was a youth when you last parted ways in the Feywilds. Now, sitting there is a feeble husk of a wizard with sunken eyes, wrinkly skin that sags, hunched over as if trying to muster the last visages of strength to stay warm by the campfire. Despite attempts to be stealthy, the aged wizard knew you would coming and had prepared alarm spells to be ready. Slowly the head turns to look at your direction, eyes tired and sunken in with dark circles-“
Zenned, bastard could not shut up, started shouting that Fizzerban had become a lich or was replaced by something evil. Sophie, taking some levels in paladin, used Divine Sense. The DM stepped in to stated there was no presence of undead in the vicinity, much to our horror that Fizzerban most likely went through hell and back. Our Fizzerban continued speaking, but now more strength with that dead monotone voice.
“Step no closer. I want this conversation to be brief and to the point.”
Kars spoke first before the rest of us while interrupting Fizzerban
“Fizz, is that really you? You look-“
“Weak? Old? Yes Kars. I have been weak for a long time now. I made some deals and paid the price for it. Now, please. Let me finish speaking. I do not have much time.”
Idiots we were, we thought this was the start of the next arc of our characters. Maybe to save our withering wizard friend. No doubt the DM thought so too, because they were silent and they were in a separate conversation with Zenned. Fizzerban turn their attention back to the fire and continued speaking.
“I see Zenned has amassed a bunch of powerful and dangerous magical items. The whole party has. While I was struggling to save the children. I do not know for what reason, but you guys cannot be this blinded and ignorant. Ignoring the plights of others. Considering them pebbles. Is this what you really want? To follow and not think?”
We were silent, the DM and Zenned also returned to the main chat and before we could say anything, Fizzerban spoke one last time to us in character. With that monotone voice that I could swear became sullen and sad.
“Just consider this event and me as another pebble on the road if I cannot sway your hearts at this very moment.”
The player then declares the next comment that got us all on edge, even the DM because we knew not what or why it was happening because Fizzleban said it with a hollowed tone that sounded like they gave up on life.
“I up cast Fireball at 6th level –“
Zenned’s player was shouting, so was the DM. Both were upset that Fizzleban would attempt to kill the party. Honestly, we would have accepted it considering how little we helped the lone player and wizard. Yet, that was never the intention of the fireball as the player finished.
“Centering it on myself, the others are far enough to not be hit by the spell.“
We were all shocked. In fact I reckon the DM was too because there was an uneasy silence. The damage was rolled and it was a lot. I remember the DM saying that Fizzleban was not dead, just knocked out until the player behind Fizzleban state the key rule of 4th level exhaustion and the choice to willingly fail a saving throw. In case you did not know, 4th level exhaustion results in maximum health being reduced by half and Fizzleban, despite revealing that they were a 12th level wizard (2 levels higher than us), had less than 30 health. Health rolls were not kind of Fizzleban at all.
After the explosion of fire and heat. There was clearly nothing left of Fizzleban. The DM and Zenned were shock into silent. We also were shock but also sadden as the player narrated the following with a typing in the chat.
Outside the town that prohibits the usage of magic. Fizzleban went out to find rest from everything. They did what they set out to do. I am satisfied with this.
After sending that message and the DM’s angry rant of what Fizzleban just did. The player typed in their final message. I am still unsure which of us or if all of us was the message directed to.
“I’m tired of this journey. Good bye.”
I do not know why, but I felt chills from that text, even extreme guilt; especially as the player with the swiftness of a ghost, left chat, left the room, left the roll20 game completely, and likely blocked us because our private messages never reached them or they simply chose to ignore us. This series of actions were done so swiftly and methodically that we all needed a moment of time to process what happen.
We were silent and the DM was unsure what to do afterwards as they decided to call that session for the day. Zenned’s player was shocked into silence as well and was unsure what to say either. I doubt we were able to say anything and our attempts to contact the player behind Fizzleban were fruitless. It was not long after that the player deleted their Roll20 account. Completely cutting any and all connections with us. I wonder if they were sending a real hard lesson to us.
After that whole incident, our remaining party members banded together and got their heads back on straight. While Zenned did not repent their actions and even laughed later at the fate of Fizzleban. We and the townspeople got together and by good stroke of luck, plus I think the DM turned over a new leaf, managed to oust the hiding weretiger fighter dirty no good sack of a player out of the game after skinning them alive.
We managed to play a bit more together, but there was just that bitter aftertaste of it all and realizing we were just as bad as Zenned due to our inaction, our complicity to a bad player, not really questioning the DM or even talking with Fizzleban’s player. Sadly, I still regret not being able to make amends with Fizzleban’s player. I do sincerely wish that this story will reach them and I want to say this.
Thank you Fizzleban for smacking us awake and we are deeply sorry for the stupidity you had to put up with when playing with us. I personally now strive to be a better player and person thanks to you.
I hope you are well and healthy, and still rolling dice with good people out there. You may not believe it, but you did teach us through hard action over words.