This one is slightly complicated. After a VERY long history of constantly suffering through horrible DMs and god awful groups, I picked up the handbook and put together an adventure for myself. How I found my players is a story on it’s own which I will likely tell later as it’s a mildly amusing horror story that probably belongs on reddit anyway.
I don’t really want to throw exact names out there as I didn’t ask everyone permission, so I’ll just do what I can here. And I would like to go on record and explain that I still know and play with all of these guys, they are good friends and despite what we go through, I still would want nothing more than to play with all of them.
So… I use the Amino a lot, and to basically get my game started I wrote an open ended story to explain the beginning and just invited everyone who wanted to join the campaign, the only real rules were that no human characters allowed, and I wanted my players to know that humanity and human subraces, even races like the Genasi who are technically PART human were looked down on severely as in this world humanity has repetitively launched wars on the rest of the world. And not only that, but there was currently a nearly global conflict where humanity was actively trying to ethnically cleanse all non humans and enslave everything that had human blood but wasn’t as they put it “purely human”.
With that we ended up with a total sweetheart Elven noble life Cleric looking for her lost brother who was a ranking paladin and basically the heir to the family, then we had a water Genasi who took shelter with the various temples and became a tempest cleric, an air Genasi druid who was missing and treated as an NPC for an overwhelming amount of the game, and finally…. The star of today’s story… Hemlock Gnomes… a mastermind gnome rogue with no real backstory and a jaw dropping utterly staggering intelligence modifier of…. 0… because he had 11 intelligence. He was basically just suited for the most absolutely basic role of sneak and then attack but never declaring a sneak attack. Honestly, a dex fighter with proficiency in sneak would have been leagues better.
Now…. it really took me a while to get used to this player. I’ve read a lot and heard a lot of DnD horror stories, and I can confirm I had to DM god at this guy a lot. We would be in the center of the throne room, the king himself, an ancient hero of the people and his 20 most trusted (level 20) companions there holding a ceremony to thank them for their part on the great quest that saved the day.
“I’m going to inch forward and slowly reach out to see if I can pickpocket the king”
My eyes roll and I calmly say. “As your fingers begin to twitch, and as the very fabric of your nervous system begins to send electrical impulses to your limbs to reach out 4000 voices of ancient heroes who have lived and died in this holy place as well as straight up gods send thousands of images into his mind that show them manifesting in this world and together with the king and every single guard within 1000 miles rushing to your location to kill you and resurrect you a thousand times each just to with hope clear the stupid from your brain!”
…I had to do this a lot…
He wasn’t toxic, and he wasn’t a troll… he just had this strange fascination and desire to pull off something utterly obscene and unique so he always tried just horribly off the wall bad ideas. To further this… he doesn’t take offense to his characters dying. He’s a great sport and understands that his characters die and it’s his own fault, he just wants to score that crazy awesome moment. And I have to say… he’s done some crazy stuff. But still… I wish to say that I REALLY hate killing my player characters, I will if I have to… but I don’t like it. And honestly, I have killed more of his characters than all the other characters combined. Oh my goodness.
Now, Hemlock was an interesting one and the way his story unfolded was interesting, I didn’t much care what his non existent backstory was, basically we ended up saying he just wanted to be a famous detective and to have fun…. And well… he did become famous, and he did have a LOT of fun.
Sadly we didn’t complete the campaign, but I did fill out quite an interesting fate for his character and the end of that campaign, and it all hinged on one little quest.
We had a mild sub adventure as the main quest had us island hopping to the elven capital and the ship they were with was stopped at this small island where they stopped to see if they could get any work. There was an interesting quest as a gnome farmer boldly stated that there was a young dragon that was incapable of fully defending itself but was still acting very violent and he needed it to be killed to protect his farm.
Two of our characters spoke draconic and they chose to take a look and see exactly what was going on. Long story short, they got there and there was a pretty young girl yelling at a field and stomping on the gnome’s crops, the gnome was yelling at her and when the adventurers arrived he instantly declared
“THERE IT IS KILL IT!” pointing at the girl.
There was a big talk back and forth where they came to realize that the girl was claiming she lived there first and the gnome promised to leave her alone, but every year the gnome moved close and closer, taking over her territory and slowly but surely stealing her land. There was a lot more back and forth until just as the truth was starting to be realized, the girl whom Gnomes took great care to try and calm down and compliment morphed into a young bronze dragon and started roaring at the gnome.
Turns out, the young girl was just a dragon who about a decade back settled this land and when the gnome showed up, she was happy to let him settle and start a farm so long as he didn’t till her land and turn her nice and sandy spot into a farm. He agreed but kept his distance and slowly little by little took her land and swore she was just imagining things.
For how cowardly the gnome acted, trying to scam a dragon is pretty ballsy. Now, the dragon herself was an interesting character and how they ended up working it was kinda cute. The dragon, whose name I forgot was more or less was very human like, not in the sense of the campaign, but irl humans and how their minds and culture works. She came from a small gathering of dragons who lived most of their lives in humanoid forms teaching and coexisting with other humanoids. So despite her young age, she picked up a few interesting not very dragon like quirks. Namely, she was just at that age where young girls start to become hopelessly infatuated with boys they usually will never be able to even be within 50 feet of. Boys who are usually famous celebrities. The silly emotional state where they are driven to have a romance with all caution to the wind. And if you ever have a daughter… God help you when she goes on week long moping and crying fits over some femenine creature you can’t even tell is a guy and squeaks generic pop music like that beaver guy… I think that’s a guy at least….
Anyway… after they talk, and after I do a lot of rolling to decide all NPC’s interactions it comes down to this. The Clerics tell off the farmer gnome and tell him to …”allow his airway to become blocked by a particularly floppy reproductive organ.” And they’ll be telling the locals that he blatantly lied and put the whole island in danger by trying to scam a dragon and tried to get everyone to attack the dragon telling everyone it was weak and easily defeatable all because his own scam fell through. They would make sure the locals knew just how little the gnome cared about anything other than himself…
And the dragon?… she agreed not to kill the gnome so long as she had permission to char him to cinders if he tried it again… and if they let her go on a date with one of them.
Now, I can’t quite remember how… but it ended up being Hemlock. And it was all kinds of sweet. There was even this whole thing planned where the equivalent of her dragon parents would scold her for being too young to have a boyfriend and with a lowly mortal no less and all that silly adorable cheesy romance.
But it ended up pretty nice for everyone. Hemlock got a ring where he could always talk to his girl friend and every time he slept he would be sort of astro projected to her so they could hang out. I kinda wanted to play her as a little too clingy, but he just fell in love with her and how cute she came off as, totally missing the clingy red flags which kinda became meaningless as Hemlock was just as in love with her as she was with him.
Sadly, the campaign ended before they completed the main quest and we moved on. But this one pain in the ass player… his character, I just couldn’t leave them out of it. In my latest campaign the adventurers found a group of what they thought were Kobolds all scampering about desperately to save their dragon, making horrible deals the dragon never would have agreed to just in hopes of prolonging the life of this utterly ancient beast who was living on her absolute last legs. Our draconic sorcerer critted on his perception to discover that these were not Kobolds but Dragon born, very very small dragon born. Hemlock’s player was there at the table and I could see his gears turning.
It turns out that every new moon, these dragon born pray and work to summon a minor dragon deity of…. “Fun” A literally dragon god of fun. They say he sneaks in through tiny the windows even when there’s an open door, he delivers gifts to their mother as he has since she was young. They tell a tale faded horribly in time of a mortal who was given a wish, and his wish was to be with the one he loved forever. Each story, or legend of this… god thing made Hemlock’s player more and more aware of exactly what I was doing.
I have to admit… I hated Hemlock at first, He had an abysmal AC and trying to make sure he didn’t trip and die on the welcome mat of every dungeon was a full on challenge. But we all have those characters we warm up to, and the characters we never forget.