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Chaotic Stupid by Ballig

DM Feature #2 (The Sorcerer's Tower) - 02 May 2009

Sometimes I have to wonder what was going through my head when I decided to run a campaign of evil-aligned players. I guess I wanted to give them an opportunity to play characters that did not feel compelled to rescue the kidnapped princess simply because they were heroes and it was the right thing to do; that they could, if they so chose, only rescue her in exchange for a large sum of money or, if they felt particularly evil, rescue her only to hold her for a larger ransom themselves. Or be the ones to kidnap her in the first place. Such grandiose plans fall, lifeless, when half a session is taken up with intraparty conflict due to one player deciding his character's alignment is Chaotic Stupid.

This session started off innocently enough. Deciding to give my players a bit of a break from custom-made enemies, I used the System Reference Documents to search for creatures that would give the players a challenge and have an environment marked as "temperate hills" (their current location). Choosing two Dark Naga, I decided that their most obvious course of attack would be to sneak up on the players' camp under cover of invisibility. The party wizard, however, had plans of his own; it was at this point that he had decided he was going to cast see invisibility and make it permanent with the permanency spell. Being the kind of DM that allows players to have their moment of luck, it was at that point that the encounter began.

The Naga had approached the camp from two directions - the first from the northwest, and the second from the northeast. They were each about 80 feet away and on top of a hill so as to have a better vantage point from which to cast their spells. Having been spotted, the northeast Naga made deadly use of a lightning bolt spell; scything through the cleric, the ranger, and the skeleton which had only recently been raised by the cleric from the corpse of the previous encounter. The skeleton was destroyed and the ranger and cleric both took a decent amount of damage from the attack.

The wizard, better able to see the creatures now that the haze of invisibility was lifted from one, recognised them as being Dark Naga and knew that their primary attack was spellcasting. So he ran. At break-neck speed, making full use of his boots of striding and springing, to get within a few feet of the northeast Naga in a single round. His reasoning? Well, he has to be within 30 feet to make use of his Magic Disruption feat! This is a feat from Complete Mage that allows a character to attempt to "disrupt" a spell being cast by an enemy as an immediate action. More about that in a minute. Right now, however, the party wizard has separated himself from the rest of the group to be at the forefront of action. This obviously gets the Naga's attention. The northwest Naga, seeing this wizard as a threat to her companion, used a lightning bolt of her own to teach him a bit of respect, as it were. Almost half the wizard's hitpoints worth of respect.

The ranger was comfortable enough to stand back and lob some arrows at the originally attacking Naga, as is his role in such situations. The cleric of course was now in high demand by the wizard who only now realised his life may be in a bit of danger due to his rash actions. It is of no assistance that the wizard has a base speed twice that of the cleric, however. And the cleric had his own hide to worry about; observing that lightning bolt was a favourite of the Naga, he cast spell immunity for lightning bolt and, chosen at random, magic missile (after all, a dead cleric is a useless cleric).

The encounter raged on, with the wizard almost dying twice, but everyone finally working together for the common survival. So now it was time for the loot. The wizard, always keen on getting his hands on something shiny, made use of his superior speed to get to the fallen foes and ransack the corpses as quickly as possible. The cleric, hampered by his heavy armour, was not all too pleased with this event and decided that he was going to be Chaotic Stupid. While the party wizard was being upset in the general direction of the cleric for the slow healing (not entirely the cleric's fault, but not entirely the wizard's either), said cleric decided his chaotic evil alignment meant that he should attack the wizard. A shortpsear to the gut, in his words. Hoo boy. Not many sessions in with this player and this is actually the second time he has attacked another party member. Not a happy DM.

The wizard and the ranger, with no small amount of help from myself, took the cleric down to negative hitpoints in a couple of rounds. Stabilising him so that he was not actually risking death, they then bound him and camped for the rest of the day to give him a chance to regain consciousness so they could "talk" to him. But he was not agreeable to such treatment, and refused to play along. He was indignant, and haughty, and left zero room for compromise. So the players left him there to die. Which is exactly what happened.

After the game I spoke with the player who had decided on Chaotic Stupid as an alignment. Not necessarily wanting to discourage someone from the campaign who was still only relatively new to Dungeons & Dragons, I explained that even if he thinks that being chaotic evil justifies him in attacking someone for little or no reason, party cohesiveness and the flow of the campaign are still top priority. That if he is unwilling to think of another way to play the alignment, that alignment would be restricted for any of his characters. In the end he agreed to my terms and the players involved were amenable to allowing the death of the cleric to be reversed and next session to start with the two party members talking to a bound cleric. We will have to see how it goes.

Oh, and that feat mentioned earlier? Yeah, it did not do quite as much as the player thought it did. He had misread it.