copyright © 2006 Todd Ristau

You Failed Your Saving Throw
by Todd Wm. Ristau

(Lights up on GEORGE, PAUL, and DICK seated at a long table. On the table are dice and some lead miniature figures. At the head of the table sits DUNGEON MASTER, behind a Dungeon Master's screen.)

GEORGE: What does it look like?

DUNGEON MASTER: It is a gold amulet.

GEORGE: There's no design on it or anything?


PAUL: No design. That could be significant.

GEORGE: Like how?

PAUL: Or, it could mean nothing.

(GEORGE stands there indecisively for a long beat.)

DICK: Shouldn't there be some kind of timer between moves, like in Scrabble?

DUNGEON MASTER: It's not really a turn based game like that.

PAUL: Does Scrabble have a timer? I think that's Yahtzee.


GEORGE: OK, OK....I touch it.

DUNGEON MASTER: The amulet immediately transforms into the Holy Symbol of your diety.

PAUL: Ah, that is significant.

GEORGE: Ok. Shit. What do I do?

PAUL: Well, ordinarily I wouldn't trust something that makes itself look more attractive to me when I touch it.

DICK: What would happen if I touch it?

GEORGE: It's MY holy symbol, nobody touches it but ME.

DICK: I want to do something.

DUNGEON MASTER: You just helped wipe out a whole cave full of goblins.

DICK: I want to do something now.

GEORGE: Why would goblins have a holy symbol of my god?

PAUL: Maybe they ate the priest who wore it here.

DUNGEON MASTER: What are you doing?

GEORGE: I'm putting it on.

DUNGEON MASTER: Ok, it starts choking you.

GEORGE: What???

PAUL: We probably should have identified it first.

GEORGE: You can do that???

PAUL: Sure. I'm a magic-user.

DUNGEON MASTER: (rolls dice) You take another 4 points of choking damage.

GEORGE: Shit!!! Get it off me!

DUNGEON MASTER: Technically you can't say that, you're choking.

(GEORGE mimes choking and with red face and sputters indicates he wants something cut off his neck.)

PAUL: I look through my spell book for an appropriate action.

DICK: I take out my serrated dirk and start to saw off his head.

(GEORGE backs away and, still miming his being choked by an invisible amulet, glares angrily at DICK.)

DICK: What? I want to do something.

DUNGEON MASTER: (rolls dice) You take another 4 points of choking damage.

GEORGE: Gmbdt ibt duff fuhhhck offfdddt mmmmeeeee!

PAUL: I'm going to identify it now.

GEORGE: Gmbdt ibt duff fuhhhck offfdddt mmmmeeeee!

DUNGEON MASTER: The gnome identifies the the obect choking the priest as an Amulet of Holy Might currently attuned to the diety Tyr, God of Justice in the Forgotten Realms.

GEORGE: (no longer choking) Then why the fuck is it choking me?

DUNGEON MASTER: You can't ask that, you're choking. (rolls dice) Another 2 points, by the way.

GEORGE: I'm asking you, not my character.

PAUL: You must have had an alignment shift or something.

GEORGE: I'm evil now?


PAUL: Loot the bodies of the goblins.

DICK: I did that already.

GEORGE: Why am I evil?

DUNGEON MASTER: Why do you think you're evil?

GEORGE: This isn't therapy, its a god damned game.

PAUL: Maybe you're evil because you use profanity. God's don't like that.

GEORGE: I'm using profanity because there's no way in hell my goddam character turned evil. I was good this morning, Mighty Tyr granted me my prayers, didn't he?

PAUL: That's right, your priest spells were instrumental in allowing us to surprise the goblins and wipe them out.

DICK: I try to rob the priest while he's chocking.

DUNGEON MASTER: OK, but you'll have to take a penalty, because he's thrashing while he chokes.

DICK: I'll just wait, how close is he to dead?

GEORGE: (making the time out sign) Pause! How am I evil?

DUNGEON MASTER: (with great patience) You're evil because you used your power to sneak up on this goblin tribe and wipe them out without provocation or allowing them the chance to defend themselves.

PAUL: Did my fireballs at the goblin children change my alignment?

DUNGEON MASTER: You were already evil...Which was also a strike against the priest, because his Lawful Good diety didn't like his associating with evil characters.

GEORGE: I don't fucking believe this.

DUNGEON MASTER: Oh, that reminds me, your prayers won't be answered until you atone...

PAUL: He could pray to an evil god.

DICK: Who can I pray to for something to do????

DUNGEON MASTER: (rolls the dice) 3 more points of choking damage.

GEORGE: No! Goblins are evil creatures. They are inherently evil, they live in evil little caves and they do evil little things and the Forgotten Realms is better off whenever an evil creature gets destroyed so that it can no longer do any evil!

DUNGEON MASTER: So, you agree the world is going to be better off when you choke to death?

PAUL: That's right, the amulet agrees with you, so it is eliminating evil by destroying you.

GEORGE: If the amulet agrees with me, then it shouldn't be punishing me.

PAUL: Wow. Good point.

DUNGEON MASTER: It doesn't matter if the amulet agrees with you, it matters if your God agrees with you.

GEORGE: I killed these goblins in the name of my god!

DUNGEON MASTER: But Tyr didn't like that.

GEORGE: Says who?


GEORGE: You aren't the god of me.

DUNGEON MASTER: (rolls dice) 4 more points of choking damage.


DUNGEON MASTER: You have two choices. You can atone or convert to an evil religion.

PAUL: If he doesn't die.

GEORGE: This sucks. I thought I was doing the right thing. That should count for something. Why should I give the goblins a chance? They're EVIL for fuck's sake. They wouldn't have given me a chance, they'd have snuck up on us and slit our throats if they could.

DUNGEON MASTER: Right, because they are evil. That would be an evil thing to do.

PAUL: Technically...Yes. Smart, but probably evil.

GEORGE: Isn't it good to protect the party, the villages, the other good creatures of the world by eliminating the threat of evil whereever you find it?

DUNGEON MASTER: Is it worth becoming evil yourself in the process?

PAUL: Who Watches the Watchmen...


DICK: (brightly) Do we still have the prisoner?

DUNGEON MASTER: The one who told you where the goblin cave was?

DICK: (sarcastic) Do we have more than one prisoner?


DICK: Then, that one.

DUNGEON MASTER: You still have the prisoner.

DICK: I start to torture it.

GEORGE: Why are you torturing it?

DICK: Because I'm BORED!

GEORGE: (shocked) But...that's evil!

DICK: (mocking him) Why is it evil to torture an evil creature? It'd torture me if the situation were reversed.

PAUL: Uh-huh. And then it would eat you.

DICK: Besides, I'm already evil anyway. I should do some evil stuff, or I'll turn good.

GEORGE: (sputtering) You're evil too? Everybody I was with was evil but me?

PAUL: (cheerfully) But now we have achieved balance and party unity, because you're evil too!

DUNGEON MASTER: (rolling dice) No, now he's dead.


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