Not awesome at all.
For a change, here is a comic that is not self-contained; it is from a game I am a player in, the same as the previous comic. One of the other players is some kind of Evil warlock whose apparent goal is party conflict. The events depicted are true, including the party cleric Calm Emotions-ing everyone. I was told I should totally draw this, though it is quite possibly the most underwhelming thing that has ever happened.
Speaking of - awkward segue! - you've probably seen me link TVTropes before. It's basically Wikipedia for fiction tropes, and a lot more informal - but like Wikipedia, in the shadows of the discussion pages lurk an army of hooting monkeys with the sense of humour of a Betamax tape ready to argue for countless posts about stupid details nobody actually cares about, like whether or not you are allowed to say "I".
This post is not about those people.
You see, there is a sort of point to that - a lot of the people who say "I" are just rambling on about themselves, and if there is one thing nobody gives a crumpet about it is people who write about themselves on a tropes wiki. Unless it's awesome.
For example, there's the page for Crowning Moment of Awesome. What is that, you ask? Well if you clicked the link you'd know it was "the moment when a fictional character does something for which they will be remembered forever, winning for them the eternal loyalty of fans," idiot.
There are specific entries for "Tabletop RPGs" and "D&D", which are mostly people talking about their "awesome" characters. Unfortunately, these "awesome" characters are often... well, finger-quotes exist for this kind of shit.
I'd like to stick to D&D for now, because I am lazy, but nobody has bothered to check these pages for true awesomeness, or even format them; either a bunch of D&D tales were left in the "Other/Unspecified Game" section by mistake or some people are stupid. So let's start there, shall we?
"This troper DMed a game where a character, a rogue/cleric of a chaotic good homebrew god, was fighting in a floating house one thousand and five hundred feet off the ground, against a nigh-invulnerable construct not unlike an inevitable. The cleric, seeing that this thing was powerful, jumped out of a window, summoned a celestial hippogriff, and flew to safety. Awesome."
Awesome retreat, guys!
Can you imagine doing that and trying to explain why it was great to someone else?
"Well, we were in a floating house, and there was this nigh-invulnerable construct. It was powerful!"
"So what did you do to it?"
"I ran away."
"I cast a simple summon monster spell, summoned something that could fly, and ran away."
"...Is that it?"
"This troper had two different CMOAs in his first and only campaign. The first occurred during an indoor map where his ranger, after a series of unsuccessful attacks, manages to land a critical on a guard with each sword!"
The hard part is trying to read through these while keeping in mind this is a list of "moment when a fictional character does something for which they will be remembered forever". That's right, this guy's most awesome thing ever was rolling two criticals! What are the odds?!
But wait, there's more!
"The second, and even more awesome, was during a section where the party was intended to wipe, but most of them were so experienced in the game that the DM had to bring out a high-level wizard to cast Fireball."
wow, what a formidable opponent
"The attack managed to knock everyone to 0 HP or lower...except me. This gave me one turn to act, and given few options, I eventually blurt out "play dead". Even though I have no ranks in anything that should give me skill in that. And I pull it off!"
I want to laugh, but the sad little exclamation mark at the end there makes me feel guilty about doing so.
Why do people confuse "awesome" with "cowardly"? If you made a last stand and took everyone down, that would have been awesome. If you made a last stand and got killed, but heroically, it could still be considered awesome. You played dead? Yeah, good idea, but I wouldn't say "awesome". I would say "nobody gives a shit".
"We had a campaign that was so amazing that EVERY character in it had at least one of these. At LEAST."
The examples listed after that are mostly pretty decent, actually, but I really can't get over the gratuitous use of capital letters ("DESTROYS the thing in ONE ROUND") like this only just happened and the writer hasn't had time to get flaccid.
Minor point, though:
"The skald, whose exploits were so legendary I couldn't possibly come up with one example. Let me put it this way: she was a gnome with levels split between bard and barbarian. She had a constitution score so high that she had over 250 hit points by level 21, even though the majority of her hit dice were d6."
Pro Tip for young writers: Show, don't tell. One example of these legendary exploits is fine. Really. Please stop masturbating.
I won't argue the bard/barb thing (one time I half-jokingly argued that a DM can stat a tarrasque with class levels if he wants with someone who insisted my group and I weren't "mature enough to play a real roleplaying game"), but if having a high Constitution score at epic levels is legendary, then I'm a plesiosaur. And since I don't see flippers...
"In one campaign I was in we were facing a Troll that was chained up. My ranger then went behind the Troll, grabbed the chain and pulled. The Troll went down and we were able to finish him off."
Really. Really? This is your ranger's defining moment of awesomeness? You grabbed the chain? And pulled, even? And what happened next? Did someone make a statue of your ranger? Maybe when your PC finally dies they can put it on your tombstone: "Here lies Ranger Guy. He grabbed the chain and pulled.". Because that is a crowning moment of awesome.
Oh wait, no it isn't. Go ride a wheelbarrow of dicks.
"This troper has DMed a scene that was fairly awesome. (3.5, level 1 PCs)"
"Fairly" awesome? You come onto the Crowning Moment of Awesome page to tell a "fairly" awesome story? Fuck you!
"Well, from the PCs' point of view it might have been called "humorously pathetic."
You can almost hear the DM touching himself from here.
"There were only a few players so the party at that comprised then of a human fighter and a halfling rogue."
Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?
"Thew [sic] were in, essentially, a hall of doors. About six doors in the rogue is tired of hunting for traps. In the next segment of passage is found a seven foot deep pool of clear water with a chest at the bottom. The human [...] dived in. He [...] stayed under long enough to tie the rope around the lock in the chest. [...] He motioned to the halfling to start pulling on the rope as he lifted the chest himself. As soon as the chest was moved the water began draining downward and acid began [...] filling the 'top' of the pool. Now out of air in his lungs the fighter swam through the acid, lugging an iron chest [...] He made it out with major burns, but with the chest. The chest contained two drowned rats and a broken wand."
I decided to cut out entire chunks of that wall of text because if I made you read the entire thing for that terrible payoff I think you would have killed me.
Honestly, is that it? They nearly killed themselves for nothing? Is this supposed to be awesome? Because instead it is kind of like the trap and treasure described: a painful, retarded waste of everybody's time.
"Feeling foolish, the pair headed for the next door. The rogue searched for traps again and found nothing with a roll of 17. Feeling secure they opened the door and were struck head on by a flash trap that blinded them both. The halfling stumbled back, 'into' the acid. Now both temporarily blind the fighter had to take the rope, throw it to the halfling and pull him out."
You can kind of tell why there were only two people playing at the time, can't you?
There's more, but it's just more of the same stupid bullshit.
Hurr hurr, guys, I totally screwed two PCs over with a stupid trap that wasted everyone's time and then totally set off another trap in their faces! Crowning moment of awesome right here!
By the way, did the halfling actually fall in or did the DM just declare he did? Either way, this story is fucking stupid.
"This troper's managed to GM one of these combined with a Crowning Moment Of Funny in the first session of his Maid: the RPG campaign."
I think it's time to go to the D&D page. It will take me a while to find some bad things in there oh wait never mind here's the second one:
"This troper once played a single-classed Fighter who had a feat that gave him a free attack whenever he was hit with a critical. A shadow dragon on it's last legs proceeded to critical the fighter to negative HP, and with my last attack, I rolled a natural 20. Not a single player would refer to me killing the dragon by any other means than hitting it in the nuts. The fighter's name? "Lord Kittensquisher", due to the DM's fondness for cat-like enemies, and unfortunate tendency to walk them into melee range. This troper took down a displacer beast Packlord with one round of hits. Ah, good times."
Source on feat, please. (Is this balanced or not? I can't tell. Honestly, since he's playing a fighter, he probably needs everything he can get.
As for the rest of it:
Actually, you know what? Screw you, Lord Kittensquisher. You're not even un-awesome enough to feature prominently in this blog post.
"This troper fondly remembers an impromptu D&D campaign he got involved with, where his first task was to take out not one but two cyclopes. He did, just barely, in no small part to flicking green sparks into their eyes to blind them."
A pattern emerges.
See, whenever I read these, a little voice in the back of my mind asks: "and then what happened?" It is waiting for the crowning moment, the definitively epic conclusion to the end of this tale. Not "I blinded them cause they had eyes
Where did these green sparks come from, anyway? Is this a spell? Was it prestidigitation, or a spell that is actually intended to blind people?
"This troper was once playing a game of D&D as my signature Half-Elf rogue/bard, Tobac, and was running away from a balor, along with my band of NPC rogues and 2 lower level PC companions. My friend, who played Davror, my high level Half-Orc half brother who had been killed, was, through months of pestering of the DM, just brought back as an even higher level angel. He was my guardian angel, and if I were to die, he would be banished from the material plane..."
A "signature" character which the other players are lower-level "companions" of? Are you perhaps journeying through Marysutopia?
The rest of the wall of text is, well, a wall of text, but it basically runs as follows: "I was trying to survive the balor until my angel half-brother showed up! It killed most of my NPC followers. Then the other PCs who apparently enjoy this rubbish either sacrificed themselves to save me or were thrown at the balor by me. Then my high-level bodyguard showed up and killed the balor in a few rounds. Then I went to recruit some more NPCs."
What is wrong with your DM? This isn't Dungeons and Dummies. This is the roleplaying equivalent of taking a huge steaming dump in everyone's laps while they thank you for the ice-cream.
"This Troper had a half-elf ranger who, through variants and ability switching, had a base land speed of 60 ft. Combined with a Str of 18, his total Jump modifier was +40. So, because I could, my character leaped 60 ft horizontally from one tower to another. Anything less than 20 was failure. Leap of faith, indeed."
Really? And then what happened?
"D&D. Twenty-three cultists. My gnome sorcerer. One fireball. Damage roll, and...twenty-three dead cultists. How many people can say they're made their own jaw drop?"
grats on killing mooks
you are special
"Okay, I've seen a few of these. One of them was when a player was a Half-Orc Barbarian, and he was up against an army of 20 goblins, and was only about Level 1..."
I'm not targeting this one for its content so much as I am for the fact that the whole thing is a series of bullet points that fills my screen and is filled with sad little exclamation marks and liberal use of even sadder capital letters. I keep imagining someone actually trying to explain these examples to people:
"Also, don't forget that our PCs managed to succeed in breaking the will of the Big Bads of TWO Adventures."
"Kalarel of Keep on Shadowfell, and Palamar of Thunderspire Labyrinth. Kalarel by a CLERIC OF BAHAMUT cheating in a fight, and Palamar by 12 Success skill challenge!"
"You don't have to shout, I'm right..."
"...Involving tricking Palamar and friends to fighting amongst EACH OTHER over the possibility that the PCs had the EYE OF VECNA!"
"Oh god, my ears! My virgin ears!"
Another Pro Tip: Capitalising things to make them more dramatic does not work if you are capitalising a significant fraction of your writing output. Tone it down, please.
Unfortunately for you guys, I really can't be bothered sifting through the rest of this mix of wonder and garbage. The little thrills that may be obtained from deriding something which is bad are very nice, but like most drugs they take their toll on the body, especially if you overdose.
For now: As a sort of antidote, I want to hear your awesome stories. Anonymous posting is on and you are free to omit names, if it is required.
Tell you what - I will draw the most awesome stories posted by, oh, let's say a month from now. Don't be shy!