A D&D Story: The Rogue and the Mirror

Our Dungeons & Dragons party hunkered in a hallway outside a room where we knew a big battle would take place. Our game sessions had been leading to this moment for months. We were nervous, excited, and more than a little unprepared.

Weeks ago, our party had fought a giant abyssal creature, and it had driven one of our characters insane. (Seriously, our Dungeon Master thought it would be nifty to fiddle with Insanity Rolls.) No longer trusting anyone, our resident Wizard snuck away from the group without leaving any word of where he was headed. When the rest of our characters finally did learn where he was hiding, we also learned that he had made friends with some dark entity from another dimension, and our misguided Wizard was trying to bring it over to our world.

We had to stop him.

Which led us to this hallway, in an old fortress, waiting to enter a room.

Both in real life and in the game, we were pumped to dive in and rescue our friend.

Here’s who was playing that day:

Our newest party member Tekoa was playing as a sprightly Monk our group had found adrift on the sea while trying to locate our Wizard friend. She was great in a pinch, willing to lie to trick the bad guys, and packed a mean wallop with every roll.

Christian was playing his Rogue, sneaky to the millionth degree, his penchant for getting into trouble matched only by his ability to get out of it.

Mia was playing the practical but probably-incredibly-tired-by-our-party’s-shenanigans Druid. She has healed us more times than we can count, and her level-headed use of spells during a fight is irreplaceable.

Dalton had the honor of playing two characters at once. He was the one who had lost his Wizard to insanity, so he was still in charge of that guy. He had also made a new spell-wielding Dwarven Automaton character to accompany the rest of us in bringing his original wayward character back into the fold. Dalton would be playing both a villain and a hero in this encounter.

And lastly, there was me, playing as my optimistic Fighter. She was a small Gnome with a massive amount of Dexterity at her disposal, a force to be reckoned with at close range with finesse weapons.

We might seem like a crack team of D&D players, but if you’ve read any of my other D&D Stories, you know we’ll always find a way to mess things up.

Our group had coerced a diminutive Goblin to lead us to the room where our Wizard was attempting to contact this dark entity. The Goblin mentioned he only knew of one secret way into the room aside from the main entrance. And it was tiny.

My small Fighter instantly volunteered to go through the opening the Goblin indicated. “I’ll do it! I can do it! I’m going in!”

Mia’s Druid held up a hand, saying, “No! Wait! Let’s come up with a plan first!”

Our Dungeon Master (DM) looked right at me and asked if I would heed the Druid’s warning. Knowing that my Fighter was overconfident and headstrong, I figured she would have already rushed in the small passage. I said as much, and Mia could only grit her teeth in annoyance.

Not knowing what might await my character, the rest of the party decided to enter the large room without me, hoping that the passage the Goblin was leading me down would allow me to flank our Wizard at the end of it. They gathered themselves by the main entrance under our Druid’s lead. My careless Fighter had left them one man short.

Just before the door was opened, Christian’s Rogue placed his Ring of Invisibility on his finger. He disappeared from view.

Now, this ring is Christian’s prize possession. It allows him to deal huge amounts of damage when he sneaks up on an unsuspecting victim. Before a big fight, he usually puts it on in preparation.

So as the party burst through the doors, the Rogue was invisible, as per usual.

The sight that awaited my friends was distressing.

Our Wizard friend was standing before a grotesque portal with strands of fleshy material tethering it to the wall, ceiling, and floor. An eerie light was emanating from it. Our DM told us, however, that the energy in the room felt like it was mounting for something bigger. Clearly, the portal wasn’t open yet, but it would be very shortly.

Unfortunately, my friends didn’t have long to glimpse this horror. As soon as they came into the room, the Wizard whirled around, a grim smile on his face. With a wave of his hand, he removed a large cloth sheet from a mirror that was mounted directly in front of the door my friends had just used. As soon as the mirror was revealed, the DM told them they all had to make Charisma Saving Throws.

I bit my nails nervously (in real-life, not in the game) as everyone at the table rolled their 20-sided dice. Mia, Tekoa, and Dalton all rolled high numbers for the Druid, Monk, and Automaton respectively.

Christian rolled a terrifyingly low 4. His Rogue was not a particularly “charismatic” character, so there was not much he could add to increase that number.

With special enthusiasm, the DM began to describe what happened to the Rogue. “You feel a strange light surround you, and a strange sucking feeling at your feet. All of a sudden, you feel like you’re pulled away. You blink, and you’re no longer in the room. You’re in an infinite white space with fog all around you.” The DM turned to the rest of the party (the Druid, Monk, and Automaton) and said, “You see your friend disappear.”

Mia, ever aware of practicalities and inconsistencies, furrowed her brow. “But…he was invisible.”

The DM paled at this forgotten bit of information. “Oh…right. Umm, then I guess none of you see anything happen.”

Stunned silence hit the table as we realized that we just lost our Rogue friend to a magical trap…and none of us were aware of it.

Side note: Yes, technically speaking, as players we all know Christian’s character got trapped. But our characters, in the world of the game, have no clue. And as part of playing D&D properly, we have to maintain their ignorance.

Dalton, as his Wizard, spat out a “Dammit!”

We all laughed as one, knowing that from the Wizard’s perspective, his mirror trap absolutely failed to ensnare anyone.

The fight to close the portal and reason with our insane Wizard friend began in earnest. Several goons were protecting him, so the Automaton and the Monk started hammering away at them. Mia knew where our priorities should lie and had her Druid cast Moonbeam over the still-barely-closed portal. White, ethereal light shone down on the fleshy tendrils, burning them slowly with radiant damage.

Meanwhile, our Rogue tried running around in his infinite interdimensional pocket, to no avail.

Tekoa’s Monk decided to abandon the fight with the goons in favor of punching the lights out of the Wizard. She had come to the group after his departure, so she had no compunctions about hitting his face to kingdom come. She landed some hefty hits on the Wizard, and Dalton had to struggle to keep track of how both his Automaton and the Wizard were faring in terms of health.

Meanwhile, Christian’s Rogue tried cutting a whole in the floor to escape; it didn’t work.

My Fighter had been having a tough time following the Goblin through the secret passage. A magical fire trap actually killed the Goblin halfway through the tunnel, but my Fighter survived by the skin of her teeth. Traumatized and singed, she emerged in the room where the big fight was happening after a few moments.

With the Druid focusing on the portal, the Automaton focusing on the goons, and the Monk focusing on the Wizard, it was hard to decide where my Fighter should go next. But after Tekoa’s Monk was given a beating by some goons who stepped up to support the Wizard in his fight against her, she was not looking too good. I sent my Fighter sprinting over to assist her.

The fight continued as Christian’s Rogue went crazy trying to figure out a way to escape.

Finally feeling merciful toward Christian’s plight, the DM allowed the Automaton to make a History Check. This is not only a roll to see if he remembers what this mirror is and how to deal with it; it is also a roll to see if the Automaton can make the logical leap that the mirror was a trap our invisible Rogue might have fallen into. A very average 11 ensured that the Automaton at least recollected that destroying it should release whoever is inside. The metal behemoth trudged over to the mirror and began whacking at it.

Mia’s poor Druid was left to attack the portal by herself while also fending off the goons the Automaton had previously held at bay. “You guys, the portal!” she cried out desperately.

Tekoa’s Monk was on the brink of death, however, so she crawled as far away from the fight as she could to try and recuperate.

My Fighter, in the meantime, was attempting to start a dialogue with the Wizard, her former friend, in the hopes of reaching a peaceful resolution to the situation.

The energy from the portal reached critical levels.

The Automaton swung a mighty blow against the mirror, and it shattered into hundreds of pieces. Our Rogue appeared from out of nowhere, gasping in relief and visible for the world to see. Unluckily, he was not the only being trapped in one of the mirror’s interdimensional pockets. Three Drow Elves, a Dwarf, a handful of beasts, and a Mind Flayer all suddenly appeared in the room.

Mass chaos ensued as everyone began fighting everyone.

My Fighter’s dialogue with the Wizard halted as we both turned to look at the suddenly much more crowded room. Tekoa’s Monk huddled in a corner trying to heal. Mia’s Druid begged us all to turn our attention to the portal one final time.

That’s when the portal finally opened fully, and a gargantuan Beholder floated out of it with a hideous cackle.

Things went downhill from there. Tekoa’s Monk ran away in fright. The Automaton got petrified and charmed by our Wizard. Mia’s Druid got tossed out a window and fell 60 feet. The Rogue used his Warp Arrows to teleport outside to save her, but he ended up shooting the arrow too far; he appeared by the fortress walls instead. My Fighter then used her Broom of Flying to try and catch her as well, but that failed. Our Druid didn’t die, but it was a close thing.

Those of us that could flee had to run away from the fortress. Dark clouds gathered around the battlements, and we could hear the Beholder’s laughter in our minds as we sprinted away.

At the end of the session, the DM leaned back in his chair and rubbed at his eyes. “I guess we’ll pick this up next week?”

A D&D Story: The Skull Room

My group of Dungeons & Dragons adventurers is not comprised of the smartest characters. As players, my friends and I have a tendency to be silly, stupid, or bold just for the entertainment value of it all.

During this particular campaign, Sidney, Dalton, Mia, and I were at the table.

Dalton was the Dungeon Master (DM). He ran the whole show, planned out the entire area the rest of us were exploring. He’s methodical in his craftsmanship, but has a delightfully dark sense of humor when he sees his players making mistakes.

Sidney played our resident Warlock with persistent bad luck. He’s the most affable person I know, but damn, he is plagued with terrible rolls and poor, split-second decisions.

Mia was our level-headed ranger. Of all the characters in our party, she’s the one with logic and practicality on her side. We all would have died during our first mission if it hadn’t been for her.

And I was my all-time favorite Barbarian Half-Orc. Unbridled rage, loyalty to her “tribe,” and rash choices are my bread and butter.

In this mission, the three of us players were exploring this underground cavern. Rumors of a dark-magic forge built here kept us searching for hidden rooms and strange mechanisms. Eventually, we reached a massive space with wooden contraptions that told us we had found our forge.

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t have long to enjoy our discovery.

As soon as we entered, a giant, flaming skull suddenly appeared and started throwing fire our way. It also conjured up these minions from out of nowhere, all of them surrounding us in an instant.

As a Barbarian (and as a Half-Orc), I charged into the fray heedless of my safety. Mia’s Ranger and Sidney’s Warlock had no choice but to follow my example.

After the first two rounds of combat, it was clear our party was out of its depth. But Mia and her Ranger were the only ones to realize this and remark upon it.

Side note: Come on. I’m a Barbarian Half-Orc. Recklessness is in my blood.

In an effort to try and incorporate some strategy into our attacks, Sidney moved his Warlock out of the room. There were two entrances to the large space, and Sidney figured we’d be less of a target if we split our forces. His Warlock walked out into the hallway, all the way around to the other side of the room. From that spot, he was able to start Eldritch-Blasting the backside of our opponents.

Unfortunately, in the time it took him to walk there, my and Mia’s characters became overwhelmed. My Barbarian went down, and Mia’s Ranger needed to drag me the heck out of there.

Even though her Ranger is not a natural healer, she holds all of our Healing Kits in her pack. So, for the time being, she’s our go-to healer.

Her action was used up in dragging me away during that round. Mia assured me that when her next turn came around, she’d heal my Barbarian right up.

At that exact moment, Sidney’s Warlock took a huge barrage of punishment from the flaming skull. So much punishment, in fact, that he got knocked out too.

Mia paled and stammered that she’d get to him on the turn after she healed me.

True to her word, Mia healed my Barbarian right up. Then she began to make her way to Sidney’s downed Warlock.

Unlucky Sidney had moved so far though, that by the time Mia’s Ranger got to his body, he was gone.

As in dead.

Sidney laughed at Mia’s dismay, and his laughs increased when the first thing my Barbarian did upon waking up was to rush back into the fight.

I’ve never heard Mia curse so much.

The healing my Barbarian had received had only given me so many Hit Points (HP). In no time at all, I was downed again.

With a grimace of frustration, Mia got her Ranger back into that giant room, resigned to hauling my unconscious Barbarian carcass out of there once more.

The flaming skull and its minions had other plans.

They peppered projectiles at Mia’s Ranger like there was no tomorrow. And even though she managed to drag my Barbarian out of the room and into the hallway, the damage was done. She got knocked out too.

So in Dungeons & Dragons, there are these things called Death Saves and Death Fails. After losing all your HP, you have to roll Death Saving Throws. That means rolling your 20-sided die in order to determine if your character lives or dies. If you roll a 10 or higher, you’re in the clear. If you roll lower than that, you’re an inch closer to death. You have to make three successful rolls in order to be considered “hanging onto life.” If you roll three fails, your character is officially dead, and a new one needs to be made.

Sidney’s Warlock had failed all three of his Death Saving Throws before Mia’s character could heal him.

So with my Barbarian and Mia’s Ranger both down, we needed to make those throws.

Mia failed all of hers.

I made it.

Laughter ensued as I stared dumbfounded at my little Half-Orc, the only surviving member of our party. Dalton had his head in his hands. Sidney chortled about the near Total Party Kill (TPK) we just had. And Mia was laughing with pleasure at my guilt for getting her Ranger killed.

I seriously had no idea where to go from there.

Dalton ended up making the executive decision to retcon the entire encounter.

We pretended the whole thing never happened, and when we picked up our game next week, we avoided the shit out of that skull room.

A D&D Story: Sneaking for Dummies

“All right, how are you going to do this?”

Sidney leaned back in his chair at the head of the gaming table. A slight smile was on his face. As the Dungeon Master for this session, he had the pleasure of watching the rest of us figure out how to infiltrate this fortress we really needed to get into. Not that he was overly malicious about it. When Sidney DMs, the games have more of a stress-free feel to them. We’re there to have fun, and Sidney helps facilitate that.

Our group’s objective was to sneak into a fortress that was heavily guarded on the ramparts, with clusters of undead patrolling the area outside the walls. Our party of adventurers was crouched by a copse of trees near the fortress’ doors, unnoticed for the moment.

But that would not be the case for long.

“So,” I asked, turning to the rest of the table, “how are we getting in?”

“Quietly,” Dalton replied. He was playing a man who was dubiously named Walter. We didn’t know much about his character except for the fact that he could use magic. He was also always the first to state the obvious in the most sarcastic voice possible.

“Well, of course quietly,” Mia answered, “but what’s the plan exactly?” Mia has always been our most sensible player, probably because she always plays sensible characters. Where the rest of us enjoy the hilarity of playing as drunkards, fools, and bloodthirsty rage monsters, Mia always makes characters that are fonts of practicality. In this campaign, she was a Druid named Ari.

“I’ll go!” Christian volunteered, speaking as his Rogue, Eldrin. “Sneaking. I can sneak.” Eldrin had not been having a good couple of days. Upfront combat is not his forte, and we had been fighting giants as of late. He much prefers stealing things from people’s pockets when no one is looking.

“I’ll go with you,” Mark responded. His and Christian’s characters, Nero and Eldrin, were buddies. Story-wise, this decision to accompany Eldrin made sense for Nero. Plus, Nero has always been the kind of guy to leap first and look later.

Mark and Christian turned to Sidney. Sidney shrugged at our half-hearted attempts at solid planning with a smile. “Roll me a stealth check.”

Mia held up a hand. “Wait! Let me cast Pass Without Trace. Please.”


Ari cast the spell over the entire group, allowing us all to creep up right next to the walls of the fortress without being seen. Once there, Christian said, “I have a grappling hook I’ve been dying to use.”

“How high is the wall?” Dalton asked.

“30 feet,” Sidney answered.

“Then I cast Misty Step and teleport up there. And since I’m still within 30 feet of Ari, Walter is still sneaky.”

Mia grew desperate to keep the group together. “Are we just going to split up?”

“Nero and Eldrin will use the grappling hook.” Christian gestured toward himself and Mark.

“I guess we are,” Mia moaned.

For Sidney’s campaign, I played a little Fighter gnome named Baloolah. Her small size allows her to sneak pretty well, and her high Dexterity score makes her a formidable opponent with her short sword. I considered my options for entering the fortress, but before I could settle on one, I remembered our missing player.

“Wait, what about Vox?”

Vox was a Blood Hunter played by our friend Jacob. Jacob had stepped out of the game to go get some sustenance (i.e. food). We couldn’t just leave his character outside of the fortress.

“I’ll have him go up the rope after Nero and Eldrin,” Sidney reassured us. “You two.” He pointed to Christian and Mark. “Roll me an Athletics check for your rope-climbing. Dalton, Walter has made it to the top of the ramparts. There is a guard to your left, but he hasn’t noticed you.”

“Is there anyone to my right?”

“No guards, but you do know that Nero and Eldrin are climbing up from that area. Beyond that, there’s a guardhouse.”

“I’d like to sneak into the guardhouse.”

Okay, roll me a Stealth check.”

While Sidney was dealing with Dalton, Christian, and Mark’s rolls (they all rolled high enough to succeed in each of their endeavors), Mia had had enough.

“Sidney, I’d like to turn into a snake and slither onto the walls that way.” As a Druid, Ari had the ability to transform into several different animals.

“Sure. You use your magic and transform into a dark-scaled snake. However, at that moment, the doors to the fortress are being opened to allow a patrol of Undead in. The doors are going to be closed behind them soon.” Sidney gave me a pointed glance.

I got the picture. My Fighter was the only one left on the ground. That door might be my only chance into the fortress. “I’ll make a run for it.”

“That will take you out of stealth,” Sidney reminded me. Mia shot me a look of horror, shaking her head in protest. She started mouthing the words, “Use the rope.”

In Dungeons & Dragons, whenever you’re faced with a decision you’re unsure about taking, just look at your character sheet and ask yourself, “Would my character do it?” And if the answer is yes, even if it’s a dumb idea, always go for it.

“Baloolah is going to book it toward the door.”

“Roll me a Dexterity check.” The way rolling a die works is fairly straightforward. You have a 20-sided die. You roll it. Based on your character’s skills, you either add or subtract from the number you roll. Baloolah, for example has a high Dexterity score. When using an ability that requires Dexterity, she can add +5 to her rolls.

I rolled the die.

I got a 1.

So a 1 and a 20 have special significance in the world of D&D. Let’s say you want to try doing a backflip. The DM has a number that you have to beat in order to accomplish that. So if you roll a 14 and the number to beat was 10, you simply perform an adequate backflip. If you roll less than 10, you can’t do the backflip.

If you roll a natural 20, meaning you added nothing to your original roll, it just landed on 20, you perform the backflip superbly. Anyone watching will think you are the king of backflips. Conversely, if you roll a natural 1, you utterly fail, possibly injuring yourself in the process.

Bottom line: 20 is good, 1 is bad.

Sidney laughed. “All right, well, Baloolah, you run as fast as you can, breaking cover to try and slip through that closing door, but it closes before you get to it and you hit it face first. Take 1 point of damage.”

Mia face-palmed.

“Am I out in the open?” I asked nervously.

“Completely,” Sidney said cheerfully. “A patrol is moving closer, in fact.”

“I’m going to run away in the opposite direction then.”

“Okay, move 25 feet over here.”

Mia raised her hand, and Sidney turned to her. “Can I slither alongside Baloolah as she runs away?” Despite her friends’ stupidity, Mia never abandons them. (Though maybe someday she will reach a breaking point.)

“Sure. What’s your speed as a snake?”

Mia checked the snake statistics she held in front of her. But suddenly her features fell. “Umm…wait, I think we have a problem.”

Christian and Mark, who had been whispering about their plans of attack once they reached the top of the wall, stopped and paid attention. Dalton, who had been patiently awaiting his turn, also glanced at Mia.

“I’m a giant snake,” Mia said.

Sidney blanched. “A what?”

“The snake that I can turn into is a Giant Snake. It’s not small at all.”

There was a pause, and then the entire table burst out laughing at the mishap.

“Okay, just for the sake of easiness, we’ll assume that no guard has noticed this extremely sneaky, extremely large snake on their walls,” Sidney clarified.

However, Mia, ever thinking with her brain, immediately asked, “Since I’m a large beast, can I pick up Baloolah and carry her up the wall? Can she ride me?”

Sidney hesitated, unsure of the logistics of this scenario.

I piped in. “I’m only a three-foot-tall gnome.”

“Okay, I’ll allow it. Ari can pick up Baloolah and carry her to the top of the wall. But you’re on the far side of the fortress still.” He focused his attention back to the boys. “Okay, what are you guys doing?”

“Can we stealth kill guards, or is that not a thing?” Christian asked.

Sidney indicated Dalton, Mark, and Christian in a sweeping gesture. “If all three of you successfully sneak attack a single enemy, I’ll count it as an instant kill.”

What followed was an unprecedented amount of sneaking in the history of our tabletop games. Walter, Eldrin, and Nero were handling the guards like there was no tomorrow. Seriously, if you knew what our games usually turned into, you would be amazed at the idea that they were all being stealthy. It was a stroke of luck and genius at the same time.

Then, Jacob returned to the table. We caught him up to speed on what had been happening quickly. His Blood Hunter, Vox, had been left holding onto the rope since Sidney had been reluctant to include a player-absent character in events.

Understandably, Jacob wanted to dive right into the thick of things. He had Vox climb the rest of the rope to the ramparts. “I want to peer over the rim of the wall.”

“You see a guard standing nearby,” Sidney told him.

“Okay. I want to grab him by the collar and yank him over the wall.”

Silence reigned at the table.

Jacob looked nonplussed. “What?”

Sidney leaned back in his chair. “So everybody, Vox reaches from his spot clinging to the wall’s edge and pulls a guard over the side where he plummets to his death. As he falls, he lets out a scream. The entire fortress is now alerted to your presence.”

For special effect, Dalton pulled out his phone and played an audio clip of the infamous Wilhelm scream.

As one, we turned to stare at Jacob.

But then Sidney told us to roll for initiative (a roll to determine who goes first in combat), and we prepared ourselves for a lengthy battle in the previously quiet fortress.

Dungeons & Dragons & Dorks (Oh My)

I was first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons by my friend Mia’s father. We were young at the time, me, Mia, and my sister. That didn’t stop Mia’s dad from showing us the ropes.

The way D&D works is not as complex as you may think it is. For the longest time, D&D has been seen as this complicated game that only nerds in basements play. Let me tell you, anybody with a good sense of humor and an active imagination can play Dungeons & Dragons.

You create a character for yourself first, with a small backstory, flaws, preferences, and things like that. Your character also has a Class, which kind of means a job (like Wizard, Paladin, or Fighter). You have varying degrees of Intelligence, Strength, or Charisma, each of which will help or hinder you on your journey. (Kind of like in real life.)

Then you find a Dungeon Master, or DM, who will create the map, world, and story for your game to start in. After that, it’s all up to the players how the adventure goes.

The actual rules of the game might make D&D sound technical as shit, which is why I’m not bogging you down with stats and die rolls. Just trust me, the game is fun.

Mia’s dad led me, Mia, and my sister through a roaring good time. There were laughs, tears, and adventures. I still, to this day, can’t properly express my gratitude that Mia’s dad was willing to sit down with three little girls and teach them how to play Dungeons & Dragons. That was beyond cool. Mia’s dad was a great man.

These days, Mia and I have our own D&D group. We try to meet every Saturday night in order to slay some monsters and find some treasures. Players have come and gone from our group over time, but we still try and keep the game going strong.

(We actually have several games going on at the moment, each set in their own universe and with different characters. A single game is not enough for our adventuring appetites.)

In all honesty, we’re not the smartest group of adventurers to ever delve a dungeon. The only sensible and practical character in our group is Mia’s. The rest of us play as a gaggle of idiots. (Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.) We charge ahead into fights without considering the fact that we may be outclassed by our opponents. We jump into suspicious holes just because we’re curious what’s at the bottom. Some members of our group (*cough, cough* Sidney *cough, cough*) don’t even have a clear understanding of how a door works.

Throughout all of our (mis)adventures, we have tons of fun. Not a single gaming night has gone by when we haven’t bust a gut laughing. D&D allows us to get into (and hopefully out of) absurd situations. And the best thing is we have so much freedom in how we solve our problems. Our more charismatic characters try to talk their way out of their troubles, and our more…barbaric characters simply hack and slash their way to a solution.

D&D has given me a chance to form friendships with really cool people and has given me a taste of what it would be like to exist in a place like Middle-Earth. It’s imaginative and fun-filled. I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday evening. If you’ve played the game before, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t played before, I hope you decide to give it a try.

I do plan on writing more about the foolhardy adventures my group has gotten into. (One of us really has to keep a log of our own stupidity.)

So, have you ever played Dungeons & Dragons before? Is it something you’d want to do in the future?