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?”