Thoughts occasioned by OOTS #890

If you’re a reader of Order of the Stick, you’ve hopefully read the last couple of strips, including the latest one, #890. If you haven’t, go ahead and do so, because this won’t make any sense unless you have.

All done? Okay.

See now, in a real game, this is the point where the players collectively leap across the table and force the DM’s dice down his throat through a funnel until his abdomen ruptures from within.

Imagine this: After six months of (real-world) play time, where everything has been going *perfectly* for your character, with never a die roll flubbed, all the villains slain, and all the treasure won, the DM suddenly asks everyone to make a WIS check. And when you do, he tells you that the last year or two of game-time never happened, it was all an illusion, and your characters are still back in that dungeon you thought you cleared out months ago. Oh, and he happens to have copies of your character sheets from back then, so here you go, you’re five or six levels lower than you thought you were.

That there is a recipe for murder. Damn I’d like to try it sometime, but I just don’t have the guts.


Also, please don’t forget the Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary Kickstarter going on right now! 900 monsters, suitable for most OSR-type games, all under one cover. Can you help get us to having an illustration for each and every one?

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

14 thoughts on “Thoughts occasioned by OOTS #890

  1. Hmmm I would most definitely not try it on unsuspecting PCs mid-campaign. They invest so much that in most cases it will be seen as game breaking, tear inducing and dice-turned-murder-weapons time…

    But as one off, or a simple one/two session quest in a campaign – I have indeed used it and came out alive and without players moaning.

    I think my best usage of the dream trick with a peculiar twist though was for the long intro of a campaign where the characters thought they were going through a quest to revive the Hero only to have the local bad guy Necromancer be revived and trap them in endless slumber for their juices (and the dream starts again with them fogeting the truth)

    Then the real story started sometime in the future where they were freed by others…and so on…

    In my less prideful experiences (an dI m guessing ot many inexperienced DMs) this was also used as my next session solution to a TPK that we had all invested too much to re-roll characters…

  2. Depends on teh circumstances, really. If it fits the campaign, and works out in context, you could probably get away with a simple maiming.

  3. Sometimes, like the Lovecraftian Horrors aftereffects to the brain, our DM brains force themselves to forget certain aspects.
    I was (painfully) reminded by a player that after all I said above I am indeed guilty of doing it to a 3 year campaign …sort'a

    See we were students abroad and I had this Greyhawk campaign I had played with most of my then groups once, trying to fit all stories in the same timeframe – each subsequent adding more meat to the bones of the story. They all ended in the same "epic" way though. Tharizdun wakes up, Iuz via strings of major events absorbs all gods essences to fight back and in the end to save his skin absorbs the essense of Oerth itself. He wins and Oerth becomes the sun for the Dark Sun setting while Greyhawk is no more.

    But this specific player met me again back home and asked to continue a new campaign with the same character….Which has some technical difficulties when the last session is your paladin of Pelor holding Pelor's husk in his arms as the matter around him is destroyed watching the end of the world while Iuz and Big T battle it out!

    So I came up with a Matrix meets Assassins' Creed kind of story (the whole thing was like a server reset in a major MMO) and was trying to get him to wake up and play a cyberpunk campaign (Shadowrun back then)…he was not impressed to say the least and we stopped it at the wake up session 😀

  4. I had the reverse, but only three sessions or so. Ended one session of Shadowrun with everyone jailed. Next session had a prison break, with several sessions of the flight and eventual death of everyone. Then next session, where people xpected to start over, it was just a simsense that the prison did to gauge early release eligibility. (They failed, but attracted a benefactor that got them out after that.)

  5. WELL, maybe I would not let them play for 1 or 2 years before the Saving Throw… I would just tell them what was going on…. In game play I think the last scene they played was the fight against the Lich 🙂

  6. I think it would be pretty damn epic if my DM did that. Then again, I never really understood the "they invest so much into their character so you can't do things that might change how that investment works" line of thought. Sure people get attached to their characters, but I'm not playing the game to "invest" in my character, I'm playing the game because I'm having fun with a bunch of friends. I'm investing in socialization, not spreadsheets.

    I guess that line of thought comes from the fact that so many more RPGs encourage long term advancement planning, but I just don't get it.

  7. A better way to do it is to start acting like a give away campaign during the session. Start fast forwarding time and handing out magical gear and experience points like it is going out of fashion. At some point one of the players will question what is going on and at that point you can reveal that they are still in the dungeon they were in earlier in the session.

  8. A good way to simulate this is to sit down and write an entire blog post in your word processor with auto-saves off, get really good an satisfied with it, and then turn off the computer without saving.

    If all the players agree that's totally fun, and not disappointing or upsetting in any way, you've got a group to use this on.


  9. It's actually not well said. The purpose of writing a blog post is to explicitly generate a post for publishing.

    When you sit down to game, what is your purpose? Is it to have fun with some friends for a while, or is it to level up your character?

  10. Sorry, we seem to have different opinions on this indeed.

    I do not share your line of thought that my caring for a story my players invest time and emotions in, that neither me nor they would like to go *poof! it never happened!*, puts me as a person only caring for leveling up my character. Which I don't even have, being the GM.

    Well said, Peter.

  11. If the characters remember everything, then it makes sense to me that they'd keep their experience. The players would probably want to re-do some modules thinking they are more familiar with the settings. As a player, if my primary goal is to get experience and the DM takes it away without any real reason/challenge to keep it, I'd be thinking about another DM.

Comments are closed.