“Are you coming?”
“I didn’t think you were seeing as how you abandoned us after we went through all that trouble to rescue you.”
Interesting choice of words; more on that later. That was said to me at the conclusion of a quest line; one of the party had died and I was blamed for it.
So you guys have some context, I’m going to long story short the plot; we were “The Heroes of the Resistance”, leading the fight against the Directorate, based off of/inspired by Nazi Germany. The tieflings, tired of being treated like second class citizens, turned around and became the oppressors. We were trying to stop them from taking over the world.
Jumping to what lead to the incident mentioned above; we were sent undercover into Directorate territory to uncover why Resistance agents were disappearing. Long story short, underground fight club, which was being organized by the nobles of the city. It was also being used by the Directorate to find exceptional individuals they could experiment on so as to turn them into weapons and/or replicate their abilities so be turned into weapons. It also earned them money because they were betting on the fights. The nobles had formed their own fighting teams, and people were being purchased.
Our cover (this time) was the drow elf bard, whose player will be called A, was passing themselves off as a member of a prominent noble family, my storm barbarian, halfling named Anja was the bodyguard, the half-orc ranger/fighter, R, was made to look aged and played the butler. The others, D, the human, hexblade warlock/something else, T, the dwarven war cleric, J, the aasimar paladin, and N, the human arcane trickster/wizard(?) were undercover as mercenaries. We re-entered the city using different entrances and met up later, where A bought them for their fight club team.
Major Katerina, one of the main antagonists, was the leader of a team called Squad Black (The Heroes of the Directorate); the other members were a bard named Puk and, I’m guessing, an artificer named Obscure. Katerina was very interested in Anja because of her lightning abilities and because of a homebrew axe, which she earned from a creature akin to a diety. If Feeblemind was cast upon her, and she fails the intelligence save, to put it mildly, she goes berserk. The capabilities of her axe are fully unlocked. People kept asking for Anja to be on their team. She was also interested in D’s character, who had the ability to travel through shadows, and she was dead set on finding out who his patron was.
Anja later lost a fight she shouldn’t have (the DM and I have agreed to disagree (further discussed by another player, who we will call D, who said the entire fight confused them)) and Anja was kidnapped. Fine, not fine. Bullshit. Moving forward.
Prior to the kidnapping, there was a Winner’s Party held for those who had won their fights the night before. Anja was there. Katerina asked A if they could have Anja’s body should she fall in the next fight. My immediate response was, “Cremate me,” which I know they heard because the DM and A looked at me in unison. A’s response?
“Oh, yeah, provided I can watch!”
Katerina: “We’ll see, should she fall.”
Why did I not lose my shit? Because of the “provided I can watch”; I knew where they were going with that.
After Anja loses and gets kidnapped, what did the team decide to do? Cut their losses. Now, I’ll give credit where credit is due; N, at least, made an attempt to get into the room where Anja was being held, D asked around, after their fight, where Anja might have been taken and R, playing N’s character during another session because N couldn’t make it, asked the Thieves’ Guild to look into where the bodies of the fallen were taken, which R informed N of.
They all forgot. They forgot about the Thieves’ Guild. They forgot about, “provided I can watch”. And, even if the DM did remember, would they have said anything? And they “cut their losses” because they couldn’t think of a way to do so without blowing their cover.
A was playing a member of one of the biggest donators to the Directorate’s cause; they probably could have asked, “I came to the city with a personal bodyguard. While the rest of the team has been accommodating, they can be easily persuaded. It would be very much appreciated if my loyal guard was returned.”
If that didn’t work, “You’re not going to give back my guard? That’s fine. I hope you didn’t bet any money on the people I bought because they’re not fighting until I get back the one I brought.”
And if that didn’t work, “I wonder how my father will feel about how I’ve been treated; he’s only a Sending spell away.”
Wanna guess when I thought of that? Right after they mentioned not being able to rescue Anja without blowing their covers. A, when they got the opportunity to speak to Katerina, didn’t even ask for Anja back. No attempt was made thereafter to locate her. They had a day and a half, in-game time, where Anja wasn’t moving; plenty of time to try something. They didn’t.
Why didn’t I suggest what I mentioned above? Because of what I felt, and still feel, to be a stupid rule; if your character’s not in the room, you shouldn’t be talking.
Because of something the scientists implanted inside Anja, at the end of the day and a half, she turned into a hideous creature and broke out, slaughtering everyone in the building. Alongside our main lead to the citadel where the Directorate was doing most of their experiments. Yep; it wasn’t just my character that was abandoned, it was also the main spy we were trying to locate, (she was wanted by the Directorate as well because there aren’t a lot of druids in this world).
The rest of the party was enjoying the life of the nobility, betting on the fights, and orchestrating pit fights after the main event to earn more gold at the expense of not only the life of my character but also that of our main lead.
Our lead, a tiefling named Valda, and Anja eventually came to their senses and Anja found her axe was nowhere in sight. Not wanting the enemy to unlock its secrets, she went back to see about retrieving it, or, at the very least, see where it was (and also to test out her new form since the first attempt was denied via Valda turning into a giant bird and carrying Anja away). Anja was caught again. After another day of being in one place, with the rest of the party continuing to do nothing, Anja was taken to the citadel.
Fast forward, the group makes it to the citadel. Obscure ran the citadel and, to him, Anja was the favorite. Her many escape attempts were making it difficult for him to experiment on her. When the group finally rescued her, which would allow me to speak, they ignored me.
I felt the entire thing was too easy. Yeah, the enemies were interesting, but, for a main base, the entirety of the exploration wasn’t as eventful as I would expect it to be. I also thought the entire thing was a trap.
How did I come to that conclusion? During one of Anja’s escape attempts, a man, and Resistance spy, named Arthur waited until AFTER Anja had popped off one of the metal bars holding her down to tell her a patrol was coming. When Anja was rescued, he was in the cell right next to her. Later, after some exploration, we came across a woman named Mia, who was a high ranking official in the Directorate, until she decided to try and free some prisoners. She knew the layout of the citadel and was willing to lead us the rest of the way through it. And Arthur didn’t complain at all about us suddenly deciding to trust her. In fact, he left us with her to see about helping Valda get the rest of the prisoners out of the citadel. Why would Puk care about leaving us with Katerina?
Another reason why I was suspicious was because, while we were exploring, looking for the generator room and a way to get in to blow up the citadel, we ran into people and creatures who either dealt lightning or psychic damage. For those of you who do not understand the significance of this, my barbarian took the Path of the Storm Herald, her focus being on the sea; she has resistance to lightning and, if anyone is standing in her aura, she can shoot lighting at them as a bonus action. In addition, anyone she chooses, who is standing in her aura, share in her lightning resistance. And, being a barbarian, the likelihood of her rolling an intelligence save high enough to resist a psychic attack was slim.
If you’re clever, and you have someone who you want to know exactly what it is they are capable of, but they keep escaping their bonds making the usual experimentation methods impossible, what would you do? My many attempts to point out my suspicions were met with bulldozers; they talked over me and kept moving.
When we finally got to the generator room, I was expecting Arthur to dramatically come up behind us with Valda and throw her into the room as he revealed himself as Puk. I was expecting Mia to drop her disguise and hit us with some sort of magic attack. And I was expecting Obscure to be chilling in the room, waiting for his “favorite” to arrive. To both my shock and relief, they were all in the room, standing on a lift waiting to take them to the top of the citadel. But what if I had been right?
And, at the end of this event, is where the remark from the beginning comes into play. Puk pulled us into another dimension, or plane of existence; we didn’t really know, which was to act as his lair. Him being a bard, his lair was a theatre. Those who weren’t sucked into his “performance”, literally, fought against puppet minions. But it was one of Puk’s abilities that put everyone, especially Anja, in hot water.
Puk had the ability to confuse people, which Anja, not having a high enough charisma save, was susceptible to. After the puppet minions were dispatched, because of the confusion, Anja spent most of the fight either spinning in circles/standing in one spot or running off in random directions. One time, she was supposed to attack the closest person to her; thankfully, there was no one around. Puk, at one point, also made it so, in order to attack him, you had to make a charisma save. The only reason why Anja was able to break out of the confusion, towards the end of the fight, was because she was close enough to J’s paladin to be able to utilize the +6 boost to her saving throws. And that was the only reason; she wouldn’t have been able to make it without it. If she was outside the aura, I didn’t bother rolling; with the aura, she had to roll a 17 or higher to make it.
A made the fight easier and more difficult at the same time by shutting down the lair; Puk couldn’t do any more of his lair actions, but it was completely dark. Because of Anja’s new form, she had heat vision, not that she was able to use it. After she FINALLY broke out, Anja stayed out of range of Puk’s confusion ability. The last thing I wanted to happen was for her to join the fray, get confused again, and accidentally hit a party member; the paladin, to be more specific. I, eventually, eased Anja a little closer, ready to charge in, because of how many hits J had taken, but I didn’t realize I had left Jay’s aura. Puk got EVERYONE with the next confusion blast, then killed J.
After that, ALL the creative thinking was used to save the paladin. T broke out of the confusion and cast Spare the Dying to bring the paladin back to life. When resurrecting someone, because we are heading into epic levels, the DM used a table. You roll a percentile and the spell either works, doesn’t work, or the soul is destroyed. J rolled the percentile; soul destroyed. Or, it should have been, but the DM let A cast Soul Cage to save the soul, after being allowed to break out of the confusion. After D killed Puk, they scrambled around, gathering the body and the stone for the golem J had summoned. Mia had been rigging the generators to blow via detonator in our absence.
We got to the top of the citadel and found an airship.
R: “I didn’t think you were [coming] seeing as how you abandoned us after we went through all that trouble to rescue you.”
No one even bothered to ask me why I did what I did. A and T proceeded to jump down my throat along with R. A said, “You could have been in there soaking up damage.”
At no point did A give a barding inspiration to those who were struggling against Puk’s confusion ability, nor did they do any damage to Puk.
At no point did J tell anyone they needed to be healed.
At no point did T, who was standing near J the entire damn fight, take the initiative and try to heal J.
N didn’t have to stop sneak attacking and run off to where A was, doing nothing.
D was dropping Puk’s props on top of us; they could have been fighting alongside J or sneak attacking along with N.
R wasn’t doing jack shit! In fact, I saved R’s ass by keeping Puk’s puppets off them while they were one.
And the only way for Anja to be able to “soak up damage” would be for the DM to decide to hit her and that would require her to be considered a threat. How was that supposed to happen with her spinning around in circles and running off in random directions?
J, N, and D didn’t say anything. The DM told me much later they had a conversation with R because of a snide comment they made (which I didn’t hear). But what really pissed me off about the whole thing? I didn’t know what it was until the next evening; I had been fuming, and then it clicked.
Where was the animosity towards A when they did absolutely NOTHING to help my previous character, Ria, before N blew her up?
Context: we were flying on an airship to a city to resupply. Some of the party went to get a drink at a tavern/inn, A and J went to go see Valda, D stayed on the ship, Ria, my aarakocra monk, noticed the mages’ tower in the city was no longer floating, so she flew over to investigate. Hell broke loose after that, not that Ria noticed because I kept failing her perception checks.
Everyone in the city had been turned into zombie-like creatures by a giant tar monster with only a mask for a face. THAT Ria did notice because it was hiding in the mages’ tower and it tried to grab her. Ria flew away from it, to discover it too could fly. It chased her, eventually swallowed her, and tried to turn her.
Fast-forwarding for everyone else, D was flying around in the airship looking for the rest of us; T, N, and R were riding on a giant ram through the city while being chased by World War Z, zombie-like beings, J was able to fly to T, N, and R on a rooftop. A was riding a giant owl, watching everything unfold.
A watched as Ria lead the tar monster away from them (Ria’s bond was to treat her friends like puppies).
A watched as Ria got a sudden burst of speed from her magic item, but the blob caught up.
A watched it fly up on Ria and swallow her.
A did nothing but watch.
D got the airship to hover above the rooftop everyone else was on, got the ladders down, and helped everyone up. A, eventually, landed on the airship. J asked where Ria was and A said in the monster. Everyone else was still climbing up the ladder. J told everyone they needed to attack the monster, and N went below deck and ordered the cannons on the airship to be fired. It was at that point we were advised this was a battle airship.
Why am I not angry at N? Because their character had no idea Ria was in the monster. It’s not like A told them while flying around them. It’s not like A (or J for that matter) shouted it while the others were climbing up the ladder. No; A waited until someone ASKED. That’s why I had to create Anja, by the way.
A could have flown within 60 feet to give Ria a bardic.
A could have flown within range of any of their damage-dealing spells and helped out; the blob was hovering in place after it swallowed Ria.
A could have gotten T closer to cast Healing Word; I also think A could have, too, if memory serves me correctly.
Why did no one jump down A’s throat for doing nothing? Or did they not give a flying fuck?
“I didn’t think you were [coming] seeing as how you abandoned us after we went through all that trouble to rescue you.”
Anja left the team not too long after J’s paladin was resurrected, to my dismay. After watching how everyone scrambled to save J, one plus one equals two. THAT statement meant her rescue, which A, ultimately caused the necessity of, which they forgot about, was seen as an obligation. Thinking back, I should have left then, too, but I made another character instead.
Had they rescued her right after she was taken, like they should’ve, they wouldn’t’ve had to go through all that extra work at the citadel, now would they?
Had N and J not been orchestrating pit fights after the main event, and focused that energy on looking for Anja, what would have happened?
Had A fucking ASKED Katerina for Anja back, with her +17 to Persuasion, what would have happened?
Anja was in one spot for a day and a half, with their main lead to the citadel, but, apparently, getting more gold was more important. Literally. N spent almost half a session looking for all the gold used in the betting INSTEAD of looking for a missing comrade.
Everyone forgot their hand in creating the necessity of Anja needing to be rescued. And I got ALL the blame for J’s character dying.
None of them asked why I had Anja “do nothing”, as T put it, during the fight against Puk and none of them ever asked me why I left the group. Only D said to me they were sorry I left the group and they risked being late to work to do it.
There were many other reasons why I left the group, but this situation was the main catalyst. Another reason being I didn’t feel wanted in the group. So I have to wonder what the obligation was; rescuing Anja or tolerating my presence at the table? If it’s the latter, what did I do to deserve that?