The Hunting Party, Part 1: Careful What You Wish For
What do you mean he's running a Halloween special? Does he not realize this is June?
Poot just shrugged as he lit a cigarette, "I told him that."
"He says that's why it'll be so fucking epic that people will be talking about it for the next decade. It's his place in history."
Seriously? This is why we need to expand our pool of friends.
Poot laughed and said, "Neverwas told me you wouldn't be willing to roll with us on this one."
You're only saying that because you think it's going to get me to come along, I said as I poured a glass of whine. Why not? Okay, who else is going down this rabbit hole with us?
"Little Boy is rolling a cleric," Poot said as he began to count everyone off on his fingers, "Step is a rogue. I'm going to be a gnome wizard, and Icarus says he's going to be a druid."
So it's just me that you're waiting on?
"Neverwas claims that he's thinking about letting the Master Planner come in," Poot said as he let loose a long sigh. "It's like he thinks that by keeping the Master Planner waiting that he's got some power over him."
Fuck that guy, I said with as much gusto as I normally saved for Sartre. Tell the prick M.P. is in and I've already called him to let him know.
"He's going to be pissed you made the call," Poot said with a smile. "I think I'll tell him that I made the decision to take some of the heat."
Why would you want to do that?
"Because I like pissing on him from time to time - it pleases me."
Fair enough, I said as I dialed the Master Planner and started getting everyone together for a pre-game meal at the China Hut for a strategy session. I worked the phones while Poot explained that we had already brought in the Master Planner. By the time I was finished setting up the meeting and caught up with Poot's end of the conversation I found him telling Neverwas that he was a load his mother should have swallowed.
Things going well, I asked as Poot continued pacing with a trail of smoke following his route.
"Yeah," Poot said with a wink as he hung up the phone, "he tried to get all 'this is my game and you have no right' so I had to put him in his place."
I feel like tonight's game is going to go well now.
"Me too," he said. "Let's get on the road or we're going to be late."
We climbed into Poot's car and he started telling me about the setup to the game. "According to Neverwas we're going to be starting in this old village with these Germanic peasants who are really superstitious."
It's a dark and stormy night, I intoned.
"Yeah, it sounds like he's going for a heavy handed Ravenloft to me, but you know him."
You guys just don't understand how to properly role-play, I said in a mock of Neverwas' voice. If you'd just take long enough to understand how the characters connect to the world then you'd get more out of the game!
"Full on," Poot said. "He even hit me with, 'Now you guys have to be serious about this one.'"
Are you shitting me?
This is definitely going to go well.
We pulled into the China Hut, grabbed some plates, and joined the rest of the group at the table. Gentlemen, I said solemnly, we're officially fucked tonight. He's got a god damned story he's going to tell and we're to be actors in this little drama.
"Are you fucking serious," Little Boy said as he threw his fork down. "I told him that doing that shit only pisses everyone off."
"He's not," Icarus said, "I heard him telling Little E that this storyline he was going to take us down would change our lives."
"Fuck me," Poot sighed, "so do we back out of this suck fest before it starts or?"
"Or we hit him where it hurts," the Master Planner said. "Listen, we all know that he's got this whole thing plotted out in that black notebook of his."
"You mean his novel," Little Boy asked.
"Has he ever let you read that thing," Icarus asked.
"Don't take him up on the offer," the Master Planner answered. "Look, the book is going to have a lot of his script in it and he's going to be reading directly from it."
Are you sure? He doesn't normally read during these things.
"It's coming," Poot said, "you've just never been in one of his 'story driven' games before."
So what are you suggesting, Master Planner, that we steal the book?
The table got silent for a moment as we all slowly got grins on our faces. He's going to get mad.
"Apocalyptic more like," Poot giggled.
"Before we do this does anyone want out," the Master Planner asked as he looked about the table, "because once this goes down he's going to be on the war path with all of us."
"I'm down," Poot said as Step and Icarus nodded their willingness.
"I want in too," Little Boy said, "but I don't want to be the one left holding the notebook when everything is said and done."
I'll take the fucking book, I said, and I'll be the one who gets it back to him when everything is over.
"How are you going to do that without letting him know it was you," Poot asked.
Don't worry about that. So what's our plan?
"You know that he's going to want to give us that creepy feeling only it's not going to work," the Master Planner said.
"Because he's going to be reading from the fucking book," Poot interrupted.
"Until we take the damned thing from him," Little Boy finished.
"Right," the Master Planner said. "So we've got to lull him into thinking that everything is going to plan. That means that we have to react just like how he expects us to. That means playing the time period in how you talk, faking fear at the right times, and no killing NPCs."
That last part came with a look directly at me and Poot. In the last four campaigns Neverwas had run Poot and I had killed 9 out of every 10 NPCs we met. The ones we didn't kill we used for monster bait and trap testers; it infuriated Neverwas. Personally I thought it was a brilliant strategy.
"So you're saying that we're going to be bored for the first few sessions," Poot said.
"Try just the first one," the Master Planner countered. "We snatch his book at the end of the night after he drops everything off at his truck and comes back to shoot the shit with us."
Who's grabbing it?
"I can do it," Step said, "but it's going to be pretty obvious that it was me."
"No," the Master Planner said, "let me handle the book."
We sat quietly for a few moments, each of us contemplating the task ahead of us, before I spoke up. That means we need to decide how we're going to build the party. Any thoughts?
"He's expecting me to play a cleric and Step to play the rogue," Little Boy said, "so I'm thinking that we shouldn't."
"What are you thinking," Poot asked.
"I think we should flip the script entirely and throw him off his plan early."
Now you've got my attention.
"I'll play the rogue since I haven't played one under him before. Step?"
"He's never seen me play a fighter. So I'll roll one of those."
"Icarus," Little Boy said, "what sort of crazy bullshit are you bringing?"
"I was going to play a druid, but I'm thinking that I need to switch it up too," Icarus said as he rubbed his chin - always a sign of fun times ahead. "I'll bring a barbarian to the party. He's seen me play one before but he's never figured out how to handle me as one."
"I know he thinks I'll be coming as the wizard," Poot mused, "so I'll come as a bard."
What about you Master Planner?
"I'll roll a wizard. Illusionist?" he said with a shrug, "You?"
I'm coming as a paladin, I said and they all stared at me. What?
"Are you sure you can pull that off," Poot asked me with far too much doubt in his voice. "You know he thinks of Lawful Good as Stupid Good right?"
"Charlie," the Master Planner said, "you know that means you can't do your normal game plan, right? No murdering NPCs for no reason. No screwing everything that walks. No stealing. None of it."
Look, we all agree that we need to flip the script on him so that he'll be off his game. Nothing will do that faster than me playing a Lawful Good paladin.
The Master Planner smiled and gave me a nod, "Well boys, if Charlie playing a paladin doesn't throw him off his game I don't know what will. Let's load up and go kick his ass."