Much like our first edition of Your Dice Will Betray You, our focus falls on an adventurer dealing with the woes of failed dice rolls. Today, we meet Cameron the Sword Thrower, a Paladin I created a decade ago and have played in different games and groups. Throughout these games, the one constant seems to be his poor luck in combat.
Ten years past, I was invited into a game for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. It was a large group, filled with unsavory player characters and on average 10-12 players circling around a custom-made gaming table. Among the characters, the group had almost every basic class and the moral compasses as a whole pointed strongly south of True Neutral. With a series of epic tasks at hand in battling corruption and true evil throughout the land, I took it upon myself to inject a beacon of hope and nobility into the story to keep the group on-task and popular among the townsfolk. It turns out the rest of the group was largely in it for the gold, or in the case of the Barbarian, the love of battle.
A series of dice rolls and a blur of pencil on paper later and the Paladin Cameron was forged. With far above-average attributes, Cameron seemed to be a pillar of exception among Humans. His Strength could keep the Barbarian in check, his Charisma rivaled the Bard’s, his Constitution kept the healers from working too hard, and his Wisdom drew envy from the Clerics. I was convinced the adventure would be fun and Cameron would be a great contributor both in and out of combat… but then the combat began.
The story had been running for weeks prior to Cameron joining the adventuring guild. The characters had been hired to clear out hostile areas around the city and find the source of corruption worming its way in. The group had recently come back to the city to rest and recuperate and their benefactor called in a favor for a Paladin to work with them. The idea being that the Paladin would open more doors as the face of the party and this much Cameron was good at. His diplomacy and knowledge brought more opportunity and less open hostility to the guild in their travels.
Then the first battle happened – an ambush.
While exploring a series of old ruins for links to the evil spreading throughout the world the party was attacked by mercenaries – the fight initially broke out in a section of catacombs falling apart from disuse. Leading the party, the Rogue sensed something was off in the area and silently indicated as much to Cameron. Drawing his sword at the intersection of the catacombs, the rest of the group was spread about looking down three of the unexplored halls leading from the intersection. Focusing his concentration outward, Cameron attempted to Detect Evil and was nearly overtaken by the strength of evil in the catacombs. Up to this point, Divination spells had not worked properly in the area.
Then the flood of evil mercenaries came from down the halls behind us, the hallway we had just come down. A great melee broke out in the cramped halls and intersection – fallen stones likewise limited mobility. Cameron, not caught off guard, was the second to react (after the Rogue) and swung his long sword at the first attacker to run against his shield. The Rogue, attempting to stay hidden in the shadows next to Cameron, was slapped by the flat of his blade as he swung it – seemingly untrained. The first round of combat began and the party’s Cleric standing behind Cameron was cut deeply by another wild and off-balance swing. The second round? The long sword slipped out of his hand and flew down the side hallway twenty feet, subsequently striking the party’s Wizard in the process.
This continues not only for the rest of this particular battle, but basically the entirety of the story and anytime I play Cameron. The failed rolls go on and on. I’ve got to know this group of people over a cook-out and previous gaming sessions together, but Cameron in combat caused them to see another side of me. My calm, quiet demeanor (I was the shy, new guy) was replaced by laughter after each failed dice roll and often a curse directed toward my dice. Two hours into the game and I was rolling dice in combat with near-constant disastrous results as well as earning the nickname (Sword Thrower).
We joked around the table and at that point characters were betting gold and gems on who would get hit next time. Everyone had a good time, including me, but each time we got into a fight no one wanted to stand near Cameron for some reason. I tried a different set of dice and got the same results. I asked around the table, but no one wanted me to touch their dice while I was playing Cameron (as if he or I were cursed). Eventually the party chipped in materials and resources to craft Cameron a magical set of locked gauntlets. It helped… but not much. Thus is the story of my Paladin – Cameron the Sword Thrower.
What horrible luck has befallen an adventurer under your dice rolls?