A Daring Challenge (A DM Tale)

This is a short story chronicling one of the main encounters from my most recent D&D session 1. The Characters get into these sorts of situations all the time.

Into Darkness

Gamble’s stomach clenched as poison surged through his veins. Thankfully the creature which wounded him had run off in terror, leaving the dwarf standing standing alone in front of a bare wall.

“This is it!” he yelled as he brought up his hammer to strike, manaical desire seared into his eyes.

“Gamble, wait a minute…” a voice called out from behind him as Gamble brought down his weapon to strike. But it was too late to stop the paladin. He was fixated on his goal and after his first blow glanced off the stone he swung again, sidearm this time, and broke in a hidden door. As he did so, a small brick fell from the wall to the dwarf’s right.

“Did you even look for a way to open the door?” Biggs asked. “It could have been trapped, that’s what you have me for.”

“See, it’s a passage,” Gamble celebrated. “Here, help me clear the doorway.”

Biggs sighed and helped Gamble through the doorway, clearing it a bit so their other companions could follow. Biggs stepped through after the dwarf and looked down the passage, there was no light.

“Great, I can’t see anything,” the rogue muttered.

“Maybe wait for Kranil?” chimed in another voice as a new figure ducked through the door. After passing through the arch the newcomer stood up to his full height of 9 ½ feet and smiled down at his friend. “She makes light,” he added.

“Yah, Aust, you’re right. Gamble, let’s wait for everyone to catch up then we’ll…” Biggs turned just in time to see Gamble disappearing into the darkness.

“Can’t wait, I have to be daring!” shouted the dwarf as he rushed forward.

Biggs sighed. “Now what did he do that for?”

“That,” replied Aust, pointing to the wall behind his friend. Biggs turned and saw a single word carved into it.


“Oh great,” Biggs sighed. He removed the large, wide-brimmed, purple hat he wore on his head and wiped his brow. “I guess we have to go now, then.” The rogue reached into his pack and pulled out a torch, which he then lit. The glow of the torchlight danced on the smooth passageway before them, easing a bit of the darkness. “If this gets soot on my outfit I’m never going to forgive him. Do you know how much is costs to clean this outfit?”

“No,” replied Aust, who gave his small friend a broad smile.

“No, I suppose you wouldn’t.” Biggs then turned and called back through the doorway, “Down this way, everyone. Aust and I are going to catch up with Gamble!”

Before the pair could move down the passage a well-dressed elf came through the doorway. “What is the dwarf doing this time? Honestly, he’s been nothing but trouble ever since he popped out of that barrel 2.”

“He’s being daring, Jakel” smiled Aust, pointing once more to the word on the wall.

The elf smacked his forehead. “I should be at home right now, enjoying a nice cup of tea and undermining a tyranical regime from within. But ever since you lot showed up I’ve been abducted by an inter-dimensional gnome 3, whisked off to who knows where, and then stuck here. Wherever this is.”

“It’s the Shrine of Ages,” Aust replied. The firbolg’s smile broadened. Aust enjoyed being helpful.

“Yes, well. I suppose the only way out is through. Areth and Kranil are following, shall we?” The elf pointed down the passage.

Biggs shrugged. “I guess we have to,” he replied as he led the way down the passage.

“Hey!” cried another voice from behind. “Would you wait up? What’s the rush? I can’t even see Kranil behind me!”

“Sorry, Areth,” Biggs called back over his shoulder. He then heard a deafening roar, followed by a rush of wind and what Biggs thought was Gamble crying out in alarm. “I think Gamble’s in trouble, we need to get moving.”

Biggs, Aust, and Jakel rushed down the passageway and turned the corner into a broad room which was wider than it was deep. Two rows of four stone pillars held up high ceiling, and in-between the rows was a crevasse which fell into darkness. Spanning the crack was a narrow wooden bridge. Those features, however, were dwarfed 4 by the sight of the chamber’s occupant. Slithering toward the trio was an immense serpentine creature. But instead of a normal head and mouth it possessed a terrifying beak, surrounded by four barbed tentacles.

“What is that?” Biggs said as he skidded to a stop.

“The thing that ate Gamble?” Aust replied.

Biggs didn’t think Gamble would have allowed himself to be eaten by such a creature 5, but as he faced the monstrosity’s snapping beak he had a moment of doubt. As the creature slithered forward, however, he heard Gamble’s signature grunts echoing up from the crevasse.

“No, I think he’s OK. But we might not be.”

“Oh, ok,” said Aust as his body seem to elongate. The firbolg leaned forward as his face extended into a muzzle and he completed his transformation into a dire wolf.

Biggs grinned. “I will never get tired of that.” The rogue pointed toward the approaching creature and said, “Sic!”

The wolf grunted in agreement and bounded forward. Biggs shrugged and said, “Well, I guess I better go help. You got anything that can help us take this thing down, Jakel?”

The rogue didn’t wait for a response. He rushed forward and took a flanking position next to his dire wolf ally. He smiled as the creature approached and got two strikes in on it. Their party hadn’t faced anything that could take them down yet and he was certain this would be no different.

Except it was. As Biggs reveled in his expert use of a rapier, the serpent-thing lashed out with its four tentacles and ensnared the dire-wolf. Dire Aust cried out in pain as the creature drew it towards it vicious beak and clamped down around him. There was a brief explosion of magical energy, and when Biggs could see again he spied Aust now standing in front of the monstrosity.

“Uh-oh,” was all Aust could say as he held his hand against a gash in his side.

Biggs eyes opened wide as he blinked in disbelief. “Well, I think I’m outclassed here so…I’m gonna go help Gamble.” The rogue then lept backward and did a handspring off the edge of the crevasse. He twisted as he fell and managed to bring his rapier down on a creature much like the one he’d just escaped, only smaller. Bigg’s strike was true and as he landed he managed to slice the creature in half 6.

“It’s about time,” Gamble grumbled as he brought his hammer down on a second creature.

“We’ve been a bit busy, sorry,” Biggs replied.

Back up in the chamber Areth had managed to turn the corner into the room, rather winded from sprinting down the corridor. “OK I’m here… what is that?” the wizard cried out as she spied the monstrosity. Aust was moving away from the creature and rushing toward the bridge. As he stepped on to the planks, however, a gust of wind rushed against the span. So intense was the push Jakel though he saw paint being stripped from the surface of the planks. The firbolg, however managed to keep his feet and remain on the span. Once the gust passed he sprinted across and made his way to a door on the other side.

“I’m daring!” Aust cried as he ran.

Jakel waited for Aust to clear and then pointed at the creature, forming a flaming sphere which he slammed into the serpent. “That’s what just forced Aust out of his dire wolf form with one bite. Areth I think we need to… what are you doing don’t get closer to the monster, run!

“But I think I can hit it with a fireball,” Areth murmured as she stepped forward to get a clear shot. “That’ll put it down, right?”

“That thing will chop you in half, get out of here!” Jakel shouted.

“Oh, all right,” Areth huffed as she turned toward the bridge. She’d witnessed what had happened to Aust and braced herself for the blast of wind. Once it passed she, too, made her way toward the door.

As Areth made her way to safety, Jakel stepped forward. A smile spread across his face as he muttered, “Oh, I did miss this. I must admit.” With that, the elf reached out with both his hands and shot two jets of flame toward the creature. Both hit, and singed the monstrosity’s skin. It howled in pain, and then turned toward the one who had hurt it.

“Well, that was unexpected,” Jakel whispered. “I think I may want to be somewhere else.” And, in a puff of mist, Jakel vanished and then reappeared on the opposite side of the crevasse. As he got he bearings he looked back across the gap.

And saw Kranil coming around the corner.

“Karnil, run!” Jakel managed to shout. But it was too late. Denied of prey the monstrosity turned on the newcomer with fury.

The cleric turned the corner, and saw none of her companions in the room. “Hey, where’d everyone go?” she declared. Followed by, “Oh shi…” as the creature snared her with all four tentacles and drew her in close to its beak. With a single snap Kranil went limp and the creature dropped her to the ground.

Jakel looked at the scene as remorse rose up in his gut. “I think I’ve made a terrible mistake,” he whispered.

“This challenge is passed!” Echoed a voice through the chamber. Jakel spun and saw Aust standing in front of an open door, behind him the elf could see a pulsing light.

“I helped?” Aust inquired.

After the voice spoke the creatures all began to back away from the party, and Jakel leapt into action. “Quick, we have to help Kranil!” Areth and Aust rushed back over the bridge with Jakel and brought Kranil back to consciousness.

As they did so, Biggs and Gamble emerged from the crevasse on the opposite side of the bridge.

“You all right, then?” Gamble called out.

“We are now,” Areth shouted back. There was a tinge of accusation in her voice.

“Oh, that’s good then,” Gamble called back. Then, as a maniacal glint returned to his eyes he shouted, “Let’s go see what’s next!” The paladin rushed into the next room, with Biggs following.

The the party members stood up to follow, Kranil wincing as she moved. As they made their way over the bridge they could hear Gamble break out in a shout of triumph.

“I think I might have to kill the dwarf,” muttered Kranil. And then she whispered a prayer of repentance to her goddess.

  1. 5e, I refer to the party as The Monday Murder Hobos.
  2. It’s a long story.
  3. It’s another long story. There was sand involved.
  4. Yah, pun intended. Sue me.
  5. Or anything, really, it was one of the items on his not-bucket list.
  6. The landing was three point, of course.