Thursday, April 18, 2019

Rogues Gallery: Fighter and the case of the Incompetent Caller

Could this be the Caller?
What follows is a transcript from the court case of The Party vs. The Caller, recorded at the  Adventurers Guild Chancery in the Spring of 1977. J. Eric Holmes used the typewritten transcript referenced by the Prosecuting Attorney for the Example of Play on page 40 of the blue Dungeons and Dragons Rulebook. 

In this court case, the Caller faces 4 counts of man/demi-humanslaughter along with charges of gross negligence in the line of duty and incompetent leadership.

If you're not familiar with the events, a party consisting of Fighter, Thief, Halfling, Elf, and Dwarf walks down a corridor and finds an L-shaped room where they encounter 4 orcs. Attached is an abbreviated summation of the record of the trial.

Prosecuting Attorney (PA): Did you send the halfling ahead of the party to listen at the door to the L-shaped room, as recorded on page 40 of the Basic D&D rulebook, published 1977?

Caller: Yes

PA: Was there a thief in your party at that time?

Caller: Yes, there was.

PA: And yet you chose to break with Standard Dungeoneering Protocol and violate Adventuring Class Labor Union guidance on division of labor by sending a halfling to do a thief's job, even though a halfling has no special capacity for moving silently in a dungeon environment and are no better to 1st level thieves at hearing noises?

Caller: [Looks at his hands.] Those are guidelines, not rules.

PA: And again, when they'd discovered a chest inside the room, rather than having the thief, who entered the room along with the fighter, search the chest for traps, the fighter kicks the chest over.

Defense Attorney: Objection! "Find traps" was not among the thief's abilities in Holmes rules. Thieves had no better chance of finding a trap than any other class.

Judge: Sustained. The prosecution is advised to constrain your arguments to the appropriate version of the rules.

PA: Noted. [looking at a typewritten transcript] According to the transcript, Fighter kicked over the chest, then four orcs rounded the corner and engaged the party in combat. After the fight with the orcs, you once again assigned to the halfling the task of listening at the door? Why didn't you assign that task to the thief?

Caller: The thief got killed in the fight with the orcs.

[gasp from the courtroom, this information was redacted from the Holmes transcript]

PA: Let me ask you, Caller, was the thief a good fighter?

Caller: In Holmes D&D to hit and damage were the same for all the classes, so yeah, the thief was as good a fighter as anyone else in the party.

PA: But defensively, did the thief not have the worst armor class and, as a result of an undignified d4 hit dice, the lowest hit points in the party?

Caller: I don't recall, ma'am.*

PA: I submit to the court the character sheets for the party, which clearly demonstrate that the thief had a 7 AC and only 2 hit points, while Dwarf and Elf, who were held back from combat by the Caller, had 7 and 5 hp respectively and armor classes of 5 or better.

Defense attorney: Objection your honor. How is this relevant to the case?

PA: I contend that it establishes a pattern of incompetent deployment of resources your honor.

Judge: I'll allow it. Continue.

PA: [to the defendant] According to the transcript, you assigned the dwarf the task of holding open the door and the elf the task of looking down the hall. Why did you assign two of your best fighters to this task?

Caller: They were the only people with infravision.

PA: Could one of them have watched the hallway while simultaneously holding the door open?

Caller: ... I ... the DM... ummm... Probably.

PA: So you left two of your best fighters to do a task that one could have handled while the Fighter and the two worst fighters took on the 4 orcs?

Caller: The halfling and thief were both +1 with missiles!

PA: Did missile fire come into play in this combat?

Caller: [shoulders sagging] No.

PA: Moving on. After the fight with the orcs. The Elf and Dwarf search for secret doors while the halfling is once again tasked with listening at the door. Elf finds a secret door just as Halfling reports that he hears "slithering noises." Is that correct?

Caller: Yes. I ordered everyone through the secret door to escape the slithering.

PA: But first you ordered the halfling to spike his door.

Caller: [brightening] Yes, standard procedure to obstruct pursuit.

PA: What kind of creatures slither?

Caller: ... Snakes?

PA: and snakes, are they known for their facility with door knobs?

Caller: No but it coulda' been a Medusa!

PA: Their hair slithers, do you think that's what the halfling heard?

Caller: The one in "Clash of the Titans" slithered!

PA: Yes, but that movie won't come out until 1981, may I remind you that it's still 1977? So while the halfling is spiking the door to keep the approaching snake from opening it, everyone else goes through the secret door and the Caller orders the dwarf--the last one through--to close the door behind him.

Caller: It's standard emergency procedure!

PA: Even when one of your party is on the wrong side of the door?

Caller: How was I to know that Halfling hadn't made it through yet?

PA: Because you announced the marching order: [reading from transcript]
"Elf in front. Fighter behind him. Dwarf will close the door and bring up the rear." 
No mention was made of the halfling, who was still spiking shut the door in the L shaped room and, being preoccupied with the busywork you insisted he perform, had not seen where the secret door was. I direct the courts attention to the sworn statement of the Dungeon Master:
"Once the secret door closed, the halfling was left in total darkness. As he would be unable to find the secret door under such conditions, he waited at the spiked door until the slithering went away, pried out the spikes he'd shoved into the door frame, and departed the L-shaped room."
Caller: I ... I ... plead the fifth?

PA: What happened to the rest of the party?

Caller: We went down the hall on the other side of the secret door, until we saw the gelatinous cube. I sent the dwarf back to listen at the secret door to the room we'd just left thinking we might need to retreat there. On the way, he reported back that he thought there was a hollow spot in the floor, so I sent Elf back to help him search for trap doors.

PA: And you just didn't notice that in your party of 4 people, there were only three of you?

Caller: I thought that the halfling handed me the torch!

PA: Yes, according to the transcript,

"Caller: ... Where is that torch?
Somebody: Here it is." 
Who, as it turned out, was that "Somebody"?

Caller: My older sister.

PA: And which character was your sister's?

Caller: None of them. She was watching tv in the next room at the time I shouted for the torch. She was just being a jerk.

PA: So who did have the torch?

Caller: Fighter.

PA: And whose character was Fighter?

Caller: Mine.

[Snickering from the crowd]

PA: And what befell the elf and dwarf in their search for a trap door? They found one, correct?

[Caller shrinks in his seat]

PA: They both fell into it, did they not? I'd like to present to the court page 10 of the Holmes D&D Rulebook:
"Many dungeons contain traps, such as trap doors in the floor. If a character passes over one a six-sided die is rolled; a 1 or 2 indicates the the trap was sprung and he has fallen in." 
So you all passed over it safely the first time, but Elf and Dwarf ran out of luck the second time.

Caller: Yes, but they survived the fall!

PA: And what happened next?

Caller: The gelatinous cube was approaching so I ran and jumped across the pit trap so that I could lower a rope down and pull them out leaving the cube on the other side of the pit.

PA: A surprisingly reasonable plan, to be sure. But how did it turn out?

Caller: Well, I forgot that the thief had the rope, so after spending two rounds first removing and then  searching my pack, I ran down the hall to the L-shaped room to get it.

PA: And...

Caller: When I was searching the thief's body, the secret door closed behind me. I had to spend a turn trying to figure out how to open it.

PA: But you did finally open it. Then what?

Caller: By the time I got back to the pit, the gelatinous cube had ... fallen into it.

PA: Completely engulfing Elf and Dwarf in its acidic embrace!

[The crowd gasps in shock, followed by angry shouting]

Judge: [Pounding gavel] Quiet or I'll clear the court. [The crowd settles after a moment]. Proceed prosecutor.

PA: So what happened next?

Caller: I was all alone, so I went back to the L-shaped room and down the corridor--

PA: Did you find it odd that the door in the L-shaped room was no longer spiked?

Caller: Well, I didn't think of it until I saw the giant snake in the hall.

PA: Did it attack you?

Caller: No. It was asleep. It had... recently eaten.

PA: And you knew this how?

Caller: It had a big bulge in its middle.

PA: A bulge approximately the size of a halfling?

Caller: Yes ma'am. [Hangs head in shame, as his defense attorney surreptitiously gathers his papers and slinks from the room]

*Having grown up in the 80s, I picture the prosecuting attorney as Markie Post from "Night Court." Never mind that she was the public defendant in that show and John Larroquette was the prosecutor.  Also, the Judge is Minerva McGonagle/Maggie Smith. And the defense attorney is Jon Lovitz.


Jens D. said...

What a fun read. Most excellent :D

Vance A said...

ha, I think this is still how our sessions go...

Raymond said...


Unknown said...

Bravo!! At last, the identity of the mysterious 'Somebody' has been revealed! ☺