The Minotaur

My current 5th edition D&D character is unique as far as I know.  In an attempt to power game, I fell into my perfect combination of armored tank, and purveyor of shenanigans.  Sometimes my obsession with a creative solution slows things down.  Rarely do my plans backfire, but sometimes they backfire in the most amazing ways.  This is a story of my favorite backfire.

My character is basically an armored wizard, with a focus on utility and defensive spells over offense (I think even at level 6 my only offensive spell is one cantrip I use when I can’t reach my opponents in melee).

The story begins in a particularly mysterious dungeon, filled with curious objects and encounters.  I lag behind the party to cast comprehend languages, presumably to read any magical writings in the area, and then walk in.  I enter a prison ward to hear a gruff voice saying in the minotaur’s native tongue “I’ve been falsely accused, let me out!”  I turn to see a minotaur furiously shaking the bars on his cell.

Knowing if I let him out in this state that it will lead to his death (like most D&D parties, this one is particularly driven by EXP), I walk over and try to communicate with him to calm down (comprehend languages lets you read and hear but not speak, any language).  It appears to have no effect.  I decide this creature is the key to something, and stand just out of arms reach, staring patiently for him to calm down, while the rest of the party continues solving the other puzzles.

Eventually I realize I should help them, so I table the minotaur situation for a time, but I could not pull my thoughts away from him.  Who was he, and what made him so enraged?  I realized a magical imprisonment must be involved, because he was not aging or starving, and there was no sign of a guard.  If I didn’t do something, he’d be locked in there forever, but if I let him out angry, either we’d destroy him, or he’d destroy himself.

The session breaks, and that night I came up with a complex plan for his release, rife with shenanigan.

The next week, I have to join the session remotely, on my drive to New Mexico to visit an old friend.  So I call in, but we quickly realize I can only hear when they are talking directly into the phone, so much of the detail of the story remained in obscurity.  I was able to assist in the formation of the strategy to defeat the dragon, however, which was also awesome (see Fighting Dragons: a How To Guide).

After we accomplished that, I ask the DM for the floor, to enact my plan to redeem the minotaur:

“I return to the minotaur’s cell, and cast tongues on him.”

Tongues allows a creature to speak and understand any language for the duration.

“I then explain that I will release him if he simply calms down and releases the bars.  I proceed to have the thief pick the mundane lock, while I cast arcane lock on the door.  I also ask the thief to spring load the door so that it will creak open dramatically when unlocked (which he does).”

Arcane lock is a permanent spell that locks a door, unless the passcode is spoken.  In this case I chose the passcode of “Wisdom”.

“I then cast magic mouth on the wall outside his cell.”

Magic mouth is a permanent spell that, when triggered, will speak a phrase and then disappear.

“I set the magic mouth to trigger when the minotaur finally releases the bars.  It will say ‘you have demonstrated Wisdom *creak*, go in peace.'”

The whole goal here was to create a semi-paradoxical situation, the opposite face of the Schrodinger’s Cat experiment.  In this instance, if the minotaur released the bars, he would be free.  Since both spells are permanent, this would be a permanent possibe outcome, at least in our players’ and characters’ minds, if not in the reality of the D&D campaign.  Something about that small glimmer of hope inspired me.  I was extremely excited about this plan.

I finish explaining the details through the phone, and wait for a response.  The entire party starts cracking up!  Confused and just a little embarrassed, I try to figure out what happened.  When they finally catch their breath, the DM finally announces “It was an illusion.”

Apparently I had missed several cues to this effect- like the prior week when the DM tried to give me the “this is a complete waste of time” look, and apparently the minotaur never changed his words or reacted to one thing I had said (I mistook the programming of the illusion as an unnatural stubbornness, and my mind filled in minor reactions along the way, that never happened).

Realizing that half of what I was trying to do was show the party that there were ways besides killing to solve problems, and that as soon as you touch an illusion you know that it is one (and tongues is a touch spell) I follow up with:

“I don’t tell anyone that it’s an illusion, and I proceed with the plan anyway.”

They all crack up again, but this time the DM surprises me.  He says:

“Given your extreme amount of effort in a completely pointless pursuit, you have actually given the minotaur sentience.  He springs to consciousness and says ‘thank you for freeing me.  I’ll see you again, if you’re ever in the Astral Plane.’ Then he is teleported (plane shifted) away.”

This was an opportunity to have a good laugh and move on (apparently by the end of it the back of the minotaur’s cell and been ripped off, and he was still shaking the bars.  If I had been sitting there in person, I would have known how ridiculous the whole thing looked and would have certainly been dissuaded).  Instead our exceptionally intelligent and compassionate DM, who loves the cinematic, came up with another ending based on the unexpected actions of his party, and a logical (enough) leap.

I realized that this foolhardy effort, sometimes leading to a surprisingly satisfying result, is exactly what I do and have always done.  When I fixate on something I do everything I can to bring to to life.  This is not the first time, nor the only place, where my efforts created something where others saw nothing, nor will it be the last.  As always, it takes collaboration (I’m realizing now the rogue must have known the whole time and was just playing along for his own amusement), but in the end these are the moments that make the grind worth it for me.  Everyone wants something different out of The Game, and this story sums up my hopes and dreams quite nicely, I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~ by songoflove on October 13, 2016.

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