When A Player Misses a Session

When a player misses a session, sometimes the best course of action is to make something ridiculous happen! This is often preferable to someone taking over for their character. Just make something wacky happen. You don’t even have to an idea of what will happen to them. Brainstorm that later.

For example, the session before last, one of my players couldn’t make it so I made him disappear in a flash of smoke and light during the combat. It was very exciting. Later the players discovered that he had somehow been transported into one of the Giant Titan’s eyes. After some brainstorming, I came up with this explanation for what the character (a gnome) was up to and emailed it to him:

Hi Sam,

So during the battle with the Giant Titan, there is a flash of light and you find yourself in a small spherical room. You can see the battle going on through a window in the room: your friends struggling to battle ogres and giants.

In the room is a single 6 shot revolver (old west style with a rosewood grip). It is not a weapon you’ve ever seen before but it looks strangely familiar. It has the following note on it: “Your people once crafted weapons like this thousands of years ago. Perhaps this knowledge will aid you in your test. Do not leave your fate to the whims of chance. Pull the trigger twice to rejoin your friends. Good luck!”

There is another slip of paper attached to the first one. It is labeled “A hint to your survival can be found inside. Be warned, however, that you will lose your boon if you open this note.”

You find you can open the chamber of the revolver. There are two bullets in it, one right next to the other.

Suddenly, you feel compelled to pick the revolver and put it to your head. You snap the chamber back in place, spin it, and pull the trigger. There is a single click. You find you cannot open the chamber again. You can either pull the trigger once more or spin the chamber again. Alternatively, you can wait here indefinitely. What do you do?

The riddle in plainer terms is provided here: http://www.bigriddles.com/riddle/russian-roulette-choice

Let me know if you look at the hint and if you outright cheat :).

Guys, the revolver is awesome! It’s an artifact with two bullets in it. I randomly determined what chamber it was on when he first tried to fire it. It’s point and click, so no rolling! If there is a bullet in the chamber, it destroys WHATEVER he points it at. However, solos have a little more beefiness so it takes BOTH bullets to kill them (first one bloodies them). He already used it once to destroy a false god that they were facing, making the combat much easier, so it’s ability to kill ANY god is gone (though getting halfway there isn’t bad). Here’s how I described the revolver to Sam:

Hi Sam,

Here’s how the revolver works:

  1. Standard action to fire at a target.
  2. The first time you fire it, I randomly determine what chamber it is on.
  3. From then on, each shot advances the chamber. Thus, once you’ve shot one bullet, you know the next shot will fire another bullet (since they are next to each other).
  4. If you fire a bullet, it is gone forever.
  5. Firing a bullet at something is awesome, I promise!
  6. You may, if you desire, spin the chamber before firing, in which case the chamber you are on gets reset.
  7. You can’t (currently) open the chamber.

The inscription still reads “Two shots will kill any person, god, or beast.”

Good luck!

Feel free to steal this idea, since it is bawesome. Also, if there’s anything of substance you take away from this, it should be that player absences are an opportunity to inject something crazy/fun into a campaign or spin it in a different direction rather than simply a barrier to a fun play experience.

2 Responses to “When A Player Misses a Session”

  1. 1d30 says:

    Obviously you pull the trigger twice while pointing it away from you and without pulling the hammer back. That gets you out of the room.

    You can generally also see the cylinder spaces except the one at the barrel and the one opposite, so you know where both bullets are. You should be able to see where the hammer will strike the bullet at the barrel, so you can see whether that one is full.

    Finally, you don’t need to spin it. Just advance it one click at a time to get to the chamber you want.

  2. Rory Rory says:

    Though not specified by the note, the player cannot pull the trigger without aiming at their own head while they are in the room (which should not be too surprising, since he was compelled to aim at his own head the first time). Obviously, once they have solved the riddle, they can do whatever they want with the revolver.

    Also, this is an old fashioned revolver (single action), which I believe means it works by pulling back the hammer to cock it and then pulling the trigger. You cannot pull the trigger without pulling back the hammer. If that’s not accurate with how historical weapons worked, then it’s a double action revolver, where pulling the trigger automatically cocks and fires the weapon.

    Also, you definitely CAN’T see the cylinder spaces with this gun. There is NO way to determine where the bullet is by looking at it. Otherwise, it just isn’t any fun.

    Sadly, the link is now broken, as this was based on an actual riddle. This problem is DEFINITELY intended to be of the old fashioned riddle kind and not the lateral thinking kind where you try to come up with ways to subvert the riddle. It does have a solution that can be arrived at using logic under the conditions I’ve described to significantly lower your chances of killing yourself.

    However, in your game you can run it however you want.

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