war is the only word i know

The creature opened eyes like two red stars and looked at Ekmal. It opened its beak and cried out stridently the only word it knew: “War!” “Of course, war,” said Ekmal, holding out his arm.
-Leigh Brackett, The Hounds of Skaith

I used this detail in a game I ran recently. The players were sent to open diplomatic negotiations with the giants to the south. The giants – courtly, bejeweled – rode on fine, massive horses and carried man-sized hawks on their arms.

The PCs’ mission was to prevent war with the giants. The birds’ constant cries of “WAR!” didn’t help matters.

No visit to a foreign court is complete without a hunt. For quarry, I had the giants hawking dire al-miraj, horned rabbits so big that the players could joust with them.

Naturally, diplomatic negotiations broke down (as they always do in D&D) and the PCs ended up fighting the giant king (as PCs always do).

This last fight was notable because I’d given the PCs a one-shot item, a magic gem that let its owner roll 1d100 for damage instead of the normal damage die. This is kind of a silly item, but we were running a gonzo game. And it paid off in drama: everyone was excited when the fighter snapped the gem to his sword and challenged the giant king to single combat.

The fighter rolled his attack. Hit. Rolled 1d100 for damage. And got a 3.

But wait! Looking over his character sheet, he remembered that he had a power that let him reroll damage for one attack.

He rerolled the d100.

And got a 1.

Such are the fortunes of war.

4 Responses to “war is the only word i know”

  1. SAROE says:

    What he really needed was a magic item that let a little kid roll the damage for him. The Dice Gods fear messing with little kids. Any little kid will do. Even one passing by on the street outside. Assuming mom or dad don’t completely overreact.

    “What are you in for?”
    ‘I asked a kid to roll my dice’
    “You sick freak!”

  2. Michael (Gronan) Mornard says:

    I love dice.

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