I have a group that meets once a month to drink beer, eat junk food and play a session of Dungeons & Dragons. Friends that I’ve known from my high school years, and even Alex Carel! We’re not super hardcore, but we get pretty deep into it. Our sessions usually turn into buzzed improv groups, with each of us adhering to the standard rules, but trying to make each other laugh.
One such session had our group behind enemy lines after a massive battle had ended, and a long trek back to familiar territory (think The Warriors). We were doing pretty well, thanks to one of our party members being able to summon a Celestial Bison. Basically, we’d get into a jam, fuck around for a bit, then summon the bison and it’d trample everything and we’d be on our merry way.
While we were camped, we were ambushed by a garrison of enemy troops, taken captive and thrown into the dungeons beneath their fortress. We tried everything – jiggling the bars, running into them head-first. Suddenly, we noticed the jailer was a hefty Orc who was indulging heavily in some alcoholic concoction. We called him over and tried to talk our way out of jail by outsmarting the wasted Orc. He wasn’t having any of it. So, we challenged him to a drinking contest, to which he happily agreed. If we win, we get set free. So, we all fucking failed and one of our party members, a Gnome, rolled two critical failures on his turn and ended up with immediate cirrhosis of the liver and was stricken with jaundice.
So, we tried a test of strength and challenged him to combat! And promptly got our asses beat (we learned later that the DM had been sneaky and used dire bear stats to beef up the Orc). Things were looking grim, so we did what we always did while in trouble, and we summoned our lord and savior: the Celestial Fuckin’ Bison. An epic, ground-shattering battle ensued wherein things were looking up. The bison was holding his own and knocking the Orc around the dungeon. I think he even may have gored him at some point. But our dreams of freedom were shattered when the Orc landed a critical attack roll, grappled our Bison, and suplex’d him into the ground and straight back to Bison Heaven.
We were devastated. Not only were we in danger of losing the campaign and our characters being doomed to eternal incarceration and death, but we’d just lost our hero. But another hero we thought defeated rose from the ashes. Our Gnome companion, suffering from acute liver failure and barely able to form words, had rallied and challenged the Orc to a second round of drinking. The Orc believed him crazy – and us for letting him basically drink himself to an eminent death – but accepted.
The Gnome, played by my good friend David, rolled a goddamn fucking 20 on his turn. And then he rolled another on the next! On his deathbed, he out-drank the Orc who gleefully let us out and told us that we’d earned his respect and we were a fun crowd to hang out with. We carried our morbidly-inebriated friend out of the dungeons and set about escaping the fortress. And so concluded the story of The Gnome and the Bison