Liber Ridiculi Primi Expeditionis

The Scene: a fantastic sylvan glade, created by impossibly large trees
bent into angles both perfectly natural and perfectly architectural to
create the impression of a cathedralesque structure. The otherwordly
beauty of the place is marred by only three things: a dripping
poisonous ichor that has coated some of the bushes and grassy patches,
signs of an extremely recent and extraordinarily violent struggle, and
a faint, lattice-like shimmering throughout the air and across the
ground that divides everything in sight into neat 5′×5′ cubes.

Near one side of the clearing, a beaten and bleeding male human is
sitting on a recently smashed log, leaning forward on his curved sword
and talking conversationally with what appears to be a giant bipedal
lizard in armor. “No, I don’t really know how it happens. It’s just
a sword that becomes a fire sword. I like it. It makes sense, you
know, on a practical level. It’s like that campstove.” The human
motions towards a long folding table set up discretely in a corner of
the clearing and mostly covered in plastic trays of sandwich makings,
cut fruit, and other catering staples. On one end of the table is a
set of hotplates holding lasagna. “When I hit you with the campstove
and it’s turned off, it just hurts. When it’s turned on, it burns.
When I blow up the fuel tank as I hit you, it lights you on fire but I
can’t blow it up again for a while, because I’ve got to get a new fuel
tank.”

The lizard considers this. “You think a lot about this, don’t you?”

“What?”

“Hitting me with stoves, lighting me on fire, stuff like that.”

“Eh.”

On the other side of the glade, a woman in green robes is keenly
searching the ground, using the top of a finely-filigreed and
crystal-set staff to stir the bloodied, trampled grass. Compared to
the rest of the figures in the clearing, she looks hale and hearty,
but she is clearly extremely upset. A gigantic gray-skinned figure is
standing near her, half-paying attention to her but mostly attempting
to get as many shimmering lines as possible to intersect on his
battered form. Finally, she looks up at him with exasperation. “This
would be a lot fucking easier if you’d stop dicking around and help me
find the fucking thing, you know.”

The giant sighs, losing a good amount of blood as he does so. “I told
you, just try to think about the last time you know you had it on.
Then go over to that square and look there. Obviously it’s not here.
No need to get huffy just because you’ve lost your contact. It’s a
stupid excuse for missing with your daily anyway.”

This was clearly the wrong response. Instantly the furious woman is
wreathed in a nimbus of eldritch light and power. She rises off the
ground, starting to ride the light up and away from the giant as she
levels her staff and a deafening thunderclap rings out. For an
instant the gray giant is consumed in blinding light, but as the light
fades it is clear that he is unharmed. None of the other figures in
the clearing even look up from what they are doing. The woman comes
to rest back where she started as the light fades away and looks a
little disappointed. “Why the fuck doesn’t that work?”

Her would-be target shrugs and smirks slightly. “Read the card. It
only targets enemies. Otherwise, no effect. You didn’t even get to
shift.” He goes back to trying to line up more shimmering lines as
she walks away, muttering darkly about illiteracy not being funny.
With a wiggle of his hips he gets a new congruence across his body.
“Hey, I got seven! Hey, hey check this out guys!”

Nobody seems to care at first. The woman mutters even more darkly and
stirs the ground in a different shimmering square, obviously not
caring that she is befouling her staff with muck and gore. The two
seated figures have wandered over to make sandwiches and barely look
up. Finally, an unbelievably ostentatiously dressed figure with
clearly fake ears walks out of a low hollow at one end of the clearing
to come see what the giant is going on about. He is carefully
brushing off his clothes as he tries his hardest to pick his way
around the worst of the mud and the slime, but he is just as battered
and bloody as the rest of the crew, minus the young woman. “Seven
what?”

Seven lines!"

“So? The only ones that matter are the ones on the ground. We never
even think about the fact that our heads are in a different square
than our feet. And that if you lean forward with your arms out from
your sides you could be in, what, four different squares at once, but
we only care about the one our feet are planted in. It’s all stupid.”

“You’re just saying that because you forgot to count squares and
sprained your ankle trying to play PC when you’re just a DMPC. Any PC
could have made that jump.”

“First, fuck you. I’m as much a part of this team as you are.
Second, any PC? Look at miss-prim-and-proper. When was the last time
she was even bloodied? Oh, right, NEVER. I haven’t even seen her run
in combat. A jump would snap her or worse, soil her dress. Either
way, fatal. Look at sir-burns-a-lot over there.” The fop motions
towards the sword-wielding human, who has set his turban alight in an
apparent demonstration of his campstove theory and is now running
frantically towards the stream in the middle of the clearing as the
lizard watches impassively and samples the human’s sandwich. “His
athletics check has just one result these days. Fail. And look at
yourself.” The fop pauses as the hissing of the now-quenched turban
echoes through the glen and the human, now drenched, sloshes quietly
back towards his lunch. “You’re a rock. A stone. You weigh what,
700, 800 pounds? Plus armor and gear? If we had any sort of
reasonable calculation of structural strength you could never be above
the first story of a building without collapsing it. So don’t tell me
any of you idiots could really do any better.”

The giant considers all this and seems to shift the subject. “Fine,
fine. Sorry I brought it up again. Did you find anything back
there?”

“Not like we’re going to get to keep any of it.” The fop switches to
an affected Scottish accent. “Ach, aye, ye’ll be givin’ oos aaalll
thaat traashur neow fer soom oobscurr reesoon evan thoo ye were the
oones to kell the drrrrragon, net oos.” He equally suddenly switches
to a feminine voice, dripping with kindness and light. “Oh, no, I’ll
need to destroy all that gold to break the curse. Yes, I know you
want it to raise an army to get suitable and characterful revenge, but
the curse, you see. There were rare gems? Yes, I’ll need those too.
The curse, don’t you know. Powerful magical items? Curse, dearies.
But have some stew before my vaguely-defined but obviously-terrifying
husband hears you complaining of your wealth.” He drops the accent
and his voice raises in exasperation. “It’s all bullshit. You’ll
see. Don’t get attached to any of it.” He wanders back towards the
hollow and leaves the giant stretching his hands out towards another
shimmering intersection of lines while balancing one one leg in a
remarkably yogic position.

Meanwhile, the now-sodden human and the impassive lizard have
meanwhile resumed their companionable lunch. The lizard turns to the
human and eyes the sandwich he sampled earlier. “So what’s in that,
anyway?”

“I dunno. Sandwich stuff.” He opens it up to check. “Turkey,
cheese, lettuce, tomato, a little mayo, and some mustard. Why? Did
you eat my sandwich again?”

“Oh. Vegetables. No wonder it tasted strange. I don’t eat
vegetables. They… scare me.”

“Youthful experimentation put you in the hospital’s foreign object
recovery ward?”

“Fine, sure, yeah, whatever. Actually, I don’t want to talk about it.
Where’s Steve?”

The human looks around, shrugs, and shoves the crust of his sandwich
in his mouth. “I don’t know, probably still taking a leak. I heard
him yelling something about the port-o-potty being locked, but that
was like half a year ago and we’re all here, so there’s nobody keeping
him from using it.”

“Was he locked out or locked in?”

“Depends on whether he was in there or not when Rick and I put a stick
through the hasp on the door and dropped a beehive down the
ventilation pipe.”

“So he’s locked in, then?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“Huh.” The lizard seems to consider this for a while as he chews his
extremely bland-looking sandwich. He looks troubled for a while, then
turns to look over his shoulder and past his massive pauldron at the
lunch table. “How are the brownies?”

Liber Ridiculi Primi Expeditionis

The Players of Europa dmelleno