To quote a truly great hero,¬†‚ÄúNobody wants to hear your boring fucking origin story.” I did not always possess this wisdom, and so subjected my players to what may be my worst ever GM moment. Story time, kids!

It was the Jade Regent adventure path, which contains a¬†Dragon Age style relationship mini-game. Players¬†pick one of four NPCs to form either a romance/bromance or a rivalry with. There’s numerical attitude tracking, gift-giving, mechanical boons for nurturing the relationship…the whole bit. It’s a fun idea, but I hadn’t realized that the whole adventure path was something of a sequel to Rise of the Runelords. That means that two of the four¬†very important NPCs (which stick with you for the whole campaign) were actually introduced outside of the Jade Regent story line. One of them was an elven ranger named Shalelu. She was to be my downfall.¬†There just didn’t seem to be a¬†way to work her¬†into the story, and so finally I got out my narrative crowbar and tried to wedge her in.

So there they were, sitting around a¬†campfire with their NPCs. It’s raining out, but there aren’t any hill giants attacking or cart horses getting spooked, and my¬†players are like, “Why is this even a scene?” That’s when I launch into this awful exposition about how gray and dismal it is, and how Shalelu is staring into the fire like the loneliest lone wolf to ever lone a wolf. “I hate the rain,” she says.

My players make no response. The badass elven ranger is monologuing. What is there to say?

“I was a girl, not more than ten when we found the¬†body. My father’s body. It was raining that day.”

I realize at this point that I’ve turned the hot elf chick into a socially awkward weirdo, but I’ve already started. There’s no choice but to get to the end of the scene. Shalelu goes on and on about how they found her¬†father’s mangled body, how they tracked the murderous bugbears down, and how she hates goblinoids to this day.

“And the rain,” she concludes. “I still hate the rain.”

My players are sitting there meanwhile like,¬†how in the crap are we supposed to interact with this scene? It had come out of nowhere. There was no lead-up. This was supposed to be the beginning¬†of this NCP’s characterization.¬†One of my players¬†actually did¬†the awkward turtle thing with her hands.

The campaign died shortly thereafter. If memory serves, it had something to do with not liking how the NPCs seemed more central to the story than the players’ characters. Can’t imagine how they got that impression. Any dang way, that’s not the end of the story. Years later, one of my Jade Regent¬†players decided to run Rise of the Runelords. If you’ll recall, that’s the adventure path that introduced Shalelu. Every time she speaks, it’s to remark on how something reminds her of a tragic event from her past. The burning of the sacred oven tree was one of those stories. My shame knows no bounds.


EARN BONUS LOOT!¬†Check out the¬†The Handbook of Heroes Patreon.¬†We’ve got a sketch feed full of Laurel’s original concept art. We’ve got early access to comics. There’s physical schwag, personalized art, and a monthly vote to see which class gets featured in the comic next. And perhaps my personal favorite, we’ve been hard at work bringing a bimonthly NSFW¬†Handbook of Erotic Fantasy¬†comic to the world! So come one come all. Hurry while supplies of hot elf chicks lasts!