I haven’t actually played an RPG in a long time (I’d like to get back into it, in the unlikely event that any gamers in Berlin, Germany read this) and consequently I do not usually have much to contribute to the RPG Carnival. However, I feel I have an anecdote for this month’s topic, “Epic Moments In Gaming”:
Back in 1992, we were running a GURPS Fantasy campaign, set in the first incarnation of Enderra (yes, the namesake of this site). During one session, the players explored a dungeon found under a local tavern, where slavers were keeping kidnapped citizens imprisoned. They were cooperating with the main antagonist of the campaign, an evil wizard. In one room, a group of the wizard’s henchmen were summoning a demon. This was really just intended for color – the players were supposed to pass this room quietly by, as the enemies were clearly way too powerful for them.
I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of player psychology then.
The group’s mage announced: “I cast a fireball, as powerful as I can make it, and center it on the demon that is materializing!”
Everybodye else: “Noooooooo!”
The fireball incapacitated or killed the mages summoning the demon, but did not harm the demon at all – it being completely immune to fire damage. It quickly devoured the mages, then escaped the dungeon, sparing the players – it had other plans, and besides, they had freed it, and that put it in a good mood. The players completed the dungeon and then escaped through the tavern, which by this time was ablaze.
Over night, the fire spread and burned down half the harbor district. Volunteers who had arrived to help fight the fire had been found mangled and partially eaten. The players decided to flee the city by boat that very morning.
The campaign ended, and a few years later we revisited Enderra. The timeline had advanced by a thousand years, and in between the terrible Demon War had devastated the lands. (This was my way of retconning the world to conform to my current notions of what a fantasy setting should be like.)
A few months into this new campaign, the players rescued a wizard from an extraplanar prison on an ice world. They did not recognize his name – Darka Terem – from the first campaign, but after his demonic guardians had been defeated and he was free, he told him that he had been imprisoned there after having walked into a trap. He and his friends, companions and hired mercenaries had been fighting in the Demon War.
“It was a terrible war,” he told them. “And it had all happened so suddenly, after a single demon got loose in the port city Ellienhaven. Never found out where that beast came from but it burned half the town down and escaped before anybody could find it and defeat it – and then it called in the legions of hell that almost destroyed our world.”
The characters obviously had no relation to the events of the first campaign. But my players looked at me, and you could see actual shock on their faces.
“Oh shit,” the guy who had played the wizard in the GURPS campaign said. “That was our fault, was it not?”
That moment alone repaid me for years of hard work as a game master…