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Some Ponies Play D&D
Grimstar the Black, mighty wizard of the southern deserts, squinted into the hazy distance of the enchanted forest. He was tall and thin, and the dark indigo robes he wore were covered with eldritch symbols. Sweat beaded on the jet black skin of his forehead as his staff pulsed with mystic energies, scanning the landscape for danger. After the mysterious disappearance of their prodigal companion, he was determined to defend his party. They were five strong, now: himself, the elvish rogue, the halfling cleric, the bard, and the barbarian, who was now approaching the wizard with the carcass of a stag slung over his shoulder.
“Ho, Grimstar!” he said, “There is much sport in these woods!” He was a mountain unto himself, with rippling muscles, broad shoulders, and a dark, penetrating gaze. His enormous broadsword clinked against his gleaming silver mail as he hefted the stag.
“Aye, that there is,” the wizard replied, “and much danger as well. I fear for the safety of our feminine companions.”
“What is there to be a-feared?” said the barbarian, depositing his game on the forest floor with a muscular shrug, “They are mighty heroes, all. Though, perhaps,” he said with a jocular grin, “not as mighty as myself!”
“Indeed, few are as strong as the celebrated Bloodcrusher Killthrust.” the wizard said, “But I have much doubt of our ability to survive the Catacombs of the Damned without the aid of a sixth stout soul.”
“Then perchance we are in luck!” said Killthrust, “For I think I espy a dwarf!”
“As do I.” said Grimstar, “Mayhap he will join our quest. Greetings, friend!” he addressed the dwarf, who seemed lost in the woods. “We are in need of a brave warrior such as yourself. Would you join in our quest to find the lair of the Dragon King?”
There was an awkward pause. “Uh,” said the dwarf, “Okay, what do I do now?”
Twilight sighed. “Come on, Applejack, we’ve been over this.”
“Yeah, like, a billion times!” said Rainbow Dash, rolling her eyes.
“I jus’ don’t get this crazy game, is all.” said Applejack, defensively.
“It’s just like playing pretend,” said Twilight, patiently, “Spike and I used to play it all the time back in Canterlot.” She had been trying to get Applejack involved for weeks, but had only recently convinced her to give it a go.
All of Twilight’s friends were gathered around an old table in a neglected corner of the Library’s basement. Dice, reference books, and miniatures were scattered over an intricately drawn map covering most of the table’s surface. Applejack sat between Twilight and Dash as they went over the rules one more time. Across from them, Rarity added a few more touches to her character sketch, while Fluttershy tried to avoid the cloud of snack detritus coming from Pinkie Pie’s direction. Spike sat at the head of the table, a stack of DM’s guides on his chair just barely bringing him up to the others’ eye levels.
“Please, Applejack, could you just try to play along?” he said, poking his head above the DM screen, “Ever since Derpy stopped showing up a few weeks ago we’ve been short a player for my campaign.”
"I’m tryin’, I swear,” she said, “but I don’t really see the point, I guess.”
“The point is FUN, Silly McSillerson!” said Pinkie Pie, spraying orange cheesy dust over the table. “You can fight monsters, and loot treasure, and explore dungeons, and pretend to be crazy made-up creatures like elves and dwarves and halflings and humans!”
“What’s a human?” asked Applejack, blinking in the face of the crumby assault.
“It’s like a little pink monkey,” said Pinkie, “Only they don’t have tails and they’re not as hairy and they don’t live in trees and…”
“…and sometimes they aren’t pink.” added Twilight.
“…and sometimes they aren’t pink!” finished Pinkie with an excited bounce.
“Alright,” said Applejack, gamely, “then what’s a halfling?”
“The same thing,” said Twilight, referring to her player’s guide, “but smaller and less, uh, not-hairy.”
“Uh huh, so what’s a dwarf?”
“It’s… look, never mind.” said Twilight, “Spike put a lot of work into setting up this game, so just try to keep up, okay?”
“Honestly,” piped up Rarity, “it really is a lot of fun, Applejack.”
“Now, I can see Spike and Twilight gettin’ into this nerdy stuff.” said Applejack, “And Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy, and maybe even Dash. But what in the heck do you see in all this, Rarity?”
"Oh, I felt the same way as you at first, darling.” she said, “But it can become rather addictive. Especially when Spike showed me all of the adorable little figures you can decorate!”
“And that, Fillies and Gentlecolts, is the story of how all my miniatures ended up in pretty pink sun dresses.” said Spike with a scowl, holding up a violently pink orc.
“Spike, dear, that’s clearly an evening gown. It’s much more formal, you see, and…”
“Look, can we get back to game?” interrupted Dash, “I’ve hardly even started kicking tail!”
Grimstar and Killthrust led their new companion to their camp.
“Allow me to introduce our fellows.” said Grimstar, “Alas, where are my manners? I have not asked your name! What are you called, may I ask?”
“Um, my name is…” the dwarf said haltingly, “Uh, Dwarfy… Dwarfer… son. The dwarf.”
“Yes, well, a very… traditional name, I’m certain.” said the wizard, diplomatically. “You have already met our barbarian, of course. A terrible braggart he is, but there are no better to have beside you in the fray of battle.”
“I speak only the modest truth,” said Killthrust, “If it seems as bragging, you have but your own jealousy to blame.”
“The great beauty is Darlynn Evansong, the Fair.” Grimstar continued.
“Charmed.” said the elf with an elegant bow, her jewelry jingling against her armor, “I look forward to joining my bow to your axe.”
“Our healer,” Grimstar said, moving on, “Gracelove Silentall, a cleric of the order of the Silver Star.”
“So, um, very pleased to meet you, ah, Dwarfy.” The halfling said with a demure curtsy. She wore the simple gray robes of her order and clutched a set of prayer beads.
“And, last but not least,” said Grimstar, “Zinnadiana Lyreplucker the twenty-seventh, our spoony bard.”
“Okay, Spike,” said Applejack, “You have to tell me what a…”
The band of heroes advanced to the edge of the forest, entering the foothills of the Black Mountains of Elldör. Zinnadiana played a merry tune on her lute as they walked, the bells on her jerkin jingling to the beat.
“…and NE-ver a MIGH-ti-er par-ty there WAS! Oh, NE-ver a…”
“Be still your capering, bard,” said Killthrust, “lest your head meet the flat of my broadsword!”
“Yeah, Pi… I mean, Zinnadiana,” said Dwarfy, “I don’t think a song is necessary right now. Uh, forsooth!”
“Cease your bickering, fellows!” said Grimstar, halting their progress, “My staff senses danger!”
Ahead of them, just as the forest cleared, lie a pack of dire wolves, snapping at each other over the remaining bones of a recent kill. They had not yet noticed the heroes, and Grimstar took the opportunity to discuss their strategy.
“A spell of petrifaction would allow us to pass unharmed.” he said.
“And leave us open to attack, should it fail.” said Darlynn, “A flurry of my arrows will make short work of them.”
“Nay,” said Zinnadiana, “I shall play them to sleep with my magic flute!”
“Waste not your spells and arrows,” said Killthrust, “I will take them single-handedly!”
“I want to make friends with them.” said Gracelove.
The entire table groaned, collectively.
“Not this again.” said Spike, his head in his hands.
“What?” said Applejack, “What’s wrong with that?”
“Oh, you know Fluttershy,” said Pinkie, cracking open another bottle of sarsaparilla, “she just loves the fuzzy critters!”
“Fluttershy, you can’t tame any more monsters.” said Twilight, “You already have two beholders, a mind-flayer, a kobald…”
“…three owlbears, half a dozen zombies…” continued Dash.
“…and a gelatinous cube!” Rarity finished. “And I’m sorry, Fluttershy, but you aren’t spending any more of our gold pieces on cube food!”
“But you can’t just let Mr. Jiggly starve!” said Fluttershy, aghast. Her eyes welled up with tears.
The party continued their journey, their new furry companions in tow. Grimstar led them on, forging a path through the twisting ravines and rocky outcrops. The way was difficult, and he paused to consult an ancient scroll for guidance.
“The scroll of prophecy speaks of a tunnel which will allow us passage through these mountains.” he said. “Though it is doubtlessly crawling with peril, it may save us a day’s worth of climbing. If only the Gods would make their intentions clear, that we may decide on the best way forward…”
Suddenly, as if in answer to Grimstar’s wish, the sky was rent asunder and a fearsome archangel descended, wings blazing with holy light and bearing a flaming sword.
"That was convenient.” said Dwarfy. “Verily!”
“Lo, great heroes of the land!” the angel spake in a booming voice, “Your tarrying is most displeasing to the Gods! I bringith forth their instructions, that you may follow them and move on already!”
Killthrust’s eyes lit up at the sight of the magnificent angel. “Finally, a challenge worthy of the Bloodcrusher!” he said, unsheathing his broadsword, “Have at thee, wingéd monster, I fear you not!”
“What foolishness is this?” said the archangel, its golden eyes narrowing.
“This is most unwise, Killthrust.” said Darlynn as she attempted to hold back her comrade.
"Indeed,” said Grimstar, aiding her efforts, “You must not antagonize an emissary of the Gods!”
“Oh, you doubt my strength?” said Killthrust, breaking free of their hold, “Taste my steel, foul creature! I will take thy wings as my own!” He charged forward with a terrible battle cry, his sword tracing a powerful arc towards the angel. A burst of holy light deflected the attack, however, and the angel turned its wrath on the stricken barbarian.
“You dare assault me?” the angel said in its fury, “I, who have guided your quest from the very beginning? If this is how you choose to use your strength, barbarian, perhaps you would do well to be free of it!” With this, a bolt of magical lightning struck the fallen warrior.
“Argh, I am cursed!” he said, “What be the heck?”
“What the heck, Spike?” said Dash, “You can’t just curse me!”
“Actually, he can.” said Twilight, checking the rulebook, “He’s the Dungeon Master, so technically, he can do anything he wants.”
“Darn right I can!” said Spike, leaning over his DM screen at Dash, “I’m sick of you screwing up all of my encounters just because you had a few lucky rolls when we were making characters!”
“That wasn’t luck, I’m just better at this than you are.” The pegasus said with a smug grin.
“They were dice rolls!” said Spike, jumping with anger, “That’s the definition of luck!”
“Aren’t I supposed to get a saving throw?” she said, ignoring him and grabbing Twilight’s guide.
“You were stunned, you don’t get a saving throw!” Spike retorted.
“I have the talisman of mystic barrier,” she said, standing up, “It protects against curses!”
“It’s a holy curse, it doesn’t work!” he said, jumping onto the table and marching up to Dash until they were inches apart.
“Fluttershy can heal me!” she said, leaning into his glare.
“Fluttershy thinks you’re a jerk!” he shouted with a furious hop.
“What? She does not!” she turned to the other pegasus, who was currently hiding with her head under the table. “You don’t think I’m a jerk, right Fluttershy?”
“I, um, well…”
“Don’t answer that, Fluttershy!” Spike said, turning and marching back to his place at the head of the table. “That’s it, no more Mr. Nice Dungeon Master!” he sat down and resumed narrating, “You enter the tunnel, and the entrance snaps shut behind you, leaving you trapped…”
The ground shook under the parties’ feet. They squinted into the gloom of the tunnel, but could not make out the source of the massive footsteps. A luminescent sphere rose from Grimstar’s fingertips, casting a pale light on their surroundings.
“By the Gods…” he said as the light fell on their aggressor, “It’s a stone ogre!”
The massive bulk of the ogre filled the tunnel, blocking any route of escape. Its skin was as hard and grey as the tunnel walls around it and its horrible maw was filled with sharp, jagged teeth. It carried the trunk of a fallen oak as a club, and wore a purple muumuu. It let out a mighty roar, and hefted its club to attack.
“Whoa, Spike.” said Twilight, “Don’t you think that’s a little above our level?”
“Yeah, that sounds a little… serious.” agreed Applejack.
“I don’t care!” he said, furiously, “I spend hours working on this campaign, and all of you just argue and mess it up! You kept pushing me and pushing me, and now you’re gonna have to fight an ogre!”
“What-do-we-do?! What-do-we-do?!” panicked Pinkie, “I don’t know any songs that work on ogres!”
“I have some armor with bonuses against ogres,” said Rarity, “…or I would, if some dragon would let me carry more than three sets of armor at a time!”
“Wah, wah, baby wants a Bag of Holding!” said Spike, unmoved, “Better do something quick, it’s getting closer.”
“Fluttershy, sic your dire wolves on ‘im!” said Dash.
“I can’t, they might get hurt!” she replied from under the table.
“Come on, we can do this if we work together!” rallied Twilight.
Applejack cleared her throat. “Hey guys? What does it mean when the red one says ‘twenty’?”
The table went quiet. Spike stared at the d20 in front of Applejack. He coughed.
The massive body of the beast lay still on the tunnel floor. Darlynn checked it for treasure while Gracelove worked at healing the party’s injuries. The others gathered to congratulate the shocked dwarf, his bloodied axe still clutched in his hands.
“A spectacular battle, my lad!” said Killthrust, holding aloft the ogre’s head, “You’ve earned yourself quite the trophy!”
“Yeah, that was kinda cool.” said Dwarfy, “Uh, zounds!”
“I’ll write a new song about it!” said Zinnadiana, “The saga, no, the EPIC saga of Dwarfy Dwarferson!”
“Well done.” said Grimstar, nodding sagely, “I knew you would become a valuable member of our band.”
“Shucks, it wasn’t any…” he stopped, “Holy pony-feathers, what time is it?”
Twilight blinked at the clock. “Wow, you’re right, it’s after midnight already! We’d better call it a night.”
“But…” said Spike, still staring at the d20, “But we didn’t even get to the Catacombs of the Damned!” He looked up. Everyone was already getting up to leave.
“Sorry, Spike.” said Twilight, patting him on the head on her way past. “Maybe next time.” She gathered her books and headed for the door leading upstairs, the others following her.
“Good game, everypony!” said Fluttershy.
“It was, wasn’t it?” Applejack said with a grin.
“I told you you’d get hooked!” Rarity said, putting a hoof around Applejack’s shoulder.
“I’m TOTALLY serious about that song, by the way!” Pinkie Pie bounced after them.
Spike looked around, distraught, “You can’t… I mean… I didn’t…” he pulled himself together and shouted after Dash, “You’re still cursed!”
"You’re still a dork!” she said, not looking back as she left the room.
Deep in the steam tunnels that twisted like a labyrinth under Ponyville, a small, grey pegasus knelt in the darkness. She waited patiently for the sun to rise in the grate above her, conserving her strength. She smiled grimly in the dripping gloom. Today, she would crush her enemies, and see them driven before her. Today, she would hear the lamentations of their women.
Yes, she thought as she sharpened her halberd, today will be a good day…