• Published 7th Oct 2017
  • 3,325 Views, 106 Comments

Spike’s Substitute O&O Session - Lise

With Twilight off at a conference, Spike is ready to host the greatest O&O session of all time. One problem: none of his regular gaming buddies can make it. And they're sending substitutes.

  • ...

Dreams, Notes, and The Art of Door Opening

“What did you to my loot?!” Ember held Spike with both hands in the air, nearly choking him.

“It’s... it’s...” Think fast! This wasn’t how he had envisioned things.

Sudden jump adventures were normally received quite well by players. The last few times, only Discord had grumbled and acted passive-aggressively, yet even he had taken interest once the adventure had unfolded. The problem was that Ember had become active-aggressive the moment Spike had explained that all her gear had gone.

“Your things are somewhere safe!” Spike managed to say. “All your things!”

Ember narrowed her eyes, snorted fire out of her nostrils, then let him drop on the floor, partially appeased. Nothing bad had better happen to my stuff! said her glare, making the purple dragon swallow heavily.

“Umm, you also notice you’re all wearing snow white clothes,” he said, getting back into his seat. “Or armor, respectively.”

“Who gets to wear armor?” Starlight inquired.

“Based on character class?” Spike said, hesitantly.

It was a logical assumption, but a lifetime of O&O mastering had taught him that logic was vastly overestimated.

“Actually, darling, I think it would rather depend on personal choice,” Rarity said. “I, for one, think I would be fabulous in sparkling white armor.” She fluttered her eyebrows at Spike. “Possibly with some light blue or purple motifs. Nothing over the top, of course, just simple and stylish.”

“I reckon armor will be much more practical not knowing where we are,” Applejack agreed. “I wouldn’t want to fight a pack of critters in a dress.”

“Mhm.” Marble nodded.

“Let me check something.” Starlight levitated the player manual to her and started flipping through the pages. “Full or half-plate has a penalty for casting and movement, unless you have the perk Ember has... maybe something from hardened leather. I take it the clothes aren’t magical?” She looked up at Spike.


“Silly me.” Starlight giggled, before the dragon whelp could say a word. “Of course it wouldn’t be magical. That would mess up the entire level progression. Besides, they’d probably be cursed anyway.”

I didn’t even think of that! Cursed items were something he preferred to avoid until the third session, but considering the group’s high level and overpowered characters, he could well have added a few into the mix. It was somewhat concerning that Starlight had suggested the idea. If she were ever to become OM, her players wouldn’t survive five minutes.

“I’m wearing scale armor!” Ember said firmly, slamming the table with her hand. “Helmet included.”

“Okay, you all have armor,” Spike grumbled. “Which for the moment doesn’t matter, since there’s no one anywhere near you! All you can see is ice, snow, and white mists for as far as the eye can see.”

“We head south.” Ember grabbed a pair of dice and started rotating them in her hand.

“Not sure we can do that.” Applejack adjusted her hat.

“Why not?” Ember glared at her.

“Without the sun or a compass, it would be mighty difficult to tell where north is.”

“Oh.” The blue dragon paused for a moment. A split second later, she closed the dice in both hands and started shaking them wildly. “I try to spot where the sun is in front of me!” Ember threw the dice on the table. They rolled for several moments ending on double ones. “Yes!” She beamed. “It’s the other way.”

“Ember, darling, I think we discussed it doesn’t work that way.” Rarity said, stirring her tea. “You cannot know things just because the dice rolled a—” She giggled behind her hoof. “—certain way.”

“Yeah, so?” Ember crossed her arms. “But I can know in which direction the sun isn’t! Since it’s not that way, we’ll go in the opposite and we’ll be half right.”

“Wait a minute,” Starlight raised a hoof reading through another section of the player’s manual. “Applejack, you’re a natural druid, right?”

“Yep, I reckon I am.” The earth mare nodded proudly. “Born and raised. There ain’t no—”

“So you have Nature’s Affinity, right?”

Before Applejack could answer, Starlight levitated her character sheet and started to examine it. There was a glint in her eye that Spike noticed, and he felt a sudden wave of icy fear surround him. Dragonstones! Druids could have the ability to act like a living compass with their eyes closed in any environment. Right now, this wasn’t going to help them, of course—Spike had made certain of that—yet it would provide information he preferred was left for a later, far more spectacular reveal.

“Ah, here we go,” Starlight said, dashing Spike’s hopes. “Okay, so you can tell which direction is north without any instrument, even if you are underground or otherwise impaired.”

“Well, paint me green and call me a mango.” Applejack blinked. “Well, Spike?” She looked at him. “Which way is north?”

“Hold on a moment.” Starlight levitated a blank piece of paper in front of her. “Let me start making a map.”

“That’s a marvelous idea, darling.” Rarity clopped her hooves. “And it just so happens that I made these fabulous small miniatures of our game personals.” Five small figurines levitated onto the table. “After all, it’s hardly O and O without miniatures.”

A tear appeared in the corner of Spike’s eye. You know the game so well, Rarity. He sighed, dazzled by her display. The miniature themselves were surprisingly detailed. Just looking at them, Spike could tell which character was which, not to mention they had their own clothes—which were different from their current adventure attire, thanks to Spike’s sudden location jump.

“Wow, Rarity, you definitely have a way with things,” Applejack said, looking closely at the small pony figurine of a druid. “When in tarnation did you manage to make these?”

“Oh, please, darling.” Rarity waved a hoof in false modesty. “It’s just something insignificant I did during our backstory discussion. If I were in my boutique, I would have done a far more fabulous job.” She put her hoof on her muzzle. “You know what? That is a majestic idea! I could make a line based on O and O. It would be a bit niche, definitely not for the mainstream crowd, but will also bring a little je ne sais quoi to the market. I can totally see it becoming the next big thing in small and not-so-small hobby circles.”

“Did you make one for the prince?” Ember asked, grabbing her own miniature.

“Pfft. Darling, please.” A new set of miniatures floated onto the table. “I made one for everypony of significance. The prince, his parents, the suspicious royal adviser that will certainly end up being a traitor, the evil Grizwald, his first lieutenant, and his unwilling assistant, who has only joined him through an unfortunate series of events and remains at his side because of a misguided notion of duty.”

“That sounds mighty similar to Tempest,” Applejack whispered to Marble, who nodded with a shy giggle.

“The incompetent buffoon, three different mares, a few merchants, and, naturally, a duke.” Rarity finished enumerating, then took another sip of her tea. “After I go home tonight, I might do some animals.”

“Wow.” Ember said, as she and Spike stared at the pile of miniature figurines on the table. “You sure got into it.”

“I try, darling.” Rarity waved her mane. “After all, what is the point if we’re not serious about it?”

“A bit more attention on the game, please?” Starlight grumbled. “We are here.” She marked an x in the middle of the blank sheet of paper. “We can’t see anything in any direction. Which way is north?”

“There is no way north,” Spike said. “As much as Applejack tries to concentrate, she cannot tell which direction should be north, nor does she sense the time of day or season it is. Everything remains one big blank wrapped in mystery.”

“Whatcha mean I can’t tell where’s north?” Applejack frowned. “Starlight said I had whatchamacallit!”

“Yep, you do, but you still can’t,” Spike said with a smug smile.

Yep. Finally found my groove. Spike felt like rubbing his hands together. Starlight would probably guess what had happened in a few minutes, but the joy of the party finally starting a real adventure was worth it. Actually, it couldn’t have gone better. According to the Special and Extensive Guide of Oubliette Master Hints, giving your party everything they wanted, then taking it away, was one of the sure ways to get them hooked. What was more, it seemed to have worked.

“Well, there’s no point in staying here.” Rarity looked at the empty map. “I say we go in this direction until we come across a town or a nice tavern, or... Starlight, darling? Are you with us?” She turned to the purple unicorn.

“Huh?” Starlight snapped out of it. “Oh, yes, sorry, Rarity. I was just thinking. If Applejack can’t tell where we are or what time it is, and I can’t use my bardic knowledge... it might mean we aren’t in the known lands...” She looked at Spike, a sly smile forming on her face. “Or maybe we aren’t even in any land. Spike—” Starlight levitated a die and rolled it onto the table. “—I want to cast summon scroll.”

The die turned a few times, ending on a seventeen.

“As you concentrate, you find that the spell you seek cannot be reached.” Well played, Starlight. “Your spell fizzles away, summoning nothing and leaving you completely confused. Mark that you have used your free daily summon spell.”

“Just as I suspected,” Starlight said. “Girls, we’re locked in a dream sequence. That’s why we have no equipment and can’t use some skills. Very sneaky, Spike.” She smiled. “Very, very sneaky.”

“Say what now?” Applejack arched a brow.

“It’s quite simple, darling.” Rarity finished her tea. “Remember that time we entered Princess Luna’s dreamworld to save Equestria from nightmares taking over and breaking into Ponyville? It’s like that, but with a better fashion sense.”

Nightmares? I didn’t think of that. Spike scratched his chin. Originally, he was just thinking of running this like a world in which their overpowered skills and abilities wouldn’t work, but now that Rarity mentioned it, making it into a pure dreamworld would be so much better. There would be mysterious past events, hungry nightmares that couldn’t be destroyed by normal means, and he didn’t even have to worry about logic too much.

Spike’s mind went through the memories of all his O&O experiences, going through adventures, campaigns, and the occasional discussion. The dragon couldn’t consult a manual out of fear that Starlight or Applejack might uncover his plans, yet that didn’t stop him from exploring several options. The Dream Fairy was one possibility. Spike had come up with that adventure specifically for Big Mac when the earth stallion was feeling rather down. It was a two session thing, but it had managed to cheer everyone up.

“Hmm...” Spike mused. Nightmares were also an interesting thing. Maybe granting Grizwald the ability to manipulate dreams would also be good. Or maybe—

“Umm, Spike?” Starlight waved her hoof in front of the dragon’s face. “Is everything alright, Spike?”

“Sure!” Spike snapped back to reality. “Was just... so, what did you decide to do?”

“Phew, was worried there for a moment.” Starlight let out a sigh of relief. “Anyway, we’ll be heading—”

“Just a moment,” Spike interrupted, grabbing a sheet of paper. Under everyone’s gaze, he scribbled something on it—You see something glimmering in the distance. You can’t discuss this with anyone else in the party!—then folded it in half and handed it to Starlight. “There you go.”

Starlight unfolded the note, looked at it, looked at Spike, then folded it again.

“What did it say?” Ember moved closer.

“Sorry.” Starlight levitated the note away. “I can’t tell you that.”

“Why not?” Ember snapped.

“It’s part of the game.”

“Eh?” The blue dragon tilted her head. “Is this another pony thing?”

“No, no, it’s... err.” Starlight glanced at the others round the table. They were all looking at her, quietly, waiting for an explanation. “Spike, maybe you should explain this?”

“Of course, Starlight.” Spike hopped onto the table. “Now, since each of you play your characters, there are certain things that only you get to know. For example—” He turned to Ember. “—if you notice a someone sneaking in the distance before anyone else, because of your skills, I’ll give you a note telling you about it. Just like in real life, you may choose to share that information or keep it to yourself and act on your own.”

“Why wouldn’t Twilight share anything with me?” Ember crossed her arms.

“Starlight,” Starlight corrected.

“Well, I don’t know...” Spike looked at the ceiling in mock innocence. “What if you hear a voice that speaks only to you, telling you if you don’t do what you’re asked one of your friends might get hurt? Or maybe you are whispered a love confession from someone you care about?”

“What?” Ember jumped.

“What?” Rarity stopped her levitation spell, having three figurines fall helplessly onto the table.

What?! Spike shouted silently. What did I just say? That was definitely not what he wanted to say. It was just a stupid example that slipped his tongue, but now everyone would think he was being sweet to Starlight. Worse, Rarity might think he was sweet on Starlight!

“Starlight, darling, might I have a look at your note?” Rarity asked in the most politely threatening fashion.

“Sure!” Spike quickly said before anyone had a chance to react. “This is an example. You know, since it’s the first time I’ve done it and... you know...” Leading the party is never this difficult with my usual players!

Without saying a word, Rarity levitated the piece of paper towards her, unfolded it, read it, and narrowed her eyes. She gave both Starlight and Spike a few glances, then folded it back.

“Alright.” Rarity levitated the message back to the other unicorn. “So.”

“So?” Starlight asked, uncertain.

“So, aren’t you going to tell us what you saw?” Rarity nudged.

“Umm, okay. I saw something glimmering in the distance...” Starlight hesitated a few seconds. “I suggest we go find out what it is?”

“Sounds good to me,” Applejack agreed.

“Mhm.” Marble nodded.

“Hmm. I’m not sure.” Ember tapped her claw on the table, as if considering her options. “Why can’t I see that? I’m supposed to have the best sight in the group. Right?” She turned to Starlight.

“Darling, this is a dream world,” Rarity explained. “Things are about to be slightly strange here. But, worry not, I’m sure it’s nothing you, or any of us, can’t handle. After all, we must trust that Spikey-Wikey will ensure that we have the best adventure. Isn’t that right, Spikey-Wikey?”

“Of course, Rarity.” Spike felt his smile widen, as his vision got slightly blurry, blotting out everything except Rarity.

“So, forward to the shining shimmer!” Rarity almost shouted. “I’ve always wanted to say that,” she added with a quiet giggle.

“Um, yeah.” Spike opened his monster manual. “You walk towards the shimmering object. Minutes pass, and the object is now visible to everyone. It’s small and round and glowing in the distance. Yet, no matter how much you walk, it always seems to stay far away. Looking behind you, you can see a trail of your footsteps leading into the mist. You almost feel like giving up, when suddenly the shimmering blob falls on the ground, and transforms into...” Spike took a die and rolled it. All eyes focused on the die, as if trying to determine the outcome. It landed on a ten. “It transforms into a blacksmith’s forge! Fats plumes of smoke come out of the chimney, disappearing into the whiteness above. Yet, there are no sounds to be heard. What do you do?”

“I charge to break the door!” Ember said and rolled a die. The die landed on a three. “Umm, I quickly stop before I hit the door!” she quickly added, grabbing the die so no one could see it.

“I take a whiff of the air, trying to make out what sort of smells come from the forge,” Applejack said. “Must I roll a die for that?”

“Nope.” Spike shook his head. “It smells of crushed roasted granite.”

“I cast detect magic, detect evil, spot, search area.” Starlight said, rolling four dice one after another. “And I also have Marble roll to detect traps and poison.”

Spike narrowed his eyes. So, the Marble gambit again, eh? He looked at the dice: seven, six, fifteen, sixteen, and twenty. Little surprise there.

“There is nothing out of the ordinary in the area,” he said. “And definitely no magic, evil, or traps. It’s just a mysterious forge.”

“Hmm.” Ember scratched her horn. “He said ‘definitely,’ so there must be something fishy there. Maybe the forge is not a forge or a changeling? I breathe fire on the wall!”

“The wall just got fired,” Spike said with a level expression.

“Starlight, what do you reckon we do?” Applejack asked. “I agree with Ember. It’s mighty quiet, and that’s always suspicious. I bet there’s a pack of critters inside just waiting to charge at us.”

“Hmm. Since it’s a dream world, we can’t be sure of anything.” Starlight jotted down the forge on her map. “Detect Evil should work under any circumstances, so we know there’s nothing like that around, but that’s not to say there isn’t anything neutral or chaotic. I cast Cone of Silence!”

“Wonderful.” Spike rolled his eyes. “You successfully cast Cone of Silence. For the next ten minutes, no one will be able to make a sound within ten yards of your current location. Until then, your characters cannot talk to each other, which means that you can only communicate in writing.”

“Heh, big deal!” Ember laughed. “Talking’s overrated anyway! I say we just and—”

“Tsk tsk tsk.” Spike waved a finger. “You can’t talk, remember? That means you can’t discuss what to do or make plans for the next ten minutes.” He took out an hourglass and placed it on the table. “That’s just five minutes, by the way, so I’ll have to turn it once.”

“Are you kidding?!” Ember shouted. “We can’t talk to each other either?”

“I believe that’s what a ‘cone of silence’ means, darling,” Rarity whispered.

“But that’s stupid!” Ember waved her hands about. “We’re here! We don’t have any weird spell cast on us! Why can’t we talk to each other?”

“In-character and out-of-character, darling,” Rarity reminded. “Although, nothing’s stopping us from walking out of the cone’s area and talking there.”

Spike’s jaw dropped open. “Umm, that’s a really good idea. How did you think of it?”

“Oh, one picks up a thing or two taking care of her little sister.” Rarity adjusted her mane. “Especially if said sister manages to find every single spot in the boutique that lies beyond the silence spell I cast and proceeds to start shouting!” She waved her hoof in very unladylike fashion. “Like, honestly!”

“Well, I reckon she taught you something good in the end there, Rarity,” Applejack laughed.

“Hmm.” Spike scratched his head. “Okay, you can talk or examine the outside forge, but not both at the same time.”

“Fine!” Ember snapped her fingers. “So, here’s what we do: I fly up carrying all of you, since I have the strength, go directly above the forge, then swoop down. We go through the roof and attack everything inside.”

“Um, Ember—”

“Oh, and before that I’ll breathe fire down the chimney.” Ember grinned. “That way whoever’s inside will be completely—”

“Ember, we are not ruffians!” Rarity stomped her hoof. “I appreciate your enthusiasm, but we will not simply fly into the home of somepony and set their interior decor on fire!”

Uh-oh. Spike had seen enough of Rarity’s furious slide to know where this was going. He also made a mental note not to destroy anything of artistic value in his campaign, at least until she had a chance to calm down a bit. Who knew that a simple game of O&O would get the girls intrigued to such an extent? Intrigue was good, but not if it became obsession. Spike still remembered how Discord acted after his first few sessions. The draconequus would appear at random points of night and day to share his thoughts about an adventure, inquire about feats and weapons, and also “get a few skill points on credit.” Big Mac and Spike were forced to ignore parts of reality changing around them based on their latest campaign. Even worse, every topic would inevitably be gamified—including the notion that the Elements of Harmony were significantly overpowered and had to be significantly nerfed.

“We can always just knock on the door,” Starlight suggested. “We didn’t find any boobytraps. Although, if this is a dreamworld, we wouldn’t find any. Maybe that’s all part of the plot to brainwash us.” Everyone stared at her. “What? It’s what I would have done.”

“Five minutes of silence to go.” Spike turned the hourglass.

“What if Marble opens the door?” Ember asked. “If something happens she’ll be safe. Then we can charge behind her and—”

“There’s no guarantee.” Starlight sighed. “Sometimes things can happen without a dice roll. We didn’t roll a die to enter the dreamland, we just did.”

“Well, in that case, what can we do?” Ember looked at the map. “Explore the rest of the world and then return?”

“That might be a good plan, but we’ll still need some hay and water,” Applejack said. “Big Mac told me once that he nearly died because he forgot to eat during one of his sessions. And I don’t mean him not eating in real life.”

“Okay, then I’ll open the door.” Ember grabbed a pair of dice. “I’m all in armor and my health is high, so even if something attacks I should be fine.”

“Only if it’s a physical attack,” Starlight commented. “With your mental save rolls, you could easily be mind-snared and made to fight us, which, as you pointed out, will be difficult.”

“Hmm.” Ember took her character sheet.

“And you can speak again,” Spike said, moving the hourglass off the table.

“I reckon we just throw rocks or pieces of armor at the door,” Applejack suggested. “Then if nopony opens, we just go gather them and start all over. Trust me, they’ll get tired of this mighty soon. It’s like when Apple Bloom keeps bouncing a ball off the barn all day long. It gets annoying mighty fast, and even Granny Smith can’t stand it after a few hours.”

“You’re suggesting that we throw armor at the door for hours?” Ember narrowed her eyes.

“Mhm.” Marble nodded.

“What if—”

“Oh, for Equestria’s sake!” Rarity snapped. “I walk to the door and knock on it three times with my hood. ‘Hello,’ I say loudly. ‘Is there anyone inside? We are wandering travelers in search of food and water and directions in this strange and wondrous land.’”

Fear twisted everyone’s face, with the exception of Spike and Rarity. Looking at them, one would think they were facing all the villains of Equestria combined. Applejack was biting her lip, eyes larger than saucers; Marble had hidden behind her, trembling, as she glanced at the character miniatures of the party; Ember and Starlight were wincing, their hands and hooves in front of their faces, as if expecting the table to explode in a thousand pieces. And then, in the middle of this tense moment, Spike spoke.

“With a soft creak, which you can now hear since the silence spell has ended, the door opens. A young colt stands at the door, his cyan face and mane covered in soot, like a storm cloud before rain.” Rarity shivered upon hearing the description. “The colt is wearing a blacksmith’s apron with several pockets, in one of which you see an unusually large hammer. In the background, further in the forge, you hear the sound of other hammers pounding metal.”

A moment of silence filled the room. The players looked at each other, then slowly returned to their pre-door composure.

“Well, that was easy,” Ember laughed nervously.

“‘My word,’ I say to the colt. ‘Aren’t you the most magnificent thing, darling. We apologize for the disturbance, but we’re travelers in search of—’”

“‘I know,’ the colt interrupts. ‘My Master has been expecting you. Please, come in, distant travelers... and pretty lady. There is much that my Master wishes to discuss.’”

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Comments ( 17 )

i know this is supposed to be comedy and all, but i can't help waiting for Spike to snap at their antics and call them out on their stuff (with gentle lecturing on Rarity's part). probably not gonna happen, but maybe they'll actually play right by the end instead of broken the whole time.

Dream games are evil. You can never tell when you have fully escaped them. :twilightoops:


Rarity is a fucking wizard. DAMN.

Also, I wonder how long it'll be until Spike gives up on getting them to do what he wants.

Where's a Piezooka when you need one?

"Hello pretty lady, We're done storming the castle...." The BRUT SQUAD

I ship spike with every one in the room =3

Without saying a word, Rarity levitated the piece of paper towards her, unfolded it, read it, and narrowed her eyes. She gave both Starlight and Spike a few glances, then folded it back.

my man. its like glimpses of everyone getting a slice of spike, only to be snuffed out of jealousy.


Spike never snaps... he just becomes sarcastic :)

Indeed... Mlp is just a dream... *ominous music*

Soon... :) nah. He’ll keep trying :)

Marble has it :D

Pfft! :)

Indeed... and more are expected :P

I admit nothing! :P

“Why wouldn’t Twilight share anything with me?” Ember crossed her arms.

ah yes that was funny with her not being able to tell them apart.
It makes me remember the pony racist I had seen yesterday in the first two episodes.

"Spike never snaps... he just becomes sarcastic." This may be the truest quote of Spike's character ever.

Rarity and Ember jumped awful fast there >_> <_< I wonder why (Sarcasm)

I love this story. Just a nice 10-20 minutes of laughing and face palming... and terrible, terrible flashbacks.

Old habits die hard :D

Thanks :D
Spike just needs to get into his comfort zone... and get the others out of theirs :P

I like how Spike took Starlight's idea and acted like that was part of his plan all along.

An important part of being a DM is to have ability to bluff, cheat, and then act like it was all planned that way.

I remember lots of adventures where my notes, set pieces, and NPCS had become irrelevant three sessions in. The players still had fun.

Any idea when you can get back to this?

Rarity playing Ogres & Oubliettes with Spike?

Ha! Like that will happen in the show.

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