If you followed the Spurs for much of Tim Duncan’s career, you’re probably aware that he’s been into Dungeons and Dragons since almost forever. What you certainly didn’t know (since it’s completely made up) is that just after the regular season, he got Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge together for their first foray into the world of magic and quests, dragons and treasure.
For Part 1, where our intrepid adventurers were first sent on their quest to find the Champion’s Ring, go here.
For Part 2, where they dispatched the bugbears only to get blitzed by Houstonia’s magic missiles, go here.
Warning: we’re moving even further afield from the “normal” rules of D&D. Just (heh) roll with it, okay?
— — — — — —
MANU/JUAN: Okay, what? How are we not dead?
TIM: Poppo takes a quick glance around this wasteland, then shrugs. “I told you. The potion we drank has...additional side effects. Including making you susceptible to time manipulation, through this pocketwatch. Never mind, it’s too complicated to explain.”
TONY/SOUFFLE: How many times can we do it?
TIM: “Depends on the potency, and how far back we go. The batch should give us...I dunno, one, maybe two more restarts. The ingredients are -- well -- pretty hard to come by. You can’t find that vintage of Malbec just anywhere.”
MANU/JUAN: Okay, let’s think about this. We’re only on round 2 of the quest for the Champion’s Ring, and we can’t afford to use up the potion unnecessarily.
MANU: Can I do a perception check? Is there anything else around me but craters? [Rolls] That’s a 14, plus 5.
TIM: Okay, good enough. So Juan, you look around you, and you see something off in the distance about halfway between you and Houstonia. It looks strangely mechanical, but you can’t be certain as to what it is.
MANU/JUAN: Obviously, we should head for that.
TIM: And just as you say that, you hear that familiar voice: “Contact at the Western border! Open Fire!” And you see the same cascade of rocket exhaust as Houstonia begins its magic missile barrage. You count five.
TONY/SOUFFLE: Hang on, I’ve got an idea this time.
TONY: I cast “Chain Lightning” at the missiles.
LAMARCUS: What is that going to do?
TONY/SOUFFLE: And the rest of you better start running.
MANU/JUAN: Yep, let’s go!
TIM: Ha! This is great. Let’s set the scene: Souffle, you step out into the crater zone, and raise your quarterstaff to the sky. Juan, Brian, Kawhi, and Poppo start sprinting towards the object in the distance. A single bolt of lightning shoots out, 150 feet in the air. It collides with one of the five missiles and it instantly explodes; then three more bolts fork off of the initial bolt, taking out all but one of the missiles.
TONY: Yes! I start running after the others.
TIM: Unfortunately, that last missile is coming right for you, like it’s heat-seeking.
TONY: I immediately dive into a crater.
TIM: Make a dexterity saving throw.
TONY: [Rolls] Ah, crap. 6.
TIM: Uh-oh. So you do manage to roll into one of those craters, but it doesn’t completely shield you from the impact -- there’s an explosion, a shock of pain, and when the dust clears… your left leg is gone.
TIM: Yep. Sorry about that.
TIM: And with the initial attack over, you hear cries of anger coming from the castle. Their attack failed, and they’re pissed.
TONY: I wouldn’t say completely failed…
LAMARCUS: Is this something I can heal?
TIM: Ah, you cannot reattach limbs. That is slightly beyond your skill.
MANU: Did we reach the mechanical thing?
TIM: Right, so the four of you did run to the mechanical thing, and you can see now that it’s actually a generator.
MANU: I hit it with my sword.
TIM: Well, hang on. What if it just blew up and killed you all, Manu? Would you like that?
TONY: Is this worth a restart? I lost my leg.
TIM: “Oh, I know what this is. Those sneaky Houstonians. They’re big on long-ranged attacks, obviously. But not much else.” And Poppo motions toward a bundle of wires coming out of the side of this generator, going into the ground.
MANU/JUAN: If this is so important, why put it out here in the middle of the field?
TIM: “Like I said, these aren’t the brightest defensive minds. The flaws are easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for. Also, this thing is radioactive. Low level, so we’re okay as long as we’re not camping out for the night, but it’s a different story if we shut it down.”
TONY/SOUFFLE: I’m still over here in a crater, guys.
TIM: Anyway, you hear the voice come from the castle again: “Ready to fire! Open fire!” And another group of missiles launch. Based on your previous experiences, you have about seven seconds until impact.
TONY: Augh, come on!
KAWHI: I cut the wires. I get out my dagger and cut the wires.
TIM: Okay, you start cutting the wires. But these are thick, and you have to do them one at a time. You get one, than another, and the missiles have reached their apex and are starting to descend.
TONY: I cast Phantom Steed.
TIM: HAHAHAHAHAHA OH GOD.
MANU: I don’t know this one.
TONY: Hang on… “You conjure a quasi-real, horse-like creature. The steed can only be ridden by you or by the one person for whom you specifically created the mount.”
TIM: I’m dying. This is incredible.
TONY: So I lean on my quarterstaff, outstretch my arm, and a spectral horse-like creature appears. He’s my size, as a halfling. This horse-like creature is a pony. He has a jet-black mane trimmed down to the shape of a small mohawk. His name is Patrick.
[Tim and Manu laugh.]
KAWHI: I get it.
TONY: Patrick says “G’day!” and leans down into my crater. I climb on top of him. I tell him “Ride like the wind, Patty!” and he says “No problem.” We ride away, hoping to attract the missiles to follow us.
LAMARCUS: So self-sacrificial.
TIM: You know what? I’ll give you that. So you’re riding Patrick, he’s nimbly dodging craters, and this sudden burst of energy pings something in the missiles. Just as they’re about to incinerate the others, they suddenly swerve away as a group and start following you instead.
TONY/SOUFFLE: Houstonian tactics. They’re attracted to speed.
TIM: This buys Kawhi the precious seconds he needs to finish cutting the wires. But with the last one, there’s a burst of a glowing liquid, and it hits your left ankle. Take 15 poison damage and your athletics modifier is cut in half. And you lose two more damage every minute.
TIM: And as the rest of you watch Souffle, you see the entire castle flicker, and it’s suddenly replaced in your vision by what look like crude cardboard boxes, stacked high. Poppo laughs and says “See, I told ya. Paper defense.”
MANU: Are the missiles still following Souffle?
TIM: Yes, they are. And I should mention that he is losing blood at a not-unsteady rate.
TONY: I ride directly toward the cardboard castle.
TONY: And the moment I’m about to reach the walls, Patrick makes a hard cut to the right.
TIM: Got it. Make a quick athletics check? For Patrick.
TONY: [Rolls] 19 with the modifier.
TIM: Heh. So you make that hard right, but the missiles don’t react in time -- and they collide directly with the castle. There’s a large fireball, and some screaming, but to be honest there wasn’t much to blow up underneath the facade powered by the generator.
LAMARCUS/BRIAN: Come back over here.
TIM: So you wheel back around toward the group, and what’s left of the Houstonian forces -- it’s just about seven or eight guys -- shake their fists at you. They’ve got an array of different weapons, bows, swords, one guy is swinging a mace, but their armor is all ragged. The one who seems to be their leader has a great big bushy beard, and he’s wielding a greatsword that’s glowing red, and he’s screaming at you in an unknown language. And as Tony rides away on Patrick they all charge after him.
TIM: Obviously Patrick, being a little speedster pony, easily outpaces them. But as they get back to the rest of the group, Tony suddenly faints from loss of blood, and falls off of Patrick. Also, everyone roll for initiative!
TIM: So first in the order is...Kawhi.
KAWHI: I pull out my longbow and fire at the leader.
TIM: Okay, roll against AC?
KAWHI: [Rolls] 9.
TIM: Nope, that’s no good. In fact, the beaded leader deflects your shot with his sword, and it’s heading directly back towards you. Meanwhile, the radiation takes another 2 damage.
KAWHI: I use my Cunning Action to dash away.
TIM: Do a quick athletics check? Don’t forget your new modifier.
KAWHI: [Rolls] 13.
TIM: Okay so you just barely get out of the way of this thing. But that’s your turn. Next is Brian!
LAMARCUS: I use Lesser Restoration on Souffle. For the blood loss.
TIM: Ok, I’ll give you that. How about you roll a quick D8?
LAMARCUS: [Rolls] That’s an 8!
MANU/JUAN: Way to go, Brian!
TONY/SOUFFLE: About time. But seriously, thanks.
KAWHI/KAWHI: [Gives a thumbs-up.]
TIM: So you tear off a piece of your undershirt and bind up Souffle’s leg real nice. It’s not going to grow back, but it won’t kill him.
TONY: And I have Patrick.
TIM: And you have Patrick. Next in the order is...the beaded leader. But he’s impulsive and impatient, so instead of finishing his charge, he rears back and throws his greatsword in the group’s general direction. Just then, Poppo pulls out his pocketwatch and gives it a wind, and suddenly everything seems to be moving in slow motion. The bearded leader’s hideous expression frozen on his face, the greatsword tumbling towards you, and you’re not sure who it’s going to hit.
MANU: I throw my shield at it.
MANU: Am I in slow-motion, too?
TIM: Yes, but you’re also an elf, so...I dunno, make an Athletics check?
MANU: [Rolls] Crit 20, baby!
TONY: Oh, man.
TIM: Ha! Okay, sure. So with your elf speed, like an elven version of The Flash, you whip your shield off your back and sling it towards the sword. They collide with a shower of sparks. The shot is blocked. And time begins to ramp its way back to normal speed. Poppo shrugs and says “I guess that’s all the juice we’ve got, boys!”
MANU/JUAN: Of course.
TIM: “Hey, what do you expect? Am I supposed to hold your hand all the way through this thing?”
TONY/SOUFFLE: It’d be helpful, yeah.
TIM: The bearded leader stops in his tracks, in shock and disappointment. And because he stops, the others stop too. Next in the order is...Poppo! And he is, heh, going to cast Weird on the entire group of Houstonians. Weird is a spell that draws on your deepest fears to create illusory creatures, visible only to you. Each target within a 30-foot radius must cast a Wisdom saving throw… [rolls] and, ha, they don’t have much of that, it seems. “Well, maybe I’ll hold your hand for just a bit longer.”
MANU/JUAN: What are they seeing?
TIM: “Terrible things. Defenders with their hands up...referees that won’t call touch fouls... Steve Nash’s bloody nose...David Stern….nightmarish stuff.”
MANU/JUAN: Dios mio.
TIM: And then they’re all screaming, and they collapse to the ground.
TONY/SOUFFLE: I’m next. Brian, put me pack up on Patrick. Free action.
LAMARCUS: I do that.
TONY: I ride hard towards the castle ruins.
TIM: Okay. Kawhi, you go down another 2 damage.
TIM: So what are you up to?
TONY: Are we out of combat?
TIM: I guess you can be. That Weird spell will keep them occupied for a while.
TONY: I look for the map.
MANU: I go after him.
KAWHI: Me, too.
TIM: Poppo sees Kawhi start to limp off and says “Woah, now. You need to sit this one out.”
KAWHI: I strongly disagree, but I respect your decision.
LAMARCUS: Are there any plants around I can use to make, like, a poultice or something?
TIM: Not in the vicinity. Poppo says “Why don’t you carry Kawhi back to the buggy?”
LAMARCUS: More carrying. Okay…
TIM: Let’s stick with Souffle/Patrick and Juan for the moment. So you guys get over to the smouldering remains of Houstonia’s cardboard castle. What do you do?
MANU: Perception check. [Rolls.] 16.
TIM: Okay...well, there’s a lot here. Bodies, rubble, weapons, pots and pans...some unfired missiles in their tubes that you probably shouldn’t touch…
TONY: We look for the map.
TIM: Right, right. So you poke around for a while, then find another chest with the lock already broken off.
MANU: I open it.
TIM: Of course. And as you figured, it’s the next piece of the map. It connects to the piece you have so far, showing the area to the far west, all the way to the edge of the sea. Drawn on the map are a fleet of ships, one of which has an X on it, just like before.
MANU: I put the map in my pocket and we go back to Poppo.
TIM: Got it. So you trudge back -- well, Souffle on Patrick -- you make your way back to Poppo, Kawhi, and LaMarcus.
MANU/JUAN: What do we do about Kawhi?
TIM: “I’ve got something I can give him in my storehouse at the inn. He should be right as rain for the next fight.”
TONY/SOUFFLE: What about my leg?
TIM: “Yeah, that can’t be helped. We can fix you up with a peg, if you want.”
TONY/SOUFFLE: ...I’ll think about it.
MANU: I hand over the map piece.
TIM: Poppo looks it over. Then he gets...not exactly pale, but you get the sense that he’s been dreading this moment since the beginning. He takes a deep breath, and says “That’s….that’s Frisco Bay. This is going to be the hardest part of the quest. Even recovering the ring itself, wherever it is, won’t be as impossible as the impossible thing we’re about to do. Those ships? That’s the Warrior Fleet, a band of the blood-thirstiest pirates and reavers in the realm. They don’t just destroy opponents -- they humiliate them. Like a cat playing with its food. And they keep picking up new members. Just last summer, I heard, a highly skilled knight named Durant -- one of the best, anywhere -- joined their band, just because. And he just hangs out in the back! They don’t even need him!”
MANU/JUAN: Sounds rough.
TIM: “Oh, you have no idea. Remember how I said you would probably die here in Houstonia? You will definitely die in Frisco Bay. No question. Especially with the state you guys are already in, I mean, my gods. You, with one leg? You, slowly dying of radiation poisoning? You, a dragonborn with a confidence problem? And you, just a really really really old elf? No offense.”
LAMARCUS: When do we start?
--END OF CHAPTER THREE--