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.
TIM: Okay, so the four of you are entering this deep, dark cave. There’s not much to see right now; you can make out the shapes of some big stalactites on the ceiling; maybe some objects towards the back. Something is softly glowing. What do you do?
TONY: I cast prestidigitation and light my quarterstaff.
TIM: Hey, someone’s been reading his character sheet! I’m proud of you, Tony!
MANU: I told him to do that.
LAMARCUS: Sam Prestiwhat now?
TIM: So by the light of Souffle’s wizardly quarterstaff, there’s a lot more in plain sight. It turns out this cave does have a back wall, and there’s a narrow passageway on the left. You see the embers of a still-warm campfire; there’s a crude wooden shield, and a couple of axe heads, like for a throwing axe; a tattered cloak is draped over a rotten log; and in the corner, you spot a locked chest.
MANU: Oh, this will be easy. We move towards the chest.
TIM: Okay. As you step into the center of this chamber, you hear a scuffle above you. A gerblin has dropped from the ceiling and now stands before you, his dagger drawn.
TONY/SOUFFLE: Bonjour, my dude!
MANU: Tell us about this gerblin.
TIM: So he’s built like your average gerblin, a bit on the runty side, but there’s a clear gleam of intelligence in his eyes. Perhaps most importantly, he has a ring of keys jingling at his side. And he takes one look at you and says “Hey! You’re not Vince! Who are you? What are you doing in the Grindhouse?”
MANU/JUAN: Well, the truth is that we’re lost. Can you give us directions to, uh--
TIM/GERBLIN: “No, no. No one just wanders in here. What’s your deal? Tell me now!”
MANU/JUAN: What’s your name, friend?
TIM/GERBLIN: “Wha… Mike. My name is Mike.”
TONY/SOUFFLE: Mike. Listen, Mike. I’m going to level with you.
TONY/SOUFFLE: We’re looking for a bit of paper. It was, uh, part of our grocery list, and it got torn up, it’s a long story, and we think a piece of it blew in here. That the truth. I swear to Pan.
TIM: Okay Souffle, I’m going to have you do a persuasion check on this. What’s your modifier?
TONY: Ah. I don’t have one. So I just roll? [Rolls.] 11.
TIM: Ha, okay. So Mike here doesn’t buy your story, and he starts looking around, like there’s someone else here he can call for.
KAWHI: While y’all are talking, I sneak around behind him and take his keys.
TIM: Uhhh...okay, so that’s going to be Slight of Hand?
KAWHI: [Rolls.] 14 with a +10, so 24.
TIM: Heh, sure. So on your sneaky tiptoes, you’ve looped all around the walls of this chamber and end up behind him. You reach out and lift the keys right off his hip.
KAWHI: I turn around and head for the chest.
TIM: Mike’s still pretty agitated, and he takes a step forward, than realizes something. “Hey, one -- there were four of you! Where’s the other guy?” And he turns around sees you, Kawhi, with your hand in the cookie jar.
TIM: So he shouts “Thieves! Hey Zeebo, Marc, we’ve got some thieves!” And you hear some large, stomping footsteps. Out of the passageway on the left come two big, slimy Bugbears.
TIM: Bugbears -- you know, hairy monster things.
TONY/SOUFFLE: Marc looks familiar. Does he have a brother?
TIM: We’re in combat mode, gentlemen. Let’s roll for initiative! [Everyone rolls.] Okay… looks like Juan’s up first!
MANU: I immediately rush towards the bugbears and attack with my shortsword.
TIM: Which one?
MANU: I go left, of course.
TIM: Okay, that’s Zeebo. Roll against his Armor Class?
MANU: That’s a...14.
TIM: That’s a hit. Roll a D6 for piercing damage.
MANU: I got a three.
TIM: Yikes, okay. Haha. So you charge into Zeebo the bugbear and stab him in the shoulder. He roars, but it’s more like he’s annoyed than actually hurt.
TIM: Next in the order is, heh, the bugbears! They’re the same creature class, so they take their turn together. They are going to take a swing at Juan with their mighty claws… [rolls] and that’s a hit, for…. [rolls] ha, oh dear. 21 points of damage!
MANU/JUAN: That’s bad.
TIM: Yes. So you lose a big chunk of HP, and you are knocked to the ground, stunned.
TONY: Are we just watching this happen, or--
TIM: This is all going to be happening at roughly the same time.
MANU/JUAN: I regret nothing.
TIM: Well, you’re on death’s door now. Not into saving roll territory, but pretty close.
MANU/JUAN: Good thing we have a healer in our party!
TIM: Next up is going to be Souffle, who’s standing back in the center of the room. What’s your action?
TONY: Where exactly are Juan and the bugbears?
TIM: The bugbears are about ten feet in front of the passageway, beneath a rock formation. Juan is, let’s say, splayed out about a yard in front of them. It was a big hit.
TONY: Okay, let’s try this. I’m going to get out one of my tinker’s tools, because I need a small piece of iron for this...I’m going to cast Hold Monster on Zeebo and Marc.
KAWHI: I see what you’re doing.
LAMARCUS: What is he doing?
TIM: Okay, they are going to make a Wisdom saving throw… [rolls]... and do not get it, so yep, Marc has just leaned back to roar after knocking Juan senseless, and he and Zeebo get zapped. They are rooted to the spot. Good work. Next in the order is...Kawhi.
KAWHI: I pull out my longbow and shoot at the stalactite above the bugbears.
TIM: Heh, okay! So roll to see if you hit.
KAWHI: [Rolls] 19.
MANU: Where’d you get your dice from, Kawhi?
TIM: Yeah, so you draw your bow and hit the stalactite right in its weak point, just above where it kind of bowls out into a larger knobby formation about the size of a Phantom of the Opera chandelier. Roll a D8 and add your modifier?
KAWHI: [Rolls] 11.
TIM: Oh, man. Ha, alright. So you hit this thing, and everyone kind of takes in a breath because it starts to crack, and after a couple of beats the chandelier detaches from the ceiling and lands directly on the bugbears with a crash.
TIM: And…well, they can’t make a Dexterity saving throw, so… [rolls] well, Zeebo is killed instantly. He’s done. Marc is still alive, but barely.
LAMARCUS: Okay, okay, I think I’m starting to get it.
TIM: Next is Mike, who sees what just happened to his buddies and yelps “YEAH, I’M OUT!” He takes off running straight out of the cave. That’s his action. Brian, to you!
MANU: Don’t forget I’m mostly dead.
LAMARCUS: No man, I want to get in on the action. So I use my...my shortbow--
MANU/JUAN: Brian! He’s leaving! Help me!
LAMARCUS: I want to shoot Mike as he’s running away.
TIM: Ooookay, so roll against AC?
LAMARCUS: [Rolls.] That’s a 1.
[Tony bursts out laughing]
TIM: Oh buddy, that’s a critical miss. So you...heh, you get into shooting position, and it’s very dramatic...you pull an arrow out of your quiver and nock it….pull back on the bowstring….and it goes wide right. It doesn’t even make it out of the cave. It hits the side wall.
LAMARCUS: This game is stupid.
TIM: And Mike turns back towards you and shouts “Seriously?!” And keeps running.
MANU/JUAN: Now you want to take a shot.
TIM: So it resolves like this: one dead bugbear, one incapacitated bugbear, and a fleeing gerblin. Hey, you all survived your first combat round!
MANU: Am I still knocked out?
TIM: Yes, but you can be carried.
KAWHI: I go to the chest and open it.
TIM: Okay, so you use your special Rogue skills to quickly suss out the correct key, and open the chest. Sure enough, folded in half, is a piece of a map. But you’ll have to ask Poppo what it means, because all you can make out are some vague landform shapes; there’s an open plain with some dots on it, and a sketch of a castle turret that has an ‘X’ on it.
TONY/SOUFFLE: Very helpful.
KAWHI: I put it in my pocket.
MANU: Right, so what now? We just take it back? Or can we look around?
TIM: Well you can’t do anything. And as Kawhi pockets the map, you start to hear some angry clattering from deeper in the cave.
TONY/SOUFFLE: I think we’ve done enough. There’s nothing good here, anyway.
LAMARCUS: [Sighs] I pick up Juan.
MANU/JUAN: Thank you!
TONY: Let’s go back to the inn.
TIM: Okay, sounds good. Let’s speed this along. So you make it back to the inn without incident, and because I’m feeling extra generous, we’ll call that a “rest” for Juan, so...he regains 10 hit points.
TIM: Poppo sees the four of you come in and immediately reacts. “What? Back already? Did you get the map?”
TONY/SOUFFLE: Yeah, sure.
TIM/POPPO: “I gotta say, Juan there doesn’t look so good. I thought this would be an easy warm-up for you guys.”
MANU/JUAN: This was the easy one?
TIM/POPPO: “Oh, you don’t even know. You are all almost certainly going to die, perhaps in this next round -- er, leg of the quest. How about we take a look at that map?”
KAWHI: I give him the map.
TIM/POPPO: “Well, this is about what I expected. It’s a breadcrumb trail. This isn’t any help for where to find the Champion’s Ring, but I know where to go for the next piece.”
TONY/SOUFFLE: Isn’t this a little too neat? Feels like the story’s on rails.
TIM/POPPO: “Well I’m sure you’ll have a lot of options in your next mission, Souffle. Now -- you see that castle turret? That’s Houstonia, which overlooks the Fields of Death.”
MANU/JUAN: Sounds dramatic.
TIM/POPPO: “You don’t know the Fields of Death? They’re actually just a hop and a skip to the East. But Houstonia is heavily fortified, and I hear the lord is a crazy one. People are always walking into his traps.” Poppo leans in close, and you can smell the wine on his breath. “I’m telling you, you need to prepare yourselves. One false step, and you’re all dead.”
LAMARCUS/BRIAN: Maybe we save this one for later.
TIM/POPPO: “No, it only gets harder from here, believe me. But you passed the first test. Now I can give you something you didn’t have before.”
MANU/JUAN: And what’s that?
TIM: Poppo stands up straight for the first time, and you see that his “crazy old warlock” routine may not have been legit. He throws back his robes and he’s clad in the brightest silver. And he says, in a booming voice... “Me.”
TIM: So you leave the inn with Poppo and get into his buggy, which he’s definitely had parked outside the entire time, that’s not a retcon. He hands over his flask and says “Each of you, drink this.”
MANU: I drink it.
TIM: And there’s immediately a strange tingling sensation, but after a few seconds it passes, and you feel...energized, and strong, almost like a shot of adrenaline.
TONY, LAMARCUS, KAWHI: I drink it.
TIM/POPPO: “Ha! You like that? That’s one of my own potions. The ingredients, well...they’re a secret. So are its effects.”
MANU/JUAN: Wait, hold on.
TIM/POPPO: “Oh, don’t worry. If I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead and you wouldn’t even know it. But this next stage...well, I think this’ll come in handy.” And to prove his point, he drinks the rest of it. “Ah, here we are!” He stops the buggy, because there’s no more road. There’s only a wasteland, pocked with small craters for the full mile leading to the castle of Houstonia.
LAMARCUS/BRIAN: Are you sure we don’t need more men for this? Maybe different men?
TIM/POPPO: “Nope, you’re the lineup I’ve got, and we’re sticking to it.”
MANU/JUAN: So, we just go through and avoid the holes?
TIM: Almost in answer to your question, you hear a voice. With a mile of open space between you and the castle, it’s echoing across the sand. It says “Contact at the western border! Open fire!”
TIM/POPPO: “Well boys, time to run. Run as fast as you can, right towards the castle.”
MANU: We’re not in combat? Shouldn’t we roll?
TIM: You can’t see you enemy, and they’re a full mile away. But you hear the unmistakable sound of rockets launching, and you look up, and a rain of missiles are heading right for your position.
MANU/JUAN: Oh, snap. Juan rushes in!
TONY, LAMARCUS, KAWHI: Same, same, yes, etc.
TIM: Alright, so as this first wave of explosives are starting to fall, I need all of you to make dexterity saving throws.
TIM: And….yeah, the missiles are inescapable. The ground explodes all around you, and there’s nothing you can do. Kawhi, you manage to roll into a preexisting crater that already has a skeleton in it, but you still take heavy damage. The rest of you are very, very dead.
MANU/JUAN: Hang on, that’s not fair!
TIM: And as you all start to get used to the idea of being dead, everything kinds of turns to white. Then it’s like you blinked, and feel like you’ve been jerked upright like you’re a marionette, and you’re back where you were just a minute ago. You see Poppo close the cover on a pocketwatch and put it back in his cloak. He turns to you. “How about we try that again?”
--END OF CHAPTER TWO--