Our almost drowned half orc and what was up with him

Fight on a ship

From one second to the other, boarding the enemy’s ship suddenly becomes a disaster for our party. While trying to jump over to fight against the other crew, one of my mateys stumbles, flails helplessly with his arms, finally looses control and falls into the water. Walbur, the half orc, is gone.

While I stare in awe at the area of the wild sea where he vanished seconds ago, our two ships get closer and closer alongside. In a few moments, they’ll crash into each other, closing the space where my half-orc comrade disappeared. Where is he? How might I rescue him?

I don’t spend a single second on other options than trying to do exactly that. But how? Think it over, pirate. You’re living in a fantasy world. If you don’t try to do fantastic moves, who will? A plan shapes in my mind. Might it work?

Without my help, he’ll die

I take a rope with a boat hook on its end, bind it around my waist and throw it to the other ship. It works! The hook stucks to the woods of the other ship. Now I take a run and jump into the water, too. With one difference: That’s exactly my plan. I try to land where my matey disappeared. After touching the cold water and finally coming back to the surface, I search for his head or body or … anything!

Wait, there he is! We’ve got to hurry up! Swimming to him, I finally get my rope around his waist, and shout: “Walbur! Let’s get our ass up and swim to the other ship and get aboard! NOW SWIM!” The light around us seems to fade, there’s nothing more than the wooden hulls of the two ships. Swim, let’s swim! We reach the ship’s hull, after two or three attempts we are able to climb up and leave the sea, wet to the bones. Touching a wooden surface. Breathing in gasps. That was… close, muscle man!

Surviving the first challenge, swords and cutlasses come in sight – it’s time to capture a ship! To keep it short: We did it. So quick we were slightly astonished at ourselves. And didn’t even lose a single man. The gods are with us – finally.

Riding on the blade

This evening, our Pathfinder role-playing sessions was separated into two parts: Capturing a ship and talking to an old lady on a lost island. As you are probably able to imagine, fighting the enemy’s ship was the biggest fun.

It may sound a bit odd, but my matey’s fail resulted in the most exciting part of the fight. My idea to rescue him was born and it worked. It was one of these special moments where the suspense is high and everyone at the table looked at the action. It was a cutting edge moment.

Drawn into a fantastic world

Yeah, I’ve got to admit my dice were on my side. But my own power of imagination, too. A minute after rescuing the half orc Walbur, I wondered how I might be able to get to the ship’s bow as fast as possible. There, the main fight took place.

I took the masts and rigging, ignoring comments of my friends at the table who already saw me sliding right into the enemy. I didn’t. I managed it to get near our enemy, vanish into invisibility and became a serious threat to the opposing captain and his crew.

Sitting at the gaming table I often forget which awesome possibilities lay in front of us. Which abilities my character has and how much power appears once I combine it with my imagination. That those moments belong to the most beautiful in a role-playing game: Because you create something you wouldn’t do in your normal world.

Thinking about that, I wonder: How often does that happen in real life, too? Not seeing your own possibilities and acting accordingly. Missing opportunities. Nonetheless, doing the right thing at the right moment because you know it’s right, happens, too.

What about you and your special moments?

Do remember one or two of them in your own role-playing game group, too? I’d be happy if you share them with me in the comments section.

Eat fruits, mateys!

Yours, Nic

Featured Image: Paizo Blog


  1. Hey Nico, this has got to be your best post yet. As for my favourite adventuring I suppose a lot of it was with a character, Louis Armfeldt, in Mechwarrior. He was a mercenary captain and owner of the Dogs of War who fought in many campaigns, largely against Kurita held space. He even fought against the clans. The group never lost a battle but did get badly damaged many times.

    I always felt his trepidation as he started into battle, leading his squads and it was sadly on down time, on the tournament planet of Solaris VII where he was killed. His escape pod from his Atlas mech was callously shot down by an enemy pilot.

    • Hi Mark,

      thanks a lot for your feedback and story about your MechWarrior. Unbelievable how even fictional characters are connected to our feelings, aren’t they?

      Bye, Nic

  2. The rescue does sound very dramatic – it’s something I’ve been thinking on recently: that failure can simply be an opportunity for more exciting success. For instance, in our Exalted game, our characters (currently unexalted teenage twins, Kito and Taji) were on an undercover mission and had spotted someone they didn’t expect to see. It was one of those evenings where every call to roll gave one of us excessive successes and the other botched. So I (Taji) knew that the woman was an important general for another House, whilst Kito was convinced she was the Empress’s niece. We then both failed our stealth roll, so she saw us staring – which lead to a fun roleplay moment as we started out sticking to our cover story until Kito asked why the Empress’s niece was here, and Taji collapsed out of role to berate her brother for his stupidity! Which in turn lead to her finding out who we really were and agreeing to let us help her, and now we have a new ally who wouldn’t have been if we’d either succeeded our dice rolls or not had a bit of fun roleplaying how we’d react.

    • Oh, that sounds beautiful! Especially the attempt to find a story explaining why the two of you were watching the spotted person.

      If players are forced to improvise, the effect is often astounding.

      Bye, Nic

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