There’s always another quest

by mshrm

The question came up in conversation, since Gabby’s about ready to make her one-chance-only roll for healing her crippled arm… what happens if she fails?

The short, glib answer is, she gains the One Arm disadvantage and carries on with a reduced point total. This would be a considerable bummer, what with Gabby’s basic concept being “I’ve got a pointy thing in either hand and a bloody-minded whim of iron in between”. She’s invested a bundle of points in fighting with a weapon in either hand. Losing half of that would be a serious blow.

Would it mean the end of the character’s adventuring career?  Well, that depends…

If the player is tired of the character and wants to try something different, well, then, sure. Gabby retires from the adventuring life. She can be occasionally seen down by the docks, arm in a sling, mending nets one-handed, smoking a corncob pipe. When new 250-point characters get off the boat, she gives them the “I used to be an adventurer like you, until I took a zombie Mongo to the elbow” talk.

But if there’s interest, there’s a way. This is Dungeon Fantasy, where even death is a temporary setback, if you’ve got friends with coin. Or a good enough reputation. Or goodwill with The Church. Or 25 points to spend on an Extra Life for a heroic, pulp-style escape.

In fact, this is Dungeon Fantasy, where it’s entirely acceptable to replace Bob The Fighter with his identical twin brother, Rob The Fighter… the only difference being earned experience.

Generally speaking, I’m in favor of anything that keeps the story going. It’s a cinematic world, so there’s plenty of cinematic solutions to any situation. In fact, I’ll go a step further:  it’s not just cinematic, it’s comic-book cinematic, it’s Saturday morning cartoon cinematic, where the only solid rule is the Rule of Cool. The solution to just about any problem is going to be “Go on a quest!”

So let’s rewind from Gabby the Mender of Nets, and see what other options there are. Yeah, sure, in the short term, the spell fails to restore her arm, she picks up a colorful sling and a new disadvantage. Her friends and allies swing into action, and browbeat Trevor the Apprentice into doing some research at the library while they’re “gathering rumors” at the bar. By strange coincidence, a quest turns up, offering a ray of hope! It points the way to:

  • A reclusive hermit of such holiness that the one-time-only restriction doesn’t apply, allowing a second attempt at magical healing… if his odd sense of divine justice can be satisfied.
  • A foul necromancer who can raise parts of a subject’s body from the dead, who might be willing to turn the broken arm into a zombie arm… if someone were to complete her collection of hand-blown glass kittens.
  • A grumpy old Scotsman, famous the world over for his skills as a teacher of sword-fighting, who could put Gabby through a 1980’s-style training montage to retrain her reflexes so she could take points out of dual-weapon fighting and put them into… other things. Enhanced Time Sense, maybe. Or Extra Attacks. If only he weren’t so depressed after the realization that he’s tried all the strong drink the world has to offer…. If only someone could offer him a rare liquor that he hasn’t tasted before…
  • My personal favorite:  a clockwork mechanism made from orichalcum in the form of a sleeve, covered in rods and gears, which could brace and re-animate the crippled arm, so long as it is kept wound. It just needs to be recovered from the vault where it is held, guarded by… oh… let’s say…. a gang of stone golems.

But… you know… now that I think about it, using any of these ideas would just be an exercise in self-indulgence. There’s no need to come up with a special tailor-made quest to be The Search For Gabby’s Arm. There’s already a pending quest that could take care of it, easily.

See, there’s this halfling who knows where to find something, or someone, in the dungeon, that grants wishes. And, funny thing, but: that halfling’s on a bit of a quest, himself. It’s called “Get my Precious (cough) I mean, my ring, yeah, my ring, get it back from that Gabby the Cabin Girl person who took it off me”.