The Accidental Antagonist

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Recently I was looking through my notes of an old but beloved campaign my group played years ago called Nordis.  It was a cool campaign about an untamed wilderness full of treasure that hid a dark past that the party had to uncover.  It was a lot of fun, and has a lot of my favorite gaming memories but the one memory that really came back to me while looking through the notes was more of a humorous one. The story of the Accidental Antagonist.

As I said the game predominantly took place in a dense and unnatural jungle and the party spent a lot of time trudging through said jungle and battling its inhabitants.  I had a series of random encounter charts for the various parts of the jungle and the first time the party entered section 2 I rolled randomly and found that the party had come across a Troll.

Before
A Troll is a pretty standard opponent in a game of D&D, certainly nothing new for any of my players, but no one was prepared for the fallout from this seemingly innocent battle.  It didn't take long for the battle to turn against the party.  Trolls are dangerous and can pump out massive amounts of damage with their claw attacks and Rend ability.  Unfortunately for the group this problem was compounded with a crit or two and before anyone realized that they were in for the fight of their lives one of their members had already gone down.  The group ended up fleeing and escaping the troll with their lives, but certainly not their dignity, intact.  In my mind it had been a rough encounter for the group.  The dice had gone against them, but they had escaped and would be able to heal up and continue their quest.  No harm done.  Ah, how wrong I was.  If I only knew what was to come.  

When the part got back safely to town they spread word a Demon Troll roaming the woods, I figured they were just trying to save a little face, it had just been a regular random encounter troll out of the Monster Manual after-all.  Still, they went on for a few days as they got themselves back into fighting form, telling those who would listen to beware the Demon Troll lest it smite them, etc etc.  After everyone had recuperated I figured they would resume their quest when they reentered the forest.  They had other ideas.  When I asked which way they were headed they stated that they were making a bee-line for the spot where they had fought the troll.  I sighed, now realizing that the fight wasn't over that only the first round had ended.  The group was determined to deal with the Troll reciprocating the kindness that he had shown them. 

When they reached the spot of their first battle I rolled to see if the Troll was around.  He wasn't.  I figured that might be the end of it, but the Ranger decided to make good use of his tracking skill and hunt it back to its lair.  Once they arrived Round 2 issued.  The party was hindered by the entrance to the Troll's Dwelling, a decent sizes cave, which meant only two of them could really get in there and and mix it up with him.  This bottle neck turned to be the deciding factor in the battle and again the Troll gave the party a whipping they would never forget.  This time they barley escaped a TPK situation by one of the characters with enhanced speed making the Troll chase her through the woods while the rest of the party limped back to town.  

At this point one might have had hope that the issue was over and that the party would move on with some meaningful exploration of one of the many ruins, but I could see it was way past that.  Either the party was going to die, or this Troll was.  It was, "On Like Donkey Kong" as they say.  

After
Round 3 saw the party defeated again in the open forest.  Having narrowly escaped a TPK in their last encounter they had a much more itchy trigger finger on the eject button.  Round 3 was a turning point because at this point thing were starting to get ridiculous.  This damn random Troll had taken up over an entire game session all on his own.  He had defeated a party of adventurers three times.  It was time for him to get his own character sheet and a level of Barbarian.  His character sheet with the name Kraahn written at the top was what I came across in my notes that really brought this story to mind. 

The forth time the party found the mighty Troll Kraahn he had taken leadership of a tribe of Orcs who he had subjugated by force and intimidation.   This gave the party a chance to back out rationally.  Now they weren't just dealing with their hated enemy but also with a small tribe of Orcs!  Surely reason would kick in and the part would get the hell out of dodge.

Nope.

They charged into the camp screaming vengeance like a bunch of maniacs.  They mowed through several Orcs but eventually Kraahn made his appearance.  I made a point of describing him anew as seemingly more mighty than ever before but the party took no heed.  One of the characters, the one who had led the charge for the death of this Troll from the first, Harold Scarbottom dashed at the Troll with reckless abandon.  He battled the Troll alone for a time while the others held off the Orcs.  However, Kraahn had grown so strong that Harold had no choice but to feign death in the hopes of escaping.  Escape he did, and the rest of the party with him, but their defeat only strengthen Kraahn more.

Another level in Barbarian?  Check.

The Evolution
The fifth and final battle saw the party pull out all the stops, spend all their money on fire, acid and other supplies, and expend all of their resources in an attempt to smite their hated nemesis once and for all.  They were more clever this time, picking off as many of the Orcs from the tribe as possible when they left camp to hunt.  They also set up an ambush and lured Kraahn out of town.  Two levels of Barbadian or not, the guy wasn't the sharpest sword on the rack.  Even with all of these things together Kraahn didn't go down without a fight.  He KO'd one party member and literally ripped Harrol Scarbottom in half before finally dying for good. 


At the end of the session I was kind of floored at what had become of a simple random encounter Troll.  I wasn't too happy about it, but the group seemed to feel otherwise.  The yells of triumph when Kraahn went down in a flaming bubbling heap were nearly deafening.  Even Moox whose character Harold Scarbottom had died in the quest was ecstatic about the victory.  At his request we started a PC graveyard and had little sayings with which to remember how the character died.  Harold's read, "Never play Ahab to a Barbarian Troll's Moby Dick."  I think that summed up the series of events nicely.  The players happiness over the entire affair was only compounded when they saw the small fortune that Kraahn and his Orcs had accumulated and how much experience the Troll himself was worth.  Though I had never planned any of it, everyone had had a great time and left with a sense of real accomplishment for finally beating the bad guy. 

The moral of the story is that the best laid plans of Mice and GM's don't always work out, but sometimes this is Serendipitous.  Some of the very best things that happen just happen accidentally.  Certainly that is the case with Kraahn, the Accidental Antagonist.  He started off being just a Troll rolled on a random encounter chart but became one of the most hated and most memorable enemies our group has ever seen.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at Thursday, March 17, 2011 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

4 comments

This is inspired. And it's a hallmark of a good DM to capitalize on a random opportunity like that. Well played.

March 17, 2011 at 1:18 PM

*laughs* I forgot about that damn troll.


Kraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahn!

March 17, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Great story, shows how the smallest thing can end up in hours of fun.

March 17, 2011 at 3:40 PM
Anonymous  

sounds familiar, my friends and i had a similar nemisis, we just could not beat him, even though we were higher lvl.. but we had fun none the less

March 21, 2011 at 4:03 AM

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