Players and Gamemasters often share the responsibility of the driver’s seat of the adventure, with each one responding and reacting to each other to create a fun and memorable story. Every once in a while, though, the players forcibly eject the DM and take control of the game in a bizarre, awesome, and unintentional way. Last week, for at least a little while, the inmates were in charge of their prison.
I’ve written a bunch about Clovis the Invincible, from his creation throughout parts of his story. Often, though, I’ve found translating the game into text to be a difficult and strange endeavor. Today, I’m going to take another shot at it.
Clovis, the Gnome monk/assassin pit fighter, has been a formative part of the group of adventurers. He’s fought a few fights here and there at random inns and bars where he’s stayed, but I’ve never made it a main part of the story. It’s his cover for being wherever he is, and he can always say that he is looking for a challenging fight or some form of other nonsense. While he sees little use for typical weaponry, knowing he does keep around a few for practical purposes – letter opening, skinning animals, cutting rope or prying open a sealed tomb. He’s generally unassuming and likes to keep to himself when not performing for a crowd, and it suits his stature and nature just fine.
Garret, his adventuring companion, good friend, and exuberance incarnate is a bit of the opposite. He’s a wild mage tapping into the sources of magic within the world in some innate form and is just as wild in personality as he is in his magic predilections. He has also taken it on himself to be Clovis “The Gremlin”‘s manager, setting up fights and arranging combat wherever there happens to be a large audience. While he has not always picked the optimal time or place, his services are by and large welcomed by Clovis, who uses his prestidigitations and other magic to amplify and enhance his ringside flair, though Clovis won’t tolerate cheating or any other form of interference. Garret has been successful in making sure that Clovis isn’t the one who needs to interact with others to get fights scheduled, and that is just the way that Clovis wants it.
Ironmaw is a relative newcomer to the group, encountered in the wilderness, all on his own, with no weapons and just a suit of armor. A half-orc of astounding size and strength, he’d told us tales of his fighting in the area, with net, hammer and other weapons, against all sorts of monsters, beasts, and people. A Gladiator slave that had recently been freed, he credits is freedom to his enormous, extradimensional, unassuming telepathic hammer he calls Frida, Ironmaw is a simple and brutal person who’s life has improved by not being enslaved, but not terribly much.
They were all sitting at the bar, the Owlbears Arms, and Garret was looking around the table when a sudden and inexplicable grin split his face.
“Clovis. I have the absolute best idea.” His mirth was barely contained, and he bounced almost imperceptibly in his seat. “You should fight Ironmaw”
“What?” Clovis was staring into the bottom of his cup, studying the pattern of the sediment in his ale. “Why would I fight him?”
“He’s a gladiator! you’re the Gremlin. It’d be the fight of the century!”
Ironmaw, across the table, overheard the conversation, though Garret wasn’t trying to be particularly quiet. He grinned behind the oversized Iron Jaw he wore over his lower mandible. He chuckled. ” I fight him. He not so big.”
Clovis looked up from his cup and scowled. “Well.” His brow furrowed in thought for a moment before settling on the inevitable conclusion. “Just make sure I don’t kill him, Garrett, he is handy in a fight”
“No, little man! Make sure I don’t kill you with Frida! She smash your skull!”
And with that little, tiny interaction, the gears were set to grind through to a fight between the tiny gnome who fought only with his fists and the gigantic half-orc with a massive hammer.
Garret built up hype through the town over the course of the next two days, riling up the local populace to leave the town that evening and attend the fighting ring outside the walls where they could conduct combats undisturbed. Many people came out, from the Mayor down to the lowliest of the gutter rats.
Garret, a king of show, flair, and flash, introduced both parties with dazzling lights and pyrotechnics, shadows, and strobes of all colors. He showcased the grandness and power of Ironmaw, and the sleekness and mobility of The Gremlin. They stood in the center of the ring, touched fists, and the fight began!
At the start of the fight, they both looked warily at each other, each sizing up how the other was to fight, taking in their cadence, rhythm, and form. They studied each other for weakness and looked for a way to break through and get the first blow without being victim to the same.
That was how Clovis thought the fight was progressing. Instead, after only a few seconds of glaring intensely at the smaller combatant, Ironmaw pulled a net from his side, twirled it over his head in one swift and powerful motion, and hurled it at the unexpecting and shocked gnome. Taken aback, the net wrapped itself around Clovis’ head, arms and leg, binding him fast as Ironmaw swiftly closed the distance between them, yanked his hammer from its interdimensional home in mid golf swing and caught Clovis straight in the chest, sending him reeling backward in both pain from the force of the blow and complete surprise
Thankfully, Clovis had his daggers in his outfit, as he always did, and qas able to swiflty cut a hole in the net and escape. For a person of larger and stronger stature, it would have taken much more time to extricate themselves, but his small size proved a boon once again. He ran over to Ironmaw and got a quick jab into his chest. Clovis, though, was much more concerned about evading the blows of that hammer. The first one had caught him unaware and unprepared, and the pain was shooting through his whole body. He didn’t need Ironmaw to connect a second time, and if he did, there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of fight left in the little gnome.
Ironmaw was not pleased that Clovis had torn through his net and connected with a solid blow. He yelled to his hammer, encouraging it to seek out Clovis and crush him. He literally yelled to his hammer, and it became more feisty and powerful, seeking to crush Clovis! Thankfully, Ironmaw was unable to connect with a hammer strike, as Clovis was dodging left and right and evading devastating blows by a hairsbreadth. Repeatedly, Clovis dived in to get a pair of strikes in, wearing the giant down, and then dove back out, narrowly avoiding dodge the heavy swings of Frida, but it was tiring concentrating on not being hit. Almost as tiring as raining a flurry of blows down upon his body to finish him, if he could. Twice, as well, when Clovis closed in to hammer his fists home, he was seared with infernal flames sprouting off of Ironmaws body in retaliation for someone being so brazen as to injure him. Both times, Clovis managed to dodge the brunt of the flames but did not escape unscathed. The fight drug on, with Clovis zipping around Ironmaw, striking when he could but, more importantly, preventing himself from getting crushed, but he was wearing his opponent down.
Just as he ran out of steam, just as lethargy grasped him, preventing Clovis from concentrating on his opponent and forcing him into an unmitigated duel of brute strength, from which he simply could not emerge victorious, he dealt a swift blow to Ironmaws right leg, which brought the half-orc down to his knees, howling in unchecked defiance, the last vestiges of his might coursing through him. Clovis reached back and, in a single and powerful blow struck his opponent down, and then joined him on the floor of the ring, exausted, weary, and completely spent.
Quickly thereafter the healers showed up.
Until Next time!