AvocaD&D and Tabletop Gaming: Yig Snake Granddaddy, Part 37

Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread!  Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games that you nerds might be into.  Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.

D&D has a lot of rules, and it’s generally up to the DM to interpret and enforce those rules for the players at their table. However, in many groups, a lot of the players are also DMs in their own right, which means that players can often have their own ideas of A) what the rules are, and B) which ones are important to follow. On top of that, at any given time the DM is busy tracking a lot of different things–what the NPCs and monsters are going to do on their turns, where the traps are and how they work, what clues to the mystery to give out, how much time is passing, etc, etc. All of which leads to what I imagine is a pretty common situation–a player (or players) trying to help the DM by interpreting and enforcing rules on their own instead of respecting the DM’s rulings during the game.

Though it’s often well-intentioned, this type of Rules Lawyering can be annoying to the other players at the table, and worse, can make the DM feel disrespected during the game. Especially during online play, it can be too easy for a player to quickly find an official rule or a ruling made by someone at WotC to cover any given situation. But in reality, the only ruling that actually matters at your table is the one the DM makes, and part of being a good player is respecting the DM and the rulings they make. Of course, there are times when the DM would appreciate the help, but it’s usually better not to speak up and offer your thoughts and/or Google skills unless the DM specifically asks.

So, how do you deal with Rules Lawyering at your table? Are you guilty of being the Rules Lawyer yourself at time? This discussion topic was inspired by a video from one of the many D&D YouTubers I’ve taken to following, linked below.

Players and Characters

Wafflicious is back in the DM’s seat to continue our 5e Cthulhu Mythos adventure. Our players include:

  • JosephusBrown as Anton Illinois (Human Inquisitive Rogue/Fighter), a disgraced archaeology professor who has turned to seeking arcane rituals
  • CleverGuy as Bastian Updelver (Deep Gnome Alchemist Artificer), an eccentric local potionmaker
  • TheHayesCode as Hazel Green (Dhampir Spirits Bard), a flapper, séance MC, and aspiring spiritualist
  • Spiny Creature as Ku (Kenku Twilight Cleric), a local priestess of Bastet, goddess of protection
  • The Wasp as Leah Zann (Tiefling Great Old One Warlock), a professor from Miskatonic University who accepted a deal with Yog Sothoth to get an advantage over her male colleagues
  • The Ugly One with the Jewels as Minty Rocksmasher (Dwarf Berserker Barbarian), survivor of an eldritch accident which decimated her tribe

The Hunt for the Nohestan

Excerpts from the Notes of Bastian Updelver…

We woke in the real world after our dreamland excursion to Dylath-Leen to find that some dreamland cats had delivered our purchases to us while we slept. I strapped on my Belt of Dwarvenkind and handed out a couple vials of antitoxin to each of my friends, and we began hunting the giant bronze snake known as the Nohestan. Minty and Anton picked up a trail near one of the ruined snake totems heading west into the forest. After a while the trail crossed a streambed and I was able to determine that the creature that made it was at least 4 feet wide. We continued following the trail back to Alithe Yumiel.

The city was mostly deserted, except for one house that still had smoke coming up through the chimney. Minty boldly went forward and knocked at the door, where a group of humanoids were sitting together drinking from one of the old wine casks. I recognized one of the humans as an merchant from Ventissa, but wearing a robe with a red serpent on it. They told us they had to come here, “the call” was so strong. They invited us to drink with them, and Leah and Hazel each took a sip, not remembering the poisoned wine we were served last time we were in this city, and both of them were immediately incapacitated. The cultists were using a giant bronze scale to serve the wine–they said they’d found it after the Great Serpent passed this way. When we started asking too many questions about where the snake went, they realized we weren’t followers of the snake and things got hairy.

Anton and Minty jumped into action against the cultists, Minty splattering one of them almost immediately. I managed to wake up Leah with one of my restorative concoctions, but another cultist attacked Hazel, even biting her while she was incapacitated from the poison. Leah took a couple of hits from an axe as well, and Minty engaged another cultist as Ku called up her Spiritual Weapon. The cultist Anton was fighting turned herself invisible, but Anton has always had very sharp hearing and as long as this cultist was close enough he had no trouble stabbing her. Ku’s eyes turned white as she cast a spell that let her see invisible things, and she directed her Spiritual Weapon to attack the invisible cultist as well. Things seemed to be going alright. I woke up Hazel with another restorative draught, but then that invisible cultist hit all of us with a Blight spell and Leah was knocked out. Luckily, Anton killed the cultist immediately afterwards, and Minty killed another of the warriors. Hazel cast Healing Word to get Leah back up and then bit the cultist who’d been biting her, which seemed to restore a little of her own vitality. Leah woke up and transformed herself into a giant ape and started pounding cultists into paste. Ku healed me up a bit and I doused all three of the remaining cultists with a Caustic Brew, covering them with acid. None of them stopped attacking though. Hazel made one of the berserkers run away with Dissonant Whispers, and I chased him down to hit him with Poison Spray. He resisted the poison, but luckily he was still covered in acid, which melted his eyeballs before he could attack me. Before I knew it, Anton had stabbed the last remaining cultist through the heart. Took a short rest in the house and then pressed on. We took a short rest, and I gathered a few samples of some of that poisoned wine, and we continued the hunt.

The snake’s trail went northeast out of the city, and before too long we found a pile of snake droppings–looking through it I saw bones of a thick-skulled dinosaur. I took a sample, but we continued on. Eventually we found a place where the snake seemed to stay for a while, moving back and forth against some trees. But we couldn’t tell which direction it may have headed off in. We decided to make camp, and I read a bit about the battle between Yig and Bastet, a battle that may have been visible in the night sky, millions of years ago. I also mixed up a little potion to give Hazel, Leah, and Ku a little of extra staying power for the day. We figured out that the snake must have continued northeast, so we followed. We saw one of those massive long-necked dinosaurs dead on the side of the path, with a tyrannosaur currently munching on the carcass. It looked up at us as we passed, but seemed to be too busy with its meal to bother with little old us. The trail turned southeast soon after, and we eventually came upon a gigantic bronze snake skin. The animal that shed this skin must have been about 40 feet long! We were definitely on the right track, but still a couple days behind.

We lost the trail for a short while after skirting around a herd of colorful elephant-sized dinosaurs with large head-crests that had apparently made their nests in this dusty valley. Anton noticed a couple of abandoned nests, where it looked like something had crushed the eggs not too long before. Minty and Anton were able to pick up the trail again a little ways northwards, and it seemed like the Nohestan was heading out of the jungle and into the lowlands to the east of us. It was getting late though, so we set up camp again…