A battle rages on a field of glacier-stripped limestone, uneven terrain, and large rocks. On that field, the half-ogre Brunt finds himself swarmed with gnolls, unable to see his human allies through the thick of battle. Sharp pain shoots up his leg from where a hyena has clamped its jaws.
Brunt lashes out in an arc with his mantlet – a shield as tall as a human being – knocking gnolls to the ground. For the second time, Brunt tries to wrest control of his sword back from the two flinds who have teamed up to entangle the blade in the weapons they called flindbars. For the second time, he fails.
Brian (playing Brunt): Can I Jump?
Brian’s playing style is unique within the group. Although he rarely acts or role-plays in the usual sense, he puts considerable thought into everything his character does – enough so that other players will sometimes whistle the Jeopardy theme at him. However, his character’s actions are almost always both clever and perfectly in character. So they’re interesting. We don’t rush him much.
Me (DMing): Not with all of the other creatures presently entangled with you. You’d have to let go of the sword — that is, let the flinds have it. You’d also have to break free of that hyena bite.
A gnoll attempts to get around the mantlet to spear Brunt, who responds by parrying with the giant shield and then punching the attacker with it. A second hyena maneuvers for position, but fails to land a bite. The flinds redouble their tug-of-war on the sword, and the first hyena bears down, grinding through the muscles of Brunt’s leg.
Brian (Brunt): Well, that sounds painful. I guess I scream.
Brunt screams in rage and pain – and then releases his sword. The two flinds tumble over. Brunt reaches down, then, and grabs that hyena’s hind quarters in his gigantic hand, ripping the hyena from his leg.
The flinds scramble to their feet, looking more confident as they draw swords of their own. The second hyena darts around its stumbling gnoll master and leaps for Brunt’s throat, but Brunt drops his head, chin-to-chest, and lunges foreward, headbutting the free hyena several feet.
Me (DM): Okay, the free hyena has attacked and fumbled. Your turn.
Brian (Brunt): I attack the flinds with the hyena.
Me (DM): I’m sorry?
Brian (Brunt): The hyena in my fist. I am going to swing it like a weapon at this guy [points to a flind].
Me (DM, amused): Okay, Brian. Question: Are you proficient in hyena?
Brian’s response is deadpan, uttered without hesitation.
Brian (Brunt): Yes. I am.
Brian palms his d20, consults his stats, and starts shaking the die within his hand, warming up before the release.
Me (DM): You are?
Brian (Brunt): Sure. It’s ogre tradition. After a hunt, we like to beat each other senseless with game we’ve just caught. For fun.
Me (DM, after a moment’s consideration): Fair enough. Go ahead and roll.
He rolls a 20.
The arcing hyena’s head catches a flind off-guard and both the target and weapon die instantly. A helmet tumbles across the rocks. The second flind tries to circle around to Brunt’s back. Somewhere else on the battlefield, a lightning bolt erupts, but Brunt cannot tell how much damage his friend’s bolt has done. He does know that once he sees the flying motes of light (magic missile), his friend is likely to be low on spells.
Brunt dodges another hyena bite, parries a gnoll and a flind attack. He transfers the dead hyena to the free fist on his shield arm, reaches down, and plucks the second hyena from the ground as it attempts to dart past his legs. The hyena tries to bite him; a sword bites into his shield arm, just over the shield.
Brian (Brunt): I grab both hyenas by their tails and swing both of them at the second flind.
Me (DM): You what?
Brian (Brunt): Tradition. Whenever ogres catch multiple game, their fellow hunters expect them to wield all of the animals at —
Me (DM, laughing): Oh, hell. Roll, Brian. Just roll the dice.
Brunt smashes the second flind under his Hyena Flail and now has enough clarity of vision to see where his friend, Morgan, is. He feels strongly about Morgan, though he isn’t completely sure why. Long ago, they had nearly collided in a street in the port city of Trambleton, and Brunt’s initial, natural rumble of anger was quickly overridden by inexplicable fondness for the little man.
Me (DM): The half-ogre before you stands maybe 8 feet tall, 450-odd pounds.
Wallace (playing Morgan, the wizard): Well, obviously, I am going to cast charm person on him.
Brian (Brunt) gives Wallace a curious look.
Wallace (Morgan): Hey, no offense, but you’re powerful and easily charmed—if I don’t do it, some other wizard is probably going to use you against me.
I give Wallace a curious look, as the campaign has only just started.
Wallace (Morgan): Hey, I have enemies. Or rather, I plan to.
Brunt predictably fails his save. Morgan renews the spell daily, all the while treating Brunt with extreme kindness, until a sort of true bond (or perhaps Stockholm syndrome) sets in.
BACK TO SCENE
Brunt estimates the distance from his small hill to the rocks Morgan has backed up against. Nothing is holding him, biting him, or wrestling for control of his weapon. As more foes advance on his position, Brunt fixes his stance, raises his door-sized shield, aims, and mutters the word the wizard has taught him – the special word that awakens the ring of friendship on his finger.
Brian (Brunt): I can close that distance. I trigger my ring of jumping, aiming my shield at these two guys here.
In later editions, a ring like the one Morgan traded heavily for and then gifted to the ogre would be handy, but not quite superpowered. In this realm governed by the Second Edition, though, its effects are rather more dramatic.
Suddenly, the half-ogre launches 30 feet across the battlefield.
He’s an organic missile: Four-hundred-and-fifty pounds of muscle preceded by a wall of oak.
There is a squishy sound at the end of his trajectory.
Brunt turns, taking up a guardian position before his friend, mantlet dripping gnoll brains, two hyena corpses twirling in his weapon hand. Behind him, Morgan draws wands and prepares to fire from the rocks behind Brunt. Elsewhere on the battlefield, other allies lie unconscious or stand unsteadily by fallen foes.
The rest of the battle goes better for Brunt and his allies. Some time later, his friends have a talk with him and convince him not to keep carrying the dead hyenas. His new weapon of choice smells. But next time he fights, they assure him, he will almost certainly have a choice of enemies to grab and swing about. †