D&D General Cheatin' Bob and the Rod of Power - A Grognard Tale


It's been decades since this happened. Many of the players involved have passed on and some I never saw again after the events of the tale. It might well be that I am the last who remembers the tale. Names have nevertheless been changed.

We'd gathered months ago for a specific purpose: to finally do a complete play-through of the original Against The Giants modules, back to back. Many of us had done parts or pieces of each, but never the entire thing. So, it was time. We created our 1E AD&D characters. We start at eighth level, the minimum recommended level for the series. I was a thief. We also have a Fighter, a Druid, a Wizard, and a Cleric.

We fought our way through the modules one by one, bashing and blasting our way to glory. We wipe out everything in our way. Now, we never did give XP for treasure or value of magic items, ever. I didn't even know that was a rule for a long time. So, assume we pull the max XP we could have pulled out of the first two modules, and that is a fair bet since we didn't leave a kobold unkilled.

By the time we're ready to run into the Fire Giants, I, the Thief, am 11th level. Cheatin' Bob, the wizard, is somehow 13th level. (given the XP charts of the time, Bob should be just shy of 10th) Hmmmm. And somehow he has a Rod of Power, one of the most powerful magic items you can get, along with the best stuff we've found. I can't remember if the Rod was a thing in either the Steading or the Rift, but I don't think so.

We breezed through the first two modules compared to the pounding we get at the Fire Giants. We mount our standard kick-the-doors-in approach and have to retreat twice. Desperate, I use my luck blade's one wish to get a map of the complex. I get the main level, due to apparently poor wording of the wish.

Hey. There's a 10x10 wall area that abuts the outside. We rock-to-mud that thing and sneak in through a homemade back door. We go all the way to the treasure chamber and start to loot it. The Druid puts up an ice wall to block anyone curious enough to check out that main passage.

We're in the middle of looting when suddenly we feel our ankles get wet. The ice wall has melted in the volcanic heat and on the other side is the Fire Giant king and all his buddies, ready and prepped for adventurer-burgers.

We leap into action. Spells are cast, and swords flash. Three of the druid's henchmen die. The wizard raises them as zombies so they can carry more treasure. The druid sees this as a horrible breach of nature and, in the middle of the fight of our lives, pulls a 'I'm only playing my character' and claps a necklace of strangulation on the wizard. No force in the universe can remove that necklace. In something like 1-2 rounds, Cheatin' Bob is going to die and for all his wrangling, there is nothing he can do about it.

Cheatin' Bob ain't going out alone. He faces the Druid, puts his Rod of Power behind the Druid's neck, and uses that as a lever to snap it, doing the Final Strike from it. Both of them are blown into chunks, leaving the Cleric, Fighter, and me. In short, our biggest damage dealer just spite-murdered our best healer. (The Cleric has mostly been a basher in combat).

Finally, I decide if Bob is cheatin', so am I. As a player, I know that that giant barrel of identical rings has a Ring of Three Wishes at the bottom. Tip it over, watch the Fighter and Cleric die while I find the ring, and use it to get myself and their bodies the heck out of Dodge. We concluded the campaign without Cheatin' Bob or The Druid, neither of which we saw again after that night.

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