Epistle 3, D&D edition: reference guide

The story can be found here

Context, timing of the story

Understanding the background that lead to the story being written is not necessary, but I’ll include it. Long story short: I compared our seemingly never-coming D&D to similarly coming video game Half Life 3 (Half Life 2 episode 3). Yesterday, on the 25th of August, 2 AM local time the writer for Half Life series posted a blog post (Epistle 3), which detailed a plot for the never-coming Half Life game (archive, with names corrected). This gave us a closure, but also pretty much confirmed that a much-expected Half Life sequel isn’t coming.

Since I like to be on the bleeding edge of memes and references, I spent about 4-5 hours writing a story that would — just like Epistle3 — conclude the campaign in lieu of actual sessions.

The plan absolutely worked, as I care a whole lot less about playing D&D with that group now that the story is written. However, it’s worth noting that:

  • I still hope for further sessions. I just won’t be butthurt when my party fails to have time for a D&D session for the fifth consecutive month
  • The story as written is not what was supposed to happen in campaign.

I have toyed with the idea about making D&D into a Half Life 2 episode 3 we never got, but eventually decided against it for multiple reasons. The fact I binned the idea made it perfect for the ‘fake’ campaign ending, as I didn’t want to spoil the actual campaign for my party … if we ever get back to it 🙁

Before we go on to the rest of the references, be warned: I play too much Counter Strike: Global Offensive for my own good. Readers of my How to Train Your Dragon-based webcomic can attest to that.

Note on homebrew stuff

I think metallic dragons in D&D look retarded, so I homebrewed the “you can’t tell alignment by color in this campaign” rule (therefore: chromatic dragons aren’t unecessarily evil). This works because some of my players thought alignment is a dumb concept, so we agreed to just ignore the alignment part of D&D. Don’t judge, we’re fucking plebs, me as well but especially the players.

Notable Characters (PCs and NPCs)

The full cast of player characters comprises 5 people:

  • Gar, 25-30 year old human male. Paladin.
  • Kvothe, 16, human male. Gypsy. Bard.
  • Kalgathre Crawflower, human female, ~20. Kali for short. Mage.
  • Nerishana Bearcharger. Female elf, 20. Neri for short. Ranger.
  • Sergor Tigersoul. Male human, 22-25-something years old. Barbarian, wants to multi-class druid.

There’s also about half dozen of named NPCs:

  • Lore, the red dragon.
  • Duncan Shields (only mentioned tangentially).
  • Bogdan, the dwarf
  • Joshua Nissan, the druid
  • Gmuk, a goblin the party captured in the first few sessions

Nerishana

The backstory of Nerishana is referenced in the story, where the dragon is said to be helping to solve the ‘elven overpopulation problem’.

According to her backstory, she grew up in a nomadic elven tribe. The clan started to number too many, so the leader of the clan decided that each youngest (probably meant as in ‘not firstborn’) child has to leave the tribe after the rite of adulthood. They may only return once they have proven their worth in the world. (In short: if you combine the Dalish from Dragon Age: Origins and Quarians from Mass Effect, you get basically this)

In previous sessions, she started to call ‘Lore’ a ‘chicken fucker’. I don’t like that, and by extension, the dragon doesn’t like that either.

Lore

According to my notes the dragon wasn’t named — despite being a potentially major NPC, so I had to make up a name. Why not a CS:GO reference? The dragon only appears to speak draconic.

Duncan, Bogdan and Joshua Nissan

Those characters are named after/reference real people. Duncan ‘Thooorin’ Shields is a CS:GO analyst. Bogdan and Joshua ‘steel’ Nissan are two CS:GO players, who had a bit of a drama some time back. Both Bogdan and Josh were created specifically for the story.

Game background

Before the events in this letter, the party was following the road north. They spotted a mine, so they took a detour and investigated the mine. The mine led to some caverns, inside of which there was a bandit camp. Bandits didn’t like the intruders, so the situation eventually ended in a fight, which ended with party killing everyone.

Memes and references to events and obscured stuff (in the story)

Still Alive

Well, there’s plenty of excuses to be had, but there’s no sense crying over every mistake. We just keep trying until we run out of cake. The quest gets done and you bring some loot home for the chars who are still alive.

This bit references a song from video game Portal, Still Alive (fun fact: Portal games happen in the same universe as the Half Life series)

Smudged text

Smudged text is not a reference. Instead, it is only meant to avoid spoiling the next planned segment in the campaign for the party (assuming the campaign continues).

Nerishana’s end

Is what happens if her player calls Lore a ‘chicken fucker’ ever again.

Bogdan’s/Lore’s sign

‘U can’t touch this’ is a reference to a song by MC Hammer. Skrilla basically means money. The writer of the letter making a connection to Duncan is referencing Thorin (CS:GO analyst, IRL Duncan) using the phrase when thanking a website that sponsored his videos, AlphaDraft, for the money. ‘If you can read this, I’ll argue with you about anything. 1 gp / 5 min’ refers to Monty Python’s Argument Clinic.

Bogdan’s serpent longbow

Is a reference to a sniper gun in Counter Strike: Global Offensive (Dragon Lore. The gun is available in various levels of wear, with the shiniest version (Factory New) selling for just under €1600 at the time of writing.

Bogdan asking Josh to throw him his bow and arrows

This references a mini-drama that happened in CS:GO community some time ago. IRL Bogdan and steel (IRL Joshua Nissan) were playing a CS:GO match. They were on the same team. During some round, Bogdan got dropped to 1 HP, and asked steel to drop him an AWP (long-range sniper rifle), because at a single point of health, he can do more from the distance. steel, of course, didn’t want to drop him an awp. Since both players are semi-famous in the scene (and since this happened during a live stream), this exchange became a hot topic for all armchair CSGO experts on reddit and gave us the SIMPLE ISNT BOGDAN meme.

Joshua and the throwing lesson

IRL Joshua Nissan (steel) was a member of the CSGO pro team IBuyPower, which was involved in a match fixing scandal. This resulted in steel (and others) being banned from competing in Valve-sponsored CSGO events (as well as some other pro leagues).

Naglfar

Since Borealis would make the HL3 connection too obvious, I decided to substitute the ship for a different one. The ship was delivered by Witcher 3 (which itself took it from the Norse mythology)

Stan

Multiple things on this page reference Eminem’s song Stan (and its Middle-Eastern themed parody):

  • The first and last sentence of the last paragraph (excluding the greeting above the signatures) are modified lyrics from the last Stan’s segment of the song.
  • Same with the d20 bit in the title (the ‘it’s prohibited by religion’ bit is from the parody)
  • The description in the document’s head (picked up by some social networks when embedding) features lyrics of this song, modified to include a How to Train Your Dragon as well as a meta reference.

Why Sergor’s company

No specific reason (and by that I mean it’s not inspired by the campaign itself. In the campaign, the party isn’t even a ‘company,’ instead it’s just a group that has no reason to stick together, thus not even worthy of the name).

For the purposes of this story, this had to be a company and it had to be named, so I looked at the names I’ve had at my disposal and figured which ones are my favourites. I look at which characters aren’t weaklings. Sergor won.


The story can be found here

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