Wisdom from the Gaming Table: Badgers Will Eat Your Face
by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)
Strange happenings in the world of role-playing games.
Imagine, if you will, it’s close to midnight, and a gibbous moon illumines the moorland of 12th century Britain. A group of shadowy figures stands around a hole in the ground, not a hobbit-hole, mind, but a burrow, dug by a rather large member of the weasel family. In other words that are terrifying in their ferocity, it’s a badger sett, and it is occupied. Nevertheless, self-assured in their unnatural stamina and abilities, being vampires and all–did I mention that? The shadowy figures are vampires, so yeah, that kinda makes this a bit more pathetic–anyway, self-assured in their vampiric powers and abilities, they believe themselves invulnerable, and surely the occupant of the hidey-hole of death is far too weak and pathetic to do any real damage to the lords of the night. I mean, they’re vampires for crying out loud!
They’re here, in the empty moorland because one of them is a bit peckish, and thinks that a cocktail of badger blood is just what he needs. Don’t ask. He’s a vampire, dadgummit, and he wants to eat a badger. Yeah, I was a bit shocked as well, but what’s a Storyteller [a.k.a. DM] supposed to do when a player wants his character, who’s a vampire, to eat a badger? I let him go for it. I’m so very glad I did.
Now, there’s one thing I think most sane people can agree on…(well, multiple things, really. I mean I think it’s safe to say that none of us can hear the word, “inconceivable” without giggling just a bit and mentally saying, “you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Likewise, I think most of us would concur that Voldemort is a tad moody. And, as a philosophy prof of mine once said, “We can all agree that poking a baby in the eye with a pickle fork is an evil act.” Yeah, I know, me too. To this day, I don’t know what the hell a pickle fork is. I mean, does it have…sorry, nevermind.) I digress…a lot, as it turns out. But there’s another thing that I would say is axiomatic. I think you’ll agree with me that it goes without saying, but you shouldn’t stick your head into a badger hole, especially when said badger is at home preparing to rip your face off. Now I realize there are some nuts here in the States that like to stick their arms down the gullets of large catfish, and call it a sport, but: head…in a badger hole…the only reasonable response is a shaking of the head, followed by a “that did not just happen” sorta facepalm.
Good people, I was stunned. All of us were, except the player who had, in fact, stated that his character went head-first into the whirring teeth and claws of a badger defending its home. The only thing to do at that point was roll Initiative. I was kind, and gave the player the chance to act, but the badger won out and so went first. Imagine the killer bunny in Monty Python’s the Holy Grail, and how awesome that was. Now imagine the scope of the destruction if that bunny had been an ill-tempered, sexually frustrated, 40-pound badger. Carnage was inevitable.
As the badger commenced to biting off the nose, lips, and eyebrows of the unfortunate vampire, and amidst much laughter on the part of players and me, the Storyteller, the player rolled his Soak roll to see if he could slough it off. It turns out that badger teeth are a bit sharper than undead-types would’ve guessed. I shouldn’t say it like that. I mean, most undead–even zombies–would probably not have stuck their heads into a badger hole. I apologize to the various undead I’ve offended with my sweeping judgement.
Luckily, the badger did not entirely kill the vampire, though the damage was quite severe, but the former lord of the night was incapacitated. So he just sorta lay there for a while gurgling, with a severe case of badger-acne. Normally, when one party member is dropped in such a fashion, the others would not hesitate to attack the ferocious beast that felled their comrade, but that didn’t exactly happen this time. There was more laughing and pointing than sword swinging and revenge as the badger retreated back into its hole.
A strange thing happens when creatures ingest vampiric blood. They become stronger, faster, meaner, and can live quite a long time so long as they have an ongoing supply. This is known as creating a Ghoul. Ghouls: kinda creepy and a bit angsty, but there you go. This particular badger, as a result of the altercation with the now incapacitated vampire, developed a taste for vampiric blood, and spent the next few centuries wandering the British countryside in search of it, terrorizing villages, eating livestock, and hunting down unsuspecting vampires. The badger became quite famous actually. They even made a movie about it though the hacks in Hollywood thought that a werewolf sounded much cooler than a rabid, half-undead badger. Go figure.
So, here’s what we can learn from this episode: If you’re a vampire, for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t stick your head into a badger hole because you have a taste for exotic forms of sustenance. Doing so will cost you an eye, your nose, your lips, a good portion of your hair, and possibly an ear. It could also lead to an unintended ghouling of the aforementioned badger.
On the other hand, however, doing something completely unexpected like that can make for a fantastic gaming session. And those fantastic gaming sessions will be remembered for the rest of your life.
Cheers, and good gaming!