Have you ever played a “talker”?
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Have you ever played a “talker”?
Support the show (https://paypal.me/MurtazaBohari)
My favorite kind of character is the one that can talk their way out of situations. I could tell you about the time I infiltrated an imperial high security garrison by pretending to be other, more well known rebels that had kidnapped a governor, those rebels held prisoner inside that very facility. I could tell you about the time I tricked a lich into destroying its own phylactery, or the time I convinced the evil army to run head first into the trap we prepared for them, or the time got the bbeg and his bodyguards to remove all their armor, magic items and weapons, while the party waited around the corner. But none of those were why I had been banned from playing the “Talker” of the group.
This story happened many years ago about the time that wizards of the coast had announced 4e. I had been invited to join a new group. There were 6 of us total, a caster, healer, fighter, rogue, myself and the DM. I had arrived late as I worked across town and work ended when they got together. I get there, and I am told that the rest of the party are finishing their characters, and it was not so subtly hinted that they could use another fighter type. I think about it for a minute, tell everyone “Yeah, but there is this new class i want to try. It’s a talker called ‘noble.’
The rest of the group aren’t happy, none of them having heard of it before, and more to the point, them wanting a fighter to help protect the party. The DM asks if he can see the class, and I have the pamphlet on me, so I pass it over.
The fighter type player takes a look at it, sees the crap saves, the horrible attack progression, and he tries to veto the character right there, saying loudly to everyone, “He’s going to get the entire party killed. I’m going to die because I have to protect you! What good are you gonna be? You can’t fight or take a hit!”
Paraphrasing, but that was the basic idea.
The DM sees the pamphlet, gives a deep sigh, but decides the class is balanced out, if seemingly a little weak, but he allows it. Everyone sighs hard. Seriously, it was like a sighing convention.
I start making my character, and STILL as I’m writing down my stats, the rest of the party is still trying to convince me to roll a fighter. At one point, I’m even shown the Duskblade class because “How cool is it to be a fighter that can cast spells?!”
Even the DM, being just slightly more subtle, tried to convince me to not roll the noble. When it became apparent my mind is made up, two people start making new characters for when I get them killed. Everyone is shooting daggers at me and the guy who invited me to join their game. But an hour later, Allonah was born. An Elven crown prince who is running away from his duty to live a life of adventure before the crown is forced upon his head. He has a negative attack modifier, 8 hp at level 3, but what he has is a lot of money, a minor magic item of his choice, and a lot of charisma!
You’ll see when these last two are relevant soon.
The DM starts us in front of a dungeon. I don’t remember why, I didn’t even know then, but there we were. The reason didn’t matter too much to me, I was just excited to play. When we entered, in the very first room there was a dire wolf which had made this room its lair! The dire wolf sees us and gets ready to chomp down on the fools dumb enough to trespass in its lair.
Initiatives are rolled and I go dead last. The cleric casts a buff on the fighter, the caster hits the wolf with a ray and moves behind the fighter for safety. The fighter, now buffed, steps forward and brings his great weapon down, striking the beast hard. Everyone cheers. The wolf attacks, scoring a crit on the fighter, taking half of his hp and nearly ripping his arm off. The fighter looks at me and says “See, this is what a team player does. He protects the party! If he had hit you, you’d be dead!”
I nod. He’s right. That would have killed me outright. The rogue moves behind the beast and back stabs it. The fighter then looks at me, after congratulating the rogue on the good hit and says, “Now do what you’re gonna do so someone useful can go.” The rogue and sorcerer laugh and the cleric is looking at his spell sheet preparing his next move.
I can't hit, I know this. And even if I did, that would only draw its attention onto me, which I couldn't survive. The DMs question of “What are you gonna do?” Hangs heavily in the air.
Looking at my sheet, I notice something. I had chosen an elven variant that gave a +4 to charisma, giving me a 22 in it, and the list of skills for a noble aren’t that long, but what skills we do have we get bonuses in. I had handle animal at max ranks, 6, plus a +2 class bonus, and a synergy bonus since my ranks in ride were maxed out as well, of another +2. I have a +16 handle animal. I looked at the DM and said “I’m going to tame it.”
“What?” The DM asks.
“I’m going to tame it. I pull out one of the steaks from my bag. This steak is master work, I bought the best quality food, which I had. Again I had a crap ton of money, noble started with charisma bonus x 500 gold, and received that as a stipend per level, so with an extra 9000 gp I had spent some to make sure that I only ate the finest.
“Will that give me a bonus?”
He thinks about it and says, “Yes”. The rest of the party is dumbfounded. The fighter says “That is stupid. It’s already fighting us.” The rogue smiles, and the sorcerer is preparing to cast a killing blow on the beast when I fail. That bonus steak gave me a +18. I roll... and legit crit! The DM decides that the crit moves it from hostile to neutral, and then my roll carries it the rest of the way from neutral to friendly. I got a dire wolf pet, named it Bubbles and begrudgingly the cleric heals it from the damage they caused. The fighter is muttering under his breath, the sorcerer is shaking his head not believing that worked and hating the name I had given the wolf. The cleric is upset using a spell on the new party member that they had just been fighting. The DM gives me bonus xp something which pisses off the rogue and fighter, but we move onto the next room, me riding my new mount.
In the next room there was a gargantuan earth elemental asleep. The fighter and rogue are salivating thinking of the xp and gems encrusted in the elementals body. The rest of the party instantly starts thinking about strategy. The first round is a surprise, the second round it’s flat footed, just waking up. That’s two rounds of attacks on it at a low DC, without it being able to do anything! And then I speak up. “We’re gonna sneak past it.” They all look at me.
“What?” Three people say in unison. “No we’re not!” Declared the sorcerer. Now, my class gives me a +5 to diplomacy and deception, I had picked as my bonus feat one that gave me a +2 to diplomacy and deception, and the magic item I chose gave me a +2 to those skills as well. I ask the DM if i can get a diplomacy check vs the party’s will save and he allows it, not realizing what he had just agreed to. I roll with my +21, and the highest will of the party is like +6. They didn’t stand a chance. They all reluctantly agree to sneak past the sleeping monster and let it rest. At this point the rogue remembers that I’m wearing full plate armor, and that will be hard penalty to my sneak. If the elemental hears me, then the fight is on. I smile and say “it's not me who needs the check. I’m riding bubbles, and a dire wolf has a lot better dexterity and is skilled in sneak.” Bubbles made the check easily. We proceed into the next room.
In the next room there was a tribe of orcs. A full honest to god tribe of orcs. The DM threw an entire TRIBE of orcs at us! The entire party looked at me, hoping I had an idea. I asked for clarification on what he meant by tribe, and was informed of something like 200 orcs. The party looked back at me, and the fighter asked “How are we gonna get out of this one?” Looking back now, I’m kinda surprised they were looking at me for this. The party had been looking to the fighter to be the leader, but I guess it makes sense. I had gotten them out of the last two fights. I think about it for a moment. Another moment. “We’re not getting out of it.” And then I tell the DM “I’m gonna yell the worst insult I can think of to the orcs in orcish.” Rolling a diplomacy check, something like a 36 total, its a pretty bad insult.
The rest of the party are angry at me again. I can see them seething. Biting their lips. The world legit stood still for me for a moment and someone, I forgot whom, asked “What the heck did you just do?” The next words I remember I actually said verbatim. Looking at the fighter character who was doing his best to kill me with a look. “You guys are gonna fight. I’m gonna run.”
Without missing a beat, the rogue says “I’m gonna run too.”
I say “yes you are.” Turning to the fighter who has a look of pure shock on his face, “and after one round you’re gonna run too.” He gulped and nodded. Looking at the sorcerer and cleric, they just nodded. This was a week before the movie 300 came out, and I wish i had been witty enough to say something like, “tonight we dine in hell.” Or some epic quote from the trailer, but my mind wasn’t that sharp. The rogue and I ran and the other three stayed to fight the now massive hoard of angry orcs that I had set upon us with that epic insult.
At this moment I stopped paying attention to the fight in the other room, my mind on my plan. When the DM got to us, he said “I’m just gonna skip you guys. You’re just running.” The rogue nodded and I said “no.”
“What?” The rogue asked, looking confused.
“We’re not running.” I tell her. Looking at the DM. “I stop in front of her and tell her to steal one of the gems from the elemental.”
“You know we don’t have time to get treasure, right?” I nodded. “If I mess up, we’re dead. You know that, right?”
“Then don’t mess up.” She swallowed, and rolled her dice. The world stood still again and every bounce of the dice took an eternity as we all held our breath. There the rogue stood, hidden still in the shadows, holding a jewel freshly taken out of the still sleeping elemental.
“Toss it to me.” She did and I caught it just as our allies are running in, a horde of orcs chasing them
“I toss the gem underhanded at the lead orc!” The DM blinked once, twice, visibly confused..
“Okay...” he said clearly not getting it.
“Instinct. Something is tossed to you about the size of a ball, it’s instinctual to catch it.” I explained. The DM is now a little dubious about what I had planned.
“So you want the orc to catch what you just threw at it. All right, thats gonna be a diplomacy check I guess.” The party smiles beginning to see where I was going with this, and remembering my insane diplomacy.
A quick check later the DM declares, “Okay, the lead orc is now standing there holding a gem, dropping his weapon to catch it. You successfully disarmed that one orc.”
“Perfect. I bang on the elementals leg to wake it and point at the orcs saying ‘They stole your gem.’”
The DM eyes went wide now realizing what I had planned. “Okay. Give me a deception check.” He called, in one of those voices that says ‘I don’t this this is gonna work.’
My hand shaking, all eyes on me, the entire party counting on me to get them out of this, I picked up my d20 and prayed to the gods of dice hoping that my +21 would be enough to get me through this.
They heard my prayer....nat 20. The party roared in laughter as the DM described how this gargantuan elemental tears through and destroys the entire tribe of orcs. Afterward, due to my crit the DM said the elemental turns to look at my character and as a thank you for letting it know about the theft, gives me an even larger diamond than the one that was stolen.
This is where the DGM called it for the night. He gave out xp, begrudgingly giving me a bonus for derailing all of his encounters, and even went so far as to call my normal DM who he was friends with to tell him not to let me be a talker in his campaign because it was far too dangerous. The rest of the party left with smiles, even apologizing for how the beginning of the night went and said I was always welcome back. I only played with them once more the following week as there was a major life change for the DM and the group fell apart without him.