These two different stories highlight what I would consider both ends of the player spectrum perfectly.Support the show
This is a story from my favourite campaign ever and to this day, I don't think my players realise how absolutely horrific what their characters did was.
For context; The players decided they didn't want a purely lawful good campaign. The whole party was a little off-beat and weird; A rogue with kleptomania, a barbarian who not-so-accidentally hurt people around him in his rage, an ex-paladin fighter who tried really hard to be good but always failed and a wizard who had stolen his spell book from his mentor, regretted it but found the old man had passed away when he tried to return the book. In other words, all of them were playing extremely flawed people who wanted to be better - so they frequently dipped their toes into chaos and madness.
The campaign was going well. We were all close friends with well-matched humour so no troubles there. But sometimes players just get attached to the darndest things... too attached.
It started in a bandit camp. Human brigands had teamed up with some kobolds and were causing trouble for nearby villages - a nice little side quest. The party did their usual thing but this time they decided to leave some of the bandits alive for interrogation and that's when they found Alice. To be clear, Alice was one of the kobolds, a male adult and extremely confused as to why on earth they were calling him Alice. As a joke, the barbarian called him cute and it just went from there. They decided they were going to "keep him."
Several problems though.
None of the party spoke Draconic (Common wasn't a thing in this setting and monsters didn't always speak a human dialect. I know, weird homebrew rules).
Alice definitely didn't see them as friends.
The party had the collective charisma of a beehive on fire.
When they rolled their persuasion rolls, not a single one rolled above a 5.
So, Alice doesn't want to be a mascot but the party rationalises that they are "saving" him from the village justice and maybe they could convince him they were good people. So they bundle Alice up in a literal burlap sack... and then, they just never let him go. He didn't stand a chance against 4 players on his own. They watched him day and night. The barbarian modified the sack so he could be carried in a backpack everywhere they went and "took him for walkies" during long rests. They had a bedtime routine of the rogue re-tying his ropes into pretty bows before the fighter tucked him in. At one point, the wizard learned Dream and bothered him while he was asleep... every single night... "to make sure he didn't have nightmares."
He'd even save up spell slots for it.
And I just want to be absolutely clear. They treated this little kobold with all the creepy-ass love a group of extremely dysfunctional people could muster. They dressed him in "nice" clothes (usually dresses), made sure to feed him properly and always kept him close and safe. I think they just enjoyed looking after something... conveniently forgetting of course that the little guy did not want to be there and this was definitely a kidnapping. As DM, I tried my best to let the poor thing escape but the players were really having fun with it and they never took it anywhere overtly violent or disturbing.
Out of character, the players really liked Alice and had a bunch of plans for him. The wizard and fighter even started setting half their gold aside to buy the kobold a "house" or, you know, a permanent jail they could keep him in. Sadly for the party, Stockholm syndrome isn't actually a thing (look it up) so Alice was constantly looking to escape and, as the party levelled up and started taking on more and more extreme monsters, began to fear for his life as they dragged him from one dangerous lair to another. Shame "none of the party spoke Draconic" so he couldn't just ask to leave... Yes, the players were purposefully avoiding listening to him. They had plenty of magical options.
The campaign eventually ended in a TPK. They attacked an Ancient Dragon, rolled insanely poorly, made horrible decisions etc. The wizard and rogue went down, then the barbarian. It was just the fighter left... well, the fighter and Alice who was dangling onto life after being hit by a stray something or other. The fighter reached his hand out and did the first selfless thing he'd ever done. He freed the damned kobold, closed his eyes to pray to his god and the little shit rolled a nat 20 on his religion check - regaining his paladin powers at the last moment, healing the kobold with lay on hands before he passed out and failed his death saving throws.
And that's how the story of the worst "pet" ended, with Alice running away into the sunset, to freedom from the psychotic kidnappers that took him forcefully from his home, treated him like a cross between a doll and a dog and almost killed him with their rash, irresponsible choices.
It’s almost a feel good story. If you ignore all of the horrible things...but this next is actually a feel good story!
I've been playing tabletop games (mostly Pathfinder) for about 4 or 5 years now. In that time, at least half of the characters I've made have had animal companions. With one exception, my animal companion has always been a canine (dog or wolf).
This stretches back to my very first ever tabletop character, who was a ranger and picked up a wolf named Woofles when I got him to level 4. I've always been unusually emotionally attached to my animal companions as well; one of the only two times I got pissed off at a DM was when Woofles the First was literally torn to shreds by a Gug around level 9.
Anyway, several years back I found a group of friends through my best friend who regularly played Pathfinder and other games, and I've mostly stuck with them since, and the guy who regularly DMs (we'll call him Tom) has taken notice of how often I'll have a wolf or dog at my side.
Recently Tom has been calling me out on this pattern. It started out as teasing, but then started to morph into frustrated scolding on his part. It came to a head when I started a brawler character in a game run by my best friend in which Tom was also a player. I discovered before we leveled out of level 1 that the brawler has an archetype which allows them to pick up an animal companion. In addition to being mechanically beneficial, I also made justifications to the DM about how my character would believably bond with an outcast wolf or dog since he himself is an outcast, and the DM allowed it.
When Tom found out about this, he started with the frustrated scolding, asking me why I was YET AGAIN going with a wolf for an animal companion, instead of something more interesting/different.
I started out with the usual justifications, but then really started to think about it, and made a connection that I'd kind of buried and forgotten about up until that point.
When I was a kid, my family got a new dog named Buddy. I was primarily responsible for feeding and walking Buddy, and bonded pretty closely with him. I even had silly notions as a teenager that when I grew up Buddy and I would go on adventures together, even though I knew he likely wouldn't last long into my adulthood.
Things got rough at home when I was nearing adulthood and I had to do my best to get out of the house and stay away. However, I would still occasionally come home for emergencies, and I was only 40 minutes away. At this point Buddy's health was declining, and I knew it, but I figured I'd be there for him when the moment came.
Then one day my younger brother called me for something unrelated and in the middle of the call said "oh by the way, Mom and Dad had Buddy put down over the weekend. He's all buried and everything."
This gutted me, because not only had I lost one of my best childhood friends, but I didn't get a chance to properly say goodbye. Years later, when I started playing tabletop, I was finally at a place where emotionally I wanted another dog, but couldn't afford the time and money to take care of one properly. So when I got the opportunity to take on an animal companion, I privately used it as an opportunity to have a dog, at least in some form. And ever since then, I've had Woofles at my side across multiple characters. Because in my heart, and Christ it's still hard to admit this, it's like having my best friend back and going on those adventures with him.
Anyway, I ended up explaining this to him in a string of Facebook messages while sobbing on my end. For whatever it's worth, on his end he did simply say that he understood and won't get on my case about Woofles anymore.
I like dungeonHack’s positive spin on the story. I felt the same way.
While that was hard, it sounds like you got a much-needed realization out of it, and your friend got a new perspective.
Maybe it's a good thing in the end?
And HippieMoosen said
Despite the pestering that led to it, this is actually a really sweet story in a way. Animals can have such a huge impact on people, and it's really touching that you were able to go on adventures with your friend like you wanted even if only by proxy. Thanks for sharing OP.