D&D 101: The Party Gets Manhandled By Tentacles

Dungeons and Dragons is full of life lessons. Dungeon Master Jordan Barber teaches the party about the dangers of friendly fire.

We left our heroes as they were preparing to fight a pair of fiery, devilish bats that swooped in from above.

The Cast

Jordan as… the Dungeon Master
Nick as… Handley Toshane, a male Halfling Rogue
Kevin as… Twitter McFacebook, a transgendered Human Wizard
Clay as… Sasha Fierce, a female (lesbian) Elf Avenger
Aaron as… Bigby O’Toole, a male Half-Elf Cleric
Sean as… Chen Stubsters, a male Dwarf Fighter
Daniel as… Lorilla, a female Gnome Bard
Lucinda as… Emma Fierce, a female (lesbian) Dragon-born Paladin


The team arranges their figurines on the map to prepare for the fight.

Dungeon Master: The two fiery bats swoop over you, and then curiously sail right past you over your heads. They continue off into the distance, toward the direction you are going.

Lucinda: Oh.

Sean, somehow bereft of context, rushes to the table.

Sean: Who’s fighting?! I’m gonna kill someone.

The DM rolls some dice behind his screen.

It’s my turn actually. After you all watch the two bats sail off, Clay, you suddenly feel your throat being grabbed by a slimy, barbed appendage. You seize up in panic. Take 11 damage and your character has been grabbed, which means you’re immobile until you wrestle out of its hold. Lucinda, you feel the same thing, you’re also being attacked. Take 8 and you’re also grabbed.

Clay: Ouch!

Lucinda looks at Kevin’s figurine on the board.

Lucinda: Haha, you’re going to get raped.

Kevin: Why?

Lucinda points out the new monster that appeared next to him.

Another clawed arm reaches out and grabs you, Kevin. You take 6 damage and are grabbed.

Lucinda: Okay, it’s my turn. What the fuck? What is happening?

You angle your head to glance at your attackers. They’re humanoid looking, but they are grayish in color. Sort of like those things from The Descent. They have very long, bendy looking arms with scary tentacle claws at the end. Lucinda, your character is grabbed, so you can try to strong arm your way out of their grab, or you can attack, just not move.

Kevin: Wait. Wait. Does anyone know what element these creatures are? Like, what would be super effective against them? Because I’m a psychic Pokémon.

Clay: These guys seem like natural creepy cave dwellers.

Sean: Use Dungeoneering.

Kevin rolls a 19.

These are called Chokers. They usually hide in the shadows and then strike at opportune times. They have really sticky tentacles that make it easy for them to grab their foes.

Kevin: Well then. I’ll use Light. On its eyes.

Aaron: You should use it on the bat, then it’ll be blinded.

Kevin: No Aaron, bats use echolocation!

Nick: Yeah, just don’t respond when it talks to you, then you’ll be invisible.

Lucinda: Okay, I’m going to do Dragon Breath.

Lucinda’s Dragon-born character uses her racial ability and blows a cone of spitting fire in the Choker’s face.

Nick: I would like to try to cut off one of his tentacles.

Nick rolls to attack. He gets a 17.

As you move in to strike, the Choker moves his grabbed victim — Kevin — in front of him, who suddenly feels a sharp pain in his back.

Nick: What?!

Nick rolls damage.

Nick: Oh shit. Well, thankfully I only rolled maximum damage, so take 16.

Kevin: Seriously? I’d rather be choked.

Nick: Don’t worry, you’re still being choked.

Daniel: And now that he’s weakened, you can steal from him too.

Kevin: I’m renaming my character “Meatshield.”

Sean: I’m attacking.

Sean’s dwarf swings his axe at the nearest tentacle monster.

The Choker blocks the attack by putting Lucinda in harm’s way.

Sean: Oh. I didn’t know that.

Kevin: Did you just do the same thing?

Lucinda: Yes… but to me…

Sean: This isn’t going to be good. I hack Lucinda for 11 damage.

Clay: Where’s the cleric? Help us. Please?

All of a sudden, from out of the darkness, two nearly human-sized flapping creatures dive down and attack the group. They are on fire, so you suspect they might be the ones you originally encountered.

Kevin: Flapping creatures are always the worst.

Lucinda: Fapping?

Nick: How does he, like, go to sleep and stuff?

Despite Kevin asking “am I dead yet?” every turn, the group manages to keep everyone alive. The bats were surprisingly easy to take down, despite being winged balls of flame. After some more stabbing issues, the heroes manage to break free from the Chokers long enough to take them down one at a time. The party decides to push on without rest. Though a little ragged, they push on deeper into the cavern.

Kevin: I use my History skill on the cave!

Aaron: Critical History hit.

It’s… rocky.

Nick: Wow, your scholarship is just… unbelievable.

So you’re walking, walking along when all of a sudden something happens. I’ll tell you what that is as soon as Lucinda, who is in front, makes a Reflex Check.

Lucinda rolls.

Okay, so you had thought you were on solid ground, but you feel the earth shift beneath you as it caves in on itself, revealing a wide hole. Had you known more about caves, you might’ve noticed that, but you just fell right through.

Nick: Was this a planned trap or just like, uh, weakness in the cave?

Kevin: I’m sorry; I just studied the history of this cave.

So Lucinda needs to make an Acrobatics Check to avoid the hole.

Lucinda: Oh fuck. I’m wearing huge armor, so I get a big penalty on this.

Lucinda rolls again. She gets a 15.

Okay, well you break some of the fall. You fall 30 feet and take 7 damage.

Lucinda: Oh. That’s not too bad.

Aaron: And then the huge spikes hit you.

Lucinda: Okay, so I land. Is this just a pit, or…

It’s a bit damp down here, a couple inches of water and a path leading into the darkness.

Nick: Can we go forward with this obstruction?

The rest of the group can’t go forward unless they jump over.

Kevin: I’m going to spit down there. Okay, actually, I’m gonna jump. Nobody stop me. Please.

Kevin rolls.

Kevin: Ten.

You make it over, but then your foot falls, but you catch yourself with your hands and pull yourself up.

Kevin: This must be an Uncharted reference.

Daniel rolls next.

You do a running jump, but then your foot trips and you fall straight down.

Daniel: Ouch.

Nick: God, you’re so bad at this game.

Okay you need to make an Acrobatics Check to break your fall.
Daniel rolls a three.

Kevin: Lucinda will break your fall. With her sword.

Nick: You land on your head. And you’re paralyzed. You’ll need a wheelchair. Roll a Physical Therapy Check.

Something like that. Take 27 damage.

Clay: Oh my god.

Daniel: I’m still alive! Barely.

Clay: I roll!

Clay rolls a 9.

Clay makes it across.

Nick rolls high.

Nick: As I cartwheel across the chasm, I yell “you suck!” at the injured people below.

Aaron rolls a 3 and falls into the pit.

Aaron: Shut up!

There are so many other things you could’ve done to get across this besides blindly jumping. Like, you could’ve thrown Clay a rope so he can stake it down and then you’d have something to hold onto. Or stake something into the rock… like, so many things.

Kevin: Ropes are for pussies!

Nick: Well said.

With the whole party either across the chasm or in pain in the hole below, they decide their next path.

Nick: So we probably need to get a rope so they can climb up here.

Lucinda: Or you guys can come down?

Kevin: But we worked so hard to get up here.

Lucinda: But there are more of us down here.

Kevin: I’m just saying, I’ve seen horror movies and nobody survives by splitting up.

Clay: Okay well my character is sneaky, so he’s going to stealth up around this passage to see what’s down here.

Okay, well you creep forward into the passage. The water gets a little deeper. Now make an Acrobatics Check.

Clay: Oh no, a hole!

Okay, well you’re wading in the water—

Nick: Star Wars garbage compactor.

—and the ground beneath you is gone, so you plunge into the water. You’re swimming and you make a big splash.

Clay: Okay, I stop and I listen.

You hear a noise a distance away, like something diving into the water.

Clay: I run away! I run back to my friends and tell them there’s something in the water.

The group decides to scramble up. They climb the ropes. The last person, Clay, spots a large figure lumbering towards him in the darkness. He climbs faster.

Kevin: Well, I’m getting ready to cut the rope in case Clay isn’t fast enough.

Clay makes it up in time, and the group hears a great roar beneath them. A crocodile-like creature the size of a bear tries to claw at the sides of the pit, but cannot get up.

With the entire group safely together, they venture on beyond the pit and descend lower into the winding cavern…

Illustration by Hallie Bateman.

Jordan Barber is proud that the internet allows him to criticize, admonish, and irritate people from his own living room. And though this immense power only comes to the few, he promises to wield his hammer of judgment with a standoffish, thoughtful outlook.