Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 194: A New Role To Play

Previous Chapter Next Chapter
A New Role To Play

Although Pinkie feels really nice to hug and she’s got a nice singing voice, it only helps a little bit. “I know you want me to be happy and all, but at the end of the day... all my problems stem from the fact that I’m me. I know a lot of people have said stuff about not wanting to be born and I think that’s pretty stupid. I think I’d rather just like to be someone else.”

Pinkie looks thoughtful for a moment then gets her ‘brilliant idea that may end in tears’ face. “Stay right here and I’ll be back in a flash!” with that, she dashes out the front door of the bakery.

A few minutes later, Pinkie hops back inside along with the other Element Bearers minus Twilight of course, Spike, Clark, and another Pinkie. What exactly everyone needs to be here for exactly is still a mystery. “So what are we doing?”

The group turns and looks down at me, reminding me of just how freaking small young ponies are.

“Oh my- you’re simply adorable!” The thrilled shriek in Rarity’s voice is more grating than usual, but the sudden hug is... Well, Rarity is apparently athletic, because I’m kinda being crushed by her musculature here.

“Urk- Yeah, h- hi.” I’d always imagined she’d be more soft or something. “Let me go now?”

“Oh, so sorry dear. And may I ask who the little gentlecolt is?” Rarity asks, looking up at a Pinkie. “Is he getting a special party?”

Are these ponies stupid or something? I checked my reflection in a half-frozen pond. I look exactly like I did as an earth pony but smaller. “Uh, hello? We meet like once a week at the least often? I also recall you not only seeing me as a pony before, but also making me a set of clothes and you thought I was dating Pinkie Pie.” I wave my hooves in front of her. “Ring any bells?”

Rarity looks down at me, seeming a bit shocked. “Wait... Anthony? I thought Twilight was still missing.”

“She is. Zecora whipped up a potion to make me a kid again. Didn’t exactly mention it would make me a pony kid.”

AJ rubs the back of her neck. “We, ah, fergot ta mention who it was for.”

Dash chuckles. “But he is pretty cute, in a little-colt way.” She nudges me on the shoulder with a hoof.

“I’m not cute!” Of course, this is undermined by the fact that my voice is a lot higher than usual given the current size of my vocal chords.

Everyone in the room, even Clark -the traitor- and Fluttershy chuckle, and most of the mares here make ‘d’aahw’ noises at me.

“Dammit, this isn’t funny!” At that, I’m glomped by both Pinkies and Fluttershy. “Lemme go, I’m not cute!”

“You’re adorable!” Fluttershy agrees, snuggling me.

As soft and awesome a feeling as this is, the vice-grip she’s applying is stronger than both Pinkies’ combined and I need to get away before my ribcage is merged with my vitals. I’m a pony, but... Actually, this is surprisingly more comfortable than I thought at first.

“Alright, enough!” Seriously, I doubt this is the reason everyone is here in the first place. With significantly more effort than it usually takes, I manage to Spark Up and, as if I’m slogging through molasses the whole way, phase my way out of the trio of hug-happy ponies.

After some further work to escape the mares, I finally get an explanation of what’s going on; Pinkie has gathered us to play a bigger game of Ogres and Oubliettes. Wait, when I said I wanted to be someone else... okay, that’s a pretty clever idea. Point one for Pinkie Pie, you win this round. “Okay, so I guess Clark is GMing? That’s something he and I agreed on a while back.”

“Yupperoonie!” the Pinkies chime in chorus. “And he said to make fifth-level characters,” one continues “so we can survive. He even wrote his own monster manual!” Sure enough, Clark pulls out a journal, inside of which is his dense, scrawling handwriting.

“Works for me. Seriously, for living in a world where dragons, hydras, and now actual hellbeasts live, your fictional monsters are super lame. Time to show you guys what a game like this becomes with some human influence.” I grin. I may be small, but my gaming sensibilities are still all here. Foal or not, I can handle this. “So, character selection first. Do we all pick our own separately and have them be a surprise or decide as a group?”

“Everyone’s going to make their own characters. I’d suggest you play to your strengths, because this is going to be a brutal game. I’m patterning this off the Cavern of the Lost campaign. Assuming you make it to the end, it should take about six months of a game a week.”

“Gotcha. Well, guess I’m going with... hold on I need a ‘class/race’ guide.” This is gonna be great.

After a bit of prep, everyone’s got a race and class.

Fluttershy has made herself a ‘Savior’ class as a Deer, basically like a healing-centered cleric or druid.

For whatever reason, Rainbow Dash has spent almost all of her stat points on her Charisma, even though she’s playing what’s basically a fighter. I think she might be mistaking this for a Daring Do book, which might make her significantly less than useful most of the time. She’s even playing as a pegasus.

One of the Pinkies is going to be helping Clark, while the other is a Bard, the other class I was looking at maybe playing. Glad we didn’t accidentally overlap. Unlike the DnD 3.5 Bard, the pony version is a lot more versatile.

Rarity is playing a noblepony Swashbuckler, and has a Charisma perfectly matched to RD’s character’s. At the least, though, the Swashbuckler gets a couple of bonuses from high charisma, so I can let that pass.

Thankfully, we’re not without a decent spellcaster. Applejack has decided on playing an Archmage, the wizard-equivalent class. Unfortunately, she chose to have superior Strength rather than Intelligence... because reasons, I guess. Either way, she’s playing a unicorn.

Spike has decided to play a unicorn Knight, and decided to play up the ‘gallant’ part of the common cliche by having a ridiculous Charisma stat. Sadly, he’s one of the best-rounded of the characters, because Knights are basically combat-focused paladins.

I’m what they call a ‘Scoundrel’ which is essentially a thief type with more focus on verbal dealings and scamming and pickpocketing than the sneak-and-stab kind. No matter, seems I’m not prevented from doing any assassination-type stuff either. Of course I go with a Kobold, because thumbs boost dexterity without taking away from any speed or maneuverability I’ll need.

In other words, our party has no balance, and we’re all going to die. Ah well, it’ll be fun.

“I think everyone’s ready... so let’s start.”



This tale, as many of its kind, starts in a tavern, where several intrepid heroes have met up for drinks, and to discuss their next adventure.

Gandaliel, the Savior, bears her healing staff, a potent artifact from her homelands. She sits in the corner of the table as the Adventurer, Dash Amazing- Nope, can’t say that with a straight face. As the Adventurer and the Archmage, Gildenmane, argue about the specifics of magical versus mundane combat nearer to the door, the party’s Bard, Pinkasel the Brave, puts on a show with her +1 Banjo of Playing, a magical device of her own creation.

I’m going to bar the magical item creation rules in the next game, by the way, that banjo is just not right, Pinkie.

Meanwhile, the Knight, Sir Spi- wait, this just your name, Spike. You sure you don’t want help coming up with a different one? Alright, fine. -continues to provide the Swashbuckling Lady Dame Benign with more personal service than is strictly required, even by Knightly code.

It’s at this point that the group is joined by their newest member, Zilferen the Sly, a Scoundrel of some renown. He takes his place, carrying the map he’d 'acquired' leading to a supposed treasure trove.

I sit down at the table taking the last seat available. “So this map says there’s something important hiding in some sort of cave or temple or forest, and it’s either right outside this town, literally, or on the other side of the country. Whoever drew this up was clearly mad.”

“Or drunk.” Dash counters.

Pinkasel comes over to the table. “Methinks it may be both.”

C’mon guys, I didn’t draw that badly, did I? It’s a day away, under the ruined citadel. Jeez, I try to make some half-decent props...

I roll up the map and stash it away. “Whatever deficiency the sod suffers from, I’m not one to pass up a chance to get rich. Now I suggest we leave soon. Our little group doesn’t exactly blend in, and the more attention we attract, the more likely it is that others will find out about the map, and I’d rather not share any more than I already am...” I keep my voice down as I relay my worry. True there’s almost nobody else around, but caution is a virtue.

Dash and Dame Benign both nod, Gildenmane immediately moving to the door. Spike and Pinkasel are the next two, with me watching the rear as the Adventurer and Swashbuckler carry their own gear out as well.

I habitually check the numerous pockets and straps on my person to make sure I haven’t ‘lost’ anything. As we walk, I see the Knight and Swashbuckler do the same.

Alright, lemme get a roll here... okay, you’re walking-slash-trotting down the road, the sun gleaming as it nears evening. With the forest on your left and the mountains and cliffs to your right, it’d be a claustrophobic setting if the road were not so wide.

As you travel along, you get the sense that you’re being watched, and you all find yourselves checking your weapons and aligning your armor.

Also, there’s a pit in the road. Everyone make a reflex check, now!

Luckily, since I put a lot of effort in enhancing my agility, my foot hits the edge of the pit and I use it as a slight kick-off and hop over the pit. I watch as Spike and Gildenmane fall in, the others managing to clamber out.

*sigh* Warrior types...

As you each recover, a horde of Bandits come forth, looking far too smug to have been waiting for just any travelers. They sneer at you, but move aside as a large, powerfully-built Minotaur in heavy armor steps forth. Judging by the number of trophies and the quality of the armor, your guess is that this is either the leader or the second in command.

I walk over and address the heavily-armored bandit. “Very good try! I admire how well you camouflaged it, but if you really wanted to trap someone, you should put more effort into making it bigger or at least deeper. But overall not bad, I can tell you put a lot of effort into that one. If I had to make one other suggestion, I’d say put some sharp rocks at the bottom. Falling on those would hurt quite a bit.”

“Ha, you presume too much,” the large brigand declares, “But we are not here for you, kobold. We seek the Dame Benign, for that is who we’ve been hired to... collect.” The other bandits grin and cheer, the motley group of bipeds and equines looking very assured of themselves.

Rarity, you’re the only one who chose to play a noble in game. The only other person they could be after is Gildenmane for being an Archmage.

I’m definitely not skilled enough to take this many of them head-on. Doubtful I could even take two in such conditions. I shrug and step aside, keeping away from the combat. Wouldn’t want to get injured from a fight that isn’t mine.

“Don’t worry, R- uh, Dame Benign, I’ll save you!” yells the Knight, from the bottom of the pit.

Dame Benign, being a fully capable hero on her own, draws her slender, masterwork Earth-Forged bla- How the heck did you afford that?! Oh, I see, you’ve got no other items with real value, got it. Earth-Forged blade, and prepares it for battle. The Minotaur laughs, and prepares his own weapon, a massive war-axe.

I watch as the knight tries to clamber his way out of the hole and failing, requiring assistance to get back on the path. With a glimmer of light, he’s given that extra help, Gildenmane using a self-flight spell, and then carrying the fully armored kni- I need to rebuild this game when I have some free time, this is feeling entirely too much like second ed to me -knight to the surface.

I pull out a dagger and begin whetting it on a nearby stone. It’s gotten a little dull from lack of use.

Rarity, calling duels in real life will not solve your in-game problems. Anthony will act when he’s ready.

The party -minus myself of course- prepare for battle, and the Minotaur grins wickedly. He appears so confident, he waves back the other bandits, who form a large semicircle, trapping the group with the cliffs at their backs. During the pre-fight posturing, the Minotaur slowly circles around the mares, doe and stallion, my presence basically forgotten or dismissed.

I watch as my entourage of helpers ready their various weapons, as if they could take on this minotaur and his cohorts by themselves. Once the leader goes down, the others will either run, or attack en masse. I begin looking around at the plants and find some leaves I start rolling around my finger out of boredom.

Rarity, I just told you not to challenge him to a real-life duel. Trying again with the other shoes won’t change anything, because according to the wording of the law, I’m his legal guardian until he’s an adult again.

The beefy minotaur bandit makes two swift swings, defying the common misconception that minotaurs are large and slow. Immediately, he switches to a defensive stance, blocking the flurry of strikes from Dame Benign.

I begin using the leaf-tube as a flute-like object, seeing if I can make a noise by blowing in it. A few simple notes come forth as the sticky leaves stick into a long tube-shape.

The minotaur, working on beating the rest of the group, does not react. AJ, I need a Survive Grievous Wounds check; high strength or not, mages really aren’t meant to be primary attackers.

The Archmage, having attempted to brawl the minotaur in one-on-one combat, slumps to the side, injured, as the bard continues to play ‘inspiring’ music.

I pull out a flask from one of my pouches. An inscription scratched into the flask marks it as ‘ale’.

Rarity, calm down. Your character still has three HP left, and the minotaur’s doing subdural damage now. No, I’m not going to duel you either. It’s your fault for choosing to play a noble lady of the realm.

Anyways, the minotaur is no longer using his powerful, cleaving attacks, and has switched to a club, bludgeoning much of the party into submission. Only the Savior, the Bard, the Swashbuckler, and the Scoundrel are currently standing.

“Ha, you were fools to think you could match my might! I am the strongest creature in these lands, that is a fact!”

I roll my eyes at the boasting and, dipping a small needle in my ‘ale’ flask, launch it at the minotaur’s neck through my blowdart gun.

“I am invincible, I feel no pain!” Yeah, that’s obvious, I’ve got three darts in him already, and he hasn’t even noticed. “There will be... be no... I uh... whoo... it’s really hot out here, isn’t it?”

The minotaur (through about six failed constitution checks) collapses, and begins snoring. Even if it won’t kill him, it’ll certainly keep him out for a while.

In the meantime, the bandits appear to be rather shocked at their leader going down so quickly, and many of them turn and run, only a few remembering that they outnumber the group. Thankfully, that fact is no longer true by the time they realize the rest have left, and flee as well. Around eight of them are carrying their boss as well, and looking like they’re about to collapse from the bulk.

I stand up, putting the flask and blowgun in separate pouches. “And that’s how you beat a musclebound lummox.”

Alright, I think this is a good stopping place, assuming you all set up camp to rest and all that. We’ll pick this up next week, then?



I stretch my small body as I lay on the floor of the bakery, feeling pretty damn proud of myself. “Still up for that duel Rarity?”

“Oh, nevermind on that, you... you...” her face cracks into a grin, and she chuckles. “You scoundrel, you.” She reaches out, and I’m unable to scramble back in time to avoid another soul-and-bone crushing hug. Damn, at least Fluttershy and Pinkie are comfy to get hugged by...

“Yeah, don’t worry about it. You guys will get better with practice. As long as you play to your strengths... Pinkie, we’re done playing, you can stop singing. Bards don’t even have to sing IRL.”

“But I like singing! And besides, I wasn’t playing the bard, I was helping Clark!” The Pinkie I addressed says, then goes back to humming gently. Fluttershy starts humming along as well.

“Whatever. So, I hope you all learned something about how to play Roleplaying games. I’m actuall-” a tremendous yawn racks my body. “Actually kinda tired now...”

“Hey, uh, Anthony?” Spike steps closer, looking a little hesitant.

“Yeah, whatcha need, dude?”

“Uhm... it’s really, really quiet in the library at night, and, uh... I’m not saying I get afraid or anything, but... I’d, uhm, feel better if you could come and sleep back at the library again, if that’s alright?”

I grin at Spike’s thinly veiled fear of loneliness, though I admit being totally alone is the worst feeling ever, so I take sympathy on the dragon. “No problem.”

The walk back to the library is surprising on multiple levels. For one, it seems to take a lot longer, but it’s also a less tiring journey. Once we get inside we head to our respective beds. Man, I’m so tired, the second I hit my pillow I feel like I could just cras-

Next Chapter: Chapter 195 Estimated time remaining: 4 Hours, 6 Minutes

Return to Story Description


Login with