Faking Death is Commitment to the Role

The curtain is raised! Our first and hopefully only performance of the play is underway. Despite being present for rehearsals and understanding that an illusionist is at hand for various effects, Ganelon is still taken aback by some of the costumery. 'Is that a real bearded devil?' he whispers.

'Are you a real paladin?' is the reply he gets.

Meanwhile, Afutavere's performance starts where rehearsals ended, rolling a natural 1 on his perform check. 'At least it can only get better from here.'

'I dunno', I mutter back, 'you could plateau'.

But just as the acting is a little woeful, so are the trials the characters face, now that we are facing them for real for the first time. One, the trial by ecstasy, involves inserting a worm under the skin and resisting its pleasure to cut it out and return to a normal state.

Of course, this being the stage we have to make do with painted horses, so to speak. The worms are not those that cause blissful pleasure but rot grubs. I don't see what the fuss is about, having grappled with a rot grub only recently, but my character is on the sidelines and cheering the others on for now.

The rest of the party has to individually insert a rot grub, wait at least one round, and then try to dig it out with a knife, faking pleasure the whole time. There is a shaky moment at the start as Skelra makes a few failed attempts at finding the grub, forcing a new fortitude saving throw to resist the grub's effects on every round, each failure carrying the risk of suffering constitution damage. Failures then make subsequent fortitude saving throws harder to succeed on, because of the falling constitution score, but Skelra manages to stab the rot grub from his arm before it drains him too much. If only Brennan were as fortunate.

The rot grub burrows deeply in to Brennan's arm, causing the same damage as Skelra, but our bard's already low fortitude saving throw causes him to suffer more drained ability score, and a lack of training in healing is impeding him in trying to carve out the grub. Failed attempt follows failed attempt, each one preceded by a failed fortitude saving throw. By the fifth attempt Brennan is looking weak indeed, on his last legs even, and only with the aid of several others in the task does the rot grub get pulled from his flesh. And that's when the damage hits him and he falls to the stage, apparently dead.

It is only when checking his vital signs, and finding to our relief that the negative constitution score where death occurs is not influenced by temporary ability scores, that we realise he isn't quite dead yet. A healing spell brings him back to consciousness and I use the short act break to rush out to the nearest shop selling wands of lesser restoration so that we can get him back to better health. We have more trials to endure, and another like this will kill us if we aren't better prepared.

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