The Ballad of Dorkus At The Back


The Ballad of Dorkus At The Back was a tale I found in my dad’s old paper D&D archives on paper that shows that it is quite old - and showed that it was a photocopy of a photocopy. It was written by a friend of a friend, a DM of some skill that has become renowned since his passing many years ago, by the name of Dave <last name having to be dredged out of the memory of my dad>. The story is of a D&D game that went wrong because one player chose to play with the equivalent of “Cheat-mode” on.

Dorkus At The Back

The outlook was not brilliant
as the Party trudged along;
‘Tween Knolls and Trolls, and bad Die Rolls,
everything was wrong.

When Dis, and Dat, and Bert all died,
and the Paladin did the same;
A pall of sullen silence qwelled
the players in the game.

A straggling few dejected stood,
in deep despair the rest,
Clinging to the hope that lies eternal
in the human breast.

They thought if only"Dork-the-Mage"
were played with greater skill,
The stalwarts might get out alive,
their chances now, were nil.

For Dorkus-the-Mage was played by John,
a creature many dread,
Who loved arguing past all reason
every word the GM said.

For John knew the Player’s Handbook,
and the DMG by heart,
Pontificating Gyrax’s gospel
while he usurped the GM’s part.

He’d brag on his minus 12 AC,
and magic things he owned,
Though most of them were acquired
when he played at home, alone.

He extolled upon his hit points vast,
and abilities he’d claim,
“It’s a ‘God-Grant’,” he’d proudly say
without referencing God’s Name.

So on the sullen gathering
grim melancholy stood,
For they knew there was little chance
of Dorkus doing any good.

Ah! but Cutter preceded Dorkus,
and he a Fighter true.
As did O’Magosh the Cleric,
and **___**, a Warrior, too.

Followed by mighty Dorkus,
boldly quipping from the back,
With his hit points still unsullied
and all his spells intact.

In trepidation the party
moved cautiously down the hall
And came at last to an Oaken Door
in the stone moss-covered wall.

“Let’s check for traps,” the Cleric quoth,
“since we don’t know who’s inside."
“To Hell with that, I’ve got a spell
that’ll blow it open wide!”

“I’M the Party Leader,” announced the mage,
“the plan is MINE to tell,"
“And the pick of what we find in there!"
then Dorkus cast his spell.

“Who anointed you the Leader?"
O’Magosh then noted;
“You were never a nominee,
And none of us have voted!”

“KNOCK spell,” John said proudly,
with self possessing glee,
“Fire trap! Save!” the GM noted,
“or take 4D6 plus three.”

“I’m immune to magic fire,” said John,
“and any Magic you can Name!"
Thereby leaching for the players
all the reason from the Game.

“Dolomite!” the Dwarf then said,
his jaw was tight and grim,
He dutifully noted
what Dorkus’ spell cost him.

A smile of Impish triumph
on John’s young visage shown,
As he tracked the hit points lost
on all characters (save his own).

“Roll the save against NORMAL fire,
and spare the angry cries."
“I saved!” was Dorkus’ sharp retort,
while still looking for his dice.

John found his die and cast it,
“Eighteen, I saved, it’s true!"
Cutter glanced at the D20,
the die clearly showed a two.

“That’s a hefty saving bonus,"
Cutter said with rising tension.
“An owlbear’s clawing at the elf,"
the GM thought to mention.

“Owlbears?!?” was their joint reply,
“Five!” said the GM with elan,
“They rushed out when Dorkus blew the door,"
all eyes were turned to John.

“We should get the initiative,” John argued,
“I don’t think this is fair!"
“They heard Dorkus shouting in the hall,
that’s how they knew you were there.”

The GM went on through the melee
for each monster and player in turn,
Giving John about ten minutes
to sit and think and burn.

“I’ll show them they can’t mess with me,"
John thought on it a while,
An idea came into his mind,
and his lips curled with a smile.

“These Owlbears can not hurt me,
my armor is too tough.
So I’ll let the Owlbears kill these guys,
then take their magic stuff.”

So when Dorkus’ turn came ‘round,
John’s smiling face went bland,
“He’s confused, so it’ll take another round
to throw the spell I planned.”

The fight went on another round,
as hit points drained away,
“I hit an Owlbear with my staff,"
was all John thought to say.

The Elven Ranger took a swing,
his aim was good and true,
“A critical hit,” the GM said,
“that’s all for Owlbear Two.”

“About time you did something good,"
the Mage said to the Elf;
“Or else I’d have to throw a spell,
and do the job myself.”

“That would be nice,” the Ranger’s player sighed,
“with half the party dead."
Owlbears pound with cruel violence
on the Dwarven Warrior’s head.

“Dolomite!” Mighty Cutter thought,
“things is lookin’ grim."
He bit an Owlbear with his axe,
the Owlbear, then, bit him.

The Cleric called upon her Gods,
and cast the spells she could.
But since most of her spells were healings,
she wasn’t doing very good.

“And what is Dorkus going to do?"
and all waited for John to tell,
He thought"I’ll show you guys,” but then he said:
“Dorkus casts a spell.”

Approval shown in all their eyes,
for Dork would join the war.
He said dramatically:“Dorkus casts
STONE TELL upon the floor.”

Their jaws all dropped in unison,
“Say What!” was their reply,
Beneath her breath the Cleric said:
“Gods, this Mage has got to die.”

“If you turn on me, I can kill you all!"
the lone magician said;
“I’m sure it’s true,” the GM noted,
“and the Dwarven Warrior’s dead.”

A look of knowing finality
passed, unseen, by John,
He said to all:“It served him right!"
and bade the game go on.

The Cleric grabbed the fallen Dwarf,
then grasped the Elven Ranger
While she worried the Owlbears with her sword,
to ward off further danger.

Dorkus saw what was happening,
which peaked the angry mage:
“Take a shot of"Finger of Death’"
John shouted in Dorkus’ rage.

The Cleric passed the GM a note
which said"Word of Recall."
And a flash of clerical magic left
Dorkus (and Owlbears) standing in the Hall.

The GM fixed John with an angry stare,
“By all the planes of all the Hells,
‘Finger of Death’ is Clerical.
Let me see your list of spells.

“‘Natural Ability?’” John said hopefully,
his haughty bluff was plain.
“Let me see your character sheet,"
the GM declared again.

“My . . . ah . . . My spells are in my spell book,
and I don’t have it here!"
“Since you need it to cast your spells,
you are ‘out of luck’ I fear.”

“I’ll just make it up again,
as we go on with the game."
“While ‘make up’ may be the operative words,
it wouldn’t be the same.”

“There’s something else,” the GM noted,
“that makes the matter moot,
You cannot cast your magic spells
through your ferrous metal suit.”

“If I take it off to cast my spells,
the Owlbears will hit me, too."
“Consider that before you make things up,
the choice is up to you.”

The GM rolled, the Owlbears attacked,
“They’ve grabbed you with claw and beak.
and they’re peeling you from your -12 armor,
even as we speak.”

“I’ve got a ‘God Grant’,” John said weakly,
“against taking off my armor."
“It isn’t on your character sheet,"
the GM’s visage lost all sense of humor.

The GM’s face grew stern and cold,
they saw his muscles strain.
They knew the GM wouldn’t tolerate
John’s BS again.

The GM rolled, the Owlbears peeled,
holding Dorkus on the floor.
But concerning this gruesome melee,
I won’t say any more…

Somewhere in warm taverns
adventurers drink ale
and gather in good humor
to tell this little tale;

Somewhere characters joke and jest
o’er the anecdote they tell,
But as for Dorkus (with the Owlbears),
things ain’t goin’ very well!