Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Saga of Majenko Part Two: How Much Damage Could One Pseudodragon Do?

Two weeks ago I shared with you how my group discovered the true protagonist in Curse of the Crimson Throne. If you missed it the post was The Saga of Majenko Part One: Finding The Main Character in Curse of The Crimson Throne. Now I'd like to tell you what the tiny titan did with his freedom once he was released from the Spider's clutches.

Also, the Saga is now complete! Here's the full list of installments, if you want to read them in order.

Part One: Finding The Main Character of "Curse of The Crimson Throne"
Part Two: How Much Damage Could One Pseudodragon Do?
Part Three: Scourge of The Red Mantis
Part Four: Blood Pig Champion
Part Five: Brother to The Shoanti
Part Six: The Assault on Castle Scarwall
Part Seven: The Return to Korvosa
Part Eight: Re-Taking Korvosa
Part Nine: The Assault on Castle Korvosa
Part Ten: Down With The Queen

From Comic Relief to Most Dangerous Party Member

About one in every four groups I've talked to who have played Curse of the Crimson Throne decided to bust Majenko out of bondage. Most parties keep him as a fun little NPC friend; kind of like a party mascot. Pseudodragons are small, clever, and they have a taste for things sweet and buttery. They're also telepathic, and have a tail sting with a potent sleep venom. They also have a standard 15 hit points, which means that Majenko is quickly relegated to the back of the party.

Unless you play in my games, it seems.

Tell the barbarian to get out of my way.
For a couple of small quests that's what happened, too. When we had to go underground to fight a crazed necromancer in the Gray District, Majenko kept watch at the gates. When we snuck into the sewers beneath the docks to fight a wererat gang lord Majenko stuck around to let us communicate silently, but he flew to get help when we started going down.

However, the little guy got sick of playing second fiddle around the time Korvosa's plague started getting serious. When we found plague doctors experimenting on people who were already sick? Majenko put them to bed. When the gray maidens charged in to kill us for doing that, Majenko took them out. When we found one of the doctors who had been kidnapping Varisians and purposefully giving them bloodveil to try and figure out why some were naturally harder to infect, he got knocked right out. Even Doctor Nicholas Cage, her majesty's personal physician found himself at a loss as he tried to fight the tiefling and the pseudodragon with a human-bane rapier.

Your clever plan, you did not think it through.
When all was said and done Majenko was responsible for locating 2 invisible assassins, rendering a dozen plague doctors unconscious, knocking out no fewer than three gray maidens, and assisting in the capture of several surgeons and doctors performing illegal experiments on citizens of the city. Because of Majenko we had a much easier time taking down this huge, criminal enterprise, and we saved countless members of the city who would otherwise have been used like lab rats. We also did it without killing them, as all we had to do was gag and manacle them once they'd been rendered unconscious. We were also made aware of the brutal torture and horrendous scarring that all of the gray maidens went through before they were encased in their armor and turned loose on the streets of Korvosa (something most groups don't find out until later when Sabina Merrin, Captain of the Gray Maidens, joins your team).

Did I mention this little pseudodragon had 15 hit points and a +3 to his attack the whole time he was busy being awesome? While he got a lot of flanking bonuses, as well as a hefty benefit from the Eversmoking Bottle we'd found in a treasure horde (an item that is one half of a devastating combination used by every graduate of the Batman school of crime-fighting in my character conversions section), the biggest reason Majenko became the Korvosan guard's #1 enforcer was because it seemed enemies just couldn't make a simple poison save. Even CR 6 and CR 7 enemies.

When In Doubt, Max it Out

Level 7 is where things got completely and totally crazy. Egil, the straight man of the Egil and Maenko pairing, was the smartest creature in nearly any room he stepped in. With a naturally devious disposition and a knack for exploiting the rules of man and magic he and Majenko put their heads together. At level 5 I took the Improved Familiar feat, even though I didn't meet the caster level just yet. With the DM's permission I essentially reserved that slot for when my caster level was high enough for a pseudodragon. Due to the magus/rogue combination, and some other wooge on the side, that happened to be level 7. I also got a new feat for reaching an odd level, and a new magus arcana that gave me a familiar.

Why does that matter?

Well, that escalated quickly.
Level 7 is when I qualified for a feat that is typically kept under nuclear lock and key by DMs. Leadership. I checked through the books and through the errata I could find, but I saw no expressly stated rule which said you could not gain a cohort and then make that cohort a familiar (or vice versa, if you wanted to do it that way instead). Practically speaking it was a mess, but it was a mess that didn't seem to have an explicit ban to it.

The result of all this mechanical jargon? At character level 7 Majenko was my familiar, as well as a 5th-level rogue. This gave him several d6 of sneak attack, along with trapfinding, uncanny dodge, evasion, and a few rogue tricks of his own. Since character levels granted him feats he also gained a heightened DC on his poison (it was now a 16), flyby attack, and a few other goodies (you know, like real hit points). Not only that, but the condition that finally persuaded the DM was that all of my other followers granted by the Leadership feat would also be pseudodragons.

How did this madness develop? Well, tune in next time for part three of the Saga of Majenko: The Scourge of the Red Mantis!

Thanks for checking out Table Talk, and if you have a gaming story of your own you'd like to share just contact me! If you want to support Improved Initiative then stop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page and become a patron today! Lastly, if you want to make sure you're getting all of my updates then be sure you're following me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter as well.


  1. Son... I am disappoint.

    Joking aside, Leadership is always broken, and I have no pity for DMs who allow it into their games. All I can hope is that the DM learned his lesson, and bans it in future games. No feat should allow you to almost double your power instantly all by itself.

    1. Fine, *almost* always broken unless players intentionally gimp themselves when taking it. My point still stands though, and if players want it for the "flavor" you can do something similar just as easily with the hireling rules. Or via RP.