Table Talk (Gaming Stories)

We've all got some of those stories. Whether you did something epic or something stupid, chances are that any time you get together with new gamers you have to tell that story. Table Talk is where we at Improved Initiative tell those tales and regale you with our own epic deeds and equally epic screw-ups.

May 16, 2020 That One Time I Shocked Storytellers By Solving Vampire Plot With Violence
Most vampire players have horror stories about games utterly lacking in subtlety, story, and deep roleplaying. What I've found is that even if you have all those things, sometimes a shot of the old ultra violence is what it takes to get the blood flowing.

April 18, 2020 When The Party Decided To Play "HeroQuest" To Kill Time Between Adventures
We've all had those moments where the campaign hits a lull. To stop the players from losing enthusiasm, though, the DM came up with a unique scenario... have the characters themselves play a fantasy board game so we still got our roleplaying in, and we got to have a bit of meta humor about the whole situation.

March 21, 2020 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 25: The Hunger in The Mountains
The Companions travel north, along with their newest member. While the gateway to Zin Shalast awaits, there are many dangers between the Companions and their final destination.

February 22, 2020 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 24: Preparation For The Final Journey
The final confrontation with Kharzoug looms over the horizon... but not all of the Companions will step upon that field of battle. Though they find new aid just as they embark on the journey northward.

January 25, 2020 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 23: The End of Runeforge
Finished with being attacked at every turn, the Companions go on the offensive, seeking the runeforged weapons they came to the Runeforge for. Nothing will stand in their way, but there are plenty of challenges that stand in their way.


December 28, 2019 The Best Zombie Game I Ever Played (Where Nothing Happened)
If you're in a survival horror game, then the most important thing for you to do is to actually focus on reaching your goals, and surviving. And this particular game of All Flesh Must Be Eaten is, in my mind, a perfect example of that.

December 1, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 22: The Bowels of Necromancy's Tomb
The second hall in the Runeforge reeks of death and decay... but does it have the answers the Companions seek? Mayhap... but it will contain threats even more dire than the fires of evocation, for necromancy is a dark corruptive magic when embraced too fully.

November 2, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 21: Storming The Halls of Evocation
While within the Runeforge, the Companions had no idea what they sought, or where it might be found. Those who seek weapons should go to evocation... but down that way lies peril even greater than the potential rewards.

October 5, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 20: At The Gates of The Runeforge
To defeat the awakening Runelord, the Companions will need potent weapons... something that can only be found in one place. So they head north, seeking the tools that will help them hold back the tide.

September 6, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 19: The Secrets Beneath Sandpoint
The giants' army has been broken, but that is not the only threat waiting on the rim of the world. One of the ancient Runelords awakens, and with him his servants. The ruins beneath Sandpoint groan and shift, ancient seals broken open to breathe the modern air once more.

August 10, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 18: The Taking of Jorgenfist
The giants are massing for war... but whose banners do they ride under? This strange wizard Mokmurian is powerful, but if he can be slain than the great beast of his army will be without a head. Can the Companions end this threat before it grows too great for them to contain?

July 12, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 17: The March of The Giants
The giants are gathering for an offensive, and Sandpoint sits in the path of their oncoming avalanche. Can the Companions save it in time, and turn the tide of rage that threatens to boil out over the world?

June 15, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 16: Mad Lovers and Lost Captains
One, final crisis awaits the Companions in Turtleback Ferry... the missing commander of the Black Arrows, his mad fey lover, and a marshaling force of giants. A hero's work is never done, it seems.

May 18, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 15: Water Over The Dam
If it's not one damn thing it's another. The Skull's Crossing dam, overtaken by dangerous trolls years ago, seems to finally be collapsing! If it isn't stopped, then Turtleback Ferry is doomed. But is there more at play here than there seems?

April 20, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 14: The Taking of Fort Rannick
The ogres overran Fort Rannick, slaying the elite Black Arrows. What else lurks in the bowels of the fortress, though? And is it even more dangerous than the giants above?

March 24, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 13: Trouble at Turtleback Ferry
A small errand from Magnimar's Lord Mayor turns out to have dire consequences. A border fort has fallen to ogres and their kin, and it's now up to Sandpoint's companions to break the giants' stranglehold on the mountains.

February 23, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 12: Demonbane
With Sandpoint and Magnimar both safe, for now, our heroes are given rich rewards. But when Zhakar stumbles across an aging priest of a dead god, what will he find in the grave of the divine?

January 27, 2019 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 11: The Crumbling Tower
With the true power behind the Skinsaw cult still on the loose, our heroes are on the verge of finding what they seek... but will they be able to stop the wheels that have been set in motion?


December 29, 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 10: Something Rotten in Magnimar
With the mystery of what happened to Aldern Foxglove only getting deeper, our heroes seek answers in Magnimar. Their answers may have to be paid for in blood, however, and the price could be higher than they expect.

November 30 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 9: Fox in The Hen House
What lurks in Foxglove Manor? The ghast lord is there, but so is a dark secret that no one in Sandpoint ever would have guessed at.

November 3, 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 8: Halflings and Ghouls
Ghouls are growing across the countryside, spreading like a pestilence. Sandpoint's heroes need to put out the fire, and find where it came from if they hope to stop the town from being overrun in short order.

October 7, 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 7: Murders at The Mill
With the goblins gone, peace seems like it's settling back over Sandpoint. Until a pair of grisly murders herald a new threat.

September 9, 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 6: Secrets Behind The Curtain
Thistletop has fallen... or has it? What lurks in the depths of the abandoned fortress might be a sign of dangers yet to come. If our heroes survive, that is.

August 10, 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 5: The Assault on Thistletop
With Nualia scheming new ways to bring death and destruction to Sandpoint, there is no time to waste. But can our heroes survive the allies she's drawn about herself before bringing her to heel?

July 14, 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter 4: Tussle in The Tangle
The foe behind the goblin attacks is in the ruined fortress of Thistletop... but between there and Sandpoint is the Nettlewood. Our heroes will have to traverse it before they can reach their true foe.

June 16, 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter Three: The Sin Pit
Beneath the glassworks, something foul is brewing. Even if it's stopped, though, where is the hand responsible for these dark deeds?

May 19, 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter Two: Murder and Glass
Corruption and danger run deeper in Sandpoint than a goblin raid, and Thokk and Zhakar have to move quickly if they're going to save Ameiko Kaijitsu from being its latest victim in the bowels o the Sandpoint glassworks.

April 23, 2018 Rise of The Runelords Chapter One: Blood and Butterflies
Paizo's first adventure path has some of the most difficult and epic challenges... fortunately, when war comes to the Swallowtail Festival, there are heroes on hand to drive it back.

March 24, 2018 That One Time The Party Solved The Plot With A Legal Battle
Because when you get a bunch of tough-talking ex-cons together, sometimes they know the best thing to do is lawyer-up. And, depending on the legal system in your setting, that can actually work!

February 23, 2018 The Head of Vecna (An Apocryphal Tale)
Most of the stories on here were things I saw or did personally... but this is a story I heard from a DM about an old game he ran. True or not, I felt it was worth repeating.

January 26, 2018 The Worst Werewolf Game I Ever Ran
I've been pretty fortunate in my time as a DM. But there was one game I ran that was so frustrating that the experience still haunts me today. I learned a lot from it, but at the time it was like pulling teeth.


December 29, 2017 "The Tale of Old Man Henderson" is a Lesson For DMs, Not Players
Most of us have heard The Tale of Old Man Henderson, the Call of Cthulhu game where a player completely derailed an asshat DM's plot in a game of chicken that has become legendary. But what a lot of folks totally miss is that this whole thing never would have happened if the DM had been skilled enough to maintain the game's tone, and to provide adequate consequences for actions taken.

December 3, 2017 The Tale of Adolph The Red-Eyed Reindeer
It's the holidays, so I thought I'd share what was one of the worst games I've ever played. It only lasted a session, but when your players pull off something against impossible odds, the proper DM response is not to shut your book and end the campaign because you feel like you lost. Revel with them in the amazing thing they accomplished... like killing a CR 8 demon moose as a first level party of three!

November 4, 2017 The Worst Call of Cthulhu Game I Ever Played
I love the Cthulhu mythos... so imagine my disappointment when a pretty promising game I was invited to took a nose dive in a big damn hurry.

October 7, 2017 So I'm Related To An Ax Murderer (A "Betrayal At House On The Hill" Story)
Some board games are close cousins to RPGs, and Betrayal at House on The Hill is one of those, for sure. My first game not only did I turn out to be the traitor, but holy hell was it a bloodbath!

September 9, 2017 The First (And Worst) LARP I Ever Attended
I've been to a lot of LARPs over the years, but I have never had an experience to rival the first one I ever showed up to. That's something I am very grateful for.

August 13, 2017 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Ten: The End of The Forgotten Paharaoh
The final installment in this particular campaign, the Desert Falcons finally stand toe-to-toe with the Forgotten Pharaoh... and it is a battle to be remembered.

July 15, 2017 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Nine: The Mind of The Forgotten Pharaoh
The cult has been defeated at every turn, but they have a few tricks left up their sleeve. With a bound genie lord, and a ritual commencing, the Desert Falcons must stop them, and stop them quickly... to do that, though, they'll need allies.

June 17, 2017 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Eight: Lamias and Genie Lords
With the Cult of the Forgotten Pharaoh stymied, the Desert Falcons appear to be winning... until the cult destroys half of Tephu, and kidnaps Hakar! Why would they go to all that trouble? Well... there's a reason.

May 19, 2017 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Seven: Needle in a Haystack
With the whole of the desert to search through, how will the Desert Falcons locate the Cult of the Forgotten Pharaoh? Well, sometimes it's all about asking the right questions...

April 22, 2017 That One Time A Group of Imperial Regulars Made The DM Cry
And now, for a quick break from Golarion, we have a reader submission. Vincent Cross, Chicago-area author, tells us the tale of how a handful of imperial regulars practically won a war, first against orks, and then against a small army of chaos troops. Great fodder, for a great story.

March 25, 2017 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Six: No Harm Ever Came From Reading A Book...
The library at Tephu proves a more daunting challenge than we feared. With huge, horned daemons (named Matthew), medusas, and diabolical traps, the knowledge we need should be located within. Should being the key word...

February 24, 2017 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Five: Who is The Forgotten Pharaoh?
While we survived the struggle against the undead, the Desert Falcons are left with questions... the most pressing of which is who is the Forgotten Pharaoh? What does his cult want, and what should we do with his death mask? We hope to find answers in Tephu, and its famous library... but will we?

January 22, 2017 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Four: Fight Night at The Necropolis
The golden mask was clearly a valuable artifact, but who stole it? What do they plan on doing with it? We find out all too soon when the entire necropolis raises from the dead. How will the Desert Falcons save themselves, and Wati?


December 24, 2016 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Three: Enemies on All Sides
The Desert Falcons find themselves in the center of a conflict over treasure, and their claim to the latest dig site. What do their enemies know that they don't? What sinister wheels are turning behind the scenes?

November 26, 2016 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part Two: Undead Children, and Resurrected Puppies
When fell magic and ancient events are sealed behind the walls in the city of the dead, unveiling them can be a burden on the soul. The curse of undeath shows no favoritism, and after a harrowing ordeal, we manage to do right by a fellow adventurer.

October 28, 2016 The Search For The Mummy's Mask Part One: The Desert Falcons, and The Littlest Pharaoh
The Mummy's Mask adventure path is one of the most commonly played campaigns Paizo has put out. But you've never seen it like this. Join the Desert Falcons as they get embroiled in the shifting sands of Osirion, and the terrors that lurk beneath the layers of the ancients.

October 1, 2016 That One Time A Sorceress, A Rogue, and A Bard Broke The Game
It's one thing to build characters who are stronger than you expect them to be. It's quite another for unusual and creative solutions to run circles around the DM running a game. This tale is one of the latter.

September 2, 2016 The Broken Mirror Part Five: Madness Comes Home to Roost
The conclusion of the tale of the Talented Mr. Ripley. In the World of Darkness, it's a bad idea to look too deeply into things. When Ripley looked, he fell, and fell hard. Not only that, but he nearly dragged everyone else into the void along with him.

July 29, 2016 The Broken Mirror Part Four: The Moon Court Madman
Mr. Ripley has stepped through into the realm of true darkness... but what lies in there? Murder, mayhem, madness, and truth. There's only so much truth you can take before your mind retreats into insanity, though. And Ripley's psyche already boasted jagged cracks. When someone he cares for murders his favorite antagonist... he doesn't take it well.

July 1, 2016 The Broken Mirror Part Three: The Dark Side of The Moon
Broken and bleeding, it looks like lights out for Mr. Ripley... but a mysterious savior comes with a message of mercy. But what is it about the darkness of the Moon Court's philosophy that makes it take hold? And where will it drive out face-stealing cop-killer?

June 3, 2016 The Broken Mirror Part Two: Through The Mirror Darkly
The Talented Mr. Ripley is a reflection of whoever is held too close to him... but there's a darkness lurking beneath that surface. A cold, serpentine efficiency that might spark a clue about who and what he used to be, if he survives to investigate it.

May 6, 2016 The Broken Mirror Part One: The Talented Mr. Ripley
I am a lover of LARP, and Changeling: The Lost holds a special place in my heart. This is the tale of the talented Mr. Ripley, and how the World of Darkness will turn a blank slate into a monster, given enough time.

April 8, 2016 That One Time a DM Tried to Run "City of The Spider Queen" For an Evil Party
Published mods are awesome things. They save a DM time, and they only require a bit of tweaking. If it isn't meant for an evil party, though, they'll tear you a new one.

March 11, 2016 That One Time I Brought Calvinball to a Changeling LARP
Changeling: The Lost is a venue where you can do almost anything. Can you play a game of Calvinball with a band of brutes determined to win at all costs? Yes, as it turns out, you can.

February 6, 2016 The Saga of Majenko Part Ten: Down With The Queen
The final installment of the Saga of Majenko, this is how the final encounter in Curse of the Crimson Throne went.

January 8, 2016 The Saga of Majenko Part Nine: The Assault on Castle Korvosa
With the rebellion in full swing, or heroes take the fight to Castle Korvosa... or at least they give it a good damn try!


December 4, 2015 The Saga of Majenko Part Eight: Re-Taking Korvosa
We've been back in town for less than a day, and they threw an efreet at us! Not five minutes after that, out of the sky comes a black dragon, ridden by a gray maiden. Nothing good can come from this... or can it?

October 30, 2015 The Saga of Majenko Part Seven: The Return to Korvosa
We've been away from the city for a long time, and it's changed in our absence. When a new hero tries to take the party's place, we show the people just why we were first. Also, surprise, surprise, it turns out the new "hero" isn't what he seems.

October 2, 2015 The Saga of Majenko Part Six: The Raid on Castle Scarwall
Our intrepid entourage has won the trust of the Shoanti... but will they be able to face down the living dead in the haunted Castle Scarwall? Of course they will. They're heroes, aren't they?

September 5, 2015 The Saga of Majenko Part Five: Brother to The Shoanti
We find part of a legend, but only the Shoanti know the rest of it. Will it be possible to earn the respect of the desert-dwelling tribe without losing our patience, our minds, and our lives?

August 14, 2015 The Barbarian Samurai
The third installment in my unusual character concept series is here. Should this become its own page, or should it remain a part of Table Talk?

July 25, 2015 The Saga of Majenko Part Four: Blood Pig Champion!
In our continued quest to find real authority in the City of Korvosa, we have to play a deadly game. Blood Pig! A game which, after this session, pseudodragons are banned from.

July 4, 2015 The Risen Antipaladin (Or How You Can Play A Paladin In An Evil Campaign)
Sometimes you just want to go against the flow, and if your brain is being contrary why not take the challenge of playing a paladin in an evil campaign? This week's character concept is about how you can do just that, and make it compelling for everyone.

June 12, 2015 The Saga of Majenko Part Three: Scourge of The Red Mantis!
The plague has been stopped, but the queen was behind it! What do we do? Well, we follow an invitation from Blackjack, the city's vigilante, and see just what information he has... or that was the plan, until we get jumped by the Red Mantis!

May 22, 2015 The Android Barbarian
This week I'm trying something different; throwing a character concept at you and seeing what you, the readers, think of it. We start with The Android Barbarian, and I explain how you can mechanically and thematically make it work... if you really want to.

May 2, 2015 The Saga of Majenko Part Two: How Much Damage Could One Pseudodragon Do?
The ongoing saga of Majenko (known to most players as The Curse of the Crimson Throne) is the most recent campaign I completed. Let me explain how I turned what was supposed to be the comic relief into a combat-ending cruise missile with an adorable love of deep-fried rats.

April 10, 2015 The Single Player RPG Books That Got Me Into Dungeons and Dragons
Single player RPGs are typically found on PC and console systems, but when I was just edging over into my teenage years I discovered a single player tabletop game. It would be years before I'd join a party, but those books were one hell of a primer.

March 20, 2015 The Saga of Majenko Part One: Finding The Main Character of "Curse of The Crimson Throne"
"Curse of the Crimson Throne" is one of Paizo's oldest adventure paths, made back when they were still using Dungeons and Dragons 3.5. The game, unbeknownst to most players, has a main character. His name is Majenko, and we let him loose.

February 27, 2015 I'm Not A Doctor (But I Played One In A LARP Once)
Whether it's a tabletop game or a LARP no one wants to be the resident band-aid. There is something to be said for being the only doctor in the house though... namely that people are going to drag you into plot by your lapels!

January 30, 2015 A Story About Understanding the Culture Shock of Gen Con
Being a geek often comes with isolation. If you've never been to Gen Con let me confirm for you that the rumor is true; it's like being a member of a tiny sovereign nation where gaming is the new norm. It's weird... good, but weird.

January 9, 2015 Making Your Own Fate (Or Why It's A Bad Idea For Chaotic Good Characters To Rear Black Dragons)
Another reader-submitted story of fabulous misadventures at the table. Sometimes what seems like a fine idea can really scale out of control!


December 19, 2014 That One Time A Cheating Player Got His Comeuppance Via A Cyclops
We've all seen people get away with cheating at a table a time or two. If you've ever wanted to see karma kick one of these players square in the crotch, then here's a story about how a cyclops acted as an agent of universal punishment.

July 17, 2014 The Ballad of Baldric Brimstone Chapter Three: Big Gay Half-Orcs and Plot Destruction
The final chapter in the Ballad of Baldric Brimstone talks about his cohort, his attitude toward time travel, and the colossal middle finger this character chose to deliver to an ST he'd already tortured for quite some time. Don't miss the end of this three-part tale!

June 7, 2014 Unleashing Yuri: A Gaming Story About Evil Gods and Evil PCs
This story was contributed by Ron Samuel, and it details the kind of crazy shenanigans that can only take place in a campaign where the DM allows a player to be both evil, and to create his own, pet god. Madness ensues.

May 10, 2014 "Truth Is In The Eye of The Beholder" or "Why You Should Always Have a Ranged Weapon"
Every now and again a DM will run a game declaring that players have access to whatever they want to bring. Nothing is off the table, because you could not possibly defeat the dungeon of doom you're going to go through. This did not end well for one DM.

April 5, 2014 The Ballad of Baldric Brimstone Part Two: Never Give Players The One Ring
Baldric Brimstone was one of the crazier concepts I ever played, as evidenced by his taking on a dragon nearly single-handedly in his first session. If anything he got even crazier as we kept going. Here's what happened when the DM put an insanely powerful artifact in game that, for some reason, he didn't expect any of us to use.

February 28, 2014 That One Time I Had So Much Fun With a Horror Game I Published a Story About It
A friend of mine once had a terrible idea that spawned an entire gaming tradition with my group. It also led me to publish a story, but more on that later.

February 1, 2014 Don't Ever Field a One-Eyed Dragon
Being the new guy at a table isn't always easy. You want to make a good impression, but sometimes you might go a little overboard. On the other hand, there's nothing quite like looks of dumbfounded horror when a series of truly stupid ideas does work out in your favor.

January 3, 2014 How I Became a Min-Maxing, Number Crunching Point Whore
We all remember our first time the rules stopped being a confusing series of limitations, and transformed into the building blocks of an effective character. This is what mine felt like.


December 13, 2013 The Great Obfuscation
Our first reader-submitted story, Kat talks about how she once bamboozled a fellow player in a live action game through sheer roleplay, rather than some cool ability she had written down on her character sheet.

November 13, 2013 That One Time When I Got a Job Offer From a Sith Lord
It's not what you know, it's who you know. Nowhere was this more true than when a mysterious benefactor offered me a job based almost purely on what he'd heard about my character doing in a Star Wars game.

October 19, 2013 That Time When My Paladin One-Shotted The Final Big Bad
Carrion Crown is a game filled with eldritch horrors and the shambling dead. However, it is also a game where Valgard Grimwald did something that the players present still talk about to this day.

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