Work Header

In the Halls of the Witch Queen (or, Heroes Play D&D)

Work Text:

“Please tell me everyone’s ready this time. I don’t want a repeat of the last two sessions where you spent the entire night complaining and throwing dice at each other.”

Adam’s query was met with several icy stares and at least two smirks. He glared at the entire group over his DM screen, unimpressed.

“All your characters ready to go? Character sheets please, one at a time… And what are you playing?” Adam said, perusing Sylar’s character sheet with interest.

“Elven wizard with full levels of the Master of the Unseen Hand prestige class,” Sylar said, smirking slightly.

“A high elf,” Adam noted. Sylar nodded. “With full levels of the prestige class that lets you use the telekinesis spell in all sorts of powerful, destructive ways.” Sylar nodded again, looking smug. “And you took the Invisible Needle reserve feat, so you can fling around more force damage whenever you feel like it.”

“Of course.”

Adam sighed.

“You don’t have your alignment down.”

“I figured my character would be sort of like I was in real life. What alignment would you call that?”

“Evil!” Claire said.

“Evil!” Peter seconded.

“Chaotic Evil,” Noah amended.

“No Evil characters! I warned you all!” Adam said sharply. “We are not going to spend the entire session burning down orphanages. Again.”

“Fine, fine, Chaotic Neutral,” Sylar said, scribbling it down.

“Well, that’s true enough,” Nathan muttered.

Gretchen wisely kept her mouth shut to avoid adding any fuel to the fire.

Adam looked over his character sheet one more time, rolled his eyes, and handed it back.


“Dwarven ranger,” Noah said, passing his sheet over.

“Dwarves, who have a racial dislike of elves. And a natural resistance to magic.” Noah nodded solemnly. “And you took elves as your favored enemy. And you have the magebane quality on your crossbow.”

Sylar looked over at Noah and smirked. Noah simply smiled very slightly, ignoring him.

“I assume there’s an in-character reason for that, considering your adventuring party is supposed to have been together for a few years?” Adam asked with a tight-lipped smile. Noah and Sylar were each looking more smug than the other.

“Oh, there was a cabal of evil elf mages near my character’s clan. He learned to fight them when he was fairly young. But renegade mages are everywhere, so he’s gone adventuring to help people all over the world. Sylar’s character helped mine out of a bad situation, and proved his worth once my character realized the elf wasn’t so bad, and they’ve been adventuring together ever since.”

Adam took a steadying breath through his nose as he looked down at the note Noah had paper-clipped to the second page of his character sheet:

Hoan, my character, has been trailing Leir, Sylar’s character, for years because Leir’s father was responsible for the death of Hoan’s brother. He hopes Leir will eventually lead him back to his murdering bastard father.

“Right,” Adam said blandly. “All looks in order. Nathan?”

“Halfling rogue, named Claude,” he said, handing over the crisply-printed sheet.

“With maximum ranks in the Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate skills, and the Master Manipulator feat. With the vicious and wounding properties on your dagger. So you wanted something you were comfortable with, eh?” Adam said with a bright smile, handing the sheet back after a quick perusal. Nathan gave Adam his best “fuck you very much” smile and began arranging his dice with finicky precision.

Peter handed over his sheet without being prompted. “I’m going to be Sir Galahad. I used the Chaotic Good paladin variant!”

“Rescue the weak and oppressed, fight the good fight, use all the powers of heaven to do it, and lose most of your class abilities if you associate with evil characters. Well done,” Adam said, looking at Peter’s character sheet with a smirk on his face.

Peter looked confused for a second, and then looked over at Sylar, then Noah, and finally Nathan. His shoulders slumped.

“Maybe I’ll just be a Chaotic Good fighter…” he muttered.

“Smart move. Retool Sir Galahad while I check everyone else’s characters,” Adam commanded. Peter pulled out his Player’s Handbook with a sigh and grabbed his eraser.

Claire shoved her sheet over with unnecessary force, the expression on her face a direct challenge.

“A half-orc?” Adam asked, raising an eyebrow.

Claire nodded sharply.

“A half-orc barbarian?

She crossed her arms over her chest defensively and nodded again.

“With the Extra Rage, Intimidating Rage, and Destructive Rage feats? And an orc double-axe as your favored weapon?”

“His name’s Thok. The party needs a meat shield. And someone that can actually fight,” she said sharply, looking at her nemesis, father, other father, and uncle with an accompanying eyeroll that could have been seen from orbit. Adam grinned brightly and handed her sheet back.

“Excellent. Gretchen?”

“I’m a half-elf bard named Elise,” she said quietly.

Sylar groaned. “Bards are terrible.”

“They are not! They help people! I can inspire courage and fascinate people and help inspire competence-.”

“Something this party desperately needs,” Claire added.

“So… Elise is a cheerleader?” Sylar asked, with a quietly evil little grin.

“Uh… never thought about it like that, but yeah.”

“I like cheerleaders,” Claire said, leaping to Gretchen’s defense.

“So do I,” Sylar said, locking glares with Claire.

“Can my character shoot him?” Noah asked.

“Can Claude backstab him?” Nathan said almost at the same time.

“Can I smite him?” Peter asked.

“You’re no longer a paladin, remember?” Adam said. “And no, to all three of you.”

“How about I just shoot him at the table?” Noah asked.

“No, you’d get blood on my carpet.”

“I’ll get you a new one.”

“You couldn’t afford it, Company Man.”

“Dad!” Claire said. “Please, we’re just trying to play a game.”

The rest of the table grumbled and glared but finally subsided. Sylar looked even more smug than ever.

“And Sylar,” Adam added, with a disturbingly sweet smile. “If you so much as mention the world ‘cheerleader’ again during this adventure, you have to play your character as Lawful Good for the next six sessions.”

Sylar blanched and dropped his smirk abruptly.

“And now our adventure begins, in the Hungry Dragon tavern, nestled in the foothills of the Ironspine Mountains, where rumors of evil abound…”

Claire cracked her knuckles and rattled her dice in a loose fist as Adam set the scene.


“That was never going to work, Leir,” Noah said sarcastically to Sylar, scrubbing at his hit point total with a pencil eraser. He wrote in the lower number with a scowl. “Asking the shadowy stranger in the corner about his intentions point blank has never gone well, not this time, not last time, and not in the last three campaigns!

“I don’t know what you’re complaining about. I did get the map,” Sylar said, waving the prop map Adam had made with a smirk.

“And pulled off the guy’s hood with mage hand,” Noah growled.

“Not my fault he was half medusa.”

“What part of him clutching his hood down in a panic and trying to run didn’t get through to you? Mysterious strangers always have secrets and it always turns out badly for us.”

“The part where I saw he had a map in his pocket.”

Adam left Noah and Sylar to bicker as he turned his attention to what the rest of the group was saying.

“…saying that barmaid might have wanted a shot at her dream. She said she always wanted to be a bard,” Peter said.

“I think Adam rolled a one on her Perform check,” Gretchen said, wincing. “Because everyone stopped talking to Elise after our duo.”

“Peter, do you think you could avoid life-coaching the NPCs until I’ve managed to actually get the relevant rumors out of them?” Nathan said.

“But she was nice to Galahad!” Peter said. “And Galahad really likes helping people. Even if he couldn’t be a paladin because he couldn’t decide on his patron deity-.”

“Where have I heard that before?” Adam muttered very, very quietly, and smiled to himself.

“-Galahad tries to conduct himself as close to his idols as possible.”

“But did you get anything out of her about the monsters of the Ironspine Mountains?” Nathan asked. “You know, like we were trying to find out?

Peter opened his mouth, shut it again, opened it, shut it, blushed and shook his head.

“Good thing Claude’s poker game went better than your pep talk,” Nathan said, writing down his new and improved gold total on his sheet. “Because there are trolls in these hills.”

“Thok finishes up the rest of the ale out of the barrel he took out of the bar and tosses the empty barrel down the path,” Claire said.

“The sound echoes down the canyon, and you hear the unmistakable sound of troll war cries ahead,” Adam said with relish.

“Claire!” Peter said.

“What? Anything to stop you guys from whining all the way through the mountains. Does Thok see anyone?”

“A band of troll warriors blocking the narrow path ahead-.”

“Thok pulls out his orc double-axe, rages, and charges, screaming death threats the entire time.”

“Wait!” Noah cried.

“Thok, what the hell?” Sylar said, looking annoyed.

Nathan just sighed and Peter dug out his dice as Adam made the sign he wanted everyone to roll for initiative order for the impending combat.

Gretchen gave him her number timidly, and everyone else gave her a dirty look.

“Elise goes first. What do you do?”

“Um… pull out my lute and sing to inspire courage?” Gretchen said.

“How about inspire competence, because we’re in dire need of that,” Sylar said, glaring at Claire.

Adam looked down at the initiative list hidden behind his DM’s screen, and made a few adjustments.

“And the trolls go next,” he said blandly, and everyone groaned.


“At least we got a prisoner out of this,” Peter said, marking another healing potion off his character sheet. “And he did know about the evil sorceress! Thanks for helping me talk to the troll, Elise.”

“I know taking Giant was going to come in handy!” Gretchen said, beaming.

Claire just smiled as Gretchen cast another healing spell on Thok.

“Nathan, isn’t your character the one with the Master Manipulator feat?” Noah said quietly.

Nathan nodded, teeth gritted.

“So how did Galahad manage to turn that troll from bloodthirsty raider to liberal arts student in a couple of hours? I’ve never seen anyone roll that many twenties.”

“I. Don’t. Know,” Nathan said. Behind Nathan’s back, Sylar was smirking. Noah allowed himself a reluctant nod over Nathan’s head.

“Is that why you pushed the other prisoner off the side of the cliff?”

“We had another prisoner?” Peter asked, surprised.

“No!” Nathan said. Sylar flicked a finger in the air and Nathan’s carefully-constructed dice tower fell over. “Oh, and I ‘accidentally’ fire my crossbow into Leir’s calf.”


“Nobody touches my dice.”

“I never touched your-.”

“Or telekinesis.”

“…how much damage?”


“Elise runs back screaming,” Gretchen said, eyes wide.

“Claude follows. Not screaming,” Nathan said, squinting at his character sheet and hunting to see if he had a potion of invisibility. And another of healing.

“First enemy through the door, Thok is decapitating,” Claire declared.

“Can’t we just talk to the Witch Queen’s guards?” Peter asked. “I mean we did just walk in here…”

“We walked in because Elise and Claude failed their Will saves against the Witch Queen’s charming song,” Noah said testily. “Hoan has his bow trained on the door.”

“Peter, look at your character sheet,” Sylar said. “You see what it says there? It says ‘fighter.’ And look there, your primary weapon. A bastard sword. How about you use that for a change?!

“And how about you stop shooting our characters?” Nathan said, glaring at Noah.

“Got you out from being mind-controlled, didn’t I?”

“I get ready to gut stab the first guard I see,” Nathan said, turning to look at Adam. And flicked his eyes over at Sylar.

If the party kept up at this rate, Adam wouldn’t even have to use the Witch Queen’s guards again; they’d kill themselves off thoroughly.


Adam cackled, doing a pretty fair job of getting the Witch Queen’s voice right, and launched into her speech as the party burst into her throne room. Thok was down to half his hit points, no one was fully healed, Elise was nearly out of spells, Hoan was refusing to speak to Claude, Leir had pocketed half the treasure in the adventure without anyone noticing due to the bickering, and Galahad had managed to increase his entourage to six. Adam still wasn’t sure how he’d managed to roll all those natural twenties on his Diplomacy rolls.

“You’ve coming searching for me, only to find I am behind all your worst nightmares! All that you’ve thought you’ve done of your own free will was truly my wishes! The death of your brother, Hoan? The inn that burned down, Elise? The school that cast you out, Leir? Thok, your clan’s displacement? Claude, those innocents whose lives you stole? Galahad, whom no temple would take? All part of my plan. Now stand before me and swear to my service, or face my wrath!”

Everyone was looking various degrees of angry, except for Nathan, whose eyes narrowed in sudden speculation. Everyone started talking at once, Claire wanting to charge right in, Gretchen trying to find someplace to hide, Peter wanting to talk to the Witch Queen, Sylar calling for everyone to wait so he could cast some area of effect spells, and Noah looking for a good vantage point to either leave or shoot Leir in the back. Only Nathan was quiet until Adam called on him.

“Hang on, describe the Witch Queen again?”

Adam hated to lose the momentum, but obliged. “The Witch Queen is a half-elf of elegant beauty, a mature and dangerous woman with black hair and dark eyes, dressed in black silk robes with fine ropes of pearls about her neck, hung with fetishes of a dark and evil nature. Her lips are hypnotic, stained blood red as she speaks from the embrace of her elegantly carved ebonwood throne.”

“You,” Nathan said solemnly, “are a bastard, Adam Monroe.”

“What?” Peter asked.

“It’s our mom.”

“Wait, Angela is the Witch Queen?” Sylar said, eyes going wide.

“There are some similarities,” Adam allowed grudgingly.

“Are you kidding me?” Claire demanded.

Everyone at the table looked at each other in sudden determination.

“Thok holds back until Leir casts his crushing hand spell.”

“Elise begins to inspire courage for everyone!”

“Hoan moves up to snipe, activating the magebane quality on his bow.”

“Galahad will draw his sword and flank with Claude after Leir casts his spell.”

Adam watched in mingled despair and admiration as his carefully-planned encounter fell apart under the assault of perfect, unselfish teamwork, Sylar’s wizard slowly crushing the life out of the Witch Queen as the barbarian, fighter, and rogue carved her into finely-diced cutlets, aided by the ranger and the bard.

Adam wondered if he should be disturbed at them killing their mother/grandmother/employer in fantasy format with such unholy glee.

“As the Witch Queen falls, she says, ‘I curse-.’”

“I stab her in the throat. Coup-de-gras,” Nathan said vindictively.

Adam pursed his lips.

“I’ll help hold her down,” Sylar said cheerfully.

“Me too!” Peter said.

Adam gave up, and the Witch Queen expired at the hands of the heroes.

“Huzzah, brave adventurers, you have freed the lands from her tyranny,” Adam said, rolling his eyes up and praying for strength.

High fives were shared all around, everyone united in their victory.

“Now, as with Witch Queen’s blood dried, the door to her treasure vault under the throne opens, revealing the glitter of coins and gems, as well as the glimmer of magic…”

“Leir gets down there first!”

“Hoan was in a better position.”

“And dwarves are slow. Thok is closest and the biggest, so he gets in first-.”

“Galahad’s followers were actually nearby…”

“Elise slips through in the confusion as everyone argues-.”

“And Claude helps her, right after him, of course!”

Adam steepled his fingers behind his DM’s screen as the bickering broke out anew. Now everything was back to going according to plan. Heaven help him if they every started working together regularly.