I just had my first Dungeons & Dragons experience. It was fun, but two of us were new and we spent so much time trying to figure out our character sheets that we all barely got a taste of the DM’s story before the evening needed to end. The DM did bravely attempt to hold one side quest, but I don’t think it went at all as he expected. Let me rephrase: it absolutely did not go as he expected.
Elves in D&D don’t sleep. They enter a trance state for four hours each day, but they definitely don’t go to bed when everyone else does. I’m playing not just an elf, but an elf rogue, which made me the perfect target for our DM’s “will you do a drug run?” side quest.
So, in-story, the three adventurers were hanging out at the inn’s bar right before bedtime. A shady character asked my elf, Artymis, if she would quietly deliver a package to a client in the small town. The package contained some “controlled” item and I (Artymis) was absolutely not allowed to open the parcel. After too much hemming and hawing, I agreed and figured that if it turned out to be something immoral I would just take it straight to Sam the mayor and seek some reward there.
Cora the halfling did not notice me hiding the parcel under my cloak and just went to bed. Cyrus the human did notice, and asked what I was doing. I gave some half-answer, realized he would try to follow me if I went outside into the shadows, and decided the only way to avoid his prying eyes was to examine the parcel alone in the restroom. The shady character had left and Cyrus couldn’t follow me into the one-stall odor-pit, so it made perfect sense.
So picture this: Artymis the 110-year-old elf rogue, a young adult, a sneaky person, and an elegant, pointy-eared immortal, standing in a wooden stall beside a strong-smelling hole in the ground with just a candle for light, fumbling with a parcel to see if it would be immoral to deliver it. I failed all attempts at sleight of hand (terrible dice rolls) and broke the wax seal, revealing that it was some sort of illicit herb. Now it would be obvious I’d looked inside, and I didn’t think delivering the parcel could end well. I nervously tried to fix the wax seal with the candle and failed (more bad dice rolling), burned myself (-1 HP), and charred the paper.
In story, Artymis was quietly having a moral quandary in the latrine.
Out of story and in my head, what happened was this: “Wait, I’m playing as chaotic good. If I take it to the mayor, is that too lawful? If I bring it to the client, is that immoral? There aren’t Christians in this world, so are drugs immoral or just foolish? What are the consequences if I never deliver the package? What if I bring it to the client? The parcel has been obviously opened. Will I get a reputation as an incompetent drug runner? That’s a terrible way to start this game. What if I try to bring it to the mayor? Wait, this means I’m now carrying this thing! What if my companions discover it? I won’t look very good, that’s for sure. And Sam the mayor is giving us our jobs in this town and seems like a nice guy, so drug-running in his town behind his back certainly is immoral. Or is it just pragmatic? Can I play pragmatic? What’s moral and good? What’s sufficiently chaotic? What if it’s truly medicinal? Then am I immoral for turning it in? Can I just undo this whole thing?”
In story, Artymis the elf just panicked, decided the whole thing never happened, and dropped the whole parcel in the latrine.
Out of story, the DM said, “Well, so much for that quest.”