This is my submission for June's /r/RWBY monthly writing contest.
"This is a terrible idea," Cinder muttered.
"This is a great idea!" Mercury insisted. Neo nodded, grabbing a handful of nachos from the bowl Roman was carrying.
The four of them, along with Adam, were bringing snacks, books, and other important gaming-related materials into the big room in the middle of the warehouse, where Emerald was preparing a large map. Dividing the table was an improvised Dungeon Master's screen composed of three scraps of plywood propped up by bottles of Dust, boxes of snacks, and one copy of Violet's Garden.
"Everyone's got a character and a little backstory?" Emerald asked.
"I've got this," Roman said, handing a few pieces of paper.
"Sheet looks in order," Emerald noted. "Decent backstory...rags on the path to riches, standard, but still not bad. Cinder?"
She rolled her eyes and handed Emerald her sheet. "Lilith wants knowledge and power."
"Bit dry. Merc?"
"Hermes Ricewalker is ready to go."
"Character sheet looks—why the hell did you pick Improved Grapple?"
"To grapple people."
"Why would—ugh! Never mind. Backstory...young monk leaving the monastery to explore the world. Pretty flexible. Adam?"
He grunted and passed a folder to Emerald.
"Nice. Character sheet looks in order, you even remembered to grab bastard sword proficiency."
"You didn't need to write a novel, Adam," Mercury complained.
"It's...seven pages. Front and back, except the last."
"But no pictures."
Emerald sighed. "Right, this is a bit long, but...he's basically a rebel from decadent high-elven society. Motivated in part, I see, by their prejudice against the more 'monstrous' races..."
Adam sighed. "Your point?"
"No point. Okay, Neo, what do—"
She got up and shoved one and a half crumpled sheets of paper at Emerald.
"The character sheet's pretty bare-bones, you'll probably want something with a bit more space in a level or two. And you don't have prepared spells. And your backstory is—I already told you, the ice cream would just melt!"
Neo rolled her eyes, grabbed a handful of candies, and sat down, pouting.
"Pick out some spells, Neo." She rolled her eyes again and scrawled "Guidance, Inflict Minor Wounds 2, Cause Fear, Bane, Cure Light Wounds(D)" in the margin of her character sheet. In pen.
Emerald sighed. "Alright...how would this pack of people get together?"
"Neo's easy," Mercury said. "She just follows Roman's guy around for no apparent reason, and he doesn't have the heart to get rid of her. Just like the real Neo!"
Neo kicked Mercury under the table. Mercury kicked back. This continued.
"We don't really have enough information to do anything else with her, so sure. Maybe Cinder's character and Adam's—"
"His name is Soverliss."
"—and Soverliss met while Cinder was attacking an elven wizard's tower to steal his spellbook, and they've been sticking together since."
"Works for me," Cinder said with a shrug. Adam nodded.
"Great. Roman, any ideas on how your character would join those two?"
"You could try a bar," Mercury suggested. "Just like real life!"
"Neo?" Roman asked. "Kick him harder. And Emerald...they might have passed through town, and I took the opportunity to join them."
"I ran into them when they were in that bar, too," Mercury said, "and figured that the best way to explore the world would be to follow them. Besides, it would keep them out of trouble."
"More like they'd keep you out of trouble," Emerald retorted. "But we have our backstories woven together, so let's get started. Your little band travels to the edge of civilization, a place where some human refugees and pioneers are trying to make a new settlement and a new kingdom. It's a pretty small area, overshadowed by mountains, forests turning to swamps. A man calling himself the Baron of Wolfcreek apparently needs some help with a local pest."
"What kind of pest?" Mercury asked. "I'm not interested in clearing out rats or hornets or something."
"The kind with scales, wings, and caustic breath."
"Remind me never to come to your place," Roman said.
"I bring the others to the baron's palace," Cinder said.
"It's not really a palace. It's the nicest building around, but it's really just a big rock house, somewhere between a mansion and a fortress, only smaller. Anyways, the Baron wants you to go to a crypt where this dragon has made a lair. It's been gathering orcs to do its bidding, and raiding the Wolfcreek area. In particular, it's stolen tens of thousands of silver coins in transit from the mint."
"What's in it for us?" Roman asked.
"You can keep anything you find in the crypts, of course," Emerald said. "Whoever kills the dragon will get a knighthood."
"What's that mean?" Mercury asked.
"It's just a title, really. You get to give yourself a dynastic name, a coat of arms, and such; people should treat you more respectfully; and you'll have a few duties." Adam nodded with interest, but Roman and Cinder were unimpressed. "Oh, and if you find any unusual artifacts, the Baron's willing to buy them from you for an excellent price, and even if you want to keep them, he'd pay for a chance to study them."
"Numbers?" Roman said.
"You normally sell things for half price. The Baron'd pay three-quarters, and ten percent to borrow it for a week or two. Only some, though, a plain +1 dagger would be sold for normal price."
"Anyone not want to take the job?" Mercury asked.
Cinder frowned. "Will there be any arcane knowledge at the dragon's lair?"
"There's no way to know for sure," Emerald said. "However, dragons are inherently magical creatures, and...everyone make a Sense Motive check."
"I don't have that skill," Cinder said.
"Then just a Wisdom roll."
"Eighteen-plus-three, twenty-one!" Mercury said. "Blackjack!"
"I have sixteen," Adam grumbled.
Roman groaned. "Only eight, despite being the only person to put ranks in the skill."
"Ten," Cinder said.
Neo pointed at her die. Two.
"Alright. Soverliss and Hermes realize that the baron's expecting there to be some interesting magic in the dragon's lair. Hermes is thinking that it's probably not normal magic; if it was, he wouldn't be so interested in it."
Mercury grinned. "I'll keep that tidbit to myself, actually."
Adam glanced at Cinder, then said, "I won't."
"Interesting," Cinder said, smiling. "Well, we'll go."
"Excellent. You're given directions to the crypt. It's a few days aw—"
"Random encounter?" Mercury asked.
"Well, yes, but—"
"I cast burning hands!" Cinder said.
Roman shrugged. "I'll start inspiring courage, I guess."
"We need to—"
Neo accidentally kicked the table instead of Mercury.
"Dust DAMN it, everyone shut up or I'm rolling on the level-nine table!" Everyone became silent and still. "Good. Now, please let me roll the random encounter, which is, as the name suggests, random." Two ten-sided dice clattered behind Emerald's DM screen, followed by two eight-siders. "Make Spot checks, everyone. Need to see who sees it."
Cinder said, "I don't—"
"Sixteen," Roman announced.
"Twelve," said Adam.
Cinder smiled. "Seventeen."
"Fifteen," Mercury said.
Neo grabbed another chip and pointed to her die. Three.
Emerald sighed. "You have absolutely horrible luck, Polly." Neopolitan rolled her eyes and resumed kicking Mercury, who resumed retaliation. Emerald chose not to notice this, and rolled for the Medium viper; sixteen plus seven. "The encounter rolled better than any of you." She rolled a Hide check for the snake, three plus twelve. Fifteen, with the opposing Spot checks getting minus one per ten feet... "Cinder, you see the snake when it's twenty feet away.
"I cast burning hands!"
"That can't hit targets more than fifteen feet away."
"Can I move five feet, then cast burning hands?"
Emerald quietly rolled a Bluff check for Cinder and a Sense Motive for the snake. "Sure."
"I cast burning hands!"
"Right. The snake rolls...twelve on its Reflex save. What's the DC?"
"Ten plus spell level plus spellcasting ability," Mercury said.
"You're a wizard, so Intelligence," he said. "Which your character has more of than you."
Cinder held up a hand to Neo, then kicked Mercury herself. "Fourteen."
"The snake takes full damage. Roll 1d4 for damage."
Cinder rolled the pointy chunk of plastic. "Four! Maximum damage!"
"Excellent. The snake burns and writhes some. Roll initiative."
"Damn," Mercury said. "Natural one."
"None of you are rolling very well," Emerald pointed out. "Two sixes, a five, a nine. The snake rolled an eleven, so he goes first."
"I have a thirteen," Adam said.
"Eleven before Dex," Emerald said. "Fourteen after. So the snake goes first, then Adam—"
"—Cinder, Roman, Neo, and finally Mercury. The snake's a big one, several feet long. It slithers to Cinder's character and bites her." Dice clatter. "Nineteen. I think that hits your typical first-level wizard?"
"Right, damage...minimum, so one damage."
Cinder grinned. "You cannot stop the arcane might of—" She checked her character sheet. "Lilith Spodium!"
"Roll a Fortitude save."
Mercury raised his hand.
"What?" Cinder asked, annoyed.
"Why do you have a penalty to Constitution?"
"...You'll know what you need—"
"Did you not even check what it meant?"
"Six points of Constitution damage," Emerald said. "Drops it to what, two?"
"You lose three maximum hit points, meaning your current hit points are two. And you might die in a minute."
"So much for unstoppable arcane might," Mercury said with a chuckle.
Cinder held up her hand to Neo again. Neo shrugged and grabbed an apple.
"How old are you, Cinder?" Roman asked. "Should I start calling you one of the kids?"
Cinder glowered at Roman, before turning to the table. "What now?"
"Soveliss will draw one of his blades and charge the snake."
"...Three. Plus five, and two for charging, that's ten."
"The snake twitches, and your sword strikes the mud."
"Me next?" Roman asked.
"I back away from the snake—"
"Want to withdraw, or do you want to take an attack of opportunity?"
"I'll withdraw, then—"
"You can't do anything after withdrawing." Cinder grumbled. "Roman?"
"I'll move here, and throw a dagger."
"Nineteen! That's a crit?"
"Roll to confirm."
"Roll damage twice."
"That puts the snake at zero hit points—"
"One kill for Ros!"
"—which means it's disabled, not killed."
She grabbed the bit of string representing the snake and tossed it to the side.
"Neo, are you attacking? You need to roll."
She rolled...a twelve-sided die.
"You know what I mean."
Neo rolled a twenty-sided die.
"That's a miss," Emerald said, moving the lump of clay Neo brought for her miniature next to the snake. "Merc?"
"I throw two shuriken, flurry-of-blows. Thirteen, sixteen."
"The first hits a thick scale at a bad angle and glances off. The second hits the serpent at the base of its neck."
"It goes unconscious. I'd say that's a kill for Hermes and an assist for both Ros and Lilith."
"Who?" Cinder asked.
"Mercury, Roman, and you, respectively."
"Soveliss cleans the mud off of his blade," Adam said.
"Great. Anyone want to treat Cinder's poison? Before it kills her, ideally? She's got a minus four to Fort right now."
"Can Neo do anything?" Cinder asked.
"Not with spells. Even delay poison is a second-level spell. Anyone have ranks in Heal?"
"I do," Adam said. Neo raised her hand.
"Great." Emerald glanced at their character sheets. "Neo's got plus seven, Adam's plus three. So if Adam wants to take a break from cleaning his blade to save the boss's life..."
"Great! Roll against DC 10 to aid Neo, and she'll roll against DC 11 to stop the secondary damage."
"Twenty total," Adam said. "Soveliss is an excellent—"
"—nurse," Mercury finished.
Neo rolled a d20. Eighteen.
"Plus seven, plus two, Cinder's not gonna worry about the poison. Except for the damage she already took, of course. She'll have a couple days to heal, and it might not hurt to wait a couple of days. Full bed rest for Cinder means she'd heal that Constitution at double rate. Anyways, just something to consider. Anyone need to take a break?"
I have a nice Google doc where you can look at the adventure Emerald has planned, as well as everyone's character sheets. Neither is 100% complete, but they're pretty solid. Good old FF.n doesn't like links, even its own website name, but if I told you to add some periods to docs google com/document/d/104MLwHzEGfCGzEX1LYpzVNqW-6T_gu2Cf41LOyJU_f8/edit?usp=sharing and docs google com/spreadsheets/d/1YODV_SurOW06w8uVjhAjxky_3g6PwGOLnyvj4XyIFyY/edit?usp=sharing there wouldn't be much FF.n would do about it.
I did roll for their Attributes, by the way. Some just rolled very, very well.