Monster Analysis: Wizard Chess and the Son of Aragorg

Thanks to @BlackSalander for this art piece!

Chess Pieces

  • Encounter Appearance: The Club of Misfits

  • King: 52 damage taken, 28 killing blow by Bunder

Son of Aragorg

  • Armor Class <16

  • 98 damage taken, 3 HDYWTDT by Claire

Spiders

  • Spider 1: 51 damage taken, 28 killing blow by Rook

  • Spider 2: 41 damage taken, 13 killing blow by Andy

Spider Swarms

  • Swarm 1: 15 damage taken, 15 killing blow by Claire

  • Swarm 2: 29 damage taken, 29 killing blow by Bryan

  • Swarm 3: 17 damage taken, 17 killing blow by Andy

Wizard chess is similar to IRL chess: there are two sides, white and black; there are the same number of playing pieces on each side: 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 bishops, 1 queen, and 1 king; and the basic rules are the same. However, wizard chess has some notable differences: wizard chess pieces are life-size, the player takes the role of one of the pieces, and when one piece invades the space of another, they actually battle and the losing piece leaves the board. Most notably is that if a piece tries to move to a space that is already occupied, even if the occupier isn’t officially part of the game, the move is considered illegal for that chess piece, and another piece must move instead.

In the Club of Misfits game, the misfits took one of each role: pawn (Bunder), rook (Andy), knight (Allison), bishop (Bryan), and queen (Claire, naturally). The game began normally, but was soon beset by angry, large spiders helmed by the Son of Aragorg. The Club had to obey the rules of chess while trying to defeat the spiders. Not evening factoring in the fact that this was Laura's first time running a one-shot, we're quite impressed with the complexity of the setup. From using the chess set to lull the players into wondering they were "just going to play stupid chess," to drawing out the spiders who were not beholden to the rules of the game as the students were, to ensuring that the mechanics of both the game of chess and the metagame of D&D were executed to specifications and satisfaction… Major props to first time DM Laura for running a puzzle-based encounter simultaneously with combat.

As Laura detailed on Talks Machina, each chess piece had its own set of stats based on the stats of different animated armors. We didn’t get details in most of the chess piece attacks, but judging from the rook’s 28 damage against a spider, they could certainly pack a punch. The spiders were large, biting sacks of hit points, though none of them used their web attack, preferring to be up close and personal with their attacks. The Son of Aragorg, their leader and the target set by Beetle, was able to summon three swarms of regular-sized spiders.

Bunder, Claire, and Allison all opened the battle with area of effect spells, which were very shrewd choices considering they faced three large spiders and 15 chess pieces (Bunder took out one pawn prior to the first round of combat). Allison revealed herself to be an unregistered anischmagus and morphed into her badger form via Wild Shape. (Editor note: Horfleporfs rule! (Editor note: Statser Singing Badger might be a little biased.))

Bryan and Andy stuck with single-target attacks against the spiders, who were the more threatening foes. Through Round 2, most of the misfits focused their attacks on the spiders, while Bunder focused on the chess pieces. This drew their ire, and one of the bishops knocked him out with a critical hit. Once the king was taken out in round 4 via an improvised wizard’s chess move, the chess game ended and the misfits could focus all of their attention on taking down the spiders. Claire electrocuted the Son of Aragorg with lightning breath while Andy beat the last of the swarms to death. After that, all that was left was to sneak back up to detention, write their essay, and join in an iconic freeze frame.