“Your dagger finds its mark in the side of the dark priest,” your brother, Will, says to you. “As life sputters from his eyes, his lips twist into a sly grimace. ‘You may have defeated me,’ he spits, ‘But I can still give you to the Formless Ones.’ He collapses upon you, dead.”

Your friend Jeremy sighs. “What does that mean?”

“Roll for acrobatics,” Will says, excited. You and your friends roll your dice.

“Eleven,” Jeremy says.

“Sixteen,” you add.

At the end of the table, your friend Samantha sighs. “Four.”

Will grimaces. “Eight or better. Sorry.” You can see a little pain in his eyes. “The stones in the room begin to shake. You all run for the door as the wooden boards that make up the floor beneath you split and fall away. A dimensional vortex has formed just under the room, and it’s sucking in everything nearby.”

Sam pouts. “How much damage?”

Will balks. “All of it. Eilonwy the princess-mage was unable to avoid the the pull. She gets dragged in.”

“What?”

You jump to your feet. “Crisis roll!” All eyes turn to you.

Your brother takes a twenty-sided die in his hand, but hesitates. “If you fail this roll, you’ll get pulled in, too.”

“I’ll take the chance,” you say.

“No.” He places the die on the table. “I’m sorry, Eilonwy. For you, the adventure ends here.”

“Like hell,” you proclaim, snatching the die from in front of your brother. You shake it between two cupped hands. “Fifteen or better, right?” Before he can stop you, you let the die loose. All eyes follow it as it clatters across the table and stops in front of Jeremy. Fifteen.

“Eilonwy is being tugged into the wormhole, arms outstretched. You give in to the pull of it and let yourself fly. As you are drifting toward your impending doom, you grab hold of a tapestry affixed the wall and use the pull of the vortex to slide to the end. With one hand, you grip the fabric for dear life. With the other, you take Eilonwy’s arm at the wrist. You both grasp each other firmly. A smoky tendril moves out from the tear, and wraps itself around her ankle, trying to wrench her from you. Seconds later, the maelstrom collapses upon itself. The smoke dissipates, leaving the three of you alone in the dark priest’s cellar.”

Jeremy is grinning from ear to ear. “That. Was. Awesome.”

Samantha lets out a sigh of relief, then laughs. “Same time next week?”

You smile. “Of course.”

You walk your friends to the door, and close it behind them as they leave. Will glares at you.

“What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that it would be awesome to save my friend’s life.”

“You could have died.”

You shrug. “And then I’d have to start another character.”

Will looks at you as if you’re speaking an alien tongue. “Are you kidding me?”

“What? You can’t think of an adventure for a level one character to go on? Hell, for two level one characters? You could just grab an old source book and run us through an adventure we haven’t gone on in years.”

“This is serious,” Will presses. “It’s getting too dangerous. We have to stop.”

“Come on, Will.”

“Eilonwy almost died. She should have! I can’t let you risk your life —“

“WILL! It’s just a game.”

Will looks at you. You can plainly see how hurt he is. He says nothing and walks away.

CONTINUE