Beware the Bag of Beans

This is a reprint of my column from Unwinnable Monthly #30. If you like it, try a subscription.

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A stupid story from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, circa 1998:

It was the very first dungeon of the very first game. The party was sent to retrieve a sword that was now in the possession of some people who made their home in a temple dedicated to a minor demon. Not nice folks, in other words.

Several years earlier, I had gotten an issue of Dragon Magazine which contained one of the best things ever: an expanded list of effects for the magic item known as the Bag of Beans. Plant a bean, something happens. Usually, that something is bad. Sadly, the original entry for the item in the Dungeon Master’s Guide only had 7 possible effects – not exactly smorgasbord of random mayhem. In comparison, the Dragon Magazine article had a full hundred. I’d been waiting a long time to make use of that table.

The party found a Bag of Beans in some drawer or another.

It took them until the very end of the adventure before they succumbed to what I assume was tremendous temptation and planted a bean in between the flagstones of the tunnel they were in. They rolled a 26:

The planted bean summons a meteor from outer space that strikes the ground within five rounds. Anyone standing directly over the bean (the point of impact) is instantly killed, and all his items are destroyed. Only a wish can restore him to life again. All creatures within 30 yards receive 10-40 HP damage (save vs. breath weapon for half damage). A crater 10 yards in diameter is left behind.

Now, since they were underground (and wondering why nothing had happened) they had no idea a meteor was screaming towards them. On the other hand, being underground saved them from the terrible destructive power of the meteor. It didn’t save them from the cave in, though.

And it wasn’t a meteor. In a fit of pique, I changed it to a gigantic, catastrophic bean bag chair.

Only the thief survived, because he wisely wanted nothing to do with the bag and got as far away from the planted bean as possible. Thanks to him, the rest of the party’s bodies were recovered by a construction crew and brought to a priest for resurrection. Learn from their mistakes, folks!

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