O is for Orabelle Peña, Companion of Orson

Name: Orabelle Peña
Campaign: The Eight Arms and the Memento Mori

There’s a joke among early 3E players about especially stupid paladins. Intelligence was a common paladin dump stat in a class that really wanted three good ability scores, and paladins also got an intelligent mount that began at Int 6. It wasn’t uncommon to have a mount smarter than its PC. But it is somewhat strange to have a mount more interesting than its PC.

Orabelle was a halfling sailor and sling expert who accompanied (but did not join) the Eight Arms monster-friending team, which started as the Eight Arms monster-hunting team until the campaign started and the party decided to hug everything they met. She was the only person in the party competent on the water, a somewhat meaningful trait in an ocean-based campaign, and the only person who could make a ranged attack without a bucket of gunpowder. She was, however, fairly weak physically, to the point where she couldn’t even carry her full compliment of sling bullets.

Enter Orson, Orabelle’s animal companion whose name also conveniently begins with O. Orson was, as far as the rules were concerned, a mundane turtle. His damage was terrible, his speed was terrible, his cognitive functions were terrible, and his primary uses were carrying gear and providing cover with his AC nineteen points higher than the party’s cleric’s. But Orson’s true worth was in assigning him a funny voice and saying whatever seemed most subversive at the time, which rapidly became making dark predictions whenever the party succeeded. In no time we determined he was either a creature from beyond the stars or merely their servant, a harbinger of the coming apocalypse.

Exactly what apocalypse that is, I don’t know. This isn’t an example of foreshadowing, this is an example of making jokes and pretending they were foreshadowing if I commit to them later. The point is that Orson was a hilarious way for me as the DM to insert comedy into the campaign, not that he was actually a setting villain (…take half a drink).

Orabelle as a whole ended up not doing much. I expected her to be a “real person” balance to the “monster hunters” in the rest of the party, but since the party ended up allying with almost everything they met that didn’t work. Orson is the part of the character we remember. I don’t want to say the lesson here is “be useless, nobody notices anyway”. It’s more like the lesson is “be fun”.

After the Eight Arms fought Mega Ultra Chicken, the campaign’s backup final boss, Orabelle left the group and returned to her normal life. This is the same character who played Felicia, and I’m not sure if “I’ll hang out with you, but not too long” is something I should take away from running for this player.

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