“The horror! I remember the feeling as it passed over me—infinite cold, my appendages splayed out in all directions—then nothing! The next thing I knew I was standing outside the brothel my party had chosen to take up residence in—three weeks later!”
— Antonious the Scribe
Many an adventurer has run afoul of the mysterious Silver Ball, often when they least expect it. Appearing out of darkened shadows, or even mid-air, the Silver Ball does not speak, or make any sound at all. Rather it glides in silently, absorbing the adventurer into its inner volume, and then just as rapidly disappearing.
The Silver Ball is an enigma—in game terms, it resembles an artifact in its behavior and resilience (it is nigh-indestructible), and its effects cannot be avoided, sidestepped, or prevented. But it exists to accomplish a metagame effect; namely, how to handle the absence of a player unable to make it to one or more gaming sessions, or even conversely to introduce new characters/players to the group.
Trevor created the Silver Ball to handle just such cases in his personal campaign setting of Nearn, and thus, it has been around for more than thirty years now. Players feared the Silver Ball, for they did not know what happened to their characters while they were gone—some would return changed physically, or possess items they had not before, or have vague memories of experiences they could not quite place their fingers on. They tried to lay traps for the Ball, to capture it, study it, and perhaps predict its behavior—but all to no avail.
And so we now present it to you, dear Wyrmlings—for many an adventurer has found themselves dumped unceremoniously from the Silver Ball into the common area of the Smoking Wyrm, and the regulars at the bar simply regard its appearance with bemusement and a cheer of greeting. Some of the events depicted in the article are taken straight from the Nearn campaign, or our more recent DCC sessions, and others were added because we felt they captured the essence of the Silver Ball’s past behaviors. Regardless, we encourage you to add your own events to the tables to reflect the particulars of your campaigns!
The full rules for the Silver Ball can be found in issue #1 of Tales from the Smoking Wyrm, available now from Goodman Games and DriveThruRPG!