Kennels and Corgis
rating: +6+x

I know people will probably think I'm either a crackpot or a lame straight-to-DVD director, but this actually happened. I guess pets really do choose their owners… I wonder how dogs stay in contact… do they have little dog phones? Are dogs in a hive mind? Do they contact each other with little canine telegraphs? I might go insane if I keep going on about it.

On a calm summer night, my friends and I had finished another session of D&D. No deaths were watched except for those of the hoards of monsters imagined by me, the group's resident Dungeon Master. I had just finished cleaning up the leftover food, and was ready to hit the hay. Doing a wide range of weird and wacky voices and rolling lots of dice can really drain the energy from you.

As I headed up the stairs towards my bedroom, the weirdest thing caught my eye. My dog, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Chunk, was walking towards my basement with something in his mouth. Immediately suspecting he had gone digging through my trashcan and grabbed something, I chased after him. Loads of worried thoughts rang through my head, echoing from ear to ear and passing through my brain.

Oh god, what if he chokes on whatever he's got in his mouth? What if he gets hurt? Or dies? I thought as I quickly stepped down the stairs, calling out Chunk's name as I came to the main room of my basement. I would've definitely been relieved if I weren't so dumbfounded by what I had found.

I had not found a choking corgi, but I did find the object he was holding onto- a bacon-patterned dice bag. How the fluffy little dog managed to get a dice bag was far beyond my understanding, but he had it regardless. The existence of a mysterious dice bag wasn't near the freakiest thing being hosted in my basement that night. A very small, dog-sized table sat adjacent to the table used by my friends for our game nights. An arrangement of snacks, including chips, cheese puffs, peanut butter cookies, and a large pepperoni pizza were… arranged neatly on the table alongside a set of six dog bowls with names on them. Three large bottles of soda were placed in a mini fridge placed next to Chunk.

"What is this, Chunk? Where'd you get a pizza from?"I asked my stubby-legged companion, only to get a deadpan stare from the little dog, his big, pointed ears drooped down towards the sides of his head. Done staring into his bored dark brown eyes, my own eyes noticed a pile of hardcover books and what looked like a small dungeon master's screen. Every book boasted the title "Kennels and Corgis" in beautiful Gothic calligraphy. The space about the dog hosted other items, including a blank graph-designed map used for battle and dungeon crawling, as well as a huge collection of very eloquently painted mini-figures.

"Chunk, where did you get those minis? They look great!" I asked the short dog, only to get a blank stare again as he began splooting1. I dropped the issue in an instant as I heard a few different barks outside. A group of dogs stood at the door of my basement, each one holding a dice bag in his or her mouth. The party of pooches awkwardly stood at my door until Chunk let out a short bark, prompting the canine house guests to enter.

The dogs gathered around the table, each one sitting at their assigned bowl. Lucky, my friend's shih-tzu, ate a bunch of cheese-puffs one by one straight from the sharing-sized plastic bag, an orange dust speckled across his white furry face. Lucky was the only canine guest whose owner I knew.

While the barking creatures gathered their snacks and drinks, the host corgi was busying himself via organizing a group of miniatures on his part of the table, and poured some beautiful orange-white dice, which was reminiscent of his white and orange fur, behind his little screen. Things seemed to only get more strange as the time began to pass by, right past my head. The dogs were barking at each other like they were talking; each one giving their two cents on in-depth conversations about… something.

After about five minutes of bark-banter between the dogs, Chunk let out a shrill bark that immediately silenced the hounds. In the previously dark room, a light magically showed up on the ceiling, shining directly down onto the tiny table, lighting up the eyes of the pooches. Each dog besides Chunk placed an equally elegant mini-figure onto the map in the center of the table. The unknown dogs present were a bulldog, a shiba-inu, a blood hound, and a St. Bernard. Like magic, each dog revealed a character sheet and pencil, each one filled to the brim with writing. Chunk grabbed a group of five miniatures that were placed separately from the massive collection of monsters, creatures, and people, and flung them into the center of the table. That prompted the guests to pick up their respective characters and place it next to their lineup of geeky items.

Just as the magic light had come out of nowhere, an old, Celtic tune began playing underneath the table and the light grew more focused towards it. Chunk let out a string of yips, barks, and howls as the music kept its calm flow. I didn't have a clue what he was doing in the moment (I was too tired and way too freaked out to think properly), but now I believe he was giving a speech wrapping up what had already happened in the campaign. As my short, stubby legged pet gave his introduction to the session, the other dogs gave little yips back as a sign that they were listening and answering him. After about three minutes of ambient barks and Celtic music, the tune began to fade and a new song began to enter the scene.

The map magically changed from a blank graph to a small town, and the players placed their minis on the map. I looked at the figures more closely as Chunk began barking something to the attentive dogs. Lucky's had a set of more fancy clothes, like those you would find on a bard. I glanced at his character sheet, which had the name "Mr. Fortune the Musical Dog". Each character stood on four legs and carried things using magic arms on their backs. They were shown as invisible arms through having clear protrusions on each dog's back.

After some yipping from the party of dogs, they began moving their figures towards the tavern to do… something. As they entered the tavern, a more energetic tune began playing. They all gathered by the bar and began yipping about in a friendly tone, which I assumed was more talking. Chunk started barking in a completely different tone and speed, which immediately caught me off guard. The other canines began staring intently watching Chunk as he barked and yipped and howled, probably giving the players some crucial information. As my little companion got deeper into his speech, the fun, energetic songs of the tavern grew quiet as a more sinister theme began sounding around the table.

After a few minutes of barking from my dog, another dog spoke up- the blood hound. A quick glance at his character sheet revealed to me that the blood hound's character was a brave knight wearing a suit of shining armor. His name was "Bartholomew the Brave", and his role in the party was written as the "brave, charismatic leader". After a few yips from the brave leader of the group, Chunk responded in the same mysterious voice, prompting the other dogs to grab their figures off the map and taking some gold from their inventories. Once the interaction between the two dogs ended, the music returned to the fun energetic tunes of the tavern, then faded away as the map began morphing.

The map began changing from a simple little town to a dark forest, and the pups put their figures on the map again among the dark trees. The change in scenery in turn changed the music from the fun of a bar to the dark, creepy ambiance of a dark, monster-infested wood. As they began walking through the spooky forest, Chunk began growling and howling in his usual "voice", which I guess was describing the forest. With the fashion in which the dog "spoke", paired with the disturbed looks of the party, I suspected there was something very spooky going on. Looking down at the map, I noticed that there were birds flying about between the branches which swayed side to side along an invisible breeze.

As Chunk finished his very unsettling exposition, he let out a very shrill bark as he rolled a dice and pulled a set of three cats dressed like bandits, placing the thieving beasts in the way of the heroes. With a quick spark of fear going through the dog's body, the St. Bernard moved his miniature, which was dressed in old robes similar to those of Franciscan monks, to the back of the party. Chunk started barking what I think were insults and threats towards the crew as every dog except the St. Bernard, who simply named their character "St. Henry Bernard", charged towards the bandits and rolled for initiative. After St. Henry, seemingly the most clumsy thrower in the group, rolled his dice, the first battle of the night began…

The first one to make a move was the brave leader Bartholomew, followed by one of the thieves. Bartholomew charged right in front of the strongest looking cat, and let his sword do the rest. After rolling a 16, the brave knight dog carved into the thief's shoulder, doing some devastating damage to the monster. The damaged cat took a swipe at the warrior with their claws, missing the target due to his tough armor. The cat used its ability 'Multiattack', and slashed into the dog's nose, dishing out some damage to the pooch. Mr. Fortune was the next character to move. The charismatic dog gave the leader of the crew some encouragement via playing music on his plastic toy saxophone. Bartholomew let out a happy whimper, probably showing gratitude. The shiba-inu, whose character was a rogue named "Quilynn Cupshigh", rushed to the damaged cat and sent a slash with her dagger, slaying the attacker.

Now that only two fiendish felines remained, the party of doggy adventurers seemed to grow more energetic. The fight continued with attacks, healing spells, multi-hits, and bites into pizza slices until the other two cats were finally defeated. This prompted the dogs to move further into the deep forest, encountering more beasties like dire rats, thieves, an owl, and even a tiny goblin camp. The brave heroes gained more and more wins under their furry belts as they finally reached the entrance to the cave. The party made the probably smart idea of taking a short rest before heading into the depths of the cave.

After giving some time to rest for the ordeal ahead, the brave warriors trudged their way into the caves mouth down into the caverns within. The scene quickly changed to a wild set of winding caverns and caves. All sorts of odd beasties could be seen wandering about on the map, including giant rats, gargantuan spiders, fish-men, and other weird sorts of off-the-wall crazy abominations. The gang of ragtag fighters steeled their resolves and began trekking the winding tunnels before them. Some grizzly encounters with mega spiders and gelatinous blobs seemed to be a real challenge to the battlers, even with a full set of power. The whimpering pets began sniffling and yipping among each other, pure worry in each bark and snarl as the pieces lay dormant on the magic board.

Another short rest proved very useful until a group of cat bandits ambushed the sleepy pups at the end of their charging session. The thieving little monsters were quickly dispatched by our heroes, but they were definitely caught by surprise…

The adventure continued to flow more and more smoothly as the newbie fighters began leveling up from all the tougher battles. Before they even met with the goblin boss, the giant spiders and fish-men weren't killers anymore. Things seemed to just get easier and easier for the growing characters as they gained more armor, weapons, and cool spells. By this point in the night, the snacks and drinks had been almost completely emptied and the pizza only had one cooled sliver-sized slice left. I watched with pride and confusion as they came to the boss room, preparing for a run-of-the-mill enemy.

The goblin boss, on the other hand, would be something to behold. King Bumblebreth, the leader of the local goblin outposts near the town and local friend of the KittyClaws Thieves Guild was capable of calling on goblins and thieves that dwindled down the power and health of the warrior party. While these feats prove the boss to be quite a challenge, he also had another piece to his collection of weapons. The king held a magic wand made from an ancient tree that could cast magic fungal spores flying towards the cast. This causes over half of the party to fall unconscious before St. Henry hit Bumblebreth with his staff hard enough to knock him cold via rolling a natural 20.

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Chunk.

With the day saved once more in the land, the king was sent to the dungeons to investigate further into his crimes and his connections with the KittyClaws Guild. A round of drinks was shared among the pooches inside and outside the game as celebratory barks congratulated the flustered St. Bernard. After a few minutes of cleaning up, the dogs all said their goodbyes and headed on their ways. Chunk and I went out of the basement, and I turned back to see an empty space where the table once laid. Turning back to see my dog without a dice bag, I simply shrugged it off as sleep began dragging my exhausted mind to bed.

I headed up the stairs heading towards my bedroom and I heard a cluster of meowing coming from the floor above me. I climbed up and took a peek into my attic to see a group of cats, including my own cat, playing a D&D-esque RPG called Purrthfinder. Sleep immediately pulled me down and shut the attic trapdoor. The only thing that went through my mind until I fell into a deep sleep was "I'm not getting involved in this" as I slowly crept away to enjoy my sleep…

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