In their last game, the party discovered that the gnome quartermaster Jou was actually a spy and saboteur working for House Bri'yann, the most powerful of the Houses in Roslof. (This also gave them some suspicions about the bandits that attacked them earlier.) The gnome had his hands bound, and was taken to the tent of Bobilis, the fellow in charge of the overall expedition. It was, at this point, half an hour or so shy of midnight.
This was the point at which Kaz, the human monk, decided on a plan and called Shadow, the dark elf rogue, over to help him. His plan was that he would make a distraction, at which point Shadow could sneak into the tent and...
"Kill him!" finished Shadow. "Brilliant!"
"What? NO!" Kaz wanted to scare the gnome into helping them. He wanted Shadow to go in there, hold a knife to the gnome's throat, and explain to him that if he'd help them and be their friend, they'd cut him loose.
Shadow pointed out that there was no way they could believe anything the gnome said, and that he should just kill him.
Kaz agreed that if the gnome betrayed them later, Shadow could kill him, but right now he wanted the gnome set free.
"You know he's going to betray us," Shadow told him. "Save us time if we just kill him now."
The dragonborn sorcerer, who's been listening in on this from the edge of the small meadow and slowly easing closer, chose this moment to slap Kaz in the back of the head with Mage Hand. Kaz spun around but only caught barest glimpse of the fading hand as Toruv released the spell.
"Fine," agreed Shadow. "I'll slip in there and... cut the gnome loose for you... and definitely not just kill him and get it over with."
Kaz was starting to look around for some way to cause a distraction when Toruv used a combination of Fire Bolt and Control Flame to draw a line of fire on the ground between Kaz and Shadow and the tent.
That was when they heard a terrible hunting shriek and something large fell out of the night sky towards the horses. It was a griffon, and it had come in search of food -- and it was only at the last minute that it realized that the horse it had picked at random had an armored mousefolk cleric on its back. It shifted to attack them instead, missing with a beak and one claw but doing some real damage with the other claw.
Kaz immediately charged it and got in a lucky hit, ramming his sword into its flank. The sorcerer moved up and tried his breath weapon, but only scorched the beast's shoulder a bit. Shadow raced to one of the unoccupied horses, leapt onto its back, and slapped its flank hard. Barrith, the halfling rogue, had been sensibly hiding in a tree; he took a shot with his longbow, but missed. Aspen the mousefolk cleric took a swing with their longsword, but also missed. Several members of the logging camp looked out of their tents at the sounds of this new commotion, but nobody actually came out.
The griffon tried again, attacking with claws and beak; the beak missed the cleric, but it managed to sink its claws into the horse preparatory to trying to carry it off.
Kaz attacked again, missing with his sword but landing a lucky punch to the griffon's wing. I ruled that the beast crashed lurched sideways and crashed to the ground; a failed Strength check on the griffon's part indicated that lost its hold on the horse instead of pulling the horse down with it.
The dragonborn sorcerer took advantage of this opportunity, and emptied an Alchemy Jar's worth of acid over the griffon's other wing and shoulder. At this point, the horse that Shadow had jumped on took off at a gallop and lost itself in the woods, taking the rogue with it. The third horse, unmounted, also spooked and took off, but in a different direction. It plowed through the tent of Bobilis, the head of the expedition, collapsing the tent and trapping Bobilis and the gnome saboteur Jou inside. Then it, too, disappeared into the woods. Aspen and Barrith attacked again, but both missed.
At this point the griffon shrugged back up to its feet, extended its wings, and with huge, powerful sweeps propelled itself into the air and away towards safety. The attack was over, and fate of the missing horses was no longer a mystery. The dragonborn sorcerer, after a few moments of thought (while, OOC, we had lunch) suggested that the horses would probably be pretty safe if we kept them in some sort of tent or pavilion at night -- anything that kept them out of sight of the griffon.
However, we still had a minor problem: Kaz, and his full-blown obsession with obtaining a pet gnome. Toruv the sorcerer went to the front of Bobilus' tent and lifted it up, then stuck his quartertaff in to hold the thing top up. Bobilis came spluttering and staggering out, grateful to be free again. Kaz, meanwhile, had gone around to the back of the tent and cut a large hole in it, so he could sneak in and grab the gnome.
Barrith the halfling rogue, realizing what Kaz was up to, raced in the front of the tent and started pulling the gnome out in what looked like a heroic rescue attempt and sort of was. Kaz jumped on Barrith, and Toruv stepped in a moment later -- first to grab the gnome himself, and then to try to restrain the monk after Kaz threw a dart at him.
While the three of them were struggling, the gnome shrugged out of the ropes that had been holding him and sprinted out through the hole in the back of the tent, where he promptly disappeared into the woods. By the time Kaz got loose and tried to chase after him, he was gnomewhere to be found.
I'm not honestly sure how this is going to affect the game. The players for Toruv and Barrith were exasperated but also amused; nobody was actually angry, including the monk's player. However, Jou the Saboteur Gnome, who was meant to be a throw-away villain, is almost certainly going to be a recurring character now. Moreover, Kaz the Monk's player was talking about having Kaz take off into the woods to hunt for the gnomes. So, as DM, I explained that if he really wanted to have Kaz do that, he could put together a new character and Kaz would become an NPC -- and at some point in the future Kaz would probably come bursting out of the bushes yelling things like, "Have you seen that gnome!? He has to be here somewhere!" The player would be welcome to build a new, less crazy character at the same level as the current PCs and equipped with a magic item equivalent to theirs. The player smiled and suggested that he could play a barbarian, which... might not be any less crazy, but it seems likely that we'll see.
So, I mean, it's fair to say that Things Took A Turn, but I'm not as surprised by that a I might be. The player's father runs and plays in various campaigns where things like having a pet gnome (well, a servant, or an adopted orphan, or what-have-you) actually do happen, so I think some of this came from that background. Some of it also, I think, was a perfectly natural eleven-year-old's desire to drive the other players slightly crazy.
In any case, despite the intra-party gnome dispute, everybody seemed to have fun. As long as that remains the case, I do my best to roll with it.