It’s not only players who surprise the DM.
On Saturday I ran my monthly Dungeons & Dragons
campaign with Alex, Dave, Drew, Gavin and James. The Dangerous Wayfarers were short staffed due to most of them being petrified at the end of the last game. In fact only the newest member, Vanda (played by Gavin), and the druid’s companion animal, Terrul (played by Drew), had made it back to town. Fortunately founding wayfarer Sandor Callow (played by Dave) had arrived in town and he joined the survivors with new recruit Michael (played by Alex), an undead hunter looking for undead to hunt. Rumours of another cleric joining them proved to be mistaken. (James didn’t think his new undead summoning cleric of Wee Jas fitted into the party which already had one summoner and now had an undead hunter. Unfortunately it meant he didn’t have a character for most of the day; sorry, James.)
The new Dangerous Wayfarers set off to rescue their
friends colleagues prey
objective. Along the way they had lots of encounters, many of them were fights and they rested at the Olde Wolfe Inn. In the afternoon the reached the petrified group. The statues were being staked out by a team of dopplegangers who had replaced the statue of Ghinn with their big fighter. The initially inattentive and subsequently surprised heroes tore through the deception with the help of a large tentacular ape-like creature which Vanda summoned. The large tentacular ape-like creature also solved the problem of how to get the statues onto the wagon by being really strong. Stoney’s statue was no trouble. The statue of Ghinn had been broken up by the dopplegangers, but they were able to retrieve all the pieces and put them in a sack. Gerag had shapeshifted into a large bear and had summoned another large bear so there were two very similar large bear statues; they had no choice but to transport them both. On the way back the party stayed overnight at the Olde Wolfe Inn where they met a dwarf barbarian (played by James) who decided to join with them to fight evil, which was nice.
The next day they met the yrthak
*. The Dangerous Wayfarers had encountered yrthaks before and usually Gerag saw them off with an ice storm spell cast at maximum range, before the magical flying beast even spotted them. However the new Dangerous Wayfarers were not aware of this tradition and anyway nobody could cast an ice storm. When the yrthak did spot the party it swooped in but they were ready for it. Vanda summoned a large tentacular wasp-like creature which battled the yrthak in midair while the rest of the party shot missiles at it.
The fight was going poorly for the yrthak so I thought it would use a special attack. I looked in the book and read “Special Attacks: Sonic lance, explosion”. I glanced over the description of the sonic lance and saw “This is a ranged touch attack that deals 6d6 points of damage to a single target”. That should take care of the pesky large tentacular wasp-like creature and let the yrthak get back to eating people, I thought. And it did. There was another volley of missiles and the yrthak turned on the party who were mostly standing around the flat-bed wagon with it’s cargo of precious statues.
Okay, I thought, let’s see what this “explosion” attack does. A quick glance revealed: “This attack deals 2d6 points of piercing damage to all within 10 feet”. Perfect, I thought, it can do an area effect attack and close on the greatest threat for a full attack next round. Now, how does it create this explosion; I read more carefully: “an explosion of shattered stone”. So is there any stone nearby? Terrul was cowering behind some rocks, but they were some distance away. Would the road count? No, it is hard packed earth, not stone. What about the statues? “Oh my fucking god”, I said aloud.
How would it be: to instantly slay three player characters with no reprieve. It might be contentious as the dead characters could have done nothing to prevent it. It might be mordant to make the whole adventure pointless. (And it might be graceless to kill Emma’s character when she is not at the game, again.) Fortunately I continued reading the description of the explosion attack and discovered “This counts as a use of the sonic lance attack and thus is usable only once every 2 rounds, and never on the round following a sonic lance attack”. So instead the yrthak closed for melee and was beaten to death. The end.
*This was only one short encounter but it’s getting half the blog entry because it’s mine and I’ll write what I want to.