On Thursday night, we had a near TPK. It wasn’t my fault. I place the blame squarely on the players. I knew where I wanted the story to head, the players subverted that, and then they walked into the jaws of death, arms outstretched.
We’re playing in Karthun right now, and the players have gotten themselves into some trouble. They’ve found themselves in search of Elinar, goddess of all that’s good and wonderful. She is being hunted by Kyzul, the god of the undead and a generally bad dude, and Felicos, the god of thieves who killed Kyzul’s father (long story). Elinar’s last known location was the opposite side of the continent, so the players decided to quickly dip into the land of the dead, known as Kraya the Shadow, in order to travel more quickly (long story, again). They know the portals they need access to are in a particular fortress near the place they arrived in Kraya, so a hop skip and a jump over there, and they’re overlooking this nasty evil fortress owned by Kyzul himself.
While the rest of the party is formulating a plan, Red, the gnome barbarian, grabs Bailey, the halfling cleric of Elinar, and marches toward the gates of the fortress. Now, they had discovered that in this dark mirror dimension of Kraya, Bailey was seen as a fierce warrior king, not a diminutive halfling who was afraid of his own shadow, so Red decided to use that to their advantage. At the gates, he called out to the specters guarding the walls.
“Hey! Hey you! Check this out! I’ve got Bailey here with me! Lord of Baileyville!”
This causes a commotion at the top of the gates.
“That’s right!” Bailey shouts up. “Bailey, cleric of Elinar! You will allow us into your fortress or the power of the Lady of Light will rain down on you!”
This was the wrong thing to say. Arrows begin raining down. A critical hit to Red causes feathers to sprout from his chest. He goes down, and Bailey has to cover them both with his shield and drag Red to safety.
From here, I’m completely winging it.
The gates of the fortress open, and a dozen riders on skeletal horses ride forth. The fire mage and thief both decide to sneak into the fortress while the gates are open, and roll incredibly well, so they sneak inside. The others… not so much.
Kane, the Goliath fighter, decides he’ll cast invisibility on two members of the party, while the rest can climb into the group’s bags of holding to hide. A skirmish breaks out as Kane attempts to stuff Bailey, against his will, into a bag, just as the riders arrive. In the end, Bailey and Kane were made invisible, while the air mage, Sidra, slipped into the bag to hide. Red decided to take on the twelve riders himself.
What happened next was a blood bath that involved one hero after another revealing themselves to the host, and getting cut down. Death saving throws failing all around…
It all led to Kane running across the field toward the fortress, skeletons pursuing, with Sidra firing magic missiles out of the bag of holding. Only the return of the rogue and fire mage helped turn the battle. Had they remained behind, they’d be the only living members of the party.
They finally cast a glamour over themselves to take the appearance of undead, and marched into the fortress. In a two hour session, they managed to make it from one side of a gate to the other.
Everyone had a blast, and will remember the age-old adage.