Sunday, April 10, 2011


The party was recuperating in the ruins of the temple above the dungeon again.  They had been fighting a room full of gelatinous cubes - slowly - over a period of a week.  Suddenly, Tim's crazy elf, who was on watch duty, heard grunting sounds.  He quickly woke everyone else and they went outside to take a look.

Crouched behind boulders, they saw eight orcs sniffing around - perhaps for truffles.  The PCs were nervous since they were no match for such a large contingent, but the party had careful canvased the area with snares the day before.  Luck was on their side as seven of the eight orcs sailed into the air, cursing and dangling upside-down like pinatas.

The players smiled.  This would be a breeze - but they had to act quickly.  The orcs could break free very easily.   Ron's dwarf assassin jumped up.  This was Ron's second dwarf assassin, as the first had recently been eaten by a dragon.  He pulled out a dagger that had been carefully coated with the venom of a giant spider and threw it at one of the dangling orcs.

Ron rolled a 1. 

As a DM, I see critical fumbles as the universe's way of informing me that it is now time to be a dick.

"Hmm, roll an attack on yourself."

He sighed and rolled the d20.  It came up 20.

"Ouch, full damage," I blinked.  Ron stared at me, and continued to stare, as if I was forgetting something.

I suddenly remembered.  "Oh crap.  Save vs. Poison." I searched my mind for what type of poison.  It was save or die.

He failed.

"Um, okay," I took a deep breath.  "You throw the dagger and it lodges into your foot.  You clutch at your chest, make a death rattle, and fall down on the ground, dead."

Ron calmly slid his character sheet under his folder, pull out a piece of notebook paper, and began rolling six-siders.

Tim pulled his jaw back to it's closed and upright position, looked at me, and busted out laughing.

I try really hard in my life not to upset anyone unduly or pick on people or make them feel bad.  However, I am human.  I laughed. 

The whole group began to laugh uncontrollably until our sides hurt.  All except Ron, who finished rolling up his new character.

"I'm sorry," I apologized to Ron, trying to control myself.  "What is this new character going to be?"

"Another dwarf assassin, of course." he smiled.

"Hopefully the third time would be a charm."  We all cracked up again. 

When we all calmed down, I described the situation again.

"We are so screwed," Tim shook his head, the smile fading from his lips.  "I run."

- Ark


  1. Wow, you gut some good players. Although I think what you did was totally fair none of my players would have been so calm or accepting, they would have thrown a fit. I like the idea that characters can and will die, I mean sure, get invested in the character but just know that some day their time will come. I know not everyone feels that way though and some people get real upset when a cherished character dies.I just wish there was some way to lighten the pain of having to make a new character.

  2. I'd just like to say that the only type of assassin I love MORE than dwarves are GNOME assassins. But dwarves are just fine. There's something downright sinister about a little guy with a full beard and knowledge of how to poison you six different ways.
    : )

  3. @Pierce - Well, I think the key here is that you gotta get em early, and you gotta get em young. Characters I mean. Death, that is. My players were pretty much like yours when we played 4e. I warned them of a high mortality rate. Then I just turned up the volume and didn't pull any punches. They didn't have a whole lot invested yet, so it wasn't as traumatic. But now they are playing with a new attitude. They refuse to walk down the middle of roads - instead skirting the bushes. They are very careful about the doors they open - preferring to use ropes if possible. And like I said, they are setting their own traps now around their encampments. Heck, with that kind of attitude, they might even make it to third level! :)

    @JB - True, as long as they are not poisoning themselves, they are very frightening. :)

    @Zombie - Everyone needs to see more of Bret Michaels in pouty pink lipstick, right? ;)

    - Ark