To spare some of you from my very unique writing style for my original story, I want to highlight some of the “brilliant work” my murder hobos have done recently in my D&D campaign.
As you are probably aware from my previous post on the subject, I have a very diverse group of characters who like to try and be the first to make me say “God Dammit..” every session.
So, we’ve been running through the Dungeon of the Mad Mage adventure module and I’ve been tailoring it to my over arching story involving Shardblades (of Stormlight Archive fame) and warring nations. Just some background information, this adventure is designed to take people from level 5 to level 20. This means there are quite a few hard hitting creatures and monsters contained in the 23 floors of this dungeon which has been dubbed “The Undermountain”. The story itself is tailored to a party of 4 appropriately leveled characters which is a bit of a problem for me. My players are a level or two below where they should be but there are 7 of them. Sometimes, I have to buff or add some more monsters and drop some of the other monsters’ health points so it balances out.
So, let’s talk first about some of their more bungling moments..
THE HYDRA FIASCO
On one of the floors of the dungeon is a magical forest that for all intents and purposes appears to be outside. How and why it got there isn’t important, but the rules that it comes with are. Firstly, DO NOT KILL anything in the wood or risk the wrath of Wyllow (the Forest Guardian). Secondly, NO FIRE, which was a problem for a couple characters in my party, them being an evil party and all. Thirdly, just stay away from the Basilisk in the Eastern area of the forest.
So my players scold their Rogue friend with the affinity for fire and they set off through the forest. They eventually meet Wyllow who basically wants them gone as fast as possible so they don’t mess things up. She tells them to go north into the dark area of the forest and there is a tree they can cut down and make into a boat. She tells them the Spiders are there but if they die she doesn’t really care because she doesn’t like them anyways. So the murder hobos set out and find the area no problem. As they engage the spiders, the Monk has the bright idea to jump to the forest floor to fight them one on one. He lands and is immediately surrounded and knocked down, though he did manage to take a few with him as he went. The fighter then does the same thing landing on one spider and squishing it before also going down. The cleric jumps down and revives the two downed members before the rest of the squad dispatches the last of the spiders and man-spider hybrids things before anyone else went down.
After a long rest where they replenish their health and spells, they make their boat and begin sailing down the river on the far west of the forest.
As they go down the river they arrive at a large section when it’s very deep and they can see something swimming around underneath them. The party doesn’t care and after encountering a mimic boat and finding the way they have to go, they hop back in the boat to get across the river. Their Kenku (bird people) bard casts a few spells to make it so they can walk on water and breathe underwater (these spells saved them) right before the Monster attacked.
The monster demolished their boat and they were forced to fight a massive Hydra in the middle of the river. Through the fight the Hydra managed to knock down and actually kill the Gnome Ranger, and knock the Monk down to the point a Death save was used. The fighter was knocked down and spared by the cleric before the Hydra went boom, causing even more destruction. The funny thing was, this is the one time their rogue didn’t use any fire spells and as per the MM (Monster Manual), had they burned the heads as they were removed the Hydra would’ve went down WAY faster.
I spoke to Connor, the guy who’s gnome died, and told him that I would bring him back without death saves because I like the character but if he wanted to make a new one that was fine. He opted to keep his gnome without the death saves and we moved onto the next level after killing some Sahaugins (kind of like merpeople).
THE BUNGLED FLASHBANG INCIDENT
So they made it past the Hydra and down to the next level, at this point the party is running dangerously low on health potions and any other sort of healing implements. They fight a couple of Umberhulks, which they dispatch with relative ease and come to a closed door to a room. Now, normally they would scout the room and know what was coming but for some reason decided to forego that and went straight for breach and clear.
Typically, in a small room this would work, but this wasn’t a small room. This thing was like a main hall, 160 ft across with massive pillars that magically emanate light and probably 140 feet wide. So, the Rogue burst into the room and tried to flash bang the area using the spell Thunderwave. It did not work. All it did was tell everyone in this room that there were people coming in and they were ready to fight. The Gnome came in and tried to negotiate with the Duergar (Dark dwarves) in the room but the Rogue muttered that “all dwarves are “F*$^ing dumb!” and the fight started.
Now, the party is pretty high level and quite numerous but these Duergar numbered more and could grow in size to do more damage. Not to mention they could turn invisible until they attacked, so the first salvo from them towards the party did some massive damage. I was worried that the party wasn’t going to make it after their debacle and I was almost right! The fight ended with the Cleric, the Monk and the Fighter using a Death Save each, the Wizard going down and getting brought back up, the Rogue and Ranger making it (fairly unscathed) and the Bard nearly going down.
All of this happened because my murder hobos decided to fight first and not try and talk which fits pretty well with some of their characters. Once I informed them that the people they just killed could’ve been great allies against the other enemies on this level of the dungeon, the group turned on the rogue pretty quickly. The Monk wanted to cast Silence on him in the next session while there was also talk of tongue removal by the bard.
My real concern was that if they nearly died to the Duergar, then what comes next may end in a Total Party Kill (TPK).
Now, for something they did well…
While exploring the same level the following week, they ran into a set of doors that were magically locked and only “The hand of a Dwarven king living or dead could open them”. So they set off through the dungeon well aware that I said they would need to work together this week to avoid a TPK. They found what they thought was a tomb of a king, which turned out to be false; but then, then they found another tomb, that was also false. In this second false tomb, when they opened the sarcophagus, they activated a magical trap and were attacked by magical flying battle axes. Once they defeated the flying weaponry they found a locked door at the end of a tunnel with a trap door in the middle. The trap was a 40ft. pit with spikes at the bottom. The only issue was, at the bottom was the lever to open the locked door. Our Monk used Featherfall to get down and open the door before using his Shadowstep to get back out before the trap door closed locking him down there. As they entered the final room, there was a big ol’ sarcophagus and several statues of Dwarven Gods. The players all received the same telepathic message when they entered the room “Kneel before a statue, place an offering at it’s feet and receive a blessing”. Various things were offered to the Gods, some coins, a bow, a severed toe from a Dwarf and a head of a dead Sahaugin.
When the blood touched the statues, the curse was broken and the prisoners were released, 4 large demons had been trapped in the statues for centuries. Upon release, they immediately attacked the group.
The Wizard went down in one hit. Being the squishy he is, it didn’t take much to drop him. The demon that emerged from the statue took one swing and walloped him into unconsciousness. I’m not going to describe the different types of demons because frankly they won’t mean much to anybody but another Dungeon Master. Just know, there was a leader as pictured above, they all looked pretty insane and caused a whole lot of shit to hit the fan.
In one of the most brilliant moves that my party has ever pulled, this includes using their piece of the Shardblade to shatter a Dragon Orb, the Bard one shotted a demon. Demons tend to be pretty powerful monsters which makes one shotting them next to impossible unless you’re character is a very high level. Due to the fact that they had just leveled up, the Bard got access to a new spell, Polymorph. This spell works by magically changing a being (monster or otherwise) into a creature of the caster’s choice. The Bard stood alone against her demon and used Polymorph to change it into a frog. The Demon had advantage on the saving throw (rolling two D20 dice and taking the higher number) and still failed to save against the spell. The demon was then changed into a small green frog with 1hp which the Bard promptly squished under her boot.
With one demon down, the group was able to focus their attention on the other 3, dropping two of them fairly quickly. The one that had dropped the wizard went invisible and started sleuthing their way around the fight waiting for a good opportunity to strike out of nowhere. The Fighter and the Monk both went down which caused the cleric to spare the dying twice and bringing them back before nearly going down herself. The wizard had a health potion stuffed down his throat by the Rogue who sprinted through the battle to help get him back up. He arose from his dead slumber like an 80’s action star in a B-grade straight to video flick and used his fancy spell I gave him , Wall of Force, to contain the last Demon. By holding the demon in a sphere of force, like Invisible Woman’s force fields in Marvel Comics, the party was able to plan their attacks out and wreck shop once the wizard dropped the barrier.
Given what has befallen my party in the last few sessions, I not so subtly hinted that maybe having a backup character that could potentially take over should something happen, isn’t the worst idea in the world. So now, my group is waiting for me to try and TPK them and every week they get closer and closer to a total wipe.
I haven’t gone through the stuff that they could be running into this week coming up, but I know they’re in front of a portal to a deeper level and they have the means to open it. So, this could mean some more ridiculousness for the party in the coming weeks. I’ll make sure to keep you posted in regards to their shenanigans!
See you next week!