Content of the article: "A tail of dice betrayal"
A story I shared on my blog: the bookwyrm's guild
The challenge ratings have always been an estimation at best. A long way from hard science, to be sure. But there should be no universe where seven CR2s cause over 150 points of damage to a 5 man lvl 11 party of vetran players. In two rounds have the bear totem barbarian down with two failed death saves. No reason except the dice were trying to kill them.
The players were raiding the base of a recurring villain, but had given him time to prepare. He used those minutes to make his lair a fortress closing off doors with shape stone. He conjured a mimic to imitate a door, put a glyph of warding with thunder wave on it and shaped a pit trap right in front of it.
My ranger with observant and my two other front liners approached the door, triggered the trap door without anyone falling down the chute it revealed. Immediately after, despite seeing the magical aura, they sought to open the mimic and set off the glyph, saving for the most part against the thunderwave. The mimic didn’t save, and was thrown against the wall by the blast, quickly assumed the shape of the floor and filled in the hole caused by the trapdoor activation.
Fooling no one, my barbarian attacked it. And it attacked back by grappling him, falling down the hole formerly blocked by the trap door and the attached chute. Losing this grapple was the first in a series of poor rolls. We didn’t realize the snowball of bad luck was tumbling down in much the same manner as the barbarian.
The chute was greased and long enough to take more than one round to get to the bottom. While the other characters just watched, the battle between the barbarian and mimic continued. The mimic almost dead from the assault released the barbarian, ignoring the chute grease with its adhesive ability, choosing to fill the hole, looking like the floor before it got to the top.
The noise from the battle drew the attention of seven carrion crawlers in the twenty foot cubic room below (the grease was there to stop their escape), who readied their actions.
The barbarian flew into the room like a cork from a bottle of champaign, and into seven readied actions. The second tentacle attack hit. His +8 constitution save bonus couldn’t spare him from his natural 1, and he lay paralized through five more automatic critical hits.
After waiting one round, the party mobilizes. Into the chute, paladin, then ranger then sorcerer then cleric, each but the sorcerer sliding down weapon out and ready. The ranger tried to get fancy, losing his sword and drawing his spare.
The barbarian gets another check to resist the poison, he has an 80% success rate, he’ll save, he’ll rage and everything will…he rolled a 3, 11 doesn’t save. Remember when I talked about how long the chute was? With no other target the barbarian takes 14 more auto-crit attacks, he has two death saves down as the paladin drops out of the chute, greatsword first, having made short work of the mimic on his way down. I roll to randomly see who he stabs (the small room is so full of creature missing wasn’t an option). If I roll and he hits the barbarian, he’s just dead. The table takes a breath as he lands on a crawler adjacent to the barbarian, though some from laughing at this ridiculous situation as much as suspense. The paladin immediately dumps all his lay on hands into the barbarian (only 30 points, he’s half bard).
Then came the ranger’s lost sword, then the ranger, then the sorcerer, who uses an illusion to draw opportunity attacks and get out from under the chute opening, before the cleric crashes down where he was standing. The barbarian needs to make another save against the poison, the paladin provides a +5 bonus, he literally can’t fail unless…another natural 1? Well hell. Then a similar fate befalls the ranger, then the paladin. Automatic criticals, by the end of this round two crawlers are dead, and three party members suffer from paralysis. The hapless barbarian hasn’t even had the chance to get to his feet as round three ends.
Another round, everyone saves against the poison, but that means three lost turns. That is when the sorcerer fireballs the twenty foot by twenty foot room, using meta magic to autosave himself the barbarian and the ranger. 32 damage, five carrion crawlers still remain, barely. They run for it, panic from the fire and with a fervent desire for self preservation two make it out the now less greasy chute.
My players retreat from the chute, and tend to their wounds. That is how my party barely survived an encounter with CR2s. Sometimes the dice just try to kill you.
- Sorcerer plays dead too good
- A test of humility
- Mimics: The most fun, mischievous monsters in the manual
© Post "A tail of dice betrayal" for game Dungeons & Dragons Online.
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