Content of the article: "One of my players sold the soul of everyone in the party to an evil coven of ancient hags. Was I wrong to step it?"
TL;DR: a PC sold the souls of the entire party into the service of a hag to revive a dead PC. The party was super not ok with it, so I stepped in and, after a discussion, the group voted to retcon the whole event. PC that did this is clearly not excited about being undermined and the whole party is still very upset with them. Was I wrong to intervene that way, and if yes, how should I handle similar moments in the future?
So, for some context, I've been running a campaign for a little over a year now, and some shit just went down in the past month. The big thing that catalyzed all this craziness was the death of one of our PCs, we'll call her Nugget.
The entire party is level 6. Nugget died in a fight against servants of the BBEG, and it really tore the party up. Multiple players cried and, generally, everyone was super upset afterward. They were all super great about understanding that as hard as it was, I had tried to give them lots of outs for that encounter and that I wasn't setting them up to fail, it was simply how the dice fell and as a result of their roleplaying (I only mention this because of some shitty experiences in the past, but this was not the issue). The party set about trying to bring Nugget back, and this led to the discovery that Nugget had, in the past, made a pact with a very powerful coven of hags who had historically terrorized her people. 4 levels of Druid, 2 of Warlock type deal. Using this knowledge, they summoned one of the hags and attempted to barter with the hag for Nugget to be revived. It worked…kinda.
To get the deal, one of my players, we'll call him Rod, without any other player's consent, sold the soul of the entire party to this hag. Now, I will totally own that I reasonably shouldn't have let this happen. I'm not pretending I shouldn't have clocked this as it was happening–I just got very caught up in the roleplay and it didn't register until it was (narratively) too late. Rod was very pleased with himself. The party was VERY upset. This tension boiled over IMMEDIATELY. Like multiple people screaming at him via zoom that he was a complete asshole style upset. I, realizing the severity of what had just gone down, decided to put everyone on a brief campaign moratorium, and then to get us all together for a zoom call. We chatted, and I outlined that this decision would reasonably fundamentally change the arc of the campaign and that we wouldn't go forward with it without everyone's ok. I also apologized for letting the whole thing happen but made sure to point out that I didn't think Rod had like explicitly fucked up, just that it was my bad for letting it occur at all. It wasn't reasonable for me to have allowed a decision like that to be made for the entire party.
Rod was clearly uncomfortable with the convo, but it felt like the right thing to do. People were understanding and appreciated being communicated with, and they all decided they didn't want to have made the deal, so we retconned the moment, and moved on. P much 5 minutes after that happened, he hopped off the call super abruptly. This was 2 weeks ago, and though we've run some one-shots since then to test out swapping systems (we're playing FAGE and are considering transitioning to D&D for sake of convenience) the tension on both sides hasn't really outright abate. It's possible I could be reading this wrong, but I don't think I am.
Overall, I don't think I fucked up. I think stopping, talking with people, and seeing if everyone was ok and willing to go in this direction was the right way to handle it. That said, clearly, I've at least slightly alienated one of my players. He has in the past had some issues of talking over other players and highjacking their narrative moments, in addition to using the wrong pronouns regarding PCs (this is a meaningful issue to some of my players that I am more than happy to accommodate and enforce). That said, whenever someone has voiced a complaint to me about him I've always been able to talk to him. In those discussions, he's always been incredibly receptive and understanding and usually then clearly attempts to change his behavior. It's not always perfect, but nobody ever actually is. Independent of all of that, however, I absolutely love playing with him, which makes this whole situation more difficult.
Was I wrong to step in the way I did? Was there another way I should've handled this? I know that I can't really change how it played out and then how it was resolved, but moving forward I think its important to learn from this moment. Any tips or tricks that might've made this easier or helped me avoid the situation altogether?
edit: to clarify, it's not that he just gave the rest of the party's souls away, per se. I explained that detail very poorly. It's more that he sold the services of the entire party, the adventuring band specifically, to the hag. Nugget would be resurrected, and the entire party would be forced to shoulder taking on the previous terms of her service. The clear caveat to this arrangement being that the coven could come to collect in any manner they saw fit if the bargain was violated. Hence the description as I gave it.
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