Dungeons & Dragons Online

Paladin has a bout of bloodlust in WDDH and barely survives. How do I maintain a sense of realistic consequences without ruining this game for a lot of new players?

Oooookay got a bit of a conundrum to sort through and would love some insight & input.

Note: spoilers for Waterdeep Dragon Heist ahead

I (DM) am running WDDH for 5 players, 4 of which are brand new to dnd. We've entered into the third chapter ("Fireball!") and LOTS happened last session.

Context leading up to their clash at Gralhund Villa: They did some good sleuthing and got leads on Zardoz Zord and The House of Inspired Hands (or whatever it's called), but more importantly the Ranger sent out their new familiar, a hawk, to attempt to see the assailant and Urstul fleeing the scene. A nat 20 perception from the bird yielded a reluctant "yes." Hot on the trail, they high-tailed it to Gralhund. A hat of disguise (and another very high deception roll to dismiss the posted guards) bought them a ticket inside.

They managed not to upset the groundskeeper and made their way in through the side of the villa. After finding a dead servant, and the remaining living ones barricaded in their quarters, they made their way to the main staircase ever-following the sounds of combat.

I wanted to make this a series of difficult fights (as there had been plenty of RP-heavy sessions and they were itching to use new 3rd-level abilities). A few PC's drop to zero in their fight with Urstul (and a couple thugs) in the bathroom but none die.

Then they go crazy. They enter the barricaded bedroom to find the Lord of the Villa. They get lots of good lore and info, then, because his family has been bankrolling the Zhentarim's chase for the Stone of Golorr, they slit his throat. No hesitation, just walk up, get the info, and murder him in cold blood. Fine. I get it. No one's around and they could get away with it. Doesn't make it any less of a needless murder of a noble civilian of Waterdeep, but oh well. Also the paladin steals his cloak.

With everyone below half HP and virtually emptied of spell slots and ki points, they use some potions and charms to heal and enter the fray that's been going on in the master bedroom. I decided that since they did not go there first (and bc it was getting late for us) that everyone in this room would be low on health with the battle favoring the Gralhunds. Two rounds pass and Yallah, Hrabbaz, and the party are left standing.

Yallah, upset by the attack from the Zhentarim and by the character's blatant trespassing, thanks them for their help but asks them sternly to vacate the premises so she can tend to her children. Some info is exchanged (including the name of their tavern as they'd mentioned there had recently been a fireball attack) and I figure "great, Yallah has some dirt on them and will probably blackmail them in exchange for not pressing charges."

That is until the fallen-from-grace Paladin decides that he wants to attack Hrabbaz. Honestly idk why. I think there was some machismo involved. So he tosses a javelin. Im gracious, I give them one chance as an unphased Hrabbaz snaps the javelin at the point where some if it remains jutting from his chest, steps forward, and says something to the effect of "leave now or I'll grind you into a paste." The party ushers the paladin out, opens an eversmoking bottle, and flees. Already not great for them.

THEN THE PALADIN TURNS AROUND AND DECIDES TO ATTACK AGAIN. Alright, I've told you there are consequences, here they come. One round in and Paladin is making death saving throws. An extremely lucky nat 20 perception check from the Bard indicates that the paladin is not following and that the clanks of metal can be heard in the now smoke-filled room. The party turns around to extricate paladin. Paladin fails 2 death saving throws, nat 20 on the next, is stable. Is healed. STANDS UP AND SWINGS AGAIN. Now Hrabbaz uses all three attack to: miss, down, and immediately take 2 death saving throws again from paladin.. "rot in hell you little shit." Saves AGAIN and is healed AGAIN. Then physically dragged out of the room.

The entire party escaped with their lives, but have been seen trespassing on the grounds of Gralhund Villa, have openly attacked a member of a noble family and left her alive to tell the tale, murdered the other member (and still have his cloak), AND gave Yallah the name to the tavern where they live.

Wtf do I do haha. How does this not end with them all going to jail and/or being hanged. It's their first game so I'd love to avoid something so grim, but if they stay in town I cant imagine justifying that not happening.

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