Content of the article: "Should I take it easy on my players and Deus Ex Machina or see if they TPK?"
Hey guys, quick premise: I'm DMing my second campaign, Dragon Heist (I'm doing the Alexandrian Remix, because it's amazing).
I'm at session 10, my 4-person group is level 3 and about to visit a Xanathar Outpost (the Autumn version of the Cellar Complex, in this instance located under a Xanathar-controlled confectionary). They stumbled in, the Dragonborn fighter simply handed the note with the necessary pass phrases to the clerk (a Xanathar agent) and expected to be let in. The clerk (who isn't an idiot) says "sure. brb" and bolts to the cellar door. The Rogue heads after him and corners him, with the group (fighter, monk, cleric) slowly heading after them (gorging themselves on, in their eyes, "free cakes" in the confectionary). The clerk is incredulous when they can't even tell him, why they are here (They seem to think EVERYTHING is related to the Stone of Golorr (the big McGuffin) and didn't stop to remember, that they picked the password-phrase-note off a dead Xanathar agent who attacked them at their tavern earlier.)
They proceeded into the Cellar complex and ran into a Duergar with 40 HP, seven Troglodytes and a Gibbering Mouther. After they enter the fray, the noise alerts the goblins and the Half-Ogre in the complex across the way (because why wouldn't it? The Monsters know what they're doing). 3 Kobolds are there, too…but I probably won't have them attack, because Kobolds in my setting are scared of pissing off Dragons or Dragonborn of any ilk. A Mimic is waiting in one of the (now emtpy rooms) to suprise them, should they try to steal any treasure.
Now the Cleric is the only one on full HP (flipping between prayer of healing and burning hands) and the rest of the group is below 10 HP with the Half-Ogre + Gobbos having now entered the game for round 2.
I have this dilemma: On the one hand, I feel like it would be unfair to TPK (or at least Partially-Party-Kill) them, just for running in blindly and would have the Blackstaff's apprentice show up and assist. On the other hand, they didn't do ANY recon, didn't care what they got into and just assaulted a shop clerk and ate his wares without paying. What would you do?
Oh – and the cleric is the only one with a light source. The Fighter and Rogue don't have Darkvision.
TLDR: My players keep on heading face-and-fist-first into danger. This time a TPK is on the table. Should I let it play out or Deus Ex Machina (which I've had to do in the past already to save their non-careful asses)?
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