Content of the article: "Would making an encounter the players can’t win be okay?"
In my campaign, the players have been working to eliminate the corruption in their country, Alae.
It's a semi democratic theocracy and for several years it's been ruled over by a corrupt Matriarch. But the players have discovered that the Matriarch is secretly the demigoddess of abjuration, Alela, in disguise. Her soul has been split in two with one being the corrupt matriarch and the other kinder half being contained in a stone the players have in their possession.
The players managed to find her brother Dmitri, who's the demigod of divination. They plan to have him assume the role of patriarch as any of the demigods Alae worships can assume that role at any time if they wish. That will force Alela to step down or reveal herself and possible cause a civil war in her own country, neither of which she'd like.
So once she learns about the return of her brother, Alela will realize that she's in jeopardy and the players are the ones causing the most problems for her.
She'll ask them to speak with her in the northern edge of her country where there's a magical one-sided impassable wall called "the Great Barrier." No one has returned from going through the Great Barrier, so she wants to dispose of the players while being able to say "they went missing." She could potentially kill them, but she'd rather see them suffer.
Now the players don't have to go with her on this journey and they know she's untrustworthy so it will clearly be suspicious. But if they fall into the trap, she'll confront them along the journey. She'll demand that they go through the barrier otherwise she and her guards will force them to. If they refuse, she'll attack and it won't be a fair fight as she's a high level cleric/wizard mix and the guards are all veterans. They won't kill the players, but knock them unconscious and throw them through the Great Barrier.
The players will eventually be able to find a way to return as there is ways to bypass the Great Barrier, they're just hard.
I feel like this would be a good way to build up ire towards the matriarch Alela as she's one of the major BBEGs. But I know that agency is a big part of DnD and this takes it away for the sake of story.
What do you all think about unwinnable battles? Have you ever employed them and have any tips?
TL;DR BBEG matriarch is unhappy that the players are trying to usurp her with her kinder brother. So she plans to take them to a one sided magical barrier and force them to go through. If the player resist, she'll attack and the combined might of her and her guards will absolutely overwhelm the players. They won't kill them, but they'll knock them unconscious and throw them through the barrier.
- I have a plot hole I need to resolve
- Ruling Discussion: Knocking a creature unconscious + Instant Death overlap
- Newbie DM question about unconscious creatures specific ruling vs general prone ruling.
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