A player died in my game last week because I made a mistake.
Let me set the stage. As some of you know, we stream our Dungeons and Dragons game every Sunday from 2-6 pm Mountain Time. Our group has been playing in Tomb of Annihilation for 24 weeks now. Up until this point, things have gone well. But this past Sunday, things went south … quickly.
The party is exploring the Tomb of the Nine Gods. This means, they are getting closer to finding and fighting the grand evil Acererak. They finished the previous week on level 2 of the dungeon having done minimal exploration. I counted on them choosing to stay on the second level of the dungeon, as such, I made sure to read everything about that level. I even went so far as purchasing maps for them because we have had issues with directions.
We started the session at our normal time with everyone’s spirits high. Five minutes later, the party descends into the third level foregoing everything else on the second level. Crap…
I found myself quickly skimming pages to try and get caught up. During long minutes of role playing between the party members I was frantically reading. For the most part, things went ok. They were even getting excited about the crystal eyes they were finding everywhere. Then they came upon a door with ten circles all around it. Curious, a player stuck one of the crystal eyes into the hole and it began to glow. They correctly deduced there were more eyes, and that they would unlock this door.
It was at this point the one of the players began to freak out. He assumed nothing good could be behind the door. In fact, it was his suspicion there was a Beholder behind the door. He was correct. We’ll get to that later.
The players continued through the dungeon and discovered the last of the keys. They immediately went back to the locked door. At this point, two players are saying this is a bad idea; however, the other four decide to move forward. Oh look. A Beholder. This is where things go downhill.
If you watch the video, I get excited. I love Beholders. I think the creatures are amazing and I have wanted to incorporate one into my game for quite a while. I even take a moment to tell the party how excited I am about this because I love these creatures.
The bigger issue… I hadn’t prepared for a Beholder. I did no reading about them, I did no planning, I did nothing. Again, I didn’t think they would be here.
The fight started, and things went bad fast. The barbarian is hit with a death ray right away but survives. The warlock barely resists being charmed, and the druid is put to sleep. The Beholder has decided since the party is all grouped up, he will place his anti-magic cone directly on the party. This is my mistake.
According to the rules, the anti-magic cone negates the eye beams. Since the party was standing in the cone, the eye beams should have had no affect on them.
Round 2. The party sees their mistake in engaging this creature and decide to run. Maintaining the antimagic cone, the Beholder fires away. This time, when I roll randomly, I roll a 10 (Death Ray) for the monk (who is on the Beholders back and therefore outside the anti-magic cone). Thankfully, he makes his safe.
The Beholder then targets two other party members. I cast my die and roll a 10. I must reroll because it’s a duplicate. Again, a 10. Talk about crazy luck. So, I roll again. This time hitting a 9, the Disintegration Ray. The target? The barbarian. He fails his save. With already being the target of the Death Ray, he doesn’t have the hit points to survive. Dead…dust…gone.
The party ran. They ran as fast as they could. The monk, who was on top of the Beholder, leapt off, scooped up some barbarian dust, and ran, too.
The session ended and we all chatted for a bit before heading to our various homes. The next day I send one of the players a message saying I feel bad about the night before. I hate when players die. He responds by telling me about the anti-magic cone and how it stops the eye rays. My heart sank. I screwed up. I killed a character because of it.
Jon (the Barbarian player) and I have talked. I apologized for the mistake and he is ok with it. Sure, he gave me a hard time, as he should have, but he is excited to play the new half-orc we created on the spot for him.
Despite this, I feel bad. Now, I am making sure to read ahead two levels, and thoroughly reading about the monsters involved, especially the Legendary one. What the most grievous mistakes you made in your game and how did you fix it?
© 2018, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.