This post will be a little different than the other Encounters posts I have done. It needs to be wrapped in black bunting with muted organ music in the background. A tattered group of miscellaneous adventurers all dressed in their sunday-go-to-meeting breastplates and their ceremonial swords all mill about aimlessly and speak in hushed whispers. What could be the cause of this somber occasion?
TPK. Total party kill. Boom shaka laka. Rama lama ding dong. All dead. Having been there at least I can say the finish was as quick as it was brutal. The evening had started off as usual. The party quickly reviewed what happened the previous week and then with some clues from the DM they started off on the next leg of the adventure.
Initially the party was hit with a series of group skill challenges. They were able to find the trail and we were able to successfully maneuver through a dangerous ravine with only a few minor setbacks along the way, although the failures did cause some of the party members to lose healing surges. The setbacks also cost the party several hours in their search to determine where there attackers from the previous week had come from.
As the party found the path again they soon saw their way clear to the location of the Sunset Shrine, the supposed hideout of the two demented dwarves, Zarnak and Azryg. Before the party could advance further an Earth Elemental rose up from the ground. Hoping to avoid combat the dwarven members of the party attempted to speak with the elemental. The elemental didn't speak primordal, but it did speak dwarven so a quick conversation ensued. The elemental told the party in his own special way that the two crazy dwarves were indeed at the shrine with several "squishies" (non-earth elementals). The brothers had taken some sort of mage with them up there earlier, but despite repeated requests from the party the elemental refused to go back to the shrine with the party.
As the conversation ended the elemental flowed back into the earth from whence it came. despite being more confident of where to go the party unfortunately continued to dawdle with a few additional failed skill checks as they made their way toward the shrine. The party then stumbled across a small campsite that sat in the middle of a shallow canyon. A small camp fire was no longer burning but still radiating heat, a clue that someone (or someones) had been here quite recently.
The party was suddenly beset upon by two Drow scouts and their two pet spiders. Almost immediately the ranger was laying on the ground unconscious and the mage was bloodied and taking ongoing poison damage from a spider bite. The two dwarves fought gallantly but were soon overwhelmed as well. The party did use their action points and their healing abilities to recover to the best of their ability but it wasn't long before the drow were gleefully administering their coup de grace to each of the the unconscious party members.
Because the party had accrued too many stumbles with their skill checks in getting here they lost their opportunity to have surprise on the drow party and eventually the drow earned the opportunity to gain surprise on the party. That, plus the fact the DM was rolling them hot this week and the party was simply doomed. We really can't complain - in Week 1 it was the party that was rolling hot and the evil demons that never stood a chance, so everything evened out this week I suppose. The drow were actually there to spy on the demented dwarven brothers, so if the party had been able to get the upper hand in the combat there was a chance they might have been able to help us. Alas, t'was not to be.
The Encounters rule book has a section for this kind of result. First of all the players lose all of their GP they might be carrying and all of their magic items, but not their mundane gear. The players then had two choices:
1) Bring in a new (or regenerated) level appropriate character next week. If the party had succeeded this week they would have reach level 2, so bring in a level 2 character with 150 GP to spend and start from there.
2) Keep the same character, albeit at level 1 because they still don't have enough XP to reach level 2. The character will be penniless and without any magic items, but will be able to reach level 2 at the end of the next weeks encounter (if they live anyway).
I am going to bring back my level 1 character minus her two potions of Cure Light Wounds and 36 GP. I am going to stay with the one I brought to the dance, or to the funeral in this case.