But I think we take it too seriously when it happens in a RPG.
I’ll include myself in that. My best (or worst depending on your point of view) lawyering comes out when my character is looking at death. I’ll try to squeeze every last bit of context out of a rule or several rules to ensure there wasn’t an out or mistake that could save me from losing a level or having to come in with a new character.
Last night we had two deaths in the ‘evil’ campaign. The group was fighting a Quori (evil outsider from the plane of dreams/nightmares). This is normally a nasty creature, but I bumped it up a bit to compensate for the group having more than the expected four players (in 3.5e) and for there being slightly higher in level than intended for the encounter. When it appeared it nabbed a party artifact from one of the Clerics – it was a really powerful banner that was an ancient artifact from the time when House Vol existed in all its glory.
The banner was an experiment based on a treasure item I noticed in one of the 4e books. It also seemed somewhat inspired by WAR’s banner idea – I’m not sure which came first, 4e’s magic item or WAR’s banner. I actually posted about it and asked people to help me create it back here. In the end, it just added way too much for far too little so I had to get rid of it.
I used the Quori since it was a creature of nightmares (surprisingly, it was Lawful Evil… I would expect something ‘nightmarish’ to be more chaotic) so it was an unknown for the group. Next round it consumed the banner and absorbed the power. This made it grow in size one step (from large to huge) however, the only size adjustment I made was reach and more HPs. I did not increment the dice for it’s attacks and I didn’t increase strength but I also didn’t reduce the AC. I think it was a fair trade off, I simple wanted the creature to be more durable because the group can really dish out the damage.
After another round of combat, it charmed the party’s Sorcerer and telepathically asked him to unleash his power and destroy everything. Remember, the group is mainly evil aligned, the Sorcerer was that was charmed was Neutral Evil. I figured given the tensions between the party members, previous accidental explosion of party members and his alignment, destroying his party members was well within character and didn’t require a Charisma check.
The combined actions of the Quori and the Sorcerer weakened the party significantly, but they drop the Quori and turn their attention to the Sorcerer. The Sorcerer took semi-defensive action and put a wall of fire up between him and the group. The group’s resident Chaotic Evil stepped through and took some swings at him. As Murphey’s Law dictates, he critically hit the Sorcerer. Now the Chaotic Evil guy is a Psychic Warrior who had used a power to increase his size to Huge. That scaled the damage dice from his Great Axe from 1d12 to 4d6 and being a Great Axe, it’s crit modifier is three – so he was taking 12d6 + 3*a sick amount of strength + 3*double the power attack penalty the PW took+ fire damage. End result was over 100 damage which dropped the Sorcerer who had already taken a bit of a beating.
The wall of fire did enough damage to knock out one of the Clerics (the owner of the banner) who was taking burning damage every round. The other Cleric acted as fast as he could by pulling out a Wand of Cure Moderate Wounds and using a charge on the other Cleric. He rolls up eight points of positive energy healing.
Unfortunately, he forgot the other Cleric was under some odd effect where positive and negative energy seemed to have reverse effects – almost like the Cleric was undead. That heal ended up damaging the dying Cleric and killed him.**
On the Quori’s death, it unleashed an Id Insinuation effect (two round duration) which most of the group resisted, except the Shifter Barbarian/Ranger/Weretouched Master. Id Insinuation is like a Confusion spell and sure enough, the Shifter rolled the “attack nearest creature” so he did… he pounced on the group’s Artificer. The Artificer with a brutish and protective Warforged Juggernaut (PrC) friend.
I could see the campaign might come to an end right there. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed as the confusion effect wore off.
The remaining Cleric rifled through the dead Cleric’s stuff and pulled out two scrolls of Raise Dead. He cast the first one on the other Cleric – to no effect. Then cast it on the Sorcerer after taking a group vote.
We stopped there. The group has to figure out what is wrong with the other Cleric and try to sort him out and the Sorcerer’s player is debating whether to come back or not.
The death of the Cleric, who was the first living Elf to possess the long lost Mark of Death was also used to breed a new House Vol. His children (aged and trained through time differences on another plane) were poised to off him in hopes of taking his spot of leader of the House now don’t have to do that so there will be some politics and in fighting. Vol, herself, was captured and taken by dragons who were displeased at her return so she’s not around to sort things out – even if she was, she might have left things to be sorted out – natural selection of sorts.
There is a number of things to clean up for next week and still a number of thing that have to happen – like the spirit of the Sarlonian adventurer manifesting and piecing together some of what is going on…
** Ken adds another classic moment to our gaming group’s funny moments. His previous oops involved a Fiendish Dire Shark, Water Walking, carrying a Halfling on his shoulders and putting the Halfling down so he could get at his weapon. The Halfling was on his shoulders because it didn’t have Water Walking so putting it ‘down’ meant it submerged into the lake we were walking on making it a great target for the Fiendish Dire Shark that was attacking us.