I’m not normally a dice absolutist, but when the goblin ambush party in “Lost Mine of Phandalin” successfully beat the party’s passive perception with their Stealth check and rolled high on their initiative (beating the party’s best), I decided to go with it, rather than fudge it. After all, part of the reason I’m playing the Starter Set is to see how a well designed 5e game is balanced.
The goblins proceeded to wipe the floor with my four PCs. Before their first action, everyone was wounded. By the third turn, everyone was unconscious. Three of them accumulated three failures at their death saving throws, only one successfully stabilizing.
I ruled that the remaining player, a newly converted cleric of Yondala, came to several hours later, his weapon and money taken (the less obvious valuables like his healing kits remaining). After patching himself up, he set out for Phandalin on foot, as he was still closer to there than anywhere else.
I talked with the rest of the players about whether they wanted to reroll their characters (which everyone put as being too time consuming), or just reskin. Then the cleric’s player hit on the idea that he hadn’t been traveling with a wizard, a druid, and a paladin. He’d been traveling with a ranger, a thief, and a fighter. Branching from there, I decided that Gundren Rockseeker, the sponsor of the supply shipment, had sent out two carts, one day apart. The earlier cart had also been ambushed at the same place, and the cleric caught up with the survivors (by great coincidence a wizard, a druid, and a paladin) on the road to Phandalin, as they were slowed by the paladin, who’d been unable to heal himself. They decided that the early cart had lost their bard.
From there, it went great. The cleric had been trying to figure out what his god wanted him to do (go out and heal the sick?) and now decided to name himself “Goblinsbane” and seek his revenge. The wizard’s player decided that the wizard was suffering from PTSD, and gained the flaw “fear of goblins”.
The town merchants loaned the party some weapons on the condition they’d recover the goods stolen from the merchants’ caravans, and informed the party of another caravan coming through soon. The party (to the wizard’s objection) set out to ambush the ambushers, getting to the ambush site a half-day before the caravan was due and waiting for the goblins. When the goblins showed up, the party easily beat the goblins’ passive perception with a stealth check, and killed all four in the surprise round.
So remember, a TPK doesn’t have to be the end of the world, especially toward the beginning of a game when the universe is still pretty fluid. Even with the handwaving, there were still consequences for losing the combat, but using the merchants to loan weapons let the fun continue, and the players were able to turn their comrade’s deaths into in-universe reasons for the characters to be vested in getting rid of the goblin issue.
And, to be on the safe side, the players have decided to roll up alts for the next session. Just in case :)
(upon failing a roll while in magical water)
DM: You think you might be a duck. Maybe you’ve always been a duck. The water is nice.
Deva player: Were all my past lives ducks too?
DM: Of course. You’re from a very proud lineage.
Deva player: …I go for a little paddle.
“Rape is a criminal act whatever the circumstances. A woman riding the subway nude may be guilty of indecency, but she may not be raped. If she invites or even sells sex at 10 and refuses it at 10:45, the partner who disregards her refusal and forces sex is guilty of rape. If she is drunk, asleep, mentally defective, paralyzed or dead, she must not be raped. Why? Because sexual congress must be by consent.”
- Author Toni Morrison, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for Literature
More quotes from the Unite Against Rape campaign on Facebook
Dear beautiful Kitchenettes who are volunteering tmw,
I look forward to meeting fellow Hartosexuals and to our events tomorrow. I’ll be the one wearing the penguin shirt, be sure to say hi and introduce yourself!
But first, you should make sure today isn’t.
neuralhandshake asked: I was reading your author bio and noticed the part where you have two tattoos--if they're not too personal, can you tell us what they are? I am also curious about the state of the motorcycle. Has it yet been revived?
The motorcycle remains the world’s most expensive paperweight, likely with gasoline that has turned to gelatin in its tank and gummed up its fuel hoses beyond relief. I have missed riding it, though; hopefully I’ll be able to get it repaired soon (or better, sell it and get a new bike — I really want a new bike).
The tats, oy. Left arm, Rick Burchett’s Harley Quinn. Right arm, a tribal band bound with roses, surrounding (I am going to either lose or gain so much geek cred with this…) the runic symbol for the WoD werewolf clan, the Black Furies.
Let the mockery commence.
WoD tattoos represent!
Changeling: The Dreaming Pookah Kith Symbol here.