Some DM's have an adverserial relationship with their player - terms like Killer DM and the like being bandied about with reams of dead characters littering the floor like a Tomb of Evil convention. Other DM's have an almost fatherly relationship where the party never dies and gets stronger and more powerful and then at 20th level they check them off and roll up their character's children to do it all again.
I feel myself to be a middle of the road guy, with a faint leaning to the latter. I don't try to kill the party and often times make the adventures and encounters stimulating without overly doomsday-like.
However in this session I had the opportunity to kill of two characters and seriously burn one of them almost to death. One was an NPC but he died swiftly, greusomely, and with such sudden shock that at least two people at the table said, "Wow, you're a dick." I know they said it with wonderment and respect and that's the way I took it.
All DM's need to have a thick skin as well.
Write up follows:
Workmonth the 16th, 8:45 AM, 7th level of Double Dagger Dungeon. The party was in the guard room and was deep in discussion on where to go next and how to get there. Also, there was much talk about the merits of pulling the 7 levers or not. We opted not to pull them. But we also discussed the benefits of bringing the last pony keg of oil with us. It was after much talk that we decided to leave it – and so we did.
We left the oil keg in the guard room, checked to make sure the coast was clear, and then opted to move on. As for where to go next, the talk was first on going through the secret door to the other corridor but it was also voted on going BACK to the room that seemed to cant to the left with the torches on the wall. We ordered up, readied our weapons, and went off bravely.
The group was coming up to the chamber when Pisser, Soren’s adopted guard dog, began snarling and whimpering. A short speak with animals revealed that he smelt something coming – and it was 3 large spiders – the size of small ponies! For all their fearsome appearance, it was practically no effort before they were destroyed – except for the last which Detheron was able to speak with – thanks to the benefits of his still running Speak with animals spell.
The spider was hungry and meant no harm to the party. The druid spoke to it, getting it admit that it knew how to get past the torch room. We followed it there, it crawled onto the wall, went across, and let us know that the floor became slick with oil if anyone deviated from the rightmost wall. Rahyk was a bit put off that the spider was let to go, but understood. We spent a few minutes at the room, eventually getting the three torches extinguished. Then a short time was spent triggering the trap – which had oil piss from the ceiling coating the floor, the floor tilted further, and then spikes shot out from the left wall – and it would have been very bad for whoever was in here.
Knowing now how to get past, we decided to leave the room and try the secret door area – hoping that it would lead us to the END of level 7. Would the Sun Sphere be there? How about the Minotaurs? Did not know, but we would take a look to find out.
The other secret door opened to a short 20’ corridor that then opened to a long 12’ tall hallway. Cadassial checked carefully as we walked on, well over 30 paces until it opened to a wide corridor. About 20’ wide, 12’ tall, and as far as our light sources would reveal, the sides were clad in big plates of copper 8’ square – affording a gap 1 ½ foot at the bottom and 2 ½ feet at the top. Once again our hired thief was sent forward to check out the area as best as possible.
The plates were firmly affixed to the walls and when he got too close to them, the rivets and bits of metal he was wearing began to heat up. Backing away and they cooled off. It didn’t matter top, bottom, either side – effect was the same. Aghmar summoned forth some dancing lights and sent them ahead – revealing that the corridor was comprised of 7 sets of plates – making it almost 80’ in length. Plus, at the end of the corridor was a lever in the upright position and a corridor continuing on.
We discussed ways to get through and who might do it, eventually Agma the Halfling slinger opted for the job and stripped down to her underwear and nothing else. Then, the Halfling crab crawled under all the bottom edges of the plates until she arrived at the other side. There were some tense moments as she tried to bring the lever down until it slowly fell and with a pair of clacks went into the bottom position. We asked her to stay on it, in case it suddenly went up again, and Cadassial volunteered to cross the long distance to verify that there were no other nasty surprises for us.
It was when the thief was most of the way across that a trio of howling huge albino carnivorous apes burst from the dark corridor and charged into the room. Agma froze, terrified that she was going to be attacked – but they shot past her and threw themselves on Cadassial The thief got as far as drawing his sword and swinging it once when he was scratched and bit and torn and rended and bits of gobbling flesh was jammed into the apes’ mouths. He was knocked down and his arm was twisted wildly around, ripped free from his body and then clubbed into his shocked skull while the albino dungeon apes destroyed his, repeatedly jumping up and down on his broken body while they feasted on his flesh. We drew weapons and charged down the hall, crying for Agma to stay still.
The dungeon apes dropped bits of Cadassial and threw their AC to the wind to tackle the group. Guyus was hit like a bag of bricks, the paladin stopped cold while the nearest dungeon ape shredded the paladin’s arms and hands, biting and slavering all over his. Brother Beren was viciously assaulted, one of the apes getting his arm between his teeth and worrying it back and forth, down to the bone and causing the priest to swoon dangerously and his left arm a few moments shy of being torn from his body. But it was Rahyk who was bashed about the head by the 400 lb apes, his helm knocked aside and them the albino primate buried its teeth into his skull and drilled holes in, killing the fighter in a single critical hit blow.
What the hell was going on!!!??? Two members down, the priest on the verge of being maimed, and the apes practically undamaged during the entire struggle. We had to get them OFF Beren and Rahyk and do it now. Detheron called to Frey and used his divine power to bring two of the apes down from a murderous rage into a fugue-like state of unmoving quietude. As for the last one still feasting on Rahyk, we plied everything we could against it until it slumped over and long after it should have died, it stopped moving with a gurgling rasp.
Healing potions were poured into Rahyk who had drifted to -1, bringing the fighter back to the living but not much more beyond it. He eyed the two calm albino apes with a practiced eye and said, “When all this is done, I want those apes to follow me.” Nutty fricking fighter. We used our healing unguent on the fighter and cleric until it was all gone, and spent some time binding wounds and checking out the area. Cadassial was very dead and the party went through his belongings making note of what was his and what we could salvage. Rahyk needed some deep sleep to be effective and the group secured the area after seeing two ways down in the corridor beyond the lever.
Detheron used his druidic powers to befriend the two apes who he named King (the male) and Kong (the female). They gave the party some brief idea of the layout of the nearby area and that we were very close to the Minotaurs. Rayhk was placed in a healing sleep and Aghmar studies his spellbook for a few other quick spells. We ate lunch and then afterward looked at our options once Rahyk woke up strangely recuperated (and filled with healing spells!!).
The two stairs from here – the one on the left went to the 8th level, the one on the right spiraled down to a small room and then climbed up to a series of pits (4 of them) and then to either the minotaur room or a room with colorful tiles on the floor and crossbows. We also heard from King that there was a room that spun that you had to run through, a sleeping chamber, some room with glowing globes on the ceiling, and eventually a flooded hallway that they didn’t like to go down. The glowing globes matched what we had learned a while ago from the oracles as to the location of the Sun Sphere so we knew we were close.
But we wanted to go after the Minotaurs and do that first. So we went down the spiral stairs, climbed up the rungs to the top again, and looked out on a roughly 80’ long corridor ending at a door. ON the ceiling every 20 feet or so was a stout iron bar about 2’ in length that ended at a broad “T” on the bottom. The apes had told us that they were over some sort of pits and they crossed them by jumping, grabbing, and swinging. We did not trust ourselves to do that and wanted to make it more possible for us to do.
Many ideas were entertained but we settled on a solution; we would use our rope and a handy spider climb spell from Detheron to run along the ceiling and tie/loop a continuous length of it from here to each “T” and eventually the door. Agma was voted most likely and the Halfling slinger took the silk rope and started her run after being enchanted.
One by one she worked her way upside while striding across the ceiling, looping the rope with more than enough slack between the handles until she arrived at the 3rd “pit”. It opened and a four count of slimy greenish tentacles came out, flopped around, and went back in. Dungeon squid. She finished her run and tossed the rest of the rope out the other door past the 4th pit and came back (again, enticing the dungeon squid to flap about for a few moments). She informed us of what we could not see – the pits were each about 25’ deep and the dungeon squid seemed to be in about 8’ of water.
We tossed about ideas on how to take care of the dungeon squid without going into the pit when Guyus had a good idea. He took Jerold and Malak back with him all the way down the rungs, up the spiral steps, and across the hall of copper plates. Then they snuck into the hall by the grey mist archway and opened the secret door to the guard room where the party had left the pony keg of oil. The two shieldbearers stayed in the hall watching carefully while Guyus grinned, seeing the keg where he left it.
And three of the levers had been moved.
Something wasn’t right, something was off. He quickdrew his sword, Eagle Talon and attempted to detect evil when an invisible orc in front of him gave a rapid chop at the paladin. Guyus smote evil, calling to his god to aid in his fight and the orc was quickly wounded. Seeing the possibility of the battle going the wrong way, the orc swung its axe wildly in an upward arc until it missed Guyus – but smashed into one of the glowing light crystals on the ceiling. Which rained sparks and flame straight down.
On the leaking pony keg cask of oil.
The conflagration consumed the orc and SERIOUSLY wounded Guyus who was dragged back into the hall by the shieldbearers where they proceeded to extinguish the burned paladin. With nothing to show for it and some short sips of a potion of healing or two, the three of them went back to the party empty handed. Some more healing was given out and a few jokes at the paladin’s expense but we were back to square one – a dungeon squid with no seeming easy way to attack it.
Detheron once more came to the forefront with a solution. Using one of his more powerful powers he reached out with Frey’s strength, felt where the water was in the squid’s area – and lowered it until it was only a thin line on the pit’s floor. The squid immediately went crazy as it was asphyxiated, its tentacles reaching and groping, trying to lift its bulk up and out. We heard it wheeze and blubber and squeal until its movements slowed and then stopped. Detheron had us wait even longer until he was sure it was dead and then he raised the water level once more filling the pit entirely and then the water ran to the left and right filling the next few pits as well so that if someone did slip, they wouldn’t get too hurt.
From here it was very easy for the party to work their way across until we were all on the other side. Past the door was a short hall that went 3 directions. Left and right went to another set of stairs that swung down and back, while straight away went to some large chamber with multicolored tiles on the floor. According to King and Kong, the stairs went down to where the Minotaurs were and both room connected in the back. One of the rooms had a portal on the wall that Stenthian Manbreaker used to make strange animals come through.
We talked about possible plans on assaulting the 3 potential Minotaurs and up to 8 eight orcs before ending it here.