Game Dream #13

Mitch Evans has posted Game Dream #13

How do your players determine whether a creature / obstacle / NPC is "out of their league"? What happens then? Do the players immediately attempt to flee? Is there in-character or out-of-character decision making? Do you usually have an escape route planned?
Okay, this game dream has so many different memories jumping out of my grey matter. I spent a great deal of time sorting through some great game memories that all start when I have has that sinking feeling ... "Uh-oh, we are in serious trouble here."

As a player I generally play fairly heroic, sometimes tragically heroic, sometimes not, but I am never too afraid to take on something that might be beyond my characters abilities. As a player I have had some serious and some funny moments were I have not seen the danger until it was too late.

I had an acrobatic rogue type that was trying to save a healer. I knew I was in over my head but I figured I would use tactics to save my butt and the healers'. We were toe to toe with a large wing-less dragon. I waited until the dragon struck then I ran up his leg and onto his head. Ah-ha! I thought, now I have the advantage, I can attack and he can't strike back. The DM gave me three chances to leap off the dragons back. Each time I gleefully drove my short sword home. It wasn't until the DM started rolling dice and a fellow player asked how high the ceiling was that a I got a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I can proudly state I did save the healer, but it was by sacrificing myself because the party did escape as I was integrated into the ceiling.

I can remember a famous battle where we were in a small room with a bone devil and a skeleton. We were quite powerful so we made the bone devil got splat rather quickly. It was then that the skeleton boomed out in a rather impressive voice (and this is a direct quote) :
"Now foolish mortals face the wrath of.... dammit! I can't pronounce this name!".

Once we finished ridiculing the DM we realized that the skeleton was not just fodder and we were in trouble. Prismatic walls were in place to protect the skeleton, a well timed Disjunction spell reduced my mighty fighter to a whimpering shell. All that saved us was the mages' well used wish. Now the best part of this entire story line is this party of earth shaking hero's ran in fear every time we even thought a skeleton was anywhere near us. As players we all new the 4 skeletons roaming around the graveyard were not going to be the massively powerful liches that humbled us entirely, but we thought the characters would be a little scared for a bit.

Now I can also remember one such event where the players not only triumphed over forces beyond their abilities but changed the campaign substantially. The party was pretty much entirely made up of fighters. In the party was a blade master, completely dedicated to his sword. We were hired by a baron to clean up a infestation of monsters in the catacombs under his keep. All things went well until the blade master discovered that the monsters spat acid. His beloved blade was ruined. We climbed back into the keep and the baron was there with a surprising number of guards.

The blade master threw the ruined sword at the feet of the baron and demanded that it be replaced. The baron demanded an apology. Words were exchanged. Out of character discussions were held. Finally, myself and another player took matters into our own hands. We knew that to try to fight our way out we were dead men (and dwarves) but if we took the baron as a hostage... We ended up carrying out a months long guerrilla war campaign against the baron. He would send out patrols to capture us, we would kill them an send the uniforms or badges back to the baron. This baron was supposed to be our ally and benefactor but he turned out to be the main villain for the campaign.

As a GM my favorite in over your head moment came in a rolemaster game. I did not own any monster books so everything was a character. I had a NPC I had added to the group because they were a little weak, but then we had three new players join. So I changed my plans for the group. I had the 'friendly' NPC turn into a nasty traitor. The group had just managed to defeat a pair of orcs when the traitor struck. His two cohorts (a great man and a arch mage) rushed in and the three bad guys hit the party while they were still recovering from the previous battle.

Now the players were a odd bunch. One of the more normal players was a half-elven weretiger who was also a healer of sorts. Once the traitorous ambush was complete the trio fled down a hallway. The weretiger chased them down and noticed that the great man (about 9-10 feet tall in full plate mail armour) was guarding the retreat of the other and was standing mere feet from a 50 foot deep pool of water.

"I'm going to charge into him and try to knock him into the water." the weretiger explained.
"Are you sure? He was just man handling you guys earlier, maybe you should help the party with their wounds first." I warned.
"I'll knock him into the water, then go help the guys."
"Okay" I said shrugging.

The weretiger made a pretty spectacular roll for his attack, and as I had anticipated the great man completely obliterated it.
"He reaches out and catches you as you charge into him. He has a fairly good grip on your neck, and he hasn't shifted more than ten centimeters closer to the pool."
The weretiger gets that 'Oh shit' look, and says "Can I break free?"
"sure" I reply
"I'm going to go help the group with their wounds..."

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