I am sure that I have presided over many “worst luck stories” and laughed along with the players as they lived through them but as I am mainly not a player I tend to forget them. I know that is a little harsh but I do find that if you play rather than run these stories tend to stick a little better in your mind. Plus I run 5 games a week, each with a different set of players and most in different systems so having a full memory that overflows and loses stuff is a little par for the course.
So I will share one of the most recent deaths that was a result of pure misfortune in my Pathfinder Wrath of the Righteous campaign. This is also my largest group (weighing in at around 11 people most nights) so perhaps it is the stunned silence and then laughter that made this one stick. It was over a few months ago anyway but jokes are still being bandied around the table over it.
There was a character named Roshan. He was a Vanara (from memory), a monkey-man styled creature that followed the path of a monk (I think). The group was storming the Grey Garrison, a fort once housing a museum of military might taken over by demons and cultists. As was prevalent with the party in this time frame the group was split, half off exploring rooms while Roshan and a couple of his buddies had entered a library and found some stinky demons (Dretches maybe?). Regardless, the battle was thick and heavy but the players easily had the upper hand.
Just before I go into any further detail I need to share something that I do in my games that varies from standard Pathfinder. By now you probably realize that I like story over mechanic and wonder why it is I play Pathfinder. Well, this system has some nice story telling variants as well and some of those are the critical decks. Paizo have created two decks of cards (and apps to match – I use the apps) that allow for critical hits and fumbles to be played with flavor. They have little details of hits and the number of cards/results you get are dependent on the critical multiplier of the weapon.
Some of the results in these cards are quite vicious and can range from embarrassment through to instant death (with a saving throw) but they certainly add to the flavor of a combat and the complications they can add to a post battle are great. I love using this system and most of my players do too, depending on the day!
Roshan was battling a demon and holding his own when he got a critical hit. Taking up the app and entering the type of attack (I question if Roshan was a monk at all – I think he was using a bladed weapon) he ruins the creatures arm. I want to say here I think he chopped it off but it is possible that it may have been a dislocation. In either case the arm was useless, reducing the creatures Dex and removing one of it’s claw attacks in combat.
Roshan was in the driver’s seat and there was a quiet sense of confidence in this battle as all involved were doing a wonderful job against the demons. This was to prove to be one of their most bitter sweet wins of the time largely based on the swift win but horrendous luck…
Worst Luck Ever
The next round the creature attacks Roshan with it’s one good arm. Critical threat. Critical confirmation – both were natural 20’s from memory. I select the slashing from the list of options and get…
There is a Fort save involved with this one so I get Roshan’s player to make his roll…
One off the DC.
Off pops the little monkey’s head. It rolls to a stop with bewildered eyes wondering just what happened.
So, there you have it. Much like the Ballad of the Monkey Man by the Travelling Wilburys (yes – I am old) the poor old Monkey Man ends up dead. I really felt for the player in this circumstance but I rarely (if ever in recent memory) fudge death rolls. It still gets a laugh around the table when it is mentioned and a grimace from the player involved! Either way, it is certainly the biggest misfortune I have seen in recent times, probably highlighted by the seeming luck high he had just before it happened! Keep rolling!