“Death is Inevitable”

So few obituaries…

Saturday afternoon the five of us gathered around our normal gaming table to complete the battle that they had started from our last game and then investigate the fortress further.  The group came in on a bit of a high as their last game had gone so well, but they all knew that finishing the battle was another story.  The group as a whole were pretty much tapped out.  Their resources were dwindled and they still faced another twelve degenerate serpentfolk guards and three degenerate serpentfolk officers.  The serpentfolk highlighted in this series have a degenerate type and a true-blood form.  The degenerates are hulking brutes with a base strength well above twenty and are generally always focussed on warrior classes.  The true-bloods tend to be much more intelligent and crafty with innate magical abilities.  The builds in the module we are playing means that the degenerates are highly skilled warriors in their chosen weapons.  They have an expanded threat range and specialisation in these weapons making them effective, tough combatants.

So, left with 15 degenerates and tapped out of magic, potions, buffs etc. the combat ended rather quickly for the group.  Two were killed, Kaleb the Aasimar monk and Janthir of the Kale the rogue/sorcerer/arcane trickster.  What killed them?  The simplistic answer to this question is the serpentfolk officers, the more complex version is the three attacks coupled with a critical range of 17-20 and big basic damage.  The fight was swift and the remainder of the party used the cleric’s saved teleport to return to camp above ground with what remained of their companions bodies.

With escape assured I wondered how +Cam Mcloughlin would handle the third death of his character as he has generally been the one that is most sensitive to this occurring.  He prides himself on having the least amount of deaths and generally sees death asa major failing.  As a GM I tend to let the dice fall as they fall and whatever shall be shall be.  I do fudge a roll here and there if I feel the likelihood of unlucky rolls for the players and exceptionally lucky rolls by me may combine to be a TPK (Total Party Kill) but this is a very rare occurrence.  Cam surprised me by sitting back and then saying he had just had an epiphany and it was that in the Serpent’s Skull death was not an unexpected event “death is inevitable” and he sat back with a smile on his face, having come to terms with this fact.

I actually found this a little sad.  He has now become so acclimated with the mortality of his character that he felt a little easier with putting himself at risk.  And for the rest of the game his character was played with a little more risk than I normally saw from him.  I considered the statistics of my own game and wondered if they were similar to others that had played the same adventure path through.  Seleca the cavalier had died 8 (perhaps 9) times, Kaleb’s death this game brings his tally to 7, Seroquel/Hank the alchemist/master chymist has died 4 times and Janthir’s death sat him neatly on 3 deaths.  Twenty-two deaths for the four main characters.  There has also been numerous other deaths of cohorts, allied NPC’s and the sort as the five modules have played out making me realise that this is a dangerous adventure path to play in.

My first port of call to see if these are familiar stats was the message boards at Paizo.com.  They have a healthy community of message board users so I thought that the Serpent Skull Obituary thread was sure to be at least 500 posts long.  To my utter disgust there was only a mild 85 posts.  So, here is my call out to you.  If you have run, or are running this adventure path how deadly has your adventure been?  Are the players reeling from losses or are they having a breeze.  Also, what is your stance on death in a game?  Do you let the dice fall where they may or are you a fudger? Let me know in the comments section.

The players returned the next day back at full strength.  They buffed themselves up and teleported back in facing numerous challenges (several CR15 challenges as well as a CR14 challenge) without an issue.  No one even looked like they were about to die (apart from Gelik the bard NPC who suffered a death attack from a succubi and failed his save).  The group have pretty much gone through the entire complex except for the dungeons, of which they have failed to find the secret entrance to.  Of course it is where they need to be to finish the adventure so I foresee some frustration in the game planned for Thursday!  I shall blog for you in the new year!  Have a safe and happy New Years Eve everyone!

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