Well… that was a near TPK.
We finished the fourth book in the adventure path this week and it ends in a giant battle with Red Mantis assassins, a deranged racist ranger (aren’t they all?) called the Cinderlander, a host of Gargoyles, and the leader of the Red Mantis in this region an evil lady named Cinnabar. I honestly hadn’t expected it to be that dangerous of an encounter, but I forgot to take into account several factors:
- Being ambushed in the middle of the night means no armor. Also no packs full of potions and other handy gear and no secondary weapons. They basically charged into battle naked with the weapons they grabbed from beside their beds.
- Being separated over a large area means no access to healing magic or buffs for some of the characters and a significant tactical disadvantage. The bow-ranger had to fight with his sword up-close with no backup. The rogue, couldn’t hide and sneak attack. The oracle had no bulky fighter to hide behind.
- Sneak attacks are a bitch.
Result: 3/4 PC’s, 1 Animal Companion, and 1 NPC cohort all dead.
It has been a long time since I’ve overseen a bloodbath that severe. It definitely served notice that I am not a GM who is afraid to pull the trigger – even if it was sorta unintentional.
No feelings were hurt. Two of the players opted for resurrections, while one opted to roll up a new character. I tried to give them all glorious and dramatic ends, and realized after the fact that the deathblows were coincidentally all delivered by one nameless Assassin who is definitely getting a promotion to named NPC so the players can have the satisfaction of wreaking revenge later on. Since the deaths came rapidly one right after another it was pretty hilarious to watch the stunned silence that followed as the lone survivor, a dwarf fighter, walked back into the camp to find his entire party had been massacred.