View Full Version : Gamemasters: What has been the worst humiliation your NPCs have suffered?

2018-12-20, 02:41 PM
I guess this was in 2010 or so, when a group of werewolves attacked my mid-level D&D 3.5 PCs. The fight was great at first, and I enjoyed that the DR/silver offered plenty of challenge, but then something happened that just made me want to do this:


One of the PCs started to grapple one of the werewolves and werewolves are actually very mediocre grapplers. The PC was not even geared for grappling. Suddenly the ferocious werewolf turned into a little naughty doggie who wasn't able to do anything remotely successfully during the grapple match. Once the rest of the werewolves had been killed, other PCs came to smack the near-helpless werewolf until it was dead. It took me a long time until I was able to have werewolves in my games again.

The Cats
2018-12-20, 02:48 PM
I had my party meet a mithral dragon who, while not evil, was very condescending towards the pathetic, weak mortals. One thing led to another and they all ended up stuck on the elemental plane of water together. The party quickly realized the dragon didn't have a water breathing spell in his repertoire and was wholly reliant on the party druid for daily castings. Cue Baradon the Unbowed being treated like a first-year intern at Proctor and Gamble. It was actually a lot of fun: I was able to throw a lot of high-level threats at the party that would have wiped the floor with them if they didn't have their little dragon errand boy. They ended up selling him to a Morkoth in exchange for a portal back to the material plane.

2018-12-20, 02:59 PM
The time I decided to use a were-rat as a plot hook. It went swimmingly as the party chased it through the sewers, fending off rat swarms, and trying to keep up with this strange rat man. Then the players, as players are wont to do, decided rather than talking they'd just beat him into submission. I grant them some leniency as this rat man was partially responsible for the slow decline of the city they were in.

Then the humiliation...

As they beat down on this creature, which was shrugging off the damage pretty well, it got bored and decided to turn into a rat and leave. Cue the Half-Orc Barbarian going Ozzy Ozbourne and trying to bite the creature's head off. The creature, resistant to the damage, struggled in the grapple, unable to escape. Then the Druid decides to pull out her Herbalism kit and use some of the sleeping herbs and sleeping potion to make a pasty pill. She wanted to stuff this into the rat's mouth but found that to be impossible considering the circumstances. Thus I had to watch as my players chose to stick it in the only other available orifice and ask what happens.

Sufficed to say, the rat failed the DC, the were-rat is dead, though I'm not sure if it was from humiliation or a severe beating.

2018-12-20, 03:31 PM
Players come to a cavern, floor covered ten feet deep in poisonous smoke. Something is moving in the smoke. Something big.

They get into battle order at the cavern entrance, PCs in front, recently rescued NPCs behind. They step into the cavern and a shadow dragon pops up and breathes shadow fire, killing all the NPCs and putting a serious hurt on almost all PCs.

The players attack. The barbarian decides that he needs to arrange that there are no more shadow fire breath weapon attacks. He jumps into the dragon's face. Reaches around its mouth and locks his axes together under its jaw. Now it can't get its mouth open. The barbarian has to keep attacking to keep his Rage, so he starts head bashing the dragon. And--to really top it off-- he's wearing gourd rattles on his belt, worship for his patron spirit, and his hands are occupied, so he starts shaking his hips to make the gourds rattle and get his god's attention. So the dragon's mouth is clamped shut and the half orc is doing a lap dance on the dragon's face.

2018-12-20, 03:43 PM
Back in 3.0E...

A first level party meets a wyrmling white dragon. The Wizard casts ray of enfeeblement on it, the fighter comes next in initiative, manages grapple the poor thing, then proceed to pin and begins to choke it. The party then boon the poor thing to a wooden plank and used it as a kind of flamethrower for a while....

Same party, a bit later: They came upon a black dragon which alternated between flying strafing runs and hiding in a lake to great effect at first.... until the druid dived into the lake, went for octopus form and managed some lucky crits on the grapple rolls.... The rest of the party waded in after that and slew the beast.

I was rather reluctant to use dragons for a while...

King of Nowhere
2018-12-20, 03:57 PM
The party's enemies set up an ambush for the party. they were level 16, and their enemies, not wanting to risk their few top-level guys (and wanting some plausible deniability) recruited instead a few lower level parties, for a total of 25 level 11-13 people. should be decent odds against 5 level 15, and i expeected the party to have to flee.

the druid and cleric win initiative. first goes the druid, cast firestorm. The enemies came from multiple directions, so i expected aoe to only take a few of them, but to my dismay firestorm has a huge shapeable area and so could hit all the enemies without touching the party.
After the first firestorm, the druid used a rod of quicken metamagic to cast a quickened firestorm. then it's the cleric's turn, and he cast yet another firestorm.
the few enemies that were still alive after that decided wisely to flee. the party won the fight and collected, like, 2 million gp in loot witouth half of them even getting to act.

the next time i used a similar setup, i had all the enemies with resist fire. the party had to flee.

2018-12-20, 04:23 PM
The party monk managed to stunlock a beholder boss for like 5 rounds straight, enough time for the party to nuke his minions and then him. He never acted that combat. Made more humiliating because he was possessed by a Far Realms emotion being of Pride. They didn't let me live that down.

2018-12-20, 04:51 PM
We played a mid-level game of D&D once in which we got into a fight with a high-level fighter and just absolutely wiped the floor with him. At the end of the fight, we had him defeated, stripped off his magic armor and sword, and then decided to let him go. He asked what we wanted, and we just shrugged and said that if he came back after us again, he'd better bring more nice magic items for us to take off him.

Later, we ended up working on the same side, and our fighter loaned this guy his own sword back for the duration of the fight.

2018-12-21, 03:45 AM
We played a mid-level game of D&D once in which we got into a fight with a high-level fighter and just absolutely wiped the floor with him. At the end of the fight, we had him defeated, stripped off his magic armor and sword, and then decided to let him go. He asked what we wanted, and we just shrugged and said that if he came back after us again, he'd better bring more nice magic items for us to take off him.

Later, we ended up working on the same side, and our fighter loaned this guy his own sword back for the duration of the fight.

Oooh, this one stings. I feel the pain.

Although my NPCs regularly get bullied or beaten into submission (several PCs maxed Intimidate), the humiliation that comes to mind was the one time when it felt personal, for me as a GM. It was when, in a modern-day FATE game, after shaking off/beating up the highly-trained secret service agents on their tails, one of my players exclaimed: "Wow, those guys are SO comically dumb and incompetent, they just have to be a diversion. The GM is playing us and the REAL secret agents are gonna kick our asses."
... I wasn't.

Oh well, sometimes that's the waaay the news goes.

2018-12-21, 04:46 AM
I was running the Enemy Within WFRP campaign (with some heavy modification), and my party had just completed Something Rotten in Kislev. My players had endured multiple sessions of of being belittled by arrogant NPC's (they were effectively acting as foreign ambassadors, so were dealing with being snubbed, brushed off, given menial tasks to 'earn' an audience, and having people who clearly could speak their language suddenly act like they couldn't), crushing defeats, and ended it all by fleeing without enough provisions through a mountain pass in the depths of winter. By the time they made it back to 'civilisation' the characters were cold, wet, hungry, worn out, and the players had thoroughly had enough of my ****. It was glorious.

They arrive at a coaching inn in the wilds of the northern Empire; the first hot food and warm bed the characters had had in months. Enter my NPC. He was a "famed monster hunter" looking for able bodies (read: Arrogant cowardly braggard who would run off at the first sign of danger but claim the glory if the party managed to kill the beast) to hunt a Giant that was terrorising the surrounding farms. One of my players was really into his Warhammer Dwarf lore, and enjoyed going after the stereotypical monsters (he wasn't playing a Slayer, but loves the archetype), so I had kinda placed this encounter for him. But I had misjudged my players level of tolerance for being screwed around.

My party accepted the quest, trudged out the settlement with the monster hunter, then the second they got out of sight of the village, without a moment of conferring between them, clubbed him over the head, stole his weapons and trousers, and tied him to a tree with a sign hanging round his neck saying "obvious traitor", before turning around and heading back off down the road. This was possible the first and only time my players have ever done anything that could be described as murder-hobo. They were a little gutted when I told them after there really was a Giant out there, but still felt the catharsis they felt from their decision outweighed missing out on an interesting monster encounter.

2018-12-21, 09:23 AM
MERP campaign, a few of the players can't make it and the GM decides to give the rest of us a little side quest cuz we showed up. There's a couple of trolls living in a cave stealing from a village. In MERP, trolls are tough, the 3 of us would have been torn apart standing toe to toe with them.

So we did some thinking outside the box, starting with scouting the area around their den. The cave was at the end of a shallow valley in the hills, with a stream running through it. We spent the day gathering rocks at the top of the valley, sharpening stakes and putting them in the stream, and otherwise setting up an ambush. When dusk came the trolls left their lair, and we attacked. The first troll took a rock to the head and fell into the stream and was killed by the stakes. The 2nd troll's leg got crushed by a rock, and was finished off by my bow. The third troll took several rocks, and received a long stun duration. He had reduced movement and actions, so when the mounted guy started firing at him and the troll gave chase, he couldn't catch the horse. Meanwhile, the troll is getting hit by my bow, the horseman's bow, and the hobbit's sling. It eventually goes down, and we kill it.

Three low level players took out 3 trolls without so much as a scratch. The GM just stared at us while we high fived, and he gave us a huge amount of XP and we got all the treasure from the trolls' cave (minus the stuff we returned to the village). Apparently, we weren't supposed to attack the things by ourselves, and were just to keep the trolls from hitting the village again until the other players, and the main fighters, could rejoin us.

2018-12-21, 10:21 AM
Shortly after the 3.5e transition, so, like 14 years ago, I was running a game in college. During one leg of the adventure, the party had to infiltrate a kobold war camp. As ridiculous as that may sound, all the kobolds were level 4 warriors or level 3 sorcerers, except the leaders, who were higher. They were also assisted by the coolest NPC enemy I had designed to date. She was a drow Fighter/Rogue. She wielded a Spiked Chain, and had all the best feats to go with it (Weapon Specialization, Improved Trip, and even Improved Feint). She'd usually feint in combat, then attack with a trip, with follow-on free attack, which was also a sneak attack due to the feint. The greatsword-wielding party Fighter basically spent his entire turn getting adjacent to her. Well, cue the party cleric, who decides to cast Hold Person on her. Blows through her Spell Resistance. Well, I figured, she's a drow, so +2 to saves vs spells, and additional +2 because it's an Enchantment, leaves her with a fairly decent Will save. I rolled a 4. So here she is, paralyzed. The guy playing the Fighter was up next in initiative, and already had his d20 in his hand. When she got paralyzed, he slowly set his die down on the table, folded his hands in front of him, grinned at me, and said "coup de grace". That was the ONLY HIT this NPC ever took.

Honestly, it was a really great and cool moment for my players, and so overall, I'm quite happy with it. But I REALLY expected that NPC to be such an awesome and challenging fight.

2018-12-22, 09:38 AM
I was a player for this, not DMing, but the DM should have known things were going to go south when the quest-giver hired a party with three insane goblins to bring back a target alive for questioning with minimal collateral damage.

We set the target’s shop (and a substantial portion of the market district of Port Nyanzaru in Chult) on fire, stabbed the target until he passed out from blood loss, and stuffed him in a burlap sack. Which none of us could lift, and which quickly soaked through with blood and left a trail as we dragged it. So to create a plausible cover story for why we were dragging a blood-soaked burlap sack through the street, we stole a bunch of raw meat from a nearby restaurant while everyone was distracted by the district being on fire, threw it in the sack on top of our unconscious bleeding prisoner, and took a piece of charcoal off a burning building and wrote “Thundurr Lizurd Fude” (being insane goblins, we weren’t too good at spelling) on the burlap sack. Then dragged it through the street all the way back to HQ.

2018-12-22, 12:07 PM
So many stories, which do I remember?

There was the time that the GM threw a purple worn random encounter at the maybe 5th level party. Everybody's gonna flee, right? No, my character decided to hold the monster off to let the party escaped (I was mounted, so maybe I could escape after they got a safe distance away?). Valent last stand? No. The Dwarven psionicist used Mind Blast, aka "Cone of Don't Act", the monster failed its save, and was stunned for 10 rounds. More than long enough for my character to solo it.

Party was probably 4th level*, and the GM wants to teach us to flee by attacking us with a bloody T-Rex. Did we flee? TPK? No. The tripper trip-locked the T-Rex, and my DPS SA monk murdered it (with help).

Back in 2e, I had a powerful Vampire boss monster, that the party of independently-created characters all had ways to give penalties to. By the end, it had about a -20 to hit. It went from terrifying to flailing.

I had a TPK encounter from a module that was solod. By a Monk.

There was the time that a powerful Undead warrior was taken down by a bouncy ball.

But possibly the most humiliating defeat? The Deck of Many Things that, after double-digit draws, we still had an intact party.

Or the Psion from "totally not Athas", who viewed Ravenloft as a paradise, and couldn't understand why anyone would ever want to leave.

* Well, the player of the Lizardfolk Druid was bad at math, so he was probably level 7 or something.

2018-12-22, 04:37 PM
I've got a number of incidents competing for worst, which will probably mean multiple posts, against NPCs of varying significance. Here's a small sample.

On the total chump side, there were some space pirates that got snookered hard by the PCs in my Schrodinger's Hummingbird game. Some short preamble, necessary to understand it - the way FTL worked in that setting was with jump drives which made single large teleportations, then needed to recharge for anywhere from half an hour to an hour (depending on quality). The PCs were hired to get some valuable and volatile cargo back from some space pirates that had stolen it from Apollo Mining Company, and found that the pirates had built a temporary space station of three large ships around the cargo container, so they could warp it out and work on it at length, before some military inevitably decided to just blow both them and the cargo up. The PCs pretended to join them, and the ship engineer in particular managed to get in as a jump drive specialist engineer, working on the jump drive. So they get the container "ready" to jump with the pirate ships, modulating the drives to the new shape, while they're on their own ship ready to jump with them, having "joined" the pirates.

The pirates jump, leaving the container behind. Then, the PCs do a quick attachment and start towing the cargo away, trying to reconfigure their jump drive to the new shape while the jump drive is recharging. The pirates come back in about 45 minutes, pissed off, and fire a massive salvo of missiles at the PC's ship, which at the last minute gets the drive calibrated. They jump right before impact, and the three massive warships full of pirates watch as a tiny modified cargo ship vanishes with the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars of exotic minerals they used to have.

Among the space pirates the Schrodinger's Hummingbird crew pissed off was Captain Edgar Twinbarrel, an impetuous hothead. This is his story, in multiple incidents, where the PCs ran circles around him in hilarious ways. He had a small warship a bit larger than the Hummingbird, went up against it several times, and consistently lost. The fun part is how.

The first incident was a space battle. Edgar made demands that the PCs surrender the Hummingbird, they refused, and a fight started. They then proceeded to hack Edgar's ship coms, and project their insults back to the entire crew, most notably having the ship janitor repeatedly call him "Eddie Two Shoes". He gets angry and fires every single missile a little close together, the ship gunner blows them up in a chain reaction, and then they send a mocking message about how "Eddie Two Shoes" was clearly incompetent and should listen to junior officers, correctly guessing that they'd warned against him. They then proceeded to cripple the ship, loot it, and leave.

The second incident was a bit later. The PCs managed to talk some officials into putting up a bounty on Edgar that they could collect, but the way they portrayed him ended up changing the bounty on both him and his first mate, Roy Colt, such that Roy's bounty was higher. When they went to collect they immediately sent a message to the effect of "Hey Eddie, look at this" along with the two bounties. This was a mixed victory in that they were only able to get Roy and then leave, but as they did that they sent a message (again to the entire crew) about how they'd got the bigger bounty. Edgar was not pleased.

Then there was the final encounter. The Hummingbird had been upgraded pretty significantly, it's crew was better at their jobs, and most notably they had a pretty nasty computer warfare suite. They go after Edgar to collect his bounty, have a bit of a firefight, and once they've taken out the missiles and can hide from beam weapons for a while manage to not only take comms but also life support, and start venting atmosphere. They then tell the crew that they'll give life support back if they hand over Edgar, specifically if they put the new first mate who they admire professionally in charge instead. The pirates end up mutinying to get their breath back, and Edgar's last memory before a life of incarceration is his crew handing him over in chains to a bunch of gloating mercenaries.

Estella Belmonte was the nice and primary enforcer of Javier Belmont, campaign primary antagonist for Port Alhabri. She's also a serious contender for the best recurring antagonist I've ever had (albeit one of two from that campaign), a menacing leader and serious thorn in the side of the PCs, who were various alchemist-adjacent people formerly of a now disbanded alchemist's guild destroyed by her uncle. She led a raid on the PC's last allies in the cities, severely wounded some of them, and eventually drove them to flee. That should have been the last they saw of her, until they came back.

But someone stole her sword. A new masterpiece made by a master smith, about to be handed to her, stolen from under her nose. She didn't know who it was until later, when following the PCs to their ship as they fled port, her moment of triumph. Then they took the sword out, and slowly waved it in the air, so that she could see it.

So like the violent, volatile, petty hothead she was she found them halfway across the world and decided to follow them. Like the surprisingly clever schemer she also was, she then wrought havoc through catspaws, and eventually ended up in a duel with the group's best swordsman, the one real combat monster in the group. It was an even match which could have gone either way, and she won, killing him in front of his second. That was the last straw.

This group, already alchemist adjacent, managed to acquire an actual foreign alchemist. They shared what trade secrets they knew to brew up a batch of alchemists fire, and by "batch" I mean something akin to "industrial sized batch reactor". They learned that she took a particular route through a wealthy neighborhood full of tall stone walls and narrow roads, and took their revenge. Hiding behind several walls with enormous amounts of alchemists fire they let her enter a T crossroad, sniper on the roof with a musket. Then they threw fire. They cut off all three escape routes one at a time with huge walls of fire, and when she tried to climb the far wall they shot her in the hand. Unable to climb she died slowly, terribly, of smoke inhalation and the heat of encroaching flames.

On top of these there were some miscellaneous one sided fights which were just hilarious, and kind of humiliating for the losing side. Sticking to the two campaigns already somewhat explained here:

The Schrodingers Hummingbird has taken a lot of attacks against it, and perhaps the most ill advised was a jetpack based boarding scheme. Done on a minimal budget the idea was to pack a bunch of jetpack equipped mercenaries in a small vehicle, give them all hull cutters and guns, and have them cut through the hull and swarm inside, where the small crew of 5 would be overwhelmed. What actually happened was a little less impressive. Half the mercenaries got shot to pieces by a turret gun, the ship gunner being an expert. One got taken by a cargo hauling harpoon, a discount tractor beam never intended as a weapon. Still, the hull cutting started, and it might have gone well - had some of these mercenaries not decided to try and go through the cargo bay doors. They were opened outwards to hit them and fling them into space, and the rest decided to just flood through before they were closed, not thinking of why, exactly, that tactic would even be tried.

That reason would be the small, single person fighter currently in the cargo bay, pointing backwards towards the cargo bay doors. By space ship standards it had a sad little laser, as befits a ship small even by fighter standards. By space suit standards, this was a machine gun nest with armor piercing rounds. So ended the boarding party.

At one point in the Port Alhabri campaign, the PCs and their allies in the civil war they accidentally got involved in* were besieged in a castle. Their resources were an alchemist trained in alchemists fire, here largely unknown (though there were rumors after what had happened to Estella), a small force of soldiers, and a roost of a lot of carrier pigeons. You know, for letters, to get reinforcements or whatever.

"Or whatever", in this context, turned out to mean that they were trained to "deliver" small vials of alchemists fire to midair, a bit above bow range and right above enemy soldiers. That whole battle ended in one stroke, and that stroke was pigeon bombing.

*Basically started, but it was long coming.

Later: I have a story from my Nomad's Gift campaign, involving magical lava artillery, a villain with a history of crimes against humanity, and transport by balloon.

2018-12-23, 01:40 AM
There was the time I tried to introduce an NPC who was sort of a side villain to the adventure I was running.

He was basically some kind of advanced intelligent undead who had a grudge against the lich who was allied with the main villains. The party met him and his minions when they went back to the lich's lair for some reason I forget.

Anyway, the lich wasn't home, but this new NPC was there looking for him when the PCs walk in. They immediately recognize this NPC as they had seen him briefly once before, and so they try to Bluff him that the lich was somewhere else and that he should rush out to catch him.

That's when I realized I had forgotten to give this guy any ranks in Sense Motive. What I was planning on being a tough "random" encounter turned into a brief social interaction where the PCs were left alone after the unholy mockery of life took his underlings and went off on a wild goose chase. :smallsigh:

2018-12-23, 08:31 AM
Playing Honor and Intrigue, a three musketeersish system.

One of my players had taken “tag” which allows a character to ‘tag’ their mark on something/someone. Like Zorro putting his Z mark on a bad guy, and thus refuces the morale of the opponent.

The PCs get into a fight on the flagship of a Pirate fleet, which they are supposed to be using purely as a transport to get them to the next island to continue the main plot. The PCs are clearly outclassed and outnumbered, and I give them 3 or 4 opportunities to talk the conflict down. But they insist on combat. And it starts going pretty well as could be expected.

However one PC (the weakest fighter) is in a duel with the NPC pirate captain who has much superior combat stats. The pirate captain who is described as fighting barechested. The PC is Spanish and knowing he can’t outfight the NOC and just goes straight for tags. He gets 4 tags in (each tag is a higher difficulty than the last) and stands up from the table and says, “Good sir, Llow me to introduce myself as Juan, but I will give you my full name - Juan Frederico Montana de Suiza to wear forever if you do not surrendur”.

My NPC suffers catastrophic morale failure, ends up surrenduring ship and crew to the PCs. The PCs decide to give up on the plot and become pirates. Keeping the NPC on as ship”s master.

Kid Jake
2018-12-23, 02:28 PM
Prettt much all from my M&M campaign:

Had a badass biker with a deadly voice kick the party's ass in the opening round of their first encounter. In the second the hydromancer filled his lungs full of water so he couldn't shout and just beat him to death with a 2x4 he found in the trash while the other players watched in awe.

Had a super speedster that the resident telekinetic finally managed to catch. Proceeded to break both of his legs until they stopped working.

And of course the fearsome crime boss who they beat the crap out of, stripped him naked and treated as a pet while storing him in a dark shipping container beneath their oceanside hideout. They eventually made him their accountant as I recall...

2018-12-23, 04:45 PM
Me, the Charismatic and Descriptive GM:
"The serpent lamia slithers out through the velvet drapes,lights dimming as she raises to an immense heigth, glaring down at the party, knives appearing in her hands as if through magic, blades glistening green with wicked poisons.
From alcoves in the walls, thugs in silk and gold, wielding wicked spears and sneering behind sheer veils emerge. You stand before the creature that for months have held this city in the palm of her hand, the creature that has taken from you your wealth, your reputation, and, most importantly, everyone you've loved. She opens her mouth, and in a deep, melodious voice, she hisses-"

Party Sorcerer: "I cast grease on the knife in her right hand!"

Me, the Rule abiding GM: Roll initiative first.

*General Rolling, and through disgusting luck, the Sorcerer is first, the Lamia Last*

The Repetitive Party Sorcerer: "I cast grease on the knife in her right hand!"

Me, the Overconfident GM: (Are they really using something like that against a creature with an obviously high Dex?) *Rolls reflex save, winces* "Her knife falls to the floor."

*General cackling from the group*

Outrageous Party Bard: "I cast Mad Monkeys! They make a Disarm attempt! Is *Rolls* 24 a success? You also need to roll against Distraction!

Me, the somewhat taken aback GM: "Her other knife falls to the floor, and she" *Rolls fort save*
"Is deaf and nauseated"

*Uproarious cackling from the group*

The Bully of a Party Summoner: I cast... Grease! On the floor!

ME, the Defeated, in body and spirit, GM: *Rolls Reflex save, curses under my breath* "Lady Phyraxia, the Queen of the Underworld, the Fang in the Shadows, The Poisoner of Reputations, the Mistress of the Unseen, is on the floor, disarmed, covered in monkeys and grease, cursing loudly as she scrambles to stand, her guards looking on in stunned disbelief."

*Needlessly cruel and distasteful cackling from the party, interspersed with Thoroughly unsportsmanlike high fives.*

2018-12-31, 06:14 AM
In the finale of our Victorian monster hunter game we'd fought our way to Dracula's Castle, basically foiled his plan, and killed his brides. He was waiting outside for us with a small army - the GM was looking for a climatic final fight, most likely with some poignant bittersweet deaths.

Our plan was to start throwing Dracula's stuff out the window, and mocking him about how much free space there was now his wives were dead. He endured stoically at first, but after we ran out of irreplaceable paintings and art objects and the group's circus strongman threw his antique bed out the window, he snapped and flew in to attack us. Without his army.

We beat him up handily with no casualties except the DM's pride.

2019-01-01, 05:51 PM
I've got plenty of stories, but three that I can think of right now.

The first time was a simple novice mistake I made when I was a newbie DM running my first ever 3.0 campaign. This was maybe the 2nd or 3rd session of the campaign. The players were level 2. They were exploring a cave in which I had a giant monstrous spider, which should have been a pretty darn scary fight for them at that level. There was just one problem: I hadn't looked at the monster's size too carefully when drawing out the cave. The room in which they found the spider had a narrow 5-foot opening. As soon as the spider dropped down on them from above, the entire party ran back out through the entrance. The spider was too big to squeeze through after them (which begs the question how she got in there in the first place), so it could do nothing but flail uselessly while they stood back and shot it to death with arrows from 5 feet beyond its reach.

The second time was Star Wars d20, the edition before Saga. One of the players was a Nagai Jedi apprentice, set during the time of the Empire (which is before Nagai had canonically been introduced to the rest of the galaxy, but I handwaved that away). Long story short, he had found a new master who had survived the Jedi Purge and was a former PC of one of the other players, introduced as a mentor character. Also, his home planet had been overrun by a group of baddies, and he convinced the party and his master to help him save his world.

I had built this BBEG based on Cervantes from the Soul Calibur games. He was a pirate-themed dark Jedi who dual-wielded lightsabers and could fly and control his sabers through telekinesis. He had quite a few cool tricks up his sleeve, but he was supposed to be his most dangerous in close combat, where he could cut an opponent to ribbons in moments through a flurry of lightsaber slashes.

However, I had forgotten just how much of a beast that mentor Jedi had been. He used that acrobatic fighting style Yoda uses in the prequel films, which in game terms allowed him to substitute Dex for Strength in attacks and damage rolls. He also had taken max ranks in a Force ability that pumped his Dex through the roof, meaning he could get super high AC, attack rolls, AND damage all in one go.

When combat started, the mentor character stepped in front, blocked all seven of the BBEG's attacks with no problem, and then decapitated him with a single strike.

The third time was 3.5 D&D. The party was infiltrating the secret lair of a powerful thieves' guild that was making life difficult for them. It was located at the center of a maze beneath the city. The party had already gotten lucky twice:

First, when the way forward was blocked by a blade barrier trap, the party Necromancer opened his portable hole and had his Umber Hulk skeleton punch a hole through the wall to go around... which unbeknownst to him resulted in bypassing 90% of the maze. So they were already coming in much stronger and with more resources than expected.

Second, the exit to the maze was blocked by a marilith, which had been called in by the priestess of Lolth that was one of the co-heads of this guild. The party necromancer (again) throws down a spiritwall (http://dnd.arkalseif.info/spells/complete-arcane--55/spiritwall--529/index.html), not expecting it to work but trying to buy the party a few moments and some space to fight. The marilith rolled a natural 1 on the Will save, forcing it to flee in panic. The centaur Fighter (who basically has a mounted combat build in which he counts as his own mount) just runs after the demon and mows her down with his lance.

Inside, the final battle consists of the two heads of the guild (one a high-level Spellthief, the other a high-level drow priestess of Lolth), their two lieutenants (both high level rogues, one specialized in crossbow sniping and the other in up-close sneak attacks), and a surprise fifth antagonist: a former PC (a half-dragon dwarf Dragon Shaman with the Deepwarden PrC) who was built to be ridiculously tough.

Cue the necromancer, who threw Evard's black tentacles right into the middle of the bad guys. The priestess and Spellthief are protected by freedom of movement, but the other three are all snagged (the sniper was hidden so well they didn't even know she was there, but she was within the radius of the tentacles). The party warlock used a scroll of freedom of movement on the centaur, who charged straight in to the mess and destroyed the enemy Dragon Shaman, who was now trivially easy to hit because most of his AC came from things he lost when denied his Dex. Shortly thereafter, the necromancer successfully dispelled the priestess's freedom of movement, along with about half the other buffs she had on (which was close to a dozen). So just that quickly, it went from 5-on-5 to 5-on-1, as the Spellthief was forced to run for his life. He didn't make it.

2019-01-04, 07:42 PM
My players were running a game of extreme dungeon crawl: Memphis and had just cleared level 1.

For those not in the know, extreme dungeon crawl is set in a modern day fantasy world where dungeon crawling has become the top rated reality show, and crawlers compete for cash, fame, and prizes.

Thay being said, NPCs in the dungeons are often employees or actors in service to the television network l.

As the players stepped out of their dressing room from completing level 1, they are greeted by a dark room with a single light shining from above on a small table and a small man dressed in purple robes shuffling a deck of cards (a young actor really trying hard to make this his big break).

He calls the players over and asks them to play a game. As he speaks, various doors with various symbols illuminate behind him. Some may contain a trip to Hawaii, and some may contain death itself.

They can choose a card and take their chances, or take the exit to the next challenge. They can only choose one card.

As the majority of the party is debating, one of the PCs who was playing Roman Pierce from the Fast and the Furious (he wanted me to know that it was actual Roman Pierce), decided he wanted to play up his “heel” status and rough the guy up.

I check the rulebook, and yes, that is the worst thing that could possibly happen. The poor actor loses character, screams for help and taps his non-combatant badge which teleports him back to the studio, and ALL of the doors open at once, while the exit shuts.

So we have 4 level 3 PCs vs. A dozen hobgoblins, a half dozen Gnolls, a dozen skeletons, 3 Dire Wolves, and a Minor Death (locked in on Mr. Pierce).

So needless to say, their team went down at the start of level 2 of Memphis Crawl, which placed them at the bottom rankings of the entire events.
They lost almost all of their fame points which resulted in losing all their endorsement deals (Think Captain Amazing from Mystery Men), and not being able to get a decent table at their favorite restaurant.

They had to go back to the bush league rounds and fight with foam armor, PVC swords, and spell cards for a full crawl until they could take another shot at the big leagues in Indianapolis.

2019-01-05, 01:00 PM
That seems like the opposite of a humiliation for the NPCs; the PCs were utterly destroyed for threatening someone.

2019-01-05, 01:31 PM
You know what, I just reread the OP and realized it’s about NPcs and not PCs.

I suppose that’s kinda humiliating.

2019-01-05, 04:20 PM
Not mine but in a party I was in.

Due to a mess involving local gods, the party got their hands on a traitor who was geas-bound to serve them, and cursed with regeneration-based immortality.

The first idea for how to use him was as a re-usable suicide bomber.

2019-01-05, 06:01 PM
Later: I have a story from my Nomad's Gift campaign, involving magical lava artillery, a villain with a history of crimes against humanity, and transport by balloon.

It's time for the tale of Estakec.

Nomad's Gift was a weird campaign, so a quick overview - it was born in the genre selection stage, where my players all wanted to play a fantasy game, but were split between wanting a magitech game and a discovery of magic campaign, where I decided to split the difference. The players essentially found a source of magic that let them find others, all tied to physical locations hazardous and remote, then worked to bring it to the world. Most of this was done responsibly, but early on when hard up for cash they deliberately sought out the sketchiest people from a mining colony with a funding and magic sharing proposition, and it turned out that the combination of sketchy people and power was a bad one. Estakec was the worst of them, and ran rampant over the continent, but eventually was brought low, in a humiliating fashion.

Following the loss of his army, Estakek and a few of his officers set up shop on a remote island, and fortified it as best they could. The bulk of this was magically shaping and enchanting lava launchers as artillery, setting magical mines, and generally setting up a large and elaborate death trap. By now the PCs had harvested a great deal of magic, were going in with a bevy of items they'd made, and were generally the deadliest archmages around, so this didn't work, leaving the last ditch escape attempt - three ropes with lift stone cast on the, tied around large rocks, held on to like balloons. So Estakec slowly drifted off, and the PCs let him get far away, to appear to escape. Then they shot out one balloon as he was over the ocean, and let him drift inevitably down for a while, to panic. They shot a second, and he started falling faster, magically flailing around to not collapse completely, dangling from a single balloon, looking ridiculous. At this point the PCs sent something they'd enchanted during the drift, set up to hunt down and cut the rope, in the most languid way possible. They released it, and slowly let it approach, blocking all magical attempts to stop it, until Estakec was eventually cut down and left to drown.

Akal Saris
2019-01-06, 07:10 PM
The party monk managed to stunlock a beholder boss for like 5 rounds straight, enough time for the party to nuke his minions and then him. He never acted that combat. Made more humiliating because he was possessed by a Far Realms emotion being of Pride. They didn't let me live that down.

I had a game where the PCs were 1st level and had snuck into an underdark teleportation network to use one of the portals. They had been stealthily making their way past all sorts of powerful creatures, and I had the last creature on the way be a beholder, floating over a lake next to a bridge to their portal. My intent was that they would rush across before the beholder noticed them. Instead, one player cast Ghost Sound to distract the beholder so its magic negating eye was pointed away from the PCs, then another cast 'Command' and told the beholder to "Swim", and then the 3rd PC commanded it to "breathe".

Clever idea, I thought, but foolish to get the beholder's attention. Then, using the same hideous bright orange d20, I rolled a 1 for its save vs the command spell, then a 1 for its swim check to stay near the top of the lake, then 2 more 1's for its save vs. the next command spell and a drowning check, and finally another 1 on its final check against drowning. By the time I rolled the 5th 1 in a row, the players were half-crying with laughter at the poor creature, and I had to throw in the towel and announced that it wasn't coming up out of the lake, having been defeated by a 0-level spell and 2 1st level spells.

From that point on, that dice was known in our group as the "Beholder d20" and the PCs passed it to me to use any time I had to make a critical dice roll :P

2019-01-08, 08:49 AM
We were playing Rolemaster, and the mid-level party were on a ship that was also carrying a vampire as a passenger. Other passengers started dying, and the PCs had a mystery on their hands. This resulted in a fun couple of sessions of sleuthing and cat-and-mouse before the party eventually confronted the vampire...

...who stood up from his chair, gave a quick villain monologue, and (having won initiative) cast a spell.

I was rolling openly in front of the players, and the vampire rolled a fumble on his spell casting roll. Then he rolled open-ended on the fumble roll and managed to fry his brains with the backlash.

So from the point of view of the characters, they found the vampire who had been killing passengers, confronted him ready for a tough battle, and then watched as he simply keeled over and died in front of them without them having lifted a finger against him.

2019-01-08, 04:45 PM
For me it's got to be the time the BBEG's cambion lieutenant came into town to give a dramatic and intimidating warning speech promising doom if the PCs continued to oppose her. The effect was somewhat lessened by the party arcane trickster using Mage Hand to pull her hair, poke her eyes, pick her nose and stick its fingers in her mouth. She couldn't even retaliate because she'd come alone and there was no way she could stand up to the party by herself. She ended up Dimension Dooring away in shame.

Later when the party actually fought her she died while prone and paralyzed from the party paladin crushing her armour and chest with his warhammer.

2019-01-09, 04:25 AM
We were playing Rolemaster, and the mid-level party were on a ship that was also carrying a vampire as a passenger. Other passengers started dying, and the PCs had a mystery on their hands. This resulted in a fun couple of sessions of sleuthing and cat-and-mouse before the party eventually confronted the vampire...

...who stood up from his chair, gave a quick villain monologue, and (having won initiative) cast a spell.

I was rolling openly in front of the players, and the vampire rolled a fumble on his spell casting roll. Then he rolled open-ended on the fumble roll and managed to fry his brains with the backlash.

So from the point of view of the characters, they found the vampire who had been killing passengers, confronted him ready for a tough battle, and then watched as he simply keeled over and died in front of them without them having lifted a finger against him.

My DM once had something like this in a World of Darkness game - after an enemy werewolf rolled 8 dice to attack with, and managed to roll a 7 ones botch, she looked at the dice and declared him dead: "He charges forward, but the floor boards give way under his weight - he falls backwards, breaks the table, and impales himself on a broken table leg."

2019-01-10, 10:00 AM
A bird. An awakened ravene druid. It pissed off my pcs by escaping them THREE TIMES. But this time was different. As it tried to fly away it was snagged in a hold animal spell. It fell from the air, nearly dying. Brought back to 1 hp to find itself being slowly roasted alive.

2019-01-12, 08:38 PM
Made a recurring villain half-ogre. (ressurection, clone, semi-real illusion, he kept coming back)

On his second appearance, the party druid skinned his corpse and had a cloak made.