View Full Version : An unexpected death

2008-04-13, 01:40 PM
Yesterday marked the first time I'd had a character die unexpectedly.

Don't get me wrong, I've had characters die before. Twice in various TPK incidents, several times sacrificing a character for the greater good, and more times than I can count because "we chose to fight the dragon anyway." And that's just in D&D in the last few years.

But this was the first time I'd had one die so quickly and unexpectedly.

We'd walked into a room and Mugin, the rogue, looked for traps and didn't find any. He takes a step past a line and is hit with a phantasmal killer spell, for which he makes his save. Thinking the trap has probably been discharged, Arath, my wizard, walks into the room - and promptly fails his will save so utterly that no amount of circumstance bonus from knowing the spell was there in advance could save him. As you might expect, he also fails his fort save - and bam. Dead wizard. Knowing that we were likely to be facing a bad-arse necromancer pretty quickly into the dungeon, the other characters (a dwarf fighter/artificer, a catfolk ranger and an aasimar barbarian/cleric) looked at each other in panic (except Mugin, who being rather polite for a CN tiefling rogue, closed the body's eyes and then looted the corpse).

The DM worked the story together that the trap was meant to defend the prison of a rather dastardly arcanist who had assaulted the temple of Pelor (the basement of which had been taken over by the necromancer) thirty years prior. As I was furiously making the most simple arcane character I could find (a human warmage), the rogue disabled the trap and the rest of the party started trying to hack the statue it was centered on to bits.

As I finished making the character, the DM let the players know that their characters' swords had finally proven effective - having broken the stone off the mouth of the statue, they heard a somewhat familiar voice telling them to get clear as the statue exploded from within. After quickly explaining the situation (that my wizard's soul had be sucked into the other mage's body, and his normally prodigious intellect was being used to keep the villain down), the party resumed their quest, and eventually returned the king's son to the Pelorite city.

The King, a most-definitely-fallen-from-the-OOC-perspective Paladin, turned out to be rather familiar with my new body (apparently he'd fallen thirty years ago tracking down the mage).. thankfully, I'd taken alter self as my Eclectic Learning spell at 6th, and we'd made me look like someone who wasn't a mass-murdering bat-guano-head. We'd brought back my body and coughed up the 10k gp for diamonds to have me resurrected - the soul being willing, I returned to my original body a level worse for the wear but happy to be back at home.

The warmage, having been bound and gagged while I was still keeping him down, was taken to the king's dungeon and never seen again... I think you can still hear the screams. Having a NG alignment, I think my wizard might have been sad for that... if he hadn't just spent two weeks hearing the mage whisper about how he was going to kill his family and everything he loved. Anyway, Arath's not a paladin.

In the end, it wasn't as final as it could have been, but it was still very sudden. I'm pretty glad I've got a DM who was not only willing to work a new character in quickly in the middle of the dungeon, but also to work with the players to treat resurrection as not just a line on a ledger but something strange and worth questing for, even in a Greyhawk-type campaign.

(Though there were a few out of character jokes - "And I need to see your revolving door salesman... I mean, the high priest of Pelor?")

I'm also rather excited about the prospect of roleplaying the character's attitude changes. He's seen the darker side of magic now first hand, and not just in the "fighting the necromancer way." He's tasted death in one of the more horrible forms and seen something that will scar his consciousness forever - and tasted mortality as he was thrust in the body of a middle-aged human. His normal optimism will certainly be tempered by realism in the future.

I'm happy to know that I can play a fairly well optimized character (Grey Elf Abjurer / Master Specialist heading toward Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil) and still be able to play the role of someone other than just me.

2008-04-13, 05:34 PM
Great story! :smallbiggrin: