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Self-Destructive Players by Ballig

DM Feature #3 (The Sorcerer's Tower) - 09 May 2009 [related]

Sometimes your players just career off in a direction that is impossible to predict. You can spend all the time in the world having backup plans and ideas in place if your players take X action or make Y decision, but sometimes they just do something you would never have expected. That happened in this session.

The party had finally found a solid lead on their current mission - that mission being to assassinate a sorcerer in his tower - and it had led them to a rather large hill giant encampment. That lead was that hill giants in this area were believed to have been involved in the building of the structure they were seeking. They come across this encampment at quite a distance and sit down to think up a course of action. Going through my head? Oh, they might try a straight-out assault (probably suicide, considering the number of giants and ogres), they might try a covert assault in an attempt to find some further lead (not a terrible idea but relies a little on luck), they might try to walk in on a diplomatic mission, or they might try to take a few prisoners and get some information that way. All fantastic ideas, right? Well, a suicidal idea and some good ideas.

What actually happened was quite a bit different. Only one member of the party could speak giant (the wizard), and the party spent quite a bit of time discussing what they were going to do. While discussing, a small group (one hill giant and two ogres) spotted the party and began to approach. Meeting half way, the wizard went in to be ambassador - and surrendered. He surrendered his entire party as voluntary slaves for the hill giants.

I might just reiterate that in case someone missed it: the wizard surrendered his entire party as voluntary slaves to the hill giants. A group, by this time having five members, of accomplished villains and mercenaries were now surrendering their weapons and voluntarily marching back into an encampment of 30 to 40 hill giants and ogres to spend an indefinite amount of time as slaves. Fast forward three or four weeks and the party is caged in a (relatively) small hut in the middle of the encampment and have been used for all kinds of menial labour. Luckily for them, the leader of the giants is more than a little curious about the whole scenario.

A get out of jail free card? Maybe. But not without a cost. As it turns out, the leader - Samtusk, a huge giant with blue skin and clearly not of the hill variety - had clear (but severed) ties with the sorcerer in question. Not entirely surprising as that was the reason the party was there to begin with. Being brutish, as giants are wont to be, Samtusk was not completely willing to be of help in the sorcerer's destruction if he felt the party could not even best him in combat - you saw that coming, eh?

But, oh boy, was that almost a mistake. In the very first round of combat Samtusk dealt 75% of the monk's hitpoints in damage with his gargantuan morningstar. The rest of the party quickly realised that this was not going to be a pushover. The giant was able to bring each of the melee party members to low hitpoints on at least one occasion each, with healing from the cleric being crucial to survival.

The fight was epic, and it almost looked as though it was over for the party, but they prevailed - I was surprised. Might try two huge giants with gargantuan morningstars next time.