As the Kids Say, "Epic Fail".

In a recent adventure-- The Dark Spire, to be exact-- various threads and dice rolls came together to construct an "oh no" of frankly cosmic porportions.

To begin with:

  • Jarmangle, the tiefling lawman, is constantly asking NPCs to tag along on adventures. The NPCs usually demure, but because this adventure reintroduced the character's sister, Tyne, it made sense for her to come along. Tyne, like Jarmangle, is a rogue by class, but a mercenary by trade. Feeling that a DMPC has no place in my campaign, I decided to let Jarmangle make the rolls and combat decisions for Tyne, and that I would handle character-stuff, resolute that she would not take the initiative or spotlight away from the group.
  • Jarmangle has something of a running feud with the elfish bard, Robyn, stemming from when he accidently killed her horse with an owlbear trap, and then cooked the remains.
  • Jarmangle had recently taken the tiefling racial power, Demonic Transformation.
  • Jarmangle is also a bit of a pack-rat, carrying an impressive arsenal of weapons and magic items from the last ten adventures.
  • Irving, the wizard, scholar, and diplomat, had possessed a battleferret in a previous adventure, and his player was eager to transform his character permanently into some kind of furry critter, so that he could use his mage hand to float himself around. Wanting to oblige, I created a fountain within the dungeon whose waters would transform a character back-and-forth.
  • Said dungeon was built atop a Drow City; the drow are not only mortal enemies-as-usual with elfs and eladrin, but have a special hatred for the eladrin brewmaster (and party member) Tralamin Duskwalker.
  • Because the creatures they were encountering as of late had become more dangerous, the traps more deadly, the challenges more daunting, I instituted in the previous session The Mulligan-- basically one free re-roll to be used with the group's consent.
  • Because I wanted to capture more of an OD&D flavour, I told them beforehand that, at any time, if the going got too tough, they could hightail it and leave the dungeon. If they pressed on to the top of the Spire, however, there might be something worth the risk. That something, unknown to them, was One and Only One Wish.

So, here's how all the above came together:

Upon entering the Dark Spire, our heroes immediately found the fountain; both Irving and Jarmangle partook of its waters. Jarmangle seemed even more excited than Irving; he really wanted to see what would happen to his red-furred skunk body when he used that Demonic Transformation daily power.

He did not, however, want to be faffing about when Tralamin's life was on the line. So, as soon as the drow showed up, he drank from the fountain again to become a tiefling.

After the fight-- and perhaps hoping, meta-like, that the next skirmish would be less consequential-- he transformed himself into a skunk once more. Robyn offered to store Jarmangle's things in her bag of holding, but not trusting her, he gave all his gear and clothing to his sister.

The heroes came across a booby-trapped door near a strange, eldritch portal. Having not found the key, they decided to try picking the lock. Jarmangle, in skunk form, could not do it, and so he had Tyne do it.

He rolled a one. The trap shot a bolt of lightning into Tyne, sending her towards the portal.

"Make a saving throw to stop her from falling into the portal," I said.

Jarmangle's player, fearing his usual luck, demured. He handed the d20 to Robyn. "You have good luck, you do it."

She rolled a one. "Um, can I use my elven accuracy?"

"Probably not, but what the hell," I said. "Go ahead and roll again."

She rolled a one.

I grimaced.

That's when Jarmangle suggested they use The Mulligan. The group agreed. Feer volunteered to roll the dice.

She rolled a two.

Tyne fell into the pit, and the linked ring of telepathy still in skunk-mangle's possession went silent. They presumed that she was dead.

Jarmangle went back to the fountain and transformed himself into a tiefling once more. Now weaponless, armourless, and nude, he returned to the group and they pressed on to the top of the Spire, solving the various puzzles and hazards in their way.

The last of these was a cipher in nine lines. The trick was that the nine lines not only had to be translated, but then put into the proper order. Once they had done so, they read the resulting poem:

Dison wished for endless gold.
It rained down for seven hours
and crushed him dead.

Grayfield wished for endless love.
She shared his bed for seven nights
and drained him dry.

Nath thought himself a wiser man
And for seven years sought the perfect parse.
His shade seeks it still.

They soon realized that the top of the spire held someone that would grant them a wish, and that said wish would have to be phrased very carefully. Determined to bring Tyne back, they spent some time finding their own "perfect parse", eventually wishing that the portal, instead of killing her, would transport Tyne, complete and healthy, to this place and this time.

They made the wish, held their breath, and then: Tyne appeared, complete and healthy.

But only Tyne: none of her clothes or possessions came over with her, as they were not specified. Also unspecified: Jarmangle's possessions. His Sentient Sword of Blood-Drinking. His Boomerang of Stun. His Clawed Glove of Cling. His Radiant Cloak of Hearts. His Belt of Steadfasting. His Whip of Vampire-Killing. His +2 Magical Shuriken of Returningness. His Dragontooth Dagger-- so sharp, it always cuts, even on a miss. His money.

All gone, in a perfect storm.

If one of those things had been different-- if Jarmangle didn't want Tyne to come along, if he wasn't fighting with the bard and instead had stored his stuff in her bag of holding, if the skunk fountain wasn't there, if he hadn't taken Demonic Transformation a level previous-- then Tyne wouldn't have had all Jarmangle's stuff, wouldn't have tried to pick the lock because Jarmangle was a skunk, and wouldn't have been at the mercy of all those "1's".

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