Here’s the write up for our fourteenth Scarlet Citadel session. Hopefully these write ups will prove useful to others running the adventure.
You can read earlier posts here. This post contains spoilers for Scarlet Citadel.
Our last session two weeks ago did not go to plan! We had only three players again – Allia, Dimitar and Torander – and we had ended the previous session after they had fought several oozes and mephits on level 2.
Back in session 10, the characters had met “Baska”, the barbed devil summoned by Cagoth-Ze, and had ignored his entreaties to free him from the magic circle he was trapped in. While they were back in Redtower, Cagoth-Ze did his own deal with the devil and let him go in exchange for a pledge to kill the annoying adventurers who’d attacked Cagoth-Ze, used his time construct without permission, and stolen his stuff. Baska had been stalking the PCs since they returned to the level and now he was ready to strike!
I had the barbed devil appear through the door to the north at the very start of the session and hurl flame at the characters. He’s a CR 5 and there were just three PCs, not at full strength, so I knew this was a potentially deadly encounter. What I didn’t expect was that the players would be so reluctant to run away, even after Baska had dropped one of them. Knowing when to run away has proved a key survival tactic throughout this dangerous campaign and no PC had died in any of the previous 13 sessions.
This time, I think the fact they would be running into an area they hadn’t explored probably explains the player’s reluctance, along with Dimitar’s bravado and the feeling that Allia’s player couldn’t possibly roll two consecutive 1s after setting up her sneak attack. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
As each character dropped only to be revived and then dropped again – remember, they have no cleric! – I could clearly see the writing on the wall. I’m not sure if the players could, but they battled on until we experienced our first ever Monday night TPK*. Baska was down to just 20 hp so they might have prevailed with better luck!
After a few moments of stunned silence, we talked about new characters. There’s been a long-standing agreement among the players that the first person to lose a character needs to play a cleric next. Since all three PCs died at once, they are all going to play clerics! As things stand, there will be a Life cleric of Yarila and Porevit, a Light cleric of Khors, and a War cleric of Mavros.
We haven’t told the other two players who missed the session what happened and they are not there for the next game either. If they don’t read this blog post, they will be surprised to learn on their return that their companions went to the Scarlet Citadel a week or so ago and didn’t come back, and there are three new adventurers in town, all of them clerics.
*We did almost have a TPK back in 2006 when I ran my Pirates of the Caribbean campaign but the d20 Skull and Bones rules allow PCs a chance to escape death by losing a limb or an eye so they all survived, acquiring peg-legs, hooks, eye patches and so on.
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Main image by David Auden Nash