Author Topic: The Stun Grenade  (Read 1903 times)

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Offline David Roomes

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The Stun Grenade
« on: March 21, 2016, 10:37:40 PM »
Here's a good gaming tale. I thought it was already on here somewhere in the Khoras forum, but I just looked and didn't see it anywhere. So, apologies if you've already heard this one, but here it goes...

I have ran the Avisarr campaign three times now over the last 20 years or so. Each time, it's been with a different group of players, in a different state and each time it's a bit different. Sometimes the players try different things, sometimes I change things, so every time the story finds it own unique path. That's just the nature of role playing.

So, in this campaign, the player characters are trying to prevent the return of the demon lord Draxorith into the world. They have a time limit. The campaign is long and far reaching, taking the players all over the continent.

Toward the end of this particular campaign, the players managed to pick up a “stun grenade”. I won’t go into all the details of where they got this device, but it was essentially that. A small hand held object… you activate it, throw it and upon impact it lets loose a blast of energy that’ll stun anyone within about 15 feet. Like a grenade, it's a one shot item. And they had been saving it for the right time...

Due to a series of events, it turned out that the players needed to obtain something from the chief villain’s stronghold. They needed to steal something from Lord Caramus himself, deep in the Citadel. Something that was being held down in the prison level down in the dungeons.

Entering the Citadel wasn’t hard, but getting into a restricted area like the main prison was. Rather than using firepower or stealth, they decided to bluff their way down to the prison by pretending to be guards escorting new prisoners down to the detention facility (i.e. the old “wookie in chains” routine from Star Wars). They managed to get through two security checkpoints. The bluff worked, but only for a little while, because soon they found themselves facing off with a skeptical commander. They were in a large central "command" chamber, deep in the lower levels, that was the central hub of the prison. This commander had several guards with him and he wasn’t buying it. The bluff was discovered and things quickly went bad. The commander ordered their arrest and yelled for more guards. Weapons came out, more guards arrived and within seconds, the players found themselves in a Mexican standoff.

The party was completely surrounded and outnumbered more than 2 to 1. Even if they managed to defeat those odds, they had to fight their way back OUT of the dungeons of the Citadel, a stronghold with hundreds of soldiers.

Despite the odds, the players were confident in their characters’ abilities and magic items. Yeah... they were going to fight their way out. The player with the stun grenade pulled it out, activated it and hurled it into the midst of a cluster of enemy guards. At least, that’s what he intended to do.

What actually happened was that the player rolled the worst possible die roll. A fumble! I asked him to make another roll to see how bad it was and the dice, once again, delivered another incredibly bad roll. A critical fumble! The character dropped the grenade at his feet. It hit the ground and detonated, unleashing the stun blast. The radius was just enough to encompass the entire party, while simultaneously leaving the guards completely unscathed (who just happened to be arranged in a circle around the party at a range of about 20 feet). It was the perfect storm of awesome power, horrible luck and unfortunate positioning.

The entire party was stunned, incoherent and senseless. The unlucky adventurers were easily disarmed, bound, gagged and thrown into prison cells.

Now this entire campaign was based around the idea of the party working to prevent the return of the demon lord Draxorith. The deadline had already been upon them. So, yes, the deadline came and went while they were in prison cells. The mighty Draxorith actually DID came back into the world. The heroes had failed! Although the party managed to escape from the Citadel later, it was too late. The main goal of the adventure was blown. One die roll had upended the entire campaign!

It could be argued that a bad die roll should never be given so much weight. A character should never die because of one bad roll and, by extension, a campaign should not go up in smoke because of one bad roll. And I usually agree with that. I would never let a single bad roll kill a player character. But the truth is the players loved the way this campaign ended. It was the first time the good guys had lost an entire campaign. It’s a great story. It was an EPIC fumble and the players still talk about this event fondly years later.

Besides, the players got a chance to take on and defeat Draxorith in the next campaign. So they did eventually get to even the score, but that's another story...
David M. Roomes
Creator of the World of Khoras