|Garde Manger Guy|
Name of PC's/Class/Level Talis (Lv. 1 Paladin Lv 2 Oracle), Krauzer (Lv 3 Barbarian)and Derrin (Lv 3 Swashbuckler)
Catalyst: DM overreach/ Poor tactical decisions (Pc's)/DM not rolling his usual Nat 1's for attack rolls/ Malfeshnekor/
The beginnings of what could have easily been a TPK for this 6 person party began back in Sandpoint. The Barbarian has played ROTR before so I have had to modify several things to keep him of guard. He has helped the situation for me by him RPing a dumb Barbarian who likes to smash everything and ask questions of the survivors. (Of which there have been very few)
They had an opportunity to gain a lot of info of Thistletop and fanned on it completely. They got a general sense of the place and that the villains held their big "ceremony of EVIL" every week but missed out on layouts, watch rotations, and the like. Also with the way the Barbarian was RPing his character, he was literally smashing in every door he found rather than seeing if it was open first. (giving me extra rounds to prepare) Everyone thought it was fun even after I warned them several times that "You will not always be fighting unintelligent foes like Goblins" This would come back to haunt them.
They chose to invade during the ceremony. This allowed them into the keep without much difficulty. However they then alerted the keep to the intrusion without fully exploring the first floor, and that turned out to be very bad in the long run. The keep responded by sending all the Goblins up both staircases (they had found only one by that point) and even though they mopped up the Goblins for the most part they used alot of resources to do so.
I had a part to play at this point here as well. In the "post action report" I held after the session it was made clear that I had not clearly defined that while yes they were under a time crunch, they could have retreated and rested up for a day after killing the Goblin King. Nualia and company would have regrouped and had a different strategy for them, but it would have been perfectly acceptable to fall back and recover from their drain on (mostly magical) resources. Instead they pressed on.
The second level of the keep was deserted. Nualia's Lieutenants had gone down to protect her on the third floor. I wanted to keep Nualia as a long term nemesis for the Paladin, so I gave Lyrie her Cleric levels(dropping mage) and had Nualia stick around just long enough to taunt the party (no combat) and exit. This left Tesuto, Bruthazmus, Lyrie, and a few remaining Goblin commandos to face them. I let the party have at it for several rounds until just Lyrie and one lone Goblin commando archer were left.
That's when Malfeshnekor appeared. In hindsight, I should have waited until the party had defeated Lyrie. Or not used him at all. But the combat was going well for them and I thought that they could handle it. (A "who's bloody" check here would have been a smart move on my part) Lyrie had mirror image up (from the deception domain) and had been ignored by the party while they crushed everything else. This came back to haunt them when she started channeling negative energy. That's what killed the Barbarian. It also dropped the parties Dwarf who was returned to consciousness by the parties Sorcerer
Even with the Paladins 26 AC, 3 attacks at +14 from Mal is going to hit stuff eventually and that's what happened. The party was hopelessly split with 3 PC's dying/attacking Lyrie about 50 feet away from the 2 dying/attacking Mal. Mal basically chewed up the Paladin and the Swashbuckler in short order. Both Mal and Lyrie were dropped to bloody, but it was not enough. (If they had rested before this fight I have no doubt they would have cleared the room.)
Good things can happen from tragic mistakes however. The party's Dwarf (a fellow DM who is running a campaign of his own for us) managed to save the day with a great bit of personal sacrifice for his character that was RPed by him very well. I allowed it to stand and only now as I type this do I realize the extent to which he saved my bacon from cries of unjustness that might just be very well deserved.
No matter. What happened happened and now the party continues on to the next chapter with some "interesting" choices to be made by the dwarf in question.