Carebears Anonymous, an update

Hello, my name is Jerry and I’m a carebear Dungeonmaster. I’m here to inform you all briefly of an encounter I ran this weekend that actually managed to incap two of my players (nearly killing one). Some of you may have read my previous article about being a little too easygoing on my players, and what I should do to combat it. Well I designed a rough encounter and ran it this weekend and let me just tell you that the pit of my stomach fell a bit as I heard “wow I’m dying, my character is gonna die”. I knew I’d finally managed to make them sweat in an encounter to the point of incapacitation and possible death, but I felt horrible about it!

Now I must admit, for a party of 5 level 4 characters (and a level 3 NPC who’s an amateur at best) an XP budget of 1300 is kinda high, but hey that was the point. Not to mention the entire floor was a sheet of solid ice, forcing movement beyond 3 squares to require a moderate athletics check or fall prone. I was unsure if I should have counted this as a trap/obstacle and rewarded additional XP for it, I didn’t bother to look up something similar on the compendium for comparison so I just tossed in an extra 50xp per character at the end of the encounter. So anyone out there with commentary on that, I’d love to hear it.

The encounter was set in the basement of a seemingly abandoned dwarven wizards dwelling, she is/was an elementalist who delved deep into frost magic (the players are unsure of whether she’s still alive). Without any more back story than that, let’s skip to the final encounter. They are in a hidden chamber beneath her living chambers, the floor here is a thick and glass-like solid sheet of ice, the walls hold crystalline ice shelves filled with magical loot, and the massive arcane grandfather clock behind them ticks loudly, each sound resonating through the dwelling. The pendulum is actually a magical staff of great frost power, it bestows great abilities to it’s weilder and the greedy little dwarf that brought them there wants it more than anything. To make a long story short the staff is removed from the  clock, setting off defense mechanisms and the end result was 2 Chillfire Destroyers for pulverizing, 2 Ice Mephits for annoyance and burst damage, and a Frost Devil to knock them all on their asses.

It was the aura, and ending explosion from the first destroyer that really did them in, the warden was just below 0 and the swordmage was at -20hp, and the cleric only a few above zero. My carebear mode kicked in when my cleric suggested “Saving throw for half damage?”  and I said yes, but the hands of fate were determined as those rolls were failed. The floor turned out to be not much of a hindrance at all, and now in hindsight I could  have made the room larger to promote movement, as they ended up not having to move much to fight effectively. Although the size of the room aided in the destroyers aura and explosion finale abilities, as well as the mass knockdown from the Frost Devil.

Some lucky crits from the NPC really saved their asses to be perfectly honest, all in all I’m glad I gave them a bit of a scare but disappointed my inner fluffy teddy bear came out to sprinkle pixie dust on the situation. I think I’m afraid to kill a PC, and I think I may need help. Someone hug me and tell me it’s okay….no wait, don’t do that. I know I went overboard with the encounters difficulty, I think it was a way of forcing my own hand on the issue of avoiding being a carebear. I’m on my road to recovery, albeit a slow one I think I’m headed in the right direction. I hope.

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