RPG Misadventures: The Adventurers and the Death Beetle

This week in RPG Misadventures, we have one of the few instances where I, as a GM, killed every character in the players party. I felt bad, almost horrible, but it happened. I will note that this contains events from the Pathfinder RPG Adventure Path called Kingmaker, so if you think you might play it, I’d advise steering clear of this post. Regardless, the session was something of a debacle.

The group adventuring in what’s called the Greenbelt was a strange bunch. We had Harkin, the dwarven cavalier (knight), Fenlin the gnome bard, Rumaea the elven paladin, and Thelos the Healer (a class converted from 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons). Having dealt with a number of bandits, a nasty bandit camp, and even a nasty ambush by a werewolf, the group was feeling fairly confident in themselves when they came across the lair of a group of mites beneath a massive, dead oak.

Mites, I must explain, are a nasty group of tiny humanoids. Think blue versions of Yoda with a bad attitude and who can talk to insects, and you’ve got a basic idea of them. These mites were raising giant centipedes and were at war with a neighboring clan of kobolds, so the group delved into the dungeon filled with mites and centipedes.

The first room they came to nearly brought them to their knees, for none of you wish for a description of the foulness that was the breeding chamber for the centipedes. The only things that kept their lunches down was the combat between them, four man-sized centipedes, and a mite. Even so, the group was about to retreat when they heard the screams of a torturer from below them.

They descended into a chamber where eight giggling mites had tortured three kobolds to death, and the last kobold was barely alive. The other end of the chamber was dominated by a rift among the roots of the oak, and a chamber could be seen beyond it. The group immediately attacked the mites, slaughtering them wholesale and rescuing the poor kobold from durance vile. He quickly explained that his clan was trying to retrieve a sacred artifact from the mites, and the group decided to aid him.

Approaching the rift, they found it was only ten feet from one side to the other, with knotted rope loops nailed to the roots above so that others could swing across. Rumaea went first, but just as she landed, before she could properly examine the room on the other side, the monster in the depths of the rift struck, a gigantic whip-tail centipede nearly forty feet long!

The centipede was blocked by roots and had to squeeze to get up to where it could attack, which left it still a deadly foe, and luck was with the group! All of the heroes struck deadly blows on the great centipede, and after a short combat the foe which could have slain all of them in open combat died horribly. This was when Lady Luck turned her gaze from the intrepid adventurers, for the room Rumaea had landed in was the war room of the mites, and their leader had spent their combat preparing for battle.

Riding his gigantic beetle Tickleback (rethemed from being a giant tick due to one player’s horror of them), a creature ten feet long and with horrific mandibles, and with his four most trusted lieutenants at his side, one might have thought that the mite leader would be a horrific foe! Alas for him, he succumbed to Fenlin’s sleep spells, along with most of his subordinates, making the fight a battle between Tickleback and the group. The beetle crushed Rumaea almost instantly, dropping the paladin to the ground unconscious with a single bite. Harkin bravely raced across to confront the beetle as well, while Thelos came to heal Rumaea and get the paladin conscious.

The battle went… poorly. Trapped on the ground, her glaive useless at close quarters, the elven paladin was forced to attempt to punch Tickleback to death with her gauntlet, else she get ripped in half as she tried to stand. Harkin took several savage blows before falling before Tickleback, while Fenlin tried to give support. The only one to do appreciable damage to the beetle was Thelos with his sickle… and he lasted only a single blow from the monster. Rumaea was slain as she tried to stand and take the deadly monster on. With all the others down, and bleeding herself, Fenlin attempted to escape across the rift, but in so doing she encountered a trap which thus far had been avoided by pure luck.

Half of the rope loops were fakes, made with slipknots, and in her haste Fenlin grabbed the wrong loop, which came undone. The gnome still might have survived, but she missed her desperate grab for the next loop, and fell over twenty feet into the rift onto rocks, where she died horribly.

The entire group of heroes was dead, having been slain by a giant beetle. Unsatisfied with the manner of their deaths, I chose to have them ‘wake up from a vision’ just before they’d jumped the chasm, and the group fled the lair to go gain more experience before challenging the beetle of their nightmares.

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