Tabletop Tales: Illithid Pashing

After the kerfuffle in Stonefall with Barnabas, the party had some down time. Wounds were healed, equipment was purchased, and Brithangel even made some potions of false life for his unappreciative fellows, who to a man had not volunteered their own blood for the admixtures. The goblin Bobbum was nowhere to be found, as was his way from time to time.

Kyrl, the party fighter, began hearing voices. This was some cause for concern. Turns out it was a sending spell, sent by one Landros, a wizard with whom Kyrl and Shade (the rogue) had dealt with in the past. Turns out the wizard was trapped behind some sort of impenetrable magical barrier through which he and his companion could not teleport, and needed rescuing.

“You have high-maintenance friends,” Brithangel told Kyrl. The elf was not one for tact. All the same, he agreed to offer his services in the rescue.

A few Diplomacy and Knowledge (geography) checks later and the party was on their way. Brithangel suggested they take a guide, but the other members overruled him. A four-hour trek into the wilderness turned into a twelve-hour meandering, a fact the alchemist is not likely to forget. Ever.

Within the bowels of the abandoned, overgrown fortress that Landros was trapped beneath, the party discovered an odd slime that coated the floor. It flowed in strange ways that defied the natural order of things. Floating aberrations haunted the rooms beneath the keep, and the battles were swift but discomfiting. We fought flumphs. Flumphs. Damn them all.

Anyway, we got to the bottom of things, literally, and it turned out a mind flayer was operating a strange device that imprisoned Landros and his assistant, a cleric. They’re out for the count, and the dread machine animated statues that proceed to assault the party. It is decided Kyrl and the summoner will hold them off, while Shade and Brithangel take down the mind flayer. This was, in theory, a good plan.

That is, until the flayer mind blasted all of us!

I forget who exactly succeeded on their DC 19 Will save, but my character certainly did not. Brithangel stood stunned. His crossbow clattered to the flagstones there in the horrible fane of some ancient evil.

“Brithangel, does a 24 hit your CMD?”

“Screw you, you know it does!”

“The illithid creeps up to you as you look on in horror, and its tentacles wrap themselves around your head.”

This is it, I thought. This is the end of Brithangel Malraeneus. Oh well, tengus seemed kind of cool, maybe I could make an oracle or a barbarian.

Someone hit the mind flayer. Someone who wasn’t stunned for 3 rounds. The GM announced that the creature was now bloodied. (Bloodied isn’t technically a condition in Pathfinder, but the group seems to make use of the term.)

“Does he let go of Brith?”

The GM thought for a moment. “Sure.”

YE—NOOOOOOO!

I didn’t protest for two reasons: First, I didn’t want to countermand the GM. Second, although I do throw my characters into the line of fire rather often, I don’t actually have a death wish for them. There is, however, no rules-based reason why the grapple between me and the mind flayer should have ended.

What do mind flayers do once they have you grappled? Why, they eat your brains, of course.

Being stunned was one of the worst things. I don’t mind marching into danger. I don’t mind getting shot at. There is a certain psychological despair that comes with being powerless to influence your character’s fate in any way, however, and not being able to act for three rounds is a big mental blow.

I’ve talked about fudging, and GMs pulling their punches, and how I don’t generally agree with it. Even now, sitting here, I know deep down that Brith’s corpse should be about three pounds lighter.

I know why GMs fudge. Hell, I’ve done it myself. Brithangel’s death would not have crushed me personally, because there are always more stories to tell and other characters to explore. Yet I have to confess, despite my protests here, I am glad he is alive.

Permit me this momentary hypocrisy.

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