Weekly GMing – Got Away

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Last game session the party faced the Big Bad, and he got away. More accurately, I set him up to be able to escape (see more details below). Setting up a big fight with a big bad and then engineering their escape is guaranteed to drive players crazy.

We play for fun (my experience anyway). Anything that reduces the fun must be avoided. There are plenty of folks that play to roll the dice and beat the bad guys. That’s their fun. How do you keep the fun without the Big Bad buying the farm?

Here are the things that I did to try and keep the fun in the last session.

Setup. Make sure that information about the Big Bad escaping before, or having a tendency to run away is available to the PCs.

Mission. Don’t make killing the Big bad the goal of the encounter. In my case the PCs were tasked with rescuing someone. The Big Bad was just in their way. It didn’t have to die, it just had to get out of the way.

Thrilling. Make it feel like driving off the Big Bad is a tremendous accomplishment. Barely surviving and still accomplishing the mission lessons the blow.

Experience. The PCs still get the XP for the Big Bad. If they get “lucky” they can kill it later and double the XP!

Loot. Drive off the Big Bad and take its loot. They earned it.

Nemesis. Nothing is more satisfying than catching and killing the one that got away.

I’m sure there are lots of other things that can help keep the fun in the game even when the Big Bad gets away. Try these out on the players and see if it can bring some more fun into your game.

Spoilers!

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Tonight they faced the Dragon – Aurathator – Great White Death. As you probably guessed, he got away, but not before being seriously wounded. In the end it came down to the arrows of Dragon Slaying from Maccath along with a crit on the roll from the thief. 10d6 +12d10 +4 damage will ruin anyone’s day, even a dragon. Aurathator’s great plan to fly, frighten, and breath worked well, until the arrows and crits started happening.

I think my favorite part of the battle was the thief and the monk jumping onto the dragon after it tipped over the mast they were hiding on (crows nest). Aurathator then triggered the Dimension door spell it had on a Ring of Spell storing and teleported to an underwater tunnel. A few tail attacks later and the dragon was free and swimming/flying to a new lair leaving a pissed off monk and unconscious thief in its wake.

The combination of minions and dragon worked pretty well. Because Autathator was out of his lair he missed out on a few actions, but the wing buffet and tail attack are pretty deadly. Putting a few PCs unconscious takes away attack actions by others as they rush to help – an excellent tactic to remember.

PC’s took advantage of the small space, but that also grouped them for a breath attack and made it easy for minions to keep them busy.

In the end the PCs collected the dragons loot – old rolling on tables – w00t. And, they have a mostly healthy Maccath to return to Waterdeep. However, the dragon acted out his anger by destroying the ship the PCs arrived in (killing the crew), and killed and froze the village of ice hunters on top of the iceberg.

Oh what could happen next…

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