A D&D Story: The Skull Room

My group of Dungeons & Dragons adventurers is not comprised of the smartest characters. As players, my friends and I have a tendency to be silly, stupid, or bold just for the entertainment value of it all.

During this particular campaign, Sidney, Dalton, Mia, and I were at the table.

Dalton was the Dungeon Master (DM). He ran the whole show, planned out the entire area the rest of us were exploring. He’s methodical in his craftsmanship, but has a delightfully dark sense of humor when he sees his players making mistakes.

Sidney played our resident Warlock with persistent bad luck. He’s the most affable person I know, but damn, he is plagued with terrible rolls and poor, split-second decisions.

Mia was our level-headed ranger. Of all the characters in our party, she’s the one with logic and practicality on her side. We all would have died during our first mission if it hadn’t been for her.

And I was my all-time favorite Barbarian Half-Orc. Unbridled rage, loyalty to her “tribe,” and rash choices are my bread and butter.

In this mission, the three of us players were exploring this underground cavern. Rumors of a dark-magic forge built here kept us searching for hidden rooms and strange mechanisms. Eventually, we reached a massive space with wooden contraptions that told us we had found our forge.

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t have long to enjoy our discovery.

As soon as we entered, a giant, flaming skull suddenly appeared and started throwing fire our way. It also conjured up these minions from out of nowhere, all of them surrounding us in an instant.

As a Barbarian (and as a Half-Orc), I charged into the fray heedless of my safety. Mia’s Ranger and Sidney’s Warlock had no choice but to follow my example.

After the first two rounds of combat, it was clear our party was out of its depth. But Mia and her Ranger were the only ones to realize this and remark upon it.

Side note: Come on. I’m a Barbarian Half-Orc. Recklessness is in my blood.

In an effort to try and incorporate some strategy into our attacks, Sidney moved his Warlock out of the room. There were two entrances to the large space, and Sidney figured we’d be less of a target if we split our forces. His Warlock walked out into the hallway, all the way around to the other side of the room. From that spot, he was able to start Eldritch-Blasting the backside of our opponents.

Unfortunately, in the time it took him to walk there, my and Mia’s characters became overwhelmed. My Barbarian went down, and Mia’s Ranger needed to drag me the heck out of there.

Even though her Ranger is not a natural healer, she holds all of our Healing Kits in her pack. So, for the time being, she’s our go-to healer.

Her action was used up in dragging me away during that round. Mia assured me that when her next turn came around, she’d heal my Barbarian right up.

At that exact moment, Sidney’s Warlock took a huge barrage of punishment from the flaming skull. So much punishment, in fact, that he got knocked out too.

Mia paled and stammered that she’d get to him on the turn after she healed me.

True to her word, Mia healed my Barbarian right up. Then she began to make her way to Sidney’s downed Warlock.

Unlucky Sidney had moved so far though, that by the time Mia’s Ranger got to his body, he was gone.

As in dead.

Sidney laughed at Mia’s dismay, and his laughs increased when the first thing my Barbarian did upon waking up was to rush back into the fight.

I’ve never heard Mia curse so much.

The healing my Barbarian had received had only given me so many Hit Points (HP). In no time at all, I was downed again.

With a grimace of frustration, Mia got her Ranger back into that giant room, resigned to hauling my unconscious Barbarian carcass out of there once more.

The flaming skull and its minions had other plans.

They peppered projectiles at Mia’s Ranger like there was no tomorrow. And even though she managed to drag my Barbarian out of the room and into the hallway, the damage was done. She got knocked out too.

So in Dungeons & Dragons, there are these things called Death Saves and Death Fails. After losing all your HP, you have to roll Death Saving Throws. That means rolling your 20-sided die in order to determine if your character lives or dies. If you roll a 10 or higher, you’re in the clear. If you roll lower than that, you’re an inch closer to death. You have to make three successful rolls in order to be considered “hanging onto life.” If you roll three fails, your character is officially dead, and a new one needs to be made.

Sidney’s Warlock had failed all three of his Death Saving Throws before Mia’s character could heal him.

So with my Barbarian and Mia’s Ranger both down, we needed to make those throws.

Mia failed all of hers.

I made it.

Laughter ensued as I stared dumbfounded at my little Half-Orc, the only surviving member of our party. Dalton had his head in his hands. Sidney chortled about the near Total Party Kill (TPK) we just had. And Mia was laughing with pleasure at my guilt for getting her Ranger killed.

I seriously had no idea where to go from there.

Dalton ended up making the executive decision to retcon the entire encounter.

We pretended the whole thing never happened, and when we picked up our game next week, we avoided the shit out of that skull room.

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