TPK + Bargle = Happy Birthday

the set-up

Our buddy Foner celebrated his birthday today!  I decided, “Hey, I’ll run a game, and because it’s Foner’s birthday, he’ll get to fight a Dragon!”   (Oddly, Dragons occur very rarely in our games.)

To save preparation time, I dusted off the last two levels of Dyson’s Delve, and created a party of characters, each with 30,000 experience points. They would arrive by means of an enchanted boat, sailing across the Sunless Sea on Level 11, in pursuit of the nefarious Bargle the Infamous. To those who began playing with Frank Mentzer’s Basic Set, Bargle has been a wily foe for almost thirty years after slaying our friend Aleena.

let's play a game where your friends die for no reason

3 seconds before a traumatic moment in my childhood

to summarize briefly

Dang it, Foner ended up playing games with other guests, so I guess it wasn’t really a birthday treat for him after all!  But we had a great time, and I kept offering to drag him in, and he kept demurring.  I think he was delighted that we were just one part of a zillion guests having a good time at his place.  Next time, Foner… next time.

The boat didn’t survive contact with two Cthulhu Monsters that live in the lake, and the party lost their only known exit route. They encountered Bargle almost immediately, and while exterminating the warlock and his charmed Ogres, ended up inciting a small army of Troglodytes.

The Troglodytes summoned their lizard-god, a Black Dragon.  The party began a desperate retreat, plunging right into the maw of Tuatara Lizards who mauled them from ambush.  The two survivors likely envy the dead.


Protagonist Horrible Doom
Cleric Melted to death by the Dragon’s breath when Potion of Invisibility turns out to be a Potion of Delusion
Fighter Ripped to shreds by Tuatara Lizards (wow they are tough)
Thief Ripped to shreds by Tuatara Lizards, corpse pulverized by a rockslide
Magic-User Spells depleted, 3 hit points left, invisible, three levels away from nearest exit
Extra Fighter Naked to flee faster, 4 hit points left, heading straight toward a Purple Maggot
Bargle Thirty years after his heartless murder of Aleena the Adept, was webbed, held, impaled by the Fighter’s spear, and then decapitated

some comments

with all this gold I'll buy a refrigerator

25 years and 3 TPK's, but we got him, baby

  • We didn’t play all the way to a TPK because I wanted to socialize with the other guests, but there couldn’t have been any other outcome.  The two survivors had a total of 7 hit points between them, no armor, and no spells.  In the next three rooms: a Minotaur, a Purple Maggot, and three Owl Bears.  Good luck!
  • Dyson’s Delve is jam-packed with monsters, dude.  We never left the combat system, because either waves of enemies would join the fight or the group would barge into more trouble.
  • So: this was my first time in 25 years of play to use a Dragon in play—and the party ran away terror.  They were never on the same level at the same time.  Do Dragons have penises? I don’t know, but they sure get blue balls.
  • Chris, who hadn’t played D&D in twenty years, had a good time.
  • Ann, who had never played D&D at all, had a blast watching.



6 Responses to “TPK + Bargle = Happy Birthday”

  1. 1 Dyson Logos
    February 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm


    The lower levels of the delve are pretty hardcore, and most of them are pretty monster-packed. The bottom two levels are meant to be a slaughter waiting to happen.

    And happen it did!


  2. February 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Dyson, thanks for the dungeons! Surprisingly, it’s rare to see a Dragon in Dungeons & Dragons, at least in my experience, so the lower levels of the Delve saved me all the trouble of coming up with something. It was a life-saver (for the DM, at least).

    Part of the players’ difficulty was that this was a group of 5 PC’s with “standard pre-gen” magical gear, including “sub-optimal” magical armor so that the Fighter ended up in Leather +1. So this group was under-manned, out-gunned, and comparatively squishy. Plus the Magic-User burned through all of her spells battling Ogres and the first wave of Troglodytes.

    Even so, they MIGHT have survived, but they ran pell-mell directly into the Lizards’ cave and got surprised. Who knew that Tuatara Lizards are so horribly deadly? They’re one of the monsters I tend to skip over, but they deserve a lot more respect after last night.

  3. 3 Scott LeMien
    February 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I have a few things to say about this game. I was driving the cleric and fighter, and did a lot of eyerolling and guilt tripping on the DM for his armor choices.

    I was responsible for party pressure to burn through a lot of our spells by taking out Bargle. I mean, this effin’ wizard has burned my balls at least 3 times with different characters, so true to my impartial roleplaying skills, I immediately carry the grudge over to make sure we kill this fucker for good. And we did, but not before the troglodytes came out and summoned the dragon. So, it was countless troglodytes, a dragon, an 8th level wizard, and his ogre bodyguards (3).

    Once the dragon came out, we retreated up the stairs to the next higher level. The magic user was dragging the corpse of the thief (his other PC) into the next room of encounters, which was scaring me to no end. The MU, who speaks draconic, kept an ongoing shouting dialogue with the dragon as the lizards were killing us. The cleric took a potion of delusion from the fighter and drank it, but the lizards kept attacking. Finally, she drank a potion of polymorph self, apologizing to those she was about to desert, but the Magic User had the last laugh. He told the dragon that the true culprit was flying down the staircase toward him. Then she was killed.

  4. February 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    For someone complaining about sticking the Fighter in (magical) leather armor, you sure did a lot of running.

  5. 5 Dyson Logos
    February 26, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    (I just linked to this post from the Dyson’s Delve page so others can read about the carnage)

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Past Adventures of the Mule

February 2011

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