Lich defeats 1st level party

In hindsight, rushing the Lich wasn’t the best idea. (And okay, we had like five 5th level guys, but two 1st level players for whom this was their very first B/X session.)

In previous posts, I’ve discussed how a lone spell caster type enemy can be taken down with a dedicated rush. We took out Strahd that way. We took out Devil Guts that way. We took out the Necromancer of Were-Tiger-opolis that way. But sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, the bear eats you.

Some of our problem was bad luck. We got hosed on some important initiative rolls, our archer couldn’t hit anything to save his life, and we had several rounds of unlucky saves against confusion.

Some of our problem was smart play on the GM’s part. The Lich initially took to the air, so our (too few) melee guys couldn’t get to him. The Lich was also somehow protected against holy water (protection from normal missiles?). The persistent confusion effect made it impossible to plan anything beyond the immediate round, and was arguably more effective than cloud kill would have been.

Some of it was just the design of the Lich as an enemy. The “see and flee” effect is a tremendously useful passive defense that applies against the entire party, and there aren’t a lot of ways to remove fear on several guys at once running at max speed. Though the Lich doesn’t level-drain, it paralyzes foes in melee, which means the party has an ethical dilemma about retreating and leaving valuable allies behind. The Lich’s ultra-low AC, by B/X standards, at least, means it can probably avoid conventional attacks long enough to get a spell off.

But mostly it was dumb strategy on our part, mostly mine. I blew my only dispel magic getting past an enchanted trap. We couldn’t bullshit his Iron Statue long enough to regroup and form up. The silence 15 foot radius was a lucky break, but after that our only real plan consisted of sniping a levitating Lich and trying to find a way to drop a chain of undead binding on him. Which should have worked, but for some very bad luck. Meanwhile the rest of us were too confused or fear-stricken to adequately help out. It was all we could do to retreat, though apparently we dished out some hefty damage.

I pushed for attacking again the next day before it had a chance to heal up, but got outvoted. Next time, pal. Next time.

4 Responses to “Lich defeats 1st level party”

  1. 1 skidoo
    September 5, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I have a spell for next time.

    Guthrie’s Projectable Corpus
    Level: 3
    Duration: Immediate
    Range: 10’ x lvl

    Turns a living body into a fiery ballistic. The body may be the caster’s own, or another living creature immediately adjacent (if subject is unwilling, save vs. spells). The caster then fires the body in any direction, at any target within range. The target must save vs. paralysis, or be struck for 2d6 damage, half if immune to fire or magically resistant. Any airborne target will be knocked from the sky, taking appropriate falling damage. The subject comes crashing to the ground another ten feet behind the target, stunned for 1 round but otherwise unharmed.

  2. 2 Ynas Midgard
    September 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    As a player, I have only once encountered a lich – we were exploring Tegel Manor at a gaming convention (about five 3rd or 4th level characters, I guess), and it was a random encounter. Too bad we couldn’t negotiate him, so he almost killed the entire party within something like 2 rounds. Although I dropped dead instantly because of a failed save, it was a pretty amazing experience. Yours sounds that, too :)

  3. 3 James Nostack
    September 6, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Skidoo, the chance of us ever having the money and time in Glantri to research a 3rd level spell is pretty implausible, but it’s not a bad idea otherwise.

    I really think this was achievable with just a smidge more time to plan – I have at least two ideas on how I could have defeated that stupid door that wouldn’t have wasted my dispel magic, for example, which would have made a crucial difference in overcoming both the fear and the confusion effects.

  4. 4 Lord Bodacious
    September 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Even just having 2 “fully loaded” wizards with spells and items geared for the fight could shift the odds significantly.

    On the one hand, I felt we were SO CLOSE and that a few rolls would have lead to victory… on the other hand I think the Lich may have been using kid gloves as a result of our claimed connections to his ancestors, interdimensional trade and a pretty amazing reaction roll by Arnold (an 11 as I recall).

    A fireball would have changed that combat quickly and dramatically. I for one am very glad to have gotten my hard won 45k experience points out of there intact!

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Past Adventures of the Mule

September 2012

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