Here’s another new series I’ll probably neglect just as bad as the others I’ve started. Hovering on Death’s Door will be my recollections of memorable character demises, whether they be tragic, comedic, or just downright embarrassing.
Character: A human paladin, name lost to the sands of time.
Game: AD&D 2nd edition. A homebrew campaign with oodles of Norse mythology.
What happened: I know I said I hated paladins before, but I did play one. Once. This was to be the only paladin I’ve ever played, and he lasted all of five minutes (or so it seemed, anyway). I was going through a rough patch at that time, losing three or four characters in a row due to luckless die rolling and unforeseen twists of fate, so I threw my hands up in the air and created a paladin. Smooth move.
My memory of events leading up to my paladin’s demise are a bit sketchy, but I remember the cliff notes version at least. The party was hunting the main bad guy figure of the campaign, who had fled to another dimension (he was a powerful wizard, if I recall correctly). In order to get to this outer dimension, the party needed to find a key, a big orange gem, that would activate the portal to get there (in retrospect, I think the DM was watching too much Stargate at the time).
I have no idea how we deduced so, but the party discovered that the gem was somewhere up in the mountains, having been taken by what locals described as a ‘great, winged terror’. Naturally we’re thinking dragon, but upon reaching the mountain’s peak we uncover what appears to be a giant bird’s nest. My paladin, being the noble and honorable warrior he is, volunteers to climb up and take a gander at the nest. Inside, he discovers the gem and duly goes to retrieve it. Unfortunately, he steps on an egg as he’s trying to walk across the nest, shattering it completely. The paladin pays no mind though, securing the gem and passing it down to a comrade below.
However, I was lingering too long in the nest, and mama came home before he could get out of there. The winged terror the villagers warned us of was actually a massive, full-sized roc. Oh, joy! Don’t know what a roc is? Take a look at the illustration below to get an idea of how big those fuckers are…
As I said, my memories up to this point are somewhat vague, but I vividly recall the following exchange…
DM: The roc looks down at her broken egg, then looks at you.
DM: Looks at the egg. Then looks at you.
DM: Looks at the egg. Looks at you.
Me: [crumbles up my character sheet and nails a three-point shot into the trash can across the room before begrudgingly grabbing a fresh sheet and starting on a new PC]
There was no point in rolling for anything. My little scrub of a paladin was toast, no amount of pleading to the god of light and goodness was going to save his butt from the mighty claws and beak of a roc. And since I was so chivalrous in handing the gem off beforehand, my comrades had no good reason to jump in there and assist me. So while they sneaked away down the mountain and into another dimension, my poor pally died a horrific, harrowing death so gruesome it had to be done off-screen.