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Closest Call In A TTRPG?

C-Moon

Suzerain Infomancer
What is your closest call in a TTRPG?

That is, whats a memory you have where you, your party or an ally came so close to losing it all but be it through tactics, rolls, luck, or that one ability you had been saving that you recovered?

For me, it was during a one-shot community game we did for Suzerain in the Wilderlands campaign. I was using one of our pre-made characters ‘Pretty Boy’ who was a great marksman but had his fair share of hindrances. While being attacked by huge monstrous wasps, one of my party members was close to pushing up the daisies. We kept missing and missing and missing and then boom, straight shot, aced and with a raise narrowly avoiding my teammate as he swatted away the wasps and I blasted those bugs. Perhaps not the end of the world scenario but it was a great experience after so many failures to then bring it all back around.

Against_The_Corruption.png
 
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The closest one that comes to mind was when the PCs were fighting a nalfeshnee and a glabrezu in an arena combat for the soul of the sister of one of the PCs. They had managed to defeat the glabrezu but the nalfeshnee was giving them some serious opposition, taking several of the PCs out with his smite ability, which left them dazed for 1d10 rounds. The remaining PCs were holding heir own against the nalfeshnee, but as soon as he was able to use his smite ability again he was probably going to incapacitate another couple of them at least, and that would likely turn the battle to his favor.

Our ranger PC had an angelhelm that allowed her to cast dispel evil once per day. She gave it a shot, hoping to banish the nalfeshnee back to the Abyss before he could activate his next smite, because he had triggered it already and it was going to manifest the following round. He only needed something like a 3 or higher to make the save against the smite evil and avoid being banished. I rolled the d20 for his save, it fell off the edge of the Player's Handbook...and landed on a natural "1."

The ranger's player was literally jumping up and down for joy. That could have been not only a TPK, but the PCs had each put their own souls on the line in order to win back the soul of the other PC's sister. Had the nalfeshnee won the arena battle, our campaign could have potentially ended right there.

Johnathan
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
We haven't had a "close call" since switching to 5th Edition...it's practically impossible for a single character to get killed on the battlefield, much less the entire party.

But back when we played 3rd Edition, we had a near-TPK from a single banshee attack, in the first round of combat. Of all the times to roll poorly on save throws, a banshee's wail is not the time. Only the rogue survived, and was able to flee. He came back with a horse in the daylight hours, collected his friends, and took them to the temple for resurrection.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
We haven't had a "close call" since switching to 5th Edition...it's practically impossible for a single character to get killed on the battlefield, much less the entire party.

But back when we played 3rd Edition, we had a near-TPK from a single banshee attack, in the first round of combat. Of all the times to roll poorly on save throws, a banshee's wail is not the time. Only the rogue survived, and was able to flee. He came back with a horse in the daylight hours, collected his friends, and took them to the temple for resurrection.
Really? We're running high level DotMM, the DM is use max monster damage, and it's pretty brutal. We're getting some pretty close TPKs almost every second session at the moment.
 

Jd Smith1

Adventurer
We haven't had a "close call" since switching to 5th Edition...it's practically impossible for a single character to get killed on the battlefield, much less the entire party.

But back when we played 3rd Edition, we had a near-TPK from a single banshee attack, in the first round of combat. Of all the times to roll poorly on save throws, a banshee's wail is not the time. Only the rogue survived, and was able to flee. He came back with a horse in the daylight hours, collected his friends, and took them to the temple for resurrection.

Yeah, if used RAW, 5e is a 'safe place' for PCs.

Of course, RAW is just a legend at my table.... ;)
 

amethal

Adventurer
My closest call in a long time was actually last session (of Pathfinder 1st edition, 5th level characters). One of the players couldn't make it, so we were missing a fighter, and were facing down a harpoon-wielding half-orc barbarian and his minions.

Our alchemist was slaughtering the minions whilst the slayer took on the barbarian in melee. The melee wasn't going very well for our side - the slayer had taken a couple of solid hits - so I decided the best way to save the slayer was for my halfling kineticist to rush into melee and distract the barbarian.

I used aid another to improve the slayer's AC, and the barbarian missed him with his first attack. He then swiped at me with his second attack (the halfling's little dagger was apparently no threat to him in melee, but a raging barbarian might not make the best tactical choices), rolled a natural 20 and then confirmed the critical, skewering me on his harpoon for 36 points of damage with a single hit. I had been uninjured up to that point, but I only had 33 hit points in total. Basically, halfling kebab, bleeding out on -3 hp.

A moment of silence around the table, as we contemplated the grim situation.

Then I belatedly remembered that as an aether kineticist I had 5 temporary hit points, so I actually still had 2 hit points left. Enough to enable me to make a scrambled withdrawal from melee.
 

Stormonu

Legend
We haven't had a "close call" since switching to 5th Edition...it's practically impossible for a single character to get killed on the battlefield, much less the entire party.
I must be doing something wrong then, because I'm on my 3rd PC in the 5E game I'm playing in, and in the Saltmarsh game I'm running, we've had at least two PC deaths.
 

Jd Smith1

Adventurer
Then I belatedly remembered that as an aether kineticist I had 5 temporary hit points, so I actually still had 2 hit points left. Enough to enable me to make a scrambled withdrawal from melee.
How did you withdraw if you were 'skewered'? That would suggest that you were lacking in mobility.
 

A few sessions ago the PCs fought their first Mind Flayer. Everyone but the monk got mind blasted. She fought alone and ended up getting grabbed and stunned by the mind flayer as two of the PCs made their saves. The mind flayer told them to lay down their weapons or it would devour the monk's brain. The rogue decided to attack instead. If he hadn't done enough damage, the mind flayer's readied action would've gone off, and the monk would've found herself without a brain. Because the one other PC had made their save and closed, the rogue got sneak attack and was able to slay the mind flayer. That was about as close a call as I've seen in some time.
 



Eltab

Hero
I was DM'ing Tiamat and in Arauthator's lair I had half the PCs making Death Saves after Round Three ... then the Bard remembered her Staff of Healing, popped the top-end power, and emitted so many healing HP that all eight or so PCs were back to max - and I could have full-healed Arauthator too and had a few HP left over ! (But I didn't, and they killed him before the end of Round Eight.)

Singular 'turn around the fight' moment.
 

Oof! When I ran Arauthator's lair, it was also a brutal fight. The PCs won it by the skin of their teeth, though Arauthator managed to flee to live another day.

I was DM'ing Tiamat and in Arauthator's lair I had half the PCs making Death Saves after Round Three ... then the Bard remembered her Staff of Healing, popped the top-end power, and emitted so many healing HP that all eight or so PCs were back to max - and I could have full-healed Arauthator too and had a few HP left over ! (But I didn't, and they killed him before the end of Round Eight.)

Singular 'turn around the fight' moment.
 

Oddly, the most notable close call I've had was in our current D&D 5E campaign, BG:DiA. Most close calls I can think of were the other way ("we almost succeeded"). Anyway, at level 3, during our 7th encounter of the day (with no short rest) we almost had a TPK against a necromancer (I think). Everyone dropped to 0 at one point, with my Dwarf Cleric the Earth Genasi Barbarian each rolling a 20 twice during the combat. At the end of the combat, we had a combined 3 HP between the two of us, with the other 4 PCs unconscious. We had to drag them back to our safehouse, and sadly had to give up most of our treasure to muggers who preyed upon our weakness.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
Closest call as a player had to be in the opening sequence of CoS.
My 1/2ling Warlock
1/2orc barbarian
human Fighter
Dwarf cleric
and a winged tiefling - who'd just joined that evening.
We were in the basement of the Death House fighting the plant monster. Each round at least one of the other 4 would get knocked to 0 HP on the monsters turn. Then the round would reset & my 1/2ling would run up just outside the things reach via expeditious retreat, roll a medicine check to stabilize them, roll a natural 20 restoring them to 1 HP, & run off to the next victim. I did this 4 or 5 times in a row.
Eventually the Weeble Wobble routine paid off & the others were able whittle the thing down.
But if not for that string of 20s....
 


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