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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

18th Sep 2014, 7:00 AM

Between a Rock and a Hard Place
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kidra on 18th Sep 2014, 7:00 AM

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In case you don't know, both Deus ex Machina and Diabolus ex Machina are common tropes that have been used by authors for centuries. They are also used a lot in gaming sessions for when the GM creates an encounter that is much harder or easier than expected.

Story time: Has your DM ever bailed you out of a situation you should have lost? Has your DM ever made an easy encounter suddenly more difficult?

We once were traveling, and since we had easily defeated a number of "appropriate difficulty" encounters, our DM (at my suggestion, actually) had us fight a CR 15 when we were around level 11, and it was a white dragon. We couldn't land a hit on it and in a round or two we were all close to death. The DM then rolled the damage for the dragon's ice breath, and looked up at us and said "Does anyone want to try talking to the dragon?"

Our party bard ended up insulting the dragon immensely, and challenged it to catch him, giving the rest of us time to escape. The bard actually had an incredible movespeed (he was the Dervish Dancer archetype), along with invisibility spells, so he was able to escape.

But let's face it, the dragon should have killed us.

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Excelsus: a Midsummer Knight's Dream (A Flash of Lightning Can Eclipse the Sun)

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Disloyal Subject on 18th Sep 2014, 10:44 PM

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I've got several examples of a GM making an encounter tougher midway through, though I think a couple were premeditated. I think I've recounted the tale of the raging mother bear already, but I've a fresher tale to draw from the Dark Heresy campaign I just finished. I'm almost certain it was planned ahead of time, though:
After spending most of the session exploring an ancient & massive - I'm talking pre-Heresy old and 'That's no moon!' massive - World Eaters carrier, looking for the bridge, we found it. Our techpriest hooked into the computers, and when the systems couldn't recognize him, started hacking in, setting off defenses: another giant robot - they were recurring enemies in the campaign, both because we were hunting down ancient pre-Heresy archeotech and because the GM plays Mechanicus in the wargame. This time it was a Vorax, an unknown entity to me in & out of character... But two sniper rounds through its faceplate left it reeling, and my teammate's autocannon finished off the damaged servitor before it could act beyond declaring us intruders. That's when the second one showed up, and we got another each round of combat. We managed alright at first, but the third had a gun that left swathes of ground irradiated, forcing us to dodge, and the fourth was equipped for melee with some kind of powerfield-equipped circular saw that sliced off the melee fighter's face. He was also the autocannon guy, so with our heaviest hitter in combat blinded & bleeding out, we were in trouble... As the melee Vorax charged our techpriest at the cogitator banks, he finished the hack, and it skidded to a stop in front of him to offer a polite greeting.
So Deus and Diabolus, both machines.
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