Part Seven: What's that Burning Smell?

In this installment of Gamestoppers, we find out what happens to a character's equipment when his player rolls a natural 1 on a saving throw. Last month, the group blundered into the hunting grounds of a hungry purple worm. After a near-miraculous escape, Lidda and the rest of the group killed the worm, healed up their wounds, and then explored the tangled maze of its lair. Eventually, they come to a large cavern with dozens of other worm burrows, and they find something far more sinister to the north . . .

DM: You stagger out of the worm burrows into a huge cavern. A thick layer of pale white fungus grows on the floor here. The walls to the left and right, as well as the ceiling above, are so distant that your light does little to pick them out in the gloom. Nevertheless, you can see the far wall of the immense cave, which is brilliantly lit by what must be a hundred guttering torches set in sconces around a massive door.


PC (Nebin): Finally! I thought we'd never make it out of that maze! What does the door look like? How far away is it?

DM: The door is about 20 feet tall, and its carved face depicts a leering goblin deity perched on a throne of skulls. What's more, the door looks to be made of solid gold, and a pair of glittering red gems shine in the goblin's eyesockets. It looks like it is about 300 feet away.

PC (Krusk): A 20-foot-high gold door? That'll buy LOTS of healing to fix this golem damage! I charge for the door . . . first one to touch it gets it all!

PC (Lidda): Wait! The door might be trapped! Oh, never mind. It's the only way he'll learn.

DM: Okay, so Krusk is barreling across the cavern towards the door. What do the rest of you do?

PC (Vadania): I'm readying a flame strike in case something lurches out of the darkness to attack the bait . . . I mean, Krusk.

PC (Lidda): I'd like to scout the cave by myself to get an idea of how big this place is . . . and if there's anything dangerous in it. Nebin, can you hook me up with a fly spell?

PC (Nebin): I suppose.

DM: Right. So anyway, it'll take Krusk only 4 rounds to reach the doors, thanks to his boots of striding and springing. Unfortunately, he makes it only a quarter of the way before something happens. Everyone needs to make a Spot check.

[The players roll their checks; Lidda gets a 26, Nebin a 20, Vadania a 15, and Krusk a 6. Most of them beat the lurking behir's Hide check of 7, even after the DM took into account the -7 penalty involved for being about 70 feet away from the behir.]

DM: Lidda, Nebin, and Vadania; as you watch Krusk race off towards the door, that large pile of boulders to the left suddenly slithers into life and raises a scaly reptilian head! Krusk; you're the only one who doesn't see it; everyone else gets to roll initiative.

[The group rolls; Lidda gets a 15, Vadania an 11, and Nebin a 9. The behir rolls an 18.]

DM: Okay, the monster goes first. It glances at the three of you for a moment, and then it turns its attention toward the oblivious Krusk as it strikes at him like a snake. A crackling bolt of lightning blasts out of its mouth towards him! Krusk, make a Reflex saving throw, please.

PC (Krusk):[Rolls a natural 1]. That's IT! This die is FIRED! [Throws die across room.]

DM: Watch the temper there, Krusk; there's more to come. [Rolls 7d6 for the breath weapon's damage and winces at the number of sixes that appear.] That's 34 points of damage, Krusk. AND, since you rolled a natural 1 on your saving throw, the bolt of lightning did some damage to one of your items.

PC (Krusk): That's wonderful.

DM: So then, only one of four exposed items is harmed by the blast, and we have to look at Table 10-1 on page 150 of the Player's Handbook to see which items are affected first. Those nearest the top are affected first. According to this table, the four items most likely to be affected are your +2 chain shirt, the +2 greataxe you're carrying, your cloak of resistance+2, or your +1 mighty composite longbow. Let's just see which one was hit. [Rolls 1d4 and gets a 3] Hmm, that would be your cloak.

PC (Krusk): Fine with me; it didn't help much with the saving throw in the first place!

DM: Normally, your +2 cloak of resistance would have a Reflex save modifier of +5 since its caster level is 6th. But, since you're currently wearing it, it gets to save using your own Reflex saving throw modifier of +6. Make the roll.

PC (Krusk): Stupid cloak . . . [Rolls a 14.]

DM: Oops! Too bad. The DC was 19. The good news is that most items (your cloak included) take half damage from electricity. The bad news is that means your cloak still takes 17 points of damage. I'd say that a cloak is roughly equivalent to rope, but that its +2 resistance bonus gives it a +2 bonus to its hardness and its hit points. Even so, a cloak's pretty thin, so it has only a total of 4 hit points. Sorry, Krusk, the cloak is toast.

PC (Krusk): Yeah, I bet you're sorry. . . .

As the combat commences, the group makes quick work of the behir and finds its stash of treasure hidden under a pile of rocks. Krusk cheers up a little bit when Vadania realizes one of the behir's treasures is a scroll of heal, which can cure him of his "golem damage." However, the group realizes that they haven't heard the last of Krusk's complaints of how the DM broke his cloak.

Where to Look: The rules for how to determine what items suffer damage when a character rolls a natural 1 for a saving throw are on page 150 of the Player's Handbook; rules for damaging items are on pages 135-136. Rules for determining an unattended item's saving throw bonus are on page 176 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.

Be sure to check out Gamestoppers next month when the group reaches the door and accidentally awakens its undead guardian, giving us a chance to look at the rules for incorporeal creatures and the energy drain attack!

Behir: hp 94; see Monster Manual page 24.

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