Unfortunately, he was holding the other set of keys that the player characters needed to get through the locked doors in the catacombs they're exploring. So now, whenever they come upon a locked door, there's a 50% chance that their keys won't work.
A bit of background, here ... as I mentioned last time, my campaign is ramping up towards a big ol' epic struggle between good and evil ... with my players' characters as the padding that takes all the beating so all those innocent townies don't have to. To that end, when word came that evil things were welling up from the catacombs under a wizarding school, off they went riding to the rescue!
At the beginning of each session, I hand out to the players a little narrative that sets up the scenario. This is great for, among other things, giving the campaign NPCs some time to shine, so the players can get a better feel for what the other people around them are like. It's also good for setting up clues, conveying background information about the world, and so on. And this session's intro, among other things, included the following bit:
Draxtasis didn't say another word but quickly ran for the dungeons, Murdullen bounding hurriedly behind him. Down a winding set of stairs and a long corridor, he finally came to an intersection where a young man wearing the gray robes of a sorcerer stood guard, the tip of his staff shining under the effect of a light spell. Beyond the pool of light the sorcerer stood in, Draxtasis could make out movement -- movement that shouldn't be there, and that apparently the sorcerer hadn't seen.
"Galstaff!" Draxtasis shouted, still running towards him. "Cast magic missile!"
"Magic missile?" the sorcerer said. "Why cast magic missile? There's nothing to attack here."
"Then attack the darkness!" Draxtasis replied, pointing into the forbidden corridor.
Galstaff shrugged and cast a pair of magic missiles into the darkness; they struck something -- and in the brief flare of light that burst from the impact, all that could be seen were squirming green tentacles.
Many, many squirming green tentacles. Galstaff shrieked in terror as the quivering, serpentine, tentacle-headed horrors reared up into the light.
Bonus points to tehrasha for giving me the idea. ;)
Anyway, this tidbit happened before the players arrived; when they got there, they learned that Galstaff had been disintegrated by a beholder. Alas, poor Galstaff! A promising career as comic relief cut short by a CR 12 aberration!
The adventure itself was (and will continue to be next time we game, sometime in January) a pretty straight-up dungeon crawl for the first level, then it'll get into some heavy-duty Lovecraftian yikeness beyond that. This scenario lifts a major bit from Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, and it's a bit that I think most people who've survived it would be happy to forget.
But, my players love to be scared out of their wits, so I'll gleefully oblige them. I'm proud to say that tonight, during the course of a single encounter, I made jamesbarrett's wizard Kyriela shriek like a cheerleader twice. ;) And she doesn't even know exactly how the Sign of the Eldritch Eye even fits in yet! (An eye, surrounded by tentacles ... beholders ... hmm ... no resemblance there...)