Dreaded Day 13…I will have to say I do not have a Most Memorable Character Death as a player.. but as a DM I do. It occurred when I was running the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. The encounter that followed overshadowed the rest of the game so greatly that I to this day do not recall what the last epic fight is at the end of the adventure.
But before I can tell you the story I have to introduce the man. Zod
Zod was a Paladin, plagued with powerful visions by his god. He knew he was destined for great things deep down. To anyone else, it was a marvel that he was even a Paladin as Zod was a Terrible drunk. When in a city or town as much of Zods coin that went to the church also went to the closest Taphouse. Zod drowned his visions in cheep strong ale any chance he could get. But when it came time for work Zod took his role as seriously as he did his drinking. Zod would not drink on adventures, he fought evil with a passion few could match. Zod. At the start of any combat or potential encounter, Zod would begin with Detect Evil. If he did indeed detect evil he would draw his blade Don his shield and wade forth with a simple cry of “I Smell EVIL! “
As the party grew in size and gained level Zods roll changed from one of the front line combatants to protecting the cleric at all times. Where she went he followed as her loyal sword bodyguard. So Zod became known as Zod the Stalwart Defender. Zod actually would take blows for his cleric to defend her from attack. It was well known to everyone that Zod would lay his life down for those that he believed in.
Zod would meet his end in the adventure “The Returned to the Temple of Elemental Evil”
My group was deep into the adventure and the final battles were fast approaching. As the Party entered the ground floor of the final tower before them. They face off with a well prepared ancient Red Dragon. The fighting was fast and furious I was determined to not pull my punches that day. With two NPC’s in the party to help them, if they were not careful someone was going to die. The group had 8 players counting the NPC’s. 2 Paladins 1 Barbarian 1 Cleric 2 Wizards 1 Rouge and a Samurai. In the first moments of the combat, the Dragon took the Rouge out of the fight with a brutal attack. Scooping up the halfling in its mouth and using his breath weapon while the poor player was trapped inside a cage of teeth and fire. DONE! Luckily for him, he was not dead but he was wishing that he was. The Samurai was tail slapped into a pit trap of mud that instantly turned to stone imprisoning him from the waist down for the remainder of the encounter. The party knew I was playing for keeps with this encounter.
As the fight raged on the players began to find chinks in the armor of the beast and cut him down much faster then she had expected. The Dragon was intelligent and had taken notice that the party had two Paladins in the group. So with the Red Dragon near death, I came up with a plan. What follows the very unexpected way that everything played out.
As the fight was drawing to its end and it looked certain that the Dragon was going to be defeated. I had planned for the dragon to Feign surrender. Little did I know that they would Knock the damn thing to 1 HP !!! So I had to make it good.
The Dragon Roars
Paladins I call for Mercy, Parlay!! I have lived too long to die in this pit. Take what you will and go. I will fly you to the chamber above if you just let me live…
They stopped! Much to my shock, and the RAGE of the samurai the party stopped! The samurai is utterly convinced this is a trick. When he comrades do not listen he suddenly declares that he is attacking the dragon!
He rolls triple Nat 20s.. !!!!
The party half erupts with a combination of Shock and Excitement… At this moment I steal the emotion from the room in one breath and declare.
As you throw your blade. Zod having given his word to parley… Sees your blade flying true. His word is his bond. He acts on his devotion and instinct and places himself between your blade and the Dragon. Your Blade flys true Impaling Zod and he falls Dead…
For a moment the in the stunned silence you could hear a pin drop.
The tears started… Cleric and Paladin called for God roll in an effort to save their fallen comrade. Certainly, their god would intercede and save this good man who had daily visions! (home-brew rule. 1-3% on D100) Both the cleric AND the Paladin roll a Nat 1!!!!!
A pillar of light centers on the Dragon and the now fallen warrior. With all eyes watching the Dragon shapeshifts to take on the form of a human and cradles the fallen Zod up in her arms. She Dons His Shield and picks up his swords. Raises her blades to the heavens and Swears to follow his god from this day forward in the name of Zod!
The Stunned party watches as the dragon nods to them scoops up their fallen companion and informs them she will meet them at the town nearby after she sees to Zods Burial.
Almost 10+ years later I still have the Paladin Dragon make occasional NPC cameos.