You know how sometimes you're in the middle of a dungeon delve when the end of a session comes? And you know how sometimes, try as you might, you can't arrange for all the same players to come to the next session?
What's a self-respecting DM to do in that situation? Simply let the other players run the now directionless character, like this guy? (Not recommended.)
Why no! Any self-respecting DM would simply roll on the following table to determine the fate of the playerless PC!
(All effects are temporary, restoring the PC to his normal state upon the errant player's return.)
Character's Temporary Fate
1. Disappears in some freak act of teleportation.
2. Turns to stone. 50% chance real stone, 50% chance fake polystyrene stone.
4. Turns into a figment – cannot interact with anything, cannot pass through solid objects.
5. Kidnapped by: 1. shadows, 2. demons, 3. imps, 4. rats, 5. angels, 6. a murder of crows, 7. ghosts, 8. reptile-men cultists, 9. ex-girlfriend, 10. chaotic evil gnome vivisectionists, 11. giant subterranean lagomorph, 12. random deity.
6. Absorbed into the ground, wall or ceiling.
7. Falls into a faint and cannot be roused.
8. Character is turned into a frog by pixies. Another character must carry them for the entire session.
9. The character turns out to be a doppleganger. The real character is back at the tavern tied up and naked in the storeroom.
10. The character turns out to be a doppleganger. The real character is held by monsters somewhere in the dungeon!
11. The character was a hallucination of the other others and wasn't with them in the first place.
12. Character and all equipment is transformed into a pink mule, complete with (empty) saddle bags.
13. Turned into a gold coin that has fallen into the treasure when no one was looking.
14. Abducted by scientists, via a time travel/teleportation device and subjected to annoying, tedious and ill-informed questions about "the past," then finally returned to his own time.
15. Kidnapped by Glasya, daughter of Asmodeus, who needed a last minute date for a swanky party in Nessus.
16. As 15, but it's an intime soiree and the PC gets to sit at a dinner table with the Big Man himself.
17. PC falls into a rupture in time-space and is immediately deposited at the time and place, most convenient for the DM.
18. PC is abducted by aliens, probed, then returned.
19. The gods decided to put mankind on trial. Guess who got to appear and testify for the whole of humanity.
20. PC is whisked away to a dimension where they are fed midnight tomatoes by beautiful women, lying on a chaise longue.
21. Character transformed into an incredibly lifelike tattoo on one of the other PCs.
22. Character disappears and is replaced by a sheet of paper covered in stats describing their abilities and equipment.
23. The PC becomes morose and depressed, and fades into the background, all but forgotten by his party and everything around them.
24. Dragged into a chasm by skeletal hands which erupt from the walls or floor.
25. Turned into a guard dog with same number of hit points as character in normal state. If spellcaster, can only cast single-finger somatic cantrips using tail.
26. Character disappears and is replaced with life-size parchment cutout illustration of the character.
27. Turned into a turnip and placed in the cook's supply bag.
28. Transmogrified into eight year old boy in short pants dragging stuffed tiger, both of whom refuse to speak with the party.
29. Turned into inanimate statue melded to floor. Any attempt to chip away at statue will result in appropriate damage to character's feet next game session.
30. Turns out the character was never with the group to begin with--it was all a dream.
31. Turns into a hat. Hat may be worn by another party member and provide an appropriate AC bonus equal to one third the character's normal AC (round up).
32. Accidentally frozen in magical ice by Wixard the Wise, absent-minded professor of dungeon physics, who was experimenting with spell sending using a scrying crystal and hit the character by mistake (he thought the area was deserted and was aiming for some nondescript feature of the room).
33. Turns into a deep crimson Blood Shadow and oozes into the nearest shadows...
34. Character spins wildly and disappears into an opening into the floor that just suddenly appeared. Above the where the opening appeared is now a glowing sign that states "Insert 1 Silver Piece to Resume Play."
35. The character is replaced by an indestructable, balloon sculpture of him or herself.
36. Teleported to a far off dungeon to play patty-cake with Dungie...
37. Melts into a puddle of bio-flesh and seeps down the cracks of the dungeon.
38. PC is replaced by a Dark Stalker/Dark Creeper - whichever fits the bill better.
39. The character turns to a fine mist and is sucked into a bottle that was conveniently nearby.
40. Is smote by a lightning bolt out of the blue - all that remains is a scorch mark.
41. Suddenly doused by water, dissolves into a puddle of slime. What a world, what a world!
42. Flies up, up and away (through the ceiling/roof if necessary).
43. Everyone finally notices the goatee - this is actually the evil alternate dimension version of the character, who must be fought or chased off. The real version is drinking back at the pub.
44. Left behind when the party moved on from their camp, still sleeping, exhausted from adventuring so much.
45. Was called away by family or friends to do whatever the player missed to game for - wedding, funeral, a party he thought would be more fun, a date, etc.
46. Sipped from a fountain that made him fall asleep.
47. Accidentally gazed into a full Mirror of Opposition, freeing some scrub who was in the cell he entered. Next time he plays it'll be because a goblin looked in and took his place or something.
48. Imprisoned by a weird cult that (1) did experiments on him, (2) gave him a sweet face tattoo, (3) indoctrinated him, (4) fed and clothed him.
49. Swallowed by a dungeon best and carried around for some time until he was ejected out the other end as inedible.
50. Last thing he heard was that you guys were going back to town. You didn't go back to town? Then why did you tell him you were going back to town? ... Ohh, I get it. You guys found a good Fighter item and you don't want me to have it. I see how it is.
51. A bout of Dungeon Diarrhea came upon him so quickly and powerfully that he was forced to flee to the nearest latrine.
52. He noticed a goblin with a trench coat, "hey buddy, wanna buy a magic ring?" but got jumped by goblins when he split off from the party.
53. Was just strolling along in the back not paying attention, took a wrong turn, found himself alone in the dungeon.
54. Saw something shiny, stopped to pry it out of the wall. By the time he found out it was just a silver piece someone jammed in there everyone else had moved on.
55. Sat down on a big mushroom to take a break and the spores drove him mad, forcing him to do everything he had just done backwards until he got back into the sunlight.
56. Just having a bad day, sick and tired of dungeon rot and hard floors, decided to go back to town and sleep in a real bed for once. Screw you guys! Screw this dungeon!
57: Primadonna isn't getting what he wants, refuses to participate, storms back to town. I'll be in my trailer!
58. Found a baby monster and is struck by sudden maternal instincts, needs to go back to town and buy a crib, paint the second bedroom, etc.
59. Shoes have finally worn all the way through. You didn't know he needs special shoes? This is gonna take a while, if you need me I'll be at the cobbler patiently explaining what he's doing wrong with my order.
60. Back strain! Hauling all those unsecured, heavy loads of gold has finally taken its toll. This is going to take a few days of physical therapy, he's got to file the worker's compensation paperwork, get some ice on it, etc.
61. Oh got I can't take any more rats, squirmy things, crawly things, chittering things, JUST ENOUGH! I can deal with the monsters we kill and they just lay there but you can't squish all the little spiders and worms and they're just EVERYWHERE down here! Need a spa day to wash up and relax, get his gear dry-cleaned, maybe get a face peel.
62. Argument with magic sword causing friction with party members who can't hear the sword's side of the conversation. It's like listening to someone scream into a cell phone. Everyone agrees it's best if he just goes back to town for the day to cool off.
63. Turns out he was actually three halflings in a trench coat. Where is the real Jimmy?
64. Can't stop talking about his 30th level Accountant in Papers & Paychecks. Whole group unanimously votes to send him back to town for the day.
65. Keeps trying to share his lunch with everyone, but it's nothing but olives, tapenade, olive oil, etc. People become suspicious and bonk him over the helmet, revealing that he's been replaced by a clever Olive Slime. The real Jimmy is passed out at the entrance, will wake for the next adventure.
66. Stays in town because he's worried about his paladin horse / familiar / adventure animal / war dog who is real sick and might not pull through (spoiler: it was just really bad gas).
67: Can't focus on adventuring because he's halfway through a novel and he wants to finish it before anybody spoils the ending (spoiler: the vampire is exposed to sunlight and instead of sparkling dies a horrible blood-gargling death).
68: Bored with dungeon, unwilling to continue, call me when you find something good.
69: When you all waded through that flooded tunnel and counted everyone who came out, Jimmy wasn't among the group. And he's not in the tunnel. Guess he went the wrong way.
70: Spending too much time obsessing over having an accurate map. Bunch of blood smudged it in the last fight and now "it's ruined" and he has to go back to town and start over. Rest of the part grabs the map and continue without him.
71. Recently stuck on a philosophizing kick. One moment he's saying "what if we're not actually even here, guys" and the next moment there's nothing left of him but the echoes of his last words. Maybe he'll show up sometime later.
72. Stands frozen in place. Monsters ignore him. He somehow keeps up with the party. Begins moving and talking again like nothing happened when the player returns.
73. Some goblins beguiled the party into selling him. Then the money turned out to be transmuted cave fisher feces! "We'll get those goblins!" you cry as the charm wears off.
74. In the hustle and bustle of all the party members, hirelings, henchmen, cohorts, followers, itinerant townsfolk, and the ever-present menagerie of horses, mules, magical panthers, tamed watch-leopards, war dogs, civet cats, postal owls, pseudo-dragons, and caged canaries - Jimmy has simply been misplaced. His spot in the marching order was mistakenly taken up by that moronic lad from the village and nobody noticed the complete lack of contribution.
75. A sudden collapse sends dirt, rocks and strange yellow crystals crashing through the party. One crystal, bigger than a man, smashes straight into the target and smashes him straight through into the Yellow Hells. He will find his own way back through a mirror in good time, but will need a helping hand to step through the mirror back into the Prime.
90. They fell down a pit. It's only 12-15 feet deep, but tapers tighter
as it goes down, like a funnel, and they are stuck. If anyone cares to
check, you might hear them complaining, grumbling, even yelling in the
distance. Going back is an option of course. But that's precisely what
this trap is meant to accomplish. If anyone does go back to help
retrieve the prodigal party member, there are several other, similar
pits arranged all around the central one, each one now activated to
capture those who come back for their fallen comrade. The pit-builders
lurk overhead, securely ensconced within twisty shafts and niches
artfully obscured with hanging lichen, cracked bas reliefs and other
bits of carefully cemented debris and bric-a-brac. They'll be coming
along to check on their dinner, eventually.
appear to be petrified. Actually the figure resembling the missing
person is a clever forgery and the result of a minor reworking of a
Passwall spell that has safely tucked them away within the nearest wall,
leaving a character-shaped mass of stone in their place. The spell is
still experimental, and a bit unstable. It could collapse at any minute,
throwing the victim in a randomly determined direction, possibly deeper
into the wall, maybe into another open space, or perhaps back where
they first went missing.
92. Accidentally stung by a
blue-striped Delve Urchin they didn't notice in passing. Now they sleep
blissfully unaware of everything, completely unharmed, totally unaware,
93. They are trapped within a wall mural,
locked into a 2-dimensional form and unable to escape the painted walls
of this demented domain until they find a way through the flat maze.
have been swallowed by a floor mosaic. You could see them down there,
if you'd care to take a look. they are still alive, but stuck behind the
mosaic. They appear to be slowly sinking. Living matter can push down
through the mosaic in an attempt to reach the fallen party member, but
anyone resting upon the mosaic directly runs the risk of sinking into it
as well. When any living thing is removed from the mosaic, it comes out
in fragments. Just like passing through a grater or a mosaic-shaped
mesh. Perhaps there's some way to go all the way through the mosaic? Or
do you pull them up, heal them, pull some more, heal again, and continue
the process for however long it will take--at great personal risk, pain
and cost of spells/potions?
95. Precentennial tension: proximity of 100 produces existential shearing.
Contributions so far from: Garrison James, rorschachhamster, Porky, Dyson Logos, 1d30, Art Braune, Greg Gorgonmilk, Matt Schmeer, Gavin Norman, Tedankhamen, Hamel™, Tim Shorts, James Smith, Raskolnik, Simon Forster. Continued from this old post.
Let's get this up to a round 30... 50... 100... whatever, and it shall be submitted to a future issue of that esteemed orifice of dungeon wisdom, Underworld Lore. I have the gorgon-master's word on it.