Last night’s game was a bit of a doozy.

A friend from out of town joined us, and rolled up a Druid. Darnek’s player wasn’t available, so the party was down a 5th-level Fighter.

The first encounter? Rival adventuring band. Can I get an “ouch?”

Our charlatan Rogue had a neat idea to disguise the group as a band of traveling entertainers. It wasn’t her fault she didn’t know what the baddies were after.

A bounty on elves.

Yeah, so the Monk and Rogue were wood elves, the Bard and Sorcerer were half-elves. Four out of five members of the group were elves.

Not only that, the baddies outnumbered the group almost two-to-one.

The fight didn’t last long, the group was quickly overwhelmed. There was a valiant effort on the part of the Bard to heal the Monk after she was beaten down by three men-at-arms. It ultimately helped her escape.

The Rogue used a coat and misdirection to escape being cuffed by the leader of the rival adventuring party. He escaped, running in the opposite direction of the Monk.

The Druid, being the only non-elf in the group, was left to bleed out on the side of the road after being shot full of arrows. Diggler bled out fair and square.

After the rivals hauled off the Bard and Sorcerer (the only PCs captured in the fight), the Monk and Rogue met up again, said some words over the fallen Druid, and made their way back to Fallcrest.

I gave the players a choice at that point, half were free and half were captive.

Did we follow the captive PCs, have the other three roll up “prisoners,” and run the next sequence as an escape? Or follow the free PCs, have the other players roll up new PCs, and stage a rescue?

There were other options of course, but the players seemed to need some guidance after getting beaten so soundly by an encounter.

Our group opted to follow the “free” PCs.

While three players rolled up new characters (a dwarf Fighter, a dragonborn Cleric, and a dragonborn Paladin), the Monk and the Rogue exchanged backstories.

It was a heartwarming moment.

Back in Fallcrest, the players got the skinny on the elf-bounty deal from a mysterious woman called “Pearl,” in the Lucky Gnome Taphouse.

They followed their lead to a warehouse where the “deliveries” were being made, and met with a shadar-kai woman who was running the captured elves to Gloomwrought. What followed was . . . glorious.

The player of our new dwarf Fighter is not . . . subtle in his manipulations of NPCs. He tends to have one game: hardball. And the problem is NPCs tend to call when he bluffs. It just doesn’t pan out for him very often.

This time though?

The shadar-kai expressed some “surprise” the Fighter showed up with some elves in tow. He coolly said they weren’t for sale, but they “helped bring in other elves.”

The shadar-kai said, “oh, that’s nasty. I like that.”

And our Fighter just rolled with it. It was awesome. And kind of surreal.

After the conversation, the party walked right back out of the warehouse. They staked it out, and after about four days, spotted their captured allies and a load of elves being ferried across the river Nen. So they laid an ambush.

The rematch? Went totally . . . different.

The group took out the enemy magic-users in the first round, took down the enemy Fighter in the second round, and polished off the mooks in quickly after that.