I was DMing for a Pathfinder campaign, A classic called, "Rise of the Runelords." a level 1 to 20 adventure.
there are some mild spoiler alerts in the story ahead. This is how the entire party died in one encounter gone wrong..
The party was a 3 sessions in, early chapter 1. The town of Sandpoint was holding a festival for their newly constructed church to the Goddess, Desna; the festival of Butterfly's. the events were ruined by. an assault by a large band of Goblins, some rowdy regional tribes. The party successfully defended the town in the first session from the goblin raid.
The heroics of the party had earned them a respected reputation in town. The Mayor, the local priest of Desna and the Sheriff; along with many notable members of the community began asking favours of the new heroes and rewarded them for their efforts. One benefactor in particular, a tavern owner, Amiko; allowed the party to stay at her Tavern for free for a week just for helping the town out.
The party consisted of a Human Artifcer who was toting a blunderbuss and a powder keg full of black powder. A Human fighter, who had recently escaped from a pirate ship and was using the festival as a way to hide and start a new life. A Halfling Urban Barbarian, who wielded a spiked chain and was quite the rascal with the ladies. A Human Alchemist who was a complete madman, like Professor Calculous from Tin-Tin. A Swamp Druid, who was a tree-man essentially who wanted to watch the entropy of decay consume all that was unnatural. And a goblin assassin, who was on a mission to kill inferior goblins and was under strict probationary watch by the party.
They had found out their new benefactor and friend, Amiko, had some serious family issues. Amiko's, father who owned the local glassworks had wanted her to take over the family business. There was a very public altercation, he had argued with her which escalated into him grabbing her by the hair and began dragging her out of her own establishment. This lead to the party beating the old man, defending the poor girl, and going with her to dump his unconscious form off at his estate.
They returned to the tavern and had some drinks and called it a night.
The next day, the party went to see how Amiko was doing. They discovered she had gone missing late the night before. The waitress/cook was concerned.
"This isn't like her" and she provided a letter addressed to Amiko. She had found it when she had gone to search for Amiko, in Amiko's living quarters.
The letter was from Amiko's estranged brother, who begged to meet her at the glassworks in the middle of the night. He seemed desperate by his wording in the letter.
The party discovered the brother was the product of an affair Amiko's mother had had with an elf. this half-elf brother was cast out from the family and definitely had a grudge to settle against the father.
The party rushed to the glassworks to find the building locked up, but smoke was coming out of the chimneys. They managed to break into the building and forced open a few locks with brute Force as the goblin was too busy picking his nose and harassing the artificer. They crept into the smeltery and found a horrific display of bodies, skinned and burned. One of the bodies they recognized to be the old man, Amiko's father, was splayed out ina gruesome manner pinned in place and it appeared from initial glances from the doorway he had been tortured.
As the party made it's way in, to survey the area, the ambush was sprung! Goblin's had been hiding behind curtains and under work stations, having been alerted to the parties attempts and breaking in.
They leaped at the party trying to grapple them and drag them into the three very active furnaces or wack them with glowing hot fire stokers. The fight went well for the party initially, until the artificer was ganged up on by three goblins. They successfully tripped him and then grappled him. They began to drag him toward the furnaces. The party panicked and began taking free strikes trying to get to the artificer and rescue him.
The barbarian was grappled down and the druid was knocked unconscious… Things were going bad…. And about to get worse.
The artificer failed to break free from the Goblins who cackled in delight as they shoved him into the furnace….
The player looked at me and said, "oh no…. I have my powder keg on me…"
The entire party looked at him, mouths agape and said, "WHAT?!?"
I gave him a bonus reflex save to him and the alchemist who was nearest, to try grab him and pull him out before it was too late … (I'm often accused of being too nice )
They both failed.
The party went silent as I described the desperate scene and their final moments.
"You reach for the (Alchemist's) hand but only managed to grasp his finger tips. they slip free as the goblins, with a heave, shove you in….
The explosion was a 20 foot blast radius; Catching the entire party in the blast, dealing 5d6 points of damage to level 2 characters … the druid was at zero already, and the barbarian was grappled to the ground by other goblins and the other party members were already wounded from their attempts to get to the Artificer in time.
"….the town hears a horrific crack, a boom sound, and the entire block shakes. Flames are seen racing up and out of the glassworks as it is quickly engulfed by chemical fires and debris falling into the furnaces." I pause trying to quickly think of a way for the story to possibly continue and an idea strikes me. "A sink hole forms in the street. The explosion had caused it to form infront of glassworks, exposing what seems to be tunnels beneath the building"
"Late that night, a caravan of newcomers and mercenaries had arrived to Sandpoint, to find the town reeling and grieving from the loss of it's new found heroes."
this ladies and gents, is why carrying all of your gear can be a bad thing some times.