We’ve all been there. There story is exciting, the action is intense, everyone is fully invested… And the GM is getting sleepy. So in the spirit of cliffhangers everywhere, allow me to regale you with my own exploits in the deep places of the world. Is it time for another tale from the table? Does Wizard suck at pull-ups?

So no shit there we were, almost through the Halls of Hunger and just a few Draconic Sigils away from besting the challenge. Unfortunately, the 10th Sigil had some shenanigans attached:

“The Tenth Secret Sigil: Any character who bears this sigil–either on his or her body, or by carrying any object it is drawn upon–is affected as follows: A non-evil creature becomes evil (other aspects of alignment, such as chaotic or lawful, remain unchanged). This alteration is mental as well as moral, and the individual changed by the magic thoroughly enjoys this new outlook, does not make any attempt to return to his or her former alignment–actually viewing the prospect with horror and avoids it in any way possible. The creature returns to his or her normal alignment when separated from the sigil.”

So when the party’s Shaman returned from this latest test to the Cursed Feasting Hall, he seemed a grim and somber figure. The rest of us figured that was normal. Shaman had just endured some traumatic shit, having murdered a gold dragon in cold blood. It was the Chamber of Ruthlessness after all. Killing the dragon had been the only way to pass the challenge.

“Someone had to do it,” we said, trusting fools that we were. For none of us had seen the Secret Notecard that that the Shaman now bore, or the dreadful curse it had laid upon him.

Gotta hand it to the guy: He played it straight. No one made an IRL Sense Motive check until it was far too late.

It was the next adventuring day, and we had reconvened before the Dimensional Vestibule. We’d always teleported as a group before, but this time the Shaman disappeared. The rest of us were confronted with Chamber 10 again. There lay the corpse of the ill-fated gold dragon. There upon the floor was the Tenth Sigil, formed from the rivulets of its lifeblood. For some reason, we hadn’t advanced to the gauntlet’s next challenge.

“Wait a damn minute,” said our Alchemist, pulling his copy of the Tenth Sigil from his formula book. “It’s not the same! See how this line is off? Shaman gave me a fake!”

Lucky for us, the now-Evil Shaman was unable to pass through Chamber 11 alone. He had to offer up a “fitting portion of his chattel” to be sacrificed, and did not own enough expensive magic items to get the job done. He would have to get them from some other source. And there was only one convenient source of priceless treasure.

The confrontation came in the Cursed Feasting Hall. When we reappeared, Shaman was already waiting for us.

“Why the deception?” we asked.

“The Scepter of Ghaal,” he said. “Give it to me.” 

“What? No way! That thing’s a minor artifact. We are NOT revisiting the Wealth By Level argument we had back on Level 12.”

“Fear not,” he said. “The argument won’t last long. GM? I maze the Alchemist.”

The room fucking exploded. Cries of alarm. Accusations of betrayal. Helpless wails of, “I had no choice!” from the unhappy Shaman player.

“Roll initiative!” shouted the GM over the general din. And then continued: “…Next time. On the next exciting episode of The Halls of Hunger!”

There have never been bluer narrative balls. The party was pumped. We wanted to know what happened next. Couldn’t we at least see the initiative order so we could make proper plans?

Happily, there was an upside to all this. The GM agreed to delay posting the session summary so players who’d missed would walk into the PVP cold. The eventual resolution was its own ball of wax, but the tension of the buildup was spectacular. It was the finest cliffhanger I’ve ever been a part of… And now it’s your turn.

For today’s discussion, hit us with your all-time best cliffhanger! What was the moment, why did you have to stop early, and how did you pay it off? Shout out all your best between-sessions nail biters down in the comments!


SWORDS: CUT THE DECK: Who dual-wields thumbs and has an affiliate link to share? We do! Swords: Cut the Deck is a tabletop role-playing card game based on the award-winning webcomic, SWORDS. In this game, strange heroes use even stranger weapons in epic skirmishes. Who will prove their skill with the blade? Who will be dead? And who’s hyped for the Handbook of Heroes guest card? Hit our affiliate link and back the project! Get us a cut of that sweet, sweet Kickstarter money!


THIS COMIC SUCKS! IT NEEDS MORE [INSERT OPINION HERE] Is your favorite class missing from the Handbook of Heroes? Maybe you want to see more dragonborn or aarakocra? Then check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. You’ll become part of the monthly vote to see which elements get featured in the comic next!