You guys remember that time I forgot to tell my Starfinder players to level up? TLDR: It nearly resulted in a cancelled session, and was no-good-very-bad GMing on my part. My players forgave me though, and I think that might have something to do with today’s story.

So no shit there they were, down in the depths of a Cult of the Devourer stronghold. They’d run into some nasty mind spores on the way in, so they weren’t at 100% Int or Wis in the first place. That’s not a good place to be when you come face-to-face with a killer trap. As per the module:

Half a dozen tiered pillars are interspersed throughout this wide hallway, which ends in a concave wall made of plated steel. A strange pile of body parts and viscera lies next to the easternmost pillar. The faint scent of ozone hangs in the air.

A quick inspection of the body parts revealed that the victim had been “cut into little chunks.” This is what we in the adventuring business like to call a “warning sign.”

So what did my players do? They strode boldly fourth into the Chamber of Devouring. And if you’ve been paying attention to words like “ozone” and “little chunks,” you can probably guess what was coming. Same deal if you’ve ever seen the Resident Evil movie (NSFW: lasers).

The bases’s defenses whirred to life. The inevitable laser trap did its thing, and the intrepid crew of the Yellow Rag began to fail their saves in spectacular fashion. Things went particularly poorly for the irascible editor-in-chief of our National-Enquirer-in-Space. He managed to natty-1 his Reflex save, which prompted a second save. And as per the module, if you fail that save, the results include 20d6 fire damage and the phrase “minuscule chunks of gore.”

By some miracle, the poor sod managed to avoid the chunky salsa result. Even so, “just” normal damage was well over half his hit points. The party’s healer spent her turn patching him up, so at least he was out of single-digit-hp territory.

“Thanks,” he said. ” Now let’s be careful out there, people. Another hit like that would probably kill me.”

GMs love getting straight lines like that. The hard part is keeping the smile off your face.

“The laser wall slows to a stop at the far end of the room,” I said. “Then it reverses course.”

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” said our very-badly-burned ysoki.

“Give me another save,” I replied

Of course he failed again. What followed was a moment of high drama as the damage was calculated. Silence held around the table. No one breathed. The figures were double-checked.

“I’m dead,” said our beloved news rat. “I’m exactly dead. The massive damage rule is just enough to kill me.”

A glum mood enveloped the table. “How much did you heal me for again?” he asked without much hope.

Our healer could only shake her head. “It’s twice your envoy level plus Charisma mod. At character level 4, that’s only twelve points of healing. I’m sorry.”

There was a further moment of silence as we all contemplated the inevitability of death. Then our technomancer spoke up. “You’re fourth level? I thought we were supposed to be fifth.”

“I’m fifth,” said the hard-bitten soldier.

“Me too,” said the dead rat.

“Everyone is supposed to be fifth level,” I confirmed.

“Oh.” The healer blinked down at her outdated character sheet. “Well in that case, heal for another two stamina.”

There was much rejoicing.

So let that be a lesson to the rest of you! Always keep track of your XP, and always make sure that you bring a fully-leveled character to game. That extra edge can (and did) make all the difference.

Question of the day then! Have you ever caught a life-saving detail on your sheet? Was it a mid-session level up? A forgotten bonus? A seldom-used item tucked into the back corner of your inventory? Let’s hear about all those clutch mechanical life-savers down in the comments!


ARE YOU THE KIND OF DRAGON THAT HOARDS ART? Then you’ll want to check out the “Epic Hero” reward level on our Handbook of Heroes Patreon. Like the proper fire-breathing tyrant you are, you’ll get to demand a monthly offerings suited to your tastes! Submit a request, and you’ll have a personalized original art card to add to your hoard. Trust us. This is the sort of one-of-a-kind treasure suitable to a wyrm of your magnificence.