In a campaign I made myself, there is an 8th-level Druid NPC (good guy) that have an item that I want the bad guys to steal (killing him in the way, for dramatization).

My main concern is that he could just transform into a bird and fly away (with the item).

There should be a witness to inform the players that the bad guys took the item. So his defeat should be credible.

Here is the question: As GM, should I just say that the druid is dead, ignoring all the resources that a character of that level has to defend himself?

Or, should I, on the other hand, run an encounter (offscene) with detailed composition of evil forces to defeat him?

How could I elaborate this event?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. What you "should" do is up to you. I think it'd be better to more directly ask how to solve your actual problem, which is how to disable a druid NPC without him being able to flee with an important item. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Mar 17, 2019 at 10:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is answerable as long as we stay with experienced based answers. This is not an uncommon plot issue and hearing what folks have done and how the table reacted could be helpful. Answers without experience are just idea generation and could close this if common. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 17, 2019 at 12:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ How tough are the bad guys? Do they have access to high-level magic? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2019 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think @NautArch is right, and I think we also have to be careful about this becoming some wild idea-generation brainstorm-forum. I'll ask the community to keep an eye on this and flag or VtD unfounded answers if you see them. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Mar 17, 2019 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also looking back at the edits I would say that your most recent edit significantly changes the question such that it invalidates the answers already given. I'm going to have to revert the edit for that reason. I think it may be different enough to ask as its own question though so feel free to simply start a new one! \$\endgroup\$ Mar 24, 2019 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


I, too, had a situation where a moderately-powerful NPC druid in the possession of a desireable magic item died for the sake of the plot in the campaign I am currently running.

Except as far as the world was concerned, he didn't die for the sake of the plot—he died for the sake of the town he was protecting from an overwhelming draconic force. Despite the best efforts of him and his allies, the items were unable to be protected in the process and were taken. In my case, the party found the druid's body themselves (surrounded by the corpses of wyverns and soldiers of both sides), but there were also survivors who witnessed the event.

If you are willing to handle additional side effects to your world, you can give the druid some immediate priority higher than that of the item that forced his hand and his death. Innocents, nature, anything to draw his attention away even for a moment.

One more thing to note is that as a GM, your world does not have to be bound by the same mechanics which bind the players. Instead of an 8th-level druid NPC, you could have an experienced nature-based spellcaster NPC who perhaps does not possess transformation spells.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 because "give the character something they would prioritize over their own survival" is such a broadly applicable lesson. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Mar 17, 2019 at 22:06

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