Our party was made up of a group of old friends with a new friend to keep things fresh. So for us, even when we were playing a more evil alignment campaign, we (almost) always tried to save our party members. Often it worked, this time it really didn't.
Our party was fighter heavy with three melee types (two fighters and a rogue), a bard, and a wizard. No cleric and thus no healing. We were making our way room-to-room through a very frustrating dungeon with lots of dead ends and nasty traps. We had just picked up again after having to take a few weeks off so we were all raring to go, which is why events may have happened as they did. We rushed into the next room which was square and had a stone path down the middle with 10’ deep pits of fire to either side. At the far end of the stone path was a large urn. We had encountered a similar room earlier in the dungeon and we knew that if we opened the urn it would release a wraith. However, we needed to defeat that wraith to obtain a piece of the key for the door out of the dungeon. So, we jumped into the battle with the wraith first and took the time to actually look at our character sheets second. That’s when we realized that all of us, with the exception of the rogue, only had 10-20 hit points left from the previous battle. Also, the wizard had no leveled spells left so he was fighting with cantrips and staying out of the way. Mistake number 1.
The Dwarf and Half-Elf fighters along with the melee rogue engaged the wraith, while the bard and wizard held back. During the second round, the wraith accessed a hidden compartment to reveal a lever in the wall. We knew from the previous encounter that wraiths pulling levers would release unknown terrors but despite our best efforts he managed to pull the lever. Mistake number 2.
Suddenly, the floor broke into 5’ squares and started to shift/shuffle around the room, mixing with the fire pits like a carnival ride. All of us had to make Dexterity checks to keep our footing and we all passed with the exception of the Halfling bard. He stumbled and fell into a pit of fire taking enough damage to knock him unconscious while still burning. Mistake number 3.
The wizard rushed over to help while the other PCs continued to fight. He could not jump down into the pit directly as he didn't have enough hit points to survive; however, he used his mage hand to try and tie a rope around the Halfling and pull him out. All he needed to succeed was for the rope to pass its saving throw vs. the fire. It didn’t. Mistake number 4.
The Drow rogue, forcing interest at this point, took out his Wand of Wonder that had been found earlier and pointed it at the Halfling and said ‘Wuba-Wuba’. The wand transformed into a Lyre of Building and when played would allow the player to do the work of 100 men. The Drow, not trained in musical instruments at all, took a breath and began to play. He rolled a 1 which caused a string to break and caused the lyre to lose all of its magical properties. Mistake number 5.
Meanwhile down in the pit, the Halfling had failed the first of his death saving throws. The Dwarf then heroically raced across the room and leaped into the pit with the intention of throwing the Halfling out to safety. For his gallantry he rolled a 1. The Halfling was scooped up, lifted, and hurled…straight into the wall which he bounced off of and landed back into the fire. Mistake number 6.
After that, the Halfling failed the second death saving throw. Then the wizard finally figured out something helpful and used Ray of Frost to put out the fire in the pit. This allowed the Dwarf and wizard to tie a rope on the poor Halfling and get him out of the pit with no more damage. In the next round, the fighters managed to kill the wraith just after the Halfling failed his third death saving throw.
Despite all of our efforts, the Halfling was dead…and crispy.