Proteus hopped into the water and cast Mending on the anchor chain while Lenny held it together. Lhye revealed himself as a tiefling and threatened the sullen crew into obedience while Captain Archer ordered them to make ready the ship and start after their own ship. Proteus searched the dead captain and found a strange dagger, potion, and an oil.
Lunjun Siva searched belowdecks and found a treasure chest with 100gp in the captain's compartment before heading into the hold where he found several hammocks swaying and a door set into the forward bulkhead that was chained closed and padlocked. He could hear a banging coming from the other side and went to fetch Lenny to break the chains though a quick search of the captain's compartment revealed some keys in his pillowcase. Siva was hoping to track down the tablets they had been sent to find, after all.
They removed the padlock, pulled loose the chains, and were attacked by a series of lacedon who soon filled the room. Proteus came down to see all of the commotion and the three of them swiftly attacked the lacedon. Unfortunately, Lenny was paralysed by their attacks pretty quickly, Proteus summoned a badger that managed to soak a lot of attacks through artful dodging, and Siva was soon cornered and taken down. There wasn't much room in that compartment so there were 'only' four lacedon at a time. All three went down but they took down 4 out of the 8 lacedons. Only 4 attacked them at a time, mind you.
Basically, I'd used the 4 - 5 tier again since last time it had been so successful. My players are generally pretty good at dispatching foes and it requires multiple low CR creatures to faze them. I don't want every battle to be life and death, by the way. They're just so good that it's often a one turn wonder unless the creatures are either quite clever or the encounter is their CR + 2.
What I didn't realise is that the lacedons (basically, ghouls that can swim) aren't really CR 1. They get three attacks that each cause a risk of paralysis. Heck, their bite attack also holds a potential disease though I ended up handwaving that away. I don't mind letting the dice fall where they may but I don't like punishing players for my own foolishness.
So anyway, three of the last four went upstairs and attacked Lhye and Captain Archer who nonetheless managed to kill one and badly injure another before they were taken down. I reassured the players that this wasn't a Total Party Kill (though it could have been) and instead was a Total Party Knock Out.
I'm figuring on weaving in the first adventure from the latest pirates Adventure Path now but updating it so the enemy are all ghouls. Should be fun and kooky! I certainly won't be having any of the players die up front for DM silliness and I'll be working extra hard to make it fun to make up for it.
Anyone else had to think fast to avoid a Total Party Kill?