I’m playing the Mines of Phandelver campaign with five of my friends via Fantasy Grounds and four of them are totally green to DnD but wanted to give it a try. (I figured pre-made characters would make it a little simpler on them while they learned the base mechanics.) As such, I try to be a challenging but forgiving DM while they learn the ropes.
During the course of their adventure, I realized that my players have a bad habit of stacking encounters on top of each other. The previous week, they managed to stack a grand total of five encounters in one encounter in Cragmaw Castle. This particular week, they were coming up against a hard-set deadline (because people had work the next morning) and they’d already stacked two large encounters on top of each other while trying to set a trap for what I tried to clue in to the thief (my sister who’s the only one who’s ever played DnD before besides me) was four hobgoblins, not normal goblins like they’d been fighting, but she didn’t pick up on it. One of the hobgoblins had alerted another encounter that was already on alert from the previous week (the only reason I didn’t have them join the previous five-encounter-dogpile was because of another hard deadline).
So the thief has been nearly killed this session and is getting a little tired of getting wailed on. So she decides to ninja her way out of there to leave the rest of the enemies to the newbies while she goes hide and loot some random room. She has a few options: to the north is a lot of nothing, to the southwest is the kitchen the second group of enemies just vacated, to the east is the now empty place the hobgoblins had previously occupied. All would’ve been good choices.
She chooses the southwest tower. The worst possible choice.
Having rolled a 21 for stealth, she gets in through the door and I start laughing hysterically. I have to take a moment to mute my microphone as I howl with laughter and don’t want to blow out eardrums. I come back online and reveal the one solitary token in the room: an owlbear.
Me (while laughing): “You enter the room and find an owlbear chewing on a bone.”
Human Fighter (Greataxe wielder) who has never seen a token bigger than one square: “WHAT?!”
Thief: “I FLATTEN MYSELF AGAINST THE WALL.”
I have to mute the mic another two minutes while I laugh hysterically.
The other players manage to finish off the other enemies but I don’t release them from initiative since we still had potentially one more enemy now. Fortunately, she manages to stealth her way back out and shut the door without being noticed. I give her Inspiration for staying in character in the first place.
And that was how my newbie players learned the age-old adage “Never split the party.”