I ran my D20 Past Victorian Shadows game last weekend. The evenings adventure revolved around an ancient Roman temple to Triva was discovered during tunnel excavation. One of the recurring bad guys got wind of the discover and lusted after the potential of finding a magic book inside.
There was only three players for this outing, which is not an issue because I build adventures in this campaign to be readily scaled based on who shows up. Starting at the British Museum, and working their way through an old pub they opted to jump right in and not take any opportunity to do additional research. They created their own sense of urgency out of thin air. Urgency keeps a game moving along which is good. What was not so good, for them, was not preparing. No knowledge, no supplies. It was all I could do not to rub my hands in glee.
Once they determine the location of the tunnel, they must get past the lone constable guarding the entrance. The come up with a simple plan which involves pummeling the poor man into unconsciousness. These 'good guys' have a long history of making life painful for the hapless local police. Of course now, they have created more urgency, they must get in and get out before the rest of the local constabulary comes down on them.
They spring one trap and manage to not take very much damage (they could have done research to learn this cult used to trap their temples), and then manage to disarm the next trap and take the valuable looking chalice from the alter. Finding nothing else (they really didn't look for much else), they are about to leave when the bad guys show up. Combat ensues.
At first, the intrepid group is handily eliminating the fodder the bad guy throws at them. But, the bad guy (a swarthy Indian fellow with a tacky accent I had a hard sustaining correctly) sends the next wave at them and things don't look so good. Indian bad guy hollers to them he will let them live if they give him the book.
Book? They look at each other and shrug before one of them yells back, "We'll never give up the book." or some such thing. Eventually they negotiate during the battle to surrender the book, and they place a book they have with them on the trap mechanism. They step away from the trapped altar and watch with anticipation as the bad guy approaches, hoping the trap does something nasty to him and turns the tide in their favor. Indian bad guy grabs the book, and yells out at them he is not fooled by this library book and the trap goes off.
Sadly for them, the trap was a pit trap and everyone in the room is affected, good and bad. One of the party manages to make a save and grab the end of floor as everyone else falls into the pit, which has three feet of fetid water in the bottom. The flare they were using for light falls into the water with a hiss and goes out. Complete darkness, two good guys and two bad guys in the pit, at least one bad guy they believe can see in the dark and the tough fighter type they need to fight the bad guy is hanging from the floor. Remember the lack of preparation mentioned earlier? No one has any rope or other tools to get them out of the pit, and no one has brought any light except for the flares which are now out. Internally, I am rubbing my hands with glee again. They remember they carry a couple of magical amulets which provide some light and some efficacy against these bad guys. There is still hope!
After a tough fight which nearly brings two of the characters to zero points (and in three feet of water falling unconscious is decidedly bad) they kill the monster and are about the converge on the Indian bad guy when he pulls out an ornate ceramic ball and threatens to smash it. He claims it would be bad for him, but far worse for them. After some tense moments when I am quite sure they are going to not believe him and attack (allowing me to break it and we all discover if he is bluffing or not), they instead decide to negotiate with him. I am surprised, this is the group that tends to kill first and ask questions later.
The tense negotiations was quite enjoyable and both good and bad guys held up their ends of the negotiations. They learned some valuable information about the nature of their opponents, gave me some adventure hooks, and made this recurring villain tremendously more interesting and complicated. They separated with each side trying to recruit the other to their side. A delicious outcome for which I had not any plan.
The dice never lie.