One of my favourite NPCs died tonight. You know how it is as a DM. Most of the time the NPCs you create are there for a purpose and you play them as best you can, but not with any special interest or enthusiasm. But every so often one comes along who you happen to really enjoy playing - and usually it's by serendipity; somebody who for one reason or another you and the players develop something of an attachment for.
Dev was one of these. A retainer who the players hired to accompany them to the dungeon for the grand sum of 5 gold pieces a month, my initial notes for him on my random hireling table were "about 15 years old, short bow, skinny, 2hp". He was generated alongside a woman called Asha, whose notes were "retired whore, one-eyed, spear, 5hp". I immediately decided that Dev was in love with Asha, but didn't know how to express it, and that Asha allowed him to 'pleasure her' whenever she wanted it. I didn't expect them to last very long, but they actually stuck around through a few delves, and Dev managed to get a few kills with that short bow.
What I liked best about Dev was the idea I hit upon that the only word he knew how to say was "okay". He would say it in an eager-to-please fashion in response to anything anybody said to him. This never failed to amuse me, especially in situations where he was asked a question.
In any event, Dev died tonight. It was a pretty ignoble death: crossing a subterranean lake in the ancient dwarf citadel of Sangmenzhang on a bamboo raft the PCs had brought along, he was savaged by a carnivorous lungfish and fell overboard into a swarm of tiny stinging jellyfish. He never stood much of a chance in the front row with 2 hit points.
It was a pitiful end to a rather pitiful session: tonight was one of those nights for my players. They lost 2 retainers, and twice PCs came a flukey dice roll away from death. They were forced to flee by a swarm of cockroaches, attacked by dwarf skeletons, and chased by a giant slug which they had to shut behind a doorway which was their only apparent escape route back to the surface. All they got was about 1000 silver pieces from inside the bellies of a bunch of lungfish, and a couple of rings with semi-precious stones, for their efforts. Oh well. Nobody ever said dungeoneering was easy.