The goal of these sessions is to play for a night without having to commit to being there every time a group gets together. To that end, we can’t have a party stop a session while in the middle of the dungeon.
So, here’s how each session will end, stolen blatantly from The Alexandrian and modified slightly to better suit this campaign.
1) The players can, at any time of their choosing, make their way out of the dungeon and end the session for the evening.
(2) As the GM I can, at any time of my choosing, announce that we will stop playing in 1 hour. If, by the end of the hour, the PCs have made their way out of the dungeon, the session ends normally.
(3) But if they have not made their way out of the dungeon (for whatever reason), then either (a) everyone in the session can immediately commit to another session within 7 days; or (b) the Escaping the Dungeon! tables will be used to determine their fate.
SITUATION CHANCE OF ESCAPE
You don’t know where you are. 25%
You know where you are. 50%
You have a clear path of escape. 75%
CHALLENGE ADJUSTMENT: Adjust the chance of escape by +/- 10% multipled by the difference between the level of the dungeon and the level of the character. For example, a 5th-level character on the 3rd level of the dungeon would enjoy a +20% adjustment on their chance of escape.
SMALL COMPLEX: If the characters are attempting to escape from a lair or other small complex, increase the chance of success by 10% to 20%.
MAKING THE CHECK: An escape check is made for each character separately. There is always a minimum 1% chance of escape or failure. On a failed escape check, roll 1d10 on the Failed Escape table below.
1 You escape unharmed.
2 You escape but have suffered a lingering injury (DMG 272)
3 You escape but had to fight your way out, taking 1d6 x 1d6 points of damage. (If this kills you, see result #8.)
4 You have lost 1d6 pieces of equipment. Determine randomly between slots and bags. If a bag is lost, all of its contents are lost with it.
5 You have been petrified. Roll the escape percentile again to see if your comrades know where you are. If they do not, roll the escape percentile again to see if your comrades have a clue of some sort.
6 You have gained a long term madness that lasts for the duration of the next session. (DMG 260)
7 You have been transformed into a monster (undead, lycanthrope, mind controlled, etc.) and are under the control of the DM now.
8-9 You have died. Roll the escape percentile again to see if your comrades were able to retrieve your body. (Instead of retrieving your body, your comrades may choose to loot it and/or leave it.) If they did not, roll the escape percentile again to see if your comrades know where your body is. If they do not, there is a 50% chance that your body has been utterly destroyed.
10 Opportunity for betrayal. You can choose to either reroll on this table or betray a comrade who would otherwise escape. If you choose to betray a comrade roll 1d6 — on a roll of 1-4, you escape and they must roll on this table; on a roll of 5-6, both you and your victim suffer the fate they roll.
None of this is to hurt the players, but rather to give them a motivation to leave the dungeon and thus end the session in a timely manner. It can also lead to some interesting new story hooks as PCs go back down below to recover their comrade’s petrified body, or at least pick up that bitchin’ magic sword the poor dead bastard dropped!