|The tombstone may have cost more than the hireling's wages to date|
Last Friday's group decided to explore the second level of the dungeon, which had really only been discovered the previous gaming session. The northern half is infested with stirges, and the group managed to stumble across two chasme (fly demons) who are probably the source of them. The two chasme were pretty lethal opponents because they have a droning they emit which causes PC's fall unconscious in their presence. That's pretty nasty for a CR6 monster.
But the heroes prevail and make their way to the southern portion of the dungeon level, which is filled with a purple hazy cloud that prevents vision, a big problem when there are zombie ogres wandering around. In the haze-filled area they find Natasha, a beautiful drow who says she is the prisoner/concubine of a powerful wizard named Balcoth. The group agrees to rescue her and defeat Balcoth. Natasha leads them back to the northern part of the dungeon, past a warning sigil they had seen before. The group enters this portion of the dungeon, leaving Natasha behind with Knobbyfoot, their gnomling torchbearer NPC to guard her.
After defeating Balcoth's rust monster and Su-monster guards, they confront him (only he's a wraith, not a powerful wizard as Natasha said) and he calls them fools for listening to the drow. They still attack and defeat him, but when they return to collect Knobbyfoot and Natasha, they discover that Knobbyfoot is dead, killed by a poison spray spell, and Natasha is gone.
In a dungeon crawl, you don't get a lot of opportunities to roleplay, which means it is harder to really get a group to really hate a villain. You can show them how terrible they are (Balcoth had some nasty souvenirs in his lair), but how do you really get a villain under the players' skin? Well, Natasha is that villain now. The group is all over their private Facebook group talking about how they are going to get their revenge, including the notion of "feeding her to the bears," which is kind of an inside joke. I was getting texts late at night from players who were not at last night's session about it.
Sometimes, I'm a passable GM.