Also, them' s some serious dick moves.
Puts me in mind of something I once did, though. I once started a campaign by having my players make characters together, and then, when they were finalised, taking their sheets away without explanation, giving them presaged sheets for higher level characters
and landing them in the middle of an existing situation.
This party was tracking a rogue sand dragon across a nearby continent, and had traced it to a closed cave system. When they pursued it further, they managed to corner it and, with some difficulty, slay the beast.
But heading deeper into the cavern, they found a strange miasma that was clouding their sight of some sort of humanoid in front of them. They got into combat with this mysterious person, who was casting searing spells and utterly decimating the party; when two of
the three characters died, I raised their sheets in front of me and tore them into little pieces.
The last party member struggled, but was captured alive. Just as the mysterious figure closed in on her... I gave the players their character sheets, and cut to their characters' arrival to this area of the world via ship. Players were mapping themselves over
the finality of death in this world.
They encountered that cave later on, and though they tried not to be meta about l, they were Wiliam about going in. At that point, though, the mage inside was discovered to be only one of several generals to the real antagonist.
Was that mean?