Apparently they expected us to either hand over the map or fight to the death. They, however, have not met OUR party.
Quoth the paladin (me), "Gnome! Hsst! Gnome! Pass me a flask of acid!"
"That's my last flask of acid," said the gnome artificer mournfully, slipping it into the paladin's hand.
"Right!" said Rooster (the paladin. Not his real name) pulling out the fake (and inaccurate) map he'd taken the precaution of making some days earlier. "I've got your map right here! And--" stuffing the rolled-up map into the neck of the acid flask, "--we get safe passage through the city or the map gets it!"
There was a very long moment while we all stood on the bridge with arrows aimed at us, wondering if we could jump off the bridge and run away if it all went south.
"By whatever gods you worship, paladin," hissed our primal druid, "this isn't working!"
"Shut up! It's totally working!" Rooster hissed back.
"How do we know you'll hand over the map?" called the enemy
"I swear on the name of the Order of the Silver Weasel, I'll give you this map when we reach the other side of the city unharmed!" (Rooster belongs to the Silver Weasel. In our campaign, they're the demon-fighting-and-also-too-embarrassing-t
And then I rolled a 27 on my diplomacy roll. (Rooster is a middling fighter, a dreadful athlete, and even his friends think he's pretty dumb...but he can charm the sunglasses off a basilisk when he puts his mind to it.)
The session took a break while the GM tried to figure out what to do in this eventuality that had not been covered or foreseen. I took off my headset and walked into the GM's new office, where he was pacing back and forth and muttering to himself, so I giggled hysterically at him for a minute or two.
"Hey, it's a good plan! You gotta admit--"
"It's a brilliant plan. And I have no idea how you're gonna get the XP you need to stay on track if you actually manage to avoid this encounter."
I took myself off to make some hot cider.
We got our safe passage through the city. We got onto the other bridge. "Okay," said the enemy, "now--"
"Now all your guys stand over there and all my guys cross the bridge and you and I will stand in the middle and I will hand you the map once they've put their arrows away."
"DAMNIT!" came from the GM cave down the hall. And "Very well," said the enemy.
"Right, so I pull the map out of the neck of the flask and--"
"Roll a Dex check," grated the GM.
...I mentioned the bit about Rooster being a terrible athlete, didn't I?
"Oh, too bad," said our GM, wiping the sweat of sudden relief from his brow, "your hands are all slick from that long walk through the city holding the flask. The paper slips INTO the flask instead. And starts to dissolve."
"Oh god!" said the paladin, shoving the flask with dissolving map at the enemy spokesman. "Oh god, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that! That was an accident! I'm not malicious, just incompetent! I'm so sorry!"
And then he ran away, shouting apologies, while arrows and spells fell around him, which, with the luck of the dice and the kindness of the Silver Weasel, mostly missed.
"That was my last flask of acid," said the gnome sadly. "And you didn't even throw it in his face."
There was a brief moment when his own party considered stabbing him and shoving him back onto the bridge, as a goodwill gesture, but fortunately, it passed. It was a rough combat, but mostly for Rooster, since the assembled enemy horde believed that this had been some kind of Ultimate Dick Move on his part, and he received multiple arrows and fireballs as a result, each of which was greeted with: "I deserved that! I'm really really sorry!" Our gnome kept him alive, barely, with her snazzy infusions, in between calling up walls of acid vapor to assail our enemies. Our druid called lightning and turned into a large angry feline. Our fighter wandered around smashing things. Our thief did stabby things. Our paladin continued to apologize.
We were ultimately victorious. Nobody died.
And I still maintain it was a great plan and we at least fought them in a much better situation where we weren't surrounded, damnit, and it would totally have worked if my hands hadn't slipped but at least they think the map's been destroyed and shouldn't hound us in the future since the leader got away and my future crazy plans should NOT be dismissed out of hand just because of one lousy miscalculation.