View Full Version : Party Kill or not to Party Kill that is the question

Baldwin Stonewood
06-07-2009, 03:08 PM
How many have been involved either as a a player or DM in a party kill?

Last night, the group I game in was presented with that possibility. Fortunately, the group made a couple wise teamwork choices so we did survive two intense conflicts, including defeating a demon Marilith. We play a spell point system and my cleric had gone through nearly every spell point and scroll in my possession.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
06-07-2009, 04:29 PM
I've been involved in both--once.

As a player, the dice were against us all the way. Actually, the chicken thief did escape, the rest of us did not.

As a DM, player stupidity killed the party. No apologies. If they don't know their roles as characters, that's what happens. Short version of what happened? Basically, the party was trapped behind a locked door in a rather large natural room in the Underdark (the Beholder entered from above, around 50 feet up), the thief decided he was a fighter and attacked the Beholder rather than picking the lock. Well, thief went down, no one left to pick the lock, and all were trapped in the room and killed. Again, very short version of a really detailed encounter.

06-07-2009, 04:52 PM
I was involved in a near TPK as both a player and as a DM.

As a Player, I was the only character to survive. The whole party was turned into shadows as we entered battle with absolutely no protection. It was totally our fault. My character retired immediately after that, becoming an NPC.

As a DM, the only time I did a TPK was with a solo adventurer - and he was rescued... the dice hated him that night. I had a near TPK with some players that didn't want to work together. It was dumb luck that they survived, but I wouldn't have complained or apologized if they had all died.

06-07-2009, 05:28 PM
As a DM, a couple of parties have died under my watch. Unfortunately, when you do stupid things like walk into a fire giant's lair and demand he release a prisoner he has instead of being a little more tactful, you die. I'ld like to say I'm sorry about it, but I'm really not.

Have been in a near death party experience where two out of the eight of us lterally limped out of the dungeon. My character had a broken leg, broken arm (which played hell on spellcasting) and the other character had a crushed foot, broken ribs, and several other injuries. FYI, a dungeon cieling trap was spring and did away with 2 rangers, a mage, another cleric, 2 thieves, and a paladin. The mage and thieves died of the initial damage and the other 3 died while we tried to dig them out. A fun time was NOT had by all!

06-07-2009, 09:02 PM
It seems like when I used to play 2E D&D our parties died left and right. Maybe we didn't play all that intelligently. I had a 9th level Palidin (my avatar's namesake) who was fortunate enough to never get killed but I only played him with a good group of friends. I am quite impressed at how resilient these 4E D&D characters are. Take a look at my blog. Each session I thought they may likely fail at a point, usually the beginning of the battle, but they didn't. 2 or 3 players are pretty experienced though and have lead the party to deny the monsters combat advantage, even considering 1 encounters were 3 levels higher than the party! I have another session scheduled for next Monday. We'll see what happens. I'm not gunning for them by any means but I haven't fudged any rolls either.

06-08-2009, 01:16 PM
I was in a TPK about 2 years ago, and I blame it on the assassin who didn't want to do his job. There were only 3 of us, a dragon shaman, a Drow priestess of Lolth, and an elven assassin. The cleric and my dragon shaman tried like hell to fight this black dragon (can't remember the age) but the assassin (played the the DM's 11 year old son) was a total wuss and wouldn't close in for anything ... just shot harmless crossbow bolts at it from the extent of it's range while the dragon proceeded to melt us with acid. Then, due to his cowardice, after it killed us ... it made a meal out of him :) Poetic justice.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
06-08-2009, 01:41 PM
GM'd a game once a few years back where one of the players son (14) was playing a Dwarven Troll Slayer, in a WFRP game. Well, long story short, he chose to play ooc, hide, and be fearful of the giant 18ft Troll coming their way. Before everyone knew it, it was upon the party, and with its miraculous healing abilities, chopped everyone to bits. Everyone was pretty hacked off about it, pun intended.

As i told the party: sometimes Dwarven Slayers aren't worthy of honor. This particular one would not be allowed in the Halls for his forefathers. His crime, cowardesss.

Personally, i loved the outcome. In the WFRP world, bad things just happen. A year or so later, some of the players remembered it fondly, telling their fellow WFRP gamers the story, everyone thinking it was cool to be in a game where a Slayer failed to regain his honor, but i'm rambling now.


06-08-2009, 03:55 PM
When they're level 8 and disregard the sign that says, "Danger - do not enter, Portal to Plane of Fire." and still enter. Then that's their own dang fault. I'd imagine 10 of the 14 died within two rounds.

Another instance was when they were level 12, they went up against an ancient wyrm who cast prismatic wall, divided the party of 6 in half. And killed the closest three. The other three couldn't get through the wall in time to save them.

Though. I don't think an entire party has been killed off at one setting.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
06-08-2009, 04:05 PM
Here's something similar:

In my campaign's, i let the players choose adventures based off of little bits of information. Sometimes they use the information wisely, other times, not so much. So when they realize that they may have bitten off more than they can chew(choosing a campaign that is designed for higher level characters/advanced career characters), they better run like hell. But if they take a job that hints at a flying creature and fire damage inflicted upon a town located beyond the emperors help, and these characters aren't very experienced, then may their Gods help them, for I, as their GM, surely wont.

06-08-2009, 04:12 PM
I was involved in an... errr.... incident in a battletech-inspired game which involved all the PCs in mechs boarding an enemy dropship, and firing a crapton of missiles into the enemy mech bay. So much damage was rolled that we caused a chain reaction of exploding fusion power plants on all the enemy mechs (hundreds of them). We kerploded the whole dropship and the GM ruled (rather than killing us all) that the explosion was so massive that a brief hole was torn in space-time and we were all sent to another dimension. (It probably helped that we had the GM's recurring world-hopping NPC with us, who he explained never really dies. When she's about to die she involuntarily "jumps", which is why we met in her in so many different worlds.)

It effectively did end that campaign though, since that was the climactic battle of the campaign anyway, and as far as anyone in that world was concerned our characters were dead. We rolled new characters for the next campaign.

Jeez, that was like 15 years ago now.

06-08-2009, 06:57 PM
Yep, been involved on both sides many times. Many more cases where only one or two characters got away... one time i caused the death of everyone else but ran away when it came time to back them up and lived in shame thereafter.

As noted in other posts, player stupidity is usually the cause. Never kn owing when to back down, or not use direct confrontation as your primary tactic is often at fault. Many time characters get in way out of their league and most of my players understand that their newer characters are that - not heroes off the bat - those people that they dreamed of being when they were kids... where are they? Dead most likely... thats the real ending of the life of a glory hound (in most cases).

The last time it happened, last year, i fast-forwarded through a scenario because i told them realistically they should all just die; and just told everyone to make a roll - success = win, fail = die. About half died, and the person who got them there lived (though was hunted down and killed later by their enemies).

As a player, its happened a few times.. mostly in Runequest or Strombringer (the later more often)... Call of Cthulu too.

"Hey, if you don't want to die, play Toon" (that was always my motto as a GM).

06-11-2009, 09:37 AM
Over the last 15 years as a GM, I've had 6 TPKs, actualyl 5, since once and only once (I won't ever do this again) did I end the session with "...and then you wake up". When the players make bad choices or the dice are just going against them, even if I fudge a die roll or two, I don't go out of my way to keep the player's alive. I've been called a ruthless GM because of this and take it as a compliment. My thinking is that for every action there is a consequence.

As a player, I've been on the receiving end of 4 TPKs. While many of the players were ticked when they've occurred, I just chalk it up to incredibly bad luck and then whip up my next character.

Frankly, character death, particular TPKs, is a very real danger when you have a group of characters (albeit extraordinary members of there respective races) that continually charge off into the unknown and routinely face danger. Face enough danger and eventually you get your ticket punched. I say accept it and move on.

06-11-2009, 09:47 AM
Hey, i got an update. It so rarely happens, and last night pride came before the fall. Only the fat priest ended up dying, and but for some dumb luck and an expeditious retreat, everyone else would have bought the farm. I had no problem making everyone make multiple rolls upon which their entire life depended. People burned nearly all their saved action points and used good luck to live... but they did. They just bit off way more than they could chew.

06-11-2009, 10:29 AM
Once as a player, the very first time that I played 2E. appearently, 2 of the people that had said they would play, didn't really want to, so they had their characters sneak away while on watch. They then used the 6 javelins of lightining on the rest of the party (6 of us) at the same time. We didn't stand a chance. Luckily, there were 2 others wanting to play, so we started again, and this time, we all worked as a team the second go at it, and although during the final climatic battle all but 2 of us got killed, the party was able to get to the overall objective of the campaign.

Fast forward to my tabletop Tsojcanth group that I DM now. We are running the exact same campaign as in the above paragraph. There have been many encounters that could and should have taken out at least a couple of the party, they have done an excellent job at working as a unit and not rushing in with out a plan. Even when they have been surprised by the creatures that attack, they quickly pull together and fight as a unit, each using the advantage given by another character, or they do a specific action to allow another character to be able to do something. Yes, we have been running this game since the middle of last September, but this has been the case from the very first game session. Now, there have also been times where while role playing one PC might get a little upset with another, but when it hits the fan, they work like a well oiled machine, putting aside any differences.

06-11-2009, 09:04 PM
It's been a long, long, long time since that happened. I don't even clearly remember the details.

06-12-2009, 09:02 AM
In the Castle Ruins module for Greyhawk there is a chamber (I won't give away the details in case some one ends up going through it) where if the party does what most parties would do the entire chamber ignites and the ceiling comes crashing down bringing with it the several levels of the dungeon above it. Its total party killer and in my opinion a very unfair one. I had to have mercy on the group when the inevitable happened and allowed one of the PCs who wore a ring of efreeti summoning to summon the efreeti who then cast a wish spell to fix the problem.

06-12-2009, 11:32 AM
Sure, on both sides.
As a player, I'm not even above having a fanatical or idealistic PC deliberately leading the others into such a situation.
As a GM, I sometimes think it's a necessary part of "breaking in" a new group. <shrug> I don't ever set out with such an intent, but it generally happens once. Then the players decide that I really meant what I said, and afterwards apply an amazing amount of creativity and intelligence to the game.

06-13-2009, 09:12 AM
I've had one near miss with a TPK. Instead my wizard sacrificed himself to keep the rest of them alive.

Our party was facing a single (non-standard) gelatinous cube. It was supposed to be just a random encounter, but our DM decided that we had gotten too lightning bolt and fireball happy so he divided the creature with each lightning bolt that hit and quadrupled the cube with ever fireball. The doubles all had full hp too. Needless to say, the single cube soon became 8 and our party was over it's head. We killed a few pretty quickly because of our over-powered meatshield, but he failed a saving throw and soon everyone, but my wizard was paralyzed and slowly being dissolved by gelatinous cubes. My wizard also only had 1 spell left, Curse.

And so he cast it on himself, "I curse you to be so irrestistablly delicious to slimes and jellies that they will ignore other food for the chance to devour you." Then he ran.

06-17-2009, 09:26 PM
That is an epic gaming story. I applaud. That is a great character death and far better than just living till the game dissolved.

06-18-2009, 12:25 AM
Sure, on both sides.
As a player, I'm not even above having a fanatical or idealistic PC deliberately leading the others into such a situation.
As a GM, I sometimes think it's a necessary part of "breaking in" a new group. <shrug> I don't ever set out with such an intent, but it generally happens once. Then the players decide that I really meant what I said, and afterwards apply an amazing amount of creativity and intelligence to the game.

Very good... i agree, i've not had to do it in a very long time, but last year had to do it for the first time in a decade. A character started a Holy War... and in his hour of need, the PC's stood up for him. Half died and he lived. His character was ostracized.

06-18-2009, 01:36 AM
the only tpk's i can recall being in are the ones where i was the only player (and single character) playing! it was hard to find many people to game with sometimes back then.

06-18-2009, 08:24 AM
I think I've been in one near TPK (the DM has a panic roll that save our collective butts). In this case it was his fault for the most part (and one player that had been there wasn't and there's a good chance he could've helped us a lot.

The game was in Dragonstar and ranged weapons dealt either fire, lightning, or piercing damage. We were in a room with a couple shambling mounds and a tendriculos, and my character was the only one with a bludgeoning weapon, which is one of the only two damage types (acid being the other) that could hurt a tendriculos and if I remember correctly, most everybody else had fire or lightning weapons, which did squat against shambling mounds. My character had been grabbed by the tendriculos and he was paralyzed and dieing while the rest of the party was otherwise busy fighting the mounds (one of the other characters was a wyrmling black dragon, but I think he was waiting for his breath weapon to recharge). It wasn't something I'd want to repeat, but I had fun. :)

06-18-2009, 10:22 AM
Very good... i agree, i've not had to do it in a very long time, but last year had to do it for the first time in a decade. A character started a Holy War... and in his hour of need, the PC's stood up for him. Half died and he lived. His character was ostracized.
I'm with you, right up until the point where you say "his character was ostracized".

On the scant information availible, it doesn't appear that he hid the risks from them, just convinced them that it was the right thing to do.

Heck, risking the character's concrete existance for an abstract ideal? That's a good thing!
There are few more compelling moments in a game than when a character knowingly and willingly sacrifices themselves for an ideal.
Remember, it's not just a game, it's a collection of stories, told co-operatively. All stories eventually end, and all characters eventurally die, the only question is whether the story, and the character's life, had meaning. This was one heck of a story element. It gives meaning to the deaths, and continued challenges to the survivors.
If it played out like I visualize, I'd have applauded.