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Thread: The TPK: Players Perspective

  1. #1
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    Post The TPK: Players Perspective

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    Some ways that I can tell a DM is pretty much against the party and not leading a campaign:

    1. None of the other players seem to be having fun.
    2. Each encounter begins seeming beyond the total party level.
    3. Combat drags on and on almost never ending and I am wondering if all the monsters can be dealt with.
    4. More than the DMG percentage of encounters are deadly.
    5. DM is overly secretive and or controlling with rolls or information.

    Some things can be laid down purely to a fledgling DM that doesn't know how to adjust his game to the level of PC's and/or players, and when approached on the subject is willing to listen in the "AAR" or After Action Review. This is something I like to do at the end of a session to get feedback from players as to how they think the game went. If players want to find lot's of treasure and magic items and such, I'm fairly content to meet their needs in the name of having fun and being a "True Fantasy Hero."

    I have played in games where we have been being killed off slowly one at a time and wondered amongst ourselves during the breaks if we wanted to venture down the next dark hallway or open a door for fear that the DM had some diabolical sinister way devised to kill off another PC and simply laid it off on us as not being able to find the weakness of a monster/demon/devil and exploit it to win/survive an encounter. Thats purely a load of smelly dung. If I were in a large room of bloody chains swinging from the ceiling, and unknown to me the creature that I am locked in mortal combat with is a Chain Kyton, yes my father forgot to tell me about them and most importantly, how to defeat/destroy one, I would probably die since I already know that running away would be futile as some other horror is lurking nearby waiting to rend the flesh from my low level body.

    Each game should contain encounters that heroes can and do successfully survive, a little dented and dinged, scratched and cut for the most part, but all baddies dispatched with a flourish. A couple of dangerous encounters that may knock a PC down and out, but not kill. And the dreaded, way over your head and I want to see if your smart enough to just run away and live to fight another day. As a DM, I take no pleasure killing those PC's that look at each other and you hear the "Come on man, we can take him." I try to avoid killing them if after a round or so they really think they can do it, but should they decide not to heed the signs of the gods, I normally kill them very slowly in some horrible and sick fashion and then tell them, or sometimes show them the DMG and say "That was the encounter you were supposed to be smart enough to avoid. It's right here in the book, and the creature played no part in the overall adventure/campaign, he was just there to make things really really dangerous."

    DM's don't cheat. They have power and control issues, but don't cheat. DM cheating is something that I have had some minor experience with, but can't really say for certain because I just stopped playing with their group. As a player, you should be able to quickly tell the difference between a DM making a mistake, and seeming to always be making mistakes that sway favor or balance away from the party. As a DM, I prefer to and prefer that my DM make my Spot, Listen, Open Lock, Disable Device and a couple of other checks, as outlined in the Core Books. If I have to roll a die as a player, then I know something is up, if the DM tells me I hear something, then I heard it. If I miss a die roll, then I know there was something to hear, but didn't, Follow me ? If there is something about the DM that makes me feel uncomfortable with the way they are conducting their game, I may be being cheated. Follow me again ?

    At 39, D&D is my outlet. No psychological issues that I am going to publicly declare, hehehehe, but when I play or DM, I get to be a hero. Xaels Greyshadow, master rogue, shadow of the night, thief of fair maidens hearts and killer of all that is evil and foul. As DM, I get to tell a story that players interact with. I get to use my imagination. I can add, subtract, multiply or divide any published campaign or adventure. It's no fun when the DM is constantly going on about what's next to challenge me, insert word "Kill" there. That's overtly a DM telling his party he is out to make things as difficult for them as possible and if they survive it will be a miracle. There is nothing better than a few hours of fun that I actually enjoy comming home and recanting my tales to my kids and girlfriend while they look at me googly eyed and say I'm crazy.
    Check for traps always. Move silently all the time and know when to run regardless of what the rest of the party is doing.



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    The DM who is confrontational and sees the game as 'Me against them'. I have played with killer DM's. One of my first DM's was like this. We would go through several characters a day sometimes. When He got bored or the players started to get 'too powerful', TPK time. Later, when I experienced a good DM, I couldn't believe all that we had endured and continued playing despite of it.

    The DM who believes 'It is all about Me'. I have played with the cheater DM. The one who rolls just for the sound of it, but knows if it will succeed or fail before the die hits the table. They tend to have a story or world that is more important than the players. The last would rule zero every time he was caught bending the rules past breaking. One of the last games I joined was like this. The DM was only concerned with his fun, and changed rules on whims only to change them again later when it best suited his desires.

    The power trip DM who believes 'Everything is Me'. I have even experienced this type of DM for short periods. One was a bad Warhammer player who decided he could DM a D&D game. He could never get out of the wargame and was just too thrilled to be in the driver seat. Anything went depending on his moods and when he decided to 'win'.

    When I DM, I try to never make the 'run away or die encounters'. On the rare occasion I cheat, it is in the players favor because things are going bad despite their best effort.
    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.


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    Wow I just asked about this yesterday and this wonderful thread popped up. Anybody else have any stories? I can't get enough of this kind of these "actually friggin happened!" stories

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    Ask, and ye shall receive. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock and doors will open for you. When all else fails, find a Bard and A Rogue. While the bard sings and woo's the dragon with his song and praise, the rogue willl steal all the treasure.
    Check for traps always. Move silently all the time and know when to run regardless of what the rest of the party is doing.



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    I have to admit...

    ... I do tend to kill players who are not used to my style...

    Not because I'm on a power trip, but I find that some players just always expect to win no matter what. They won't negotiate, they kill NPC's because they can, and all that jazz...

    All my normal players know that I work hard to give them what they come for, and that's a challenge where they get to pit their wits and skill against the encounter. Let me say that again for clarity, they're not playing against me, they're playing against the scenario.

    I love battle mats, and my combat scenarios tend to be tactics heavy and if you run around willie-nillie, generating AoO's, you'll probably come out on the bad end. I've often had to fudge to benefit the PC's because I went a bit far in my design, but I'm always willing to work with them to reward their effort, and if I have a hot dice day, I won't kill them for that.

    On the other hand, if they walk into the dragon's lair w/o prep or scouting, and expect to just walk out with their fabulous gifts and prizes, they will catch an "L".

    I tend to start out newbies with humanoid opponents, and get increasingly complex with their tactics. At 1st level, you'll have some warriors rushing pell-mell into combat, @ 2nd maybe they form up in ranks @ 3rd they start using reach weapons, and flanking, and so on... by the time you're 6th level you best to believe I'll have the henchmen flank you and aid another while fighting defensively so one of them has a +4 to hit you and the other one essentially takes a shot in a dark to try to hit your AC with massive penalties.

    All my regulars do fine, and excel in other DM's games. It's just that transition from the video-RPG "it's handed to you on a platter" mindset to the "you perform dangerous, life threatening jobs for fame, fortune and glory" mindset that involves the lion's share of character fatalities.

    P.S. yes sometimes the dice are against you, and I can't not kill you repeatedly, but I do reward heroic/unavoidable deaths with bonuses in character generation (stat/equipment/feat bonuses,etc...) Even as a player, sometimes you know you're doomed, and I tend to opt for the 'blaze of glory'. I find it dramatic, satisfying and memorable.
    Last edited by Olothfaern; 12-29-2007 at 02:27 AM. Reason: p.s.

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    Sometimes this sort of stuff happens, a lot of the time in spaceships...

    Anyway, my perspective on this is that is often better to be part of a TPK than not being the subject of DM favortism which is FAR worse.

    As part of a TPK the only resentment might be against the DM (and if he is adversarial he will be expecting it..). Resentment of another player because of favortism (percieved or otherwise) will flow over into RL.

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    As a dm I only had a TPK once. My PCs were dead set on hunting down and killing this blue dragon who was clearly over their heads. They had a brilliant plan, but dragons are every clever. The battle was horrendous. When the end came, it was the party mage/thief (2nd edition rules played by my brother) and the dragon as the last men standing. Both were horribly wounded. They rolled initiative, the mage/thief went first. He was toe to toe with the dragon so he smashed his almost fully charged staff of power. He died, the dragon died, and that was the end of the game.
    Also, I like to use run away or die once in a while. Usually it's only good with experienced pcs though.

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    I try not to TPK, but I also have encounters that the players can run into that are beyond their abilities. I don't place those kinds of encounters in the direction(s) that the party is supposed to go, but I try to make my campaign world as real as possible, and that means that there will be things that are beyond their current capabilities.

    All of the players who have played with me for a while know this, and they inform any new players of this as we game.

    So far, I've never had a TPK during a normal campaign. It has happened when I've run games at conventions, but those are campaign games and sometimes, parties just don't know enough not to break down that extremely strong door, that has a lock so strong that the thief can't possibly pick it!
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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    I have yet to personally have a TPK, thought I have had multiple encounteres where it was very close. Mostly those encounters were actually well balanced final encounters coupled with a little bad luck on the players side.

    Just the other day, what was supposed to be a roleplaying acounter turning into a fight with 4 skeletal dire Rats turned into a Near TPK because the players tried to subdue the bone wizard (3rd level) by force. The kobold sorcerer was sent negative when he charged through the threatened zone, after getting wounded from earlier charging into melee. The generally non-combatant NPC Archivist killed all the skeletal dire rats because the Skarn Warblade has piercing and slashing weapons, but not bashing, which the archivist had. He didn't think of picking up a chair from the dining table he was fighting next to.

    My other close ancounters included an older white dragon the characters were warned about, but that avoided a TPK thanks to the self sacrifice of the Dwarven Paladin.

    I think mosty I've been plessed in avoiding TPK's because I've been so far blessed with players who know how to shout the phrase, "RUN AWAY!!!!"

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    I do my best to keep the challenge ratings in my games in line with what the players should be facing. However, I make it clear in my games that if the characters go off the beaten path, I'm not responsible for how difficult or deadly things may get. I'm more than happy to let players go their own direction in the world. But, if they decide to go into a dangerous area that is populated by mean and vicious nasties that are way above their level, I'm not going to tone it back just so they can survive.
    Robert A. Howard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    But, if they decide to go into a dangerous area that is populated by mean and vicious nasties that are way above their level, I'm not going to tone it back just so they can survive.
    Well said. I'm all for players taking the initiative to flesh out the campaign as they see fit but in the case that they decide to go into dangerous territory, I'm not going to make it less dangerous while they pass through it.

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    I don't think I have ever had a true TPK. I have killed many player characters and come close. Usually one somehow escapes to tall the tale. There was one occasion where everyone who showed up was killed. That might count, but two of the six players didn't show that night. The others wouldn't heed my warnings, and continued the foolishness despite my best efforts to let them escape.

    One of the last groups seemed to constantly be running close to extinction. It was transparent to me, that one player was intentionally maneuvering to be the most powerful in the group. His wizard would suggest really bad plans which the group would act upon, only to have the wizard flee/teleport away when they really needed him. The wizard would also stand around buffing himself instead of helping, then oops accidentally catch a PC in his area of effect. ETC.
    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.


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    Quote Originally Posted by rabkala View Post
    His wizard would suggest really bad plans which the group would act upon, only to have the wizard flee/teleport away when they really needed him. The wizard would also stand around buffing himself instead of helping, then oops accidentally catch a PC in his area of effect. ETC.
    I think I would find it hard to be patient with somebody who posed as a team player but left his party in the lurch when his plan started to fail. Just wrong. I'd probably go out of my way to punish him bwahahahaha! Well maybe...

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    Yeah, that is just wrong. I'm surprised the other PCs didn't kill him in his sleep.

    That kind of activity will destroy the fun of the game real quick.

    Developer for Darkage Warlord, a Pen & Paper Games exclusive Medieval Wargame.

    If you are in the DC metro area and like to trade D&D minis (1.0 or 2.0), please send me a PM!

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    We had a player in one of my recent groups who played a very powerful monk but took the Vow of Peace. He pretty much stood around and "watched our backs" while we worked through encounters. He then had the nerve to demand his share of the loot to donate to his temple. We got so sick of his behavior we ended up giving him the boot from the group. The only time he ever threw a punch was at our half-orc rogue, who engaged him in a philosophical debate concerning the similarities between humans and orcs.

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