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Author Topic: How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?  (Read 1983 times)

Chris24601

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2019, 10:10:53 PM »
I can legit say in all my years of gaming I've never played at a table where enough PCs died to qualify as a TPK. Most of the people I've played with tend to be of the "if it's a fair fight, you're doing it wrong" variety and that includes the understanding that if the fight is NOT lopsided in your favor then you fall back until you can make it lopsided in your favor (you might take a loss or two in the process, but way less than if you'd stood and fought).

We've still had some pretty high lethality games, but even then it was a death every couple sessions, not TPKs.

VisionStorm

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2019, 11:33:08 PM »
Quote from: Chris24601;1114634
I can legit say in all my years of gaming I've never played at a table where enough PCs died to qualify as a TPK. Most of the people I've played with tend to be of the "if it's a fair fight, you're doing it wrong" variety and that includes the understanding that if the fight is NOT lopsided in your favor then you fall back until you can make it lopsided in your favor (you might take a loss or two in the process, but way less than if you'd stood and fought).

We've still had some pretty high lethality games, but even then it was a death every couple sessions, not TPKs.


Yeah, I don't think I've ever had an actual TPK either. Multiple deaths? Maybe. But never a full TPK that I recall. But I answered with what I WOULD (hypothetically) do anyway cuz the OP seemed to be phrased like a thought exercise rather than relying on you actually experiencing a TPK.

Characters in my campaigns tend to die almost invariably of player stupidity--often with plenty of warning and strong implications that if the players continue along that path their characters WILL die. In my games player idiocy is the #1 cause of character death.

Psikerlord

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2019, 11:51:43 PM »
New PCs and completely new adventure. Even better new system/genre too. Keep it fresh!
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Melan

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2019, 03:08:46 AM »
The more casual the game, the easier it is to keep going with new characters. If a canonical sandbox game loses a team, you can assemble a new one from the available character pool and keep going. At our last OD&D game, a pair of green dragons killed off the first exploration party, so the players just rolled up a new bunch, or took out different PCs, and sent them into action (while giving the dragons a wide berth! :D). If it is a game with long plot arcs and characters being embedded in multiple social contexts, it is hard to break the continuity without damaging the flow of the campaign.

This also increases over time. Usually, in the beginning of a long-running campaign, characters are not very well developed, and fairly disposable/interchangeable. Our latest full campaign suffered an almost-TPK at session five, and we could reboot it successfully (although there was a reorientation period while the new PCs found their way). Once you get to mid- and high-level characters with long histories, a lot of organic development, and many ties to the world, losing a PC means losing some of that texture, and if you lose all or nearly all, you essentially lose the campaign. Of course, in standard D&D, you have fairly good access to raise dead and perhaps wish, even if it does cheapen death and injury.
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HappyDaze

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2019, 03:13:38 AM »
Quote from: VisionStorm;1114638
Yeah, I don't think I've ever had an actual TPK either. Multiple deaths? Maybe. But never a full TPK that I recall. But I answered with what I WOULD (hypothetically) do anyway cuz the OP seemed to be phrased like a thought exercise rather than relying on you actually experiencing a TPK.

It was a thought exercise when I posted it. However, I knew the PCs were going into a potential TPK and they knew it was going to be a tough fight with a possibility of defeat. We played it tonight and it was a disaster. One PC went down in turn 2, but the cleric got him up with healing word. On turn 4, the captain (a bandit captain with a rapier instead of a scimitar) rushed in and skewered the cleric with two rapier hits and a dagger hit. The cleric went down to 0 hp and things got bad very quickly after that. The PCs suffered from some terrible rolls--the barbarian only once rolled above a 6 on an attack roll, meaning she missed with 5/6 of her attacks. The bad guy wizard (a 4th level caster) used Thunderwave upcast to level 2 and rolled max (24) damage. This killed one (previously injured) character outright and knocked another to 0 hp and off of the side of the ship into the water--not a good situation to be in when unconscious. So yeah, the TPK happened.

Everyone still wants to play D&D with me running it, but not the same campaign. They are OK with failure and want to try something new.

Antiquation!

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2019, 10:21:39 AM »
The only TPK I've ever had in a campaign I was running was because I was running it for a single player, whose character died (a story which I posted over in the "natural animals as enemies" thread).

He made a new character from the same cult, and was charged with finding out what happened to his previous character. Which he succeeded at, then killed the monster that ate his previous character, then bled out in the snow from his wounds.

So, a double "TPK" I guess! :p We both had fun with it.

Of course, I have PLAYED in games where there were TPK's. One of them I was a bit sour about, because the GM had randomly (and secretly) rolled up a trait for the cyborg character with amnesia, which turned out to be a mini nuke that detonates when the character goes negative... he bit it, then incinerated the rest of us, none of us including him ever having known about the secret "power" prior to that moment. :o
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 10:23:45 AM by Antiquation! »
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HappyDaze

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2019, 01:29:41 AM »
As a follow-up, this is the first time I've ever had a TPK in one of my games. I've certainly had PC deaths on occasion (even happened once in an FFG Star Wars game where it's pretty hard to do), but nothing quite like this. I didn't set the encounter up to be a TPK, but the PCs didn't take any real steps to prevent it and then luck (i.e., dice rolls) was just not in their favor. But...

As the battle went on and it became increasingly likely that they were going to lose, I started to enjoy their failures. I've long enjoyed celebrating the PCs' victories along with the players, but this time I was actually having a blast mopping the floor with them. Oddly enough, the other players found it fairly enjoyable too once everybody was dead (other than the fact that the game was over about 90 minutes earlier than we usually play).

The players do appear to have gleaned that I won't pull punches (two of them play under another DM that fudges dice rolls and regularly throws softball encounters) and they seem to be applying this insight toward their new characters. Their new PCs (starting at level 3) are far better built to support one another and the players are even talking about the need to avoid using head-on frontal assault as their sole tactic. So, this TPK might just be a win overall.

mAcular Chaotic

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2019, 02:46:37 AM »
Quote from: Antiquation!;1114669
he bit it, then incinerated the rest of us, none of us including him ever having known about the secret "power" prior to that moment. :o

OK, I laughed. The more I think about this the funnier it gets.
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HappyDaze

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2019, 04:23:32 AM »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1114772
OK, I laughed. The more I think about this the funnier it gets.

Not its intent, but I consider it a cautionary tale against randomness in character creation.

Antiquation!

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2019, 01:48:37 PM »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1114772
OK, I laughed. The more I think about this the funnier it gets.

Looking back, it was kind of a funny way to go aside from our attachments to our characters. To be fair, the GM was as surprised / disappointed as the rest of us and offered us a do-over or retcon of the situation; we declined, feeling it would have ruined the spirit of the game. We built new characters instead, although our interest in the campaign became flagging and it puttered out a few sessions later.

I'm not sure what his rationalizations were for including that random ability. Perhaps the player requested it remain secret because of his character's amnesia, or the GM insisted on it? Not sure, don't remember hearing one way or the other.

I'm glad you got a laugh out of it though. It was a truly unexpected and ridiculous way to die. :eek:


Quote from: HappyDaze;1114775
Not its intent, but I consider it a cautionary tale against randomness in character creation.

Well, perhaps not an inherent issue with randomness in character generation, but rather keeping secrets about PC's secret from the players themselves. It can work in very specific styles of games, but rarely works out in a trad RPG setting IME. Sort of like revealing how a Dependent bought as a disadvantage turns into the main villain (they were evil the whole time!) which could occur as a bait-and-switch with even regular point-buy systems. Random chargen has its uses.
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crkrueger

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2019, 04:08:56 PM »
Depends on how long it takes the GM to stop laughing out loud whenever he thinks about it. :D
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Omega

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #26 on: November 24, 2019, 02:58:45 AM »
I only laugh if it is the players own fault after ample warnings. I also have no sympathy at all in such cases, which have been mercifully rare.

Otherwise I suggest options if there are any or failing that, pause the game so everyone can roll new characters. Usually I have new characters join in at the same level as the old unless a player asks to start at 1 again. Some do, some do not, and some will or won't based on the situation.

VisionStorm

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2019, 05:04:17 PM »
Quote from: HappyDaze;1114766
As a follow-up, this is the first time I've ever had a TPK in one of my games. I've certainly had PC deaths on occasion (even happened once in an FFG Star Wars game where it's pretty hard to do), but nothing quite like this. I didn't set the encounter up to be a TPK, but the PCs didn't take any real steps to prevent it and then luck (i.e., dice rolls) was just not in their favor. But...

As the battle went on and it became increasingly likely that they were going to lose, I started to enjoy their failures. I've long enjoyed celebrating the PCs' victories along with the players, but this time I was actually having a blast mopping the floor with them. Oddly enough, the other players found it fairly enjoyable too once everybody was dead (other than the fact that the game was over about 90 minutes earlier than we usually play).

The players do appear to have gleaned that I won't pull punches (two of them play under another DM that fudges dice rolls and regularly throws softball encounters) and they seem to be applying this insight toward their new characters. Their new PCs (starting at level 3) are far better built to support one another and the players are even talking about the need to avoid using head-on frontal assault as their sole tactic. So, this TPK might just be a win overall.


An awesome end to a tragic tale of woe.

Quote from: Omega;1114860
I only laugh if it is the players own fault after ample warnings. I also have no sympathy at all in such cases, which have been mercifully rare.

Otherwise I suggest options if there are any or failing that, pause the game so everyone can roll new characters. Usually I have new characters join in at the same level as the old unless a player asks to start at 1 again. Some do, some do not, and some will or won't based on the situation.


When PCs die in my campaigns it's almost invariably as a result of player stupidity. The only regret I feel is on the player having wasted mine and every one else' time with things like playing a stupid evil character who tried idiotic things like kill innocents in broad daylight, cuz "evil", then had to be put down like rabid dogs when the guards showed up and they wouldn't go peacefully. I feel no sympathy for PCs who cause their own deaths or players who think alignment excuses idiotic behavior that would get people killed by people acting in self-defense.

I do feel sorry when PCs get killed as a result of bad rolls, but I can't remember the last time that happened and in D&D at least, after a certain level that's almost impossible (unless you insist on fighting an enemy actually stronger than you are, which takes us back to player stupidity).

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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #28 on: November 30, 2019, 05:58:05 AM »
Most of the times that there's a TPK, I would consider it a time to end the campaign, unless there's a very good reason not to, or my players clamour for it to continue.

But if even one of the party members survive, that can be a very different story, particularly if the players are in favor of continuing. In my DCC campaign, the number of times that the entire party except Bill The Elf was wiped out has been so frequent that we invented the term "Total Party Bill".
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How do you prefer to move forward/on after a TPK?
« Reply #29 on: December 01, 2019, 12:18:47 AM »
Really depends on the DM and players wether to continue or restart. Like everything else in gaming. Varies wildly.

Personally I have so far never had a group that wanted to restart rather than continue.

There was one TPK in the making in my first Shadowrun session that I myself decided to rewind to the start of combat as I had misread the combat rules and the Guards I had set up, one of the players pointed out, were actually pretty deadly vs the team who were just starting out. It would have ended in a massacre. Since this was my fault I deemed it best to just rewind a little and change the guards guns which were the problem.

In the tandem campaign I am playing in the game just continues as it is a very "world in motion" one. We have so far come across and helped recover one TPK that happened to one of the other parties in the area. And recovered a PC who had died and been abandoned by her party, who happen to be the vanguard group.