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Author Topic: TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?  (Read 4209 times)

Ghostmaker

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TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #45 on: May 06, 2020, 11:20:48 AM »
After a quick conversation with the BattleTech guru friend of mine:

BT really only has rules for misjumping at the strategic level (i.e. moving multiple Jumpships around, Succession Wars-game style bullshit). Otherwise, it's just a plot device, not something that can routinely come up on a dice roll.

tfw you realize Battletech's FTL is safer than Traveller's.

RPGPundit

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TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #46 on: May 12, 2020, 01:40:47 AM »
I'd say any fundamental activity (necessary to function in the campaign, like space travel in a sci fi campaign) having a chance of just automatically killing an entire party by sheerly random chance with no way to prevent it and nothing the PCs do factoring into it, is an example of flawed game design.
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Darrin Kelley

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TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #47 on: May 12, 2020, 01:29:02 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;1129645
I'd say any fundamental activity (necessary to function in the campaign, like space travel in a sci fi campaign) having a chance of just automatically killing an entire party by sheerly random chance with no way to prevent it and nothing the PCs do factoring into it, is an example of flawed game design.

Traveler's character generation is like this. So is a lot of its other system. Which is what turned me off the system completely.

TPK is boring. All it does is arbitrarily ruin the fun everybody was having. And honestly? I think it's a sign of really bad GMing.
 

jeff37923

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TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #48 on: May 12, 2020, 02:45:59 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;1129645
I'd say any fundamental activity (necessary to function in the campaign, like space travel in a sci fi campaign) having a chance of just automatically killing an entire party by sheerly random chance with no way to prevent it and nothing the PCs do factoring into it, is an example of flawed game design.


Quote from: Darrin Kelley;1129677
Traveler's character generation is like this. So is a lot of its other system. Which is what turned me off the system completely.

TPK is boring. All it does is arbitrarily ruin the fun everybody was having. And honestly? I think it's a sign of really bad GMing.


I find it to be more of a GMing IQ test. If you are so inflexible as to allow the RAW to end a game before it even starts, then you probably shouldn't be a GM.

EDIT:  Death in character creation was designed to balance out characters who lived long and maxed out on skills with a chance of something bad happening. Everyone I knew who played Classic Traveller when it came out had enough common sense to understand that you ignored character death in creation if you needed to start playing quickly.

Death in character creation has become such a joke that I bought a t-shirt from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises that has "I Died In Character Creation" emblazoned on the front right above the Traveller brand.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2020, 02:48:54 PM by jeff37923 »

ffilz

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TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #49 on: May 12, 2020, 03:39:18 PM »
Quote from: Darrin Kelley;1129677
Traveler's character generation is like this. So is a lot of its other system. Which is what turned me off the system completely.

Actually, to be pedantic, death doesn't occur in chargen, the following quote from 1977 Classic Traveller comes after rolling attributes and naming the character:

Quote
ACQUIRING SKILLS AND EXPERTISE

A newly generated character is singularly unequipped to deal with the adven-turing world, having neither the expertise nor the experience necessary for the active life. In order to acquire some experience, it is possible to enlist in a service.

So you don't actually NEED to join a service and serve terms with a risk of character death! Further, the death is actually a feature allowing the player some control over his character, this text from the section on Initial Character Generation (rolling up attributes):

Quote
Obviously, it is possible for a player to generate a character with seemingly unsatisfactory values; nevertheless, each player should use his character as gener-ated. The experience procedures and acquired skills table offer a genuine opportunity to enhance values, given only time and luck. Should a player consider his character to be so poor as to be beyond help, he should consider joining the accident-prone Scout Corps, with a subconscious view to suicide.

Yup, right there in the rules, you can attempt to suicide a character with poor attributes!

More to the point, as Jeff mentions, the risk of death serves a purpose of putting pressure on the player to not seek endless terms to get tons of skills. It's a totally functional part of the game.

Quote
TPK is boring. All it does is arbitrarily ruin the fun everybody was having. And honestly? I think it's a sign of really bad GMing.

Oh, and death in chargen in Traveller is of course not a TPK. Further, a TPK isn't automatically boring. If it occurs because the players chose to risk all for some particular gain, a TPK could actually be rewarding, it doesn't need to be a let down or cause the campaign to end. And there are some players for whom the fun is ruined if the GM fudges to prevent a TPK.

However, The Pundit says it really well. A TPK that is unavoidable because the players must take the risk for the campaign to progress in any reasonable fashion is a problem. Traveller DOES actually have a bit of a problem here in that you can not eliminate the chance of misjump unless you ONLY visit world with type A or B star ports. Even a scout ship that doesn't use refined fuel still has a 1 in 36 chance of misjump in the 1977 rules. I think later rules removed the risk unnecessarily to the point of making the source of fuel pretty much irrelevant. I have house rules that make it possible for the players to manage the risk better AND also make it much more unlikely to actually get completely stranded.

Darrin Kelley

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TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #50 on: May 12, 2020, 04:08:20 PM »
My experience with Traveller comes from the little black original books and the godawful Megatraveller. And a GM that sucked worse than any black hole.

I do own Dark Conspiracy. Which is Traveller derived. But I got it more for the setting. Even though I really hate the system.
 

Spinachcat

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TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #51 on: May 13, 2020, 04:18:59 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;1129645
I'd say any fundamental activity (necessary to function in the campaign, like space travel in a sci fi campaign) having a chance of just automatically killing an entire party by sheerly random chance with no way to prevent it and nothing the PCs do factoring into it, is an example of flawed game design.


Classic Traveller's misjump chance does involve PC choice on numerous levels.

1) You can spend your credits on jump drive maintenance.
2) You can choose to jump far from any planetary body.
3) You can spend the needed time on your navigation plan.
4) You can choose to jump less than your maximum so you have enough fuel for a Jump-1 if an accident does happen.

But in actual play, players spend their credits on plasma guns, antigrav belts and battle dress, then take risky jumps because who wants to wait an extra day in system, and the whole point of that damn big engine is to jump as far as it can.

And usually, that's still all cool and jumps go just fine, but sometimes the dice gods fail to smile upon their fate.

imurrx

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Re: TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #52 on: June 19, 2021, 11:10:36 AM »
Sorry to post late to this party, buy Necrotic Gnome OSE is going to release two psionic type of classes for B/X or e1 games.

https://necroticgnome.com/blogs/news/carcass-crawler-old-school-essentials-zine-issue-1-preview

There is a Hephaestan that is a elf-type race that has telepathic abilities, and a kineticist class.
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Valatar

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Re: TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #53 on: June 19, 2021, 01:45:57 PM »
As a matter of course I would never do a, "Oh, you rolled 01?  Rocks fall, the party dies."  I would still have disaster strike if someone managed to mess up a significant piloting check, but not in an instant-death way.  Back in an Alternity game I was running the party managed to get their ship blown up to the point that most of it was open to space, they had to do a lot of scrounging and jury-rigging to set up a small area with enough oxygen to make it back to civilization.

Dave 2

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Re: TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #54 on: June 19, 2021, 02:01:11 PM »
I would make that catastrophic 1% failure chance something that wasn't immediately fatal, but lead to a game play challenge that might yet be fatal. So getting stuck somehow in hyperspace and having to power up the drive a second time and punch through, partially phasing with an asteroid so now your ship is hanging off an asteroid and maybe the airlock's covered up, coming out somewhere completely different than expected (either in deep space so they have to make some hard choices about cold sleep, or if in-system somewhere very far away from where they want to be), and so on.

If I get to run Traveller again and I get a catastrophic misjump I'm going to convert and run Dead Planet (adventure for Mothership) rather than just close the book and tell the group they're dead.

imurrx

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Re: TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #55 on: June 19, 2021, 05:16:44 PM »
As a matter of course I would never do a, "Oh, you rolled 01?  Rocks fall, the party dies."  I would still have disaster strike if someone managed to mess up a significant piloting check, but not in an instant-death way.  Back in an Alternity game I was running the party managed to get their ship blown up to the point that most of it was open to space, they had to do a lot of scrounging and jury-rigging to set up a small area with enough oxygen to make it back to civilization.

When I was running Shackled City, the whole team got TPK when they thought they can handle a werven. They were over confident and self produced a comedy of errors. Fortunately one the characters had a slow regeneration of 1 hp per round. she was the last one standing was was picked up in the wervens clawsto be taken back for food. The den was miles away and I just saw the look on everyone’s face go all despaired. At that point I changed plans and had the character fall down to the earth bouncing on the side of the mountain. when she recovered after an hour or sho, she had to lug back the dead bodies back to town from the mountain top that was a days hike away. Oh the guards men made her pay a fee for bringing dead bodies back into town.

Good times
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HappyDaze

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Re: TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #56 on: June 19, 2021, 05:57:33 PM »
Shadowrun 2e...

Character used a grenade in the hallway of a secured building featuring reinforced walls,, floors,, and ceilings. He didn't realize just how fucked-up the chunky salsa rules were as the blast rebounded from 4 surfaces and killed three party members (including grenade guy).

Wntrlnd

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Re: TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #57 on: June 19, 2021, 07:04:58 PM »
In my opinion, a TPK means "end of campaign"

GM "But we have an entire book left, and it was the last boss of this book"
as a player: "I dont see the attraction of rolling up an entire new party just to go in and avenge the 5 people lying dead on the floor and continue their quest"

HappyDaze

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Re: TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #58 on: June 19, 2021, 08:13:50 PM »
In my opinion, a TPK means "end of campaign"

GM "But we have an entire book left, and it was the last boss of this book"
as a player: "I dont see the attraction of rolling up an entire new party just to go in and avenge the 5 people lying dead on the floor and continue their quest"
Totally fitting though if the game is Only War and you're just thr next squad of nominated Imperial Guardsmen to be sent into the meat grinder.

Lunamancer

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Re: TPK for One Character's Mistake Too Much?
« Reply #59 on: June 20, 2021, 08:57:35 AM »
Working up some rules for my OSR sci-fi game and writing up the entry for Astronavigation. Failure puts the ship off course by 1d10 lightyears. Failure with a roll of 95-99% puts the starship in imminent danger (comes out in an asteroid field, or just inside the atmosphere of a planet, etc). I've chosen to make a fail with 100% indicates that the starship comes out of hyper and collides with something, taking serious damage, or they phase back into real space within an object (an asteroid, another vessel, a planet, etc.), killing everyone inside.

Would this be too much for most gamers in the modern world? TPKs through combat with a superior force is one thing, but being due to the failure of a skill check by one player could be devastating for some folks, maybe. Thoughts?

My answer to the general question you pose in the subject line is very different from the specific one you're posing here.

I don't think I would get behind the wheel of an automobile if I thought there was a 1% chance of collision every time I drove somewhere. Let alone if there was a 1% chance of killing me and everyone around me. You might have recognize that what's at issue here is not at all the question you're asking. It's whether or not you're even using an appropriate game mechanic with appropriate outcomes for the activity.

One of the things I really like about old school D&D, and perhaps much of OSR has failed to appreciate it, is you're not just describing and parametizing the character. To a great degree, you're saying something about the world. When AD&D says your character with a 16 STR can force open doors on a 1-3 on d6 and has a 10% chance to bend bars/lift gates, this is not just a reflection of how strong your character is. It's also a reflection of how difficult stuck doors are to open and gates are to lift.

Now also consider the same character with the same strength, what you can break and how much you can lift might vary somewhat from one moment to the next. But not so much that you would be able to lift a gate one day, and fail to lift that same gate the next day. Or that you might bash in a door on the first try one day, but that same door will take 4 tries the next. When you're making these checks, you're simultaneously writing the world itself. You're strong enough to lift 10% of all the gates in the world. We're rolling the dice to determine if you're strong enough to lift this particular gate. In other words, we're not actually checking your strength. We're checking the difficulty of the gate.

I am fully aware this pecker slaps right across the eyes the philosophy that many old school gamers hold, that we're not inventing the world on the fly as we play, how difficult that gate to open is determined in advance and reflected with a sit mod, and your character's attributes are just that--Your. Character's. Attributes. And that's a perfectly fine and intuitive way to play. The problem from where I sit is it just doesn't look to me like most RPG mechanics are oriented towards that philosophy. The designers may hold that philosophy, but they carelessly copied what came before.


As to whether a fumble on a skill roll leading to a TPK is too harsh. Well, I would say this. When I include a small chance of instant death, it's generally intended to be a deterrent. PCs should never do this thing on purpose. For instance, falling damage in my D&D games are less harsh than most (d6 per 10', not cumulative), the idea being to give PCs a reasonably fair chance at surviving a fall without having to give in to hit point inflation. But at the same time, "Falls from Height" (greater than 40') all carry with them a probability of instant death in my campaigns. The idea is no character would jump off a cliff as a short cut thinking they have enough of a hit point cushion to take the fall. Even a small chance of instant death is too much risk. But it still comes up if a character falls accidentally or by trap. It makes these hazards very deadly.


To me, it seems what you're doing is a perfectly fine mechanic for an astronavigator setting in a course to a place he or she is unfamiliar with. The message it would send to players is "You should not do this thing. You don't get to just skip exploring unfamiliar space." This could organically create specialists within the game. Need to get out to a distant space station? Maybe hire a navigator who used to make supply runs there. And then by the end of whatever adventure is happening there, at that point, the PC navigator will be familiar with it and can always get back there in the future without chance for disaster. Now if something crazy happens. Like the PCs fail to stop the villain with his doomsday device that causes the sun of one of the inner worlds to collapse into a blackhole and now the hole is spreading as it swallows up more and more mass of the surrounding systems, hey, maybe risking that jump into the unknown reaches is worth doing. At the end of the day, 1% chance of TPK is better than 100% chance of TPK.