You’ve been in a great adventure, things are looking up, your character has made it past level 1, level 2 and finally made it into level 3, where he is a bit more stable. Suddenly the DM is throwing different monsters at you, the rewards are getting bigger and you decide that its time to take a few more risks.
One night when you believe one good solid night of adventuring will level up your character to level 4 and start down a new path of excitement. You and your party are down in dungeon crawl, but it seems you just can’t get it together to tonight. You convince the party to skip a few rest periods to push on, going deeper into the dungeon, looking for anything. Your party is ambushed, but your party seems to have it under control. Suddenly the tides turn as your fellow party members start missing on their attacks and the enemy is hitting now, and hitting hard.
One by one your party members start dropping like flies, and finally its just your character left. So you decide to run, the monsters give chase and finally corner your character due to a wrong frantic turn. You decide to fight for your very last breath…
*FADE TO BLACK*
The group all throws their hands up in the air as the last character finally drops down to the ground dead, screaming at each other with blames, and then finally turn to the DM, blaming him for being so cruel.
Is it the DM’s fault?
Was it the Party’s fault?
I think it can be a mix of both sides for the correct answer.
Face it, a TPK is memorable, but in the long run is not really all that fun (except for the DM).
In this very situation, the party could have decided to not skip those rest periods and be “XP greedy” as I’ve heard some people call it. Maybe if they rested properly they could have survived what seemed like an easy encounter.
Maybe the DM should have not had the monsters pursue the character that attempted to run away from the monsters.
But doesn’t the DM have the right to play the monsters as he sees fit?
2 thoughts on “The Evil GM – TPK, OH NO! It happens!”
Make the next game the ghosts of the character's seeking to train the next group in, telling them about the overarching plotlines, giving them the pointers of hindsight.
Or they all wake up in chains on a galley ship.
To be fair, I've been in a few groups where the TPKs actually were fun. The party went in with the right attitude of it being a game and they were pleased to go out in a blaze of glory. Now, granted, most of the time there's frustration and in the aftermath a sense of "Erm… OK, now what?"
I mean if your campaign isn't episodic in nature and have a unifying over-arching plot, how do you integrate an entirely new party into that? The true danger of a TPK, for me, is that it can kill the momentum of the players and invalidate the hard work of a DM. That being said, if players and DM work together, they can find a way to keep things going in a believable and entertaining fashion.