First TPK as a player - am i being too sensitive?

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So I experienced my first TPK as a player tonight which led to an argument at the table about the GMs style.  I've been playing about 2 years and never have been TPKed though I've had some really close calls that you pull off by the skin of your teeth.  When I GM I try to avoid them for the party unless they do something incredibly dumb, if not I'll pull a few punches in the end.  Here's the basic story, I'd like to know if this is just one of those things or was the GM a little heavy handed?


Party was:
1) TWF ranger level 15
2) Prescient Bard - more of an immediate interrupt controller with some wizard stuff than leader
3) another bard that was specced heals
4) a fighter


Basically we had 5 monsters.  I was the ranger and came out and obliterated 2 in a couple turns with an AP and some good rolls.  The next went down to focus fire.  The last two were pretty nasty.  One had an at will close blast 5 save ends that says you have one action on your turn and it is to target the closest creature to you with a melee basic.  He locked the fighter and healer bard down with that every turn by hitting them with it and then making sure they were closer to each other than to the monster.  The other had an at will immobilize.  he immobilized my ranger and moved away from me and kept me there mid field and useless for 4-5 rounds with no end in sight.  During that time he focus fired me with both monsters with the stated goal of "KOing the ranger until he had no healing surges and the bards had no heals left."  I was down 4 surges, the bards were out of healing, I'd been KOed 4 times and the defender and leader had spent most of the fight beating on each other.  If we ran we would have to leave half the party behind so not really an option.  We finally just said lets call it after 3 hours of running 1 battle, exhausting all dailies, all tricks, etc.  It was a published D&D mod so its not like he threw something crazy at us but it just seemed like he used the monsters in a way that would totally screw the party over.         


I know from my experience as a DM that you can usually TPK if you want to.  I can come in with eveything and focus fire the leader then blitz the strikers or look at the monsters powers and know that I can counter the players easily with a certain combo.  I just kinda thought most DMs chose not to do that so it would be a fun adventure.
Some DMs are very 'by the dice' and don't really cut the players any breaks on that, and sometimes the dice just rolls really bad against players.  TPK's happen.  It sucks, but all you can do is try to learn something from it, and give it another shot.  And at the end of the day, as much as it sucks, there is something at least a little pleasant about rolling a fresh character, in my own opinion.
I'd say this really, really shows you the value of knowledge checks.  Knowing what the mobs can do, tells you who your ranger should be nuking, and it clearly should have been the guy with the daze/dominate blast.
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tpks in 4e are rare but do indeed happen, you should have fled, or at least the ranged pcs should have. sounds like your dm played it fair to me

I would be very frustrated with this too.  Within a round or two, because what happen was the DM took away your turns.  I think the worst situation is when the players have no option to do anything.  Combinations of daze, stun, immobilize, and dominate are horrible for the game.  The situation that piss me off the most as a play are when these effects are combined over most of the characters.  Another is being put in an artifcial situation that force characters to have no movement options.  Spawning minions all around several characters or such.  Basically, I hate when, as a player, you take away my turn over and over, or when I have no options.  Its a game, and is suppose to be fun, and those things aren't fun.    


I think he should have recognized what was going to happen right away and changed the at-will powers to recharge powers.  He could have kept using them, but not necessarily every round. The battle could have gone either way then and the player felt extremely threatened and not quite been so frustrated.


Maybe knowledge check would have keyed the players into something, maybe not.  plenty of time initiative order means you may not be able to make an effect check before its to late.  And if you are dazed, are you going to waste your one action on a knowledge check?  


My frustration would not have been the tpk, but the that I didn't have any viable options on my turn, over and over again, and then we all died - that I had to sit on my hands and watch the dm kill my party, that we all had to sit on our hands and watch the dm kill the party.


TjD

  When I GM I try to avoid them for the party unless they do something incredibly dumb, if not I'll pull a few punches in the end.  Here's the basic story, I'd like to know if this is just one of those things or was the GM a little heavy handed?

....If we ran we would have to leave half the party behind so not really an option.......

I know from my experience as a DM that you can usually TPK if you want to.  I can come in with eveything and focus fire the leader then blitz the strikers or look at the monsters powers and know that I can counter the players easily with a certain combo.  I just kinda thought most DMs chose not to do that so it would be a fun adventure.



First off, you should try really, really hard not to fudge dice as a GM.    I tend to roll all dice in plain view of the players; it makes things a bit more exciting.

Second, if you felt you should have run, then you should have run.   As a GM, if I can't "encourage" my players to run once in a blue moon, I'm doing something wrong or they are.

Third, the GM should play the monsters' combat abilities as smart as he feels they are.   If the party is fighting giant ants, they are going to use very simple tactics; kill the closest enemy.   But if they are fighting skilled opponents, absolutely the opponents should play smartly; take out the healer fast, isolate the wizard, focus fire, etc.   Absolutely they should be doing that.   A GM should never have such opponents show mercy and not attack a player cause he got heavily injured the last two rounds or something similar.

About the only thing I think your GM did wrong was to state his goals like that, particularly using meta-gaming terms, 'use all their surges' is not something any PC or NPC within the game would ever know about.

Last, if a TPK means 'end of story' for those characters, then that's not good GM'ing in my book.   I encourage my players to be daring, promising them that the story will never end.    Maybe some of them might die, or they might wake up chained to a wall, or enslaved and working in a mine, etc.    Even if they all die, death is rarely permanent in D&D.   It doesn't have to automatically mean the end of those characters' stories, unless the GM has a limited imagination.

A TPK should never end in actual death. It should be a huge setback (capture, you have to be rescued by another group, etc.) but killing the party is not in the spirit of 4E.

I actually created a rule at my table where the players, if they get themselves in over their head, can bargain with me. IE: "We escape but one of our companion characters is taken prisoner, now we have to save him/her. We escape but I lose my main weapon. We flee into a neighboring chamber with no other exit, so we are now trapped." These are clear setbacks but push the story forward, not stop it dead in its tracks.
I don't have a problem with TPKs and think the game is better when they are a real threat, but that doesn't sound like a fun TPK.  The only 4E TPK I have been a part of was not fun and it was because we didn't feel like we had a realistic chance.

Dominates and stuns should be used sparingly, but there are a couple of monsters that can do what you describe or something similar.  I think for some its not even a standard action for them.  I kind of think the game would have been better if both PCs and Monsters got to save first when these conditions were applied because in general they are not fun.

Making it at will is harsh and why enemy controllers, especially when they are elites or solos, can be some of the toughest enemies to deal with.  Its stuff like this that makes ally save granting so important.  

And by the time this stuff comes up you can be doing similar stuff with PCs as well, which wouldn't be fun to DM with.
And if you are dazed, are you going to waste your one action on a knowledge check?  



monster knowledge checks are "no action" according to rules compendium pg 130
TPKs are okay in my book, at least theoretically. I don't mind them if I know the team has screwed up royal; from experience, though, if the dice kill us or I somehow felt incapable of avoiding the 'Game Over,' I can't help being upset.

Stun is simply not fun. Dominate is slightly better, so long as the DM lets you roll. Wink I'm okay with Immobilize, as there's always a chance you'll need to bust out some sub-par melee or ranged combat skills. The 'save before your turn' thing seems like a good houserule for the Stun condition.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
The thing with stuns is that most of the PCs I have played would have been better off with stun save ends or dazed save ends as an enemies at will.  Since by mid paragon they almost always have superior will so at least they have a chance to get out of this and probably have some other save boosting stuff too.  This isn't a specific keyworded condition.

Something like this takes a specific feat or item or something that does something for the keyword of the attack.  Something like a +2 vs charm saves, but half the time DMs don't mention the keyword or players forget they have the conditional save bonus.
And if you are dazed, are you going to waste your one action on a knowledge check?  



monster knowledge checks are "no action" according to rules compendium pg 130



Exactly.

When I DM I ask for knowledge checks whenever the PC's first see the creature they're going to fight. Sometimes that happens in the middle of a battle. I pause the action, do the checks and tell my info, and then it's right back into the fight.

Personally I think a lot of people underestimate the power of knowledge checks. Knowing your enemy can make a HUGE difference in 4e because the combat is so tactical.

Knowledge checks are also a great opportunity for the DM to throw some more flavor and story into the battle which helps bring it to life. It makes the monsters more distinct and not just another mini on the table.
4e's greatest strength is also it's weakness... and that is balance.

The balance of 4e give the player a sence of entitlement that they can overcome any combat encounter. A DM shouldn't go out of his or her way to kill the party, but the player and the party won't fear death if dying and a TPK isn't a real threat.

Also, when peole say 4e is all about combat and not about Role Playing, whiel wrong, some of it comes from this mind set.

You should watch this video: youtu.be/4YrUwDE0HG0
I think the TPK was perfectly fine; the way it occured was not.

TPK's I think help to reinforce the fact that the party does actually face legitimate threats. However, the point of the game is still to have fun, and so the DM should ensure that this event occurs in a fun manner. He should have done something about those at-will stuns and dominates; they are practically *never, ever, ever* fun. To call a TPK out of boredom indicates something is terribly wrong.

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4e's greatest strength is also it's weakness... and that is balance.

The balance of 4e give the player a sence of entitlement that they can overcome any combat encounter. A DM shouldn't go out of his or her way to kill the party, but the player and the party won't fear death if dying and a TPK isn't a real threat.

Also, when peole say 4e is all about combat and not about Role Playing, whiel wrong, some of it comes from this mind set.

You should watch this video: youtu.be/4YrUwDE0HG0



Most people who think 4e is combat-centric probably played an Encounters or Game day game (or a session of LFR.)  Homebrews can be as combat-centric or RP-centric as the DM and players want it to be.

The OP's encounter sounds similar to one in a LFR module.  I don't remember the specifics, but there was a monster that could make you only attack the nearest creature on your turn as your one action and it sucked because it was practically an auto-hit +20-something vs. Will attack.

This comes back to the "video game" mentality of people these days.  In a video game, you expect a challenge, but you expect to win.  In D&D, people have the same expectations.  The difference is that in a video game, you are going up against a scripted AI, usually.  In D&D, you are going against a flesh-and-blood person who can and will adjust tactics to suit how your party is built.  Try writing a video game that switches the enemies' tactics based on your party make-up.....     
4e's greatest strength is also it's weakness... and that is balance.

The balance of 4e give the player a sence of entitlement that they can overcome any combat encounter. A DM shouldn't go out of his or her way to kill the party, but the player and the party won't fear death if dying and a TPK isn't a real threat.

Also, when peole say 4e is all about combat and not about Role Playing, whiel wrong, some of it comes from this mind set.

You should watch this video: youtu.be/4YrUwDE0HG0



Most people who think 4e is combat-centric probably played an Encounters or Game day game (or a session of LFR.)  Homebrews can be as combat-centric or RP-centric as the DM and players want it to be.

The OP's encounter sounds similar to one in a LFR module.  I don't remember the specifics, but there was a monster that could make you only attack the nearest creature on your turn as your one action and it sucked because it was practically an auto-hit +20-something vs. Will attack.

This comes back to the "video game" mentality of people these days.  In a video game, you expect a challenge, but you expect to win.  In D&D, people have the same expectations.  The difference is that in a video game, you are going up against a scripted AI, usually.  In D&D, you are going against a flesh-and-blood person who can and will adjust tactics to suit how your party is built.  Try writing a video game that switches the enemies' tactics based on your party make-up.....     


My bold.

I hate to say this . . . but have you ever played Dragon Age: Origins?

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4e's greatest strength is also it's weakness... and that is balance.

The balance of 4e give the player a sence of entitlement that they can overcome any combat encounter. A DM shouldn't go out of his or her way to kill the party, but the player and the party won't fear death if dying and a TPK isn't a real threat.

Also, when peole say 4e is all about combat and not about Role Playing, whiel wrong, some of it comes from this mind set.

You should watch this video: youtu.be/4YrUwDE0HG0



Most people who think 4e is combat-centric probably played an Encounters or Game day game (or a session of LFR.)  Homebrews can be as combat-centric or RP-centric as the DM and players want it to be.

The OP's encounter sounds similar to one in a LFR module.  I don't remember the specifics, but there was a monster that could make you only attack the nearest creature on your turn as your one action and it sucked because it was practically an auto-hit +20-something vs. Will attack.

This comes back to the "video game" mentality of people these days.  In a video game, you expect a challenge, but you expect to win.  In D&D, people have the same expectations.  The difference is that in a video game, you are going up against a scripted AI, usually.  In D&D, you are going against a flesh-and-blood person who can and will adjust tactics to suit how your party is built.  Try writing a video game that switches the enemies' tactics based on your party make-up.....     


My bold.

I hate to say this . . . but have you ever played Dragon Age: Origins?



I have.  I fail to see your point.

In D&D, you could have a Fighter who wears hide armor but whose AC is higher than that of a Fighter wearing plate armor.  In a video game, the bad guys are going to swing on him regardless.  In D&D, the DM may decide to try to skip past him and focus fire on the weaker party members first.

Also, in DA:O, you are going to have the same party build, pretty much, no matter who you are playing.   
It doesn't sound to me like the DM was being unfair, and unless he was playing some dumb monsters with smart tactics the meta-gaming doesn't actually seem like it was meta-gaming, just more like rather jargonistic trash talk (I'd have put it in the mouth of the bad guy and made it appropriate to the setting).

It IS a lot more fun often to have the PCs 'wake up' from something like this though. There are a ton of ways to handle that of course. They could wake up in chains, they could wake up dead (look up the revenant race, that could be fun), or they could wake up in 1000 years after someone used a ritual to bring some ancient heroes back to life to do some cool thing, lol.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

Most people who think 4e is combat-centric probably played an Encounters or Game day game (or a session of LFR.)  Homebrews can be as combat-centric or RP-centric as the DM and players want it to be.

The OP's encounter sounds similar to one in a LFR module.  I don't remember the specifics, but there was a monster that could make you only attack the nearest creature on your turn as your one action and it sucked because it was practically an auto-hit +20-something vs. Will attack.

This comes back to the "video game" mentality of people these days.  In a video game, you expect a challenge, but you expect to win.  In D&D, people have the same expectations.  The difference is that in a video game, you are going up against a scripted AI, usually.  In D&D, you are going against a flesh-and-blood person who can and will adjust tactics to suit how your party is built.  Try writing a video game that switches the enemies' tactics based on your party make-up.....     



Yeah... that was pretty much my point.



I hate to say this . . . but have you ever played Dragon Age: Origins?




I love DA:O, but that is still a far cry from that. Simply, the entire game mechanic of "threat" is stupid. As Chris Perkins said [in character] in one of the Penny Arcade pod casts was "First rule of combat, kill the mage!" or something to that effect. I think it's DMG1 where it talks giving subtle warnings to the party that they could be in over their heads and that they should flee.

My boss told me a great story where he was playing AD&D with some friends. The party was inside a mountain cave and they were attacked by a giant rock monster. The Mage got the bright idea to cast a spell that turns rock into mud... and brought the whole side of the mountain down on them for an instant TPK. D&D is about those kinds of stories just as much as others.
Try writing a video game that switches the enemies' tactics based on your party make-up.....     



A little off topic, but the single player campaign of computer game Homeworld 2 did exactly this. It looked at the ships you brought to the start of the mission and had hard counters to them. It was kinda like a cheating PC in that respect, but it made sure you started the mission with a balanced strikeforce, otherwise you got creamed...  
I feel so silly...what's a TPK? Yeah I know I'm not the greatest D&D player. I don't know all the jargon. Sorry about that. 
I feel so silly...what's a TPK? Yeah I know I'm not the greatest D&D player. I don't know all the jargon. Sorry about that. 


TPK stands for something along the lines of Total Party Kill.
"Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.” ~Mark Twain
I feel so silly...what's a TPK? Yeah I know I'm not the greatest D&D player. I don't know all the jargon. Sorry about that. 


TPK stands for something along the lines of Total Party Kill.


More like

T
heDmIsBeingA
PerfectlyGoodJerk. I
Know, Right?

Your friendly neighborhood Revenant Minotaur Half-Blooded Dragonborn Fighter Hybrid Barbarian Multiclassing into Warlord

IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1223957875/Scorecards/Landscape.png)

I feel so silly...what's a TPK? Yeah I know I'm not the greatest D&D player. I don't know all the jargon. Sorry about that. 


TPK stands for something along the lines of Total Party Kill.


More like

T
heDmIsBeingA
PerfectlyGoodJerk. I
Know, Right?



A TPK =/= the DM being a jerk.

Yes, the DM being a jerk can cause a TPK, but a TPK does not have to be caused by the DM being a jerk.

Frankly, I get sick (as a player) when I see other players complaining that their character died.  Get over it.  It's a game.  Death happens.  You may have had bad die rolls.  You may have just been stupid.  In the end, your character died.  It sucks, yes.  But it's not the end of the world and it certainly doesn't mean the DM has it out for you.

TPK could easily also mean

The
Players
KickedDownTheDoor      
I feel so silly...what's a TPK? Yeah I know I'm not the greatest D&D player. I don't know all the jargon. Sorry about that. 


TPK stands for something along the lines of Total Party Kill.


More like

T
heDmIsBeingA
PerfectlyGoodJerk. I
Know, Right?



A TPK =/= the DM being a jerk.

Yes, the DM being a jerk can cause a TPK, but a TPK does not have to be caused by the DM being a jerk.

Frankly, I get sick (as a player) when I see other players complaining that their character died.  Get over it.  It's a game.  Death happens.  You may have had bad die rolls.  You may have just been stupid.  In the end, your character died.  It sucks, yes.  But it's not the end of the world and it certainly doesn't mean the DM has it out for you.

TPK could easily also mean

The
Players
KickedDownTheDoor      




My comment was not meant to be taken so darned seriously. It was a joke.

Your friendly neighborhood Revenant Minotaur Half-Blooded Dragonborn Fighter Hybrid Barbarian Multiclassing into Warlord

IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1223957875/Scorecards/Landscape.png)

I feel so silly...what's a TPK? Yeah I know I'm not the greatest D&D player. I don't know all the jargon. Sorry about that. 


TPK stands for something along the lines of Total Party Kill.


More like

T
heDmIsBeingA
PerfectlyGoodJerk. I
Know, Right?



A TPK =/= the DM being a jerk.

Yes, the DM being a jerk can cause a TPK, but a TPK does not have to be caused by the DM being a jerk.

Frankly, I get sick (as a player) when I see other players complaining that their character died.  Get over it.  It's a game.  Death happens.  You may have had bad die rolls.  You may have just been stupid.  In the end, your character died.  It sucks, yes.  But it's not the end of the world and it certainly doesn't mean the DM has it out for you.

TPK could easily also mean

The
Players
KickedDownTheDoor      




Lighten up, Francis.

a_troll00 has said, "Humans like you have ruined your own lands. You will not ruin mine!"
Don't expect to write something in text format and then have other people see through the "joke", guys. It's impossible to tell if you don't now each other's style.

Anyway, my character died just two days ago against two swarms of animated Quills(they were bloodthirsty) because our party couldn't handle them too well, and the Psion friendly fired with a wall of cold(which they, as constructs, were immune to) while I forgot I had an item that could be activated to gain cold resistance. The rest of the party ran, leaving me and the psion(he had also caught himself) to die, but only after the kobold tried to mount a heroic rescue(he healed me by 10, I got up, but was down to -13 again by the time it was my turn -> dead). They mourned IC, I lol'd at the Psion player's bad choices (we don't tell each other "Euh, don't do that" out of character, so I had to let him cast the wall even though I knew they'd be immune. My character had no reason to tell him "not to do it" when she couldn't see what he was doing) and then I cursed loudly as I realised I had the cold/fire resistance on.

Much lols were had, and I know the knowledge that kills can happen will make the following combats more exciting.

And yeah, it wasn't a TPK, but it would have been if the rest of the party didn't run, and the OP specifically said that that is what he refused to do. My character was just like "Go! Leave me, someone has to carry on our quest!" towards the Petal(it's kinda like a Pixie, but more flowery, and she was her best friend) who then flew away with tears in her eyes. Pretty good RP if you ask me, and I was just as locked down as the people described above.

It's no DM douchebaggery at all.
So I experienced my first TPK as a player tonight which led to an argument at the table about the GMs style.  I've been playing about 2 years and never have been TPKed though I've had some really close calls that you pull off by the skin of your teeth.  When I GM I try to avoid them for the party unless they do something incredibly dumb, if not I'll pull a few punches in the end.  Here's the basic story, I'd like to know if this is just one of those things or was the GM a little heavy handed?


Party was:
1) TWF ranger level 15
2) Prescient Bard - more of an immediate interrupt controller with some wizard stuff than leader
3) another bard that was specced heals
4) a fighter


Basically we had 5 monsters.  I was the ranger and came out and obliterated 2 in a couple turns with an AP and some good rolls.  The next went down to focus fire.  The last two were pretty nasty.  One had an at will close blast 5 save ends that says you have one action on your turn and it is to target the closest creature to you with a melee basic.  He locked the fighter and healer bard down with that every turn by hitting them with it and then making sure they were closer to each other than to the monster.  The other had an at will immobilize.  he immobilized my ranger and moved away from me and kept me there mid field and useless for 4-5 rounds with no end in sight.  During that time he focus fired me with both monsters with the stated goal of "KOing the ranger until he had no healing surges and the bards had no heals left."  I was down 4 surges, the bards were out of healing, I'd been KOed 4 times and the defender and leader had spent most of the fight beating on each other.  If we ran we would have to leave half the party behind so not really an option.  We finally just said lets call it after 3 hours of running 1 battle, exhausting all dailies, all tricks, etc.  It was a published D&D mod so its not like he threw something crazy at us but it just seemed like he used the monsters in a way that would totally screw the party over.         


I know from my experience as a DM that you can usually TPK if you want to.  I can come in with eveything and focus fire the leader then blitz the strikers or look at the monsters powers and know that I can counter the players easily with a certain combo.  I just kinda thought most DMs chose not to do that so it would be a fun adventure.

As a DM and player is sounds to me like the DM locked down the party pretty well.


As a player that can stink.  As a DM sometimes that is how it goes.


Its hard to make the perfect team, sometimes you do well and sometimes you don't.


I ran Keep on the Shadowfell and my players ignored several rooms that had hobgoblins in them.  Even after getting crept on them once and one of the Hobgoblins retreated they still chose to ignore the danger and move foward.  So the goblins attacked them after the party finished with a trapped room.


Luckily the players were captured by the module yet it helped me and my players learn much about the game and character and group construction.


Sorry about your party TPK.  It's hard sometimes to lose a character much less a team.  I wish you and your DM the best of luck for the road ahead.                    
I agree with the masses here.  Purely situational as to a TPK.  If the DM is throwing impossible odds at a party just to kill them off because they have too many magic items, or are too optimized to make his/her scenarios trivial at best...then yeah, the DM is in the wrong.

If the DM is playing smart mobs correctly, you expect the same kind of tactics from the mobs that the party would counter agains the DM.  Totally acceptable and stuff happens.  I had a player killed by two unlucky crits in a row, couldn't get out of it, no save, nada.  What do you do?  Take it like a man and re-roll.  Now, to counter, if the DM is playing mindless mobs like they're Alexander the Great...we have issues.

The party can be blamed as well.  Pushing on when a majority of powers, surges and HP's are exhausted.  A DM's dream to punish a party is when the party decides to split up like they're in a "Cabin in the Woods" type of scenario.  Seperating from the party NEVER works as to my experiences, if that happens, then the party deserves to be TPK'd.

All this to say, your scenario as unfortunate it was is fine in my eyes.  The mechanics can be skewed in favor of certain mobs at times, and yes, I have been a victim to dominate and 3/4 of a scenario stunned.  I took my d20 to a recliner in the living room, they would state that my time was up and yep...rolled a fail.  Then on the occasion I would save, BAM...stunned again.  No fun at all.  
The only TPK I've run into in 4th ed was at lvl2.
A fight that last 3hours of gameplay? wow, only ever had 1 or 2 of those.

Usually, once beyond lvl5 or so, the only time I came close to dropping a party was with a lvl+5 encounter (yes, I'm that evil, but with the backgrounds, themes, and other benefits that came out since most monsters were built, it does kinda balance).
Most of the fights I run start with lvl+2, and get creamed within 5 rounds. (That happens in a party of All-Strikers: short and brutal!!! )
This was a published mod? wow. And mid-paragon? Which one?
my last combat encounter in the session i played lasted 7 hours if not 8. we have a pursuit avenger with the favored soul PP, a fighter with the snapping tsuedo PP, a assassin with the PP that lets you use the shadowblade and gloom shards, A Sentinel Druid ( i think thats the leader druid?) not for sure what her PP is. and a Monk with the Celestial Tiger PP.  We are all level 12, we fought against  2 helmed horrors (Level 18 Elite Soldiers)
2 wild hunt hounds (Level 21 Skirmishers) 2 Rot harbringers (Level 20 Soldiers) and 1 Nightwalker(Level 20 Elite Brute), And had it not been for someone had to go to bed there were gonna be more. Not for sure if the DM was in the wrong for throwing us against such crazy monsters at our level. or congratulate us for overcoming them, they hounds locked me down (the Avenger) cause im built around teleporting and mobility in combat. i get where i need to be to help my friends or drop a monster off a cliff. and Everything locked down the assassins posions which he has alot built around. was a harrowing encounter for sure.
Honestly, one of the biggest issues with 4e is that fleeing is very difficult.  Players look at the map, look at their powers, and (usually rightly) assume that it's going to be easier for them to slog through the fight than it is to get the entire party disengaged from the enemy, much less actually escape it.

Maybe that's realistic, but it isn't fun, and it makes it extremely difficult for a DM to "encourage" players to flee.

To this end, I highly recommend the "battle status phase" presented in Fight or Flight.

Stun is simply not fun. Dominate is slightly better, so long as the DM lets you roll. I'm okay with Immobilize, as there's always a chance you'll need to bust out some sub-par melee or ranged combat skills. The 'save before your turn' thing seems like a good houserule for the Stun condition.


Admittedly, this is "What's a player to do?" not "What's a DM to do?", but Mike Shea has some handy advice in this regard: Making Stun and Dominate Not Suck (there's also a version for monsters linked therein, neither requires houseruling).

Some DM's get kicks off of TPK. They view it as a badge of honor. I was at a venue where the DM shouted out TPK. I don't think she did it on purpose, but I do believe that was the last time her group met.

Sometimes my DM would give us hard battles and we would dominate. Other times he would give us easy fights that we would botch every single attack. The goal of a DM should not be a TPK.

My bro-in-law ran an adventure around when Spell Jammer came out. My brother and I got special powers and the other 6 players did not. First combat was an arena fight and we were vastly outmatched. 6 players were killed in the first round. My brother hid so he could not attack or be attacked. I could do something, but a little math told me I would die first. I didn't feel like slugging through 40-60 rounds of combat to die. We went and played NES.

In another case we snuck up on a horde of orcs. (1e). We didn't think we could do it so we left. (Turns out the module had special rules which would make it possible. The DM told me about that a couple days latter.)

In your case it was a module. I wouldn't worry about it. If it happens multiple times it might be time for a chat with the DM.

I started playing D&D in the 80's. I've played D&D, 1e, 2e, and 3.xe (and many other RPGs). I also played Magic since it came out (except for a few years around the change of the millennium. I say this so you know a bit of my experience, not because I care about editions.
Admittedly, this is "What's a player to do?" not "What's a DM to do?", but Mike Shea has some handy advice in this regard: Making Stun and Dominate Not Suck (there's also a version for monsters linked therein, neither requires houseruling).



Actually, at least the PC-centered article requires houseruling (and even says so in the article...)  At any rate, I do not agree.  Main reason: the person who wrote this article does not know the current rules for 4e - Dominate no longer dazes (and it hasn't in a long time) and the article was written in 2011.

Now, that article is all the author's opinions of why stun or dominate suck, and that's perfectly fine.  However, Stun is meant as a roadblock on whichever side of the battle it's used.  It's supposed to stop an enemy from being a meaningful threat.  If the enemy still gets to attack and move unimpeeded, then it's still a meaningful threat.

Also, Dominate is (usually) meant to give team monster a bit more OOMPH during a combat (or team PC if it's a power being used by a PC, obviously.)  Making the dominated creature immediately move away and attack it's nearest ally does something wrong: the creature who did the dominating won't get to make an OA since it's that creature's turn.  The only really wrong way to use dominate is to make the PC waste his or her turn by throwing his weapon away.  NOTE: most monsters don't have weapons which can be thrown away, so PCs cannot usually "abuse" dominate in this way.

Also, I'm not sure how many people get "frustrated or angry" when their character gets stunned or dominated.  If they are getting angry about it, at the least, they need to seek professional help.  I can understand them getting frustrated, especially if the monster (or PC) can dominate or stun at-will, but the answer to this is to not be a douche DM - don't target the same PC every turn with the stun or dominate powers.

This article didn't touch on DAZE, though ... which I find odd, considering daze is a much more common status to have to endure than either dominate or stun.
So I experienced my first TPK as a player tonight which led to an argument at the table about the GMs style.  I've been playing about 2 years and never have been TPKed though I've had some really close calls that you pull off by the skin of your teeth.  When I GM I try to avoid them for the party unless they do something incredibly dumb, if not I'll pull a few punches in the end.  Here's the basic story, I'd like to know if this is just one of those things or was the GM a little heavy handed?


Party was:
1) TWF ranger level 15
2) Prescient Bard - more of an immediate interrupt controller with some wizard stuff than leader
3) another bard that was specced heals
4) a fighter


Basically we had 5 monsters.  I was the ranger and came out and obliterated 2 in a couple turns with an AP and some good rolls.  The next went down to focus fire.  The last two were pretty nasty.  One had an at will close blast 5 save ends that says you have one action on your turn and it is to target the closest creature to you with a melee basic.  He locked the fighter and healer bard down with that every turn by hitting them with it and then making sure they were closer to each other than to the monster.  The other had an at will immobilize.  he immobilized my ranger and moved away from me and kept me there mid field and useless for 4-5 rounds with no end in sight.  During that time he focus fired me with both monsters with the stated goal of "KOing the ranger until he had no healing surges and the bards had no heals left."  I was down 4 surges, the bards were out of healing, I'd been KOed 4 times and the defender and leader had spent most of the fight beating on each other.  If we ran we would have to leave half the party behind so not really an option.  We finally just said lets call it after 3 hours of running 1 battle, exhausting all dailies, all tricks, etc.  It was a published D&D mod so its not like he threw something crazy at us but it just seemed like he used the monsters in a way that would totally screw the party over.         


I know from my experience as a DM that you can usually TPK if you want to.  I can come in with eveything and focus fire the leader then blitz the strikers or look at the monsters powers and know that I can counter the players easily with a certain combo.  I just kinda thought most DMs chose not to do that so it would be a fun adventure.

It was just a bad day for you guys. However know one likes their character dying in a game.
What's the big deal about a thousand rolls of toilet paper? Sure, that's a little excessive for most households...

And if your gaming session breaks down into players going into another room to play video games, that's a clue that the DM was doing something wrong.
I hate to necro a thread and be the noob here but what does TPK stand for.  Obvioulsy it means death but what does the acronym represent?
I hate to necro a thread and be the noob here but what does TPK stand for.  Obvioulsy it means death but what does the acronym represent?

Total Party Kill.
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