Dealing with the TPK

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Just because your players are at the final stretch doesn't mean they have to charge in.  Smart players who realize that thier rescources are spent might consider preparing for the next encounter.

"Smart players" is an alarm bell for me. It speaks to this underlying idea in the hobby that only stupid players get their characters killed. This makes getting a character killed a social stigma, which makes lethality even more of a problem.

I ran Keep on the Shadowfell and had my entire party fall to the Hobgoblins due to ignoring their surroundings (they kept going right and ignored fleeing opponents).

"Gotcha!"

They were captured and I had them create another party to save them.

Did they go back to using their old, deprotagonized characters?

In the end the only advice I can give is your players need to make their OWN decisions and live with the consequences.  But if you don't want them to die then don't let them.  You're the DM its your final decision.

If you don't want them to die but you want them to make their own decisions and live with the consequences, run encounters in which killing them isn't the point, and run those encounters as hard as you can.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Just because your players are at the final stretch doesn't mean they have to charge in.  Smart players who realize that thier rescources are spent might consider preparing for the next encounter.

"Smart players" is an alarm bell for me. It speaks to this underlying idea in the hobby that only stupid players get their characters killed. This makes getting a character killed a social stigma, which makes lethality even more of a problem.



Characters die, that how it goes.  The question is why did you die?

I ran Keep on the Shadowfell and had my entire party fall to the Hobgoblins due to ignoring their surroundings (they kept going right and ignored fleeing opponents).

"Gotcha!"



Yeah not that I was unhappy with the results.  I play Hobgoblins really smart so not my players hate them.

They were captured and I had them create another party to save them.

Did they go back to using their old, deprotagonized characters?



The second time around the players created their characters as a collective unit.  They had more fun with them and decided to keep them except for one player to insisted on keeping her old character.

One player in question leads the party straight into danger on a regular basis.  The rest of the players allow him to do so.

In the end the only advice I can give is your players need to make their OWN decisions and live with the consequences.  But if you don't want them to die then don't let them.  You're the DM its your final decision.

If you don't want them to die but you want them to make their own decisions and live with the consequences, run encounters in which killing them isn't the point, and run those encounters as hard as you can.



I agree with this advice.
"Smart players" is an alarm bell for me. It speaks to this underlying idea in the hobby that only stupid players get their characters killed. This makes getting a character killed a social stigma, which makes lethality even more of a problem.



Hmm "smart players" no good? How about "Better players"? Or "more tactically sound" players? Your response speaks to an underlying idea in the hobby that it is not possible to be better or worse at D&D...which is definitely untrue since it is a game and all games are predicated on the ability to achieve or fail at said game.

"Gotcha!"



Sounds more like the players made a series of poor decisions and they caught up to them. Not a "Gotcha" at all.

Did they go back to using their old, deprotagonized characters?



Deprotagonized isn't a word. At best it's a buzzword that doesn't actually mean anything.

If you don't want them to die but you want them to make their own decisions and live with the consequences, run encounters in which killing them isn't the point, and run those encounters as hard as you can.



Consequences without actual opportunity for tangible loss in a game are not actually consequences. The choice becomes invalidated because there is no importance to the decision. Creating consequences that are mechanically disassociated from the game itself automatically reduce the agency of the decisions governing them.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.


"Yes. If those awesome characters had died before becoming awesome, they would never have become awesome. Not the worse case scenario, however, which goes like this: You have fought your way through the horde of paper-wad throwing kobolds and now you face your enemy. Standing before you is a barrel of fish. You load the crossbow, take careful aim... OH NO critical failure... you get wet. Second try is a bit more successful, the helpless fish is defeated. The heroes go back and thinking on all they've 'endured', and bards sing songs of their 'bravery'."

Who says strawmen aren't alive and kicking?

Cool
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Characters die, that how it goes.

That doesn't have to be how it goes, unless that's how everyone wants it to go. That's rarely how everyone wants it to go, except at dramatic and appropriate moments.

Now, players do fail, and that is appropriate. But failure does not have to mean death.

The question is why did you die?

And the answer is usually because the DM didn't have any other way for the players to fail.

Yeah not that I was unhappy with the results.  I play Hobgoblins really smart so not my players hate them.

You were happy to capture the characters then. What's it to you? You don't "win" by putting the players in a boring position. No one wins in that case. Now, I'll grant that you kept the game going by having them make new characters (which I assume they didn't have handy, but maybe they did), but there's a pervasive idea that, it's okay for the game to become boring, as long as it can be blamed on the players decisions.

The second time around the players created their characters as a collective unit.  They had more fun with them and decided to keep them except for one player to insisted on keeping her old character.

For the most part then, there wasn't much point in them rescuing the characters. The new party could have moved on to a completely different adventure.

One player in question leads the party straight into danger on a regular basis.  The rest of the players allow him to do so.

They probably find that interesting then. Do you try to make it interesting for them, or do you shake your head in disbelief and do your level best to kill them and thereby teach them how to play in some other way?

If you don't want them to die but you want them to make their own decisions and live with the consequences, run encounters in which killing them isn't the point, and run those encounters as hard as you can.

I agree with this advice.

Good to hear. I'm talking about not killing characters here, you understand.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

As a general question, Centauri, have you ever looked into D20 based games with mechanics more in line with what you espouse? Something like Mutants & Masterminds (which I play quite a bit) is EXACTLY in line with the sort of stuff you're talking about.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

During the course of a campaign, it's inevitable that the characters will make some friends.   They rescue someone, complete a quest, etc.   If a TPK were to occur, it's possible one of their friends might do something about that; death is rarely undoable in D&D.

When I write my adventure notes, I always write one or two lines about a possible occurrence should a TPK happen.   I've not had to use one in a few years, but it helps to be prepared.
Characters die, that how it goes.

That doesn't have to be how it goes, unless that's how everyone wants it to go. That's rarely how everyone wants it to go, except at dramatic and appropriate moments.


Before staring my current campaign, I sent a questionaire to my players and they confirmed what I felt was true:  they very much want death to be possible, and they want coming back from death to not be easy.

In fact, I've never met a single player of D&D who ever felt that they didn't want it to be possible for their chraracters to die.  

I even approached my players with your radical idea of asking your players whether their character should die when the game rules (-hp threshhold) state it so, and they looked at me like I had two heads; "Why would we get that option?"


Now, players do fail, and that is appropriate. But failure does not have to mean death.


We all know this already.   I maintain that death MUST be one possible failure.   Failure does not have to mean death, but it should not never mean death.

I had a situation where my players were attemping to recapture someone who had been kidnapped.  What they didn't know was that person was in fact a criminal from another Kingdom.

The "kidnappers" were five Dragonborn, a Human Mage, and a Gnoll.

The players found the kidnappers and decided to intiate conversation.  Initally it was going well.  However a few poorly choice words from a few characters and a poor skills checks and finally the Dwarven Warden decided to hit someone.

The encounter began.  Due to poor rolls from the players and good rolls for me three of the six character dropped.

After another two rounds one of my players reminded me that I hadn't had them make any death saves.

I informed him that it was because he was currently in no danger of dying.

It was then that the remaining concious players realized thb at their opponents weren't trying to kill them.  At that point they surrendered and started to have a conversation and realized the situation.

Not every encounter had to be to the death, that decision should be decided by the situation, and the combantants involved.  If your players are fighting an encounter that you truly beleive they will be killed then you have the right to do so.

Besides having a DM not allow me to not use a power since I technically didn't drop an opponent to 0 since we were pulling punches I've not really had issue with this.

In my experience not all character deaths upset players (Particularly if its Hackmaster).



The question is why did you die?

And the answer is usually because the DM didn't have any other way for the players to fail.





you keep saying this and while i agree there are multiple ways for players to fail that isnt death but when your in combat and people are trying to stab/crush/disembowl/digest/incinerate/turn in to mince meat. if you fail there then in a good number of cases (not all, but most) you will die
@Centauri
The sad part for the Keep on the Shadowfell for me was it boiled down to the Druid and the Psion left standing.

The Psion was a changeling and if he had ran I knew he would be able to easily infiltrate the hobgoblins and rescue his commrades in arms.

There were standing next to a door (althouth they didn't know where it went).  The player of the Psion turned to me and said "I'm going to run for it." Before I could respond the Druid player turned to him and called him a coward (it was more vulgar but you get the idea).   The Druid player was in fact the Psion player actual girlfriend.

I turned to her and stated that it was player of the Psion character decided what he would do Psion I turned back to him and asked what he wanted to do.

But after the Druid's outburst the Psion player decided to stay and fight it out.  They both dropped shortly afterward and were captured with the rest.  Later I asked the Psion player why he decided to stay and fight but he didn't feel comfortable in answering the question.

I still feel guilty about that incident.
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