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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: How to Deal With TPK rss

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Brian M
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enduran wrote:

That is, the opposition can achieve their goals without killing the entire party, and possibly without killing any of them.


While that sounds a useful thing to keep in mind, I'm not sure I see the practical value of it in preventing PC deaths. In most traditional systems, a PC won't die because the NPCs goal is specifically killing the PCs, but simply because of the lethality involved in a fight. It doesn't matter if a NPC really wants the PC's dead or is just trying to get them out of the way when she opens fire on one and gets a series of exploding damage rolls. The basilisk might rather just go sleep back in its lair with the intruders gone, but its death gaze is still a death gaze.
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Paul Unwin
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StormKnight wrote:
enduran wrote:
That is, the opposition can achieve their goals without killing the entire party, and possibly without killing any of them.

While that sounds a useful thing to keep in mind, I'm not sure I see the practical value of it in preventing PC deaths.

Try it.

StormKnight wrote:
In most traditional systems, a PC won't die because the NPCs goal is specifically killing the PCs, but simply because of the lethality involved in a fight. It doesn't matter if a NPC really wants the PC's dead or is just trying to get them out of the way when she opens fire on one and gets a series of exploding damage rolls.

First of all, it's not a perfect preventative.

Regardless of system, I'm not conviced that most actually games that are played don't give nearly all members of the opposition the goal of killing the PCs. It's so commonly the default that "losing" is generally taken as a synonym for "TPK." So, giving them a different goal is going to make a difference in how lethal a game is.

I am not convinced that "most traditional systems" have things like exploding damage rolls. In my experience, it's very common for player characters to be able to stand up to a few hits, giving them a chance to get their heads down if the incoming damage turns out to be little shocking.

Sure some kind of critical hit might take out one character, but one character dying is not the same as a TPK (outside of that one character being the only line of defense), and is likely to either cause the PCs to regroup, giving the opposition a chance to achieve their goal, or otherwise give the opposition enough of a numbers advantage to get their job done, rather than making as many attacks as possible.

StormKnight wrote:
The basilisk might rather just go sleep back in its lair with the intruders gone, but its death gaze is still a death gaze.

As far as this goes, I assumed no one would be foolish enough to put a save-or-die effect into play at the same time they were trying to avoid an accidental TPK. I mentioned planning, and I include forethought in that.

There's more to the concept, which we can discuss if you're open to that. But for many, if not all, practical purposes, this kind of approach reduces the likelihood of a TPK.
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Brian M
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enduran wrote:
It's so commonly the default that "losing" is generally taken as a synonym for "TPK."

I think this has very little to do with the "goals" of the NPCs, and a lot to do with systems that usually make it easier for a PC to wind up dead than "out of the fight/defeated but not dead".

Quote:
I am not convinced that "most traditional systems" have things like exploding damage rolls. In my experience, it's very common for player characters to be able to stand up to a few hits, giving them a chance to get their heads down if the incoming damage turns out to be little shocking.

Well, the system in the OP's example was Savage Worlds.

Quote:
As far as this goes, I assumed no one would be foolish enough to put a save-or-die effect into play at the same time they were trying to avoid an accidental TPK. I mentioned planning, and I include forethought in that.

So, part of it is also "by the way, don't actually give the villains deadly weapons?"

Having to design an entire game around the concept just to try to carefully avoid situations where PCs might die, while not really addressing systems that kill them, just seems like a lot of trouble for pretty low results. I suppose it might work for some people. It also seems very limiting on possibilities. If you don't want the PCs captured either, I'd really struggle for a "goal" for the NPCs when the PCs are invading their fortress/lair or whatever, which is a pretty common occurrence.
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Paul Unwin
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StormKnight wrote:
enduran wrote:
It's so commonly the default that "losing" is generally taken as a synonym for "TPK."
I think this has very little to do with the "goals" of the NPCs, and a lot to do with systems that usually make it easier for a PC to wind up dead than "out of the fight/defeated but not dead".

I think you're wrong about that.

StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
I am not convinced that "most traditional systems" have things like exploding damage rolls. In my experience, it's very common for player characters to be able to stand up to a few hits, giving them a chance to get their heads down if the incoming damage turns out to be little shocking.
Well, the system in the OP's example was Savage Worlds. :)

Then my point stands.

StormKnight wrote:
So, part of it is also "by the way, don't actually give the villains deadly weapons?" :p

At best this reply is reducto ad absurdum on your part, and it's definitely you putting words in my mouth, but I think most of all it shows that you're not really considering what I'm saying. Depending on the goal in question, the opposition might not need any weapons. They might just need flashbangs and smoke bombs. Many's the story of PCs who achieved some goal with nothing but the clever use of non-offensive spells. "Villain" doesn't necessarily mean "axe-wielding psychopath" even in Savage Worlds. In fact, it would be reasonable to associate it more with "mind-control ray."

StormKnight wrote:
Having to design an entire game around the concept just to try to carefully avoid situations where PCs might die, while not really addressing systems that kill them, just seems like a lot of trouble for pretty low results.

This is a nonsense statement based on nothing but your own limited preconceptions. If you asked civil, honest questions of people who have actually done this for years, you might be able to do better than "seems" and actually come to a real understanding.

StormKnight wrote:
I suppose it might work for some people.

Wow.

StormKnight wrote:
It also seems very limiting on possibilities. If you don't want the PCs captured either, I'd really struggle for a "goal" for the NPCs when the PCs are invading their fortress/lair or whatever, which is a pretty common occurrence.

I don't know what it has to do with what I'm suggesting, but yes, I imagine you would struggle. You wouldn't actually have to, were you ever to try this, because there are plenty of people who understand what I'm talking about who could offer quite reasonable suggestions, were you to ask them questions and be open to the answers.

So, yes, you would struggle.
 
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Brian M
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Well, your string of random insults has certainly persuaded me that you've got good ideas.

And yes, Savage Worlds has exploding damage rolls, hence using them as an example.
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Chuck Dee
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StormKnight wrote:
And yes, Savage Worlds has exploding damage rolls, hence using them as an example.


Exploding Damage Rolls < RoleMaster Crit Tables
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Hans Messersmith
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chuckdee68 wrote:
skalchemist wrote:

I get both of those things. I would still suggest, though, that if
a) one is running a game where a TPK has fair probability of happening and
b) one does not actually want to deal with the consequences of a TPK as a TPK,
then c) a house rule to prevent it from happening is worth considering.

For example, here is a simple house rule that would work in nearly any game, mechanically (even Rolemaster). If there is a TPK, at the end of the fight every player rolls a 20 sided die. The two player characters with the lowest rolls are actually dead. The others are still alive, but at the mercy of their opponents. This could mean capture, but could also mean left to rot, after which they crawl to safety, lick their wounds, and plan revenge. This ensures that TPK's have consequences that anyone can face, but also ensures (in a game with at least 4 players) that enough player characters survive to continue whatever the plot line might be in a coherent fashion.


But we dealt with the consequences of a TPK. Just not in a conventional manner. We've had lower level characters fall victim to the same thing, and we've just spent the rest of the session rolling up our next party. The GM had this idea on the backburner and thus decided to go with it.
Chuck, to be clear, I'm not saying anyone in your group, your GM included, did anything bad or wrong. Also, I made an assumption that the anecdote you described happened essentially by accident, but your reply makes it clear that some forethought went into it. I'm overstating my points and being too prescriptive. I will step back.

All I am really trying to say is that I think it is likely to lead to more fun if a GM and players discuss how a TPK will be resolved when they start a campaign rather than when/if it happens. How they end up "solving" the problem is up to them. There are all kinds of ways to resolve it from "hey, stuff happens" to a GM promise that the GM will somehow make it cool in the story to a set of complicated house rules to even changing which game you are playing.
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Paul Unwin
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StormKnight wrote:
Well, your string of random insults has certainly persuaded me that you've got good ideas.

It doesn't seem like you're interested in anyone else's ideas anyway, so persuading you was never a possibility, even if that's what I was trying to do.
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Eric Anderson
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The only TPKs I've experienced were in Paranoia. It's built into the system that your clones continue the mission, so that's what we did. To the best of my recollection, we had 4 TPKs during that adventure, and my PC died an additional 4+ times on top of that. It was great!!
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Roger
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Never had one in homebrew but I would ask the group to either create new pcs or do they want to start on a different campaign. In Adventure League, they signed Skully and I packed up early.
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