Ask a Pro: Question Four

Monday, June 8, 2009

4. You have been playing a campaign for many months, and your group suffers a TPK. Do you fudge the rolls, contrive a reason for them to be brought back, have them create new characters and pick up where the others left off, or just scrap the campaign?

Lisa Stevens: I've never had a TPK; it's been close! (laughs) I'm a big believer in creating and building a campaign over time. I've had key NPCs die and had to completely reinvent the story, but I don't think I'd ever allow the PCs to get to the point where they are faced with a TPK. It would ruin the story, and it would ruin my fun as the GM. I mean, it would be like watching a season of CSI and halfway through they replaced all of the characters and actors and never resolved any of the plot threads.

F. Wesley Schneider: Yes, I usually try to save them. I mean, if it's just one or two characters that die, then that's fine, you can pick up your new character at the next town or dungeon. But if it's the entire group, then yeah, I usually contrive some way for them to keep going. I mean, I've fudged dice, I've had them maybe captured instead of killed, and so on.

James Jacobs: Every time I've had a TPK, that's been the end of the campaign. Start over.

Erik Mona: Depends. If... Well, it just depends.

Jason Bulmahn: Sometimes I'll fudge but I try to gauge the group and see if they're interested in continuing. Sometimes I'll start a new group and tackle the same storyline from a different perspective. Like for example let's say they're all soldiers under a warlord and they all decide that he's evil and turn against him but are all TPKed, well the next batch of characters they make might be a bunch of villagers whose village was destroyed by the same warlord.

Sean K Reynolds: What I would probably do is have everyone create secondary characters where it is their sole purpose to rescue the other group. That way the players are still responsible for saving themselves.

Joshua J. Frost: If everyone dies, it's over. A chance to start something new.

James Sutter: If it's my fault, I'm not against saying, "My bad," and resetting the encounter. But in general, this doesn't happen. I do believe that character death is one of the most important parts of the game. Even as a player, having a character die in a very dramatic way adds so much to the experience. In fact, I've had campaigns where one of my PCs would get killed, then create a new character, and for the next several sessions the plot would revolve around their quest for revenge.

Chris Self: I'll actually roll back the last combat and let them retry. I'm the type of GM who pulls punches if necessary. I see roleplaying games as more of a cooperative storytelling, and TPKs are just no fun.

I've never had a TPK in any game I've ran, more's the pity, but I think I would probably figure out a way to continue the campaign if my players were really, really keen on continuing.

Hank Woon
Editorial Intern

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