TPK Advice


Advice

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So I was running a game the other day, and had a TPK, not due to overwhelming odds, but due to bad luck on the PC's rolls, and somewhat good luck on the GM side, as well as the PC's stubborn refusal to run when things started going against them. I want to know what i should do with the party, they werent actually killed, just all knocked unconcious, and are currently bleeding out. The fight was a response to a failed "diplomatic discussion", I'm detailing the fight below. PEACH, as well as advice on how I should proceed.

The fight was against a adult red dragon, the big boss fight of this adventure, the party was lvl 13, so the CR was only slightly higher, but i knew how dangerous dragons were in the first place.

The first thing that happened was the cleric panicked because he was already frightened from some intimidation on the part of the dragon in its human form, and since he was the only one that had any form of restoration ability, he was stuck fleeing. Then the dragon, since he had the suprise round, breathed everybody, dealing max damage, everyone failed their reflex saves. The fighter ran up to him, got an AAO attack against him, that critted. He then missed his attack. Everyone else tried hurting him, but were all rolling horribly. The Dragon's initiative came back up, and he did a full attack on the fighter, and got him in a grapple. things just got worse from there. The cleric who was fleeing, ran into a pitfall trap that the rogue couldn't completely bypass, so fell in, and was knocked unconcious when he hit the bottom at -7hp

The fight continued on with the PCs dropping like flies, and i even had the dragon Insist that they just leave his lair, but the fighter in the group kept saying he was just "bluffing so he could kill us when we turn our backs" even though the character knew nothing of dragons from his knowledge check.

As things went bad to worse, the fighter eventually was knocked unconcious, and the dragon threw him away, and went to leave when the rogue decided to piss him off more by hitting him with a wand of frost.

What should I do with this party? Should I have them reroll characters, or work on some way that the dragon is keeping them prisoner or something, and they have to get away? The battle was pretty epic, but due to the stubbornness of the PCs to not walk away from a fight they couldn't win, they were wiped. My group is understandably mad that they lost the fight, but they are accusing me of giving them an "unwinnable fight" when it was bad luck and i gave them many oppurtunities to withdraw, but they just wouldn't take them.

Grand Lodge

Sounds to me like you were fair. If the fight turned against them and they refused to flee, well. . . That is what happens. I have had players wipe the floor with CR +5 encounters so I would not exactly call that unwinnable. If there is some serious sour grapes over the matter you could let them keep their characters, but that would require some horrendous retconning/deus ex machina/narrative shifting to make feasible.


meibolite wrote:

So I was running a game the other day, and had a TPK, not due to overwhelming odds, but due to bad luck on the PC's rolls, and somewhat good luck on the GM side, as well as the PC's stubborn refusal to run when things started going against them. I want to know what i should do with the party, they werent actually killed, just all knocked unconcious, and are currently bleeding out. The fight was a response to a failed "diplomatic discussion", I'm detailing the fight below. PEACH, as well as advice on how I should proceed.

The fight was against a adult red dragon, the big boss fight of this adventure, the party was lvl 13, so the CR was only slightly higher, but i knew how dangerous dragons were in the first place.

The first thing that happened was the cleric panicked because he was already frightened from some intimidation on the part of the dragon in its human form, and since he was the only one that had any form of restoration ability, he was stuck fleeing. Then the dragon, since he had the suprise round, breathed everybody, dealing max damage, everyone failed their reflex saves. The fighter ran up to him, got an AAO attack against him, that critted. He then missed his attack. Everyone else tried hurting him, but were all rolling horribly. The Dragon's initiative came back up, and he did a full attack on the fighter, and got him in a grapple. things just got worse from there. The cleric who was fleeing, ran into a pitfall trap that the rogue couldn't completely bypass, so fell in, and was knocked unconcious when he hit the bottom at -7hp

The fight continued on with the PCs dropping like flies, and i even had the dragon Insist that they just leave his lair, but the fighter in the group kept saying he was just "bluffing so he could kill us when we turn our backs" even though the character knew nothing of dragons from his knowledge check.

As things went bad to worse, the fighter eventually was knocked unconcious, and the dragon threw him away, and went to leave when the rogue decided to piss him off...

I'm actually a bit torn. Sounds like a great end to the party. On one hand, I think they should have to deal with their defeat, and remember this as an example of why dragons are Dragons. It would serve as a good life lesson for them, and make them realize that discretion is the better part of valor (in other words, RUN!).

At the same time, the PCs are 13th level and that makes them a valuable commodity. The game could continue if the dragon basically enslaves them. There's a number of effective methods that the dragon could use to do so, including the old geas/quest, or casting various charm or dominate spells on them while they are unconscious (which makes them auto-willing whether they like it or not), and then they can deal with working for the dragon for a while. Who knows, they might actually start to like it.

The only problem with the second option is it sounds like the PCs just need to die, because the players are feeling way too comfortable. They kept running headlong against a dragon that was schooling them with basically no regard for their safety. Rewarding that sort of thing will only make them more and more reckless in future situations and encounters, because they will believe that you will bail them out or not actually let them die.

The hardcore part of me says go with option #1. The creative side says option #2 could be good if executed well. I kind of want to side with #1 on principle, since breeding the idea of invincibility into your PCs is never a path you want to go down.


Once you fail to kill a PC when they should die, it can take months or years for your players to respect you again. If they don't think you will kill them, and worse, you prove that is true, nothing will have any effect ever again.


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I always prefer the prisoner route, though I did hear an interesting option (may have been Game Masters Guide) that you have them play a new party trying to rescue the old party and then once they have done so each player can choose between their new and their old characters.


cranewings wrote:
Once you fail to kill a PC when they should die, it can take months or years for your players to respect you again. If they don't think you will kill them, and worse, you prove that is true, nothing will have any effect ever again.

*passes Cranewings some juice* It's nice to see us agreeing, master Crane. :)


I think the worst part is that during the diplomatic discussion, the dragon revealed that he was in fact a dragon, and was different from the norm, he was TN instead of CE, through some things that had happened to this character in the past. he was one of the BBEGs of the campaign and all, so i wanted it to be different than a normal dragon. But the discussions got heated and the dragon although civilized in most aspects went back into the norm of the dragon way, and ripped them a new one. He wasn't too fond of the fighter referring to dragon types as "breeds". I'm trying to work something out, thankfully the entire party is CG, so i could have them all in the afterlife working for the god to win back their lives or something... Then again i want to punish them for being stupid. If it wasn't for the poor cleric failing his reflex save to jump out of the way of the pitfall, the battle might have been won because he was almost out of range of the dragon's frightful presence.

It is a pretty epic end to their story, the cleric excepting... cuz i mean who wants to tell a story about how their character died by falling down a hole? My personal best death story was of my now nicknamed "meteor cleric" who was launched a few miles into the air by a reverse gravity spell that was pumped up to extreme measures, then crashed back down to the planet, doing enough damage to the floor of the arena they were in to crash through it, to the room below and crushing the BBEG with his full plated body.

I think epic deaths are just as awesome as triumphant victories, but I do agree that rewarding stubbornness and stupidity is bad. We have talked about starting a new campaign up, but we are all in love with how this one has evolved, mainly through the wizard and rogue coming up with insanely awesome ways of getting around things. And yes, we have the stereotypical party of "Heals in a Can cleric, Sword and Board Fighter, Skillmonkey Rogue, Batman Wizard, and Spoony Bard"


You could go for a compromise thing, like have the dragon take the party prisoner, but then show his general nastiness by killing off one or two of the PCs. That'd do well for putting an end to any ideas of plot armor, while avoiding the issue of a TPK.


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Ashiel wrote:
cranewings wrote:
Once you fail to kill a PC when they should die, it can take months or years for your players to respect you again. If they don't think you will kill them, and worse, you prove that is true, nothing will have any effect ever again.
*passes Cranewings some juice* It's nice to see us agreeing, master Crane. :)

I'm thinking of toning down my angry persona. I just don't feel like there are enough heels on the board.


First of all slay them, its your duty. Secondly however, when you "break down the footage" you always find errors in a tpk that make you want to retract it

meibolite wrote:


The first thing that happened was the cleric panicked because he was already frightened from some intimidation on the part of the dragon in its human form, and since he was the only one that had any form of restoration ability, he was stuck fleeing. Then the dragon, since he had the suprise round, breathed everybody, dealing max damage, everyone failed their reflex saves. The fighter ran up to him, got an AAO attack against him, that critted. He then missed his attack. Everyone else tried hurting him, but were all rolling horribly. The Dragon's initiative came back up, and he did a full attack on the fighter, and got him in a grapple.

1) the adult red dragons frightful presence range is 180 ft

2) intimidate can only be used within 30 feet, so the frightful presence should be applied first
3) This shaken condition doesn’t stack with other shaken conditions to make an affected creature frightened
4) the dragon loses -4 from intimidate from no longer being huge sized versus a medium creature (but I do not think it is reflected in his stat block, he should be +27 versus a medium creature assuming he has full points in intimidate and it is a class skill)
5) demoralizing targets an opponent, pretty sure that was his surprise round, you've just declared an act of war.
6) how did the dragon full attack AND grapple the fighter? None of a red dragons attacks have the grab ability.
7) you should always treat dragons as +1 CR if the party does not know they are up against a dragon, most developers do as most people know how to fight dragons. (This was a blurb from a couple paizo modules, Blood of Dragonscar to start.)

But still, kill them.


The only thing i have against him just killing one or two of the PCs out of spite is that in the campaign this particular dragon was on his way to becoming a good dragon, through personal reasons, and he attacked the PCs partly out of anger and regression to his base self, and partly out of self defense. So him killing off even one member out of spite would put him back towards being evil (i'm thinking a full step back to NE).

I'm thinking of having the cleric be found by some wandering bandits or gypsies or something, maybe having his god grant him stability so he doesn't die, and he has to figure out a way to rescue his friends and fellow adventurers. Maybe pregen some characters for the rest of the party to play during the rescue mission... but i have a feeling that they might end up the same way again knowing how they play. The guy playing the cleric is the only one who isn't a full on Hack n slasher, and since he was gone from the fight when the rest of the party was wiped, the dragon wouldn't have imprisoned them. Honestly if it was a metallic dragon, i wouldn't have nearly as many problems lol.


Glutton wrote:


6) how did the dragon full attack AND grapple the fighter? None of a red dragons attacks have the grab ability.

My guess is he had the Snatch feat, like every dragon should. :P

Snatch wrote:

Snatch

This creature can grab other creatures with ease.

Prerequisite: Size Huge or larger.

Benefits: The creature can start a grapple when it hits with a claw or bite attack, as though it had the grab ability. If it grapples a creature three or more sizes smaller, it squeezes each round for automatic bite or claw damage with a successful grapple check. A snatched opponent held in the creature's mouth is not allowed a Reflex save against the creature's breath weapon, if it has one.

The creature can drop a creature it has snatched as a free action or use a standard action to fling it aside. A flung creature travels 1d6 × 10 feet, and takes 1d6 points of damage per 10 feet traveled. If the creature flings a snatched opponent while flying, the opponent takes this amount or falling damage, whichever is greater.

Though that would only work if the Fighter was small sized. *ponders*


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Mount the skull of each character upon a pike, and kindly deliver it to the nearest city. Allow the groups new set of 1st level characters to witness what a dragon can do . . . XD.

In all seriousness, show them the stats you used. Letting them work out for themselves the challenge they failed to rise too oughtta cool 'em off a bit. Personally, I never apply Fear affects to the degree of Fleeing. It causes me to resent any GM pullin it on me, as it affects how I roleplay my character. I figure it goes both ways, so I never pull it when I GM.

When the fairness of the fight has been established, roll new characters. As these characters level, have them encounter their former characters, now Enslaved servants of the dragon overlord, each commanding forces, making repeat appearances and becoming mini bosses in their own right.


Base Adult Red dragon does not, so I didn't think of it. Technically the grab portion or that feat works on large and smaller creatures, the three sizes part only applies to automatic bite damage.


Having been through the TPK ordeal several times, I find I take it worse as a a dm than as a player. I have tpk'd a party in a campaigns final session and in an encounter that I thought would just be fun to run, just to name two.

Like you, I ran through in my mind every way they should have won if they had just made some different choices, but it didn't help me feel better. Just let it go.


meibolite wrote:
The only thing i have against him just killing one or two of the PCs out of spite is that in the campaign this particular dragon was on his way to becoming a good dragon, through personal reasons, and he attacked the PCs partly out of anger and regression to his base self, and partly out of self defense. So him killing off even one member out of spite would put him back towards being evil (i'm thinking a full step back to NE).

In that case, I'm sure there's some other suitable punishment that's not quite as bad as death, but still severe enough for him to properly express his displeasure.


@Glutton, the Intimidate came during the "skill challenge" part, where they were talking to the dragon. He yelled in the cleric's face and the cleric ended up whimpering like a little baby. So thats why he was already shaken, it wasn't from his ability itself. It was a house rule that we had set up a while back that depending on how well one intimidates his foe, they get shaken, frightened, or full on panic. and further things scaring the crap out of the foe push them further down the path. Our fighter used it quite effectively at lower levels. Made the Intimidate skill even more useful for both sides. so that is why the cleric panicked. He also failed his will save horribly... Rolled a 1, and we have a house rule of critical fumbles on saves makes things worse than they already were.

and @Ciaran, i understand how you feel. I know dwelling on it won't make things different, i just hate the fact that they kept fighting when even the dragon itself was trying to get them to leave so it wouldn't go back to being what it considered a "base" creature. I think i'm just going to start up a new campaign unless the group really wants to try and save their party.


cranewings wrote:
Once you fail to kill a PC when they should die, it can take months or years for your players to respect you again. If they don't think you will kill them, and worse, you prove that is true, nothing will have any effect ever again.

This. A thousand times this.

Also, the threat of death HAS to be there, or the whole thing loses its luster. It's one of the biggest reasons why I love reading A Song of Ice and Fire so much.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Having their new characters meeting their old ones can be very effective.


Chengar Qordath wrote:
meibolite wrote:
The only thing i have against him just killing one or two of the PCs out of spite is that in the campaign this particular dragon was on his way to becoming a good dragon, through personal reasons, and he attacked the PCs partly out of anger and regression to his base self, and partly out of self defense. So him killing off even one member out of spite would put him back towards being evil (i'm thinking a full step back to NE).
In that case, I'm sure there's some other suitable punishment that's not quite as bad as death, but still severe enough for him to properly express his displeasure.

Undeath? : D


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Well the one possibility I can see for recovery is the cleric. On page 191 of the CR are rules for recovering from negative hit points without help and at the bottom of a pit seemingly dead there is a very real possibly that the dragon ignores the body giving him a chance to recover. Also at his level with presumably a good fortitude save I'd say his chances for waking on his own are good.

Once awake healing himself is easy... given that he's a cleric and all. The tricky part will be escaping alive with or without the other characters bodies. If he can, 13th level is high enough he should be able to rez the rest of the party himself.

If he can't reach the bodies, for whatever reason, to dangerous, no longer there, been eaten, etc. he could escape and follow up on the idea mentioned above. He could gather or hire a new adventuring party with which to confront the dragon and try again as proposed above.

Eideann wrote:
I did hear an interesting option (may have been Game Masters Guide) that you have them play a new party trying to rescue the old party and then once they have done so each player can choose between their new and their old characters.

This option gives them a chance to recover, by the rules, without making it easy or making the players think you'll be a push over in the future should anything like this ever happen again. In fact, I think if it's done right they might even be on the edge of their seats knowing this is their very last chance to recover there characters.


Sylvanite wrote:
cranewings wrote:
Once you fail to kill a PC when they should die, it can take months or years for your players to respect you again. If they don't think you will kill them, and worse, you prove that is true, nothing will have any effect ever again.

This. A thousand times this.

Also, the threat of death HAS to be there, or the whole thing loses its luster. It's one of the biggest reasons why I love reading A Song of Ice and Fire so much.

Well, I don't think death is a must, but you do need to have serious consequences when the party suffers a horrible, crushing defeat.

Having the entire captured, stripped of their gear, and sold into slavery, or having a demon approach them when they're at death's door to offer them a way out for a price can make for a much more interesting direction to take things in than just telling them to roll a new character.


Sounds pretty epic.

Since these PCs didn't listen to the dragon, the dragon should just kill them off, because they will be unmanageable as slaves/thralls. Possibly, the dragon could let one of the group live after stripping him/her naked, just so they could warn others not to mess with the dragon. Or the dragon could flyby and drop their stripped corpses on the local town to serve as a warning (this would allow for them to be raised, if they have earned enough favor with an appropriate organization).

Or, have the players roll up new, lower level characters, and have them go negotiate with the same dragon. Maybe they won't be so rash a second time.

I wish I could get an epic dragon fight like this. My players chew through dragons like wet paper towels even when I double the dragon's hit points, increase their attack bonus, and have the dragon of much higher CR. Unless I play the dragon extremely deviously, the dragon doesn't stand a chance, and even then it is more likely to achieve stalemate then to kill off the group.

Silver Crusade

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Well... "you got TPKed, roll up new characters" has a certain 'grow up and deal with it' appeal, but that only works once your group has, indeed, grown up and knows how to deal with it.

Those who have been calling for you to show that this wasn't a blatantly impossible encounter (perhaps even going far enough to share the dragon's stats if you need to) and pointing out chances they had to flee or stand down may help. If everything went down as you say it did, if you gave them opportunities to back off once it was obvious they were losing...

...Then they need to be shown very clearly that this lies primarily on a mix of their poor decisions and the dice going that way. They need to understand that sometimes the heroes have to say "Well, damn. We need to leave, we'll come back later for our friends' bodies to get them revived. Time to pack it in and cut our losses."

If they all think you're being a mean-spirited DM, that does need to be addressed... but addressing it in this case means letting them understand that dramatic tension in a story can only exist of there is a real chance of failure. They need to mature enough as players to cope with that. You don't have to relent and have some retcon/deus-ex-machina/whatever to save this party, but their concerns should be addressed. Otherwise they may get the wrong idea and walk off, and nobody wins in that case.


Future victories will be all the sweeter for having tasted defeat.


If there is no chance of failure, then how can there be success?

Now, that said, there are different expectations when it comes to character death. Some groups that I've played in have an almost 'consensual' approach to PC death. If you don't want your char to die, it doesn't. This tends to lead to almost a collaborative storytelling approach and dice rolls tend to take a bit more of a backseat to RP. The other end of the spectrum is harsh reality "You rolled failed the fort save by one, your dead. Because it was a destruction, you can't be resed short of a miracle. Have a nice day." This can lead to overly cautious PCs, and chars that either last well, or die off in a session or 2 (because the player hasn't learnt the chars full capabilities and overextends). You guys probably need to sort out that expectation internally.

I personally subscribe to the "GMs don't kill chars. Players kill chars." viewpoint when I GM. I'll never put an encounter in that the party doesn't have at least 1 options for dealing with and having a good chance of being successful with it. There will usually be at least one other "might work" approach to the problem. Stealth around it. Diplomacy / intimidate it. Bargain with it. Quest for it. Kill it. Whatever. There will usually be some indication as well of how to get around it. If it's out of your league to fight, it typically will not initiate combat without some serious provocation. A deathtrap room may have bloodstains that are easier to find than trap itself without actually showing where the trap is... or another encounter might warn you of it (Through eg a Journal or interrogation).

Without knowing what exactly triggered him to go to town, and how much provocation was given, it's hard to say. Dragons do live a while and just because his 'base' nature is evil that he's fighting against, doesn't mean he lays waste to a whole town every time a peasant flips him off. OTOH, if he's told the fighter 5 times to stop calling them 'breeds' and getting angrier each time, being accused of being an evil lizard and in general the party pushing all of his buttons... Yes. Go to town on them. Ensure that they have enough warning that they ARE pissing him off, but... Your taunting a DRAGON. What in the nine hells did they expect to happen? He'd invite you over for tea and biscuits and a game of pictionary?

Let's also look at the metagame aspect for a minute here.... If someone says "I'm a dragon that can change shape." alarm bells should go off. You as a CHARACTER should have no idea if that's an hatchling that's been sent out by mum to buy food at the local town, or if it's a great wyrm with wizard levels on his way to deliver a thesis on "Blowing things up for fun and profit" at the local mage guild. You as a PLAYER might assume that your not going to get anything above your CR, but I deal with problems outside my pay grade every day. Why should an adventurer assume that just because they took up adventuring yesterday, that everything they encounter they are capable of killing just because they are 'level 1'?

Or put another way, Stupid characters don't live long enough to be 10th level. Why are they that higher level if they are stupid? Guts and bravado get you so far... then you get eaten by a dragon.


Glutton wrote:


1) the adult red dragons frightful presence range is 180 ft
2) intimidate can only be used within 30 feet, so the frightful presence should be applied first

Frightful presence requires a free action to activate it.


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Never laugh at live dragons.


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Weslocke wrote:
Never laugh at live dragons.

Actually, laughing at undead dragons is usually not a good idea, either...


Midnight_Angel wrote:
Weslocke wrote:
Never laugh at live dragons.
Actually, laughing at undead dragons is usually not a good idea, either...

Okay, snurted tea all over the keyboard...

Tons of great ideas for you. Now, all you have to do as a GM is get the courage up to enforce one of them and make them have fun with it. As servants, raised by benefactors or as a new party to discover the old party's fate.

No matter how you do it, let us know how it turns out.

Have Fun Out There!!

~ W ~


meibolite wrote:

So I was running a game the other day, and had a TPK,

The cleric who was fleeing, ran into a pitfall trap that the rogue couldn't completely bypass, so fell in, and was knocked unconcious when he hit the bottom at -7hp

First, if the PCs died then they died. Accept that. Its part of the game.

Second, when something that drastic does happen you should review everything to make sure it was done fairly.

Could you explain this last bit with the pitfall trap? Was it disabled, just walked around?

I have trouble believing that a 13th level rogue would not auto-bypass such a trap. But even if he just disabled it.. it's disabled and not reset...

-James


If it were me, I'd have the existing party wake up naked in neck irons as slaves to the dragon.


Sounds like your players earned death to me. Why not have the dragon kill off the remaining characters? He could regress to being evil and his renewed attacks on the local towns will be a plot hook to get more adventurers flocking to kill him. The new PC's could find the cleric wanting him to help them find the lair.

As mad as your players might be they were very stupid in that fight. They should realise that they don't have plot armour. If your PCs are never killed or hurt they won't ever be challenged and will eventually become bored with the game.

Liberty's Edge

I would probably ask myself the question "What does this Red Dragon want done that a 13th level party could do.".

Then figure out who is going to be held hostage while the party goes and does what the dragon wants done, and have that person roll up a 2nd character.

The party then is left with a choice of doing what the Dragon wants (minus whatever loot the dragon is keeping of theirs) or try to come up with a rescue plan.

YMMV.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I had a party TPK’d whilst facing the gold dragon in the bottom of the 2nd edition Greyhawk Ruins. It was the third time they’d faced a dragon, and the third time they decided a good tactic would be to stand together in a group. I described the dragon swinging his head round to face them as they stood on the balcony, opening his mouth etc, and the response to each action was ‘we’ll stand here and see what happens.’ Well, what happened was 300 hp of breath weapon. Only survivor was an npc dwarf who had resistance to fire, great constitution saves, and was uninjured to begin with. He crawled away, only to be captured and killed by a bunch of folks they’d annoyed on their way down.

The problem I had was that the party were in the middle of the Night Below campaign. By then we’d been on it for two years, real time. They had a lot of investment in the characters, and as I tend to be story heavy there were many, many ongoing subplots and outside themes based on their characters. So, I decided to have them resurrected, but like others here have said, you can’t really let it become a ‘death where is thy sting’ type affair. So I thought about what the consequences would be to the world of the failure of their quest in Night Below. The *spoilers omitted* succeed in their dastardly plot, the sun goes out, all manner of vile beings flood onto the surface world, civilisation falls. So I designed a world 200 years hence, a world ruled by drow, mind flayers, undead, perpetual darkness, Vecna the only god left. *Then* I had them resurrected as slaves for a Mind Flayer mining operation – boneheaps regularly mined for food / undead / slaves and the group ended up getting lucky. Or not, since they lost all their gear and had their memories erased, with little to look forward to except being worked to death or dinner.

This lead to an equally epic ‘escape, and spend months fighting your way across the entire continent to Tovag Baragu (the only place with possible time travel capabilities), and somehow work out how to get back to your own time and prevent that future coming to pass’ quest. And deal with the resulting paradox.

They still lost all their gear and magic though, and they NEVER stood bunched together in front of a dragon again.

Sounds like you gave them every opportunity to rethink the attack. But, like you say, would losing those characters damage their overall enjoyment of the game. I would find a way to bring them back, but make their loss so great in other areas that they make damn sure it never happens again.


beej67 wrote:
If it were me, I'd have the existing party wake up naked in neck irons as slaves to the dragon.

Or the Dragon's Kobold minions. :-)

It's Hell when players won't run from an encounter they are losing. I recall a game where my Magus immediately retreated from battle after taking 95% of his hit points in a single blow (from full) to hide at the back of the party and heal himself... I was chided by the rest of the party, but I lived. Some people will stand toe-to-toe with creatures they really shouldn't... buoyed by belief that luck/teammates/their own bad-arsedness will save them in the end. (sigh)

I second the remarks that 1. the more you "let them live", the less respect your players will have for you and 2. be open about the stats and how combat was run... if even after seeing the *facts* set out before them, they cannot see where things went wrong then you do have problems.

Nobody wants to be a push-over GM, nor do you want to be labeled as unfair. Being open will go a long ways toward building a true bond/respect with your players.

WJ


Kill zem, kill zem all. Take their stuff. Animate the corpses as butlers/scroll caddies/ polishers of large, non-fragile shiny things. If the dragon has an artistic bent, have it create art depicting the characters in their death poses (or with final facial expressions).

If the dragon has access to flesh to stone petrify them in their death poses and leave them right where they fell.


Turin the Mad wrote:
If the dragon has access to flesh to stone petrify them in their death poses and leave them right where they fell.

Huh? No stripping the party's sorceress and arranging her corpse in an aesthetically pleasant position prior to petrifying?


I'm with those saying that if the threat of death should be there, and this is a great place to start! :p Simply follow normal rules - and since the dragon isn't evil per se, have the dragon simply leave after the combat.

If any character died fully in combat, let them stay dead. Those not stabilizing, dies. Those "lucky" enough to stabilize lives! Time to reroll new chars and integrate them in the campaign! :b


I'd +1 the enslavement bit. Take all of their magic items and make them play naked for a bit. Have the dragon send them on a side quest to earn their freedom.

Liberty's Edge

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I don't think you should pull your punches here. The dragon warned them. They didn't take the hint.

TPKs happen. If your players really care about these characters, they can try to recover their bodies at some future time. It's a great epic ending and a cautionary tale all in one. Clearly you have been fair. Don't contrive an escape for them.


well as the party is merely unconscious and dying, and considering the dragon is attempting to eschew his evil nature, saving their lives and forcing them to go on a quest seems to line up well with his intended role play of the dragon.


Thanks for all the Ideas guys, I'm thinking of doing the quest, and in regards to the pitfall trap, it was bypassed by them going down a different path to get to the dragon, while the direct path to where the dragon's room had the pitfall trap in it. That's why the rogue didn't disable it.

Thankfully none of the characters were actually dead dead after the party wiped, they were all unconcious and dying. I'll have everyone roll their saves to see if they stabilize or not while unconcious. I'm mostly worried about our poor wizard. I may have the dragon reincarnate any of the characters who do die as Kobolds, and give them a quest to earn back their true bodies, but if those who are dead refuse to allow themselves a kobold form... then i guess their characters will stay dead, and they have to roll up new characters.


Bah, if they live what will invariably happen is the party will escape, then come back and kill the dragon anyway...
Which then makes you wonder just how much of an idiot that dragon was for keeping them alive in the first place... especially given their unwillingness to be diplomatic in the first place.
If you're going to continue with these characters, do it in such a way that they won't just go back and get their vengeance.

They had their chance ... they screwed it up ... don't hand wave them into an option to have a 2nd chance at it... it just makes the dragon look bad


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Midnight_Angel wrote:
Turin the Mad wrote:
If the dragon has access to flesh to stone petrify them in their death poses and leave them right where they fell.
Huh? No stripping the party's sorceress and arranging her corpse in an aesthetically pleasant position prior to petrifying?

My party stoneshaped our female barbarian's boobs after she got petrified once.

We're C/E pirates though, so there is that.


TPK happens. You and your players have to deal with it. In regards to reroll/res, ask your players. Discuss pros and cons of any route you may take. This is a collective game for everyone at the table. I would not be excited about playing a character that had to pick up the dragon's soap (think prison) unless there was a clear point to it.

GNOME


meibolite wrote:

Thanks for all the Ideas guys, I'm thinking of doing the quest, and in regards to the pitfall trap, it was bypassed by them going down a different path to get to the dragon, while the direct path to where the dragon's room had the pitfall trap in it. That's why the rogue didn't disable it.

Thankfully none of the characters were actually dead dead after the party wiped, they were all unconcious and dying. I'll have everyone roll their saves to see if they stabilize or not while unconcious. I'm mostly worried about our poor wizard. I may have the dragon reincarnate any of the characters who do die as Kobolds, and give them a quest to earn back their true bodies, but if those who are dead refuse to allow themselves a kobold form... then i guess their characters will stay dead, and they have to roll up new characters.

Not sure if you thought about this as a possibility or not, but you said earlier that the dragon is trying to become good and is currently TN. How about you have the dragon stabilize them as he feels that would be the good and noble thing to do, but they would have to work off a quest for him in the process for using his magic/items to heal them and/or bring them back to life if they fail their death saving throws. That way they are still punished for trying to kill him AND he paves the way a bit more towards his own personal quest to become a good dragon.

Sovereign Court

I don't believe in TPKs purely from bad dice (there are consequences, just none that extreme) but it seems like these players brought it on themselves.

Nonetheless, I feel really bad for the Cleric. I like Revel's idea - let the cleric stabilize, heal up, and try to escape. Let the others sit for a bit while you play the Cleric's escape - perhaps he should have to make his way down the booby-trapped hallway. Then they should roll up some temporary characters and try to mount an expedition to get their bodies before the dragon decides to eat them or something. If they do recover, they should have some permanent penalties.


meibolite wrote:
Thanks for all the Ideas guys, I'm thinking of doing the quest,

Here's a suggestion..

Forget the PCs, the players and the party in general.

Talk to us about your dragon. What does HE want?

Has he let his anger at these uncouth barbarians let him slide back into comfortable old ways? Has he decided that CG is not going to be his alignment and that he can let them die? How much was he insulted by them? How threatened was he by these psychotic apes?

-James


What I would do is have the Dragon attempt to collect himself, and give the players a chance to live since they aren't Dead, Dead as you mentioned (they can still stabilize and hope the Dragon doesn't finish them). Bad luck and planning is what got them into this mess, so it only makes sense good luck and planning can get them out of it.

Step 1:

Have the players roll to stabilize themselves, if they fail there is no point in continuing this process. If some die, well then they should learn that they can't always fish themselves out of trouble.

Step 2:

Have the Dragon roll a Will Save

If he passes have the Dragon revert back to Humam Form and try to calm himself down. Since he is trying to become good, he will at least make an attempt at restraining himself now that the immediate danger is gone.

If he doesn't pass well... goodbye players

Step 3:

Have the character do any appropiate checks to get away from immediate danger (ex. Cleric needs to somehow get out of the trap).

A Natural 1 should lead to their death, I'm already paining myself giving them a way out of this.

Step 4:

Have each character make a Stealth check, unless they have some means of escaping more efficiently. Run it against the Dragon's Perception check, but make sure to give a penalty to the Dragon(he is focused on a battle in his mind as of right now).

Every failed result should affect every player (as the Dragon just needs to realize one is moving to check on the rest).

First failure should lead to the Dragon snapping out of his thoughts, so basically roll again with the penalty gone. While the second failure should lead to the Dragon actually looking for you.

If the characters are being persued hope that they can win him over with a crazy high Diplomacy check. If not, they are dead.

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