GM-engineered TPK. How would you feel?


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Not if it's the point of the game. I've even played in one before. It was in L5R, we played, maybe 6-7 sessions, then most of us died in a series of quick, horrible deaths. The next session, it was 20 years later and we were playing our characters descendants, which was the whole point to the first part.

Liberty's Edge

I could enjoy this as a one shot prequel to a larger campaign, and in fact did that sort of thing to introduce my big bad cagewright leader before we started SCAP


The only reason I would be pissed is if we spent a long time doing equipment or if there were noobs that were allowed to waste a whole day making characters.

Otherwise, yeah, that was a sweet game. You saved the king as much was possible. Good job.


I think as a player I would only feel okay with that ending if the GM had successfully manipulated us into crafting our own demise. If it's going to be a tragedy, then it aught to be a real tragedy, rife with dramatic irony. That we had been carrying our inevitable demise in the form of explosive runes with us all along just wouldn't cut it. That would leave no room for feeling as though we had any hand in our own fates, making the whole adventure feel like kind of a waste. For me to be happy with it, it would have to be more subtle, something that we could have avoided if we had made the right decisions yet the GM successfully manipulated us into making the wrong ones. Shakespeare style, you know? Now, as to how you'd pull that off, well, I haven't thought of that :] but it would be cool.

Silver Crusade

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GM: Ha! Ha! Ha! I killed you! You is teh suxxors!

That's what I see here. It's a piece of cake for a GM to kill his players, that's not hard at all. What is difficult is to craft a well rounded, challenging game.

All that this is is "rocks fall, everybody dies" without the rocks.

I'd be pissed...


I agree with Irontruth and Coridan.

A DM mandated TPK is FINE... IF it is PART of the campaign, and not the END of the Campaign.

If the original characters all have to die to craft a well thought out awesomely epic story, then GO for it... If it's the end, and there's no way for the players to win?

Lame.


I think the big question is was TPK the intension of the ref from the start
Or just the end result of and powerful npc's trap
(And some dogey calls by the ref as you always automaticly dispel your own spells)


Did you at no point ask the GM what the length of the campaign would be? If he said it would be a long campaign I can understand feeling cheated, but if he said it would be short I think it was fair. The story sounds pretty convoluted and stupid though. What if you hadn't figured it out? What if you still delivered the papers? It would probably be an interesting "campaign" for some people, not for most.

Grand Lodge

I've been in one 3.5 campaign sort of like this before. The end had our characters stranded in the Abyss fighting hordes of demons. Although it was technically a Bolivian Army Ending, the fact we were Level 6 at the time meant we were almost certainly dead. On the other hand, it was more of a heroic sacrifice since the only way to close the portal was on the other side of the gate. But the point was our death was mandated by the story.

In this system, I do feel that arbitrary TPK was the wrong way to go. Heroic fantasy---whether it be D&D, Pathfinder, Palladium, etc.---is about being heroic. I understand the compulsion as a GM to try and introduce novelty into the typical fantasy tropes, but there are better ways of going about it.

If you want to have a game fraught with danger where your party is guaranteed almost certain death and everybody's okay with it, there's already a system for that. It's Call of Cthulhu, and it is AWESOME.


DrowVampyre wrote:
I would have replied. "Yes, but since the envelope is sealed and the envelope doesn't have the runes on it there's no line of effect to the runes, and besides, the envelope is in my handy haversack anyway." <_<

This. So much this. Even if it's a cute idea, unless they had the paper unfurled and holding it out for him to cast on, there's going to be no dispelling here today.

That's one of the reasons I recommend continual flame candles inside of bullseye lanterns. It's not getting dispelled because there is no line of effect through the glass to the candle inside. You'd have to open the lantern, remove the candle, then dispel it.

Otherwise, cool scenario. Could have led to a much more interesting encounter though, IMHO.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

To those who are concerned about the rules: Why wouldn't an accomplished spellcaster be able to cast a spell the same way he did several levels ago (at reduced caster level)? That's like saying now that you've picked up Power Attack, you HAVE to use it.

In this case, he only needed to reduce it enough that he would automatically fail the check.


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Mechanical problems (which are significant) aside, I don't like it.

Here's why: a role-playing game is not about *the story*, it's about *the characters*.

I've been in a number of games in which the GM was "telling a story", and it simply isn't nearly as satisfying as the players telling their characters stories. A good GM develops a world - and obviously there are narratives happening in it; it's dynamic - in which the player characters' stories unfold. Sometimes that story is "and then he died", but that outcome should be the result of player decisions, not GM fiat or - even worse - a GM deliberately tricking the players into "participating" in a foregone (and lethal) conclusion.

Now, that said, I'm all for an evil wizard trying to bend the PCs to his will through trickery, and setting up a death trap for them upon success *or* failure (I've certainly run plenty of Shadowrun games where the employer decided to remove the "loose ends" - the PCs - with a troll death squad after a run!), but I think the "wrong" here is the INTENT: when a GM simply intends to kill the PCs from the outside, he's basically cheating them of their implicit right to influence the outcome of the game they're playing.


As a player and DM, I can understand both sides here. But he gave the players tons of information. What they do with it is up to them. He didn't railroad anyone, from what i've read so far. It seems to me he set it up masterfully, and the PC fell for it in one way or the other. Remember it was their decision to confront the mage.
I once ran a game with some players 10-12lvl concerning a Dragon in the area. Cocky PC thought no problem, and from all accounts with the information that they gathered, all they were dealing with was a White. One thing they didn't party close attention to was that the environment was all wrong for a White. But that's what they prepared for, and when it turned out to be an Albino Red, they cried foul, because they weren't prepped for the very very mad Red that they encountered.
Sometimes its all about the story, and if you don't ask the right questions, or more importantly take note when given the answer, why blame any one.
And earlier some one said something about campaign duration. Which every answer he gave would of been correct. The PC's made the decisions that led them to their deaths, sorry it happens. But it could of been a build up to something greater, we don't know he didn't explain further.


It works. It's something different, but it works.

Shadow Lodge

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David Haller wrote:
Here's why: a role-playing game is not about *the story*, it's about *the characters*.

To you...not to everyone.

Way too many people on these forums can't seem to get through their heads that not everyone plays in the same style as they do.

My opinion: You figured out that the wizard was a bad guy. DUMP ALL THE CRAP HE'S GIVEN YOU BEFORE YOU TRY TO CONFRONT HIM!

The GM didn't kill you...you killed yourselves.

Liberty's Edge

Irontruth wrote:
Not if it's the point of the game. I've even played in one before. It was in L5R, we played, maybe 6-7 sessions, then most of us died in a series of quick, horrible deaths. The next session, it was 20 years later and we were playing our characters descendants, which was the whole point to the first part.

I've played in something similar, but it was spelled out from the beginning "This is a prequel, don't get too attached"


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Dark_Mistress wrote:
It would depend a great deal on the set up before the campaign ever started. If it was stated this would be a high stakes political game with lots of betrayal and backstabbing etc going on. Then I would have been ok with it. Not exactly happy(if I was happy would depend a whole lot on what happened between the start and the end). If there was no clue at all it was that kind of political game I would have been annoyed.

This.

It's Pathfinder, not Shadowrun. Few players would expect this style of game at all unless it was spelled out beforehand.


If it was a pre-planned ending and there was a good chance that we'd have been starting something new in the next session anyway. I would congratulate the GM on his masterly plan, acknowledge that I should have thrown away or read the letters before confronting him, and then roll up a new character of a class, race and/or alignment that I know he hates having in the party.


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Ravingdork wrote:

To those who are concerned about the rules: Why wouldn't an accomplished spellcaster be able to cast a spell the same way he did several levels ago (at reduced caster level)? That's like saying now that you've picked up Power Attack, you HAVE to use it.

In this case, he only needed to reduce it enough that he would automatically fail the check.

You can choose to cast a spell at a lower caster level; that's not my problem, rules-wise. But dispel magic says you automatically succeed on your check to dispel any spell you cast yourself. Not you can or you may, but that you automatically do. Not only can he cannot choose to fail, he has no chance of failure.


It honestly depends on whether or not we're playing a serious campaign.


Other than sketchy rules applications I'd have to concur with what some others are saying:

If the GM was upgront about the the campaign being short or a prequel and let me know not to get too attatched to my character I probably wouldn't have a problem with it.

But if I went in thinking it was going to be a serious, long-term campaign with a character I spent a lot of time and effort on only to have it cheaply killed, I'd be understandably upset.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The Departed did strike me as being pretty serious.


If this were a GM engineered TPK with no way to prevent it, then yes. That sucks. I dislike that very much when nothing you do matters for the end story.

However, this sound less like an engineered TPK and more like the players not thinking a good plan to take down this bad guy. They went in half cocked and ill prepared. Although I probably wouldn't have used something as lethal as a bunch of exploding runes or at least have had a hint or so about it after they learned about the patron's evilness.


Wait, so each party member had their own copy of the secret message, and not one of them opened and read theirs? How long have these people been playing D&D anyhow?!

TPKs are not a fun experience. In this case, I guess my feelings would depend on whether the DM had given the players opportunities to figure out what was coming.


I would guess the GM probably messed up the #1 rule for crafting a story... know your audience. Without set up and some expectations given, I can't imagine an entire RPG group who would think, "Cool!"


Some endings fall flat personally I would find this one along those lines. Granted I would have opened one of the letters once we got the notion to confront the wizard.

But it is obvious this was the intended end of the campain. I would prefer to fight the wizard (which if the party had acted differently might have gone differently). What would the alternative be. You kill the wizard and live happliy ever after. At least this way you have a villan NPC around with an established evil reputation ingrained in the PC's mind for the next campaign.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think the problem with this is that it's set up as powerful enough to kill all the PCs. That's not fun - if there were enough to signifacantly injure the party and possibly need them to bug out, that'd be okay.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

To those who are concerned about the rules: Why wouldn't an accomplished spellcaster be able to cast a spell the same way he did several levels ago (at reduced caster level)? That's like saying now that you've picked up Power Attack, you HAVE to use it.

In this case, he only needed to reduce it enough that he would automatically fail the check.

As a 6th level spell, greater dispel magic is going to have a minimum caster level of 11th since anything lower than that and it can't be cast. That's pretty much going to prevent the caster from lowering his level so low that it couldn't overcome the explosive runes (11th level caster able to overcome 20th level casting). And since he automatically dispels his own stuff... I wouldn't allow the tactic.


Kthulhu wrote:
David Haller wrote:
Here's why: a role-playing game is not about *the story*, it's about *the characters*.

To you...not to everyone.

Way too many people on these forums can't seem to get through their heads that not everyone plays in the same style as they do.

My opinion: You figured out that the wizard was a bad guy. DUMP ALL THE CRAP HE'S GIVEN YOU BEFORE YOU TRY TO CONFRONT HIM!

The GM didn't kill you...you killed yourselves.

Kinda this tbh ^^^

Shadow Lodge

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I love how people seem to think the DM needs to do anything special to orchestrate a TPK.


My two cents....

I have two preoblems with the above scenario...

1) The rules....you auto suceed at dispelling your own spells. It does not matter if you are a level 20 wizard and got energy drained to 5th level and use dispel magic. The spells is gone. This is there to prevent cheese. It like the rule that your own spells auto get though your SR. Also dispel magic now has a limit to the number of spells you can dispel which is 1 per every 4 levels. Which means even if he voluntary lowered his effective level so he would 'auto fail' the check he would only have gotten one or two spells. Also I might be thinking of 3.5 here but area dispel can only get on spell per person in the area.

With this many rules issues the GM changed alot(which I don't mind) but since all these happened how can the players prepare for a enemy doing this?

2) The wizard was a complete idiot. The players came to confront him about some rumors they heard. The wizard then immediately kills them. The fact that they had the letters still on them should have indicated to the wizard that they could still be manipulated. But there was no attempt at it. It seemed to me the wizard acted rashly without thinking especialy when he had complete control of the situration.

Now all that being said if the players are happy with the outcome....than it is not wrong. I personaly would have not been happy.


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TOZ wrote:
I love how people seem to think the DM needs to do anything special to orchestrate a TPK.

Well, if you don't file all of the correct TPK forms beforehand the DGM (Department of Game Mastering) revokes your liscense for 5 years, and then you have to pass a written test. Its a whole pain in the ass. Best just to go through all of the proper channels.


There's less a-hole ways to TPK a party if you really want to TPK a party.

Put them against an equal CR dragon and play the dragon intelligently.

You only beat a dragon when a GM lets you win. Any GM out there could decimate any party with an equal CR dragon.

ESPECIALLY if you fight out doors.

*strafing run, grapple. Next round, climb at full speed. Drop player.*
Rince and repeat.

While falling, even if they have options to slow that fall and such, you keep doing strafing runs and biting and breath weaponing the party, who can't use reflex saves while falling in mid air.

I worked it out once, from the max height a dragon can climb in one round, it takes over 10 rounds for a player to fall at far.

That's 10 rounds of being straffed in mid air, AND the dragon can also grapple you again, climb again, and drop again.

That's how you TPK a party, unless they're very prepared for that encounter.


TOZ wrote:
I love how people seem to think the DM needs to do anything special to orchestrate a TPK.

I tend to have more trouble with TPCs (total party suicides) when dealing with some players. I swear to you, I had a group of players online in a game. One was a wizard, one was a sorcerer, a third was a ninja, and I think the forth was a barbarian. They encountered some orc zombies with greatclubs, and realized via the party's Knowledge skills vs the very low DCs (like DC 6 knowledge religion) that the zombies were big, amazingly durable, and brutally strong and equally merciless and that their physical might need be avoided.

So what do the mages do? Run strait up into melee to cast burning hands for 3 damage with a Reflex save, and the other ran up and cast shocking grasp for like 4 damage. Guess what happened to the mages? Well let's say you could have smeared them on toast.

Then one of them whined and was like "You should be a good GM and have someone save us with a Deus Ex Machina! Don't make us make new characters! Making new characters sucks! I don't wanna". I told that mage that I wasn't forcing them to play in this game, and while I wouldn't make them roll a new PC, they surely weren't walking around as a smear on a zombie's club (albeit I was a little more tactful in my explanation since I wasn't trying to hurt any feelings, and more gently said no). Can't please everybody. :P

3/4 of the players showed up repeatedly, anxious for more pain. Cheering triumphantly when they succeeded, and being a lot more careful with their lives. I can't remember the last time I had a TPK. In fact, it's been a while since anyone has died. Yet if you look at some of the stuff I do to them, it almost boggles the mind. I blame their lack of TPKs on their sudden aversion to TPCs. It's amazing what PCs can do when they act like they wanna live as much as the bad guys. XD


Ravingdork wrote:

To those who are concerned about the rules: Why wouldn't an accomplished spellcaster be able to cast a spell the same way he did several levels ago (at reduced caster level)? That's like saying now that you've picked up Power Attack, you HAVE to use it.

In this case, he only needed to reduce it enough that he would automatically fail the check.

No, it'd be like saying, "a few levels ago, I could only take a -1 to hit w/ PA, why can't I now, instead of a -2?"

Which of course, RAW you cannot. I don't like it, but that is RAW.


The whole thing seems thematically appropriate. I am not 100% on board with the greater dispel auto-fail ruling, but I'm probably 95% OK with it, since imho, the GM could easily have had the explosive runes be specially researched versions of the spell the caster can detonate on command if he wanted to.

So the only question to me is "how did the players react?"

I too suspect strongly that RD was the GM in question.

Sovereign Court

I'm confused; this is the first TPK story where I find myself agreeing with the DM.

Okay, whether you can auto-fail Dispel Magic against your own spells is a bit sketchy, but it's been suggested often enough as a PC tactic that it's not unfair for NPCs to use as well. It's also not a totally absurd tactic; ER allows these kinds of shenanigans, and if you're the kind of mage who set up a long-term plot with ER, you're gonna know how to use it.

It's a bit like conning the party to carry bombs to the king. When they come back to talk to you, you decide to trigger the detonators with the remote you're carrying just in case. Why? They confronted you and you panicked. They know too much, they must die.

The players allowed themselves to be surprised. Didn't they use Detect Magic on the letters? (I'd say for symmetry purposes, if Dispelling works, then Detect Magic should also show the ER.) Didn't the rogue try to open one just to peek, planning to seal it again later? If they thought this wizard was a sketchy character, why did they bring all the letters with them? Why not store a few with a friend as blackmail material (thereby unwittingly reducing the blast size)? If they suspected him, why didn't they read the letter to see if it incriminated or vindicated him?

Sometimes as a DM you see the players do stuff that's so out there, you really have a hard time figuring why the intelligent BBEG doesn't TPK them, since they a) force him, b) make it easy. Anyway, this doesn't sound to me like a DM trying to show his superiority to the players; he didn't intend for this to happen, the players just lemming-jumped him.

Now what? I'd say query the players how they feel about a Revenge Campaign. Make a new group of PCs, perhaps relatives or friends of the previous party, who've gotten wind of the wizard's plan. Now the objective of the campaign is to bring him down; he's the new Guy To Beat.

Really, depending on how the players took it, this could still be salvaged. Nothing is more satisfying than taking revenge on a BBEG that's really made himself hated.


The whole thing seems pretty self-indulgent.

What would have happened if they'd discovered and/or ditched the letters?


Super cheesy.


Frog of War wrote:
I think as a player I would only feel okay with that ending if the DM had successfully manipulated us into crafting our own demise. If it's going to be a tragedy, then it aught to be a real tragedy, rife with dramatic irony. That we had been carrying our inevitable demise in the form of explosive runes with us all along just wouldn't cut it. That would leave no room for feeling as though we had any hand in our own fates, making the whole adventure feel like kind of a waste. For me to be happy with it, it would have to be more subtle, something that we could have avoided if we had made the right decisions yet the DM successfully manipulated us into making the wrong ones. Shakespeare style, you know? Now, as to how you'd pull that off, well, I haven't thought of that :] but it would be cool.

I don't understand why the players wouldn't open the letters and look, once they knew the wizard was a bad guy. In my opinion, this is a fair TPK because it was avoidable. I am 100% sure my players would have been suspicious of the wizard's papers. It is sort of classic, like Morgana and her fiery cloak.


This is honestly a classic kind of thing I do in my games. I've killed players with this kind of crap more times than I can remember.


For what it's worth, in one game, we used a similar tactic to wipe out half of a drow army one time as players. I did the dispel, and another player had made all the explosive runes papers, so that we didn't even have to worry about the auto-succeed against your own spells deal. I also used Sculpt Spell (a 3E metamagic feat) to change the dispel area int oa 120 ft line. We called it the "dispel magic cannon," and laid out the papers along the narrow forest trail the drow were coming down.

DM still made me roll spellcraft to see what % I could fail, rather than just let me do it on all. Of course, we had redundancy in the number of papers per explosion radius, so that was ok. ;)

But that was a really over the top game, and DM was pretty supposrtive of us pulling cheesy tricks on him once to surprise him...and never do it ever again. :)

I would be hesitant to ever allow it in my games, and I would NEVER do it against the players, though. Once against some low level mook NPCs, it was hilarious. Done repeatedly, it's grating. Done to the PCs, it reeks of DM-ex-machina, DM power tripping, etc...


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Fleshgrinder wrote:

There's less a-hole ways to TPK a party if you really want to TPK a party.

Put them against an equal CR dragon and play the dragon intelligently.

You only beat a dragon when a GM lets you win. Any GM out there could decimate any party with an equal CR dragon.

ESPECIALLY if you fight out doors.

*strafing run, grapple. Next round, climb at full speed. Drop player.*
Rince and repeat.

While falling, even if they have options to slow that fall and such, you keep doing strafing runs and biting and breath weaponing the party, who can't use reflex saves while falling in mid air.

I worked it out once, from the max height a dragon can climb in one round, it takes over 10 rounds for a player to fall at far.

That's 10 rounds of being straffed in mid air, AND the dragon can also grapple you again, climb again, and drop again.

That's how you TPK a party, unless they're very prepared for that encounter.

Your math is wrong. The fastest a dragon can fly is at 250'. Climbing, you ascend at a 45 degree angle and at half speed. So, a full round of ascent (double move), you gain 250'.

You fall 500' per round.

For it to take you 10 rounds to land, the dragon would need to climb to a height of 5000', which would take 20 rounds to accomplish. The dragon could maintain speed with the falling character, either by falling themselves, or using a double move.

It's still a valid tactic though, grab one person, fly 2 miles away, drop them, proceed to finish them off by themselves. Rinse, repeat.

With very large dragons (gargantuan or colossal), the best idea is to cause some sort of windstorm (-8 to Fly checks) and force them to make collision checks (wall of force). A Great Wyrm Black Dragon has Fly +14, -8 means he needs to roll a 19-20 to avoid crashing after a collision, DC 25 (you can't make Fly checks to avoid falling damage after a failed Fly check). Charge him when he crashes, he'll provoke an AoO to stand up. Hit him with 2 Rays of Exhaustion and it will be impossible for him to succeed at the collision check and he won't be able to move as fast either.


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Ravingdork wrote:

To those who are concerned about the rules: Why wouldn't an accomplished spellcaster be able to cast a spell the same way he did several levels ago (at reduced caster level)? That's like saying now that you've picked up Power Attack, you HAVE to use it.

In this case, he only needed to reduce it enough that he would automatically fail the check.

Sorry RD but for starters he wasn't capable of flubbing the roll at reduced caster level either the rules are the rules and they exist for a reason.

If you start arbitrarily rewriting the rules just to give your characters a benefit I see no reason to not counter with "Sorry *Insert my race here* is Immune to all elemental effects so I ignore the effect." Then just pack up my stuff and leave because a GM who's so engrossed in having his own way that it negatively impacts the game is one I have no interest in playing with.

Given that you posted this here I think it's a fair assumption that you were the GM in question and pulled this trick and that your players were pissed and now you came here to look for validation of your concept. Is this false?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
DrDeth wrote:
Super cheesy.

So is a Philly cheesesteak.


Ravingdork wrote:

Your GM ends the (brief) campaign and congratulates you all on completing a rather "interesting" story. He compares it to the movie, THE DEPARTED, which was apparently his inspiration.

How would you feel after that? Was it a good game with a great and interesting story? Or were you totally cheated?

Reading the original post and skipping the intervening discussion, it would depend heavily on my expectations.

If the GM had told me at the start of the campaign to think of this adventure as a video game, and the 'ending cinematic' after the boss battle was the death of my character, I'd have known to enjoy the ride and not expect much else. I'd have focused on milking each moment of the present for fun and zaniness rather than spending a bunch of time deciding on how to level my character. And when the final climactic moment happened and my beloved instrument of wackiness bit the dust, I'd have applauded the DM for a job well done.

But if I'd had no warning at all, I'd have felt VERY cheated. I'd have had hopes and dreams for my character, and been invested in his future. A DM letting a player get attached to a character who has no chance of survival is a bit like buying your 8 year old a pet bunny and planning to have rabbit stew for that family gathering in 3 months.


I'd be okay with it. There seemed to be some build up to it and it ended essentially as one might expect.

I find it hilarious that the [i]method[/i[ is what's being debated by the RAWyers here.

Guess what.

It doesn't matter.

Not one bit.

Each of those letters could have been magic traps of implosion tied to a command word or by opening them the results are ultimately the same. The point was they kept these mysterious unopened letters trusting that all the fishiness going on wasn't going to bite them in the bum. It did. Oh well new game see you guys next week.


So basically the DM wastes your, and the entire, group's night for the sake of some chuckle based on a movie that wasn't entirely great anyway?

You see, We carry a CRB with us. A nd its a nice, solid, heavy book. and if the DM just decided to screw us over like that, wasting our time and such to wipe is out- he'd go home with more than few lumps. And, I suspect, a request (that wasn't really asking) not to ever DM again- assuming he wasn't just never invited back at all, again, ever.

Not sure if the DM just got his panties in a knot because you didn't follow his railroad (runes were made up on the spot as a lack of inspiration of something useful for him to do.. like DM a proper game) or if he just had intended all along to get your party murdered (aka the runes were there all along and he intended for you to get murdered along with the King).

Either way though- out with that jerk and find a new guy. Engineering a TPK is not good DM'ing. Wasting the group's time to stroke his own DM Epeen isn't a good way to find yourself DMing that group again.

-S


PC's go out of their way everyday to twist and bend any and all said rules, but when its used against them, they cry like little kids. Just from the information we were given the PC's had prior knowledge as to how much of a "Bad Guy" this Mage was. They choose to overlook something along the way , and everyone wants to cry foul. Well to damn bad, things happen they messed up IMHO. Get over it, its only a game. Yes I want my players to be connected to their PC's, but its but out there from a long, long time ago, things can be pretty brutal. People die every day. Throw in a whole fantasy element and you have totally changed, how who or what would be affected.
Could be, because I don't give baby-steps or training wheels to my players. So basically if you are in the wrong place or wrong time you might die. If its more powerful then you run away and live to fight another day.

Sovereign Court

Where the runes originally intended to kill the PCs? As I understood, the idea was to kill the king, the PCs were just dupes to get the runes to the king. Maybe they'd be blamed, but since the letters were meant for the king's eyes only*, it's not guaranteed that the original scheme would kill any PCs.

But instead the PCs deduce something is fishy. They suspect their employer isn't on the level. So they go question him, he turns out to be evil, and now needs to get rid of them.** So he takes the easy way out.

But look on the bright side. They saved the king!

---

This is actually one situation where you can continue the campaign after the TPK. For example: the wizard's evil scheme has been exposed (disappearing party, big explosion in the wizard tower), and now the king needs loyal flunkies to take down the evil wizard before he launches a new scheme. The players should be motivated to take down the wizard; everyone enjoys a good revenge mission.

I do think the piles-and-piles of ER explosion thing is cheesy. I think if my players tried that I'd have to have a long talk about where the world is headed if they do that.

On the other hand, ER and several of the other book-trap spells are a good reason royalty shouldn't read it's own mail, not unless it's been de-magicked first. Subjecting the king to the Suggestion in an Illusory Script would be a threat to national security. Sepia Snake Sigil to paralyze the king paves the way for a palace revolt. The "Symbol of ...
" spells are even worse.

* Was one ER really going to kill the king? You'd suppose he would stop reading after the first one.

** Maybe he could've continued to fool them, but that would be the kind of behavior recommended against in Evil Overlord Advice lists. Better to just dispose of people who start asking the right questions before it gets out of hand.

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