Whole party killed?


Gamer Life General Discussion


Hey guys, how often do all your players die? Do you bring them back somehow? Do they lose and you start a new campaign? Is there a way to fix it without it seeming like charity? Don't want to get 7 months into RotRL and have all my players killed anti-climacticly (sp?) by a band of goblins. lol

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

This doesn't sound like a rule question.

Did I miss it?


Members of the Pathfinder Society, and possibly other factions, can earn 'prestige' in the course of their adventures. Once they have accrued enough, they may be able to spend prestige to be raised from the dead, representing a pre-existing arrangement for Society operatives to recover their body in case it is lost.

There's a rule-based solution that's not charity. Happy gaming : )


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use it to create an even better story... the original group was just the prologue... the new group that follows in their footsteps are the 'real' heroes, as they have to face villains that have leveled up on the corpses of the first bunch, and who are using all the 1st group's magic items against the second.

Also allows for some revenge motivations as friends/family of the original party can be made for a second.

Or... reverse the game... let the players spend a session or two playing the 1 HD goblins who now are on the offensive... until they die, then a new party emerges to drive the story.

Remember, the game it about fun, so... the question should be, what is the most fun option, and then run with that.


Characters die. It happens. I can't remember a TPW, but I've had several times when only one or two PCs get away alive.
Before I started as a DM for Kingmaker, I looked at the obituary page on the forum to see how PC were dying. It was a lot of random encounters, so I just left that out of the campaign. If you are worried about PCs dying in RotRL, check out the deaths in the forums and just don't do what they did.


most of the ROTRL obit boil down to "we tried to fight this boss..."


I have a group of veteran gamers that asked to play in a more deadly campaign (essentially they told me to not hold back, and never to fudge anything in their favor). Their mentality was that they've played enough that they should have the ability to either fight through, talk through, or escape from just about anything. They've now experienced two TPKs in less than three months. At first they counted it as a notch on the proverbial gamer's belt: "I've experienced a TPK! Yeah." The second time was less exciting, but still fun.

The first time I let them continue the campaign they had started as NPCs (reworked into PCs) they had met in the course of events.

The second time we started fresh with new characters in a new campaign.

In the current campaign one of the characters died in the third encounter, after walking into range of an assassin vine.

Every group has to decide for itself if they want things fudged to keep them alive, or if they want everything as is. They also have to decide if they want the GM to play the bad guys as ruthlessly as possible. Is a character knocked unconscious? To coup de grace or not to coup de grace... Some players want their characters to be epic heroes in a great story, and want things fudged to make sure that happens. Others want it on, what has often been colloquiailly called, "hard mode." This is absolutely a discussion you should have with the players before a game starts. I do.

My 2cp


I've TPK'd three parties in 25 years. What happened after that was different in each case, including instance of the group disbanding. When the last one falls over dead, you close the book and wait for people to start talking before you start suggesting what to do next. Maybe they are captured, maybe they start over, maybe they continue with a new party, maybe someone else takes over as GM. Who knows, but see what the party wants to do.

To be proactive about things, pay close attention to the encounters. Know the party's capabilities. There might be a challenge they are literally unable to overcome. The deadliest ones are not always the ones you expect. Plan ahead!

My last TPK occurred at the hands (vines?) of a massive venus fly trap I designed. I had previously given the fighter a weapon that would dealt extra damage to it with every hit, and it would have died before any of the party members. The wizard made his knowledge check too. The fighter instead used his normal weapon for RP reasons. You can't stop every TPK with reasonable measures.


swingjunkie wrote:
Hey guys, how often do all your players die? Do you bring them back somehow? Do they lose and you start a new campaign? Is there a way to fix it without it seeming like charity? Don't want to get 7 months into RotRL and have all my players killed anti-climacticly (sp?) by a band of goblins. lol

You jest, but that is exactly what happened to my 1st level monk in Runelords. Damn you, Hurtwurst!

(although not 7 months in, thank god)

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

swingjunkie wrote:
Hey guys, how often do all your players die? Do you bring them back somehow? Do they lose and you start a new campaign? Is there a way to fix it without it seeming like charity? Don't want to get 7 months into RotRL and have all my players killed anti-climacticly (sp?) by a band of goblins. lol

I'll try and answer all of these:

I've never actually had a Player die at a table before, let alone all of them. I've known Players who died, but they weren't mine per se. I've even attended a funeral or two for former Players.

I don't have any abilities to bring them back, but I would if I could, and if their friends provided the material components.

I guess they lose, and I don't believe in reincarnation, per se, if that's what you mean by "start a new campaign."

No, no way to fix it, but I do prefer donations to charity in lieu of flowers.

I live in Virginia, and random goblin attacks are not the norm here, but if one happened and several, or all, of my players were killed, the status of my RotRL campaign would be the least of my worries. Do goblins usually attack gamers, or other people, where you live?


WE are in Serpents skull and have had about 3-4 TPK's -one person who turns invisible and runs each time.

It is a hard question to answer I have lost 4 characters now brought back my 1st one 2 different times.
once with re-incarnation ( I came back has a trogladyte)
The other was GM fiat A flash of lightning and there I was naked in the town square.

Our DM is very liberal and allows us to have new characters wander up on the old party and we take them in and integrate them. It makes for efficient adventuring. If we didn't do that we would have devote a whole session to making it work and "who are you and what are you doing here" stuff it is much easier if we all just kind of ignore glaring plot points to make it work so we can move on does that make sense? has characters we do not abuse it and all of my back stories just happen to coincide with the adventure some how ie..Serpent folk did this or that ect..

Usually the Caravan has a priest with us so he can be talked into raising dead or such.(helpful DM fiat device) It does break the story line a bit as we were not with the original party, but we all meta game(right word?) to make it work and form a new party the hard part is saying "remember when the halfling did this or that...oh wait I was not there never mind why are you laughing"

does that help? the rules I think are important is
keep it simple stupid
do not abuse it. (ie my old dead character had a cloak or Resistance so I don't need to buy one )
make it fun and not a hassle.


My goal in most every combat is to scare the heck out of my players, but not actually kill them outright. But, sometimes circumstances get in the way, and it happens. I only feel comfortable fudging up to a point.

Perhaps its my own shortsightedness, but then, nobody in the group has every called me on it, but we've never finished a campaign after a TPK.

Its happened 3 times with the current group in the past 12 years, and once the entire party is gone, the decision to end the campaign without finishing has never been discussed. I'm figuring the group as a whole is uninspired after that sort of event. Myself included.


As Zahir so wittily pointed out, it seems likely that you're talking about the characters in your game rather than the players themselves, so I'll address that.

I don't TPK. Players usually hate it. Over my nearly four decades of gaming, I've seen several players quit groups because of TPKs. My players are my friends and I don't want to see friendships end over game results. I know, it's stupid and childish to let something in-game ruin a friendship, but sometimes that is what happens.

Even when it doesn't, it generally ruins campaigns. We usually play a very "realistic" game and everyone agrees that they like it that way. Starting in the same spot in the same campaign with a brand new group is not very "realistic" and few, if any, of us would think that's OK. I'm speaking for my group and I know other groups have many different viewpoints on this.

For those reasons, I generally avoid TPKs.

The easiest way is, when it's really hitting, as a DM I just tell the group it's time to run. Usually they have figured it out by then anyway and I don't have to tell them. Sometimes one or two of them might die, but usually the rest can escape. Usually. Resurrections in town can be arranged, even if the PCs aren't wealthy enough to pay for them - there's always some temple who would like a group of adventurers to owe them a favor.

I don't mind killing a PC now and then. It reminds them that adventuring is dangerous. But I'm usually pretty good at balancing encounters so the whole group doesn't TPK and I don't get carried away in letting random dice results control the destiny of the campaign (in other words, I won't let criticals and lucky hits or streaks of bad luck by PCs create TPKs).

All that said, if the party screws up in a big and obvious way, if they do stupid things that get them killed and the fault is clearly their own for being stupid, I will let the TPK happen. I don't let them bully me (I've done it to other DMs when I was younger and more foolish) into saving them and even rewarding them for their own stupidity. Fortunately, it hasn't happened in a very long time.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

DM_Blake wrote:
As Zahir so wittily pointed out, it seems likely that you're talking about the characters in your game rather than the players themselves, so I'll address that.

Hey now, I just answer the questions as they are asked!


Some players really do prefer staying alive, even if the means are contrived, to the alternative of having four dead characters.

I had a nice big fight about that once after a TPK happened. Next fight I visibly prevented another TPK, and the group was happy. Who knew? Shrug. It puzzled me, because I hate contrived rescues, and if I'm 'miraculously' prevented from a TPK, I still feel awful about it.


Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
As Zahir so wittily pointed out, it seems likely that you're talking about the characters in your game rather than the players themselves, so I'll address that.
Hey now, I just answer the questions as they are asked!

Hush you, take your complement without protest. Your response made me laugh - I felt your wit deserved being called out.


Troubleshooter wrote:

Some players really do prefer staying alive, even if the means are contrived, to the alternative of having four dead characters.

I had a nice big fight about that once after a TPK happened. Next fight I visibly prevented another TPK, and the group was happy. Who knew? Shrug. It puzzled me, because I hate contrived rescues, and if I'm 'miraculously' prevented from a TPK, I still feel awful about it.

I understand.

I think for those players, they're going to feel awful either way, contrived fiat or TPK - either way they suck (that's an expression of their feeling not their actual competence). But if they're dead, they suck and they have to reroll new characters, which for many players seems worse.

Also, some people really invest a lot of themselves into their character. They get to identify with him. This is a good thing, IMO, from a RP perspective. But it can make it a really huge blow when they realize that their beloved, self-identified character is gone forever. Having a contrived rescue saves them from that anguish.

In any case, it doesn't have to be all that "contrived". Sometimes, get the idea in their heads to run away and many foes won't bother to chase them down. If they have already suffered a death, then they get a side adventure trying to recover his body and/or gear, or at least enough of him for a resurrection, and maybe another side quest to get someone to perform that resurrection if they can't.

Sure, sometimes, it just seems like certain enemies in certain situations won't let them go, in which case, it feels contrived to have that enemy behave out of character. Every group is different. If yours wants to survive, I'd say let them.


DM_Blake wrote:
Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
As Zahir so wittily pointed out, it seems likely that you're talking about the characters in your game rather than the players themselves, so I'll address that.
Hey now, I just answer the questions as they are asked!
Hush you, take your complement without protest. Your response made me laugh - I felt your wit deserved being called out.

Shhh! Don't look him in the eye.


I kind of rolled with the first TPK. I spun it into an opportunity to play around with the oracle's empowering force with a dream quest, and foreshadow some upcoming events before a mysterious and spontaneous resurrection.

The second time I just said to burn off that day's eternal hope and call it a deal.

FWIW, it's a creature that only uses phantasmal killer every round, so there wasn't a lot the players could have done besides not having traded away the gnome's Illusion resistance >.>

Silver Crusade

Now I am imagining random goblin attacks in Virginia. LOL

TPK is rare at my table. But it's happened. We just decided to play a different AP.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Stanislaw wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
As Zahir so wittily pointed out, it seems likely that you're talking about the characters in your game rather than the players themselves, so I'll address that.
Hey now, I just answer the questions as they are asked!
Hush you, take your complement without protest. Your response made me laugh - I felt your wit deserved being called out.
Shhh! Don't look him in the eye.

I am dutifully averting my eyes!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

In 30+ years of GMing, I've only had five TPKs, and two were in tournament sessions I was running at cons (so those don't really count.)

One TPK ended the campaign in a good way. I wasn't planning it to be the final adventure in the campaign, but the PCs sacrificed themselves to stop the bad guys from summoning a Terrible Evil into the world. I decided that was the cinematic end of the campaign, and milked it for all it was worth. I played out vignette scenarios of all the PCs entering the afterlife. It was glorious.

One TPK ended the campaign in a bad way. The players made some actively terrible tactical decisions based on bad analysis of the situation, and fought their way into an enemy stronghold but couldn't fight their way out again. There were other problems with that campaign, so we ended with the PCs deaths. Another GM started a new campaign a few weeks later.

One TPK ended up with the PCs dead, but the BBEG figured they were still valuable, so he healed them back up, took their gear, and enslaved them in the mines. I improvised a few sessions of the PCs staging a slave revolt and escaping, then got the game back on track.


Only been at this for a year, I've killed one character and nearly killed (but saved after a reinterpretation of rules) another. The former case was a botched reflex save: everyone was in AoE of the BBEG's fire breath, they all took damage. One player took too much.

I have yet to TPK, hopefully it won't happen. But since I've started using the crit deck things have gotten a little more debilitating/lethal.


MC Templar wrote:

use it to create an even better story... the original group was just the prologue... the new group that follows in their footsteps are the 'real' heroes, as they have to face villains that have leveled up on the corpses of the first bunch, and who are using all the 1st group's magic items against the second.

Also allows for some revenge motivations as friends/family of the original party can be made for a second.

Or... reverse the game... let the players spend a session or two playing the 1 HD goblins who now are on the offensive... until they die, then a new party emerges to drive the story.

Remember, the game it about fun, so... the question should be, what is the most fun option, and then run with that.

Great idea.

Ha, hope a player says "we got prologued!"

I've seen some tpks, but strangely, there is usually a pc or playable npc left somewhere nearby that wasn't killed. Resting, didn't enter that part of the dungeon, etc.

Which means the fight ain't over!


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One of the best things about TPK's is that everyone at the table has a story to tell for years to come. At the time it might not have been a pleasant/fun experience but as time passes by we (my game group) looks back with great fondness about those ill-fated play sessions.

Seems weird I know. Am I alone feeling like this?


I've seen that.

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