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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> General Forum --> Gaming surveys --> TPK as a Solution
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The Tired
RDI Staff
Karma: 291/33
6319 Posts

TPK as a Solution


On the weekend, I read an interesting question posted on a Game Forum that went something like this:

"What do other DM's do when the players decide to screw around for the entire game session instead of playing their characters? I mean totally ridiculous actions, not playing their characters, abandoning all role play and no regard for the adventure, just wanting to screw around with me and the game no matter how often I ask them to get back on track?"

What I found interesting about this question was the replies/comments. A very high percentage of the answers called for a TPK. Bring in a Lich or Vampire Half-Dragon Lich in Diamond Armour or something the party could not defeat and kill everyone, and then make them roll up new characters. At first I thought this was rather arbitrary and condescending but then again, perhaps that is what happened in Moria. Party started screwing around, characters touching things they shouldn't, making noise when they should have been quiet - so DM Tolkien brought out an army of Goblins and a Balrog to get the party back in line? Bit harsh but it did work and they lost their spellcaster for awhile.

So I wanted to throw this out there to the Inn and see what people thought? What is your solution? Kill them all? Alternate plan?

Me? Well, I would take my GM screen, fold it up and drop it on my notes and pull out a book. When asked what was going on, I would explain that I put in a lot of time into these campaigns but if I am not having fun and they are wasting my time, then the game is over until they want to get back to playing properly. I have done it a few times over the years as a DM, and it has always worked. TPK to me have been and always will be a sign of poor DMing.

Posted on 2015-03-30 at 10:31:02.

RDI Staff
Karma: 357/190
6191 Posts


Let's see here...

The big issue in that case would be respect. You have to think in some cases if a player is being selfish and treating the game like only he matters its possible he won't respect you enough to appreciate that you explaining how much effort you put into this means something, sometimes characters only want their character to matter.

In that case, killing their character teaches them a rather swift and brutal lesson.

That said,it's a poor alternative to teaching them to respect the game. So I guess I agree with you.

Posted on 2015-03-30 at 11:06:49.

RDI Fixture
Karma: 11/0
656 Posts


I guess TPK could be used as a demonstration, but I don't think that really solves anything. It seems to be more of a way to vent, then actually bring anything beneficial. I think what you do is the best solution, since it is a statement without being an unjust DM.

I think it is helpful to also try and get a couple players who will always be focused on trying to play. Having them help keep the party actually playing, and not just messing around.

I don't believe I have ever TPK'd a party... I've been part of 2 in the same session (which made me very sad) but I've managed to never TPK a party when I've dm'd. I would never purposefully do it just in spite.

Posted on 2015-03-30 at 11:20:17.

Fun is Mandatory
RDI Staff
Karma: 359/54
6749 Posts


I could totally see doing a TPK in that case, but I truly hate to derail things that badly. I would likely call a pause to the adventure if they didn't want to take things seriously.

Posted on 2015-03-30 at 17:04:41.

Karma: 154/25
6189 Posts


I have never tried to DM so I don't have an actual point of reference as to the amount of work that goes into game planning. If it is a canned game then that looks like basiclly following the script. But the DM choses the options or rolls the options.

Now that said, I have played enoung with good DM's to realize they do put time in and that is how they have fun. I can see it looking like a waste of time to them after all that reseach and planning.

But what if the DM just got goofy too? Not a drive toward a TPK but play out the events and make the player roll each of the hits and damage against themselves. NO DM ROLLING AT ALL!!! They roll their own fate. You could have the player across the table roll the character hit and damage. Maybe have each player roll a D20 and low roll does the rolls that round.

So no one rolls their own attacks and such.

The option for the DM could be later to allow a do over and start back where they were after this madness had taken them.

It was all a dream from the swamp gas!!!

Posted on 2015-03-30 at 18:46:31.

Karma: 10/0
251 Posts


Having played fairly little in the way of DnD in general, I'll admit I have never run into a TPK; I would join one or two of the games SirSadaar and Kamina ran with some high school buds, and in every game I was in there was never anything like that. We screw around, but certainly not enough to merit is a TPK, so it was never too much of a problem (it did make White Wolf games far less serious than they should have been, though), and the DM always received ample respect.

In this person's situation, I would imagine a TPK wouldn't really solve anything. If anything, I wonder if it might even get the players angry and motivate them to torment the DM further. In a situation like that, if I was to make the decision, I would probably end the session and bring up the issue, talk it out, and then, if nothing improves, cease gaming with them in the future. It's no fun for anybody if nobody is willing to take the story even somewhat seriously.

That would be my decision, at least. I know it's not very good or creative, but all I could do; I might think about it more and take another shot at it later. That said, I like Ody's idea a fair bit!

Posted on 2015-03-30 at 19:24:25.

Keeper of Dragons
Devil's Advocate
Karma: 51/18
2231 Posts


Why go to the trouble of playing out the TPK? Just in out of of game way tell them they are drifting and that if they feel the game is not interesting then it might be time to quit. If they don't get the idea then pack up for the night.

Posted on 2015-03-30 at 21:23:36.

Trilogy Master
RDI Staff
Karma: 176/117
6409 Posts

Ahhh Keeper :)

What I normally do is ask once if they want to sit and continue the game. If they do, but after some time still continue the non-game activities I just pack up and leave for that session.

Though its rare that I failed to get their attention back on the game it has happened a time or two. Keeper and Kyle can tell you as witness's as they were players in my table top group the few times I did so.

Posted on 2015-03-31 at 04:02:56.

Karma: 1/1
3 Posts

Play Along

It is their adventure after all. Be flexible and never insist they must do it your way. You're not a railroad conductor, you are a tour guide, and even the most staid of tours can still hold a fair amount of excitement.

Posted on 2015-04-04 at 15:29:12.

Cheshire Cad
Karma: 102/3
1171 Posts


I'm of absolutely no use in this matter. I've had two DM's outside the Inn, and both of them made it their personal missioni to try and TPK us, and we were to survive as long and as best we could.

Posted on 2015-04-04 at 15:54:54.

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