View Full Version : TPKs vs Boss Fights

2010-12-28, 10:31 PM
Hello All
I was just wondering, how many times does a typical party die in a campaign (8-20 in this case)? I was just hoping for some answers, because our group rotates DMs for each campaign, and some DMs are more....deadly...than others, and i was curious as to how often most characters die. (If my DM reads this, i am NOT criticizing, im just curious)

In case it matters, in our campaigns we generally level up every 1-2 sessions (getting a group together at the same time is so hard :smallfurious:)

Thanks for posting!

2010-12-28, 10:53 PM
In my game, I've yet to be able to kill one of my PCs, but I've come mildly close a time or two. We've had about 6-8 sessions.

2010-12-28, 10:57 PM
In my game, I've yet to be able to kill one of my PCs, but I've come mildly close a time or two. We've had about 6-8 sessions.

This is about where I am at also. My group is six strong, started at level five and are now level eight (nearing nine), and have no casualties yet.

I can't say its for lack of trying, however. :smallamused:

2010-12-28, 11:11 PM
Let's see...My current character hasn't really died in combat yet. He did get knocked down to to dying three times in the same combat with four 12HD earth elementals.

As far as players killed as a DM I've only managed to do it once when a psion was knocked down to went nova. And a few years ago with a different group when they thought it was a good idea to charge an octopus tree in melee at 10th level.

R. Shackleford
2010-12-28, 11:57 PM
The only time I've manages a TPK is while running Tomb of Horrors, where the goal was more to see who'd last the longest, which technically wasn't a TPK since everyone died at different points.

Furthermore, only 1 in 5 deaths that occurred in games I was in this year were the result of the DM outright killing a player. The other 4 were the result of the other PC's causing the deaths of the others.

Generally a DM more often than not kills a player as a result of that player's own actions, and that's generally true for the party as a whole. So, barring that, TPKs shouldn't happen unless you as a DM want them to happen, which is, depending on the group, not exactly a nice thing to do. But it depends on the game, the group, and the DM.

If you want to plan a TPK, it's probably more likely to happen, and be accepted by the party if it happens during a Boss fight, and more acceptable the longer the campaign goes on, as the stakes get higher.

2010-12-29, 03:05 AM
The correct answer is "as much as the players want it to happen"

Otherwise you are ruining their fun, or atleast not giving them enough.

Loki Eremes
2010-12-29, 07:29 AM
from 1st to 16th =

- I escaped from a certain death many times (call it instinct or just good spot checks at our DMs expression)

- I died about 3 times, 1 i couldnt do anything. The other two were because the DM raged towards me after another friend complained like a wussy about that kinds of action that defines a VERY FINE line between heroism and idiocy. So he came back to life thanks to the sands of time and then i was tortured on the floor to death by Will saves for 11 turns.
Dont remember the 3rd one but i know it was his fault too (you know who im talking to, filthy swashbuckler :smallmad:)

-only 2 TPK, but the first one didnt count since our master let it pass because we were not thinking right and charged without planning. (6th lvl rogues x2 plus 6th lvl swashbuckler x1 VS Atatch x1 at melee)

2010-12-29, 07:33 AM
We very rarely have total TPKs, but every now and then the party gets beaten up with some PCs dead and some crippled, and the survivors have to flee. Usually we average about one PC death per session.

Probably the only campaign I've played in that had regular TPKs was our long-running 3.5 campaign. That had three TPKs, though I'm not sure the second and third ones count because one character survived each time.

2010-12-29, 07:52 AM
I've never been in a game where the DM was able to TPK us... The only time my characters die is when I want them to :smallwink::smalltongue:

Epically :3

2010-12-29, 08:03 AM
We used to have a DM who liked to kill one character every other session. The only player who's character survived the campaign was the one who could flee the fastest.

But anyway, in my experience the best way to avoid TPK is to not make the point of the game killing. I mean really, if you want killing to be the main focus, and you want it to be a challenge. Expect to die.

2010-12-29, 12:03 PM
Well, the Skype group I'm in has had 21 sessions so far, and no deaths. Then again, it has been very combat-light and a few people have had to stop playing and be replaced.

Loki Eremes
2010-12-29, 12:40 PM
I've never been in a game where the DM was able to TPK us... The only time my characters die is when I want them to :smallwink::smalltongue:

Epically :3

You: rofl lmao your noob mobz sucks lol
DM: and so, in the absoluteness of your victory...cows start pouring from the sky at the direction of the antimagic field you re in.

Now really, if a DM is not an ******* and do not find pleasure in killing PCs just for the laughs, the only times TPK happens is from my experience when the party isnt well prepared for battle (dont bring wands, potions, gear, spells, etc) or when you dont know when to retreat.
Many times, overconfidence is the implicit enemy

2010-12-29, 12:48 PM
I almost had a TPK yesterday. Dire weasel vs. two lvl 2 druids, their companions and a warblade. Weasel had worst initiative. It was a series of fumbles on player rolls.

As for player kills once they're past lvl 5 I stop/drastically reduce fudging rolls and I have 2 kills per three sessions. Mostly due to party mistakes or rolls.

In a high power campaign I DM this year I had no TPKs had a few close calls tho. I didn't notice players being unhappy tho.

Hope this helps.

2010-12-29, 04:49 PM
I've only had one TPK, and it was a combination of a kind of dumb player move and my own over/under preparation.

I created a swamp that had noxious fumes that slowly drove you crazy, but while doing so also made you physically more powerful. As STR and CON rose, so did the insanity.

The kicker? The gas burned very well.

I didn't think any of my players had fire spells, and they definitely hadn't used them in my campaign so far. Yeah...the Wizard had Orb of Fire.

He used it and a small explosion ensued. Took 3/4 of the hp of the party. Emboldened by the fact they did not die, he used it again the next time they fought an enemy. Only this time he fired at the "most explosive looking part of the swamp".

I asked the infamous "Are you sure?" He said yes.

He rolled a Nat 20 to hit.

Lesson learned, don't create (as my players named it) Gasoline Swamps. Not with a Wizard in the party.

2010-12-29, 04:50 PM
We only had one TPK while playing D&D, and it was only done because the players all wanted to make new characters. I think the DM would have let us TPK if things went poorly enough in a fight, but it never came to it. (Plenty of individual character deaths, sometimes rezzed and other times not depending on level and whether the player wanted to try a new character.)

In a homebrew system we played, we had no TPKs and no deaths actually.

We're currently playing oWoD: Mage, and the same DM is being more deadly. We've come close to a TPK a few times, but we've always squeeked by in victory. Only one time did we have a TPK, and it was because of a horrible, horribly strategy on the players' part. As I think about it, no individual players have died because of actual rolls in battle, although a few have due to other events (ticking off a nest of ratkin & a Paradox backlash).

I think some risk needs to exist for fun, but I wouldn't want things geared to lead to TPKs.

2010-12-29, 05:31 PM
Level 1-8 2ED Al-Qadim campaign. I haven't been able to kill a character yet. It's been a "close run thing" as the Brits say. This is good since the group's the focus of a prophecy.

There have been some easy fights that they've had to run from due to bad die rolls and situational problems.

There have been some overwhelming fights that ended with the mage wading into melee with his quarterstaff and being the last man standing with everybody else unconsious.

There have been some boss battles that where they broke out the AWESOME and just cleaned house with creative spellcasting and well-time crits.

And then there's the entire campaign arcS (you read that right) shortcircuited by BRILLIANT roleplaying and evangelical efforts. You gotta love a priest and two holy warriors of the god of wisdom who take their religion seriously.

2010-12-29, 06:32 PM
Level 1-15 3.5, four party members. I as the DM have scored 5 kills, plus one intentional death (Necropolitans and such). There's been some close calls, not many though.

One of my players, on the other hand, is unable to keep parties alive when he DMs. He actually managed to kill a character in the third turn of a new campaign (starting ECL 6, not 1, mind you) and fiat'd out of a TPK by session three. In the old campaign, he scored more deaths than I ever have in barely 8 levels, IIRC.

Another one of my players has run a game up to level 17 and is running another at level 9 (always starting from scratch), and he has succeeded in not killing anyone yet. He really tries hard! A couple times his obvious fiats were taken personally, too. Heh. We're a mixed bunch of people.

Lord Loss
2010-12-29, 06:39 PM
In our current campaign, we've had the whole party drop but never die. Our DM is quite good, as he pushes us but never breaks us, but when we're teetering on the brink of death, we're at times saved by Deus Ex Machina. In my campaigns, I've had two deaths one because the New Player insisted on running around screaming "Is there anyone there?! Heloooo" and other phrases to similar effect. He also did so after running into a room that had been incresingly blatantly hinted at at holding an eldritch abomination (well, an Ekloid, but there were two lvl 1 PCs so...) and running in even when the other player and myself warned him against it. The thing planted eggs in his face. My other kill was when a player, angry at me for forgetting a book at home, refused to leap through a portal whilst being chased by a swarm of greel. He got devoured by them.

For those who didn't read the above, I tend to kill players only when they act extremely stupid. My current DM pushes us further but rarely kills, all though we've had 3 near-tpks by lvl four. I rarely use TPKs, although I will use total-party KOs as plot devices (capture, journey to the Underworld, etc.) .

2010-12-30, 01:20 AM
1st of all, thanks for all the replies!

I guess (from what you guys have wrote) its really dependant on the group.

We've had.....hmmm....3-4 TPKs (out of maybe 5 boss fights), so yeah, i was just curious. Each time our (new) characters come back more optomized, and each time...:smallsigh: (our DM has Banned True Resurrection (he thinks there should be a penalty for dying (though he encourages making new characters at the same level????))). So yeah. Anyways, thanks for the input!:smallwink::smalltongue:

2010-12-30, 01:48 AM
in 13 odd years of D&D I've had 3 tpks.

1 was a first level fight where, even with my fudging the numbers for the pcs a bit, I couldn't stop them from dying (they refused to run from a fight that started off with the wizard accidentally blasting the thief with burning hands and the fighter fumbling twice in a row).

1 was the event I mentioned in the dm means/dm says thread. I.e. The party was being denied entry to the king's chamber by some courtier because the king was in a meeting (and they were low level (3) so not important). Instead of waiting, they decided the best way to get in was to set the official on fire. (In their defense it did get them in. The king just ordered them executed and since their thief and wizard had died in the fight they couldn't escape).

and 1 was when the party didn't understand the concept of not fighting. They had raided the home of a high level lich (plot hook for later) and the lich had come looking for a few of the stolen items. MY plan was to have the lich buy the stuff back from the stores they had sold it and then, after finding them, strongly request they leave his home alone. When he came to them though the paladin detected evil and attacked without any thought. Even after having decided that the lich didn't care about the attack I told the party he would just leave on a 2 - 8 (on a d8) or he would cast 1 spell then leave on a 1 and then rolled a 1. His fireball killed all of them.

note, all of the 3 tpks were completely avoidable if the pcs were not stupid. Arguably the 3rd was due to a random roll (and then a lot of high damage on fireball from a lv16 mage), but otherwise they were all the pcs faults.

2010-12-30, 02:23 AM
The only time Ive DMed a TPK, it was very bad strategic moves on the players part and poor communication on mine. We collectively decided to hit the reset button afterward. Otherwise, in the campaign that went from level 4-14, I think that we had 8 individual PC deaths along the way.

Generally, an individual PC death comes when a player does something tremendously stupid, wants to change characters, or has to leave the campaign.

2010-12-30, 12:50 PM
Hm, by TPK do you mean they all have to still be dead at the end of the fight? My DM occasionally goes on killing binges when he sees we have some efficient means of resurrection - we had one battle with seven PC deaths once, and there were only four PCs in that game.

I've never been in a true TPK. When we get close, we tend to start playing smarter. (Including running away.)