PDA

View Full Version : TPKs



Deathtouched
2008-10-02, 08:18 PM
I know that this is probably the wrong place to ask, but I don't know what to do. I'm currently DMing a semi-Call of Cthulhu game and the characters are about to die, but the players don't know... yet. Again bleh... the game is a weakened version of "The Haunting" from the CoC books, but its ridiculous. The characters have been lucky so far, taking low damage and not going insane even once, even though I added extra sanity checks. They are hurt badly and fighting a zombie-sorceror and the 2nd gunman failed a dodge, he is going to take the exact amount of damage to die. But the other gunman is under the creature's control, I rolled the numbers while the players were out of the room, under the creature's influence he will shoot both the female characters, killing them. Then he will stand unmoving while the monster eats him. Even if he missed, the weaponless women have no chance to kill the creature in time. The 2nd man was their last hope and he's doomed. I'd hate the hours of character creation and play to be all for nothing, even if it is CoC. The characters all had such good backgrounds...

What do I do? (And again if this is a stupid place to ask just tell me)

Pie Guy
2008-10-02, 08:27 PM
First of all spoiler it. You don't want your players angry at you for whatever reason (I'm not sure why they would, but just be sure)

Also
You are the DM, you have power over the game totally, so if you really don't want this to happen, it won't

streakster
2008-10-02, 08:29 PM
Oh look! A masked man has blocked the blast that would hit the gunman, killed the zombie, and freed the second gunman from his curse! Who is he? Who knows! Hi-ho Silver, away!

martyboy74
2008-10-02, 08:36 PM
You're playing CoC and you're worried about TPKs? I am confused.

BRC
2008-10-02, 08:49 PM
You're playing CoC and you're worried about TPKs? I am confused.
That would be like playing Paranoia and saying "My PC's arn't trusting each other!"
It sounds more like he's worried about boring TPK's.

A proper CoC TPK should be the PC's getting eaten by eldrich horrors while they are curled up and wimpering, their minds having shut down rather than comprehend what they are seeing.

Irreverent Fool
2008-10-02, 09:01 PM
I know that this is probably the wrong place to ask, but I don't know what to do. I'm currently DMing a semi-Call of Cthulhu game and the characters are about to die, but the players don't know... yet. Again bleh... the game is a weakened version of "The Haunting" from the CoC books, but its ridiculous. The characters have been lucky so far, taking low damage and not going insane even once, even though I added extra sanity checks. They are hurt badly and fighting a zombie-sorceror and the 2nd gunman failed a dodge, he is going to take the exact amount of damage to die. But the other gunman is under the creature's control, I rolled the numbers while the players were out of the room, under the creature's influence he will shoot both the female characters, killing them. Then he will stand unmoving while the monster eats him. Even if he missed, the weaponless women have no chance to kill the creature in time. The 2nd man was their last hope and he's doomed. I'd hate the hours of character creation and play to be all for nothing, even if it is CoC. The characters all had such good backgrounds...

What do I do? (And again if this is a stupid place to ask just tell me)

He could heroically resist the influence for a split second, yell out some near-incomprehensible warning, and shoot himself in the head. Maybe one of them could survive.

Character deaths mean nothing if the character wasn't well-developed. Take the opportunity to give them deaths they deserve and describe the grisly details in a Lovecraftian way. That's what CoC is about!

Pie Guy
2008-10-02, 09:02 PM
Character deaths mean nothing if the character wasn't well-developed. Take the opportunity to give them deaths they deserve and describe the grisly details in a Lovecraftian way. That's what CoC is about!

So... we should have him eaten by something?

kbk
2008-10-02, 10:00 PM
Seriously, in CoC, there are really 2 things that might happen:

1) You're party goes insane and kills each other. Maybe one person survives becuase he sacrifices the others to get a head start.
(Sidenote: This is my favorite way to survive a con CoC game. You tell the GM I shoot the other guy in the knee, and keep running. At this point you say the cliche line "I don't have to outrun the monster, I just have to outrun you!").

2) They go up against something that cannot possible be hurt by them ever. And just for good measure, make sure there are 2 of them. Star Vampires should work.

SurlySeraph
2008-10-02, 10:20 PM
You could just, you know, not have the gunman shoot anyone. As if he hadn't been controlled by the creature.

xPANCAKEx
2008-10-03, 08:43 AM
if they were confronted a monster in CoC, then diserve to die. Survival should not be seen as the norm, but as an exception to it

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-03, 09:01 AM
if they were confronted a monster in CoC, then diserve to die. Survival should not be seen as the norm, but as an exception to it

Considering most adventures are modelled on The Dunwich Horror, The Thing at the Doorstep, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and so on, this is pretty inaccurate. Many of the best Lovecraft stories involve investigators confronting the evil and defeating it - although avoiding actual monsters is obviously a good idea. A big part of the whole point of the cosmic horror is the knowledge that all these victories are hollow and useless. (See The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The good guys "win", the cult is destroyed and dismantled, but the investigator's victory is hollow and in vain, both on an intimately personal level and on all greater scales - national, global, cosmic.)

That said, gunfights are lethal. If the investigators get into one, they're doing something wrong and must take the consequences; but if the investigation requires them to get into one, the investigation is very badly planned. Most action scenes should be chases (with the investigators chasing or running away), or maybe desperate grappling over who gets the gun. Indeed, investigators shouldn't even carry firearms, really - they should usually be forced to find them on the spot if they decide they need one. Pokers, crowbars, chair legs, and other tools and improvised melee weapons should be more common.

To use a completely out-of-genre quotation (except in that it's also a noir detective story, which sort of applies):
"I donít carry a weapon, Mr. Bogatyrev. Not usually. Iíve never been in a situation where I needed one. Either the other guy has one, and I do what he says, or he doesnít, and I make him do what I say."

It's not an action game, and most investigations shouldn't involve combat. You can include great action that doesn't involve firearms, or even combat - see, again The Shadow Over Innsmouth, as well as countless films where action is used in the plot but not for its own sake.

Lycan 01
2008-10-03, 11:08 AM
-sigh- Okay, after having run this scenario for my group, let me give you my opinion:

WARNING - Spoilers ahead




1 - Gunplay is fair game in this scenario, as it is really the only way to kill the lich dude. If my group hadn't had a few handguns on hand, they would have all died miserably. They even summoned a Dimensional Shambler, and Walter Corbit ripped its heart out. :smalleek:

2 - Make the gunman do another Will vs. Will roll on the Resistance Table once its his turn again. Also, you could make him roll that every time he is forced to take a shot, as he would no doubt be mentally struggling against it.

3 - You seem to forget, running is always an option. Suggest to the two women that they can still run. I'm pretty sure that unless you specifically stated that Corbit is magically keeping all the exits locked, they can simply just run back the way they came. In my opinion, this would be the best course of events. Think of it this way:

The two women just saw one of their friends get killed - in a brutal manner, no doubt - by a lich of sorts. Their other friend, who has a gun, is currently being mind controlled. The monster is slowly advancing towards them. Their sanity in tatters, they have 3 options - stay and die, commit suicide, or run. I think running would fit the situation best, as it leaves them alive, and it seems more Lovecraftian to me. The two women spend the rest of their lives in paranoid fear of Walter Corbit, wrestling with nightmares and delusions.

In fact, maybe later on they can go back and finish off Walter Corbit. You're killing two birds with one stone - their characters stay alive, and you have material for a sequal scenario! :smallbiggrin:

As for how to pull it off, just lie about the rolls for the gunfire if/when they start running. Say that the bullets whiz right over their heads as they duck and run, and they hear Walter Corbit cackling madly as they flee the house, resulting in an intense sanity check since they just left their friend to die, and the bad guy won.

The remaining gunman then wakes up just in time to see the grinning form of Walter Corbit fall upon him, dragging him to the floor where he is promptly disemboweled, dismemebered, et cetra...



So yeah, in my honest opinion as a Call of Cthulhu Keeper, I think you should allow them to escape, though not without severe sanity loss or other penalties. :smallsmile:

Tsotha-lanti
2008-10-03, 11:27 AM
Oh yes - remember that seeing violence, blood, gore, and deaths - especially of friends, like fellow investigators - causes SAN losses. Certain kinds of CoC characters (soldiers, gangsters, etc.) are immune to these losses, but start with lower SAN scores. Killing human beings should also cause such losses - the higher the closer up you do it. I'd say something on the order of 0/1 to 1/1D8 is appropriate for combat-related losses. (So the maximum for violence in a short period would be 8 SAN lost, which puts you in a bad state.)

This is a great way to teach players to find other ways to resolve problems.

Lycan 01
2008-10-03, 11:37 AM
I was thinking:

1/1d6 for seeing the first guy die
0/1d4 for leaving the second guy
1d4/2d8 for letting a freaking Lich live

The reason the last one is so high is because not only is such a thing in existance, but you let it get away! Now, because of you, that thing is free to kill and maim and wreak havok just as it pleases!

Oh, and there's also a Sanity Loss for the Landlord's death. The book says what it is, since if you don't kill Walter Corbit, the Landlord goes to check on ya'll and dissappears...

Deathtouched
2008-10-03, 03:05 PM
I reall, really want to post what happened now, because it was the single most awesome moment of any game I have ever DMed, even though the characters were technically still defeated. No spoilers cause I doubt they'll see this.

I ended up going for the "DM ultimate power thing" and right when the players came back I figured it out. The crazy Scotsman mechanic being mind controlled was using a six-shot pistol, in the previous rounds of combat he had already used all the shots. Empty gun. I ruled that being crazy and controlled caused him to forget to reload his gun.
So the apothecary's assistant and librarian (the girls) got a chance to escape. While the dying librarian and the Scotsman engaged in hand-to-hand combat, the apothecary took her chance and dodged the lich, getting around behind him and making a break for the stairs up and out.
(Note: The lich was blocking the hole in the wall that was the only way out of the room, she only had a 16% dodge chance and made it anyways :D) A few luck and idea rolls later and she is running screaming into the night, followed by said lich who was determined to stop her escape, believing his mind-slave to be strong enough to overcome the librarian who was already bleeding from bullet wounds.
He was wrong. The librarian grabbed a nearby trash can (she was the strongest in the group :/) and bashed the Scotsman into the wall while he was trying to stab her. Luck rolls, and I ruled he was knocked unconscious with a minor concussion, barely alive but freed of the mind-control. The librarian proceeded to take his medical stuff and patch herself up, then realized the make-up artist (2nd gunman) was still alive! (He took the exact amount of damage to die, but it turned out he had one extra HP we had forgotten) so he was unconscious and bleeding to death. So the librarian is left alone with her two dying friends, in the dark basement (the lamp broke in the gunfight), and she can't move much or she'll die of blood loss.
Meanwhile, the apothecary finds her way to the police station, the monster following the screams and blood, also gaining. She calms down enough to give a vague story that sounds plausible. "She and her friends were staying in the old Corbitt house when 'something' attacked them from the basement". She is bleeding from obvious claw marks, o that helps the story. Two officers help her walk into the station.
Then the lich smashes trough the window, screaming with rage. 3 officers go insane at the sight, 4 of them open fire on the creature. HUGE gunfight. The officer helping the character is shot through the head by a stray bullet (oops). The cops apparently suck at fighting since it takes them over 2 rounds to kill the already wounded lich, leaving another officer ripped to pieces and one wounded. The apothecary escapes out the back and finds the nearest hospital, asks for help for her friends, and thats it for the adventure.
The rest of the adventure will be picking up the pieces and saving the investigators who are dying in the basement. There will be a story about the lich in tomorrows news, but the corpse is mangled beyond recognition and burnt. Police records show that of the 8 officers on duty that night, 2 went incurably insane, 2 died, 1 is still missing, and 3 survived. One of the survivors is fated to die of a mysterious disease in the coming months.

I think it went rather well all in all. The sad part is that if the 2nd gunman hadn't missed twice in a row, the lich would have been finished then and there. No investigators died, but the apothecary sacrificed the cops to escape so it still seems Cthulhu-y. And now I wont have to feel so bad about the next adventure when the investigators meet a cult that can summon star vampires >:D.

@kbk - that is so freaky, you totally read my mind. :smalleek:

Lycan 01
2008-10-05, 08:05 PM
Um... If your group got raped by a beginner's session, then I DOUBT Star Vampires are a good idea. :smalleek: