June 9, 2009

Burning Question - What will You Do After a TPK?

I don't know if you've been following the Paizo Blog with its current series of 'Ask a Pro' questions which I thought is a good time to kickstart another regular feature for this blog to get some more activity going on for my readers.

I'm calling it Burning Question where every week I post up a question (and maybe add a poll with it) and everyone is free to comment or provide their own answers to the question. To start this off, I'm just going to re-ask the questions that were posted on the Paizo blog, just to see what you will answer.

So the question is,
You have been playing a campaign for many months, and your group suffers a TPK. Do you fudge the rolls, contrive a reason for them to be brought back, have them create new characters and pick up where the others left off, or just scrap the campaign?

For me, I'm inclined towards letting the TPK stand because when you are fudging for the sake of the players, they will smell an insincere second chance which they won't really appreciate and it can hurt the mood for the rest of the campaign. Although suffering a TPK mid-plot is a recipe for wrapping up the campaign for good, I think I want to maintain that level of suspense where PCs CAN and WILL die if they are just having a bad day.

That being said, I do tend to pull the punches if I'm seeing that my players are not having fun getting beat up so badly either because of bad dice rolls or it would have been an uncool death.

If you want to hear what the staff at Paizo have answered, you can read it here.

So what will you do after a TPK?


Brian said...

That's a funny question. I had one in the second game of my campaign a few months ago.

Because I had already done all the legwork and we had a setting mapped out already (with rotating GMs every few levels), we didn't want to scrap it and we rolled new characters.

It's a complicated question that is dependent on context. If you're just starting something and building the campaign organically, there's a good chance that you're done. However, if you have something started and, let's say your party is working for an organization and part of something larger, then that's a good way to allow a new party to take over.

Never turn down the chance to keep your setting going. In fact, because I sort of made the campaign epic from the start (probably a mistake on my part), there's a good chance this new party will go looking for the remains of a few of the dead party members in order to raise them.

I guess, as a GM, do what serves the story best and try to spin a few plot hooks out of it.

Donny_the_DM said...

Never fudge the rolls. It is a disservice to everyone. At campaign start (and a little beyond) it's easy to retcon or just roll up some new toons and keep trucking.

Later, it's more difficult. We have suffered 2 TPK's during our Age of Worms campaign, and keep returning to the fray with new characters dispatched by the guild to rescue the old party.

What I have found as necessary, is to spend some time giving and gathering critiques and such. It's important that there are no hard feelings.

Aside from that, death is part of the game, and not always that bad either.

anarkeith said...

Recently had a character die for the first time in years. I suspect that, as a DM, I've been to easy on the group. The player was initially very flustered, but then realized he'd made some dubious choices.

Pushing the players so they're careful, but not paralyzed, is a challenge. By being too easy on them though, I set the table for the awkwardness that followed.

All that said, I'd never void a campaign world due to a TPK. Too much work creating it in the first place.

Gaston said...

My first TPK was fairly recent - we rewound to just before the combat at the start of the next session, and began with the 'party leader' saying "Wait, no. That's a terrible idea."