TPKs? Ripped up character sheets? Fudged die rolls to kill characters?
A rat bastard DM craves not these things.
A rat bastard DM's strength flows from the game. Beware the Dark Side! Cheap character deaths, taking satisfaction in TPKs - the Dark Side are they...
(Quite literally, for the DM, there is no 'try'. If you want to kill characters, then characters are dead. Death is EASY for a DM to organise. Level 1 PCs leave tavern, a Great Wyrm red dragon flies overhead on its once-a-century rampage, and bingo, the PCs are dead. You win, right? Nah, big difference between a killer DM and a Rat Bastard DM. A killer DM just kills characters, which is easy, especially if you're willing to fudge die rolls to that end. A rat bastard DM merely makes the characters lives miserable, especially if s/he can orchestrate things so that it's at least in part the consequences of the PCs own decisions that make them miserable, and in doing so makes the *players* love it.)
(A Rat Bastard DM's) duty is heavy, but (PC) death is lighter than a feather...
I was going to say not. I've only TPK'd the party once. Well twice but one of those times was a fevered nightmare provoked by the BBGs malign presence (I wanted them to meet early on).
I was going to say not because last night 3 consecutive brute hits including a critical took one of my players to -17 in two seconds flat. Unfortunately the courtyard floor was, at that time, alive with huge carnivourous worms and when she fell amongst them, she received enough damage to take her one point over her bloodied value, which meant instant death.
What would a rat DM do. Sit back and smile as she packed up her pencils and hand made powercard sheets, tucked away her newly crafted and plastified battle card and walk out the door to go home? I couldn't do it.
In our game I allow a 1/Encounter do something awesome power, which can be used to alter powers in a cool, fun way or do something totally out of the box. I called for someone to creatively save her now or she was dead and buried. Would a Rat DM do that? So the the Dwarf Cleric standing next to her rewound things with her Immeadiate Interrupt "Back From Death's Door" Power and threw her Cape of the Montebank down beneath her as she fell, avoiding the mortal wound from the worms beneath and teleporting her to a safe distance ontop a nearby block of stone. Yeah, pretty soft. I know. Not very Rat.
But after reading Yoda's fine words and agreeing with the distinction between a Killer DM and a Rat, then I would say I'm not a killer DM. I'm a big softie when it comes down to it. But I have certain Rat characteristics. I like to make my players, sweat and suffer. I can't think of one of my devious plots that they haven't ended up in yet!
Last night, for example, they had canged their appearances in order to gain easy access into the Red Hand's Lair. They had to chew a bitter leaf given to them by the Goblin leader of one of the tribes unwillingly subdued by the Red Hand, touch the Crystal Ball of Death they were transporting disguised inside a wicker idol ( which is meant to be used to assessinate the Red Hand), and think of the form they wnat to change into. This was explained to them some time ago and their memeory was rusty. They forgot that it didn't alter their body size. They all thought of Ogres. Hehe... Rat moment!
So once they had turned into a group of mini ogres (no going back on that I'm afraid!) and entered into the citadel, (trying not to giggle) where the upper level was hosting a fevered ceremony by the Cult of the Fish, temporary allies of the Red Hand. When the guards asked them: 'And what the hell is this?', they answered that they'd come for the party. 'Well come on in!' The 'party' they were escorted to forthwith, was of course a voluntary mass ritual sacrifice... which is why they found themselves in a courtyard that suddenly became filled with writhing flesh devouring worms in the first place. Willing Sacrifices to the Fish!
So if taking the PCs actions and twisting them in mean and nasty ways is a rat DM characteristic, I guess I have some rat in me.