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D&D General TPK or Imprison

TPK or Imprison?

  • TPK

    Votes: 19 35.8%
  • Imprison

    Votes: 31 58.5%
  • You're History's Worst DM

    Votes: 3 5.7%

  • Total voters
    53

Reynard

Legend
Neither is a great option but given some choices my players have made recently, it looks like it has to be one or the other.

So -- should I have the PCs captured and have an opportunity to escape and also finish their mission (they would be imprisoned in the BBEG fortress) even though there is no real reason for the bad guys to spare them? Or you the dice fall where they may and if it turns into a TPK, so be it? TPKs are a bummer, though,a nd the campaign almost always ends on a down note. Of course, it could also be both, as they TPK while trying to escape.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The bad guys can always have a reason to spare the PCs since it's a game of imagination and the DM can make something up that works. Ideally, this reason is telegraphed ahead of time so that it is not unexpected. "Keep at least one of them alive for questioning!" says the villain's lieutenant as combat breaks out.

I don't think TPKs are a bummer personally. They're just another turn in the emergent story and a potential outcome of the players' choices. I have no particular preference for how a story turns out. Sometimes it ends in death for the heroes and new heroes picking up where they left off.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Neither is a great option but given some choices my players have made recently, it looks like it has to be one or the other.

So -- should I have the PCs captured and have an opportunity to escape and also finish their mission (they would be imprisoned in the BBEG fortress) even though there is no real reason for the bad guys to spare them? Or you the dice fall where they may and if it turns into a TPK, so be it? TPKs are a bummer, though,a nd the campaign almost always ends on a down note. Of course, it could also be both, as they TPK while trying to escape.

Depends on the situation. If the villains have the party outnumbered, and think they'll win, go for imprison. But if it looks like it can go one way or the other, then the villains should be desperate and trying to kill. Other factors, like who the villains are and their motivations, are also important.
 

I think there's almost always a reason to keep the heroes alive. Not sure if you're looking for advice, but I would not allow the players to finish their mission. They lost. They got beat. The villains now possess their magic items. The villains know who they are and might even know who their allies, friends, and loved ones are...and will no doubt be exacting retribution. If you're a PC, none of that feels good. Now have the PCs sold off to some slavers or monsters or another foe from their past. PCs have to fight their way free, save their allies, recover their gear, and finally confront the villain...who is now stronger than ever because they completed their original scheme. Worst DM ever? No way. Best DM ever!
 

King Babar

Adventurer
I think TPKs are simply a part of the game, and if it's a logical outcome then you should go for. TPKs can be a valuable learning experience for players, as it reminds them that they can't just waltz into every situation expecting it to somehow go their way. Losing should always be a possibility, no matter how invested they are in their characters or the campaign.
 





J.Quondam

90% grunts. 10% thews.
If I knew the players well enough, I'd be inclined to do whichever would be most satisfying for them (not forgetting the DM is a player, too, of course). Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

Alternatively:
Read the following boxed text aloud:
"In a bright flash of light, Sir Lancelot appears on a flying golden lion and slays all the bad guys! He flashes a winsome smile at your beaten and bloodied party, then gallops off into the sunset! Huzzah!"
 

Reynard

Legend
I'd also want to know why it is likely to be a TPK.

If the players are apt to die due to things that they could not have reasonably foreseen, then they get captured instead.
Long story short, they allowed two separate enemies to escape, are extremely low on resources (and have even lost one party member) and are planning on taking a long rest right next to the unsecured teleportation circle leading to the BBEG lair. They have convinced themselves through a circular argument between players that the bad guys will lay in wait for them to come through, ignoring the fact that the second escapee knows they are in their weakest possible state and nothing is stopping a force to come through the portal to attack. One player has been adamant that they should leave the location to rest and go the overland route to the BBEG lair (which is a good idea and would work) but other players have argued him down.
 


If a group tries to long rest right before the BBEG, in a dangerous location, there should definitely be repercussions. If they squandered their resources through alpha-striking, I'm going to be less charitable. But if I miscalculated the difficulty and they had no choice but to take a rest to make it through the rest of the adventure without TPK'ing, I'd feel like I bear some responsibility as the DM.

That being said, whether to let the potential TPK happen or not, that depends on the group of players. For my groups, I'm more likely to default to them being captured, because that continues the adventure while enforcing consequences. But some might prefer the thrill of a last stand.

Long story short, they allowed two separate enemies to escape, are extremely low on resources (and have even lost one party member) and are planning on taking a long rest right next to the unsecured teleportation circle leading to the BBEG lair. They have convinced themselves through a circular argument between players that the bad guys will lay in wait for them to come through, ignoring the fact that the second escapee knows they are in their weakest possible state and nothing is stopping a force to come through the portal to attack. One player has been adamant that they should leave the location to rest and go the overland route to the BBEG lair (which is a good idea and would work) but other players have argued him down.
 

Long story short, they allowed two separate enemies to escape, are extremely low on resources (and have even lost one party member) and are planning on taking a long rest right next to the unsecured teleportation circle leading to the BBEG lair. They have convinced themselves through a circular argument between players that the bad guys will lay in wait for them to come through, ignoring the fact that the second escapee knows they are in their weakest possible state and nothing is stopping a force to come through the portal to attack. One player has been adamant that they should leave the location to rest and go the overland route to the BBEG lair (which is a good idea and would work) but other players have argued him down.

Sounds like they are trying to recreate the events of a few Stargate episodes. lol

Anyway, maybe figure out a way for the sesnible party member to go off alone to scout or look for supplies, and the rest get grabbed while he or she is gone. Then let that player figure out a rescue plan, maybe let the other players bring in another character to be part of the rescue party? Or instead, while this character is away, kill all the rest and then the remaining character can figure out a way to bring them back from the dead. This might get them a tactical advantage if the Big Bad thinks they are no longer a threat.
 

Reynard

Legend
I should note that this thing with the BBEG is the finale of the campaign even though it is at relatively low level due to scheduling stuff and some incompatibility between players and preferences.
 

Long story short, they allowed two separate enemies to escape, are extremely low on resources (and have even lost one party member) and are planning on taking a long rest right next to the unsecured teleportation circle leading to the BBEG lair. They have convinced themselves through a circular argument between players that the bad guys will lay in wait for them to come through, ignoring the fact that the second escapee knows they are in their weakest possible state and nothing is stopping a force to come through the portal to attack. One player has been adamant that they should leave the location to rest and go the overland route to the BBEG lair (which is a good idea and would work) but other players have argued him down.
I see this as grounds for 1) getting their butt kicked 2) having the BBEG win but not a TPK. It's a teachable moment.
 


Puddles

Explorer
I definitely don’t think it’s as forgone a conclusion as you do. Maybe the BBEG is double guessing the party, thinking it must be some sort of trap or bluff on the part of the party to just be resting near the teleportation circle.

You could have the BBEG send a scouting group through the circle to assess the situation, that’ll force the party to act and can hopefully lead to a satisfying end to the campaign without them feeling like you pulled any punches. 🙂
 


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