log in or register to remove this ad

 

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
Let's think about this from a goal oriented perspective.

First off, this is a Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign, with a couple important changes. The PCs are a group deputized by the Council of Speakers to sort of create confidence in the Council despite the unending winter and other hardships. It so happened based on random rolls the first real threat they encountered was the duergar, and so they hyper focused on it. As such and given the character levels, when I decided to turn it into a mini-campaign (again mostly because the group isn't gelling despite all being people I have otherwise played with successfully in other contexts) I decided to at least resolve this story for them. I know I hate an unfinished arc. To do that, I decided there would be a direct access (teleportation circle) between the outpost and the fortress.

The party assaulted the outpost and the son escaped. Then they took a short rest and went to clean out the rest of the duergar and another lieutenant got away. They are convinced -- except the barbarian -- that the bad guys are laying passively in wait so they figure they can take a long rest then assault. But that lieutenant witnessed them getting nearly spent as well as their cleric dying outright before fleeing. There is no reason for a force not to come to retake the outpost of the PCs take the time to long rest.

EDIT: I forgot the goal part because I am trying to cook dinner. The long and short of it: I want a satisfying conclusion to this arc so I can end this campaign on a high note (even if that means an epic fight they lose).
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Let's think about this from a goal oriented perspective.

First off, this is a Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign, with a couple important changes. The PCs are a group deputized by the Council of Speakers to sort of create confidence in the Council despite the unending winter and other hardships. It so happened based on random rolls the first real threat they encountered was the duergar, and so they hyper focused on it. As such and given the character levels, when I decided to turn it into a mini-campaign (again mostly because the group isn't gelling despite all being people I have otherwise played with successfully in other contexts) I decided to at least resolve this story for them. I know I hate an unfinished arc. To do that, I decided there would be a direct access (teleportation circle) between the outpost and the fortress.

The party assaulted the outpost and the son escaped. Then they took a short rest and went to clean out the rest of the duergar and another lieutenant got away. They are convinced -- except the barbarian -- that the bad guys are laying passively in wait so they figure they can take a long rest then assault. But that lieutenant witnessed them getting nearly spent as well as their cleric dying outright before fleeing. There is no reason for a force not to come to retake the outpost of the PCs take the time to long rest.

Is there a plausible way to clue the rest of the party onto the fact that the barbarian is right and a long rest here is a TERRIBLE idea?
 



iserith

Magic Wordsmith
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.
Frankly, this is all that matters in my view. These sorts of real world issues tend to impact the game way more than a TPK might, so it sounds like it's just time to wrap this thing up, readjust the group, and start something new (or take a break).

They know there's a risk in resting near the portal. One player has said as much and nobody listened. So let the final fight happen and if the PCs TPK, then so be it. Some may escape, some may be captured, some may die. The story ends on an Empire Strikes Back down note with the possibility of revisiting the party in some future episode involving ewoks.

So my advice is to ignore all the other considerations except the one I quoted, wrap it up, and move on.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Let's think about this from a goal oriented perspective.

First off, this is a Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign, with a couple important changes. The PCs are a group deputized by the Council of Speakers to sort of create confidence in the Council despite the unending winter and other hardships. It so happened based on random rolls the first real threat they encountered was the duergar, and so they hyper focused on it. As such and given the character levels, when I decided to turn it into a mini-campaign (again mostly because the group isn't gelling despite all being people I have otherwise played with successfully in other contexts) I decided to at least resolve this story for them. I know I hate an unfinished arc. To do that, I decided there would be a direct access (teleportation circle) between the outpost and the fortress.

The party assaulted the outpost and the son escaped. Then they took a short rest and went to clean out the rest of the duergar and another lieutenant got away. They are convinced -- except the barbarian -- that the bad guys are laying passively in wait so they figure they can take a long rest then assault. But that lieutenant witnessed them getting nearly spent as well as their cleric dying outright before fleeing. There is no reason for a force not to come to retake the outpost of the PCs take the time to long rest.
OK, there may be no reason for a force to not come and retake the outpost... but can they muster a force in a reasonable amount of time? If so, then interrupt the hell out of their long rest after about the half-way mark (assuming it takes 4 hours to muster that response).
But sure, go for the imprisonment - the duergar are probably interested in other aspects of this group opposing them, like other groups the Council of Speakers might be working with - but I would definitely not do capture by fiat. If I want a capture, I hit them with overwhelming force and play it out. With the ability to choose between killing and achieving a knockout at 0 hp with melee weapons, you've got a relatively easy method for doing so without really inflicting a TPK. Doing it by fiat is just asking for trouble.
 

Reynard

Legend
It doesn't make sense to me as DM, based on all that has been established, that the duergar wouldn't retake the outpost. The world knows that long rests are a thing, so they would do it before 8 hours were up after the lieutenant reported back. So this is the core of the question.

I feel weird (and I'm not sure why) interjecting my editorial voice and saying, "Guys, the barbarian right. GTFO."
 

Dausuul

Legend
Why would the BBEG who has intel that they were spent and lost their healer think they would hang around rather than fall back?
That is a very good point. Thinking about it from the BBEG's point of view: Obviously, they are going to send a force through the circle to re-establish control of their outpost. But they have no reason to expect the PCs to be hanging around at the other end. The teleporting force will be on guard--there is always the chance of an ambush--but they won't be coming out in full attack mode. Nor will they necessarily be bringing overwhelming firepower.

I have the impression from what @Reynard has been saying that this is a two-way portal (i.e., you don't have to be a 9th-level wizard and cast teleportation circle to use it, it's always on). So how about this: A group of duergar mooks pops in and discovers that the PCs are still there! One of them yells that he'll bring reinforcements and darts back through the portal.

A fight ensues, which the exhausted PCs can probably win, but will not be easy and might cost them another party member. Then they have a few moments to catch their breath. Hopefully, knowing about the impending reinforcements convinces them to bug out.

If not, well, you can lead a PC to the escape hatch, but you can't make them not jump into lava instead.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Maybe the bad guys have a use for them. Sacrifice them for a power up to their ritual, etc.

Heck, you can even start it, partially suck out their souls, and impose some sort of penalty. For example, the penalty from Raise Dead.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
It doesn't make sense to me as DM, based on all that has been established, that the duergar wouldn't retake the outpost. The world knows that long rests are a thing, so they would do it before 8 hours were up after the lieutenant reported back. So this is the core of the question.

I feel weird (and I'm not sure why) interjecting my editorial voice and saying, "Guys, the barbarian right. GTFO."
Well it could be something as simple as the the Barbarian's hunch being confirmed by faint tracks coming from the direction of the circle.

BUT the more I'm reading the more I tend to agree with @iserith. You're looking for an endpoint, this provides one - one way or the other. And frankly, if the party gets caught with their pants down, well that's mostly on them. Long rest anywhere near enemy territory is dangerous and needs to be thought of as such!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Well it could be something as simple as the the Barbarian's hunch being confirmed by faint tracks coming from the direction of the circle.

BUT the more I'm reading the more I tend to agree with @iserith. You're looking for an endpoint, this provides one - one way or the other. And frankly, if the party gets caught with their pants down, well that's mostly on them. Long rest anywhere near enemy territory is dangerous and needs to be thought of as such!
For me, it's even more about the real world issues. DM wants to wrap it up. Scheduling issues. Incompatible player preferences. I wouldn't have gone past session 1 given the latter two conditions (provided they were discernible), leave alone done a whole campaign. And it's not likely the DM is going to get a bad Yelp review for wrapping it up when it needs to even if the characters fail to achieve their goals. Capturing them and playing out some kind of escape only keeps this game going longer and allows the real world issues to persist.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
For me, it's even more about the real world issues. DM wants to wrap it up. Scheduling issues. Incompatible player preferences. I wouldn't have gone past session 1 given the latter two conditions (provided they were discernible), leave alone done a whole campaign. And it's not likely the DM is going to get a bad Yelp review for wrapping it up when it needs to even if the characters fail to achieve their goals. Capturing them and playing out some kind of escape only keeps this game going longer and allows the real world issues to persist.

Yeah, that too. Personally, I'm all for just going "guys, this isn't working for me and it's clearly not working for you either - maybe just wrap this up?" But a lot of people are really hesitant to do that.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Other options:

1.) PCs are killed, then raised by an ally... or an enemy that is a rival to the enemy that killed them.
2.) PCs are killed and you run an adventure in the afterlife, allowing them a chance to return.
3.) PCs die, and new PCs pick up the call.
4.) You let the deaths stand, and you move the world ahead 5 years so that the world feels the impact of their failure. This lets the legacy of their PCs live on in the new campaign.
5.) Asmodeus, or another figure, offers them a deal.
 

Reynard

Legend
So how about this: A group of duergar mooks pops in and discovers that the PCs are still there! One of them yells that he'll bring reinforcements and darts back through the portal.
I guess there is no reason why the BBEG couldn't send a scout force through and if they proved too weak just shut down the teleportation circle from their end. But it seems odd because the bad guys KNOW the PCs are hurting and down their cleric. Why wouldn't they come in and wipe the PCs out?
 

Reynard

Legend
Also I should note the PCs can disable the teleportation circle any time they want but then it is broken. They haven't done so because they want to use it to infiltrate the BBEG lair.
 


Mort

Legend
Supporter
Also I should note the PCs can disable the teleportation circle any time they want but then it is broken. They haven't done so because they want to use it to infiltrate the BBEG lair.
But they don't think that the BBEG can come to them/send forces to them? Umm, that seems oddly short sighted! Again show them the bad guys can scry and fry too.

The PCs seem to have lots and lots of options here (disable the circle and rest, just leave and rest, not rest, etc) to the point of just go with whatever and see what happens. Finish the campaign and move on.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Why wouldn't they come in and wipe the PCs out?

Okay, so, here's a solution for you. Check the casting time of Teleportation Circle: 1 Minute.

If you want to show them their plan had a serious flaw without just killing them outright, you have signs the circle is being activated show up partway through the casting. They can stand and deliver if they want, or they have a few rounds to RUN before the BBEG's forces come through.
 

pming

Hero
Hiya!
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.

Serious question: Why are you deciding this?

Honestly, that's not your job. That's up to the Players. You simply present the world, play the inhabitants as you think they would "naturally behave", and let the Players do their own thing.

Live? Imprisoned? Dead? That's not up to you. You're just the DM.

(and it should be obvious how I would handle it; let the chips fall where they may...)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Serious question: Why are you deciding this?

Honestly, that's not your job.

Some people claim to be able to compartmentalize to such a degree that they can make choices without influence by the metagame information the GM has at this point. But the GM knows, at this point, if they are signing the PC's death warrants. The players will know the GM knows, as well.

So, while you can hold up, "I was just a neutral arbiter" as a shield, if the GM goes for the TPK here, everyone at the table will know the GM knowingly chose that path.

"But that's what my character would do!" is not an excuse for a player being a jerk at the table. Nor is it an excuse for the GM.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top