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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

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
prison break is always fun
I'd say it's sometimes fun. I've had prison breaks go badly before.
Heck, one time I let the monsters capture the party to spare them from a TPK, only to have the party TPK themselves while trying to escape.

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NotAYakk

Legend
Very good analysis. One thing: the BBEGs have intelligence as to the state of the attackers. The escape lieutenant very specifically observed until his force was overwhelmed and then escaped. He knows how beat down the party is and that they lost their healer. He doesn't know what decisions the party made after he left, but as beings that exist in the world, they can make some guesses. If the PCs don't push immediately through the portal (he can guess they know where he went) then they can surmise they are too worn to try right then. But if they haven't broken the link, they can surmise the party plans to use the portal. Either they are going to flee the fortress and escape, or perhaps rest and then return, scouting themselves or possibly coming in with overwhelming force (the party could be the vanguard of a larger force, after all).
The lieutenant is going to say "I ran away from a nearly defeated force"?

Or "they where overwealming and I did all I could to stop them?"

Mechanically... the lieutenant doesn't know if the PCs have sending, and now that they have found the permanent teleportation circle in the citadel will summon massive reinforcements via teleportation circle.

Second, you may notice that the 5e MM monsters rarely have abilities that line up with PC class abilities. By default in 5e, PC rules do not reflect how creatures work. You can choose to make this the case, but this is a choice. (And if you take that to a logical extreme, you get a gonzo world; most people who do it do it extremely selectively).

The PCs, if not dumb, are going to set up traps at the teleportation circle. (The PCs apparently are dumb, but the NPCs shouldn't assume that). The initial attack should be sacrificial, or even an invisible familiar peeking.

So, to me as DM, it makes sense that the duergar will send a scouting force back into their outpost after a couple of hours
A couple of hours makes no sense to me. (I suppose if your creatures in the world have an exact knowledge that resting between 1 and 8 hours generates next to no benefit, but that is a very gonzo model of game reality to me.)

A couple of hours means that if the enemy has nearby reinforcements, they'll be there. It gives them time to fortify the teleportation circle. It means if they are at the teleportation circle, they think they can defeat anything that comes through. You completely gave up tempo of the fight.

Either you do it right away (as soon as possible) to attack the enemy while they have no time to prepare, or you basically don't do it at all.

Think WW2. Your front lines are overrun. You fall back. You counter attack the moment you can muster enough forces; you don't give the enemy any longer a break to fortify or recover than you can.

-- not long enough for the invaders to get fully rested or muster a very large force, but after enough time that the scouts should be able to ascertain what the plan is. If the scouts don't return, the BBEG will likely just break the link -- there is just too much uncertainty about what is happening. But potentially, the scouts can finish off the interlopers and bring back one or two for questioning to find out what the Council of Speakers knows about the duergars' plans.
A force large enough to defeat (even the wounded PCs) isn't a scouting force. These beings are damaged and exhausted, but they still completely overran a fortified and defended location that guarded a back-door logistical pathway to the "core" of your army.

I mean, if a scouting force could be enough to defeat the (wounded) PCs, why was the fort so lightly defended in the first place? Add on a mere scouting force, and this strategic location would have held, and the PCs would have been defeated. Either the defenders are strategic idiots (possible), or their total available force budget was seriously impacted by the PCs attack.

It is a full on counter attack. They have to account for being in a worse position, strategically and tactically -- a bottleneck, no fortifications, exactly where the defenders most expect an attack to come from.

I mean, even if the fort was an undermanned sacrificial position, then the counter-attack should have been ready to go and gone through the portal before the PCs overran the fort, so that the teleportation circle wasn't in risk of being destroyed by a tiny enemy attack.

I just don't get the strategic plan of your NPCs. You don't guard exposed yet valuable logistical bottlenecks with a token force. And if it wasn't token, then mustering forces from the main base to retake it should be a significantly large part of their forces, which means that sacrificing those forces should be both a huge expense and risk.

In short:

You can justify anything you want to justify with "DM my guy" syndrome, by selectively picking what parts you consider "well, that only makes sense, I guess I have to do X".

Here, to me, it appears you want the choice of "take a long rest" to be a bad decision, while "advance" or "take a short rest" or "destroy circle" would be a good decision. So the enemy tactics happen to line up with "take a long rest" being the worst decision.

Not only from what the PCs experienced, but from abstract strategic considerations implied by a fort with a teleportation circle leading to access to a main base, I could make a reasonable justification for any of those being the worst decision and any of them being the best decision to make.

So feel free to make the PCs decision be a bad one. It really is up to you.
 

Reynard

Legend
The lieutenant is going to say "I ran away from a nearly defeated force"?

Or "they where overwealming and I did all I could to stop them?"

Mechanically... the lieutenant doesn't know if the PCs have sending, and now that they have found the permanent teleportation circle in the citadel will summon massive reinforcements via teleportation circle.

Second, you may notice that the 5e MM monsters rarely have abilities that line up with PC class abilities. By default in 5e, PC rules do not reflect how creatures work. You can choose to make this the case, but this is a choice. (And if you take that to a logical extreme, you get a gonzo world; most people who do it do it extremely selectively).

The PCs, if not dumb, are going to set up traps at the teleportation circle. (The PCs apparently are dumb, but the NPCs shouldn't assume that). The initial attack should be sacrificial, or even an invisible familiar peeking.


A couple of hours makes no sense to me. (I suppose if your creatures in the world have an exact knowledge that resting between 1 and 8 hours generates next to no benefit, but that is a very gonzo model of game reality to me.)

A couple of hours means that if the enemy has nearby reinforcements, they'll be there. It gives them time to fortify the teleportation circle. It means if they are at the teleportation circle, they think they can defeat anything that comes through. You completely gave up tempo of the fight.

Either you do it right away (as soon as possible) to attack the enemy while they have no time to prepare, or you basically don't do it at all.

Think WW2. Your front lines are overrun. You fall back. You counter attack the moment you can muster enough forces; you don't give the enemy any longer a break to fortify or recover than you can.


A force large enough to defeat (even the wounded PCs) isn't a scouting force. These beings are damaged and exhausted, but they still completely overran a fortified and defended location that guarded a back-door logistical pathway to the "core" of your army.

I mean, if a scouting force could be enough to defeat the (wounded) PCs, why was the fort so lightly defended in the first place? Add on a mere scouting force, and this strategic location would have held, and the PCs would have been defeated. Either the defenders are strategic idiots (possible), or their total available force budget was seriously impacted by the PCs attack.

It is a full on counter attack. They have to account for being in a worse position, strategically and tactically -- a bottleneck, no fortifications, exactly where the defenders most expect an attack to come from.

I mean, even if the fort was an undermanned sacrificial position, then the counter-attack should have been ready to go and gone through the portal before the PCs overran the fort, so that the teleportation circle wasn't in risk of being destroyed by a tiny enemy attack.

I just don't get the strategic plan of your NPCs. You don't guard exposed yet valuable logistical bottlenecks with a token force. And if it wasn't token, then mustering forces from the main base to retake it should be a significantly large part of their forces, which means that sacrificing those forces should be both a huge expense and risk.

In short:

You can justify anything you want to justify with "DM my guy" syndrome, by selectively picking what parts you consider "well, that only makes sense, I guess I have to do X".

Here, to me, it appears you want the choice of "take a long rest" to be a bad decision, while "advance" or "take a short rest" or "destroy circle" would be a good decision. So the enemy tactics happen to line up with "take a long rest" being the worst decision.

Not only from what the PCs experienced, but from abstract strategic considerations implied by a fort with a teleportation circle leading to access to a main base, I could make a reasonable justification for any of those being the worst decision and any of them being the best decision to make.

So feel free to make the PCs decision be a bad one. It really is up to you.
You seem to be working pretty hard to put my decisions in a bad light. That's fine. You aren't at my table so I am sure that I am not communicating some things thoroughly. Even so, I would like to address a couple of your points.

First and foremost, Yes, the NPCs know the difference between a Short Rest and a Long Rest. This is the world in which they live, and they themselves have abilities that are affected by Short and Long rests. Look up duergar if you are circumspect. They know how the world works. These are the "physics" of the world. They will use them accordingly.

Second of all, the duergar have been holding this outpost for years. They would know if an assault force was within an hour or two of it. It is an old dwarven defensive force. It is designed to protect the dwarven valley. Would dwarves build a fortress where enemies could appear without warning with a few minutes of warning? I think not.

The scouting force isn't meant to be overwhelming. It is meant to be what they would send. the PCs happen to be in a real bad spot, so it may turn out badly. that's on them for deciding not to flee, close the portal or otherwise.

It wasn't a token position. it was an important outpost through which the duergar moved the all important chardalyn to the HQ. They would rather not lose it, but they will sacrifice it if it becomes necessary. At this point, all they know is a capable but not invulnerable adventuring party has assaulted the location, killed most of the guard, and are heavily spent. they aren't going to abandon the fortress without at least another attempt to retake it, or at least determine if a larger force is set to attempt to invade.

Speaking of, getting an army through a 10 foot diameter teleportation circle would be... difficult.
 

Al'Kelhar

Adventurer
My players are dumb. Like, they're really smart people. All university educated, experts in their fields, yada yada. But their decisions in-game are often some of the dumbest it has ever been my misfortune to witness. And I've seen some stuff in my time, let me tell you. It's like their analytical and reasoning skills drop to the level of a 3-year-old on sitting down to game. Etc.

Here's what I do when my players decide their characters are going to do something really dumb.

Me: "Hey [Bob, playing the Int 18 wizard], roll an Int check".
Bob: "Um, an 8, makes it...". [Pauses to count on some fingers - from a guy who majored in maths at uni] "...um, 12!"
Me: "OK, you think for a second, a realise that what you planned to do is really frickin' stupid and will get you all killed."

Cheers, Al'kelhar
 

MattW

Explorer
If it's possible to close the teleportation portal.... Why wouldn't the Duergar close it at their end?

"Sir! We've lost control of Outpost X. Should we send a scouting force?"

"No. We have all the necessary information. That would just lead to dead scouts. Close down the teleportation circle! NOW! And get me Mage Y and his damn crystal ball. We may have the ability to outflank them..."

OR. The Duergar could adjust the location of the teleportation circle. Perhaps the middle of a nice, deep lake? The PCs arrive and find themselves underwater. Do they REALLY want to keep hold of those very heavy weapons, armour and so on?
 

Reynard

Legend
UPDATE!

So we played tonight. The party still decided to stay in the outpost without disabling the teleportation circle. They did stay a room away, and cast Alarm on the chamber with the portal, so they were alerted when the scout/strike force came through an hour into their rest (I rolled a d4). It was an audible alarm, though, since they didn't want the cast to be the only one to hear it, so the bad guys knew the jig was up.

The fight was pretty rough. I got a couple lucky criticals and while most of the PCs had hit points to spare, they did not have many tricks left. Eventually, the barbarian made a charge at the leader and got himself surrounded. After ANOTHER lucky crit by the bad guys, bringing the barbarian down close to death, the rest of the party decided to cut and run. On the upside the barbarian got to say "I told you so!" on his way out of this life.

Except that didn't happen. The player pulled a rabbit out of his hat on me. it was glorious.

Waaaaay back in the first adventure, when the PCs came face to face with Maud Chiselbone, she liked the barbarians gumption and instead of killing him for trying to attack her (at first level!) she gave him a gift. Not for himself, but for the shaman of his tribe. You see, Maud wanted to bring some power and knowledge to the barbarians as a tool against the people of Ten Towns. This was just me laying groundwork for some personal stakes for the player later on. I didn't even know what was in the "bone box" she gave him. I'd figure out the right thing at the time. then, I promptly forgot about it.

So, alone and surrounded by duergar with 2 hit points to go, the barbarian player opens the box. I did a double take before I shifted into Evil GM mode.

"The world recedes from you vision and you find yourself in the shadowy spirit world. You have been here before, when you died for a moment upon passing your Trials. But you are not alone. There is something in the darkness, hissing and whispering. it wants to know what you want."

I decided at that moment that the hag's Patron -- something horrible and grotesque from the Far Realm -- had charged her with finding more souls for it and she was trying to get the Shaman to join her in her coven. Instead, it got the barbarian, who wished that all the duergar attacking him were killed.

No other PCs could see the barbarian, although one -- the gnome wizard whose idea it had been to remain -- could see one of the duergar. A screaching howl filled the outpost and the pale duergar turned inky black like swamp mud then exploded in sprays of slime. The barbarian emerged covered in the goo with the hag's gift empty and useless.

When the barbarian went to clean off the goo he found he was covered in squamous tattoos. When next he rages, his former "storm aura" will instead be a mass of muck and tentacles.

So they fled, rested, leveled and decided to go back to Bryn Shander to warn the Council before heading to the main fortress to hopefully stop the completion of the chardalyn dragon. We have 2 or 3 sessions left before we run out of time due to other commitments I have. I hope they can either win or get TPK'd in an epic final fight by then.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I wasn't trying to say your model of the bad guys actions sucked. My apologies.

What I am trying to say is that claiming "this has to happen, because my bad guys would do this" isn't reasonable. There are entire spectrums of reasonable behaviour for bad guys (and reasonable justificatiins for any over the others), even in this situation, and the idea that one set of behaviour is "forced" because "that is what my (bad) guys would do" is the DM version of "my guy" syndrome. And it is really easy to get locked into your first "reasonable" model of what they would do, and discard alternatives literally because you thought of it first.

But, I am glad it came out well! That was an awesome result.
 

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