Prepping for a TPK

Hello Miscreants

The only real news to keep you updated on this week is that July’s Puppet Gameplay had a resounding winner due to discovering an unknown talent in Micromachines.

Everything else is running to schedule this week. At least… that’s the plan.

Preparing for a Total Party Kill – that has been my prep for the Friday Night SPICED game this week. That situation when you, and they, know they’re out manned, out gunned and out planned.

Now as a PM you’re faced with a tough choice – annihilate them and end the campaign early, try for a tentative truce which might not be in character, or try for some kind of middling ground.

Annihilate them – A Total Party Kill. Not a single person left alive. This will pretty much kill a campaign unless you have in canon back up characters who are already invested in this a particular story – and let’s be honest, prepping for twice the amount of characters to get them invested is something no PM really has time for. Ending the campaign before the end, before almost all the story lines have been wrapped up could leave a somewhat defeated and deflated story. In 90% of cases, an early TPK can be avoided, and should be. There are options – I always go for having options. Death ends an option.

But not attempting to kill them all is somewhat of a cop out – it means the players, and characters, can feel invincible – there are no consequences to doing stupid shit – like getting out manned, out gunned and out planned. In this case, you should be prepared to kill a good portion of them. And don’t get me wrong, I will be trying to kill them.

So… what’s a PM to do? 

  • Knocking someone unconscious is a legit choice. Our system has a -10 hit point pool for a reason. Once the threat is down, leave them. This might, and I do stress might, be an option. Unconsciousness might apply to the entire group – and this can lead to new situations.
  • In the last moments of a fight, where the lone player stands, the Big Bad can offer them a deal to save the rest of the group. Again this can lead to new and interesting situations.

  • Kill some, if not all. In our system, death is final – no pesky bringing back from the dead mechanics. Death is final. This will serve as a VERY potent reminder to be careful, especially if this is the first time your group has suffered the death of a beloved character. It keeps the main flow of the campaign going without having to start again with ALL new characters.
  • On occasion, you will have a truly awful Big Bad that they have pissed off on a very personal level and they might kill everyone as a flexing of their power. Sometimes they really are fighting an army. Sometimes the stakes really are just that high. In this particular case… they are.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re in the very final boss fight, then try to KILL THEM ALL!  Either way, just make any PC death fucking cool. Even if they don’t succeed, letting the player choose the manner in which they will exit the campaign will generate a good memory of their defeat.

And if the campaign ends early? Let it go. Recycle that cool stuff they didn’t get to.

Failure. It should always be an option.

Drink up folks, time at the bar.
Blood – Sometimes I know where the line is, but only if I remember to look in the rearview mirror.

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