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Atraangelis

Campaign Dilemma-- to TPK or Not TPK.

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Posted (edited)

Ok, the title sounds bad but its not of my doing.. the players did it...Let me set the situation..

I am playing a FnD game. 

The force PC's are wanted, they are known. The Imperials have K.O.S. orders..

The party was doing a stealth mission retrieving some information regarding their predicament. 

There was a very large imperial presence at their secure location (no civilians are at their location , none are supposed to be!) and was doing a great job avoiding them... then one of them ****** up...

They were in a pickle with various ways of quiet escape... EXCEPT ONE!!, don't let the imperials know your here and if they do don't let them see the Force users, even if you have to 'Otis' a fellow party member to get away.

 

Nope!... the party's face reveals himself as lost and  try's to parlay with a patrol, that person is immediately arrested as he is an intruder flat out.... hes a rodian.. Alien scumm to boot!..

THEN!!.. the melee jedi tries to stealth past the squad failing activating the KOS order... 

The Party then decides to fight their way out of a 6 to 1 odds fight. I had presented this force in an effort to show the players this was not meant to be fought. Only one player vocaly objected knowing they were not meant to fight this group...  everyone else got force drunk...

The session ended with one PC  Jedi down.. 2 Pc Jedi at 1-2 hp,  one PC face hogtied in the middle of the fight. and 1 Pc medic ready to get pasted by another squad. Every one is split up.

As a GM i still have 17 troopers and 2 officers and a Bike alive. .. there is no help available and they cant escape.

The fight is on turn 5.   In the scenario if the Jedi are spotted.. On Turn 8... the Inquisitor arrives. They had 8 turns to escape if a fight started but simply got over confident.  Do I let the fight play out or Des EX??? I hate Deus Exing ****...

 

 

Edited by Atraangelis

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I feel your pain, but unless you want to start over, you might consider TPC (where C = capture).  Sure, there might be a KOS, but the Inquisitor surely would rather interrogate them, and since when do they obey the rules?  The Inquisitor isn't going to let Jedi come into his house without asking what they know and where other Jedi might be found.  The Inquisitor could even have false information about their associations, or falsely identify them as someone else.

I'm not sure why they couldn't escape at some point (even if they languish in a cell for weeks).  If I've learned anything from watching Star Wars, it's that events still happen beyond the nemeses' control:  perhaps he'll get called back to Coruscant, perhaps Saw Guerrera will stage an attack (having no idea he's helping the PCs).  And if I've learned anything from Rebels, it's that even the most capable of villains is let down by his or her incompetent subordinates, like when the tractor beam officer accidentally caught Vader instead of Hera during the rebels' escape.

But that doesn't mean they get to keep all their stuff.  I don't know your group, how good friends you are, what the dynamic is, etc.  So you'll have to decide what works for you.  For my group, I'd just be blunt tell them they're either captured or dead, and ask which they prefer.  Capture+escape can be a lot of fun, and it doesn't reward them for their hubris if they lose all their gear, money, and possibly a body part.

 

 

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To quote Ken Watanabe in Godzilla 2014, "Let them fight."

 

I ran into a situation last weekend where a party member was rigged to blow up by one of the most ruthless droids and he was testing the droid's patience, after the droid explained that if he blows up, because they are in the engine room, there was a high chance the entire ship would blow, killing the entire party in one fell swoop.

Nobody did anything, they just sat there and let the one player try to talk it out. It came very, very close to a situation where, depending on the damage, the ship would instantly blow or they would have taken a lot of damage and been sucked into space through a breach in the hull. There would have been a chance for survival, but a slim one. I told them flat out out of character that it was a possibility they could all die and nobody did anything until prompting from the one player. It was tense and I was totally ready for a TPK if the situation escalated but they managed to resolve it somewhat peacefully, due to a successful couple of dice rolls. Had they failed, the consequences would have been bad but I wasn't gonna deus ex anything.

 

Look at it this way. You can pick up a new campaign where the survivors are now on the Imperial side or pickup a game where their NPC allies or others who heard of their heroism step up and finish what they started.

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48 minutes ago, GroggyGolem said:

I told them flat out out of character that it was a possibility they could all die

This. Tell them, out of character, that their actions have consequences and that in this instance those consequences are death. So if they continue on, they have no one to blame but themselves when their characters are dead.

Sometimes players forget that the GM won't take the kiddie gloves off, so when they do come off let 'em know.

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In my experience if you save them from certain and logical death you will hurt your game. The players will realize they are in a game that has fake danger, and they will know that no matter what they do they can't really die. If they do something that would cause their death then so be it. 

but

In my experience this game is usually heavier on the Defeat result than it is on the Death result of a fight. If they get captured you don't have to immediately have them executed, and if you have not told them about the Inquisitor I would just make him disappear and use him down the road. You could have them go to a prison where a corrupt governor wants to use them for a suicide mission that his mean cannot accomplish. You could have them thrown into a pit with a terrible monster. You could have them meet up with an unsavory rebellion resistance fighter who allowed himself to get captured so that his forces could crack the prison to get a different group of prisoners out. All kinds of things that are not blatant Deus Ex but are more like plot turns. 

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Posted (edited)

My answer would be: Kill some of them at random, and let the others have to escape from the inside with the new PC's being pivotal from this escape attempt. If you told them upfront that the Empire was just going to kill them, then not killing them without outside influence would be anticlimactic. Your world you are presenting them would suddenly be less real because of it. Is that worth every single character dying? I can't answer that for you, only you know your players. Maybe

That being said I believe we are overlooking a more really important problem. In one aspect the ball is in your court by making the stakes so high; to put them in an imperial base with absolutely no potential for third party interference, where they either succeed on all their stealth checks or die is a very binary situation with very little flexibility or play to the situation. One expectation is like every good action movie not everything goes to plan; a firefight is a reasonable outcome provided the intent of that battle is to eventually escape, have you provided any potential avenue for them to escape under duress? If not then you are also doing them a disservice by expecting them to adhere to a single outcome or die trying, there should always be the opportunity to transition into a skill challenge/escape scene where they have to achieve a set number of checks before they generate 3 failures. If you don't want to have them fight, then don't put the grid and figures on the table and keep it narrative; have the melee fighter clear a way to the courtyard, have the face pick up a commlink and give misleading orders, have the survivalist plot the quickest course, if you don't intend for them to pick a fight, don't give them one unless they insist on it, but it is your obligation to make that scene transition happen.

I mean, be reasonable, dice are not machines. If everyone rolls dice and not everyone is a stealthy character (assuming the party wasn't spilt, I would party spilt to only have the sneaky and professionals required for the job present, with the rest on overwatch*) it is inevitable that at least one of them will fail that check. Should that be a rocks fall situation party dies situation? No, that is an opportunity to transition from one scene, an infiltration to escape, action. You cannot blame the players for the dice failing them; it is inevitable that at some point the dice will fail them. From the information I have obtained from your post, I would tell you to re-examine your expectations for this session as I believe this PTK disaster is as much your making as it is your players. 

 

*Also this is one of the situations I would highly recommend party splits. Not everyone needs to get into the compound so less people means less/easier rolls. The other players might be able to run distractions and other activities, but I would highly recommend dumping that "never spilt the party" mentality. It is a hangover from D&D that I never really got, the only time I've ever found a party spilt disadvantageous is if the character is attempting to lone wolf a task far too big to accomplish alone, or if they are otherwise not keeping their ambitions for the spilt reasonable.

Edited by LordBritish

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If you are done with the game then continue on your TPK.   If you want the story to keep going then, kill some of the less important for the story line or characters who you players may not like and let them make need characters.  This will help establish the world is deadly and that you will kill if it is deserved.

For the remaining have the troopers switch to stun and knock out the players.  Then they can be interrogate by the inquisitors.  Offer for them to turn and join the inquisitors, the players can lie and he can release then.  That will let your players get out and continue the story.  

Or you can let the players choose who dies, the inquistor needs proof they want to join and requires the group to kill one of the party.  This could be a good role playing moment, if the noble players step forward. It could cause tension between the other players who refused the deal.

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   I'm tempted to suggest that you handle this Out Of Character, but I feel like that loses a bit of impact.  They always say, "show, don't tell," so show them that you're playing hardball, don't tell them.

   That all said, a TPK sucks for everyone.  I agree with the folks here who have suggested killing a single character.  If the players insist on fighting, let the dice fall where they may.  If some one gets that 150 crit and beefs it, so be it, but otherwise, they're gonna get captured.

   Except for the last one standing.  When only one (maybe two) PC remains, take a breath.   The Stormtroopers back off a little, not firing, but their weapons fixed on the character.  Let that character make an "end of encounter" roll to recover a bit of strain, and then drop the hammer.  "You feel it before you see it.  A sense of approaching dread and fear.  You can even feel it in the soldiers around you as they part, making way for an imposing figure, dressed in black robes.  He stands before you a moment, then a gleaming red lightsaber ignites in his hand."

   Run this duel by the books, but don't pull any punches.  Hopefully the PC can last a couple rounds, but he's probably a bit wounded and winded, and will hopefully drop.  When he does, the Inquisitor runs him through, telling the troops to "bring the rest of this rabble for questioning."  Let some of the other characters be semi-conscious, so they can look into their dying friend's eyes just before a bag is thrown over their heads and they get carted off for a month or two of brutal interrogation.

   And if you want to twist the knife, give them an interrogation montage.  Basically they drift in and out of consciousness as they're subjected to a variety of drugs and pain.  Don't get graphic, let their imagination do the work as they go through a blur of floating interrogation droids, Imperial officers screaming in their faces, an Inquisitor attempting to probe their minds and so on.  Intersperse that with memories of the friend that died, their home planets, and maybe even some visions of the future.  Basically, they shouldn't be able to distinguish reality very well.

   While you're at it, have them all make a few Discipline or Cool rolls to avoid giving up information (I assume they're part of a rebel cell or have a mentor or something they would be trying to protect).  Each Failure would be a piece of information that the Imperials would get.  Be vague.  The characters will probably know they revealed something, but not how much, or what the other characters revealed.  Threat will give them Wounds later, while Despair will give them Critical Injuries.

   Then they wake up.  They have no idea how long it's been (weeks or months probably), but the torture is over for the time being, and now they're just maximum security prisoners.  Each day their food is delivered by another prisoner (new PC!) who slowly reveals that he has a plan to escape.  He's heard the new guys are special, and he could use someone with their talents...

   Oh yeah, and if they bootched those interrogation rolls, have their old hideout be blasted to smithereens when they get back.  If they only failed a couple of rolls, maybe they can get their friends to safety before the Empire shows up.

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