Tuesday, August 21, 2012

TPK and Storytelling

The PCs can all get killed in a combat encounter (Total Party Kill, TPK).
This can be due to bad choices, unlucky dices or too strong opponents.
It's hard to make up excuses for the opponents to simply let them
walk away, so I assume the opponents capture them alive.

Escape Slavery (Defeated by Hobgoblins, Duergar, Bandits or Slavers)

The PCs are tied up, their items and gold taken from them, ready to be sold as slaves.

The slavers know how dangerous the PCs are, so they keep an eye on them.
Escape might be possible if the PCs are sneaky enough and can deal with their chains and cages.

Since the slavers know how dangerous the PCs are, intimidation may also work.

A deal may be worked out, where the PCs get them more slaves or something/someone more valuable than they are. Perhaps finding a priceless artifact from a deadly dungeon or kidnapping a nobleman or royalty.

Escape Prison (Defeated by city guard, local militia)

The PCs items and gold is taken from them and they are in a holding cell.
Depending on the captors they may chain, blindfold or gag the PCs
so they can't use magic to escape.

Their captors mention that the punishment for their crimes is death/imprisonment
so there will be no trial.

An escape from prison is possible:
  • unlocking cell doors
  • using magic if possible
  • other prisoners may be persuaded to riot
  • jailers might be bribed or intimidated

Mark of Justice (Defeated by Divine NPCs or Ritual Casters)

The captors may need someone doing their dirty work or special assignments.

If the PCs agree to work for them, the captors tell them about the Mark of Justice
ritual (Divine Power in 4E).

The PCs must obey every command, otherwise the Mark of Justice activates.
Any behavior against the captor's wishes will result in the activation as well.
The Mark of Justice ritual is performed by a ritual caster, and triggering it results in a Weakness of Flesh curse (vulnerable 10 to all damage) for the next 24 hours.
The ritual caster is always aware when the mark of justice is triggered.

The Remove Affliction ritual can remove this curse, although this might be difficult.

Should they refuse the Mark of Justice, they'll be thrown in jail (See Escape Prison above)

Test of Loyalty (Defeated by Neutral or Good NPCs)

The captors ask them about their motives and want details about everything they have done.

To gain the captors trust, the PCs need to perform a test of loyalty.
Depending on what they have done it could be several tests.

The test needs to further the captors' goals, so it's a quest.
If the PCs don't cooperate, the captors use other possibilities from this post.

Grafts (Defeated by a Grafter)

The grafter grafts undead body parts on them in order to make them comply (Open Grave in 4E)

Examples include
  • zombie arm
  • zombie eye
  • Vampire Thirst
  • Skeletal claw
Besides gaining undead vulnerabilities they also lose Constitution or Fortitude.
And if people see the grafts they may become afraid or distrustful of the PCs.

The grafter keeps the original body parts in a secret location in a way that killing the grafter destroys them.
For example:
  • Sending ritual to an ally of the grafter to destroy the body parts
  • Inside a secret chest to which the focus is destroyed when the grafter dies, the grafter doesn't know where the chest itself is.
  • Attached to the Grafter's body which explodes upon grafter's death

A high-level cleric may be able to reattach them with a high enough skill.

Trial (Defeated by city guards, local militia)

There will be a trial in a court to determine the sentence.
Depending on the severity of the crime, a Discern Lies ritual may be used.

Several things influence the verdict:
  1. Crime: severity of the crime and against whom (nobles vs. poor)
  2. Plea (Optional): Persuade the magistrate of innocence
  3. Magistrate's Disposition: roll 1d8: 1 means angry, 8 means friendly
  4. Donations (Optional): Court Clerk - a friendly word and at least 100 gp
  5. Weather: roll 1d8: 1 means rainy, 6 means sunny, 7 means holiday, 8 means stinking
  6. Witnesses (Optional): Persuade magistrate to allow first witness, more difficult for next one

Bribing the guards may result in a lesser sentence, but their superior officer may find out.

Sentences include:
  • Case dismissed
  • Pay court costs
  • Probation
  • Fined
  • Humiliated
  • Jailed
  • Imprisoned
  • Hanged
  • Beheaded

Cure For Vampirism (Defeated by a vampire or intelligent undead)

If the captors are led by a Vampire or an intelligent undead, the PCs are turned into vampires.
Due to their heroic nature, they'll be able to resist Vampiric urges for a while.

With enough knowledge the PCs figure out how to reverse vampirism, otherwise they need help from NPCs who might be scared of the PCs if they are vampires.
NPCs that might help are Hags, Clerics, Wizards, etc.

Each day without a cure makes the PCs lose more control, not drinking blood makes the PCs weaker.

The following items make good ingredients for a cure:
  • Dusk Unicorn Horn
  • Holy Water
  • Garlic
  • Ashes of the vampire that sired the person
  • Corpse Grass

Sent back by Gods (One of PCs is a divine character)


Divine characters enter the domain of their God where their death is discussed.
An agent of their God may also discuss whether the character has been following the Gods wishes.
If so, the PC and his allies are sent back to complete their quest.
The character gains a boon or power if the God was really pleased.

Their souls are restored to their bodies only if the bodies aren't destroyed yet.
Their bodies are thrown in a pit or outside the dungeon the PCs were investigating.

Restoring PCs to life results in a time skip, meaning several events may have passed since the PCs death.
If there is no time skip, the souls are directly returned to their bodies and the PCs continue the fight they died in.

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