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Reverb Gamers Prompt #23

Atlas Games is doing this thing called “Reverb Gamers 2012″, with 31 question prompts to kick off 2012. I’m going to post one up each day, including weekends, throughout January. I invite you to do the same! And check out @ReverbGamers on Twitter or Facebook.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #23: Have you ever experienced Total Party Kill (TPK), or been close to it? What effect did that have on you personally? On your group of players? Have you ever used retroactive continuity (retcon) to save yourself? Why or why not?

Quite a few times, but I’ll just talk about two unusual cases.

One was a game of Mythender that went a different direction, and we played with the PvP rules. The PvP rules, incidentally, are geared to make mutual play death likely.

And they did. Total party kill, if I remember right. But it was a good end to that game, a fitting note about what godlike beings might do to one another.

Another was an old GURPS Black Ops game I ran. The idea was that I was going to TPK the group in the first session, in order to end it with all the characters coming back as reanimated operatives five years later. And like many ideas, this was a good idea…that was almost executed for shit.

One player was in on it. And we did a long running attempt-at-Ronin chase/battle where I kept overwhelming and killing them one by one. Which was not exactly one. One guy kept rolling really well, and eventually I decided to stop pursuing him when he was the only one left.

They were about ready to tell me to fuck off and never run again when I turned to one guy and said “Hey, Mike, you should roll Fright Check.” He looked confused — they all did — but he complied, and we ended up the characters waking up mid-reanimation procedure. As a group, we ended on an interesting — and good! — note.

Oh, and this was my first time GMing with this group, over a decade ago. So, yeah, there are better introductions. But I stayed one of the regular GMs, so that’s something.

I later pulled this trick again in a GURPS WWII Winter War/Weird War game, but I started with “We’re going to start with normal soldiers being slaughtered, like the beginning on a zombie flick, before we get to your Ski Patrol badasses”. I learned to preface. :)

– Ryan

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2 Responses to Reverb Gamers Prompt #23

  1. msilver says:

    I’ve wanted to try that, but was always afraid to just do it… preface… that’s smart. “Hey, You’ve made these great characters. They will all need to die for the 2nd part of this adventure/campaign, so please don’t be upset when that happens, and if you’d like to contribute cinematically, let’s talk”

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Fair warning: it’s not something everyone likes, especially if they socket into character as their primary enjoyment. (Whereas I socket into story or the social experience primarily). And knowing said character’s going to die can ruin that fun.

      But if you do, bill it like the opener to a movie. And point out that whatever they do (and maybe how they’ll die) will be reincorporated in the latter part.

      – Ryan