No one here gets out alive

(Well except the dwarf, usually. In fact he’s usually the sole survivor.)

There have been several total party kills (TPKs) and near-TPKs (one or two survivors) in Telengard 2.0.  In fact the first session was a TPK if I recall correctly. <This post has been languishing in my “drafts” folder for long enough — we’ve been through like three other campaigns since then, and I haven’t been DMing much. Still, because I still grin when I read it, I’m going to go ahead with the post. Fair? No. Funny? I thought so:>

Based on the Telengard experiences, I think the following tips & tricks might be useful if you ever find yourself in a game I am running.

1) Consider fleeing when outnumbered by ghouls or ghasts.  Consider fleeing when encountering even one ghoul, if you are first level.

2) Wander into a room with a gaggle of imps who immediately turn invisible? Those are poisonous stingers, son.  Seriously, at least consider fleeing.

3) If the party’s resources are nearly depleted, it is a good time to consider exiting the dungeon, even if you think there might be some treasure nearby.

4) “Let’s just try one more room before heading back” and “Let’s just clear this level before heading back.” Those are lyrics to the Death March of a Doomed Party.

5) Trying to backstab or assassinate a major monster/villain/boss is only a good idea if you have an escape plan for if the roll fails. Jumping out the window of an 80′ tower is not an escape plan. Even if you have a ring of feather falling, if you also know the monster and/or its minions can fly.

6) Did I mention that 25% of PC deaths are preventable?  Some of the most effective measures you can take are: not being an unarmored front-line fighter; not touching the Yellow Mold; not bashing in a door with a sign that says “Caution, demi-lich at work.”

All of the above tips would have saved someone’s life at some point in Telengard.


As a player, I admit I am a hypocrite about fleeing, many times. But I do consider it an option.

Published in: on January 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. There have been so many games where I have said, “I’ve still got 3 hit points and a magic missile spell! Let’s open another door!” or something similar and found myself rolling up a new guy moments later. Thug life, man.

    Last Sunday I rolled a d20 about 15-20 times in the course of a game. Everyone was laughing because I couldn’t roll above a 5. I think I rolled a single 17 on a d20 that whole game (for a saving throw). So there is that. Sometimes the dice gods just fuck with you.

    • Yeah, the 75% of PC deaths that are unavoidable are crap dice mostly.

  2. Ghouls. Yes. The last TPK over which I presided was at the hands (well, claws and teeth) of ghouls in the Tomb of the Iron God. To be fair, the party decided to flee (good idea). Unfortunately, they decided to flee not back the way they had come but down a previously unexplored passage (bad idea) which turned out to be a dead end. Literally.

    “Don’t Touch the Yellow Mold.” Wasn’t that a Zappa song?

    • One ghoul, half a dozen goblins. The real problem was the ghoul was inside a building, and the party just sent in a couple of guys to investigate while the rest “handled” the goblins. Pure hubris.

      • Hubris is a real thing. I’ve noticed that most of the disasters and near-TPKs in my Stonehell game have happened when the players were all puffed up after some notable victory. A run of good luck and they feel invincible. Then, sooner rather than later, there’s running and screaming…

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