I don’t see many Total Party Kill stories here in the tavern (that’s good actually) but I do have one, and I hope some of you will enjoy it.
Prologue to The Braveland Saga
My First TPK
I introduced Dungeon World a while back to my friend, Trevor, who afterwards found D&D 5th edition as well as becoming an avid fan of Dungeon World. Like me and many people here in the tavern, he realized how much he likes an RPG that does not focus on Builds or progression to epic levels with a million feats and countless pages of equations to say, accurately create a tree. I then learned that his brother, Andrew, played in those D&D games with him, I asked if his brother tried Dungeon World. Not Yet he hadn’t.
Me and Trevor schedule a date for me to come over and give a play session for just Him and Andrew. Andrew had all the different habits of a Munchkin including stealing from shopkeepers, playing Chaotic Evil, Barbarian with 18 STR and 3 Int, sounds just like someone I imagined would struggle to enjoy a non-powergaming system. Character Creation goes really well with Trevor, Andrew makes a good Ranger, except he’s struggling on a name. I try to help him with some suggestions, point to the examples on the sheet, but then he decides Bill Clinton. It’s obvious at this point he’s trying to “win my favor” and despite the silliness I decide that he can be Bill Clinton with a Bald Eagle Animal Companion and Longbow.
Elf Druid Hythus: Trevor
Elf? Ranger Bill Clinton: Andrew
Session 1 starts in the mountain crater town of Burrowell, an urban sprawl complete with an overhead infrastructure of pipes networked to deliver water and even oil to every building. Watermill machinery bustling and rustic streets can be seen everywhere. It doesn’t take long for our heroes to fall literally into trouble as they follow a shady mysterious figure in the night, only to fall victim to a trap door to a garbage pile, in the stomach of the mountain. Looking for way back to the surface they discover a cavern with a endless carved staircase across of chasm of Green Glowing Liquid. Before the heroes can even comprehend where they are, they are assaulted by a patrolling group of Litros, Iron Masked Humanoids with perfectly Square feet (almost like a hoof) and creepy grey flesh.
An exciting battle ensues over the chasm as Hythus shapeshifts to a bear to easily knock Litros off into the endless pit. Bill Clinton comes to realize that these Litros are armed not only with polearms, but also crude tasers. Bill Clinton begins to plummet down the stairs as his legs become paralyzed. The worst luck seems to be happening to Clinton as while he falls a litros manages to disarm him of his sword. Trevor turns and tide and wins the battle for both him and poor Clinton. Proceeding down the stairs they find a long forgotten underground castle where the Veridian Green liquid attracts. Unfortunately they realize that this castle houses a battalion of Litros, the battle results in many taser stuns, bad luck, and capture.
Our heroes discover the consequences having engaged in conflict with the Litros. The authorities of Burrowell are in an agreement with the Litros, as they supply them the plans for city expansion and maintain the infrastructure with Veridian Technology. Bill Clinton they decide would be excusable as a stranger in a unfortunate misunderstanding, But Hythus being a Druid, they decide an execution would create good PR for the citizens and the Litros. Bill Clinton, the heroic leader he is, springs into action and frees Hythus from his captors. Bill Clinton leveled up and chose the advanced move: animal speak and persuaded the guard guards to give up. After slipping into the alley and resting to recover, a mysterious old man approaches them…
Session 2 The old man turns out to the be the mysterious figure they followed prior to their escapade. The old man takes the two outlaws into his home and explains his dilemma with his kidnapped son and the plan the litros have to baptize him in Veridian, mutating him into a Litros. He supplies them with crossbows and gear and agrees to get them out of Burrowell if they succeed. His dog then leads them to the best route to the underground castle.
After a small journey through the castle, they come across towers with Gigantic Veridian Crystals. The crystals are networked to amplify smaller raw energy veridian, that Bill Clinton decides to keep for later. Into the main keep they engage in a large fight with a squad of Litros. Many good rolls later, one Litros remaining flees into the inner hall, dusty and dank with junk piled in the corners under tarps. In the room is also a small child caged, it’s the old man’s son. as our heroes stumble into the room the Litros breaks off the lock of the cage and tosses the rock at a large pile in the back, making a small clang. With one shot Bill Clinton downs the last Litros and all is well…
But interrupting the brief peace, the tarp begins to rise, from the back a single red light is visible from the tarp, followed by a vicious huge falchion enough to knock down a stone wall. Emerging from the heap, an Attack Bot painted Blue built for warfare marches out with four stout legs, a sword meant to siege walls in one hand, and a heavy crossbow in the other.
Attack Bot type Construct
HP: 5 Armor 5: Damage B2D10 (best out of 2 rolls) tags: Range: near reach forceful messy
Instinct to Hunt and Kill without abandon
Utilize Siege Weaponry and power
Lock on to a single target
Follow up all attacks with close pursuit
So just a quick note, like several large or epic monsters In Dungeon World, They do not possess impossible amounts of HP or are flat out invincible with no stats to limit them, with that said, this attack bot has 5 HP. Ok moving on.
The Mechanized Hunter takes action and lets loose a powerful bolt, then charges with it’s mighty sword. Hythus and Bill Clinton realize that even if they could fight it in the tight quarters, the child might end up as a casualty. Out into the courtyard they flee, the wall beside the door cracks as a heavy 20 ft blade crashes through the aged stone. Our heroes attempt to cut off the Attack Bot by using the castle gate, unfortunately bad luck catches Hythus as the robot cuts him off forcing him to flee inside the castle walls.
Cornered with the ceiling coming down, Hythus shapeshifts into his mighty bear form to wrestle and lock the robot into a grappling match, taking his full attention. Bill Clinton takes the opportunity to discover a weak spot between the neck and collar of the machine. But in a turn I still don’t truly understand, he pulls the raw Veridian Crystal from before and jams it into the inner workings. If it wasn’t clear before ill state it again, all the machines are powered by Veridian. The surge of energy passes into the attack bot ending it into an overdrive of frenzy, spinning wildly and straight up flinging chucks of the castle into rubble.
The Beast finally prevents a critical malfunction by restarting itself, leaving it utterly lifeless. Bill Clinton charges forth before Hythus can even suggest getting out of here with their lives. Bill Clinton brings his sword into the glass protecting the eye of the machine, and rolls below 6, only being to put a great crack before the red eye of death flickers on, and the machine whirs to a sudden start, with Bill in the Kill Zone…
GM: “The Attack Bot stares down and is readying his sword to end you! What do you do?”
Andrew: “I tuck and tumble trying to get back to Hythus!”
GM: “Defy Danger with Dex!”
rolls below 6
GM: “Oh man, you guys are the having the worst luck at the wrong time. You run only to place yourself into the path of his blade!”
GM: “8 damage, how much health you got left?”
Andrew: silence “I’m Dead!!”
GM: “…oh. uh… oh yeah wait um… you still have to defy death, to not die possibly.”
rolls below 6 sealing his fate
Everyone: “OH MY … WHAT *uproarious noises”
Bill Clinton got what I can say in fiction and in game terms, a fatality. As the Blade travels with unrelenting force, Bill Clinton’s upper body launches from his waist as his lower legs stumble and crash to the ground, we lost a great man that day. Hythus decides that now would be the best time to gun it and escape with the kid. The gate being closed still, he decides to draw upon mighty animal strength and pushes it open. But one problem remains, the child is being targeted by the Attack Bot…
GM: “The Attack Bot readies his crossbow as he menacingly marches towards the small helpless child! What do you do Hythus?”
Trevor: “Can I use my wolf form to attempt to pull down his leg?”
GM: “You can try. Defy Danger with Strength!”
GM: “Ok so as you pull the the robot he loses his footing and stumbles and loses balance, unfortunately his weight crushes on top of you.”
GM: “6 damage as his massive bulky frame crushes your canine form. Ignore armor and what’s your health?”
Trevor: “I’m Dead.”
Everyone: nearly screams in shock and looks to each other
GM: “…Defy Death? please?”
reluctantly rolls … … … … … … a 3
Silence, Dead Silence
GM: “Can I uh, can I, … Can I just state I didn’t expect this?”
And with the crack of a poor druid’s neck, the Player Characters were wiped out, by a robot with 5 HP, did not do any damage, roll more failures than even good characters could withstand, at the wrong time. The silver lining in this story is that the child did escape with the heroic sacrifice of Hythus and Bill Clinton.
And that is the first time I had to deal with a TPK. Hope you enjoyed this story.
BY Samuel “Arkein” Bogumill