Two TPK in 3 hours.

Yesterday I shared my rules for Strip D&D 1 and some of my thinking. (One thing I really like is the movement.) Today, it’s time to talk about how it went.

I was not confident I could put together something balanced and groovy for the characters, and I figured doing something published was a good idea anyway to try out the whole conversion idea. I went to Dragonsfoot and picked a scenario. I wanted to avoid anything with orcs and goblins and kobolds; we’ve killed all that at first level before. Monkeys with poisonous stingers? Cool!

Well, let us have a moment of silence for Achmed, Lucas, Gordy, Fabioso, Joachim, Teax, Mr. Clean, Marshall, and Lid. All those characters bit it, two waves in 3 hours.

The first group went down to a handful of 2 HD rats. The second group went down after exploring the exterior of the setting, and in a random encounter with poisonous giant spiders. Is this because of my inexperience working with B/X lethality? In part. Could they have acted differently? It might have mattered, who knows. Is it the fault of the scenario? Not really.

My players were good sports with the first TPK, but after the second, while we were still laughing and having a good time, the level of frustration at the table was really high. I got my test, and we quit while we were not too far behind.

I could break it down more, but there’s no reason. I learned some valuable lessons, and furthermore, I don’t think my players will be eager to try this out again (even tweaked) if they are willing to try again at all.

The  paucity of choice reflected in the combat system (compared to my other games) left them cold, and they don’t have to start so totally low powered in any of our other games. They do not buy into the Old School ethos, and we aren’t going to devote the kind of time we’d need to devote to give them a chance to build canny, cunning characters they are proud of through sheer dint of survival.

So, a great exercise, and something to put in my back pocket to maybe revisit later. Also, the first and only time I’ve ever had 2 TPKs in 3 hours. I guess that’s something.

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7 Responses to Two TPK in 3 hours.

  1. Tim D. says:

    Ummm, congratulations? Our sympathy? Not sure exactly how to respond to that. Pretty sure I’ve never had a TPK before, so your hat-trick is pretty impressive. Or oppressive.

    Rename your game Old-School Paranoid maybe???

  2. fictivite says:

    Yeah, I was play testing and I learned an important lesson. Start smaller with the monsters, these guys are tissue paper.

    I still think the system has merit. I just need to give them a less dangerous place to explore.

  3. Tim D. says:

    Hmmm, smaller monsters?

    Smaller than giant rats? Like maybe “kinda bigger than normal rats”? The infamous “Loud Noise” from Killing Dr. Lucky?

    Nothing that says Heroic Warrior than proudly slaying mean looking pigeons…

  4. fictivite says:

    Not so much that, I mean the rats were 2 HD; that’s more like rats the size of a Doberman with corded muscle as hard as wood. It’s the threat that needs to be smaller. That’s doable, for sure. I still want them to live long enough to face poison-stinger sweet-smelling monkeys…

  5. Jack Colby says:

    Less monsters is easier than weaker monsters, as a rule. The more monsters, the more attacks per round, and the more chances they have to kill PCs before the PCs can kill them.

  6. fictivite says:

    Yeah, a few orcs are easier to deal with than a swarm of kobolds. Back when I played B/X I had a kid who was excited to play, made an enormous fighter with plate mail and a two handed sword. Got himself perished by kobolds; I was a softie and had them capture him. He immediately tried to escape and was mowed down.

    Respect the fist-full of to-hit dice…

  7. I’ve had death by ghouls in two campaigns, but they’re deadlier than rats. Still, anytime a ghoul pops up now, the players are scared and usually run 🙂

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