Achievement Unlocked: First TPK

Happy Easter Sunday! 

It seems appropriate to tell a story about death on Easter. So, gather round as I spin you a tale about the first Total Party Kill or TPK I had.

So, let’s clarify something. In Dungeons & Dragons, your character will likely die. Circe, the character I had been playing in this mini-campaign had already died twice by this point. However, there is also a chance that your entire party will die in an encounter, which is where the term TPK comes from. Sooner or later, everyone experiences a TPK. It’s an inevitability, to the point that it is somewhat considered a milestone.

Let’s set the scene. We were playing a mini-campaign called Dead in Thay, one of the stories in the Tales from the Yawning Portal sourcebook. To make a long story short, there is an evil lich named Szass Tam. You are tasked with going into the Doomvalt to destroy his Phylacterys, defeat his followers and finish Szass Tam once and for all.

Sounds simple enough, but to do so you need to ruin these gates and frankly, it made little to no sense to me. Luckily, I was playing an idiot so I didn’t need to understand since she couldn’t anyway. 

Speaking of said idiot, her name was Circe and she was a triton sorcerer. When I say she was dumb, I am not exaggerating. My girl had an intelligence score of 8, meaning she had a -1 modifier. She was dumb but charming and streetwise. Like her mythological namesake, she could turn men into pigs but only did that once. In-game, I kept spamming Fireball with Careful Spell. More or less nuking the battlefield while keeping my party safe.

Somehow, despite being the dumbest character I have ever played, she ended up using smarter tactics and fighting strategies than Autumn, who had an intelligence score of 20. She was also my first non-edgy character who was a somewhat decent person. I already told my friends that I fully intend on playing her again.

She sounds like a powerful character, and she was. Thing is, as a sorcerer her HP wasn’t the best and she had a bad time with saving throws. On her first death, she ended up getting eaten by a dragon-like monster. Fun. Thing is, she was brought back using the Raise Dead spell. This meant she had a −4 penalty to all rolls, making the rest of the combat even harder.

Only for her to die again, I am not sure how that happened (damn you, terrible memory!)but thanks to that, her penalty became -7. 

The rest of the party was a cleric NPC named Nine, A fire genasi monk named Burner and a dragonborn barbarian whose name I forgot. We did have a paladin before the barbarian joined but he got into a fight with a vampire, resulting in several innocent NPC deaths. He was then made a thrall and the rest of the party just sort of let that happen, washed their hands of said paladin and went on their way. So his player had to use a different character.

We managed to complete three sessions, then the TPK happened. Of all the rooms we could have gone into, it just to happened we went into the room with the BBEG. 

We put up a brave fight in fairness, but we were simply no match for him and his death knights. Circe was the first to fall, after that, each party member was taken down one by one. Circe got thrown down into a spiked pit three times before being finished off. Possibly a more painful if not humiliating death than the dragon one. She did her best, but that -7 ruined any chance she had.

How I felt nearing the end of the game

To be honest, once I went down I realised unless they managed to escape, they had no chance. Then, I kind of stopped caring. It wasn’t a sad or infuriating event to me after that, instead, it was rather funny. I started chanting “TKP!” over and over and couldn’t stop laughing.

By the time the whole party died, we were all laughing. It wasn’t too serious since this was a mini-campaign after all, it was only meant to last another one or two sessions anyway. Had this happen in a proper campaign, I would be livid. 

Ultimately, I am glad I got off somewhat easy for a first TPK. I just hope it doesn’t happen again any time soon.

4 thoughts on “Achievement Unlocked: First TPK

Add yours

  1. Rest in Piece Circe!

    My first TPK happened in a game called Malifeaux, also known as Trough the Breach, which uses normal playing cards instead of dice rolls which player may change by playing cards from their hands.
    This game since using a deck only has a 1/54 ( a red joker for postivr crits, and a black joker for negative crits) so its a lot worse if neg crit happend.
    We played a variation where if both crits left the deck, we reshuffled.
    I started the fight with Black joker and immediatly broke my arm, the postive crit was burned on something stupid. The next player immediatly drew the black joker again and got one-shot. We were fighting what basically was a party variant but with darker flavour.
    We managed to take down the guy that gave us so much trouble.. but he ended up exploding due to another black joker. I stood there on as the only survivor, with still 3 enemies to beat. I did not live long as I quickly got gunned down.

    Like you, it was a mini campaign… Well more a taste of a new ruleset, but dm would we made it to thr finale of where we would get..but we just missed thr final encounter with insanely bad luck

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s a very good and fun ruleset to play with and the module that comes with it is quite facinating. Samurai with Gatteling Guns, Necromancer Cancan dancers, And Sherrif’s that are kind of like Ghost Rider!

        Your abilities more than being actual game abilities are about manipulating luck and getting cards to your hand.. so you can succeed your actions and all! Really neat gameplay! Worth checking out!

        Liked by 2 people

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