Party pooper: 5 ways to wipe out your D&D party

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I can already picture my players as they’re reading this! Relax, I don’t intend to wipe out my party and I don’t suggest that anyone should plan to kill all the PCs in their game. But…

If I’m going to kill a PC I might as well do it right

And if I’m wiping out a party I’ll definitely make sure I make it memorable – maybe even fun! There aren’t many reasons to do this – becoming a nun, leaving to climb Mt. Everest without a guide, or taking a vacation in the Gaza strip could be reason enough to think the game will never be played again. Or maybe your players are incorrigible – even after you’ve thrown dice at them. In these rare cases you might need…

5 ways to wipe out a Dungeons & Dragons party

  • Make it heroic
    • The players might not mind as much if they feel like they chose to die for some greater cause – saving the world, getting a kitten off a tree, whatever.
  • Make it a superhuman feat
    • Killing a thousand orcs on the field of battle before being overrun by another thousand of them should leave the players with a feeling of satisfaction. If you don’t think 1000 orcs is impressive enough to make your party feel good just make it 2000.
  • Use the why won’t you die technique
    • Find a reason for the PCs to be able to absorb an incredible amount of damage before they die – a la Faromir in the LOTR. I think having an NPC – ideally an interesting NPC – scream “Why won’t they die?” will have a positive and lasting effect on party members – even after they get wiped out.
  • Make it gory
    • Vivid description of the scene is the key here. Nasty wounds on the battlefield. Torture. Being eaten by an undead. You name it. I would hope that if the scene is impressive enough, the players would remember it fondly even though their characters died in it.
  • Go apocalyptic
    • If everyone else dies with their characters, the players shouldn’t hold it against you.

Have you ever been happy your character died?

Let me know if you have any ideas about this. What kind of death is acceptable for a PC?

39 thoughts on “Party pooper: 5 ways to wipe out your D&D party”

  1. Hi everyone,
    I managed to kill all my players this weekend during my game. (they are all level 9)
    I had made up an invasion of Advanced 8HD ghasts in a tavern in town.
    In the morning, the tavern was full of Ghasts and a Gravetouched Ghoul rogue level 10 was running the whole thing from the basement.
    3 stairs could be found to get to the basement but one of them was hidden behind a curtain that the heroes never checked.
    They went down without even planing the ” who goes first” and got killed one after the other while a bunch of Ghasts were hacking them to peices from behind, no way for them to escape.
    Even the one that had regeneration 1 per round got killed first so the Ghast now have unlimited food till the gravetouched ghoul decides to make the coup de grace…

    Thanks for all you do for us Dungeon Mastering Experts!

  2. Hi this is a random question but I’m hoping you may be able to help out. My bf is having a D&D party this weekend and I was wondering about suggestions for what kind of food to make for them. I’m not very familiar with these type of gatherings and I don’t want to screw it up. Any ideas, tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  3. best death i almost had was fighting on a cliff side tossing gnolls off of it rolling a natural one for a grab then rolling on the crit miss table and getting “thrown d20 feet in a random direction” luckily i was thrown away from the edge but it was a very intense roll of the scatter die

  4. The best character death I’ve ever suffered came from my dwarf Baerys going deeper and deeper down the path toward evil to gain information about the twin who had been abducted after the slaughter of her entire clan when she learned that her twin still lived.

    An angelic avenger of Moradin came and asked her to repent for killing innocents and lying and forging to gain information. When she refused, she was forced to fight to the death with the angel and while the rest of her party tried to help her, she went down although her body was never recovered.

    This also happened the week that I got the PHB2 and discovered the shifter beast master ranger class, thus bringing the character Umbra of the Hunter’s Moon (and her wolf companion Shadow of Sehanine) to life.

  5. Once when my character died (not as a TPK) I asked to roleplay death. I went to the realms of the gods and got a nifty new power in AD&D (which wasn’t even introduced until 3.0)

  6. Haha i like these. might be good when i decide to end my story so i can make someone else dm.
    As for times i’ve been happy with a character’s death…

    This one time i was playing a barbarian. my rage was running out and so was my hp, but there was still a pit-fiend left working us ever closer to a tpk. (total party kill, idk if it’s D&D or just house slang) The DM told me i could come out of my rage and just go down to 0 hp, because if if i were to take any more damage and come out of rage, i would die. Being a found role player my answer was a solid HELL NO! I CONTINUE WITH MY RAGE! So in the end i managed to drag the pit-fiend to hell with me. Death well spent, and better remembered. DM was so interested by it, that he even added in a special weapon that was basically my barbarian’s old +3 mithril greatsword, but now jet black and dealing +5 fire damage as an easter egg in the return journey to that dungeon.

  7. My lvl 6 goblin scout got fireballed by the party’s sorceress because it was dark; she only saw the blue Slaad I was fighting at the edge of illumination, and thought it would be clever to burninate it, and due to a Curse I suffered 2 sessions back I missed the reflex save by 2. I died with a cheer on my face because I found it quite slapstick-y. Also, to relieve the DM and to stay occupied, I got to play the Slaad, threw a Chaos Hammer on the Palladin, and accidentally killed the DM’s Invisible Stalker: RETALLIATION!

  8. I was happy my character died in a game but that was because there was no challenge and the game sucked

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