My Total Party Kills, Part One

As some of you may know, I am an avid role-player. I enjoy all sorts of role-playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons and Rolemaster. I want to tell you the story of three of my Total Party Kills (TPK’s).

Two of these occurred in one night, so I’ll start with them. We were playing in a newly created campaign world of my own devising. I was using some older modules to fill out my stock of adventures for this newly created world. We were playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st Edition.

One of these “filler” adventures was a module, now infamous amongst we old-timer AD&D players, called T1 The Village of Hommlet. Village of Hommlet was written by none other than Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons. It was a pure death-fest waiting to happen.

See, in the old days, the modules were written with the idea that the players would explore three-to-five rooms, then rest for a night to regain hit points and spells. It was thought that by doing this, the players would be able to handle somewhat greater challenges than would be normal for their levels. T1 was written for 1st-3rd level characters and since my players were starting brand spanking new 1st level characters, I expected that in some encounters they’d have a tough time, but, using the “3-5 Rule” they’d be okay.

This was not to happen, though.

Should've been called the Moathouse of Painful DEATH!

Should've been called the Moathouse of Painful DEATH!

My players, there were eight of them, had dutifully and with a minimum of winging about rolling only 3d6 once for each characteristic score, finished creating their characters. Of note was the parties Druid, but more on her later.

After a quick round of equipment buying, I began the adventure by saying something to the effect of, “You are in the village of Hommlet [I had changed the name of the village for my game to something else] and you’ve all heard the legends of the nearby moathouse, a bastion of evil that has terrorized the locals for sometime.” Or something to that effect.

The party, of course, was in the tavern and met there after listening to a few rumors and talking things out. After a few minutes of this, and a round of descriptions, the team of adventurers headed off to make trouble with the residents of the moathouse.

This would prove to be their undoing.

The group consisted of an elven ranger (a Drizzt clone, though not a drow), a paladin, a dwarf fighter, a wemic (part human/part lion, like a centaur is part human/part horse) thief, a human illusionist, a human monk, a half-elf cleric/magic-user, and the druid I mentioned earlier.

They lost the ranger to the bandits in the upper reaches of the crumbling structure. As I recall, he got peppered by crossbow bolts and died rather badly.

The wemic thief died when he ran into a room and didn’t realize the niches to either side of the room contained zombies that only activated when someone walked past the niche. He was cutoff and pummeled to death. The paladin was trying to organize a defense against them, but the cleric/mage (who didn’t bother to try to turn them) fell to them as well.

Later, the paladin and the dwarf fighter fell against the ogre in another room. The paladin, again, was trying to organize a defense and fighting withdrawal, but some of the other players weren’t listening.

The monk and the illusionist died in a stairwell on their way out when they hit a rather large patch of green slime. There is a larger patch in that stairwell, now.

That left the druid. She got away and lived to tell the tale.

What was so bad about all this, besides the bad tactics and not listening to each other, was that my players, my patient players, sat down, some still laughing, and made up a new batch of 1st level characters to go back in and finish the job.

While they did that, I calculated XP for the druid and informed her of her new total.

After the second group was created, I again began the adventure by saying, “You are in the village of Hommlet and you’ve all heard the legends of the nearby moathouse, a bastion of evil that has terrorized the locals for sometime.” Smiling, and knowing what was coming, they again entered the moathouse for another go. I forget the makeup of this second group, though. In the end, it didn’t matter. The druid, that ever resourceful druid, was the only character to survive the moathouse a second time.

While the players sat and created new characters, I, again, calculated the XP for the druid. This time, she had gained enough to be 2nd level and I allowed her to advance.

Again, laughing, some giving me stink eye, the players sat down and generated a third group of characters. After this was done, I, again, began the adventure by saying, “You are in the village of Hommlet and you’ve all heard the legends of the nearby moathouse, a bastion of evil that has terrorized the locals for sometime.”

Cries went up and paper wads flew at my face. “Enough!” They shouted. The moathouse would have to wait until they were higher level. They moved off to find adventure elsewhere.

That third group of adventurers lasted for sometime, with the party finally getting to 6th-9th level before inter party conflict (and conflict among the players) tore the group up for a bit. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

So, that’s my TPK (well, almost) for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st Edition. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about my true TPK in HERO Games’ “Day of the Destroyer” module.

About WonderGoon

WonderGoon is seeking enlightenment and questions everything.
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5 Responses to My Total Party Kills, Part One

  1. storydad says:

    Being the Human Monk of the above story, all I can say is good times.

    There was a concept in module design back then, that good dungeons must be meat grinders at the suggested level. Most of those games were meant to be one shot run-throughs, with little thought to an ongoing campaign. The moathouse is a fine example of this.

    Just take a look at the suggested levels on the cover of many of those old modules, and then flip to the back of the book with the pre-generated characters meant to be challenged by the module. Often they were 2-5 levels higher than the highest recommended level.

    Still, that place indeed consumed all but one PC, Twice. Even more amusing for the same PC surviving both times. Sometimes it’s true: Better to run away and fight another day. Good Times. 🙂


  2. Skatha says:

    I wish I understood any of what you just said. 😦 I feel so stupid not understanding any of D&D all the while knowing it was the precursor to the only game I play: WoW. *sigh*


    • WonderGoon says:

      No worries, Skatha. I did write the post thinking that whoever read it would have some knowledge of AD&D/D&D to begin with. If you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll answer them as best I can.



  3. storydad says:

    There’s not much to understand beyond the high level concepts you’d be familiar with from any fantasy RPG, WOW included. Even if comparing WOW to AD&D makes my skin crawl. 🙂

    What made that particular session so devastating that it killed us all was a perfect storm of module, players, and sheer bad luck.

    Some of the us were very new, some were… not tactical thinkers, and some were experianced and long time members of this group. Some of us died to things like an Ogre vs. level 1 characters—Let’s just say that Ogres have eaten lots of level 1’s in their time, and giving it a halberd was just mean on the writer’s part. Some died to carelessness—running down a hall and setting off every zombie in the area. Some died to plain poor dice rolls, Murphy’s Law was in serious effect that night—if it could go wrong, it did.

    Sometimes it was just plain bad luck—both the Druid and my Monk decided to run out of the place at the same time. She was near the door we came in, I was blocked from getting there by enemies, but was by a staircase. She went out her door and escaped, I went up the stairs to look for a window–as a monk, I could fall a fair distance without injury. Sadly, a green slime was on the ceiling of the staircase, and that’s bad stuff. Any motion in it’s area causes it to fall on the victim, who then has a random 1-4 rounds to burn it off with fire and thus damage yourself or get a cure disease spell cast on you. We were first level, Cure Disease was a couple of levels above what we could cast—and I had 1 round to set myself on fire, but no fire was at hand. Anyone killed by green slime becomes part of that slime and makes the patch bigger.

    As such, that character is now hanging out in an abandoned moathouse somewhere, waiting for someone else to walk under him to be devoured.

    Like I said, Good Times. We still laugh about this to this day.


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