Killing Adventurers

So, I believe the rules of the game are clear in that I can only kill characters when they’re injured/sick or during a kill conflict, or from the grind. This is fine a vast majority of the time but I’m having some problems with some specific cases.

In the case I’m thinking about the party bumped into a powerful creature and tried to drive it off. They failed the conflict and got captured. They escaped from their manacles (with a conditional success) and succeeded in a flee conflict to get away after that.

But I was left thinking about what I’d do if they had lost the flee conflict and gotten captured again. There might have been a few other moves they could have tried, but at some point it’s possible that they would have run out of options. It feels weird to me if I let them get into a cycle of escaping and trying to flee over and over until they manage to succeed. Is it acceptable to say at some point “You’re out of moves. He kills you”? Or am I required by the rules to find a way to avoid doing that until they either stop sucking it up/sweating it out, go for the kill, or die to the grind?

Nope I think its reasonable to say after a certain roll that a player could get killed. But it has to be a few not instantly, so reasonably I could see you being in your right mind to kill them if they got captured again.

Why don’t you just not make it a Conflict, give them a condition and allow them to flee successfully? Doesn’t that avoid the never ending escape cycle?

Conditions as part of a compromise is the way to go—it accelerates the Grind!

I suppose I could, but I tend to prefer Conflicts for big dramatic moments. It doesn’t feel right to me to summarize a clash with the big imposing boss of the dungeon with a single test. Doubly so if the only reason I’m doing it that way is GM sleight-of-hand to make sure I get the outcome I want out of it.

Totally an option if they get captured by mooks for some reason, though.

If you’re going to kill them off after multiple failed rolls, maybe give them the injured condition on one of the intermediate rolls. Giving out the injured condition is a good way of signalling to the players that death is on the line. Also, this circumvents the “tries to escape; fails roll and is captured; tries to escape fails; fails roll and is captured; etc.” loop mentioned above; instead, it becomes: tries to escape; fails roll; becomes injured but gets away.

Well the “problem” is that when they’re feeling especially threatened they will go into survival mode and just immediately suck it up/sweat it out as soon as they get injured/sick. I don’t have a problem with them playing that sort of way, but it does limit my options in that regard.

I’m definitely a fan of forcing a kill conflict after a failed flee. Force them into a corner where the only option is to fight their way out.

If they’re willing to eat the stat loss and suck it up, then that’s their prerogative.

I like it. Wouldn’t have helped in this case, though, because the monster was too mighty for them to try to kill at all. Which puts me right back in the spot of having to just declare what happens.

Yeah, absolutely. I don’t have a problem with that. But then I’m right back in the spot of either having to declare that they die anyway or letting them try to escape repeatedly and having to come up with increasingly implausible reasons why they’re not killed outright.

I apply the technique jared mentioned above, personally, although there are many good ones here.

Worth noting: you can’t suck it up while you’re running from a monster, or for that matter while you are captured, or in the dark. It is subject to the same restrictions as eating rations. You need a peaceful moment to do the actual physical tasks described by the rule. No sucking it up just before the disposition roll, punks!

Oh that’s a good point. I should probably be stricter about enforcing this. Thanks.

Just because the monster is too mighty for them to kill doesn’t mean that it’s not going to try to kill them. Asymmetric conflict types/goals are acceptable, and a forced kill/drive off or even kill/flee further conflict as the result of a failed Flee conflict would be fine.

1 Like

It’s not GM sleight if hand. It’s pacing. I think it’s fine to go to one roll if you’ve already had a drive off conflict and then a failed Flee conflict.

Two notes on becoming Injured in this circumstance:

  1. The Injured condition is acquired as part of the escape compromise. If you’re doing a single test to escape, then they become Injured but still escape. If it was a conflict, however, they might become Injured, but they fail to escape. That brings me to point #2.

  2. Sucking it up is not an instantaneous action. I know the book says you can do it “anytime”, but, as has been addressed in other posts, it does take time for thought and attention. (Bandages, splints, booze to numb the pain, whatever). Its more of a make-shift heal than anything else. That being said, if they fail the single roll but still escape, becoming as part of the compromise, if the monster immediately gives chase, they may not have time to suck it up. Then, after anther failed roll or a failed Chase conflict, they run the risk of becoming Injured again and being killed. If they originally fail in some kind of Escape conflict, they become Injured and are still captured. Their captivity may not allow them the time nor the comfort to suck it up. Further failed attempts at escape could result in death. Even if you allow them to suck it up, you could say that your previous failed escape has got the enemy on alert and all avenues of escape have been blocked. They have no choice but to fight their way out.

However, in this case, if they big baddy is too big and bad for the PCs to be a threat, you should really give them something. Maybe he leaves for some reason and leaves his underlings as guards? They might still be powerful, but not so much that the PCs aren’t a threat. If they fail THAT conflict, then part of the compromise might be that the big baddy comes back and eats one of the PCs to make an example of him.

I find, in circumstances like this, one failed skill test and one failed Conflict (in either order), with foreknowledge for the players that death is a risk, should result in at least one character death.