I had my first ever Total Party Kill as a GM last night, and it was during the very last fight with the bad guy at the end of a short Dragon Warriors campaign I’ve been running since the beginning of the year.
I feel bad that the PCs were killed, but I don’t feel guilty about it. The thing is, during the last few weeks I dropped plenty of hints, clues and even showed them the effect of certain things against demonic creations, and they never caught on. I think they were distracted by trying to outdo each other in the jokes department, talked about other stuff whilst I was explaining or describing things and basically didn’t pay attention. At the very end of the adventure, just before the TPK, they let one of their party die while they all fought a single opponent – they could have quite easily saved him with a healing tonic that they all had, the very same healing tonics they didn’t use during the final fight - and didn’t work together as a team. I didn’t set out to kill them, it was just a case of very bad forward planning on their part and some incredibly unlucky dice rolls.
After the event, I asked the question, ‘Where do you think you went wrong?’ The answers they gave me told me that they knew what they should have done and how they should have done it – they just didn’t do it.
I’m honestly baffled.