All joking aside my RPGs tend not to be that lethal when it comes to character deaths if I am perfectly honest, this is normally due to a mixture of factors, including me erring on the side of caution when it comes to creating encounters and also because I mostly play in systems that are slightly more heroic in scope rather than gritty, low-power settings and systems where death is a constant companion. However for the first time the other day I very nearly had a TPK in my regular Star Wars game, with only one of the four player characters escaping to fight another day.
The basic plot of the session was that the PCs were infiltrating an Imperial Base to retrieve some artifacts that were once believed to have belonged to the Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn, to cut a long story short they succeeded in taking out the comms from the base and knocking almost everyone on the base out using nerve gas planted in the ventilation system. However from my notes I knew that the lower level (where the goodies were stored) had a seperate air system and an Imperial Inquisitor guarding it on behalf of Lord Vader. I dropped a fair few hints that there was something nasty in the lower levels, but the players plan involved them effectively all going down one-by-one to confront whatever it was.
Now I’d statted the Inquisitor to be fairly nails in hand-to-hand combat (double-ended lightsaber the lot) but less effective at a distance, assuming that the players would stand back as a group and pound the Inquisitor with blast fire until she dropped… well you know what they say about assumptions?
Now to be fair to the players the Inquisitor had the ability to deflect blaster bolts using her lightsaber but this was a limited, strain based manoeuvre that could only be done so many times, the PCs actually got the Inquisitor down to only a couple of wounds remaining, but the single file nature of their attack allowed her to close on them and bring the lightsaber down, and that sh*t hurts… bad.
We finished the session with the last remaining PC fleeing the planet, the droid K5 was decapitated, Jeraath the Twi’lek had been ripped apart by the Force and Trent was at the mercies of the Inquisitor and her shortly arriving master Lord Vader. We started to discuss what to do next but, given that it has been getting harder and harder to get most of the players to commit to a regular time-slot and that one of the players was not really enjoying the Star Wars background (which to be fair didn’t come as a surprise since we had talked about it) it seemed like a good time to call it day for my regular group and we wrapped it up there.
I produced a short epilogue video for the game that you can see here:
I did feel a little bad that so many PCs got taken out in the session, however, I’ve never been one to shy away from character fatalities if that’s how the dice have fell so I went through with it, roleplaying the merciless Chiss Inquisitor how I thought that she would react to the unfolding.
In retrospect I perhaps should’ve had the Inquisitor confront the PCs as a group or have hinted to them more strongly that, perhaps rushing in one at a time wasn’t the best idea, but I suppose that’s the benefit of hindsight; so now my regular Star Wars game has come to a close, there’s talk of me running some D&D 5th Edition for my regular group, which I quite fancy, although I’m not massively familiar with the rules of the current edition so I’ll have a bit of reading to do.
So does this mean I’m going to be abandoning Star Wars for D&D?
No of course not, whilst my regular group won’t be playing Star Wars any more (at least not on a bi-weekly basis) I still have a number of one-shots and a darkside Inquisitor based trilogy forthcoming. I’ve got lots more ideas for Star Wars games and plan to continue running them for the Tides of Change group and whoever wants to play in them.