01 June 2014


Special thanks to Penny Arcade for this comic.

I've been accused of having an adversarial GM'ing style; of creating killer dungeons.

A good hunk of the perception is the subject matter and I run internally consistent realistic worlds.  Plus GURPS.

In GURPS guns are lethal.  Hard vacuum is lethal.  Falls from remarkably short heights are lethal...

Unforgiving might be a better description of my GM style.  The players claim they love my military games like SEALs and Twilight 2000; and they get killed a lot there.

If magic or ultra-tech is available, PC deaths become very rare.

The most common way to die in one of my worlds is really from me misreading the capabilities of the party.

In the magic Old West I pitted them against a monster that turned out to be a lot tougher than the party and it killed or maimed them all.

In a Traveller conversion I really thought that the one player remaining on the ship could jury-rig something to get the drives re-lit and avoid being shot down by the high port's defenses.

Occasionally I am not the culprit.

In a cyberpunk campaign I allowed Gold-Cross.  Gold Cross is from Car Wars and is resurrection using a clone and a personality copy taken from the person's brain.  In Car Wars all you need is the head.  In the edition of Ultra-Tech we were using, you needed the spine as well.

A PC had been killed by a bad roll against supposedly non-lethal taser rounds.  The party couldn't haul his body around, but remembering that "all you need is the head and a drop of blood..."  Lopped off his melon and carried through the rest of the session.  Only to discover that they'd left behind an essential part...


  1. I've had far too many campaigns I've played in where literally every fight (mandatory fights, of course) was nearly a TPK. I've also had plenty of experience with fights that aren't really much of a threat, and they just kind of turn into a way to burn a while of gameplay. Getting it right, enough to be actually a threat without being a party wipe is the key.

    Most of those fights, I wound up bailing the party out using whatever the system's suppressing fire rules were and a lot of ammo. Had one GM (the worst offender for almost-party-kills) express substantial surprise at my character having 10 magazines as the combat load for his primary weapon, a future AK, stating that he never carried or needed more than two with his characters. He had thought I should be out of ammo after hearty applications of long bursts and suppression fire, only to find that I still had 8 full mags.

    1. I had a handout with the TO&E and how many magazines they would have been taught to carry for T2K. Like 7 in the pouches and one in the gun for an M16. They very rarely went through even one magazine and combat lasted about ten seconds game time.

      Then I started applying the rules for spotting the targets and obscuring things like smoke, rain, darkness or even tall grass. Combine that with fright checks for being under suppressing fire... Then popping anyone who dared held still and aimed in a fully developed firefight. Suddenly they were suppressing too and the 240 rounds issued seems like not near enough.


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