Chgowiz has a great write-up today about a Total Party Kill (two, actually) that happened to his group. It sounds like the characters who had survived the first portion of combat had a chance to flee, and did not, preferring to take their chances in combat. The result? Bye-bye party.
I want to focus on that Troll Mage Chgowiz had out there as the party’s adversary. TPKs suck, but some good can still come out of them. Imagine the rumors that start to fly about that troll, for example, rumors that turn into tales that grow with each telling.
“Two bands of adventurers went into the Troll’s bog….and were never heard from again!”
“I heard he froze an entire party solid!”
One of the things about running a world where adventuring parties can make their mark is that the baddies can grow with them. Adventures get slaughtered, and a legend is born.
Seriously, what better way for a group to make their reputation than to take down an enemy which has hitherto seemed invincible? It’s yet another case of the reward and sense of accomplishment being linked to the heightened sense of danger and risk.
Play it up. Have well-meaning nobles put a massive bounty on the Troll’s Head. Have bards scare the wee’uns with tales of Crooknose the Troll Mage, who eats adventurers and bad children whole. Caravan guards won’t travel that way, and merchants are beside themselves as a result.
You start with an adversary. You just might end up with a bona fide Legend.