[[quoteright:330:[[TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/KillerGM_Draft.JPG]]]]
[[caption-width-right:330:Never argue with the GM.]]

->''"You ever get the feeling that universe is a vast, impersonal emptiness that exists to only hurt you?"''
->''" Yes, it's how we know DM is doing his job."''
-->-- '''Black Mage''' and '''Red Mage''', ''8-Bit Theater''

Opposite to the MontyHaul GameMaster who heaps rewards by the truckful upon his players, the Killer Game-Master has set himself up as a hostile entity playing ''against'' them. To this guy, it hasn't been a good day until the players have been forced to roll up several new characters in a single session. In short, this GameMaster subscribes to the [[http://web.archive.org/web/20080212091754/http://atrocities.primaryerror.net/rpgcliches.html Amber Law]] of gaming; the game session is a zero-sum battle of wits between players and GM, and the GM holds all the cards. For exactly this reason, the Killer Game-Master is in most cases considered the biggest example of what a GameMaster ''shouldn't'' be. Since the GM has the ability to [[RocksFallEveryoneDies kill off the entire party at will at any time]], his "winning" such a battle is hardly an accomplishment.

Any world in his hands will inevitably turn into a CrapsackWorld where [[EverythingTryingToKillYou every innocent-looking item]] will turn out to be a DeathTrap which kills the player without so much as a saving throw, every magic item they pick up [[PoisonMushroom will be cursed]] or [[ArtifactOfDoom even worse]], ''no'' NPC (''especially'' not the friendly ones) can be trusted, and their every deed will lead to [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption miserable failure]] or end up [[UnwittingPawn helping the forces of Darkness (or Light, if your band of adventurers is a bunch of evil doers)]]. They won't be crushing orcs or goblins at level one, they'll be getting curbstomped by ancient red dragons and tarrasques. And frequently, they'll have to make Dexterity checks to avoid ''randomly tripping and falling down''.

If there are [[ThePaladin paladins]] or other characters who depend on a certain alignment, this may also extend to making such characters "fall" for such small things that it effectively becomes impossible to actually stay a character of this type for very long. An example of this would be loss of Paladinhood for even the smallest non-combat interaction with an evil character, whose alignment is only revealed after you lose Paladin abilities, as the Paladin code forbids association with characters that you know are evil. Another common 'Killer DM' response to Paladins is to place them in a situation where the paladin [[SadisticChoice must commit an evil act or die/cause the end of the world]]. You can tell if this is the work of a 'killer' if the GameMaster actively torpedoes any attempt to TakeAThirdOption.

The simplest and most brazen of these will simply [[RocksFallEveryoneDies collapse the dungeon on the players]] the moment they enter it. The more subtle have a habit of making life for the average PlayerCharacter a living hell where he will [[ButtMonkey perpetually]] [[ChewToy suck]]. Going OffTheRails is your only hope, and even then you should keep an eye out for [[RocksFallEveryoneDies falling rocks]]. If the players are competent enough [[MinMaxing minmaxers]] (or if the group sports a bona-fide {{Munchkin}} -- actually, a Killer Game Master is what happens when a Munchkin becomes a Game Master), this kind of DM may be necessary just to give them a challenge. Conversely, of course, these kinds of game masters can actually inspire MinMaxing in their players, as they feel they need to do so just to survive a given DM's game.

Some of the oldest ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' modules seemed to encourage this sort of [[TrialAndErrorGameplay trial-and-error]], NintendoHard gameplay, such as the infamous ''TabletopGame/TombOfHorrors''. Creator/GaryGygax, one of the two creators of ''D&D'', has often been accused of viewing the game as a competition between players and DM, when in actuality, he counseled ''against'' the Killer Game-Master approach in the various ''D&D'' manuals (since a DM who sucks all the fun out of the game is likely to no longer ''have'' a game; the players always have the option of [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere just getting up and going home]]), and the "meat-grinder" dungeons that he made were designed for use in tournaments, where the winning team was the one that survived the dungeon with the most characters still standing. Sometimes, entire ''game settings'' lend themselves to games where a TotalPartyKill is not a question of ''if'', but ''when''.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The ''Manga/YuGiOh'' manga and its first anime adaptation is this trope taken to its ultimate extreme: the DM (Ryo Bakura, or at least [[SplitPersonality his dark side]]) is not just intending for the players to lose, he's actually outright cheating and even goes as far as to ''invoke evil magic'' against them. Getting a natural 99 or cheating on ''their'' side traps all of the players in their figurines -- and by the rules of the game, if their characters run out of HP or the figurines break, they're dead. The trouble for Dark Bakura starts when his good side (a much fairer DM) starts screwing with him... He actually avoids [[RocksFallEverybodyDies instantly killing the entire party]], instead giving them a (.96)^3 chance of dying (which he considered merciful).
* ''LightNovel/SwordArtOnline'''s BigBad Kayaba Akihiko, despite his initial "Zero HP equals real death" rule successfully turning an MMORPG into a CrapsackWorld, doesn't seem to be satisfied enough. [[spoiler:He disguises himself as Knights of the Blood's guild leader as he will lead the members to the top floor then perform an epic betrayal to kill everyone.]] Fortunately, his plan is foiled by the protagonist. [[spoiler:Though his planned epic betrayal on the final floor intended to reveal himself as the TrueFinalBoss for a legitimate fight, and Akihiko apparently would've been satisfied even if the players had managed to overcome his ultimate challenge.]]

[[folder:Card Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/NinjaBurger'' is similar to ''Paranoia'', in that it's designed to be extremely easy to die. Simply being seen by an NPC could result in an invisible ninja running up and cutting your head off. Or even "An NPC saw you. You must commit Seppuku." Yes, the game has an actual mechanic for seppuku.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The DM in the [[ComicBook/ChickTracts Jack Chick]] tract [[http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.ASP "Dark Dungeons"]] is evil to the point of declaring a player character dead without even giving the character's player a saving throw. This will remain true in the live-action movie based upon the comic. ''[[http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/295102457/rpgs-are-evil-dark-dungeons-the-movie Dark Dungeons: The Movie!]]'' is currently being funded on Kickstarter. The [[http://blog.fantasyheartbreaker.com/2010/04/21/whatever-happened-to-elfstar/ "good version" fanfic]] [[AlternateCharacterInterpretation actually gives her a motive]]: she's only a Killer GM to that ''one'' player, because she's jealous and wants to drive her away.\\\
She has a motive in the tract, as well. She's using the game to find out whether or not the players are worthy of learning "real" witchcraft. The player who let her character die was too weak. Note that since these tracts are designed to teach the truth about non-Christian (i.e. "incorrect") lifestyles, the logical conclusion of this is that Jack Chick thinks witchcraft (as it's portrayed in ''Dungeons & Dragons'') is real.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/KnightsOfTheDinnerTable'':
** B.A. Felton is sometimes accused by his players of being this, although in fact their characters' demise is more often brought about by [[TooDumbToLive their own stupidity]]. B.A. tries to craft elaborate adventures involving roleplay, diplomacy, and intrigue but the players (minus Sarah most of the time) immediately opt for Hack and Slash at the first opportunity. B.A. started out as a bit of a control freak, but the killer GM tendencies came later after Brian and Bob had trashed one too many of his adventures.
** On the other hand, "Weird" Pete makes every gamer in Muncie tremble when he steps behind the screen. The Knights played one session run by him while B.A. was out of town. He wiped out the entire party five minutes into the session with no die rolls, entirely by GM fiat. His campaign world is so [[EverythingTryingToKillYou ridiculously lethal]] no-one has survived beyond third level in it. Lampshaded with his "Temple of Horrendous Doom", which [[spoiler:requires the characters to die before they can even start the dungeon.]]
*** He met his match with Sara, however. His attempts to kill her character were all {{Epic Fail}}s, because she was just too savvy. Even when he gets frustrated and pulls out the RocksFallEveryoneDies maneuver, Sara simply invokes a magical debt to survive it and then uses class level skills to begin digging her way out.
** Crutch's Crime Nation game has an incredibly high mortality rate, and yet is incredibly popular with players.
* ''ComicStrip/FoxTrot''
** In one storyline, Jason convinces Paige to play a game of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' with him as the DM. After a week's worth of strips of Paige creating characters for her party, Jason [[RocksFallEveryoneDies causes the cave to collapse, killing everyone]], on her very first turn. Followed, of course, by:
--->'''Jason:''' Your bodies will remain undiscovered for... (''roll roll roll'') ...82 centuries!
** Jason also creates equally sadistic dungeons for his friend Marcus in several strips. Only Marcus ''actually enjoys it.'' Jason and Marcus's ''D&D'' games tend to be a bit... extreme. There was an instance of an Elven archer [[ImprobableAimingSkills taking out 10,000 orcs with one shot.]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* A meta-example: Earth Scorpion partially writes ''Fanfic/AeonNatumEngel'' as an imaginary tabletop RPG session. Which explains a lot actually.
* Mewgle, in the Pokemon Fanfic, ''FanFic/LatiasJourney''. [[spoiler:Much more so the second, third, and fourth times around]]. He also returns for ''Fanfic/BraveNewWorld'' as a ''literal'' GM, and ends up being banished by the "Holy Dice of St. Gygax".
* Not so subtly implied of Carapace in the ''Blog/ReadingRainbowverse''. She has an obsession with flaming spike traps.
* Although Natural Twenty is this in ''FanFic/TheVinylAndOctaviaSeries'', he claims that he does so to be realistic and that he's not being unfair. Nopony buys it.
* In ''Fanfic/PonyPOVSeries'', Shining Armor and his friends are playing a friendly game of Oubliettes & Ogres when the [[ClockRoaches Blank Wolf]] [[DemonicPossession takes over]] Gaffer's body and ''turns'' him into a Killer Game Master. He separates Shining's character from the party and attacks him with a version of the Blank Wolf, and actively resists Shining's attempts to flee or fight back and his party's attempts to assist him. It is implied that the in-game Blank Wolf killing Shining's character would have resulted in the same fate for the real one. Fortunately, the Wolf is forced to leave when one of Shining's friends attempts a HeroicSacrifice for him (one rule the Blank Wolf ''cannot'' break is that it cannot harm anyone except its targets).

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Daniel in the anti-RPG scare film ''Film/MazesAndMonsters'' doesn't even let Jay-Jay roll to see if he survives diving into a pit. A pit with ''gem-encrusted spikes''. The team also does not attempt to get enough money to revive him (such as by ''prying the gems off the spikes''). Daniel don't even let him just roll a new character at the required level -- Daniel just declares the entire campaign over and done with! So... basically, about as accurate as you'd think a film like this would be. In his defense, Daniel didn't actually shut down the game then and there; Jay-Jay just proposed his own {{LARP}}-ish idea, which apparently put Daniel's campaign on hold or ended it. Plus, it's very strongly implied Jay-Jay was blatantly being TooDumbToLive so he could derail the game to make his pitch.
* In ''Film/TheCabinInTheWoods'', [[spoiler: being this trope in RealLife is Hadley's and Sitterson's ''profession''.]] And the players don't even know that they are playing a game, let alone what its rules are.
* ''Film/TheHungerGames'': Seneca and the rest of his staff gleefully manipulate the environment to make a good show, but they at least don't try to ''directly'' kill the participants. Until the endgame, that is, where they start unleashing ravenous hounds to kill off the people they don't want winning.

* The ''Literature/LoneWolf'' series absolutely counts as written by one. The second volume is especially infamous as it can result in, among other things, an unwinnable situation because a key item was stolen from you and never recovered, and an instant death outcome because you didn't fetch a magical weapon (which itself can become an instadeath situation because fetching it puts you against one of the strongest enemies in the book with no warning whatsoever). And that's just two of the many, many deaths you can experience in the average ''Lone Wolf'' book. The sheer amount of bad ends in this series is staggering, and the enemies you meet in the later books can be absurd, to say the least (the Chaos-master and the Ruel Giganites come to mind).

* At the beginning of the third book in Creator/PeterDavid's ''Literature/SirAproposOfNothing'' series, Apropos plays a roleplaying game (though not called that, since it's already in a fantastic medieval setting) with a ''literal'' killer game master named... [[HurricaneOfPuns Ronnell McDonnell]], of the Clan [=McDonnel=]. (Apropos eventually bests him... and blows a hole in the ship they were all travelling in at the time.)
* In Sharyn [=McCrumb=]'s ''Literature/BimbosOfTheDeathSun'', Jay Omega plays Killer Game-Master in order to try and ferret out the killer of a famous fantasy author: [[spoiler:He kills the hero of the dead author's novels in a crushing and humiliating fashion, causing the obsessive fanboy to tip his hand and confess. And by confess, we mean go AxCrazy.]]
* ''This Is Not a Game'' by Creator/WalterJonWilliams characterizes each of four friends by their habits when acting as [=DMs=]. The most antisocial one has every NPC betray the players, and often sets them up to betray each other. The main character eventually realizes that [[spoiler:he expects everyone to betray everyone else in real life as well, and hence betrays them first]].
* In Creator/RobertBevan's ''Literature/CriticalFailures'' (also known as ''Caverns and Creatures''), the "Cave Master" Mordred gets pissed at the players for not taking the game seriously and making fun of him, so he uses a set of magical dice in his bag to send them all into the game as their chosen characters, where they have a real chance of dying for real. To be fair, though, Mordred at least makes a genuine effort to keep the most dangerous foes from the players, while they're still level 1. He even helps out Julian, a novice player, several times by explaining how spell selection works and which spells are useful. However, Mordred doesn't hesitate to send people into this world if it's convenient, such as when the sister of one of the players comes home early and demands to know where her brother is, Mordred tosses her one of the magic [=d20=] dice, she tosses it right back at him, rolling a 1 (CriticalFailure) which results in her being transported into the game. He does the same to her boyfriend, who shows up minutes later. He appears to have a hair-trigger temper, and his usual response to being insulted is to resort to ''murder''. Also, he later reveals that he's done that to at least one other group of players before them, who are either still stuck in that world or dead. At the end of the first book, [[spoiler:Tim tricks Mordred into going into the Chicken Hut's freezer, which can't be unlocked from the inside, only to discover that Mordred needs his magic dice in order to bring them back, and the dice are outside the freezer]].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In the ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "Worst Case Scenario", [[spoiler: Seska had secretly rewritten a holodeck program into a deathtrap for its author, Tuvok]].

* Dan Marcotte's song "Screw You, DM!" is about one.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''
** Any classic DM that allowed [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor wishes]] and knew how to [[JackassGenie use them]] [[LiteralGenie against the player]]. Or any DM who got tired of the players abusing [[GameBreaker Stoneskin.]] RocksFallEveryoneDies was a common method of dealing with abusers of this particular game breaker. Oh, your spell blocks a dozen hits? Well, let's just drop fifty thousand rocks on you. If you're lucky, you die right away. Otherwise, you get to spend a few frantic actions trying to dig yourself out before you suffocate. Not to mention goblins who carried bags of a dozen stones to throw at the players, especially the wizard, to negate the spell, then would fall upon the spell-caster and massacre him before he could recast it.
** There's also the fact that spellcasters need 8 hours of uninterrupted rest to renew their spells. Cue constant interruptions...
** Special mention must be made of how incredibly lethal early editions (1st and especially 2nd) were compared to later editions. Later editions specifically tried to nerf things which weren't fun. For example, early editions had LevelDrain, where a character lost 1 or more whole levels permanently, usually with no save. Later editions turned it into a removable debuff which could become permanent. Various editions from 3rd, ''TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}}'', and 4th have rules for characters being KO'd when below 0 HP, but early editions played CriticalExistenceFailure straight barring an optional rule. The rule for max HP at 1st level was optional; you could really be a OneHitPointWonder. A number of spells from Sleep to Unholy Word could wipe out a whole party of the appropriate level with no one receiving a save -- and if the caster won initiative, with no-one even getting to take an action. There were goofy "trap" monsters clearly designed just to kill players. Only a few were [[GrandFatherClause grandfathered]] into later editions, like the Cloaker, Roper, and Mimic. Finally, players started to gain a piddling number of HP for gaining levels after 9th-10th level (depending on class/edition) while damage continued to scale for some of the nasties; a great wyrm red dragon in AD&D has ''higher'' damage on its breath weapon than 3.5 (144 vs 132). The fighter, meanwhile, has been gaining 3 HP per level above tenth with no bonus for stats, unlike his 3.5 counterpart who should be going up by at least 10 per level. Magic resistance was a flat percentage chance to ignore your spell, with very few ways to overcome it and all of those hidden in obscure splat books. Some monsters could hit about 80% plus. Some of the designers of later editions and TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}} have explicitly stated they wanted to avoid these kinds of unfun rules for players.
** [[Creator/GaryGygax Gygaxian]] Dungeons such as ''TableTopGame/TombOfHorrors'' offered an excellent means to speed player characters to a painful doom, unless they were exceptionally lucky and of godlike intelligence. Gygax created ''Tomb of Horrors'' as a TakeThat to criticism his modules were ''too soft''. It's also one of the best-known and most popular modules he made.
** There is apparently a module for ''D&D'' 3.5 whose pages have a legend across the bottom of every single page that reads, simply, '''KILL THEM ALL.'''
* ''TabletopGame/AmberDicelessRolePlaying''
** In ''Amber'', it's not the GM you have to worry about, it's the other characters, most of whom are encouraged to come down with ChronicBackstabbingDisorder.
** The GM is encouraged to foment this from the very beginning with the attribute auction in which players bid character points to attempt to be the best at fighting in one arena or another. Players can overspend character points offset with "Bad Stuff", which is basically a number that represents just how much of a target sign you want painted on your character for "Killer" GM'ing. A common phrase in the Amber community is, "Death is for characters with Good Stuff."
* Palladium's ''Beyond The Supernatural'' was tough, but not overtly hard if you weren't fighting a cosmic being. However, the corebook included a suggested game mode where the characters played normal people, and the GM rolled up a horrific monster which they had to survive against. The idea was to simulate the sort of stuff that goes on in a slasher flick. HilarityEnsues. The fact that the suggested character class for this is called the "''[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Victim]]'' OCC" should have been a tip-off.
* ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu'': [[MemeticMutation Cthulhu devours 1d6 investigators per round]]. Lose 1d10/1d100 Sanity. It doesn't really take a Killer Game-Master to make [=CoC=] deadly; just take some stock situations (and if you ever end up actually facing a Great Old One in combat, most fans would argue that you already screwed up beyond repair and are only getting what's coming to you), be willing to let the dice fall where they may, and the system will usually do the rest. Now, if there's a trope for killer ''game designers''...
* ''TabletopGame/DontRestYourHead'' plays a strange subversion of this trope by which the GM is basically encouraged to try to kill the Protagonists, but the game rules don't allow for quick deaths. Instead, the session slowly wears the Protagonists down until they die, collapse (a FateWorseThanDeath) or turn into a [[AndThenJohnWasAZombie Nightmare]] (a Fate [[UpToEleven Even Worse]] than Collapsing). The result is that Protagonists are often fairly resilient but, once the game gets going, always a little to close to the edge for comfort. It's a horror game, so this is deliberate.
* Indy game ''Kill Puppies for Satan'' plays this trope for laughs since your characters are basically total losers who commit acts of petty evil for favor from the Devil. The GM (and players) are encouraged to make your characters' lives as miserable as possible.
* ''TabletopGame/WarhammerFantasyRoleplay'' and its 40K variant ''TabletopGame/DarkHeresy'':
** Rules as written, it is entirely possible for a Wizard or Psyker to cause a TPK by using a single spell or psychic power (in the latter case, even at the very start of the campaign). Combat is incredibly unforgiving as well. Fate Points alleviate this somewhat by almost acting as extra lives but this game's combat system ''wants you to die'' and a devious GM will be happy to accommodate you.
** These games were made by Killer Game Designers. Even a character who is well above average in a stat (say, 40) with a good bonus from training (say, +10) is 30% likely to fail a "Routine" task in a skill they possess. It's amazing the characters, rules as written, succeed in getting dressed every day. Emperor preserve you if you actually have to jump; rules as written, a physically fit human being has a decent chance to leap with all their might...and land ten centimeters from their starting point. With a 30 as his/her score, a character who is standing still and jumps finds it equally probable he can jump ten feet or ten inches (about 20% either way).
** This trope is {{enforced}}, and assimilated into the system, so to speak, in the simpler board games based on ''Warhammer'' and ''40,000'', respectively ''TabletopGame/HeroQuest'' and ''TabletopGame/SpaceCrusade''. Other players play heroic RPG-ish player characters or small squads of Space Marines led by one, and one player holds all the secret information about what's going to happen in a particular adventure, and controls all the (always hostile) [[NonplayerCharacter NPCs]]. This last is obviously a lot like a game master, but the thing is, they are also the designated bad guy who tries to direct their {{Mooks}} (and sometimes other nasty tricks) to kill the heroes... and they have to play by the rules too, so the contest is fair. Except when and if, especially in ''TabletopGame/HeroQuest'', a "GM" with the right kind of mentality realizes that letting the heroes prevail is in the best interests of the campaign, [[DefiedTrope and stops really trying to "win"]].
* ''TabetopGame/DescentJourneysInTheDark'' follows the ''[=HeroQuest=]'' model in actually pitting the Overlord against the PlayerParty. In a nice touch, Overlord victories in Act I of a campaign result in [[StoryBranching completely different scenarios being played]] in Act II, compared to if the heroes had won, further incentivizing the Overlord to win.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' ''demands'' this of its Game Masters. The sourcebook makes it crystal clear that this isn't one of those nice [=RPGs=] where the players cooperate and the GM tells them a story. In ''Paranoia'', the GM is out to kill the players and the players are out to kill each other. Each player is given a six-pack of clones, with more available for purchase, so that character death is a momentary inconvenience. Which it needs to be, since in ''Paranoia'' if you don't die early, often, and as absurdly and arbitrarily as possible you're doing it wrong. (And, of course, it's PlayedForLaughs.) It's also said that a good game of ''Paranoia'' results in deaths during the mission briefings. A ''really'' good game results in multiple deaths ''before'' the briefing.
* ''TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness'' (particularly ''[[TabletopGame/WerewolfTheForsaken Werewolf]]'' and ''[[TabletopGame/ChangelingTheLost Changeling]]'') inverts the problem that mortal characters had in the old editions (see below): sure, your character probably has freaky supernatural powers, but the mechanics of how dice pools and damage works in the new system means that a particularly death-minded storyteller can pretty easily set up an entirely mundane bystander that can survive death and resist abilities, in turn drawing the attention of mortal organizations filled with rather unfriendly and violent people who are similarly statistically skewed toward resisting terror/disbelief/mind control/fireballs... players that make the mistake of annoying the GM or abusing the npcs too much are frequently rapidly buried under a practical demonstration of the viability of mortal technology and will.
** With the introduction of the [[RandomNumberGod God-Machine]], this phenomenon is played with in an incredibly meta fashion, seeing as the [[StealthPun G-M]] is a terrifying Eldritch Abomination that organizes bizarre sequences of events in order to achieve certain results, with players usually taking the role of interlopers that try to send its plans OffTheRails.
** ''TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem'' is perhaps the only non-comedic game where it is entirely possible for the player characters to kill each other on first meeting, simply by playing the rules as written. Vampires have what is called the Predator's Instinct, which requires them to resist [[UnstoppableRage frenzy]] on first meeting another vampire. There are ways to mitigate this (if you ''expect'' to meet another vampire, you get a decent bonus towards resistance), but if more than one person fails...
** ''TabletopGame/GeniusTheTransgression'': There are rules for a genius trying to get funding for their schemes, generally causing chaos, havoc, and hilarity as they try get funding for research that mere mortals can't understand. The rulebook tells [=GMs=] not to enforce these rules all the time, since it's no fun being a broke and miserable Genius without resources, but says that [=GMs=] should bring this up any time they need to cause trouble for the players.
** In the ''TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness'', later rules made it impossible for normal humans to soak (prevent) damage from lethal sources, such as being stabbed, shot, or hit in the head with blunt trauma. Taking more than your stamina in damage (3-4, if lucky) in a turn could stun you. There are only eight health levels, and you accrue huge penalties to all rolls and to movement speed after taking more than 2-3 damage. You can only dodge/parry attacks you are aware are incoming. Anyone with a shotgun who gets the drop on you or who sets up with a hunting/assault/sniper rifle from cover and concealment can simply ruin you; the weapon will average 4-6 damage, and the next shot will likely end it. A truly evil ST could have you simply picked off without warning by a mind-controlled mook or supernatural being with concealment/movement powers, which makes sense in the setting.
** ''TabletopGame/ChangelingTheDreaming'' was the oddball game in the TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness. Since most of the violence took place between fae, it was "imaginary." A player could get cut in twain by a battleaxe or fed to a dragon. His human self would likely wake up in a hospital with very confused doctors attending him a few weeks later, having forgotten his fae side until rescued by his comrades. Fae combat was ''supposed'' to be over-the-top violence in the spirit of the best heroic fantasy, and the Killer Game-Master was ''encouraged'' because everyone was just going to get better. When guns or "real" weapons came out, it stopped being heroic and started being just as ugly as the rest of the WOD.
* In a similar vein, ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'' characters almost always have a back up of themselves and so death is not really that much of a problem for them. Oh it sucks for them, and it costs money, but they do survive it. This encourages killer [=GMing=] at least towards the end of adventures, both to really stretch the players (who are fully aware they are immortal) and to force some sense of drama by inflicting nasty permanent psychological problems on people.
* ''Cyberpunk 2020''. It's meant to simulate a gritty, dirty, DarkerAndEdgier city of the future. It encourages the GM to not let the PlayerCharacters relax or rest without being just a little paranoid. Even of each other. Even ''Shadowrun'', in a similar genre, didn't quite go that far in the sourcebook.
* If this sublist is for games that only a Killer Game-Master would have the group play, ''Recon'' might be worth a mention. The fact that it's based on UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar should give you some idea of how high the fight casualties can be.
* Speaking of ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', it is well-known that nine out of ten Johnsons will deal straight with you, but the tenth is the one you really have to watch out for. Characters in a Killer Game-Master's game will be lucky to see a single Johnson who will deal straight with them, and more often than not, [[TheCakeIsALie the reward they are promised will inevitably turn out to be a lie]]. ''Shadowrun'''s zig-zagged this one, having gone through an early phase where player characters were incredibly hard to kill if they had a decent Body stat and armor. It became a joke that ''stuff'' happens, but no one cares since it can't penetrate your t-shirt. Later editions over-corrected by upping the lethality, then wound up dialling it back.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Traveller}}'' is one of the few {{RPG}}s where player characters can die during character creation (though supposedly this mechanic was originally intended as a mechanism to prevent dice rolls from generating a character too weak to survive a game). It's probably the only one of those worth playing, though. In more recent editions, they've made "Iron Man" character creation an optional rule.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' there is a disadvantage called "Cursed" which basically says the GM has to be a Killer Game Master to that PC.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Ammo}}'' is a Tabletop RPG based on (many) manga. Almost every character ("Protagonist") can make himself powerful for a short time (via magic or demonic shapechanging), or until his battlesuit is in working condition (usually a short time). Villains (demons and/or servants, often spellcasters) are powerful most of the time, able to kill a human by sneezing in his general direction. Oh, and what about the Protagonists that have no timed powers? They are scientists, support cast or ineffectual fighters, and should be congratulated when they survive five combat turns. Luckily, combat is just part of the game, and good players know to fight only at their convenience.
* Greg Vaughan's ''The Slumbering Tsar Saga'' has eight pages dedicated to recording the obituaries of player characters who die during that adventure path. The encounters are harsh enough, but nothing cues players in that they're entering an area where the site-based encounters are going to be overwhelmingly over their power level, so [=PCs=] tend to die early and often.
* ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu'': A ''Trail of Cthulhu'' game hosted by one of these led to the creation of FanFic/OldManHenderson to counter him. [[CrazyAwesome Crazy Awesomeness ensued.]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' has truly random spawns, but early in development it was discovered that they needed a way to make it so that things are fairly balanced. They created the AI Director, who usually does a good job, making sure that you don't get a long string of good or bad rolls (via monitoring numerous variables, to know when to step in). Then you play on Expert, and find he stops caring about the bad rolls...
* ''VideoGame/MissionForceCyberStorm'' is rife with this, since your Bioderms have limited lifespans, you are enticed to send them out on suicide runs with some weapons mean to turn Bioderms to living suicide bombers.
* ''VideoGame/MakaiKingdom'' literally has you be forced through a bunch of dimensions created by rival demonic Overlords. In other words, they're ''all'' Killer Game Masters.
* ''VideoGame/TempleOfElementalEvil'' is also very unforgiving compared to other games. It's easily possible to be interrupted while travelling to the very first area by Trolls which you have no chance of killing with a low level party, from which you are unable to flee. And even when you arrive, most people end up being eaten by giant frogs that can potentially take the entire party out of action if you move ahead too quickly. That said, there's a strange sort of charm in that no matter how many times you've played through it, there's always a reasonably high chance of getting obliterated no matter how much you've min/maxed.
* The ''VideoGame/GalacticCivilizations'' AI will do this via Events. Though they're called "random" events, in practice the game usually does whatever will sow the most chaos it possibly can when things have been going well for a while. Someone's about to conquer everyone else with an unbeatable army? Weird space stuff permanently makes hyperdrive super-slow, making conquest infeasible. The player has a perfect society with a booming economy and happy citizens? There's a sudden mass rebellion across all of space by a faction opposite in alignment to your own, probably taking a fair chunk of your most prosperous planets with it. Everything is peaceful for a while? A political leader suddenly gets assassinated, causing war to break out, and due to the nature of the AI in ''Galactic Civilizations'', ''[[ConflictBall everybody]]'' [[ConflictBall will jump in on this]].
* A non-malevolent example appears in ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'': In the DLC ''Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep'', Tiny Tina, a 13-year-old girl who isn't quite right in the head, runs a tabletop game... for the first time ever. One of her flaws is making her challenges too damn tough, such as throwing a HopelessBossFight at you right out of the gate and having ridiculously overleveled enemies in side routes (level 100 in a game where the level cap with all DLC is 72). Downplayed, in that she relents pretty easily and she's simply impulsive and inexperienced at balancing and properly preparing fights, rather than actively malicious.
* In ''VideoGame/YuGiOhMonsterCapsuleGB'', losing in the RPG Worlds means Game Over, and Kaiba and his followers are determined to defeat you by any means necessary.
* The Game Masters from ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'' are tasked with killing as many players as possible within the rules of the Reaper's Game, and will concoct the most ridiculous challenges to make it happen. If players are still alive at the end of the week, the Game Master will personally have to fight them to the death.
* ''VideoGame/TheStanleyParable'' is a game that has you doing things that the Narrator that provides voiceover tells you to do. But try to go OffTheRails and subvert the Narrator's story, and you'll learn just how sadistic the Narrator can actually be.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry''. All the Witches ([[spoiler: and Sorcerer]]) of course. Seeing as they are setting up a murder mystery scenario by killing everyone on an island, then reviving them to restart the game, this is kinda obvious. If things aren't worked out before [[TitleDrop the seagulls cry]], then The Detective (the title given to the protagonist of each story) and everyone else still alive all suffer a literal, horrific TotalPartyKill.
* Monokuma from ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'' is trying to get his captors to kill each other as part of their Mutual Killing game, especially since whoever "wins" becomes the SoleSurvivor. He's even willing to cheat to do so [[spoiler: like using the corpse of someone he killed as a victim to frame someone he doesn't like or drive people into madness.]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Matt from ''Webcomic/DorkTower'' is infamous for this. The players' constant OffTheRails rebellions largely emanate from their frustration over having a control-freak Dungeon Master.
* ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'': Tycho is shown to very much adhere to the "Players are the enemy" mindset, and tries to encourage Gabe to do the same in [[http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/11/25 one storyline]]. However, that story [[{{Deconstruction}} Deconstructs]] this trope by having Gabe's players get rightfully frustrated and quit, with Tycho later admitting that he hasn't actually [=DMed=] a game since junior high school, showing exactly what being a Killer GM will get you in the long run.
** [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/03/04/ This strip]].
** And [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/06/22/ this one.]]
** And ''[[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/10/09/ this]]'' one.
** And ''this'' [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/03/29/ one]].
* Parson Gotti from ''Webcomic/{{Erfworld}}'' apparently did this to his gaming group at least some of the time. And ended up stuck in one of his own killer scenarios. It's made clear, however, that Parson was just bored as a GM. He specifically stated that his plan was to cheat as much as the rules let him, until his players found a way to cheat ''him'' and win. The hope being, of course, that the result would be interesting. Well, when the tables were turned he certainly managed to do [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome something interesting...]]
* ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids''
** Pete when acting as the substitute GM immediately {{Railroad|ing}}s the characters into the droid construction facility. And gives one character 5 deadly blades to dodge, where he needs a 14 on a d20 not to get hit. Consider the odds of surviving that. Granted, he did it primarily to get revenge on them for letting his character die during [[Film/ThePrincessBride another game]]. After the real GM looks at the layout of the factory, he says "Wow... it doesn't look like anyone could get through this," confirming that the others only made it through by ''sheer luck''.\\\
To make matters worse, of the three characters caught in the factory, only one had anything to do with that other game; the other two (including the one caught in the five blades) were collateral damage. Didn't stop Pete, obviously. While they're griping at Pete, he starts deriding them for not twigging to the ludicrously specific method he'd written to successfully navigate it. It turns out that you ''can'' get through it, if you're a Munchkin like Pete. Later, the regular GM punishes Pete by forcing him to take his character back through the factory he created, which causes him to miss the entire final battle.
** The annotation for [[http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0524.html this strip]] explains the "Wandering Damage" system, which is basically a way to "cut out the middleman" (wandering monsters) "and just deal out damage to the characters directly".
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'': Vriska Serket, when playing FLARP (which is basically LiveActionRolePlay, but with players suffering real-life consequences, including death. Hence the F, for Fatal). She makes monsters that are impossible to beat, and when Tavros refuses to make a move, she mindcontrols him into jumping off a cliff, causing his paralysis. She [[DieOrFly assumed he'd be fine]]. In her formal introduction we learn that she ''actively'' tries to kill the other players in FLARP so that she can feed them to her troll-eating lusus rather than get eaten herself. Eridan works similarly, but kills the players' lusii rather than the players themselves (typically the lusii of Vriska's victims, for efficiency's sake).
* Herbert, the GM who controls the universe in which ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}'' is set, will sometimes subject his players to monsters far more powerful than they would be expected to survive against. Examples include the [[http://goblinscomic.com/07172005/ Pit Fiend]] he sends after a party of level one adventurers when they complain about his [=DMing=], or [[http://goblinscomic.com/12072012/ the shapeshifter]] that {{One Hit Kill}}s Tuck by instantly drinking all his blood, then tears Bakka in half as he complains that the monster didn't roll initiative so they had no idea combat had begun.
* In ''Webcomic/CaseyAndAndy'', Casey serves Andy's Rogue character such gems as a "gem of detect-proof god-fooling rogue slaying".
* PlayedWith in the case of Steele from Webcomic/AnotherGamingComic. His goal push his party to the ''absolute'' limit of their abilities, such that they ''can'' win, but only if they are absolutely at the top of their game. See [[http://agc.deskslave.org/comic_viewer.html?goNumber=49 this strip]] for an explanation.
* The titular girl from ''Webcomic/SandraAndWoo'' [[http://www.sandraandwoo.com/2016/06/20/0796-bdmfh/ can be one if her boyfriend misbehaves]].
* Crispo, Phineas and Foomy accuse Kavonn of being one when he doesn't let them bend the rules the same way Charby does as GM in ''Webcomic/CharbyTheVampirate'', also since he likes to apply the rules of actual magic within the comic to games instead of using the game's rules.
* Frank of ''Webcomic/FullFrontalNerdity'' is usually a complete aversion, with his players running roughshod over him through vicious [[RulesLawyer Rules Lawyering]] or just generally bad behavior, but sometimes he turns things around on them when something (in or out of game) upsets him sufficiently.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[http://web.me.com/magwier/albruno3/Welcome.html Al Bruno III]] of RPG.Net fame keeps a Literature/BinderOfShame in which he gives fictionalized accounts of his time with a [[DysfunctionJunction truly dysfunctional gaming group]]. The RPG.Net rant [[http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?13446-A-Night-At-The-Inn-A-Day-At-The-Racists "A Night at the Inn, a Day at the Racists"]] [[ThoseWackyNazis (sic)]] features Killer Game-Master "Psycho Dave," whose style of running a game is described as follows:
--> ''As you can see I soon realized that Psycho Dave ran a game in roughly the same way that Warwick Davis in the film ''Film/{{Leprechaun}}'' [[JackassGenie granted wishes]]. Everything you said your character did was scrutinized for some way to screw you over and the dice ruled all. He was the only guy I know who used a random monster encounter chart for ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu''. You haven't lived until you've had a character [[GoMadFromTheRevelation go mad]] because he saw a [[EldritchAbomination nightgaunt]] sitting in a restroom stall reading a copy of the [[ArtifactOfDoom Necronomicon]].''
** In addition to making the players roll for ''everything'' as described above, he also considered the ''Arduin Grimoire'' critical hit tables (where it is not uncommon to lose three limbs, among other things) to be ''coddling'' the players. All things considered, a quick death might have been mercy.
* When Jeremy from ''WebVideo/LoadingReadyRun'' acts as DM, his goal is to kill the party in the first round. Preferably via 40 points of acid damage. When Kathleen, new to ''Dungeons and Dragons,'' asks what comes after the surprise round during one of Jeremy's encounters, a long-time player replies "...Character creation?"
* [[WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment The Spoony One]] admits to being one of these in his show on tabletop gaming called ''WebVideo/CounterMonkey''. Spoony says his goal is to be a tough but fair DM, wanting his players to [[EarnYourHappyEnding Earn Their Happy Ending]]s because just [[MontyHaul handing them victory on a silver platter]] is unsatisfying. However, he tends to get labeled a Killer GM when the "tough" part of his campaigns intersects with his incredible luck with the dice. A few examples:
** The Leaping Wizards incident, where a team of three Level 1 wizards caused a TotalPartyKill. The official rules said the wizards had only one spell each, Magic Missile; Spoony felt this was moronic because Magic Missile does piddling damage at low levels and once spent they had nothing but their staves. So he made what he felt were common-sense alterations to their spell lists.[[note]]One got Sleep, one got Charm Person, and one got Ray of Enfeeblement.[[/note]] Good rolls on his part plus bad rolls on the party's part lead to the TPK, and to Spoony being thrown out of the RPGA.
** A more recent scenario had the party encounter a squad of level 1 zombies. Due to a combination of bad rolls and the party using the ''wrong type of weapons'' on the zombies led to two of them getting killed. [[note]]Zombies are most vulnerable to slashing weapons. Anything else barely has an effect.[[/note]] Their ''horse'' actually killed more zombies than anyone else, and Spoony had to bring in an absent player's Paladin character to prevent the rest of the party from being killed. Needless to say, this traumatic event has made the party very wary of Spoony.
** Some viewers especially complained about the death of Lord Vane I, WebVideo/AngryJoe's original character in the [[WebOriginal/SpoonysCampaign Dethklok Campaign]]. After a battle which ended with TheGoodKing trapped in magical amber, the castle guards arrived and demanded that everyone present surrender. Everyone except Joe complied (and the other players strongly urged him to do the same, but Joe refused), so the guards attacked ''en masse'' and killed Vane. Spoony responded to the protests by pointing out that as far as the guards knew, the party had assassinated the king, so their reaction was entirely justified given the circumstances.
* ''WebVideo/CriticalRole'': Averted and actively discouraged by DM Creator/MatthewMercer. In his Episode 12 DM tips session, he says he doesn't believe in the attitude of GM vs. player. Instead, he likes to present his players worthwhile challenges that make them feel like heroes. He does run a tough campaign - he's knocked out the team barbarian four or five times already, nearly drowned the party with an active lava flow that briefly crippled the rogue's foot, killed their cleric once before the streaming sessions began, and had their ranger killed by a trap - but it's easy to see he'd rather see the players win than die:
-->'''Matt''': ''(to Pike, the cleric, after a particularly hard fight)'' I was ''so worried'' you were going to die again!
* ''Roleplay/WeAreOurAvatars'': The Dungeon Master, a TabletopGame-themed super villain from Silver City. He narrates the actions of the heroes coming after him and uses giant dice to determine their rolls. He invokes RuleZero too much and angered Starlight. The group fought back by becoming annoying {{Munchkin}}s.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Dexter from ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'' does this in one episode, throwing badly unbalanced encounters at the party and changing dice rolls behind the screen all in an attempt to satisfy his ego. Then Dee Dee took over and was a more [[MontyHaul benevolent]] DM, and the players rejoiced. For instance, the first ([[HappilyEverAfter and only]]) random encounter she threw at the party turned out to be a piñata. As in, resembling a dragon, but full of candy.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The Role-Playing Game Association's ''Living Greyhawk'' campaign was rumored to have a 25% death rate per table as one of its goals. Even if it wasn't true, their published modules reinforced this belief.
* John Goff, who wrote portions of both ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' and ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}''. His most infamous creation is the Deadlands Dime Novel adventure known as "Night Train," which is nicknamed the "PC Death Train" by those who went through it.
* Hampshire College in Amherst, MA has Deathfest, a roleplaying tournament based around this concept. It's the [=GMs=]' job to take every opportunity to hurt or kill the [=PCs=]. The goal for the players is not so much to survive, but to die in the most creative way possible.
* ''Dragonlance'' author Tracy Hickman's "Killer Breakfast", run for years at [=GenCon=], was a Killer Game-Master showcase, in which audience members received numbered tickets to come on-stage, be handed a character sheet, and then concoct an excuse for why their PC just appeared in the DeathTrap dungeon. Unimaginative or lame answers got their characters killed immediately; clever excuses (or flagrant bribes of cookies) kept them alive until Tracy thought up a more amusing demise for them.
* While Gary Gygax wasn't a Killer Game Master, he may have been a [[TrollingCreator trolling one]]. ''Magazine/{{Dragon}}'' magazine once ran a series of columns entitled "Up on a Soapbox" where he describes such things as a trick staircase that fooled players into thinking they were going downward, when really they were going nowhere; the players only found out because he couldn't hide his amusement. And in another column he talked of a time when he fooled a pair of players into releasing a SealedEvilInACan so they would lose their [[InfinityPlusOneSword Infinity +1 Swords]] -- while Gygax was drunk. One gets the impression that his early games of ''D&D'' were a competition between the players and the DM -- but a ''fair'' competition, where the DM can't just have RocksFallEveryoneDies. (Getting the players HoistByTheirOwnPetard, on the other hand, was much fairer and much funnier.)