Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies
"Just for that, your entire party falls into hell. Roll to see how painfully you die."
This is what happens in Tabletop RPGs
when the Game Master
gets utterly fed up with the players: he kills them all
Precisely what drives a GM to this extreme varies. Perhaps somebody was a Rules Lawyer
once too often. Perhaps the gaming group mocked his plotting skills a bit too much. The players might have spent all their time going everywhere but where the plot wants them to
. Maybe the group consisted entirely of Munchkins
. Maybe they didn't like that "totally awesome" GMPC
as much as the GM did and tried to kill him in his sleep. Or maybe the players are just Too Dumb to Live
. Or maybe, just maybe, the GM is a sadistic bastard
who's determined to see the players fail at any cost
Regardless of the cause, if the GM goes as far as Rocks Fall Everyone Dies, the campaign has failed
on a grand scale
. Maybe it's time to stop the metagaming, let somebody else GM, or just find a new gaming group altogether.
A lesser form of this trope can target just one particularly annoying player, often with a bolt of lightning
. Since the GM is the local god, this works even if the target character is underground, in a Faraday cage and wearing a static discharge bracelet. Merely threatening players with lightning can also be effective in controlling players. The first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters' Guide
even suggested using "blue bolts from the heavens" and "ethereal mummies" on PCs
to keep their players in line.
The webcomic Something Positive
provides the Trope Namer
in this strip
. The underlying concept stretches back to the beginning of tabletop RP Gs
, having been seen in the extremely deadly AD&D adventure Tomb of Horrors
in 1975 (and quite likely used by individual DMs even before that). This ending is a Tabletop Games
form of Shoot the Shaggy Dog
, or Kill 'em All
when premeditated. A subtrope of Total Party Kill
. When the players decide to detonate the game instead of the GM, it's Off the Rails
. A nigh-unbeatable Beef Gate
used this way is sometimes referred to as a "Grudge Monster" or "Grudge NPC."
Usually the direct inverse of "Dice fall, everyone rocks." Not to be confused with Big Rock Ending
Referenced on 1d4chan, the archive for 4chan's /tg/ board on this page
NOTE: This is not just a trope for everyone in a story dying. That is Kill 'em All.
Also, do not add examples about the extinction of the dinosaurs. They are not a part of this trope. They too fall under Kill 'em All.
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Anime and Manga
- Early in Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yami Bakura was an evil dungeon master whose goal was to steal his players' souls. When the series' protagonist managed to nearly beat him, he attempted to self-destruct and kill EVERYBODY. (The RPG allowed less freedom of rock-falling since it's played on a set game board.)
- B.A. from Knights of the Dinner Table finds himself forced to do this to his players constantly, just to keep them in line—two are dedicated Hack and Slash types, another is a Rules Lawyer.
- Every GM who isn't Patty Gauzwieler will pull this at one point or another in the comic. The most infamous is Weird Pete's Temple of Horrendous Doom, an obvious jab at the Tomb of Horrors.
- One nice storyline, after the group pulled off some particularly annoying feat of munchkinry, rather than declaring a RFED, B.A. manipulates the characters that the same players play in his other, science fiction campaign, into nuking his fantasy world (and thus, their fantasy characters) into oblivion.
- Averted when Weird Pete gets into a battle of wills with Sara over whether he can manage to kill off her player-character. After he arbitrarily declares the entire dungeon falls on her PC, Sara simply invokes a magical debt to survive it and then uses class level skills to begin digging her way out. When Bob asks Brian, "So who's losing?", Brian answers, "The architecture."
- Towards the end of The Fall, after Alexandria fell trying to steal pills, Roy killed off all of the characters of the story in brutal ways. Fortunately, Alexandria stepped in and took over the story.
- Used as a plot point in Bimbos of the Death Sun, where the main character, a guest of honor at a sci-fi convention, goes Killer Game Master with a rigged Dungeons & Dragons game to expose the murderer of the other author/guest of honor. He kills off the dead author's most famous character in a humiliating fashion, enraging said character's biggest fan into confessing to the murder, done to "save" the hero from being killed off by his creator.
- Robert Fulghum describes telling a story to his children. He thought he had finished conclusively and the kids were asleep, only to hear them ask for "the rest of the story." He would resort to apocalypse. "Suddenly a comet hit the earth and blew everything to pieces." A moment of silence, and someone would ask "What happened to the pieces?"
- In the children's-book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid the mother of the protagonist, Gregory, forces his big brother Roderick to play Dungeons & Dragons with Gregory. (Long story.) Gregory is prepared for the worst game-session of all time, when Roderick, who happens to be player AND GM in this session, just decides that all the adventurers fall into a hole filled with dynamite and die in the very first turn. Gregory is relieved.
- In "How to Write Good," a humorous essay by Michael O'Donoghue of Saturday Night Live and National Lampoon Magazine fame, the author advises the aspiring writer that if he is having trouble finding a suitable way to close out his story, he should simply end it with "Suddenly, everyone was run over by a truck. -the end-". There are a few caveats: If writing a story set in England, it should end with "Suddenly, everyone was run over by a lorry. -the end-". If set in France, "Soudainement, tout le monde etait écrasé par un camion. -finis-". If writing a story about ants, "Suddenly, everyone was run over by a centipede. -the end-". "In fact," O'Donoghue says, "this is the only ending you need ever use." In a footnote, he cautions: "If you are writing a story about trucks, do not have the trucks run over by a truck. Have the trucks run over by a mammoth truck." And the entire essay ends in a Call Back, with "There are many more writing tips I could share with you, but suddenly I am run over by a truck. -the end-".
Live Action TV
- Frasier. In a variation on this, Niles got so upset at Frasier's over-directing a radio play in "Ham Radio", he decided to take action.
Niles: Okay, that's it. Never mind all that. I'm just going to take this gun off the table. (fake gunshot) Sorry about that, O'Toole; I guess we'll never hear your fascinating piece of the puzzle. (two fake gunshots) Or yours, Kragan and Peppo! Could the McCallister sisters stand back to back? I'm short on bullets. (fake gunshot) Thank you. (to Roz) What was your name again, dear?
Roz: Mithuth Thorndyke.
Niles: Thank you. (fake gunshot) Oh, and also Mr. Wing. (fake gunshot, and sound of muted bell on Mr. Wing's hat) And, of course, one final bullet for myself, so the mystery will die with me. (fake gunshot. Niles taunts Frasier) HA.
- The previous DM is Infinity Game did this to his world by wiping out everybody except D.D./Trishia, an NPC, but mostly because he was insane and bored. This killed the players, who were in the game at the same time, in real life.
- Steve Jackson Games's Toon actually has a table of 'Apocalyptic Big Finishes' in the back of the Toon Ace Catalog sourcebook, for when the characters don't quite make it to the end and you need a quick way to end things. Of course, no-one dies, but the principle's the same.
- The Apocalypse Stone was a Second Edition Dungeons & Dragons module deliberately designed for DMs that wanted to do this, in preparation for starting over with Third Edition. In it, the players steal a MacGuffin that triggers the end of the world. They can undertake quests to prove they are worthy to die heroically, but in the canonical ending, can't really do anything to prevent the world from imploding. However, the book included several cop-out scenarios to save things at the last minute in case the DM gets cold feet (or is being threatened with death himself...)
- In the Call of Cthulhu boardgame Arkham Horror, the players race to seal gates opening in the town of Arkham before a Great Old One (randomly decided at the start of the game) awakens and they have to fight it, which is difficult but (sometimes) possible to win. If the Great Old One threatening to awaken is Azathoth, however, the players automatically and instantly lose if he awakens, as his first "attack" is to destroy the world.
- The magnificently awful tabletop RPG FATAL has for the highest level caster job the spell F.A.T.A.L., which kills everything on whichever horrible planet the game is set... obviously including the caster and his fellow party members. Now, if only all their campaigns started that way...
- FATAL could probably actually work as a substitute for this.
- This is the typical ending of many Paranoia missions where the players have somehow managed against all odds to squeak through with some of their backup clones intact. Actually, speaking of those clones, sometimes this is how the mission starts.
- Paranoia is an odd case here. Rather than being a sign that the GM is doing his job poorly, this is seen as a sign that the game will be very good.
- Cheating in pinball. This causes the TILT message to appear and ends the game.
- TSR's Tomb of Horrors ran with this trope with a vengeance. Of the potential entrances into the Tomb, at least one will drop a ceiling on you and your party. Before even actually getting into the dungeon proper. And it's not even the worst trap by a long shot.
- If NetHack encounters a fatal bug, the last messages it gives you are "Oops...", followed by "Suddenly, the dungeon collapses."
- "Suddenly The Dungeon Collapses" is an achievement in Dungeons Of Dredmor, obtained in the same way.
- This is also used in the "screen" terminal emulator. Try it next time you boot Slackware.
- Here it is in screen - there's a whole pile of NetHack-inspired messages here, but the dungeon collapsing one is used even if the rest are not enabled. And here it is in NetHack. Isn't open source great?
- In a straightforward example, attempting to exploit now fixed bugs (such as item duping) will result in the player's death, for "trickery".
- This is the preferred method among MMOs for closing up beta test servers, though generally with a bit more variety than rocks. This can range from giant demon invasions to UFO attacks to legions of fire-wielding little girls.
- Final Fantasy XIV took this trope to new heights in the days leading up to the original servers shutting down, with the game's events centering around the commencement of the Seventh Umbral Era and the heroes trying to stop the moon of Dalamud from falling onto Eorzea. The emerging of Bahamut from Dalamud, and the subsequent apocalypse of Eorzea, pave the way for the future release of A Realm Reborn.
- In Baldur's Gate 2, the game summons Arkanis Gath to immediately One-Hit Kill you if you attack any characters that are necessary to advance the plot. This is basically a way to prevent players from getting stuck if they kill someone who prevents them from advancing the plot. In the original, of course, doing that causes them to be replaced by Biff the Understudy.
- In the 550-point and 580-point versions of Colossal Cave, you are warned not to use a particular magic word near water. If you ignore that warning, the most likely result is that you will turn into a jellyfish and die; but there's a small chance that the entire dungeon will collapse on you, your extra lives will be revoked, and you'll be summarily ejected from the game.
- Persona 3's Bonus Boss has some very specific (if unwritten) rules about the kinds of Persona and attacks you can and can't use. If any of these rules are broken, the boss will heal themselves back to maximum, then use Megidolaon to hit you for 9999 damage, killing you instantly.
- The Star Wars-based MUD Legends of the Jedi once used a Chiss invasion to kill off the galaxy during its annual timeline reset. In this case, though, the admins did it because they wanted to do something interesting instead of just having everyone's characters vanish into the night.
- Note that a Chiss invasion is something just as logical as rocks falling out of the blue and killing everything. This race practices martial pacifism according to all canon sources.
- The ending to the original campaign for Neverwinter Nights 2 seems to be a sort of homage to this trope; after you kill the Final Boss, the temple collapses, killing over half your party (Casavir, Elanee, Grobnar, the Construct, Bishop, Qara, and maybe Zhjaeve, for those curious) and causing the Player Character to disappear, never to be seen again. (In this case, "never" lasted as long as it took the developers to make an expansion pack.) Being a Dungeons & Dragons game, it's exactly the kind of ending a Trolling Creator would design.
- In Borderlands 2, the beginning of the D&D-themed DLC Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep has Tina doing this at the beginning of her campaign, where she introduces a dragon that can't be damaged and downs you with a single attack. She's then told by Lilith that as the DM, she can't kill the party off right at the beginning, at which point Tina revives the player and replaces the dragon with a midget skeleton.
- The beginning of Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts begins with your entire caravan being killed in an ambush once they reach Zion Valley.
- The Spoony One, in his Counter Monkey series of videos, tells of a Shadowrun campaign that had gone so far Off the Rails, that he was forced to do a Total Party Kill to bring everyone back down. Spoony even suggests doing this once the party gets too rebellious, if only to remind them who's in charge.
- In Avatar Adventures, the first time the gang decided to restart the RP they ended the current one by having everyone killed by a god of reality in one strike.
- LoadingReadyRun 's Desert Bus For Hope 4: A New Hope. After raising $1,000 for the specific purpose, viewers were treated to Jer Petter's Temple of the Lava Bears. For an indicator of just how this went, Wil Wheaton personally called in and advised any remaining party members to cast "Don't be a Dick" on the GM
- In the French audio webseries Reflets d'Acide, one character has a nightmare of the GM punishing him with the French equivalent, the falling necropolis. The advantage of the necropolis over rocks is that if the character(s) somehow survive the falling damage from the necropolis, then they have to survive the zombies inside, then the lich lord...
- Darwins Soldiers features a mild version of this the end of the second RP when Crimson Base levels Pelvanida with a massive airstrike. Word of God states this was done because the GM wanted the RP to end and it was starting to drag on.
- Al Bruno III's Binder of Shame includes an anecdote entitled "The Day I Killed The Entire Party Before The First Combat Encounter", involving an incident with a character's motorcycle.
- Non-RPG example: Paul Twister uses this word-for-word to describe a nasty trap involving boulders levitated by magic, hovering over some treasure that he needs to retrieve, but if he does, his Anti-Magic will disrupt the spells...