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Unwinnable By Mistake / Tabletop Games

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Dungeons and Dragons

  • Dungeons & Dragons adventure I5 Lost Tomb of Martek. The three Star Gems must be placed in the altar in the Garden of the Cursed so the PCs can continue. However, the Star Gems are also needed much later in the adventure to revive Martek, but there's no way for the PCs to know this. If they assume the Star Gems have fulfilled their purpose and forget to remove them from the altar, they're in trouble. The Crystal Prism area effect that teleports the PCs to the Citadel of Martek only works once. Once they reach the Citadel, even if they use the Teleport wall in the Citadel to return to the Garden of the Cursed to get the Star Gems they can't get to the Citadel of Martek again.
    • In the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure for fifth edition D&D, the PCs may have several extremely difficult encounters in Skyreach, a floating castle. If the players decide to retreat to recuperate - for example, by Feather Falling off the edge - as written there's no way for them to return.
  • The Das Boot adventure for Paranoia is notorious for this, to the extent that a specific warning for the GM was inserted in the Flashbacks reprint. Once the PCs have obtained the "U-Bot" submarine, any mistake in using it will likely doom both them and the sub. Frequent PC death is a normal part of Paranoia, and PCs have multiple clones available for exactly this reason; but there's only one sub. The original adventure gives no way to get it back nor to proceed without it. Game over.
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