Another TPK (Total Party Kill).
Last night we got back together for the further exploits of our party of Pathfinder 2e heroes, veterans of The Evils of Illmire, The Black Wyrm of Brandonsford, and various awesome acts of derring-do in another region of my own devising (in their previous adventure, the PCs had assaulted a Strix-held, cursed, flying dwarven citadel loosely inspired by the dwarven sky-tomb in Dragons of Desolation).
And then, in this last session, they ventured into the labyrinthine sewers beneath an ancient tomb-city, a place long abandoned by its original builders and then re-used as a funereal necropolis by later settlers. They went underground in search of a lost royal archive rumored to lie hidden beneath the city. This required a (rather interesting, if I may toot my horn) home-brewed OSR- and PbtA-influenced set of rules for crawling sewers that magically fill, flood, and drain every 100 minutes.
It was an epic evening! The PCs needed to find and secure three magical stone keys in order to unlock the archive door. They found two in pouches on the hips of powerful golem guardians - but the party Rogue quite daringly slipped in alone in each case, and successfully pick-pocketed the golems, completely avoiding what could have been quite dangerous combat encounters.
But then came the hall with the Black Pudding, a magical stone key protruding from its muck...
And a number of poor rolls and, frankly, bad tactical decisions later, the entire party lay unconscious in the deadly grip of ooze. Gloooop...glooop...buuuurrp.
I believe this is my second TPK in about three years or so. Getting a TPK comes with mixed feelings for me as a GM. On the one hand, I genuinely liked the Player Characters and was invested in their stories. There's a real "oh NO!!!" feeling. On the other hand -- in a truly non-adversarial way -- there's a sense of pride that comes along with a TPK, for me. Not at all pride at 'beating' my players, or anything like that. Rather - the sense that yes, I'm still clear on my values as a GM: my job is to make a fascinating, serious, and deadly world for my players to enjoy. The stakes here are real, and I will not just pull my punches to bail them out of trouble - even if I need to kill them all. Time for some new PCs, and maybe even a new campaign.
That's an oddly satisfying thing to remind yourself, and I'm delighted that my players and dear friends get it, too.
Now, to wipe the blood and acid off my dice bag...