I didn’t see this topic anywhere else, so I made it up.
In episode #278, this question was discussed:
“I got a question for you guys. I have a group of new players. But I’m trying not to railroad the group. I am hoping to show them the freedom they can have in this RPG. But they’ve come on to a situation where they made a decision, which I feel could cause a TPK. How do you guide the players to not make a fubar? Without telling them they need to do something different then they are doing right now? I am not sure if I just did not explain all the possibilities well enough? Or they thought what the hell let’s go for it?”
Kill them all. Really, I’m serious, kill 'em. Oh, so you wanna know why?
Look, all the responses discussed make some amount of sense to me. But ultimately, your players’ investment of time and effort will be more richly rewarded if your players know that they are entirely responsible for their success. And that lesson will only be learned if they die when they &@$% up.
Look we all know that table to table, standards about what is ‘good play’ and what intelligent choices are is dependent upon the individual DM’s judgment. This fact, noxious to many, is the primary reason why games like Burning Wheel and Dungeon World exist; to use game mechanics to abolish anything remotely like clashes of judgment between player and GM. But in most games, you learn what is foolish and what is not (according to your GM, anyway) within a couple of game sessions, and then operate based on that standard of judgment.
But if you make it easier for your players, in any significant way, you will be denying them the opportunity to learn that lesson.
In order to succeed and live, they must learn, and to learn, they must fail and die.