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Biggest DM regret

Nebulous

Explorer
I can't remember a character ever dying in 5e from massive damage rule. Not even at 1st. I guess we usually level them up REAL fast to 2nd, but even then I don't recall it.

Anyway, things I regret...Well, letting someone into my game when my instinct told me that person should not be at my table, that's a big one.
 

iserith

Adventurer
I doubt debating this further will yield much fruit.
You're right, since nobody has enough information at this point to say with reasonable certainty why this player didn't return to play in subsequent games at the store.
 

Nevvur

Explorer
Just commenting broadly on various replies, I appreciate the analyses. Unfortunately, ya, there's not much more information I can provide. I talked a couple more times with the guys who kept playing, but the girl never came up. The guy who stepped up to DM for his friends said I had inspired him, so that softened the sting of my regret quite a lot.

I had actually forgotten the incident until a new player joined my table recently. She's an adult, but has expressed in no uncertain terms she's not cool with her PC dying. She doesn't care whether the other PCs have plot armor, but she doesn't want to invest time and energy into a thing just to have it vanish. Point of relevance, there's no rez magic in my homebrew setting. I'm cool with it, my resident grognard was a little grumbly, but that's what grognards do.

Reminded me of that AL session years ago for some reason. As always, I'm not keenly vested in directing the conversation here, but my intent was to get some DM confessions/regrets, not discuss the propriety of the call I made.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I can't remember a character ever dying in 5e from massive damage rule. Not even at 1st. I guess we usually level them up REAL fast to 2nd, but even then I don't recall it.

Anyway, things I regret...Well, letting someone into my game when my instinct told me that person should not be at my table, that's a big one.
I’ve had it happen three times now in my current campaign. Once the character was at 1st level, and both of the others were at 4th, though one had their max HP significantly reduced first by a succubus’ kiss attack, and the other failed their save against a young black dragon’s breath weapon, and I rolled very high on the damage.
 

iserith

Adventurer
I’ve had it happen three times now in my current campaign. Once the character was at 1st level, and both of the others were at 4th, though one had their max HP significantly reduced first by a succubus’ kiss attack, and the other failed their save against a young black dragon’s breath weapon, and I rolled very high on the damage.
Same, in fact, I think every PC death I've had in my D&D 5e campaigns save two has been death from massive damage.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Just commenting broadly on various replies, I appreciate the analyses. Unfortunately, ya, there's not much more information I can provide. I talked a couple more times with the guys who kept playing, but the girl never came up. The guy who stepped up to DM for his friends said I had inspired him, so that softened the sting of my regret quite a lot.
Seriously, from a 5e table of 7 new-to-gaming players, retaining 3 /and one of them taking up DMing/ is a huge win. Each new DM is a victory, as it means another 4-7 new players accommodated at the venue.

Whether because you kill off their first character, or because that character doesn't meet expectations, or because playing an RPG just makes about as much sense as keeping paint wet instead of watching it dry to a lot of people, you're likely going to lose most genuinely-new-to-the-hobby players, anyway.

I had actually forgotten the incident until a new player joined my table recently. She's an adult, but has expressed in no uncertain terms she's not cool with her PC dying. She doesn't care whether the other PCs have plot armor, but she doesn't want to invest time and energy into a thing just to have it vanish.
Y'all have plot armor: they're called hit points.

I've tried it before, but here it is again: starting at 3rd gives everyone a somewhat-realized PC (ie with their sub-class), and enough hp that they shouldn't just be randomly critted to death by a CR<1 monster. 3rd also lets anyone start with a traditional multi-class combo, either w/o MCing via things like the EK, or by expressly MCing a 1/1/1 combo.
"3rd is the new 1st" - it never caught on, but it's still a good idea. ;)
 

Draegn

Explorer
I once caused a player to cry. In a scifi setting he was spending more time with an attractive replicant than his npc wife cared for. The wife insisted that he retire the replicant and gave him a lethal injection to use. As he put the replicant to sleep there were tears in the rain.
 

Harzel

Explorer
Biggest regret: Not playing 5e RAW for a while before introducing some (major) homebrew modifications. Oops.

With respect to the OP situation: it is legal in AL to use average damage for monsters? (I don't know much about AL.) The MM says it is an option, but the PH doesn't mention it. Anyway, doing that at least at 1st level would greatly reduce the chances of instadeath due to a crit.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
A party of seven 4th-level character should be able to take on a CR6 monster, right? It'll be a little difficult, but if they're fresh and play smart, they can do it, right? Oh, look, the mage stat block in the MM is CR6! That would make a fine boss!

...This is how I got a TPK using a single cone of cold spell.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But do you really expect someone without prior experience to even have the capacity and context to have a well thought-through position when it comes to this?
If said new person has read the relevant bits of the book (or better yet has had said bits pointed out by the DM or a veteran player) that someone kindly quoted upthread, you're almost free and clear. If they're told bad things can and will happen to their characters now and then it's on them to deal with it when those things happen.

The one additional thing that also probably needs to be pointed out to first-time players is that the game often involves dice - and thus by extension just as often involves a significant element of sheer luck. Some people don't like this, and maybe RPGs (along with any other dice-based games) aren't for those people.
 

Monayuris

Explorer
Seriously, from a 5e table of 7 new-to-gaming players, retaining 3 /and one of them taking up DMing/ is a huge win. Each new DM is a victory, as it means another 4-7 new players accommodated at the venue.

Whether because you kill off their first character, or because that character doesn't meet expectations, or because playing an RPG just makes about as much sense as keeping paint wet instead of watching it dry to a lot of people, you're likely going to lose most genuinely-new-to-the-hobby players, anyway.
Yes that is a great track record. I've run D&D for tons of new players. Maybe about less than a third of them continued in the hobby. Many played once and gave it up. Nothing you can do about that. If you bring in some new players and some join on and it becomes a thing for them, you have done an amazing service for the hobby.

In my experience, with new players, you can't walk on eggshells. Run your game and never apologize for it. You can't go around hoping that you don't offend the new player and lose them. Instead you have to provide them your game... the game that you are excited to run that shows your best. The game that shows just how awesome this whole thing is.

Y'all have plot armor: they're called hit points.

I've tried it before, but here it is again: starting at 3rd gives everyone a somewhat-realized PC (ie with their sub-class), and enough hp that they shouldn't just be randomly critted to death by a CR<1 monster. 3rd also lets anyone start with a traditional multi-class combo, either w/o MCing via things like the EK, or by expressly MCing a 1/1/1 combo.
"3rd is the new 1st" - it never caught on, but it's still a good idea. ;)
I still like starting at 1st, but 3rd does make a lot of sense. You are pretty tough without having too much added complexity.
 

Monayuris

Explorer
I can't remember a character ever dying in 5e from massive damage rule. Not even at 1st. I guess we usually level them up REAL fast to 2nd, but even then I don't recall it.

Anyway, things I regret...Well, letting someone into my game when my instinct told me that person should not be at my table, that's a big one.
A brand new player to D&D joined my regular game. He created a 1st level Gnome Barbarian. First encounter, he charged into a crypt without first search and without the back up from the rest of the party. Got surprised and poisoned to death by Giant Centipedes. Two hits, two failed saves... 2d4 + 6d6 poison damage did him in.

I agree with you on the second point. There's no time for for this kind of stuff.
 

Nevvur

Explorer
Y'all have plot armor: they're called hit points.

I've tried it before, but here it is again: starting at 3rd gives everyone a somewhat-realized PC (ie with their sub-class), and enough hp that they shouldn't just be randomly critted to death by a CR<1 monster. 3rd also lets anyone start with a traditional multi-class combo, either w/o MCing via things like the EK, or by expressly MCing a 1/1/1 combo.
"3rd is the new 1st" - it never caught on, but it's still a good idea. ;)
I started out the last two campaigns at level 3, but this situation is a level different. Two players, beloved real life friends, joining a Roll20 campaign after it got sidelined last year and we lost a couple players. We're resuming now and they're already coming in at even higher levels. I accept her preferred method of handling death in part because I don't have a rule at my table where everyone has to play by the same rules. I'll brace myself for the dissenting opinions!
 

Nevvur

Explorer
Biggest regret: Not playing 5e RAW for a while before introducing some (major) homebrew modifications. Oops.

With respect to the OP situation: it is legal in AL to use average damage for monsters? (I don't know much about AL.) The MM says it is an option, but the PH doesn't mention it. Anyway, doing that at least at 1st level would greatly reduce the chances of instadeath due to a crit.
I did that with 4e. Not my biggest regret, but we were madmen. Brand new to the system and we made it even more complicated.

The average damage suggestion is brilliant, and one I wish I had thought of before I let the damage dice leave my hand! Still would've been a KO, but survivable.
 

Harzel

Explorer
I did that with 4e. Not my biggest regret, but we were madmen. Brand new to the system and we made it even more complicated.

The average damage suggestion is brilliant, and one I wish I had thought of before I let the damage dice leave my hand! Still would've been a KO, but survivable.
Apologies for going a bit off-topic, but here's a follow-up thought. Even though my players are level 6, I was still finding myself wincing when contemplating the maximum damage that might be inflicted by an encounter that was perfectly reasonable on average. However, using a constant (average) for the damage just sort of leaves me feeling a little flat - I like to see some variation, not to mention I like rolling dice. So I've started using an intermediate approach - rewriting damage specs to make them less swingy in general and to reduce the maximum in particular while keeping the same average. Of course, there are lots of ways to do this, but I've settled on a couple of substitutions that are quite straightforward. One is to just reduce the number of dice by substituting the average for some of the dice - for example 3d8 + 3 can become 1d8 + 12. One small limitation with this is that if you're concerned with exactness in the arithmetic, you have to substitute for even numbers of dice. The other easy substitution is to reduce the size of the dice: 1d12 = 1d10 + 1, 1d10 = 1d8 + 1, 1d8 = 1d6 + 1, 1d6 = 1d4 + 1. So that 3d8 + 3 could instead be 3d6 + 6 or 3d4 + 9, or 1d6 + 13.

Of course, it is probably a good idea to tell the players about this beforehand. Otherwise, if they see a 3 rolled on 1d6 and then you announce 16 damage, the surprise could be a bit unpleasant. :.-(

EDIT: Also, to keep track of how to handle crits, I would actually write that example as (1d6 + 10) + 3.
 
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S'mon

Hero
I guess I'm lucky, no GMing regrets in the past 6-7 years (7 years ago I supplied a 4e pregen warlord PC with a bikiniplate pic - that caused me some grief!). When I killed a 1st level Druid in the first round of a stirge ambush running Princes of the Apocalypse, it felt sufficiently unfair that I allowed an emergency blood transfusion to bring her back - no regrets although that kind of thing is rare for me. I dealt with the level 1 insta-kill issue in my Primeval Thule game by giving everyone their full CON score + maxed hit die in hp at 1st, that worked really well.
 

S'mon

Hero
I had actually forgotten the incident until a new player joined my table recently. She's an adult, but has expressed in no uncertain terms she's not cool with her PC dying. She doesn't care whether the other PCs have plot armor, but she doesn't want to invest time and energy into a thing just to have it vanish. Point of relevance, there's no rez magic in my homebrew setting. I'm cool with it, my resident grognard was a little grumbly, but that's what grognards do.
This would really bug me as GM I think, I would hate to have 1 PC operate by different GMing rules, but maybe it could be an in-universe thing where her PC comes back if killed, with some kind of a penalty, Beric Dondarion style. If I trusted the player I could see that working. I did have a player I let her come back as a Revenant when her PC was killed & eaten by ogres.
 

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