D&D General Do players even like the risk of death?

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
The question is: Do players actually want this risk?
It definitely depends on the player. I think most players like some risk.

At one point, I offered to take PC death completely off the table for one of my groups, and they didn't want that. That's when we came up with the death-vs-permadeath compromise (i.e., PCs can die but if the player isn't ready to retire the character, we'll find a way to make it not-permanent).
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I agree. There should be all sorts of consequences for things the party attempts. I just don't want to play in a game where PC death isn't a possible consequence.
I think most players want death to be a possibility in theory, but don’t want it to actually happen to their character. Where the line usually lies is in how much risk players are willing to accept. Preferences range from full-on meat grinder to “no character death without the player’s permission.” Most lie somewhere in the middle. I think @iserith is right that the average player will be fine with it as long as it’s avoidable, thematically appropriate to the campaign, and doesn’t result in them having to sit out the rest of the session.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think most players want death to be a possibility in theory, but don’t want it to actually happen to their character. Where the line usually lies is in how much risk players are willing to accept. Preferences range from full-on meat grinder to “no character death without the player’s permission.” Most lie somewhere in the middle. I think @iserith is right that the average player will be fine with it as long as it’s avoidable, thematically appropriate to the campaign, and doesn’t result in them having to sit out the rest of the session.
Maybe it's because most of the people I play with are old school, but they don't mind when a character dies, even if it's to a random encounter, and don't mind sitting out until a good moment to introduce their new character comes along, usually that same session sometime or else the following session.

We're all different, though, so there will be variations among those that want the possibility of PC death.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Whatdayamean? If Death was the only consequence of meaning in the game, then why does D&D include such Cleric spells as 'Escape Capture'? Or 'Power of Attorney'? Or 'Regain Fortune' Or 'Apologize To The Loved One'?

Oh, wait...

Since I am still not that familiar with 5E spells, esp. higher level or from non-core sources, for a second I was like. . . WHAT ARE THESE SPELLS? I NEED TO LOOK THEM UP! until I got to "Apologize to Loved One!" :ROFLMAO:
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Maybe it's because most of the people I play with are old school, but they don't mind when a character dies, even if it's to a random encounter, and don't mind sitting out until a good moment to introduce their new character comes along, usually that same session sometime or else the following session.
Well, let me clarify - when I say I think most players want the possibility of death but don’t want it to actually happen to their character, I don’t mean they won’t be ok with their character dying. It’s just something they would generally rather avoid. I don’t think there are many players who actively want their characters to die, except in specific circumstances where they’re unhappy with the character.

Also, death to a random encounter can be perfectly on-theme for the right campaign, which I think a lot of old-school style campaigns are. It’s less about the randomness of the death, and more about if it fits the tone of the game and if it could have been avoided.
We're all different, though, so there will be variations among those that want the possibility of PC death.
Absolutely! 🙂
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
It made the game less interesting because the players knew there were no consequences for their actions.

Again - if your game is structured so that the only consequence your players care about is death, this is true. So, maybe how that comes about should be investigated.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Alot of the time, D&D veterans may have criticisms that the game is a bit too easy. Its certainly easier than the older editions and player death isn't nearly as frequent, but the risk is there.

The question is: Do players actually want this risk?
D&D players do. There's little point in typical D&D combat without risk of death and combat makes up a significant portion of the game - both in the rules and in play.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I will speak from my perspective, as someone who has been playing for 20+ years, and as someone who puts a lot of effort into the concepts, roleplaying, and long-term stories of my characters...

Yes, I prefer to have death be on the table. I prefer death from a random encounter to something preplanned by my DM and I. When death is not an option in combat, I start to feel like my choices do not have consequences (unless there is something explicitly set up by the DM, such as a hostage situation). I know that's not always the reality, but it's just how I feel as a player.

I enjoy the feeling of trying to come up with a strategy in combat, and the fear of death makes that effort even more rewarding!
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
D&D players do. There's little point in typical D&D combat without risk of death and combat makes up a significant portion of the game - both in the rules and in play.
Frankly, this is because most combats only stake death and are about the race to see which side can reduce the other's hitpoints first. This is the only thing the rules structure, so it's no surprise. There's no system support or even advice on how to put different stakes into combat. I mean you can absolutely challenge a 20th level party with regular old goblins if the stakes aren't set to who gets to zero hp first.
 

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