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

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
There also seems to be a real confusion between "real fear of death" and "death" as well. 5e has a nice big buffer before actual death but where fear of death is there. Many RPGs have them.

Last campaign I finished death was absolutely on the table, I would ofter throw unfair encounters at the player calibrated to what I knew they could do, leaving many down or have gone down. Number of in-combat deaths in those 7 years? Zero. Only character who died was one acting as a martyr to save another character during a skill challenge to escape a collapsing ice castle filled with frost giant zombies.

You can really go all out at times, leading to potential death scenarios, that the players can work to avoid.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
My current game I'm trying out the rule that character death cannot happen unless put on the table by the player. This doesn 't mean no consequence, as anything that would results in death allows me carte blanche to do other mean things. I also compensate by often shifting combat encounters to having a goal for one or both sides other than reduce the other team to zero hp. I've found this opens doors, as I absolutely go all out in combats because there's no worry on my part about dealing with death recovery crap. Besides, the party's already at the level that only a TPK would be permanent anyway -- death is already mostly off the table.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
My current game I'm trying out the rule that character death cannot happen unless put on the table by the player. This doesn 't mean no consequence, as anything that would results in death allows me carte blanche to do other mean things. I also compensate by often shifting combat encounters to having a goal for one or both sides other than reduce the other team to zero hp. I've found this opens doors, as I absolutely go all out in combats because there's no worry on my part about dealing with death recovery crap. Besides, the party's already at the level that only a TPK would be permanent anyway -- death is already mostly off the table.
This is good - there will be consequences so it has meaning.

I like a bit a rule 13th Age had in a sidebar that one of the creators stole from 7th Sea - unnamed NPCs won't cause death. But with the assumption that death gets narratively molded into something else. For example, a character that would be killed could instead be captured and taken to the the high shaman - a named NPC - for sacrifice to the volcano god. And now the players need to rescue their friend.

Fate also plays with this - if you accept defeat, you get to narrate how it looks for you. Shot, fall off the bridge, and your body floats down river. If your foes force defeat, the GM get to narrate what happens, from the foe's intent.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If death is on the table, a TPK Should be as well. It has never happened in any of the campaigns I've ran or played in, but it should be a possibility.
I agree. If a TPK happens we do one of two things. Since I run in the same world pretty much every campaign, I figure out the results of failure and the players will encounter it in the next campaign if they want to end it. Alternatively, they make a new group to tackle the same campaign and I figure out what consequences happen from the failure of the last group and the new one picks it up at that point, which could be significantly further down the chain of events.
 

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.
The thing is that death is the only lasting mechanical consequence provided by D&D. Other consequences can be brought in because you're roleplaying but death is the only one with significant mechanics.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
If death is on the table, a TPK Should be as well. It has never happened in any of the campaigns I've ran or played in, but it should be a possibility.
Weird, I've had quite a few. One of the reasons I'm trying out my odd houserule on death -- I wanted to see what happens when TPKs are off the table and instead character death is only when a player stakes it. I may not have mentioned that staking death is something you'd do if you'd normally die, and instead you don't and get a nice set of bonuses but you absolutely, without recourse, die at the end of the scene. That way, choosing death is meaningful, and choosing to not die is meaningful (I get to do bad things to your character). This plus combats that don't always focus on killing the other side first have made for some very interesting combats, as there's zero need for me as GM to be fair or pull punches. I can overstack combat challenges (with proper foreshadowing, of course) and not worry about the fairness of it. All in all, it's lead to more exciting combats, especially for me.
 


Arilyn

Hero
The thing is that death is the only lasting mechanical consequence provided by D&D. Other consequences can be brought in because you're roleplaying but death is the only one with significant mechanics.
I think if a whole town is razed by a dragon that the party failed to stop, the guilt is going to feel pretty lasting. If the PCs get wiped out too, new characters can just shrug, "not our fault."
 

Kurotowa

Legend
I think players want consequences. They want their actions to result in something. Some consequences will be positive, some consequences will be negative, but that's all fine... it doesn't matter what the consequence is, so long as one occurs. It gives their actions meaning.

Death is one of those potential consequences, and thus it can be included.

Corollary: The permanent death of a character should only occur as a consequence of player action, not mischance. A deliberate heroic sacrifice, a trust that gets betrayed, a greedy or foolish risk that goes wrong - those sorts of deaths are dramatic and compelling. Just as importantly, the players feel like it was their own agency that brought them there. They made the choices all the way to the end.

Dying because you rolled a 4 on your save, or because the monster got two crits in a row, that's not dramatic or satisfying. That's just mischance. It's treating the PCs as disposable and interchangeable game pieces, to be shuffled on and off the board as luck dictates. Which is certainly a playstyle you can run, but it's not the one that most groups seem to prefer.

Everyone loves well played out consequences because they mean your character matters to the gameworld and your actions shape the course of events. That's very empowering, a sure crowd pleaser. Random character loss because of mischance is the opposite of that. So I'm all for a social contract that says that the main cast doesn't get written out of the story unless it's for a good reason, and that mischance alone can only ever result in setbacks or ill fortune.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top