D&D 5E First 5e Kill this Weekend.


So after playing 5e since it’s inception I killed a player for the first time this weekend.

The PCs had a vision of a hydra in a cave at the end of an underwater tunnel and specifically that a powerful magic sword was in the creatures gullet. Some time later they recognized the island that the hydra lived near and approached. Swimming down the tunnel and emerging in a pool in the hydra’s cave. They were warned that the water was warm and got warmer as the approached the surface… also that there were pools of what looked like flaming petroleum around the cave and a little floating on the water. The hydra also had 10 heads (the keepers of the island had deliberately cut off heads to make it stronger)

They had surprise on the Hydra which was lucky as it has passive Perception 18 and proceeded to wail on it. Doing a frankly massive amount of hp damage. It also rolled very low initiative. As the hydra was surprised I didn’t allow it legendary actions. It was also a pyrobydra adapted from the hydra in Theros. The PCs severed 6 heads. Unfortunately at the end of the hydra’s round it made 6 fairly brutal attacks and regenerated 12 new heads, regaining a ton of hp.

The battle went badly from there. Burning blood from slashing attacks did a lot of damage to the barbarian who was using an axe and wasn’t resistant to fire. It seemed that everyone in the party used slashing attacks. The party bard was trying to break through the legendary resistance and almost did it as it only had a +0 wisdom saves and the bard had DC 19 spells but then the hydra’s round came round again and the max 13 attacks took the barbarian to 0 hp.

The ranger proclaimed that they couldn’t win this fight and the ranger cast zephyr strike, and ran in and out with the barbarians body back to the lack. The monk and the bard also ran ahead. The hydra followed up and attacked the ranger but with some very bad rolls on my part the ranger survived and ran on again with zephyr strike and a swim speed getting far away. The bard tried to cast one more spell from the pool at the hydra taking off its last legendary resistance then swam away. The monk bravely swam between the hydra and the bard, who then polymorphism into a fish and got far away leaving the monk on his own.

The hydra slipped into the water and with 13 attacks killed the monk, and with no other enemies in site gobbled him up. As it had the first adventurer that bore the magical sword. For some reason the party thought the hydra wouldn’t enter the water even though it appeared to be the only way in and out of the cave for it.

Anyway, that was the first time I have killed a player in 5e. At first I felt pretty bad about it. Partly because it was a tough creature with legendary and the fire breathing, with a CR way above the party level. Then again the party didn’t prepare and up to that point had curb stomped everything that they had come across … including a CR 16 young empyrean (the party are level 8). So maybe they needed to learn some caution.

The scary thing is that had the bard got one more spell off instead of turning into a fish he could have affected the creature. Or if they had stopped slicing off heads and instead stabbed it. That’s how tough they are! Anyway just wanted to share ☺️

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It is very difficult to die in 5e. I have ran/played a lot and had maybe only 2 or 3 permenant deaths. It is a really tricky subject in modern times, in ye olde days it was all part of expectation.

I don't think you did anything wrong, it's a game of chance afterall. Hopefully the dead PC is given a great memorial and send off, and the players have a great tale to tell of an epic battle ( you have a bard as well so a great song there!)


Jewel of the North
Pretty cool. That's the kind of battle that's memorable.

Creatures in 5e are often pushovers, but the environment in which you put them is a gamechanger.

Well done. Dont feel bad about it (unless its really the player, and not the character, you killed).


Killing PCs happens sometimes, especially when they're over confident. I do always discuss expected lethality rate of the campaign with my players, but will let them know that PC death is never off the table.

On the other hand you didn't explain how you killed the player, but it's something you may not want to admit to on a forum like this. They can trace your IP address and it could be used in the murder trial. ;)


Great Old One
In my experience you either win or get a TPK. Retreats that lose only one or two PCs are fairly rare because, by the time the PCs realize they need to retreat, one of them is down, and the rest will fight heroically to save the fallen, which either results in a TPK death spiral or a fingernail-biting pyrrhic victory.

It really depends on the group. Our groups re-learnt how to prepare and watch for the need to retreat/run about 20 years ago, and now we have many more interesting situations than victory or death. And 5e, with the fact that it's hard to die and it's easy to bring people back makes it work great, the only thing being that fights are usually short.


Question: how did the monk player feel after being left behind by the rest of the group?

PS - thank you for sharing!
They were pragmatic about it. The monk went back to protect the bard I think realizing that they would be killed if the hydra reached them. The bard fled not realizing the hydra could swim… not the greatest feat of logic.

The flight from the cave was a bit desperate I think. The barbarian almost died as well on the trip back to the surface as they were making death saves from being unconscious under water.


I play Khione, the Ranger in @TheSword 's game and it was a brutal experience, but DM-ed superbly.
We were devastated both in and out of game at the loss of the siren monk, Titus. In game, Khione was emotionally broken; she only has slashing weapons and (in game) did not know about their impact on hydrae; she only just escaped death herself in using zephyr step to grab the body of Leandros, the unconscious barbarian, and only survived due to some poor rolling by the DM. She even returned to the waters later, with invisibility, to try to locate Titus' body but to no avail.
It was pretty dramatic escaping with Leandros, having to share breaths with him underwater so he wouldn't drown. She could not see what went on behind her and the death of her friend.

Out of game, it was an epic battle. We were over-confident and learnt a painful lesson. The Odyssey of the Dragonlords is a great campaign and we will battle on against the Titans. Matt will roll a new character.
Sleep with the Gods, Titus, and fly in the heavens!


The fact that the party lost someone and still ran away is actually pretty awesome. As noted above, I generally find 1 person dies or a number do.


You shouldn't feel bad about it. If players make poor tactical decisions, they should occasionally have to deal with the consequences.

And I've noticed that players hate to retreat, as if it's some sort of failure.

It’s ok.

it shows choices matter and ups excitement otherwise.

I am not against raise dead when reasonable. If someone was railroaded into a “choice” it’s ok to rethink it.

I like that I can die. And on occasions when I dm smart very motivated opponents I let them know death is possible. Prepare and stay frosty or whomp out but “this is not a drill.”

I have never had a complaint. The only complaints I have seen are related to railroad and railroad with bad outcomes!

one wonderful memory I have is playing D&D with my group 30 years ago—AD&D…we had a deck of many things and were a bandit group of sorts—-non good-aligned murder hobos on a Mission of revenge!

but our charactersbwere drinking and so were we at 2AM!

and those cards got dealt! One. By. One. And some of us died! No complaints just a great story…

before long some of us had to roll up new characters but that was a classic time. It was. Thrill to see who got rich and who got dead. And those who died, really really died!

Level Up!

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