How many PC deaths do you see per session?

What is the typical death ratio in your game?

  • 1 death per session

    Votes: 9 4.8%
  • 1 death every other session

    Votes: 13 6.9%
  • 1 death every two sessions

    Votes: 6 3.2%
  • 1 death every four sessions

    Votes: 54 28.7%
  • Other (Please Describe)

    Votes: 106 56.4%


It's hard to give an average, but I'd have to guess about one per four sessions. We do allow resurrection magic usually, so it's not so bad, and the resurrections/raise deads allow for some good favors owed to the churches in question.

In our Eberron campaign, I am intentionally limiting Resurrection magics, because I want dangerous situations to have more punch to them - but I also allow a new PC to come back in at the level the previous character died at, so it's not as bad. So far, in four sessions We've (once again) only had one death.

Guess I should be preparing for another PC death soon, huh, Torm? ;)

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First Post
JayDarkson said:
This is a current discussion in our game group. One player insists that playing D&D, one player death per session is the norm. Having played D&D for almost 12 years now (he's played longer than me), I don't see this being normal. He insists that it has nothing to do with being a killer GM, it's just the norm for the system. Any comments? How many deaths occur in your game per session?

Well, D&D is designed for a party of four players. It is also designed so that 14 encounters should raise their level. Assuming a session contains about 5 encounters (?), the party would level every three sessions, and one of them would die each session. A single party member would actually be able to raise their level. Every three sessions. Seems like good progression to me. :)

Seriously, though, it's up to the DM. If they want to play a realistic game, then that sounds reasonable. It should slow down as the party gains in level, though, for demographic and story reasons.


First Post
I voted Other.

My current campaign has been running since beginning of the year, playing once a week for 4 hour stretches. In that time, we've had 2 PC deaths... one right near the beginning and the other about half way through.

It happens when it happens.


First Post
Since 1978, I as DM have had one TPK (four PCs), one nearTPK (four out of six) and perhaps six solo deaths. Fourteen PC deaths in 26 years.

As a player over that same span of time, I have had three characters die, one of which died twice (resurrection after the first) and two of which I left dead. Three characters with five deaths between them.

So if we expand your chart, assuming a session a week, I would end up at roughly one death per 71 sessions. However, one session a week is not the true average, even if you account for my play-every-day summers during high school. So if we make it only one session a month, I end up with one death every sixteen sessions.

The truth is probably somewhere in between.


One character death per session means you are running with a "Killer" DM. Somebody who likes killing PCs. Generally to me, this means you should find a different DM.


First Post
In all of SIX CAMPAIGNS I've seen a grand total of about six or seven deaths... and one of those was when a player deliberately ran his character into a suicidal battle just so that he could roll up a new one that wasn't so unbalanced. Granted, not all of these campaigns ran to completion... but it's a far cry even from one death per four sessions.
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First Post
Li Shenron said:
Thanee you have lots of Barbarian/Dragon Disciples in the party or a very patient DM :p
I don't quite get the use of "patient" in this context. ;)

BTW, all three deaths of that PC were in the same adventure (which was quite long-running, I think we leveled from 8th~9th to 10th~11th during that adventure alone). The last time he and the paladin (both died in the same overwhelming combat) were True Resurrected, however, this way we already have the plot hook for the next adventure, since we are now in debt of the church who did this. ;)



First Post
In the three 3.0 / 3.5 campaigns I've run:

#1: 2 PC deaths over 30-odd sessions
#2: 1 PC death over 20-odd sessions (so far)
#3: 0 PC deaths over 7 sessions (so far)

I've been playing D&D for 22 years (sometimes very regularly, sometimes very irregularly). In the groups I've played in, PC deaths were fairly infrequent (though, almost never irreversible, thanks to resurrection magic). I think, across all those games, I've had a PC die four times (and, only once was it permanent).

That said, I have been part of two TPKs. One was in the original Ravenloft (one of the most infamous killer modules; we all stayed dead), the other was somewhere in the Underworld / Vault of the Drow series (a lich killed us all, but our cleric had a ring of regeneration and a ring of wishes, and brought us all back).


Liquid Awesome
We average about 1 death per 10 sessions. And, while this is absolutely not planned, it seems just about perfect for our group. More often than that and the story starts to lose a bit of cohesion. Less often and the PC's tend to forget that it CAN happen to them.

I hadn't really thought about it recently, but this ratio is a powerful testament to the player's tactical abilities in the games that I run. Because I throw some NASTY stuff at them and, most often, they survive. Good for them.

Aust Diamondew

First Post
1 or 2 death (depends on what counts) in 20 sessions which is how long my current game has been running. Some one died in the 3rd or fourth session in combat trying to be ridiculously heroic. One PC died couple sessions ago but thats because he was so horribly wounded and was captured by the enemy he decided to commit suicide. People aren't too reckless in my games because death means your character isn't comming back because I don't allow you to be brought back from death except by a miracle spell and under limited circumstances.


We've had 2 PCs die in the past year of the campaign, so probably 40 sessions.

It's getting more variable as we hit 10th to 13th levels, though, because the monster power curve is wierd there compared to low levels. It's easy to eyeball how hard a party of humanoids will hit a party. Giant scorpions? Um, 4 of 'em, whoops, almost killed the monk with that con-damage poision. Tyrannosaurs, one of those should be a challenge, especially if he swallows a PC, whoops, he failed his save versus glitterdust and the psion's stun power and died in two rounds.

It seems like there's much more randomness at these levels.

the Jester

Depends on what the group is doing. I almost always let the dice fall where they may; I recently had a tpk in one of the groups I ran. I kill an average of one pc per two sessions, but they're usually in groups of two or three every five or six games... it really varies, though.

I've had strings of games where at least one pc died every session for five or six games, and strings where nobody died for dozens of games.


First Post
Last 3 sessions we lost almost our complete party. Ok, its not our DM`s fault (getting coup de grace from team members was not his plan) but i think, the real problem is that you loose every grip to a campaign...

I mean, what do you do if there is no one from the starting party left??? Informations get lost with characters as well as motivation to fullfill the given Quest.


First Post
I've got 6 deaths in 78 sessions (3 years of playing), and I play with open die rolls, (mostly) gloves off. But also with lots of roleplaying, and only about half of those sessions have any combat at all.

The party have just reached 10th/11th level, and I've seen an increase in lethality with "save-or-die" spells, the last two deaths were both from failed Disintegration saves.



First Post
the only death that happens at least once every game are the NPC's.

Personal choice, but I don't think I'd like a game that had at least one PC death each game... we average two PC death's not by choice for the whole game. There were other PC deaths but that was plot choice for changing to a new PC.

I have had one game that in session one it was almost a TPK except one PC.... not my idea of fun.... but if you like it go with it!


First Post
Barring playing in Paranoia (...gotta love Code 7 adventures...), I average about 1 PC death every 3-5 session, pretty much whatever system I am in. A lot of my players have learned the wonders of capture and ransom, cutting & running, etc.

Also there have been a great number of retired characters, characters who turned evil/against the group, and the like.

But there have only been about 3 resurrections in all my years of gaming.

Death in my games is rare, but pretty much permanent.


We average one every five or six sessions. Usually because we do something stupid or fail to retreat against overwhelming forces. It hurts because we don't use any types of ressurection. You bite the big one and it's all over. Return to character generation.

Keeper of Secrets

First Post
For the people who have frequent deaths in their campaigns (by 'frequent' I mean more than one per four adventures), I'd like to know the following:

Are these lower level characters (under 5th) who are getting whacked?

When they must generate new characters, are they started over at 5th (or current) level?

How does the GM typically work the new character in, if in the middle of a dungeon or some other 'remote' place?

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