Killing a character through roleplaying

prosfilaes

Adventurer
How many of you have had a character go down because she was doing something that you knew better, but it was completely in character?

I had a near-death last Friday; had it not been for a mulligan rule in play, my goblin wizard would have met a brutal end on the rocks after an 80 ft fall. I knew that those balance checks the DM was calling for on the bridge were not a joke, and I knew my character could tell that. However, the swarm of bats was literally invincible to about everything the PCs could throw at it, and who completely ignored the invisibility she cast around the party. I figured that scared the heck out of her, to the point she broke and ran to the nearest shelter, the building across the bridge, no matter what. I think after her nearly drained by shadow the next day, I'm going to start playing her more paranoid, thought that's a bit hard to do for an effective adventurer whose already being played as a bit of glass cannon.

It's sort of a fault-line for D&D; there's a lot of encouragement about gamers for actual roleplaying of characters. But at the same time, losing a character in the Tome of Horror is treated as player error, not good roleplaying. The ToH is a bit extreme, but most sessions have extended combats where player tactical ability is rewarded, no matter what the realistic skill of the character.
 

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DragonLancer

First Post
Theres something to be said for making decisions based upon what a character would do and what common sense would say. In a panic situation common sense often goes out the window in real life so why not in an RPG? Do what makes the game fun.
 

Wombat

First Post
In the long, lost game It Came From The Late, Late, Late Show (roleplaying as an actor in B- or even C-List movies), your character could advance by Acting Appropriately Stupid, in other words by doing things that folks do in movies that no one in their right mind would do in real life (e.g. "Gee, the serial killer is probably in this dark house -- let's split up!"). I kinda miss that game. ;)

But on a more serious level, I have seen multiple characters die due to acting utterly in character ... and the games were all the better for it. There is a strong tendency in many games, such as D&D, to do what is best tactically, to take a chess or console game approach to the game. This is all well and good if your goal is to "win" the game on a Defeat the Adventure level, but I think misses something on the Who Is My Character Anyway level.

Sometimes, you have to nurture the inner Method Actor and go with the character over what is tactically advantageous -- it makes for better, more memorable sessions. :)
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
I must say, I have not (lost a PC due to roleplay, I mean)...but that is not to say, I do not see it as a completely reasonable possibility.

I have not played so much as DMed for many many years. So I haven't had opportunity to lose a character of "my own." But given that, I absolutely have killed off NPCs, even ones that the party should be holding on to for story's sake, if that is how the NPC would react.

I have DMed for several characters' deaths while they were completely "in character" even if the player knew the PC should run/handle the situation differently.

It is, I think, a mark of good RP not to transition to that "player knows better" place.

Your thought to make the character "completely paranoid" may be a bit much. But, imho, making her a jittery bundle of nerves for a while until she has a decisive "win" moment in play (overcomes her fears, so to speak), sounds totally appropriate (and fun to play! :)

Have fun and happy gaming.
--SD
 

Ulrick

First Post
Years ago, my friends and I played a Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP) campaign. The system is known for being a toned down version of Rolemaster (lots of charts and critical hit tables). So what happened to my character is pretty graphic, and I remember it to this day.

We discovered that agents of Sauron had infiltrated a village and started a cult there. We managed to destroy the main cult, but one of the cult leaders had escaped. After tracking him to some nearby castle ruins, we discovered him speaking to a large group of townsfolk in the courtyard.

While we hid, the cultist lied to the townsfolk about how we were spreading evil and bring ruin. I thought, since my character had "public speaking" and a high presence attribute, that this would be the perfect time to stand up and speak out against the cultist.

So my character stood up and gave a brief speech. Some dice were rolled. But, alas, the forked tongue of the Sauron cultist had corrupted the townsfolk. He shouted: "Kill him!" And they charge me.

I killed one before the others fell upon my character. A blow from a club crushed his shoulder. An arm got broken. Somebody with a knife stabbed his leg, hit a major artery causing him to bleed. I think one of his hands got severed. And this was on top of all the other "non-critical" damage. The blow to the jaw, sending it straight into the brain was the final straw.

Then the mob saw the other characters. Somebody else (the animist?) got his head crushed by club or a rock. The cultist himself mounted horse and rode somebody else down, somehow severing his leg with a sword from horseback. The cultist and his mob were rolled criticals left and right--but that's MERPs for you.

So, not only did I get my character killed, but most of the group, too! And its all because my character tried public speaking! :D
 

Summer-Knight925

First Post
All of my paladins that die, die in dragon fire.

I see dying in a roleplay moment the only way to die, think of the vikings, my barbarian has to die in battle, or he failed his time alive, the rogue has to challenge himself accordingly

HOWEVER

a DM should never put in a challenge the PCs cannot overcome, for instance, the game I am in right now the entire region is tainted, so a DC 20 will save is needed to resist. We're 1st levels. This is pointless

never play a pointless adventure or enforce rules that the players cannot escape. Then you have characters who just die because they want to leave for the simple reason it is no longer fun.

As the Goaliath said "I can't see it to fight it, this is the wizard's job"
 

Vegepygmy

First Post
How many of you have had a character go down because she was doing something that you knew better, but it was completely in character?
I have, many times. Frankly, if someone hasn't, I think they either (1) haven't been role-playing very long or (2) have completely missed the point of role-playing games.
 

Janx

Hero
I have, many times. Frankly, if someone hasn't, I think they either (1) haven't been role-playing very long or (2) have completely missed the point of role-playing games.

Generally, the player should translate the character's traits and the tactics called for and determine a course of action that is both smart and in-character.

that means, if you know crossing the bridge is a dumb idea AND your PC is a bit nervous, have your PC nervously do something else.
 


Abraxas

Explorer
I have, many times. Frankly, if someone hasn't, I think they either (1) haven't been role-playing very long or (2) have completely missed the point of role-playing games.
That's fine if 1) it's only your character that bites the dust and 2)you don't mind if the other players choose to not have their characters bring your character back.

Years ago I had my character do something that I felt was completely the right "in character" thing to do - it resulted in a near TPK and the end of that particular campaign. I have since decided that there are many ways to be true to a character concept - and that the ones that have the least chance of messing up someone else's character are usually the most fun for everyone.
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
Years ago I had my character do something that I felt was completely the right "in character" thing to do - it resulted in a near TPK and the end of that particular campaign.

In retrospect, my character's death would have resulted possibly in a TPK, and almost certainly the loss of more characters in the battle later that night, if the DM didn't reduce the battle.

I have since decided that there are many ways to be true to a character concept - and that the ones that have the least chance of messing up someone else's character are usually the most fun for everyone.

I can't do that. I really enjoy roleplaying when I know my character, where I'm not considering what my character concept might do, instead I'm doing what my character would do. It has to flow. When I'm creating my character is when I need to worry about not messing up someone else's fun.

This was fun because it was about the first time in the campaign when I wasn't trying to figure out why/how my character would do what my character had to do for metagame reasons, or engaging in purely tactical decisions, but actually doing what I knew my character would do in that situation.
 

Pentius

First Post
I've never had it happen to me. I've come close a couple of times, mainly from doing last stand heroics, but whenever I do those, the dice seem to decide on solidarity in my favor, and I make it out.

Really, if I, the player, know better, and the PC could conceivably do some other, non-fatal thing while remaining true to concept, I do that thing.

Last stand heroics get an exception, due to overriding awesomeness.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
Can't say I've had the pleasure.

I have had players sacrifice their characters for a greater good, and I've killed plenty of PCs with too-powerful monsters or due to their tactical errors. But I can't say I've seen the situation where a character dies because his player ignores salient metagame information and roleplays his demise according to what 'should' happen. That seems like a rather esoteric situation to me.

I have, many times. Frankly, if someone hasn't, I think they either (1) haven't been role-playing very long or (2) have completely missed the point of role-playing games.
...or their game has a low mortality rate. Or they're a DM (who loses characters pretty regularly I guess).
 

Gronin

Explorer
......
HOWEVER

a DM should never put in a challenge the PCs cannot overcome, for instance, the game I am in right now the entire region is tainted, so a DC 20 will save is needed to resist. We're 1st levels. This is pointless

I can't speak to the specifics of your particular campaign but for myself I enjoy knowing that there is a very real possibility that the challenge before me is more than I can handle. I like to know that sometime the only way to live is to run or hide.
 

Gronin

Explorer
I have had characters die because it was the right thing to do if that is what you are talking about.

In fact I'm pretty sure that my 14th Lvl Ranger is about to do just that next session. I intend to make it glorious.
 

Summer-Knight925

First Post
I can't speak to the specifics of your particular campaign but for myself I enjoy knowing that there is a very real possibility that the challenge before me is more than I can handle. I like to know that sometime the only way to live is to run or hide.

We cannot run, we HAVE to do this mission, its for the church

but since we're all from that region you would think we would all be evil or immune, but no...this DM thinks Horses can live in horrible wastes where there is no food for them to eat, it is just a sort of illogical setting with poor excuses for the lapse of logic.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
Player in one of my games ran a cleric, and the party got hooked up running jobs for the church. They did well. They were heroes. One thing led to another, and as a reward, I finally had an NPC offer the cleric his own church.

To be honest, I expected it to be just a nice role play moment where the cleric character got an in-game pat on the back but turned the offer. But, the player didn't see it that way. He couldn't see how his cleric could turn down such an opportunity.

So, the cleric actually accepted the position. The character became an NPC--a contact for the party. And, the player rolled up a new character.

It was actually pretty neat.
 

Wild Gazebo

Explorer
One of my favorite moments from an Alternity game I ran years ago was during a pitched gun fight between a group of gang members and the PCs. One of the PCs was playing a holoscreen actor who was living life dangerously by 'living the life' and developing his method acting for his movies.

I'll never forget how he casually strutted out from cover, whipped off his sunglasses, and took a whole round to cock one eyebrow suggestively to the other combatants.

Needless to say he was gunned down mercilessly and just barely escaped death; but, the whole group to this day talks about how hard we laughed and how well the player actually acted out the maneuver.

As long as it doesn't become a crutch on the game or an irritant to others at the table we always encourage the roleplay.
 

Oryan77

Adventurer
Not as a player, but as a DM, I killed a powergamers powergamed-powergamey PC via roleplaying. It was the only PC I ever wanted to see die in our game, and it felt good.

I was getting pretty sick of dealing with this character. The player never roleplayed, his face was always in the books, and he assured me he wanted to focus on roleplaying rather than powergaming before he joined the group. I should admit that I was pretty bitter when he killed a BBEG in 1 round (by himself) because he sprung a surprise combo of spells on me and then said, "I've been waiting to do that!"

I didn't actively look to kill his PC, but during the confrontation with the BBEG of the next adventure, I saw the opportunity to do it and I took it. I won't bore you with details, but it ended with the BBEG giving him a choice, "Surrender, hand over your weapons and remove your armor, and we will spare you and your companions lives."

He still didn't bother to roleplay. The player just sighed and said "ok". There was no negotiating or anything. So as his PC stood there helpless, the BBEG (chaotic evil) smirked and told his minions, "Now, slaughter him."

I hate to see a PC die. But I went home after that game with a wide grin on my face. After he made an even more powergamed PC to replace the one he lost and had the nerve to play it down and claim it was actually weaker, I didn't invite him back to the game.
 

Abraxas

Explorer
In retrospect, my character's death would have resulted possibly in a TPK, and almost certainly the loss of more characters in the battle later that night, if the DM didn't reduce the battle.
It appears we have different play styles then - the DM pulling punches to save the group's collective butts is a huge fun killer for me.

I can't do that. I really enjoy roleplaying when I know my character, where I'm not considering what my character concept might do, instead I'm doing what my character would do. It has to flow. When I'm creating my character is when I need to worry about not messing up someone else's fun.
Character and character concept are the same thing to me. Choosing to do something that doesn't screw over everyone else playing the game doesn't mean I am not roleplaying. How much fun would it be for you if the other players decide that their characters wouldn't associate with a character that runs and leaves them hanging?

This was fun because it was about the first time in the campaign when I wasn't trying to figure out why/how my character would do what my character had to do for metagame reasons, or engaging in purely tactical decisions, but actually doing what I knew my character would do in that situation.
Fun for you - had the DM not eased up on the rest of the group, how much fun would they have had? Again it appears we have different play styles - I no longer have much patience for "but it's what my character would do" reasoning - now days it usually results in the other players reasoning that their characters wouldn't associate with the problem character.

However, if you and your group are having fun - then no problems and good gaming.
 

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