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D&D 5E Killing your players


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When did it become taboo to kill PCs? I get the whole "fail forward" keep the game going, etc. It seems to me where is the challenge for players without them believing that permanent death is a very real possibility? I'd suspect that this style of play will only work a few times before the players feel their characters are invincible.
 

Warlord Mal

Villager
When did it become taboo to kill PCs? I get the whole "fail forward" keep the game going, etc. It seems to me where is the challenge for players without them believing that permanent death is a very real possibility? I'd suspect that this style of play will only work a few times before the players feel their characters are invincible.

Well think about this last part though. If the players fail in their goal and the story continues past their death, they are in a state where they suffer the consequences of that failure. No player wants to be in that situation. For example, if the players fail to kill a dragon and are slain. The DM narrates that the players are now running for their lives. They now have to focus on hiding from a beast hunting them. If they flee to a village, the village can be attacked and blames the players. If they hide in the wilderness then the dragon can sniff them out and put them on the run preventing rests. The dragon's stronghold also gets beefed up on defenses. Their original task became harder. So this is not where the players want to find themselves. In a way, this is more punishing than death itself.
 

Well think about this last part though. If the players fail in their goal and the story continues past their death, they are in a state where they suffer the consequences of that failure. No player wants to be in that situation. For example, if the players fail to kill a dragon and are slain. The DM narrates that the players are now running for their lives. They now have to focus on hiding from a beast hunting them. If they flee to a village, the village can be attacked and blames the players. If they hide in the wilderness then the dragon can sniff them out and put them on the run preventing rests. The dragon's stronghold also gets beefed up on defenses. Their original task became harder. So this is not where the players want to find themselves. In a way, this is more punishing than death itself.
I see how this approach could work if used sparingly, once, maybe twice in a campaign. If I were running the above example, once the dragon caught up to the party the second time either they legitimately defeat it, escape or they die. For me personally I'd prefer the party perished the first time then the players make new PCs and deal with a world suffering the repercussions of the previous parties defeat. This is just how I like to run my games.
 

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