log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Let 'em live or die?

While DMing today, a PC died today, 2nd level on the cusp of 3rd. It was partially good DM rolls, partially poor planning. The battle:
The PCs attacked a xvart lair then left to take a 1 hour short rest. Xvarts aren't stupid, and they regrouped the bulk of their forces in a central war room while directing a force to trail the PCs and block any escape. Rather than infiltrating the lair and taking it room-by-room, 5 2nd level PCs faced a very deadly encounter of 13 alert xvarts, 1 xvart warlock, and 1 giant tick. Given the PCs had killed a sacred whiptail centipede, destroyed the centipede hatchery, and insulted their deity, this wasn't a battle where prisoners were going to be taken. It wasn't a glorious death that anyone will write stories about.


I generally don't like pulling punches in my games and roll in full view. In doing so, I can't fudge away a character death when the dice do their thing. I'm not inclined to because if players catch on the DM is going to intervene every time death is near with a convenient plot device, it'll cheapen the experience. After all, why roll in combat when you know the DM won't really let you perish, perhaps because you wrote an awesome backstory that fits with the campaign?

Still, it stinks. I can tell she was bummed, and there's not many options for low-level characters. A few weeks ago, I pulled a DM intervention for another gamer whose character died at 1st level due to a really unfortunate random encounter roll. Thanks to befriending some fey, they quested and got hooked up with a druid reincarnate, and a hefty IOU. It was good times and in the past I've turned low-level death into a quest.

Should I intervene, again, though, with another convenient story plot device given I just did so? I've got ideas, but it feels contrived to do this twice in a row and so quickly.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

TheDelphian

Explorer
Well there is always reasons to take them alive. Sacrifices is first comes to mind.

Torture and revenge is another.

Maybe they need them to trade to replace what they killed. Underground slave traders etc.

Chances to escape whatever.

But it sounds like they screwed up so I would mostly likely run the fight offer some avenue for some to get away and otherwise kill them. Now this depends on the campaign most mine don't have a huge plot that revolves around the characters but are often a plot they become involved in. So Killingthem doesn't hurt the campaign.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It seems a bit unfair to refuse to contrive another scenario where the PC might be brought back into play. I would feel obligated, having done it once. This is partly why I don't do this in the first place. Either you can die in my games or you can't.

If death is going to be a thing, then I prefer to let the dice fall where they may and let the players know this. If I don't want it to be a thing, then I set that expectation as well, and death is no longer on the table in favor of other forms of failure.
 



GSHamster

Adventurer
I think you should discuss it with your players and see what they think. Maybe they would prefer a less lethal game all around, and you might be better off having characters be knocked unconscious rather than killed. Or maybe they'll make a group decision that the dice fall where they may, and dead is dead.

If you're going to fudge every death with a complicated contrivance, it's going to get silly quickly.
 


G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I think finding out somehow that the "dead" party member was captured alive and is going to be sacrificed...soon...might be appropriate.

EDIT: Get the player to roll up a new character, and then have that character be the one to bring the news to the party. If they pull of a successful rescue she can choose which character to keep playing.
 

Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
I think prisoners. IRL they could be ransomed off to their families, or maybe to the fey who's eye they've caught? The fey may be very cross to have been dragged into affairs with something like Xvarts. The PC's will have to earn the fey's forgiveness. I figure the fey are a bit like the mob. They give you favours, but then expect your service indefinitely to repay the debt.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
While DMing today, a PC died today, 2nd level on the cusp of 3rd. It was partially good DM rolls, partially poor planning. The battle:
The PCs attacked a xvart lair then left to take a 1 hour short rest. Xvarts aren't stupid, and they regrouped the bulk of their forces in a central war room while directing a force to trail the PCs and block any escape. Rather than infiltrating the lair and taking it room-by-room, 5 2nd level PCs faced a very deadly encounter of 13 alert xvarts, 1 xvart warlock, and 1 giant tick. Given the PCs had killed a sacred whiptail centipede, destroyed the centipede hatchery, and insulted their deity, this wasn't a battle where prisoners were going to be taken. It wasn't a glorious death that anyone will write stories about.

I generally don't like pulling punches in my games and roll in full view. In doing so, I can't fudge away a character death when the dice do their thing. I'm not inclined to because if players catch on the DM is going to intervene every time death is near with a convenient plot device, it'll cheapen the experience. After all, why roll in combat when you know the DM won't really let you perish, perhaps because you wrote an awesome backstory that fits with the campaign?

Still, it stinks. I can tell she was bummed, and there's not many options for low-level characters. A few weeks ago, I pulled a DM intervention for another gamer whose character died at 1st level due to a really unfortunate random encounter roll. Thanks to befriending some fey, they quested and got hooked up with a druid reincarnate, and a hefty IOU. It was good times and in the past I've turned low-level death into a quest.

Should I intervene, again, though, with another convenient story plot device given I just did so? I've got ideas, but it feels contrived to do this twice in a row and so quickly.
I wouldn't, but only because it was partially bad battle planning. I don't mind intervening if really bad luck happens, but if the players do it to themselves...
 

auburn2

Adventurer
While DMing today, a PC died today, 2nd level on the cusp of 3rd. It was partially good DM rolls, partially poor planning. The battle:
The PCs attacked a xvart lair then left to take a 1 hour short rest. Xvarts aren't stupid, and they regrouped the bulk of their forces in a central war room while directing a force to trail the PCs and block any escape. Rather than infiltrating the lair and taking it room-by-room, 5 2nd level PCs faced a very deadly encounter of 13 alert xvarts, 1 xvart warlock, and 1 giant tick. Given the PCs had killed a sacred whiptail centipede, destroyed the centipede hatchery, and insulted their deity, this wasn't a battle where prisoners were going to be taken. It wasn't a glorious death that anyone will write stories about.

I generally don't like pulling punches in my games and roll in full view. In doing so, I can't fudge away a character death when the dice do their thing. I'm not inclined to because if players catch on the DM is going to intervene every time death is near with a convenient plot device, it'll cheapen the experience. After all, why roll in combat when you know the DM won't really let you perish, perhaps because you wrote an awesome backstory that fits with the campaign?

Still, it stinks. I can tell she was bummed, and there's not many options for low-level characters. A few weeks ago, I pulled a DM intervention for another gamer whose character died at 1st level due to a really unfortunate random encounter roll. Thanks to befriending some fey, they quested and got hooked up with a druid reincarnate, and a hefty IOU. It was good times and in the past I've turned low-level death into a quest.

Should I intervene, again, though, with another convenient story plot device given I just did so? I've got ideas, but it feels contrived to do this twice in a row and so quickly.
So I get what you are saying but at 3rd level I would not let her character live. If the party is wealthy enough and inclined enough they can take her to a city and raise dead. Otherwise let her roll up a new one and join at the party's level. Focus on the opportunity to try something different.

I knew a 14 year old girl that went into a full blown week long depression when her 15th level 1E character was killed for good in a TPK. In her defense she had been playing it for well over a year.

With a first level character it is a bit different. I would never have wandering monsters in a 1st level game. Characters are so vulnerable at 1st level that that could die in any fight. For 1st level characters I prepare my fights meticulously and will pregame them all - 1st level characters don't fight anything that isn't a planned and set fight.
 


While DMing today, a PC died today, 2nd level on the cusp of 3rd. It was partially good DM rolls, partially poor planning. The battle:
The PCs attacked a xvart lair then left to take a 1 hour short rest. Xvarts aren't stupid, and they regrouped the bulk of their forces in a central war room while directing a force to trail the PCs and block any escape. Rather than infiltrating the lair and taking it room-by-room, 5 2nd level PCs faced a very deadly encounter of 13 alert xvarts, 1 xvart warlock, and 1 giant tick. Given the PCs had killed a sacred whiptail centipede, destroyed the centipede hatchery, and insulted their deity, this wasn't a battle where prisoners were going to be taken. It wasn't a glorious death that anyone will write stories about.

I generally don't like pulling punches in my games and roll in full view. In doing so, I can't fudge away a character death when the dice do their thing. I'm not inclined to because if players catch on the DM is going to intervene every time death is near with a convenient plot device, it'll cheapen the experience. After all, why roll in combat when you know the DM won't really let you perish, perhaps because you wrote an awesome backstory that fits with the campaign?

Still, it stinks. I can tell she was bummed, and there's not many options for low-level characters. A few weeks ago, I pulled a DM intervention for another gamer whose character died at 1st level due to a really unfortunate random encounter roll. Thanks to befriending some fey, they quested and got hooked up with a druid reincarnate, and a hefty IOU. It was good times and in the past I've turned low-level death into a quest.

Should I intervene, again, though, with another convenient story plot device given I just did so? I've got ideas, but it feels contrived to do this twice in a row and so quickly.
I always let them die. It is part of the game, and knowledge of what killed you can help you create a character you like better the next go round.
 

I think finding out somehow that the "dead" party member was captured alive and is going to be sacrificed...soon...might be appropriate.

EDIT: Get the player to roll up a new character, and then have that character be the one to bring the news to the party. If they pull of a successful rescue she can choose which character to keep playing.
I like this!
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So if you do decide to bring her back or let her live somehow, this is what I would do. If the PCs beat the encounter, then you have to find a way for her to come back. If they fled or lost, then even though you said that they would not take her/them prisoner, that's exactly what I would do. Why? Because of the very reason you said that they would not take them prisoner. They insulted their god. A quick and glorious death is not what awaits her. Better to nurse her back to health and then slowly and painfully sacrifice her to their god as is fitting for one who profaned his/her name. That gives them(if all are captured) or just her a chance to escape or be freed.
 

While DMing today, a PC died today, 2nd level on the cusp of 3rd. It was partially good DM rolls, partially poor planning. The battle:
The PCs attacked a xvart lair then left to take a 1 hour short rest. Xvarts aren't stupid, and they regrouped the bulk of their forces in a central war room while directing a force to trail the PCs and block any escape. Rather than infiltrating the lair and taking it room-by-room, 5 2nd level PCs faced a very deadly encounter of 13 alert xvarts, 1 xvart warlock, and 1 giant tick. Given the PCs had killed a sacred whiptail centipede, destroyed the centipede hatchery, and insulted their deity, this wasn't a battle where prisoners were going to be taken. It wasn't a glorious death that anyone will write stories about.

I generally don't like pulling punches in my games and roll in full view. In doing so, I can't fudge away a character death when the dice do their thing. I'm not inclined to because if players catch on the DM is going to intervene every time death is near with a convenient plot device, it'll cheapen the experience. After all, why roll in combat when you know the DM won't really let you perish, perhaps because you wrote an awesome backstory that fits with the campaign?

Still, it stinks. I can tell she was bummed, and there's not many options for low-level characters. A few weeks ago, I pulled a DM intervention for another gamer whose character died at 1st level due to a really unfortunate random encounter roll. Thanks to befriending some fey, they quested and got hooked up with a druid reincarnate, and a hefty IOU. It was good times and in the past I've turned low-level death into a quest.

Should I intervene, again, though, with another convenient story plot device given I just did so? I've got ideas, but it feels contrived to do this twice in a row and so quickly.

Let her come back to life as the new Undying race from UA.

Attach [insert plot hook here] to the resurrection.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Ask the group, perhaps with a secret vote. What do they want, and what will they find most fun? For some people, death of a PC destroys their enjoyment of the game for others it destroys the enjoyment of the game if death is off the table.

In my own games, I never completely take death off the table, but it's something I establish in a session 0. If the PCs do something truly stupid, PCs may die. I'll try to be sure that it's clear what they are doing is extremely dangerous, but they always have a choice.
 

J-H

Adventurer
Dead is dead. Don't feel bad about it. Make sure the player (if she's new) knows that she gets to roll up another character. Spend some time discussing what happened - but get the party to do it instead of being a DM "I told you so."

I just listened to this video last night on the topic:
It's a bit long, and you can probably skip the first half or 2/3 to get to the discussion of handling PC death and what it's like.
 

I just ask the player what they want to happen to their character. If your players are mature enough they'll have an opinion that you won't need to question. If they still want to play that character, then I contrive a reason for them to either not die or be restored from death. D&D is a world where death isn't the end, and if players still have stories they want to play out then I'm not going to tell them they can't if it makes any sense.

Personally, however, I find that PC death at low level just isn't fun, so I generally assume any PC who drops before level 3 is dropped unconscious. You make a point that xvarts are smart, but xvarts are also extremely greedy. If they had any suspicion that the PCs might be able to lead them to greater wealth if left alive, they would be willing to risk keeping the PC alive long enough to question them.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top