D&D General On PC Death

Oh no! The dice turned against you and your character is DEAD! How do you respond?

  • "?&$# this! I quit!"

    Votes: 2 4.8%
  • "Fine!" ::write "The Second" after the character's name::

    Votes: 3 7.1%
  • Sobbing, rocking, pleading and general misery.

    Votes: 6 14.3%
  • Crumple up character sheet, throw it at GM and dare them to say something.

    Votes: 2 4.8%
  • "I hated that character anyway!" ::happily roll up new character::

    Votes: 21 50.0%
  • "Well, achtually..." ::pull out rulebook and proceed to argue rules to reverse death::

    Votes: 4 9.5%
  • Beat GM unconscious with 300 page character backstory.

    Votes: 4 9.5%

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I wonder what percentage of players new to the game with 5E view story as an emergent rather than explicit aspect of play. With 5E being largely driven by campaign length adventures thus far wonder if it is notably different than with those who started with a more episodic standard. For that matter, I wonder how many players that came to the game 5E use adventures versus home brew, and whether they tend toward episodic or serial play.

I'd ask on reddit but I am afraid to create an account there for fear of meme and Russian bots...
I also started playing with 3.5e, though I played very little of it, and really got into the game with 4e, which was pretty story-focused. 5e was actually a big part of what inspired my shift in mindset. The playtest really pushed to refocus gameplay around the conversation between the players and the DM. I do wonder though how the experience of people who are being introduced to 5e now differs.
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
The only time I've ever been mad about a PC death was a ranger I played in a FR campaign back in the 90s (college days). The DM devised some kind of Oil of Fiery Burning trap to "get" a PC whose player had manipulated some rules and rules options to have a ridiculously high armor class (basically nothing hit him). Unfortunately, my character was too close when the trap went off.

Until just before this point I wasn't sure I liked this character, but this adventure was awesome and built around assaulting an old fort currently populated by his species enemy and it was hecka fun! And then he died through no fault of his own. He failed the save by a point, but even if he had made it, the trap did so much damage that even halved there was a decent chance it would have killed him anyway. I nearly dropped out of the game and took a one or two session break before me and the offending player made a pair of dwarven brothers to re-join the group (this character would also eventually die, but by what felt like fairer means).

For two decades after I'd still bring up that trap to my friend who DMed (jokingly - I'm not mad anymore), pretty sure he never admitted there was an issue with how he handled it.
 
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Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
There are bold swordsmen and old swordsmen, but there are not old, bold, swordsman.

If I find my character taking a dirt nap, it is probably due to mine/his, life choices. If nothing can be done to revive said character, then I will simple work with the DM to reroll and get back into the action as soon as I can.
 

Stormonu

Legend
My buddy had a black D20 that we called the Die of DOOM! whenever he DM'd- because it was constantly rolling 20s on attack rolls against us. That same die would regularly roll 1s 2s 3s and 4s if anyone else used it. Sadistic bast#$d thought that was quite funny...
Was I your DM? That die sounds familiar...
 

jgsugden

Legend
My response is not listed. When a PC dies (permanently), I will feel one of three ways:

  • Frustrated with myself for making a mistake,
  • Sad that the story is not going to complete, or
  • Enthused that they went out on a high note.

Regardless, within a minute or two I'll be looking at the file I have of PC ideas and asking myself (and sometimes others) which one would be best to add to the group as it stands.
 



Oofta

Legend
I think the only time I've been mildly annoyed at a PC death was at a con with the low level table (2nd level PCs IIRC) during an "interactive". This is a game where all the tables are playing the same combat, just different areas. It can be fun.

However, the organizers decided it would be fun to have an modified Mouth of Grolantar* just pop into the middle of the combat, ignored the initiative order, just rearranged minis so he could hit everyone and used the giant's "attack everyone" power. He ignored our enemies and automatically hit all the PCs for more than 20 points of damage automatically killing my character and my wife's PC then left without taking any AOOs.

So it had nothing to do with my strategy up to that point, there was nothing I could have done to avoid it, it was just "you're going to die since you were low on HP because I wandered over to your table towards the end of a hard fight and ignored how the monster is supposed to work."

I mean, every elf I play dies at low levels but now it's just something I literally laugh at. Bad strategy and unlucky dice happen. But just killing off PCs thoughtlessly because you can? Yeah, that's annoying.

*It's the closest thing I ever found. Either they modified it or they simply broke several rules.
 
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I generally have a "well, them's the breaks" attitude. Especially if it was a good death (like my barbarian that was the last PC standing, hewing enemies down left and right before he finally fell). There are so many great ideas just waiting to be brought to life, that character death, at its best, is both a story and an opportunity.

As I've said before, I'm a giant softie that will give PCs every chance to save themselves. But sometimes character death will avoidably happen. A player can get mad at what happened, but getting angry with me is a different story. Even if you're not so rude that I'd boot you, I'll remember it.
 

Gorg

Explorer
I think the only time I've been mildly annoyed at a PC death was at a con with the low level table (2nd level PCs IIRC) during an "interactive". This is a game where all the tables are playing the same combat, just different areas. It can be fun.

However, the organizers decided it would be fun to have an modified Mouth of Grolantar* just pop into the middle of the combat, ignored the initiative order, just rearranged minis so he could hit everyone and used the giant's "attack everyone" power. He ignored our enemies and automatically hit all the PCs for more than 20 points of damage automatically killing my character and my wife's PC then left without taking any AOOs.

So it had nothing to do with my strategy up to that point, there was nothing I could have done to avoid it, it was just "you're going to die since you were low on HP because I wandered over to your table towards the end of a hard fight and ignored how the monster is supposed to work."

I mean, every elf I play dies at low levels but now it's just something I literally laugh at. Bad strategy and unlucky dice happen. But just killing off PCs thoughtlessly because you can? Yeah, that's annoying.

*It's the closest thing I ever found. Either they modified it or they simply broke several rules.
And then there are players like me, when I was young and stupid. I actually told my DM "You can't kill MY characters!!!" They were my ridiculously OP high levels I'd had forever.

He did.

Got real creative about it, too. For instance, behind one door was a big statue of a dragon, and every time you'd open the door and try to enter, BOOM!! you get hit in the face with a fireball, Ice Storm, etc. Nothing we did effected this thing in any way. When someone DID manage to get past the "trap", it turned out to simply be a hollow statue, and inside were 2 freaking goblins and a bucket of magic wands...

Or the ol disappearing floor trick- which dropped you onto a sheet of ice. "You hear a strange sliding/scraping noise rapidly coming closer..." <rolls dice> "Take xx damage and you're now sliding helplessly across the ice!" Turned out to be a group of Frost Giants playing ice hockey- with my Dwarf being used as the puck.

Then a room with 2 gigantic rust monsters- and a disenchanter. Which led to a great hall full of hundreds of orcs...

Yup, I never made that mistake again!

Funny part is, when it was MY turn to DM, he became the most paranoid player ever. Took forever to get through anywhere- because he had to check every square inch for traps, lol. There rarely were any, but it was highly amusing to see him so scared, lol.
 

Oofta

Legend
And then there are players like me, when I was young and stupid. I actually told my DM "You can't kill MY characters!!!" They were my ridiculously OP high levels I'd had forever.

He did.

Got real creative about it, too. For instance, behind one door was a big statue of a dragon, and every time you'd open the door and try to enter, BOOM!! you get hit in the face with a fireball, Ice Storm, etc. Nothing we did effected this thing in any way. When someone DID manage to get past the "trap", it turned out to simply be a hollow statue, and inside were 2 freaking goblins and a bucket of magic wands...

Or the ol disappearing floor trick- which dropped you onto a sheet of ice. "You hear a strange sliding/scraping noise rapidly coming closer..." <rolls dice> "Take xx damage and you're now sliding helplessly across the ice!" Turned out to be a group of Frost Giants playing ice hockey- with my Dwarf being used as the puck.

Then a room with 2 gigantic rust monsters- and a disenchanter. Which led to a great hall full of hundreds of orcs...

Yup, I never made that mistake again!

Funny part is, when it was MY turn to DM, he became the most paranoid player ever. Took forever to get through anywhere- because he had to check every square inch for traps, lol. There rarely were any, but it was highly amusing to see him so scared, lol.
Yeah, the really old school of play where PCs were disposable is another thing entirely.

The reason I was moderately upset was that in 5E (and AL for that matter) it's not supposed to be a "surprise your dead!" style of game. Especially not one where there was absolutely nothing you could do about it - at least in you case you had the option of not entering the room.

For the most part I just give a melodramatic not-serious groan and move on. 🤷‍♂️
 

the_redbeard

Explorer
As a player: "Ooh, I get to try out [new character idea X]!"
As a DM: "Oh, jeez, now I've got to junk all of that character's connections and story hooks, and work another weird rando into my campaign."

As a DM, I have to say that with a continuing campaign world, every new character and new character background is just additional depth to my setting. All that stuff about the last character? That's still going on. All that stuff for the new character is just another layer to the onion.
 

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