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General Typical procedure after character death?

Mort

Hero
Supporter
Per the thread title: What is your typical procedure after a character in the group has died?

Does the player immediately roll up a new character and join right away or do they sit out until an "appropriate point?" (or something in between)

Do players typically have backup characters?

Do characters joint the group at the same level, a lower level, 1st level?'

What about equipment?

These questions are just guidelines/suggestions - the main question what does your group typically do after a character has died?
 

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Fanaelialae

Legend
We allow players to rejoin as soon as reasonably possible. Typically, players are encouraged to have backup characters ready, but it isn't mandatory and even those who do rarely keep them leveled up. If they need to roll up a character, we will usually continue playing while they do so.

The level you come in at varies by campaign and DM. Usually you come in at the same XP or one level down at most. Generally you get basic equipment and some additional starting gold depending on your level. Whether you start with a magic item is up to the DM and, even when granted, players don't generally get more than one.

Gear is the big loss from dying, not XP. Usually, the dead character's gear is left on them as a sign of respect. That doesn't apply to McGuffins, of course. I think we started doing that after I ran a campaign where it was believed that if you stole from dead companions, that they would haunt you and bring you bad luck. If the "new guy" is lucky, after a bit of time getting acquainted, the other party members might toss him a few spare magical items that they don't use too often.
 

Jd Smith1

Adventurer
My player run two PCs each (5 players), so the game continues. The deceased's gear goes to the party, and a new PC is rolled up before the next session. The new PC inherits the dead PC's XP for the last session, but otherwise starts at level 1.
 

As I run sessions about 3-4 hours on average I generally make the player wait out the rest of the session before making a new character. If its feasible I always encourage the party to try and get the character raised if possible, providing the player want to go that route. Otherwise I'll work with them between the next session to make a new PC which starts at 2 levels lower than the lowest PC in the current party. I may allow them some magical items depending on what the rest of the party looks like, but they will get average gold for their level to buy equipment, but then again I don't worry much about mundane equipment other than armor and weapons.
 

J-H

Explorer
Same level, reintroduced as fast as possible (same session or start of next session; same session if right before a boss fight). Gear transfers over to the new character, who has that and whatever the party has available to work with (like if going from a sorc to a paladin).
 

Usually, the dead character's gear is left on them as a sign of respect.
I have never ever once seen players be so honorable. The character is looted before they hit the ground. Its like when someone gets fired from your work, the first thing to get looted is the desk chair and monitor, then mouse and cork board, until all that's left on their old desk is a staple puller and hole punch.
 


I have never ever once seen players be so honorable. The character is looted before they hit the ground. Its like when someone gets fired from your work, the first thing to get looted is the desk chair and monitor, then mouse and cork board, until all that's left on their old desk is a staple puller and hole punch.
Yeah, this has never happened to me. If I mentioned the concept to my players, they would look at me like I'm crazy.
 

Gear transfers over to the new character
I find this interesting as I have never thought to do this as, see above usually its looted, and realistically I couldn't justify a new character showing up with all the gear the last player that just died had. Is this an OOC house rule?
 

ccs

40th lv DM
In our 5e game;
When a new character enters play they come in at lv.-1/at lv./lv.+1 (roll a d3) as compared to the average party lv.
They start with the standard PHB gear for class/background & then we have a lv. based chart of how much extra gold & % chance for magic.
They enter play "at an appropriate time". It just depends upon what's going on playwise at the time.

Some of the players have a back-up character partially ready to go, some have an idea or two, and one definitely has no plan.

So what happens to the dead characters gear?
Well, the 1st question that has to be answered is: What happened to the body? Obviously if the PCs don't have the body for whatever reason, they most likely don't have the gear/treasure....
Assuming the PCs have the body/gear though? It's up to them.

In our PF game?
When a new character enters play they come in at lv.
They start with the Wealth By Lv as appropriate to their lv. what they spend it on is up to them.
They enter play "at an appropriate time". It just depends upon what's going on playwise at the time.

Usually the players have a back-up character partially ready to go.

So what happens to the dead characters gear?
Well, the 1st question that has to be answered is: What happened to the body? Obviously if the PCs don't have the body for whatever reason, they most likely don't have the gear/treasure....
Assuming the PCs have the body/gear though? It's up to them.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
Step 1:
Rip character sheet up in front of the group. Maybe burn it in a cup if they died from a fireball.

Step 2:
Loot gets collected. Depending on the campaign, group or alignment, gear might go to next of kin or to other party members or buried with the body, or looted.

Step 3: (29:50)
GM: You see a mysterious man in red flowing robes
Player 1: Dude, is this your new character?
Player 2: Yeaaaah!
GM: Guys, I want you to role play this. Remember, you never met this guy before, the last guys you met tried to kill you and you're standing in the ruins of an evil, cursed castle. Just act appropriately.
Player 2: My name is Magellen, a travelling wizard. I notice that your party has no Wizard!
Player 1: You look trustworthy, would you like to join us in our noble quest?
Player 2: Yes, yes I would.
 

Al'Kelhar

Adventurer
Body is looted and then burned. Usually after dismembering. If nuking from orbit is possible, do that. You don't want that thing coming back...
 

Tonguez

Legend
Thats why I like players to create factions which they interact with during downtime. The faction can range from their immediate village (family) to an Order of Knights, a Wizards Academy, a Guild etc and I use an influence mechanic to determine its relative level (which PCs can invest time/resource into).

new PCs are assumed to come from the faction, and thus have reason to take the dead characters place (and possessions) and to have a reasonable backgroung knowledge. They have a level appropriate to the faction level and will join when appropriate (eg they might even be one of the hirelings back guarding the camp/horses called up because their Liege was killed)
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
You mean after the game show sound effects and Sarah McLachlan? I mean after that, it's a pretty smooth process.

Step 1. Passive aggressive blame game. Both player, party, and DM must come to an agreement that the others are at fault.

Step 2. Disposal of the corpse, frequently unceremoniously.

Step 3. Random bs-ery, avoiding Schrodinger's character introductions.

Step 4. DM tires of bs-ery and "gently" suggests a course of action.

Step 5. An unfamiliar face greets the party.."describe your character"

Step 6. New character is greeted with hostility and suspicion.

And it carries on this way until the next character dies.
 

Step 5. An unfamiliar face greets the party.."describe your character"

Step 6. New character is greeted with hostility and suspicion.
Step 7. True story, current party member, berserker, does a called shot to lop off unfamiliar approaching mew character, rolls natural 20 and decapitates former, now dead...(again) new character.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Per the thread title: What is your typical procedure after a character in the group has died?
These days I wouldn't let a PC die without asking the player if they are ok with that.

Not everyone but at least a good number of players have a very character-driven approach to RPG, especially many beginners/newcomers are specifically interested in the idea that a RPG allows them to creatively design a character. They invest their effort in imagining their character from a much larger perspective than their stats, and they expect having to develop the character's story alongside the other characters for a fairly good time. A DM that fails to acknowledge that these players are important contributors to the game and their kind of fun is not less deserved than other kinds, and thinks that character death is a good way to "teach them a lesson" (presumably about the "true" way to play the game), is simply a turd: the only "lesson" they learn is that there's no room for their kind of fun in the game.

If a PC dies in my game, I let the players know that indeed, according to the RAW it should be dead, but what do you and the rest of the group want to do with it? Are you ok with the story of this character ending here and in this way? If all agree that it makes sense for the story, the player makes a new PC of the same level (although in 5e it might be also ok to make it 1st level, to give time to the player to learn the new character's mechanics, and level up quickly). But it has to be noted that if this happens to the kind of player above, you shouldn't rush them into building a new character too quickly.

Otherwise, I give them two more option. The first is to try and get the PC back among the living using in-game options like resurrection spells or side-quests. I do not particularly push the group towards this, because I am aware that many people feel that magical resurrection capabilities are lame, but if they think they are fine, then it's fine for me too. I also ask them if they want to follow the more gamist "write-off approach" (e.g. just remove 5000 gp from your cash and be done with it) or a more full-narrative approach of having to find that amount in diamonds or going on a side-quest. If the player has to wait for a while, they can play a sidekick character or even try to control some monsters for me in battle.

The last option is to replace death with something else. We will agree together what would make sense depending on the circumstances. The PC might have been captured or may stay unconscious and need to be dragged around for quite some time (during which the player can do the same as above). Or otherwise we decide on a long-term penalty to represent a major wound appropriate to the means of death, one possible idea is for the wound to remain until next level.

As you can see, there are plenty of options I am open about as a DM. As a player on the other hand, I don't mind. Go ahead and kill my PC, I'll just make another one. I always have at least a dozen idea I want to try anyway.
 

I think it's funny that the standard response here is "roll up a new character". In basically every D&D game I've played (other than one-shots or similar) the response to a character dying has been to try to figure out how to bring them back to life.

If the party has the magic for it, there you go. If they don't, then you go try to find a cleric who does. If you can't afford to pay for the spell, you see if you can get them to do it for a quest/service instead.

Since it's not terribly fun for the player to sit out, if this is something that won't be resolved in the next session, I'd work with them to play a temporary character (either an NPC that they take over, or they can make one).

If they do want to make a new character, they would have the same XP as the rest of the party, though their gear wouldn't be anywhere nearly as good as the rest of the party.

Random Thoughts:

One thing I find just as immersion breaking as the whole "Hello there trustworthy looking new party member!" is when a player wants to play a different character and the party just mysteriously decides not to try to bring their dead character back or find out where they mysteriously disappeared to , etc. I mean, there aren't a lot of good ways around that, but it's still one of those things I try to find a way to make sense of.

In the current campaign, one of the characters has died twice, and both times returned as an incorporeal undead temporarily while we try to get him brought back to life. That's not something I'd normally do, but it's a feature of this campaign that was planned from the beginning.
 

Jd Smith1

Adventurer
I think it's funny that the standard response here is "roll up a new character". In basically every D&D game I've played (other than one-shots or similar) the response to a character dying has been to try to figure out how to bring them back to life.

If the party has the magic for it, there you go. If they don't, then you go try to find a cleric who does. If you can't afford to pay for the spell, you see if you can get them to do it for a quest/service instead.

Since it's not terribly fun for the player to sit out, if this is something that won't be resolved in the next session, I'd work with them to play a temporary character (either an NPC that they take over, or they can make one).

If they do want to make a new character, they would have the same XP as the rest of the party, though their gear wouldn't be anywhere nearly as good as the rest of the party.

Random Thoughts:

One thing I find just as immersion breaking as the whole "Hello there trustworthy looking new party member!" is when a player wants to play a different character and the party just mysteriously decides not to try to bring their dead character back or find out where they mysteriously disappeared to , etc. I mean, there aren't a lot of good ways around that, but it's still one of those things I try to find a way to make sense of.

In the current campaign, one of the characters has died twice, and both times returned as an incorporeal undead temporarily while we try to get him brought back to life. That's not something I'd normally do, but it's a feature of this campaign that was planned from the beginning.
If you die in my campaigns, whatever the setting, you're dead. No takebacks. No raise dead spells, no recovery tech.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I have never ever once seen players be so honorable. The character is looted before they hit the ground. Its like when someone gets fired from your work, the first thing to get looted is the desk chair and monitor, then mouse and cork board, until all that's left on their old desk is a staple puller and hole punch.
Funny enough, every time someone has been fired from my job their desk sat untouched for days, usually weeks, like some strange silent memorial. It's almost always our office manager who ends up clearing everything away, and even he usually waits until we're in the process of hiring someone new. It is almost like people are afraid to disturb the "corpse" for fear of being cursed by it. Personally, I'm happy with my setup at work and have no interest in "looting" someone else's desk.

I think it's funny that the standard response here is "roll up a new character". In basically every D&D game I've played (other than one-shots or similar) the response to a character dying has been to try to figure out how to bring them back to life.

If the party has the magic for it, there you go. If they don't, then you go try to find a cleric who does. If you can't afford to pay for the spell, you see if you can get them to do it for a quest/service instead.

Since it's not terribly fun for the player to sit out, if this is something that won't be resolved in the next session, I'd work with them to play a temporary character (either an NPC that they take over, or they can make one).

If they do want to make a new character, they would have the same XP as the rest of the party, though their gear wouldn't be anywhere nearly as good as the rest of the party.

Random Thoughts:

One thing I find just as immersion breaking as the whole "Hello there trustworthy looking new party member!" is when a player wants to play a different character and the party just mysteriously decides not to try to bring their dead character back or find out where they mysteriously disappeared to , etc. I mean, there aren't a lot of good ways around that, but it's still one of those things I try to find a way to make sense of.

In the current campaign, one of the characters has died twice, and both times returned as an incorporeal undead temporarily while we try to get him brought back to life. That's not something I'd normally do, but it's a feature of this campaign that was planned from the beginning.
In fairness, I was referring to the procedure when raising the dead is not in the cards. If it's possible, we ask the player whether they want the dead character brought back and behave accordingly (it's assumed that the PCs regularly discuss this sort of thing).

If someone has a spell that can bring back the dead, and the player of the dead character isn't opposed (many of my players would rather the character remain dead than reincarnate) the spell is cast and the character restored with minimal fuss. Otherwise, the players will try to seek out an NPC who can do so (but such characters are not common in our games, so the PCs may not know anyone who can do this). However, I've played in many campaigns where life restoration magic was banned from PCs and rare amongst NPCs.

I recently had my character die in one such campaign. He's a homebrew race that is vaguely like Frankenstein's monster. There are these rare birds with faces in that world that are one of the only common sources of resurrection. However, they only frequent safe areas, and so far we haven't been able to fortify a town sufficiently to pique their interest. My cleric ended up getting absolutely destroyed by flail snails. However, there's a small chance of 'divine intervention' when someone dies, and I lucked out. My character found himself at the gates of the underworld, greeted by shikome. After a bit of discourse, they agreed to look the other way but explained that not all of him would be able to go back. Which is how he spent several game sessions as an undead, floating head. Thankfully, one of the PCs is a brilliant mad scientist, and we came across notes that detailed the process for creating one of my character's kind. After a few very high intelligence checks to riddle out their mysteries, the mad scientist figured out that with a lab and a philosophers stone he could make me a new body. Which entailed a bit more adventuring in order to find those things, but ultimately we did and my character is thankfully alive and full-bodied. However, this method of "resurrection" will only work on my character and only due to the unique circumstances, which I won't be counting on to happen again.

Of course, if the player wants the character back but the PCs can't find a means to do so, the only option is to reroll.
 


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