D&D General What do you do (as GM) if a PC dies in the middle of a session

cranberry

Adventurer
So, one of your players makes a risky move, the dice gods disapprove, and their PC dies. For one reason or another, no one in the party is able to revive the PC.

I'll start by saying the worst thing you can do, IMO, is have the player just sit there until the end of the session, and I think most GMs understand that.

I give my players a couple of options:

Take a few minutes to roll up a character, and jump in. (Since they had to do it on the fly, I let them change things after the session when they've had time to really think about the new PC)

Play the monster(s) that the other PCs will face, and roll up a new character at home for the next session (at the same level that the rest of the party is at)

Play an NPC if one is available and has more than a bit part.

Go home, and bring a new character in for the next session.

When the player rolls up a new character in this situation, I just assume that the new PC has always been part of the party from day one, and the game continues as normal.

I once had a PC that died, and the DM wouldn't let me play until I could figure out an in game reason for the new PC joining the party (and that also he had to review and approve). IMO, that's not fun, and really unnecessary.

So, with all that being said, what do you do?
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If I'm running a one-shot adventure, there will be some pre-gen backups prepared ahead of time for players to grab and get back to playing.

If I'm running a campaign, the players are asked to create a backup character (or possibly more than one). In some campaigns, they can swap the characters from session to session to level them up a bit.

In either case, the other PCs know the character that is being tapped in, and they have a reason to be wherever they are, so there's no awkward "Gettin' Ta Know You" scenes or sitting around waiting for the "perfect" time for the new character to join the party. The goal here is to get the player back into the primary mode of participation with the game as quickly as possible.
 

cranberry

Adventurer
If I'm running a one-shot adventure, there will be some pre-gen backups prepared ahead of time for players to grab and get back to playing.

If I'm running a campaign, the players are asked to create a backup character (or possibly more than one). In some campaigns, they can swap the characters from session to session to level them up a bit.

In either case, the other PCs know the character that is being tapped in, and they have a reason to be wherever they are, so there's no awkward "Gettin' Ta Know You" scenes or sitting around waiting for the "perfect" time for the new character to join the party. The goal here is to get the player back into the primary mode of participation with the game as quickly as possible.

I wish I could give you two "likes"(y)(y)
 

I usually have the players have a couple of characters ready before play even begins, in the event that there are deaths.

During the game, they can usually either run a hireling or other NPC (or have that become their character), have them encounter the new character in the adventure (rescued, run into, etc.), or the party usually quickly returns to town to resupply after the death, so the new character can join then.

But, as you said, its never a long time that the player has to wait to rejoin the party.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend, he/him
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Though seriously, in my experience the player who loses a character juat chills out and starts flipping through the PHB to think about their next one.
 

In my group, nobody would actually enjoy playing a new character. We focus heavily on character development, and any new character would feel hollow and empty. And the party would be mourning the loss of their friend.

I'd give the player controls over one or more of the pets, so (s)he has something to do in combat. Other than that, tough luck. Not much to do in the roleplay situations.

We would definitely follow up with an extra "session zero" to discuss what's next. New character, or side-quest to revive the old one.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
In my experience, players rarely want to immediately jump into playing a new character (and for me and most of my players the continuity of the new character's arrival matters). So like others, I might offer an NPC henchman or companion to run or if there isn't one or they don't want to do that - they can spend the session preparing a new character so we can figure out how best to introduce them the next time.

If a player wants to go home early that's fine and if they want to stick around and see what happens that also happens. I don't think of having "fun" as such a scarce resource that if they don't immediately have a way to play more it is a big deal - esp. since there is no guarantee that they will have fun with any of the "keep playing" options.
 

Jahydin

Hero
For my OSR games, I have them run multiple characters (2-4), so one dying isn't a big deal. They can roll up a new Level 1 characters whenever they feel like it.
Pathfinder/D&D, they just roll up a new character right away, but what level they start at varies system to system. Pathfinder 2E is same level, 5E is a level lower for instance.
 

cranberry

Adventurer
So, for those of you who prioritize role playing and story continuity over participating in the action and decision making for the group during the session, would you even allow allow a character to die? (permanently)?
 


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