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


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)?
Yes. Death always has to be on the table to give that tension. I've had entire campaign threads derailed because the character at the centre of that thread died. That's just the way things go sometimes and I will try and bring aspects of what I had planned back in, or use the consequences of failure to create whole new story lines (one of which was all the dead in the world becoming animated - all corpses and skeletons. Society collapsed).

Most of my character deaths occur when the group needs to flee a situation and not everyone gets away.

I had one game where a TPK ended up hinging on whether the only character remaining concious was able to defeat the last remaining enemy. It came down to one dice roll. Everyone was very pleased that he succeeded.

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Usually they'll take time out to start making a new character, and if they still need something to do, they can help the DM out by doing such things as getting intiatives, or even playing the foes.

When we used to play 8, or 12 or 36 hour sessions it was a big deal. Sitting out wasn't acceptable. So if you didn't have a character ready, then roll one up.

But now we play 2 hour sessions. If they want to start rolling up their new character they can, but it's not something they have to do. The few times this has happened, the new character isn't ready by session end anyway.

What does AL say on this? I don't remember.


Nowadays I would likely ask the player if he wants to have the PC stay dead. Sometimes PCs die because something I do as the DM or a bad die roll, or something the player does. This may matter in if the PC stays dead.

If the PC died heroically saving the town and will be remembered throughout history, then the player and myself will likely keep him dead and the player rolls up a new PC to join. If I screwed up as the DM, then they may find a scroll of raise dead in short order.

PCs join as soon as it fits. Some are more hammered into the plot if the PCs are in a dungeon instead of in town. Generally they would find the new PC as a prisoner and all his gear in the same room to make it easy. All the other things said in the thread about playing a NPC or assisting the DM would be normal as well.


My players usually stay at the table and work on a new character. My weekly sessions are only 4 hours long, but if they get the character done and are ready to jump in, I bring their new PC in - sometimes with very little story justification.


In my first 3.5 campaign with my current group of players, each player had two PCs and decided at the beginning of each adventure which one they'd be running and which one was back at HQ on standby duty. (They were all part of the same Adventurers Guild and wore rings allowing them to teleport back to base or "home in on the teleporting ring's last coordinates," so if a PC died in the field, they could return the body to base and have the "backup duty" PC teleport in to replace him or her.)

In my second 3.5 campaign, I added an NPC dwarven cleric to the group and had a different player run her each adventure, in addition to his or her own PC. If a PC died during the course of an adventure, they'd take over running Ingebold Battershield for the rest of that adventure, and then we'd decide how best to proceed to getting the dead PC returned to life for the next adventure.

In my current 3.5 campaign, we have five players but one has gone off to college and only occasionally gets to game with us any more, so we allow his dad to run his own PC and his absent son's PC, an elven sorcerer. A few sessions ago we had our first PC death in that campaign, so my son (the one whose PC got killed) ended up running the elven sorcerer for the rest of that adventure. We've also gained a lower-level NPC bard that could be run by someone else in a pinch.



My players usually stay at the table and work on a new character. My weekly sessions are only 4 hours long, but if they get the character done and are ready to jump in, I bring their new PC in - sometimes with very little story justification.


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?

This happened in my first Dragonbane game last week. I let the player play a friendly-ish Goblin until the end of the session, it worked pretty well. I don't like having new PCs poof in out of nowhere. If the player has a backup PC ready to go and tells me :LOL: then I might bring them in at an appropriate point. However I don't really object to the player 'just sitting there', feeling the weight of PC death.

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