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)?
With adults: Most certainly yes. Requires player-stupidity or an extreme case of bad luck.
With kids: Nah. I'll warn that it's a possibility, but I'll fudge my rolls to avoid the death of PCs.

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Victoria Rules
My usual premise is that I don't normally let a PC die for good unless its player is fine with it, so even when the rest of the party cannot revive it yet, it doesn't mean the PC has to be replaced by a new one. With that in mind, there is no rush to create another character for that player. In any case, I do not like stopping the session to let the player roll up another PC while the rest of the group waits,
Unless the party are in town or other downtime and about to head out to the field, I can't see any reason for stopping the session while a player rolls up a character. If nothing else, continuing the session makes it more likely things will get to a logical place to bring the new one in; which can't happen if it isn't rolled up yet. :)
but I also do not like letting the others continue while said player is sent away to create their PC and maybe even rushed into doing it.
Sent away? What's stopping the player from rolling the new PC up while still at the table? Further, char-gen often needs some DM input anyway via answering of questions, which can be done during breaks in the continuing play provided the rolling-up player is still at the table.

That, and due to some bad past experiences we have a table rule that says that at least the key rolls (stats, hit points, other major character elements) have to be done in the presence of others.
I just think that character creation is too important for a lot of players so they should not be rushed into it, and the best way to create a character that is supposed to last long is either between gaming sessions, or within the first session when everybody does it at the same time. That said, if you're the kind of player that consumes PCs like peanuts and always rolls up another on the spot, go ahead... once. I still don't like having you jump into the party in the middle of a quest, so if I get the feeling you're damaging the overall credibility of the story because you're recklessly losing PCs too often, I'll send you to another gaming group (or organize a Tomb of Horror styled campaign where everyone will play like that).
Ah. I take a different tack both as player and DM: while every character is rolled up with the intent that it'll last a long time, there's no way to know ahead of time if that intent will come out real or not.

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)?
I generally make resurrection possible, although I don’t like the spell raise dead as written, so I often houserule something more interesting.

It can take a little while, though , but at least in my experience most players are okay with waiting for about one session’s worth of play - if it’s going to be more than that (or they don’t want to keep the character) we’ll roll up someone for them to play.


Hmm. Pre-3E my players could usually generate a new character fast enough to be back in play in a half hour or so.

In 3E, I quickly learned to have players make a back-up to bring in play. Otherwise, the session came to a screeching halt or the player left for the evening. However, character deaths rarely ended with one person, so halting and retreating (and awaiting replacements) was the norm.

For 5E, I think our sessions are short enough (2-4 hours), we'd probably stop the game and give the player enough time to generate a replacement that can be introduced quickly in the next session. If the group wanted to keep playing for the moment, I'd probably have the player pick up a sidekick NPC to run for the rest of the session - there's usually a hanger-on or a place where such a replacement could be introduced quite quickly - I don't tend to run very large dungeons anymore where they player's can't finish fairly quickly or retreat to regroup.


It's hard if you're playing a game with complicated character creation, because it can just take too long to make a new one in-session. You can get by with letting the player run an NPC. I have a few simple ones prepared for the occasion. But it's not very satisfactory for many compared to running their own character.

In the game I'm currently a player in, I've solved the problem for my part by having a backup character prepared in advance. I just level him up alongside my current character so he's ready. Always breathing down my current character's neck... Waiting... For just that one slip-up. Erh...


I look at the clock, first, to know what we're handling here. if it is early in a session, I make sure I can provide another option for the player to play while their PC is dead. I have a few options that are 'out there' in each campaign that might pop in unexpectedly when the PCs are in trouble. And when there isn't a great opportunity for the PC to be restored quickly, I may just give them monsters to use in combat to try to kill the PCs. Many players also have backup PCs ready to go that I can work in right away.

Regardless, it is usually not going to be a great solution because most people get bummed out when their PC dies. They're frustrated, and option 2 isn't going to really make them happy. To that end, I offer them options, but many times the player chooses just to sit it out.

However, I do not necessarily end their RP with their dead character when they are dead. They may go through with a 'death scene' in which they pass through to the other side, especially if there is something I can do that will move the story forward and I know they will be coming back. For example, one PC recently died and I used the moment to have them see all of their deceased friends and family - but there was one missing. Someone they thought was dead was not in the afterlife! Was it because they went to 'another place', or was it because their soul was still in the world of the living - or did something else happen? It popped open a mystery that was lurking beneath the surface of the campaign. In the past I've also had PCs realize they're headed to the Bad Place, discover there are additional souls residing in their body, and discover that there is a dispute over their soul when they die that plays out for a bit before they return to the land of the living.


Rotten DM
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:

1 .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)

2. 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)

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

4.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?
I have done 1 to 3 with 1 being the most offend. 4. Is BS.


As a player I want time to think and consider a new character and what I want to play. So I would opt to either leave early or sit out and watch the rest of the session.

While I always have lots of character concepts that I want to play and can quickly make a character once I have decided what I want to play, I want to see what I get feel like playing at the time.
I don't want to premake a backup character, because then I will probably start wanting to the new character while still playing my current character. So waiting and sorting out a character for the next session is the best option for me.

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