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5E What Level was your 1st Character Death in 5e?

Unwise

Adventurer
It is really hard to keep PCs alive at level 1. I saw that Bandits were CR 1/8 so I put 8 of them against 4 PCs. A rookie mistake I guess. It was a massacre.

I put them up against a single orc next. One crit from an orc with a greataxe can easily take a level 1 from full HP to outright dead.

Level 1-2 is to teach people about player death. It is like giving your kids guppies to teach them about death. When they get use to the idea of mortality, they play the rest of the game as if they don't have plot armor.
 

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Adamant

Explorer
My first death was as a level 5 paladin in the CoS AL modules. The zombie beholder disintegrated me, and what made it worse is that I found out later it should never have run away in the first fight, and therefore shouldn't have been in the fight where it killed me. Rather predictably, my new character was a rogue built for maximum survivability.
 

Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
I've been DMing my first 5e campaign biweekly since September, and we've seen two character fatalities, both 1st level... a Tiefling Paladin bit the dust after being stabbed in the back by a ratling assassin on the Zobeck wharfs, and a few sessions later our Gnoll Bard got it from a random encounter with a group of mounted goblin raiders on their way into the Ironcrags.

Haven't had any deaths since, though we had a near-TPK two sessions ago when all but one character fell battling a Darakhul Cleric/Wizard, but everyone managed to survive due to successful death saves and quick application of healing potions.

So far I'm finding 5e a bit more forgiving than earlier editions, but still plenty deadly if you use difficult encounters and play them intelligently.
 

As a player, Rel the Last died during the D&D Open at Origins. He was, appropriately, the last character standing in an adventure where we all died. He was a level 3 human barbarian. Beset by Twig blights, I think I managed to take down half a dozen of them before falling.

He actually got a little better, as did everyone who died. Now I have a cert for an undead barbarian, and that's been pretty darn cool.

As a DM, I've only had one character properly die on my watch. A human bard (level 4, I think) got killed by a white dragon. The party came face to face with the BBEG (who was all the way on another rooftop, and I expected that he was just there to watch and then retreat when the white dragon started to lose) and a young white dragon. One went after the white dragon that they had been chasing, one tried to attack both the BBEG and the white dragon, and one tried to fight the BBEG in melee, all alone. A BBEG that was supposed to be a challenge for the whole party.

The whole party ended up going down and making death saves, with the bard accruing three failures before anyone else stabilized and could get to him. That player was about as salty as I've seen since I was a kid and a player ripped up his character sheet and stormed off at a character death.
 

DragonBelow

Adventurer
I killed a character in a 1st level Adventurer's league game, apparently a big no-no. The character who was wounded, charged uphill by himself (he was first to act) against a few bugbears, a critical or two later, he was down for good. I could've fudged the dice, I guess, but the player, who is also an AL DM should've known better. He didn't take it very well, and walked away from the table. Oh well.
 

jgsugden

Hero
1st level. THE bugbear that has taken so many low level PCs in a very common 1st adventure for 5E. It got the drop on us and critted my PC - 35 points of damage at level 1.
 

I've got mixed feelings on this. Maybe they were having a bad day, or had other stuff going on in their life that intensified their emotional bleed. But also, if an adult player isn't able to handle their character dying or other bad stuff happening to them, maybe this sort of RPG isn't for them.

We've come a long way since the days of adversarial DMing, and I don't think a DM should be gunning to kill characters. I will give PCs every chance to save themselves, but sometimes things happen. At the end of the day, there are courses of action that may lead to death. If D&D is nothing but a gratification lever, I feel like the game loses some of its savor. Yes, play the game to be awesome and have awesome moments, but also embrace that there's risk amidst the reward!

Heck, sometimes it's not even about deadliness, but the illusion thereof. I could create a trap that's a Green Devil Face. When the PC reaches into it, I can have it written that if you fail the save, you withdraw an ice cream cone from it, but when I tell them "make a con save," they just know that something terrible is possible, that maybe their character is on the line for those brief seconds.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble here...

the player, who is also an AL DM should've known better. He didn't take it very well, and walked away from the table. Oh well.
 

DragonBelow

Adventurer
I've got mixed feelings on this. Maybe they were having a bad day, or had other stuff going on in their life that intensified their emotional bleed. But also, if an adult player isn't able to handle their character dying or other bad stuff happening to them, maybe this sort of RPG isn't for them.
I kept GMing, nobody raised an eyebrow, which I think it's kind of typical when you're playing with a lot of strangers.

I saw him GMing, he was decent. He also had gotten himself a goblin friend during the course of the adventure, he could've continued playing with that, even if his char was dead. 🤷‍♂️ I really don't think it was my fault.
 


Bitbrain

Praise Beebo, the god of War!
1st level Draconic Sorcerer.

He got shot and killed by a whole bunch of kobolds. Everyone in the party did.

Then the Tiefling War Cleric offered to knock up Lolth. She had a good laugh and sent us back to the material plane because the tiefling had “spunk”.
 


Henry

Autoexreginated
I’ve not been killed, but I’ve presided over at least 6 character deaths in 5e so far. Lowest one was 1st level, eaten by a grey ooze.
 


JeffB

Legend
1st Level- Halfling rogue bought the farm. That Bugbear in Lost Mines of Phandelver hits pretty hard vs. a 1st level character.

I don't play 5E nearly as much as the typical board-goer here, but in my experience, it's pretty darn hard to kill characters after 3rd level or so unless they do something really stupid, or I have a string of fantastic rolls/they roll poorly- at least when going by published CR guidelines.
 


MiraMels

Explorer
My first character death happened very recently, my 1st level ranger was part of a party of four playing through Ghosts of Saltmarsh. She opened up the room containing the skeletal alchemist and his skeleton minions despite the smugglers telling us not to do that. The resulting fight was more than we could handle. One successful attack from the alchemist at 0 hit points and one failed death save sealed my fate. The other three retreated, but returned after a short rest to retrieve my body. They were able to defeat the alchemist, but not before he slew our sorcerer. Only 2 of our 4 characters made it out of that house alive.

I had a blast, honestly. Our DM was playing tough but fair, and the fight was dramatic and compelling.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
When a 1st level PC wandered off solo and into an encounter that I had prepared for the entire party. It wasn't pretty. That was the first and only death, though a few weeks ago the party came within a hair of TPK by exploring a dungeon very recklessly and while low on resources. 2 members were unconscious and 2 were at under 5 hit points when the encounter was done. The party is 5th level now.
 

Rikka66

Explorer
As a DM: TPK in the first encounter I ran for 5e, but that was due to not reading any of the DMG and using 4e encounter logic. Turns out 1st level players aren't meant to fight sahuagin.

As a player: Goliath Barbarian, Death House, the climatic encounter with the shambling mound. Everyone else lived, and I like to think I was responsible for that in way besides my death encouraging them to start running away.
 

Death definitely runs on a scale, with levels 1-2 the highest casualty rate. I've also noticed a slightly higher death rate near level 10, as AoE are more common, causing failed death saves.
 

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