PC deaths?

Surely this has been discussed, right? Talking about easy wins got me to thinking about the opposite end of the spectrum. Do you try to mitigate character deaths? Only allow it for big battles, but not for a random encounter? Always allow an out? Or do you just kill PCs with abandon?


As a gamemaster I very rarely just kill off a PC. That being said, players are always kill off thier PCs in my adventures. Lol. Running away is always an option. As for my style. If a group or individual makes a genuine attempt at a tactical retreat, it will most often succeed.
The home group I gamemaster for, pretty much agrees that there should be consequences such as character death. With out a genuine chance of loss the excitement is lack luster at best.
I think this comes back to a trust thing in the game group. In my experience if a GM never lets any PC die, then the players will continue to escalate the chances they take until the game seems to break.
On the other side. A gamemaster that just arbitrarily kills of PCs will cause the players not to be invested in the PCs or the game also causing it to break.
So for the trust part, players should understand that if a PC dies, it was a fair death.
As a player I would rather die a interesting death than live though a boring game.


We have talked about this in the past, but it’s a good topic to bring back up. I’ll get it into the rotation for sure :slight_smile:

I’m a lot like Beholdershorde. I start out each campaign reminding players I’m ok killing their character. I’m not going for the gimme “ha HA, fooled you”. I’m willing to remind players “OK, to be clear, you’re sure you think your halfling can jump over a 10 ravine, wearing chain mail. He’s run through a LOT of woodlands, and that’s a wide gap without all that gear, but you’re welcome to take a running start.” There’s meta currencies, etc etc, so it’s possible. Similar vein, I’m ok with “no, you know you can’t”. I LOATHE the “but I can always roll a nat 20,” “Sure you can. That’s a 5% chance. And I’m telling you, as the GM there’s no way in HELL I’m giving you a 5% to perform an untrained tracheostomy with no tools while on a airplane that’s crashing into the ocean. You can either take a 1 in 8000 chance, or realize you might want to come with a more likely option.”

Also, like mentioned above, risks can add to the reward. My more memorable combat in my current Barrowmaze campaign, the fighter was KO’d in a surprise round, and the thief in the next hit. I assume it was either a TPK, or the mages and clerics were going to hoof it and those PCs were TOAST. But they toughed it out, saved both those PCs, and murdered the… well, whatever you murder out of a gray ooze. If they knew there was no chance of death, I submit there would be far less suspense.