I am planning a campaign that I would like to present as a frame story: the heroes are recounting their adventures in a tavern in exchange for drinks (and then picking up the last leg of the adventure after the story is told, but that doesn't hold as much bearing on the question).
Required level of planning and forethought aside, the biggest problem I am facing is that if one of the characters is present in the tavern scenes, that player knows that his character survives the adventures. Since I think that the threat of death (and the occasional fulfillment of that threat, if the story and situation demand it) creates a more interesting and compelling story, I'm at a loss of how to reconcile the two. It also presents an additional problem if one of the players later drops out of the campaign, but has already been introduced in the frame story.
I can mitigate the problem a little by introducing characters into the frame story slowly, but how can I keep the atmosphere of "this is dangerous; we could actually die if we're not careful" among the players of already-introduced characters, while still presenting the story I want to tell?