Issues related to the in-game death, or threat/fear of death, of a player's character in an RPG.

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89
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13answers
7k views

How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D?

There are some play-styles of D&D in which the spectre of player-character death is considered a feature of the game rather than a bug. For my own reasons (which aren't the point of the question), ...
86
votes
18answers
6k views

How do I not cheapen death, while also respecting my players' time?

I DM for a group of very busy people, for whom the commitment of several hours a week is a real sacrifice: that’s a sizeable chunk of their free time for the week that I’m asking for. Now,...
73
votes
16answers
6k views

How can I make my PCs flee?

My players never run away or avoid conflict. Ever. I throw them ridiculous encounters, they will stay and fight. If I tell them, "You know you're not gonna make it, just run," they stay and fight and ...
65
votes
14answers
14k views

My PCs have a plan that will get them all killed; how and why should I save them?

Related: How do I help my players figure out how to stay alive in a realistically-deadly sandbox campaign? I am running a sandbox game for a group of players who are used to more traditional ...
52
votes
17answers
8k views

Dealing with “fearless” players

I have some "badass" players in my group who do not fear death, 4 out of 6 to be precise, which causes problems for the rest players as they feel they are always getting dragged into trouble, trying ...
50
votes
10answers
14k views

How can I suggest the DM stop trying to kill us?

We have been playing a game for a while now, and while the game itself is quite enjoyable, the only problem is that the DM seems to be aiming to kill us. Sort of. For example, there have been three ...
49
votes
11answers
4k views

Techniques for allowing character defeat without character death

Character death can be extremely disruptive to an ongoing RPG, particularly in a game where character agendas are the driving force behind the plot. However, for a good story with a sense of conflict ...
46
votes
9answers
5k views

What to do when a player character does something that seems suicidal?

Every now and then a player character does something extremely risky because "it would be fun." What are some good ways to handle this as a GM, for the different styles of play? I like playing non-...
43
votes
4answers
4k views

Can Raise Dead revive a character with zero maximum Hit Points?

So, a character died from Draining Kiss of a succubus and his Max HP is 0. Can he be restored by Raise Dead, or does he need a higher level spell? Or a Greater Restoration cast on his lifeless body ...
39
votes
7answers
2k views

How can I quickly get a player back into a session after their character dies?

As a GM, what kind of techniques could I use to help a player re-join the gaming session after their character dies? I want to avoid any major interruptions to the flow of the adventure. I would also ...
38
votes
13answers
6k views

How should I handle retconning (or not) a session with a drunk player and character deaths?

What Happened Tonight, one of my players began the session pretty drunk. That's not the problem I need help with; it hasn't happened before, and if it becomes a thing then I can deal with that. But I ...
27
votes
9answers
3k views

Tried all the existing advice, but players still never roleplay fear

I've read some other posts on here about how to telegraph danger to my PCs and how to make them flee. The problem is, I believe I am actively using all the strategies in both of the posts and my PCs ...
27
votes
8answers
2k views

Should the DM allow characters an equal opportunity to flee or avoid an encounter?

Last session I DMed, I killed a player's character. The party wanted to assassinate the main political figure in a town. To inspire general dislike, I made the political figure a racist thug. I run a ...
26
votes
9answers
4k views

What are the implications of letting players retry an adventure/encounter that resulted in death?

I'm running a 5e story. Two players went into the crypt and got killed. My players manage their own sheets and the next day one player pointed out that he had not updated his saves after leveling up....
25
votes
5answers
3k views

What happens if I concede a fight to someone who only wants me dead?

I'm in a game where my non-combat character ended up in a physical fight with two bobcat-like creatures who have been ordered to kill me. The entity ordering my death is powerful enough (and so are ...
24
votes
5answers
5k views

My 5e character isn't very fun. How do I kill them off?

I'm playing an 8th level Valor bard, and she's basically The Load (warning: TVTropes link) at this point- high-combat campaign, so not a lot of charisma stuff to do, and really doesn't have any ...
23
votes
5answers
8k views

A PC dies every session - bad tactics or the normal outcome of adventuring?

In the campaign I'm currently playing in we have had a lot of character deaths occurring recently, almost (if not every) session. The party are 13th–14th level and are taking on significant opponents....
23
votes
4answers
2k views

What about character death should be included in a social contract?

For a D&D (4e, primarily) game what about player-character death should be included in a group's social contract? What are some options for best reaching consensus about the possibility of death ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it acceptable for the GM to attack a recently-stabilized character?

I was playing the Scales of War campaign with a group of friends, and my character was getting absolutely destroyed in an encounter. I had failed two death saves, but fortunately for me, the fight ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Does death cure all ills?

In a previous answer, I mentioned the possibility of killing a character and restoring them to life as a possible method of removing conditions from them. On reflection, I have no idea whether this ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

Sometimes, losing a big conflict is the better plotline. For D&D, how do you encourage this result?

It is practically an old adage that D&D parties will never let a fight end in a loss (short of a TPK.) And that the game mechanics (especially later editions) encourage this thinking. But ...
20
votes
8answers
1k views

“Retiring” a maxed-out party

This question has a specific and a general sense. Eventually, if your game runs long enough, a party will be pretty much maxed out - reaching level caps, wielding top-level powers and abilities, ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

How to make extremely lethal stories in Fate

Fate is my default system for "book/TV modeling". The system itself has a lot of similarities with how those media are built (the same way MHR "feels" similar to comics), such as character concepts ...
19
votes
7answers
3k views

What's the best way to kill a character in a way that is memorable, and treated with respect by players?

Sooner or later they're going to die. Most games have a risk of death in them and that means that a character is going to get killed and is not coming back, no way, no how. It's new character time. ...
18
votes
6answers
3k views

Handling a dead PC in D&D 5e Starter Kit adventure

I'm trying to introduce roleplaying to a few younger members of my family. I figured that the D&D 5e starter kit would be the best place to start. A couple of sessions into The Lost Mine of ...
18
votes
4answers
7k views

What happens to you after you die in D&D 3.5?

I'm playing an assassin-ish rogue in a 3.5 with Nerull (the god of death) as his deity and decided to build his essential character around the internal struggle of justifying his chosen profession to ...
17
votes
8answers
2k views

How to get players to care about their and each others characters and play them like they are actual people

This question made me think about a problem I have been having that was brought up last night during a session. This session was the first of a new campaign I was running, with the party meeting ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Memory After Death

A recent campaign started with the death of the party and reincarnation of the party with the premise of "we brought you back to find those who killed you". One player was concerned that these people ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

What HP does Finger of Death leave you at when it kills you?

Let's say you're at 23 HP and your CON score is 15. You're hit by Finger of Death cast by a 13th level Wizard, and as a result suffer 130 damage. Are you left at -107 HP, or does it simply drop you to ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

How attached should players be to the characters they make?

I'm new to RPGs and I'm not sure how attached I should be to any characters I make. On one hand I don't think it would be pleasant to spend hours making an in depth character only to have them die off,...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

What would the effect of removing death saves and just having characters die at 0HP be?

I am currently attempting to create a campaign, inspired both by West Marches, and earlier editions of D&D (mostly OD&D and 1e AD&D), but still keeping the 5e rules that my group are ...
14
votes
7answers
2k views

Alternatives to death in a character and narrative-driven campaign?

I'm currently running a Pathfinder game where the characters make the decisions and shape the plot. However, I'm worried about what will happen if one of the characters dies, simply because the ...
14
votes
1answer
946 views

Does halfling luck apply to death saving throws?

The rule states that halfling luck applies to saving throws and the death rolls are called "death saving throws." Based on that I decided to allow it. Additionally, I thought allowing halfling luck ...
14
votes
5answers
8k views

How can characters access resurrection services during the Starter Set adventure?

The other night two of the characters in my campaign died. As a first time DM (a few sessions now) these first deaths were surprisingly upsetting, and disturbingly satisfying... Anyways, the players ...
13
votes
9answers
2k views

How do I help my players figure out how to stay alive in a realistically-deadly sandbox campaign?

Related: What to do when a player character goes suicide and How can DMs effectively telegraph specific dangers in D&D? I like playing sandbox-style RPGs (whether pen and paper or ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

My players almost die in my encounters every time. Does this mean my encounters are too hard?

I'm running my first campaign with three friends. This is the first time any of us have done any table-top role-playing. I'm working the party through the H1: Keep on the Shadowfell campaign using ...
13
votes
4answers
870 views

How do you handle an early death in Dread?

Starting prep for a game of Dread. I am wondering what is the best way to handle an early exit for a character in the game? I understand the ghost or doomed method of allowing the player to continue ...
12
votes
2answers
746 views

What happens when my dead wizard decides to planeshift out of the afterlife?

So, I know that if my High Elf Wizard dies he goes to the chaotic-good afterlife plane or whatever. That's clear. He leaves a body behind, and gets a brand-new afterlife body in the chaotic good ...
12
votes
1answer
261 views

How does raise dead affect a level 2 character?

One of the characters at our table died last night and we have the resources to raise him. The strange thing though is that by the reading of Raise Dead, he would come back, gain two permanent ...
11
votes
1answer
405 views

Can you start your turn when you're dead?

In my epic game, I am playing a level 30 Keeper of the everflow. Keepers have a level 24 feature: Life Overflow (24th level): Once per day when you start your turn at 0 hit points or fewer, you ...
9
votes
5answers
320 views

How do I incorporate magical resurrection without losing dramatic tension?

Magical resurrection is a theme in many RPGs, and also in 5e Dungeons and Dragons. However, whatever means of magical resurrection players can access, in most cases nonplayer characters can access too....
7
votes
3answers
1k views

How can I plan a TPK finale that doesn't look planned?

A campaign I was GMing in the past abruptly stopped because of stuff IRL, with characters trapped in a tower in the center of a city that is being destroyed by a huge demon. When the group gets back ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

How to reintegrate players who had their characters die in AD&D 1e?

Just wondering how it would be possible. Say for example, the party is level 5 and one player is killed in battle. What is to be done? Does he roll a character at level 5, or level 1? What are your ...
7
votes
1answer
422 views

Counting milestones for the death penalty

When a character is resurrected using the Raise Dead ritual, she gets a death penalty: The subject returns with a death penalty: –1 to all attack rolls, skill checks, saving throws, and ability ...
7
votes
1answer
929 views

Death odds in Deathwatch

We have played 3 games of Deathwatch now and are getting the hang of it. But my players seem to get hurt a lot. An example of this is a PC that has 21 wounds received 18 wounds from one enemy ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Does a hit to a stabilized character count as a death saving failure?

The 0.1 basic rules (p76) say: A stable creature doesn't make death saving throws [...]. The creature stops being stable, and must start making death saving throws again, if it takes any damage. ...
7
votes
1answer
166 views

Can an Astropath Trascendent use or burn a Fate Point to save himself from a 100 roll of Perils of the Warp

The worst thing that can happen to a Psyker in Rogue Trader is to roll in the Perils of the Warp table. Among them, the 100 roll states: 100 Destruction: The psyker is immediately and irrevocably ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Does taking more damage than you have HP remaining result in a death saving throw failure?

Here are the rules for damage taken while at 0 HP (Player’s Basic Rules Version 0.3, Page 76): Damage at 0 Hit Points. If you take any damage while you have 0 hit points, you suffer a death saving ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Can a wizard add *raise dead* to the spellbook?

The Restore Life effect of Master Transmuter on PHB119 reads: You cast the raise dead spell on a creature you touch with the transmuter's stone, without expending a spell slot or needing to have ...
6
votes
1answer
887 views

How long should I wait to bring back the Player character? [closed]

So I have been running this game for a while now. The player character has died a few times at this point and was resurrected each time. I made it clear that they had run out of resurrects. In our ...