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116

Unfortunately, all the group behaviours you've identified are either death-seeky or problematic. Use these interactions as teachable moments instead of problems which can simply be wished away. In all cases, a quiet discussion over a hot beverage of your choice After game time may allow your DM to impart his wisdom and/or to express your concerns with the ...


84

What you are trying to create in a sand box is player agency. My definition of this is: Players making informed decisions that have reasonable consequences It is important to remember that there is an inherent information imbalance in RPG: you have it, they don't. It is your job as DM to give them information that is relevant, reasonable and ...


78

Bit of an introductory story: I got a discount from my phone company for retention, by threatening to cancel. My neighbour also threatened to cancel after hearing about my discount, but didn't get an offer. Why? He wasn't serious about leaving, and they caught on. I was. If someone knows you won't pull the trigger, they do not have a reason to change what ...


72

The single-most overlooked, in my experience, is evidence of deaths. It's a dragon? What's it been eating? Few creatures actually eat EVERYTHING, so what's left by the dragon? Oh, there's an owlbear's beak and claws... there's mangled bits of what used to be +5 plate... (see those runes, there, there and there?) A broken longsword. Dead mind flayers. And ...


63

This is not a direct answer to your question, but a suggestion that I feel is worth noting. Don't retcon past events, expand upon them. Instead of saying this never happened, say that it has. Exactly like it happened. But not because the player was drunk. Assuming your players are not omniscient, you can write things into the past, present and future of ...


56

Let them fail - miserably! But don't kill them... A lot of good stories start out like this: You have a bunch of over confident wanna-be heroes who want to kill the evil general with a stupid plan. So of course it is doomed to fail, they will never kill them and they will surely get caught. But why should they all be killed? The evil general probably has ...


52

Yes, but it's unlikely It's entirely within the rules to continue attacking a character while he's unconscious, and a GM/monster might decide to do so for a number of reasons. However, there are usually more reasons he won't, both in-game as a monster decision and as a meta-game GM decision. First, there's a rule Though more what you'd call a "guideline" ...


52

The way to talk to the GM is that you sit down and talk with him. In a non-accusatory tone, you explain the way you've thought/felt playing in the game and ask him to explain what the expectations are. You might all even use the Same Page Tool to gather a shared understanding of the type of game you're playing. However, speaking as another D&D DM with ...


51

Give them options, or a hiding place perhaps. Trying to tell them out of game to run is (unfortunately) well into the realm of railroading. On that note, there is one option: Show them in-game that running is their best option. This can be accomplished by having a known-powerful NPC friend defeated by said baddie, or an appropriate knowledge check about them ...


49

You don't need to go to the effort of plotting to kill her off. What you do need to do is speak to your GM and your group and tell them what's on your mind: your character doesn't have much to do, and you'd like to roll up a new one. At that point, you may still need to come up with a plan of how your character can exit stage left, but you'll have their ...


46

Player 4 sounds like a pretty novice/young/both player. I'd try one or more of these: Explaining issue - I'd try to explain the player that there is a difference between kill-everything-that-moves Diablo and your average-rpg-with-some-battles-and-story. It might be that they are not familiar with how to play a table-top RPG, which generally is more about ...


45

Use Your Words I think it begins at the campaign level - nowadays, with many campaigns/GMs being of the "Oh no, not character death, that would be unspeakable" ilk, you need to come out up front and tell people clearly that "this campaign is an easy-death campaign - encounters will NOT be scaled to your level and it will be up to you to determine what ...


40

You can try to structure your play time so that your life or death stuff isn't hitting until the end of the session. That way if somebody buys it, they're at least being sidelined at the natural end of the evening during the climax of your session so they've played enough to hopefully not feel like they wasted an evening. That also lets them handle new ...


36

I will not revisit the advice presented in the other answers about talking to the DM and establishing what you think the norms of this campaign would be. Instead, I would ask you to consider the following points: Are you suffering from confirmation bias; you describe 3 encounters where 4 PCs nearly died, how many encounters were there where no one died? ...


35

What can be done to ensure that even a random death down a pit trap is handled respectfully so the player will remember their character well, rather than the rest of the players gathering around to loot their still-warm corpse? Honestly? There's not really much you can do (in the general case). In order for a death to be meaningful, there must be ...


34

No, that is not normal, it's an unusually high kill rate in my experience. When I've been in parties that hit those levels, there have usually been one or two kills per campaign that require resurrection (though more close saves with resurgences and whatnot). It may be due to bad player tactics, weak characters, or the GM runs things tougher than the ...


33

The Players May Not Want To Part of fantasy role playing for a lot of people is being able to be larger than life for a bit. They may not want their characters to feel fear at all. Now, in a novel this may be a bad thing, since a character that isn't believable can disrupt the suspension of disbelief. But in an RPG its not necessarily a bad thing to ...


32

In an "anything is possible" game, this is fair. In this kind of game, it is necessary for players to actually, truly believe that they can get themselves into so much trouble that they will not have a "final warning" that their PC is about to die, and Death is the most (and often only) effective teacher in this regard.* And fortunately, players always get ...


30

You can always play in a lower lethality game, but in the question you note that you and your group want this kind of gameplay. So here's some options to keep a player involved assuming character death is present. Have them work on their new character. This keeps them involved with the game and allows you to slot them in potentially later in the same ...


30

Some game systems have this internal conflict built into them – either deliberately or accidentally – and that's just part of the nature of the game. Not all games suffer this conflict In some games character death is a deliberate feature, and the rest of the system is more-or-less mindfully designed to accommodate character death as a real risk while not ...


30

Tell them that the side campaign ends with an epic, glorious, TPK. Making your players co-conspirators in the shape of the finale means that they will help you drive it to that epic conclusion. There's no value, in the scenario you describe, to making a TPK a surprise or look unintentional. Save the energy that would be spent on smoke and mirrors designed ...


30

It depends on which spell you use to bring back the dead. There are five different spells that you can use to bring a dead person back to life, and they all work a bit differently, as you might expect. Raise Dead From the spell description: This spell also neutralizes any poisons and cures nonmagical diseases that affected the creature at the time ...


27

Experienced players talk about their expectations There is no “Goldilocks” here that works for everyone in every game. Each player, each group, each system, each setting, and each campaign are going to have different expectations. Those expectations may very well be totally different in the next campaign. So the right thing to do is to talk to ...


27

D&D 5e is not as lethal as you think. The rules on dropping to 0 hit points are on page 13 of the Starter Set rulebook. I won't write them all out here, but I'll summarise the important points: When you drop to 0 hit points, you're not dead yet. Every time you begin your turn with 0 hit points, you make a death saving throw, which is a d20 roll with no ...


27

Let's simplify this scenario to what it amounts to: there's a button, and the players want to push it, and they're not sure what will happen, but you alone know that if they push it they die. Right now, you only see the option that they die. It is inescapable that character death tends to suck. You could explain they had no way of finding out — that ...


26

"Doctor! It hurts when I move my arm like this!" "So don't do that, then…" On page 168, the rules discuss what it means to be "Taken Out" — and, in particular, what the circumstances are like in groups where Taken Out equates to "dead": So, if you think about it, there’s not a whole lot keeping someone from saying, after taking you out, that your ...


25

Give the players some objectives that they can fail without PC deaths. For example, the party hears rumors that a merchant is willing to pay handsomely for an escort through a dangerous area that is well known for containing threats that should be exceptionally difficult for the players to handle at their current level. If the players attempt to take the ...


25

First and foremost, a GM should always remember that the objective of a game is to have fun. The thing is that "fun" can mean different things to different people, and it sounds like what's fun for you to create isn't as fun for the players when it's executed - and the end result isn't all that fun for you either, since you're sharing this issue here. Here ...


25

there was a spy present at the meeting where the plan was hatched and discussed If you want to warn the players off their plan in a plausible way, the existence of this spy offers some options to do that. Have the spy change allegiance and come to the players with a warning, for a price. "Get me/my family/and a sack of jewels out of the war zone and ...


24

Some questions to answer in your social contract: Can my character die without my consent? In D&D (and most action-based games) the default answer is 'yes'. Subquestions to ask: Will I get a hint that I'm in serious danger? (In 4e you usually won't need one... it'll be obvious that you're low on surges and survivability.) How likely is this? ...



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