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Currently my character is at 0 HP and doing death saves.

The DM however, has said an Ogre is holding my character upside down by the legs and is going to potentially rip my character in half in the next session.

Since I'm not playing as Marvel's Deadpool, I would assume this would permanently kill my character and render death saves moot?

My question is, can a DM do this?

Why would the DM do this you ask? Because I've been playing a comical, annoying and selfish character for about 30 sessions now, so the DM and my party think it would be hilarious if my character was killed off.

UPDATE: So if anyone is curious as to what happened... as the DM was going through everyone's turns, he skipped over me - I asked if I should do a death save, and he said "no". Then, later on, I was given a new character, who was originally an NPC that our party had interacted with and was still within vicinity. After we defeated the Ogres, the team found my character dismembered, and so they put his head in a bag and have taken it with them... presumably to be reanimated by the Necromancer we know.

Also: the character I have been given has a sad background, which means he doesn't leave fallen people behind... so a team player... this is obviously a test set up by the DM!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity: how are you 30 sessions in an adventure and you are being knocked out by... an Ogre? \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jun 23 '20 at 8:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think we're leveling up very fast - I'm only a level 4 wizard, with a max of 24 HP \$\endgroup\$
    – binks
    Jun 23 '20 at 8:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ did you OK playing a purposefully annoying character with everyone else at the table first? \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Jun 23 '20 at 13:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible historical perspective: deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2009/09/death-statistics-in-d-1978.html \$\endgroup\$ Jun 23 '20 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the GM and the party thinks your character is annoying, you've lasted 27 sessions too long (only annoying players make annoying characters, IMHO, and as GM, I give them a choice after three sessions: they go or they create a new character who is more acceptable). \$\endgroup\$
    – NomadMaker
    Jun 24 '20 at 0:25
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The DM can do whatever they want

Your DM is the god of gods of your world. Could they do it? Absolutely.

However, your DM may have something more than that involved. It wouldn't feel very good for the players if the DM kills them on a whim, so often there are rolls involved in dying. Normally this involves taking a bunch of damage, then failing a bunch of death saves. In this situation your DM may use attack rolls or death saves as a proxy for the ogre tearing your player apart, or they may use some other mechanic.

Be aware that every attack against you while you are dying forces you to suffer a death saving throw failure. If they are within 5 feet if you when they attack (as the ogre would be) then each attack is automatically a critical hit, and forces you to suffer 2 failures. What's more, if the damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum, you suffer instant death.

Death isn't the end

In real life, the afterlife doesn't have much gameplay. But in 5e you can be resurrected in a dozen different ways. There is all kinds of magic that will bring you back to life, which is generally readily available at churches, temples, healers, etc. However, this may be a costly service, both in terms of money and favors. You may find yourself in debt to the local paladin order, which may mean you need to repay them with quests.

That is, unless your DM decides that it is. Your DM could do a multitude of things to make revival impossible, and they could deny any wish to bring you back. If the DM wants you proper dead, they can do it.

If you suspect your DM is going to kill you outright, the only thing you can do is tell them you don't want that

It seems like you like the character, but your DM and party maybe don't (or at least they think it would be a fitting end). Since there isn't any rules stopping your DM, and there's nothing you can do in game, your best choice is to take out of character options.

Tell your DM "I know you and the other players would think it's funny to kill my PC, but for me it's not so fun. If the character dies because of bad rolls and bad choices, ok then, but I don't want to feel like you killed them off unfairly."

Maybe think about how you designed your character if everyone wants them dead

I know you didn't say your party/DM actively want your PC dead, but it feels like that's probably something you should think about. Yes, it's legitimate to play an anti-social, annoying, selfish character. But, ultimately D&D is a social game, and it can be difficult to separate a player from their player character - and rightly so, since you are the one making your character annoying and selfish.

Perhaps this event could be a turning around point for your PC, when they realize maybe they should treat their party a little better, or next time an ogre really will tear them in two.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that the last sentence is, maybe, the best argument to keep his character alive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chepelink
    Jun 23 '20 at 13:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Time to be reborn, reformed and change your ways :D if you can sell that convincingly enough, maybe the Ogre won't rip you another one. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24 '20 at 11:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PatrickArtner obligatory Order of the Stick link: giantitp.com/comics/oots0687.html (last 3 panels) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24 '20 at 12:32
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Yes, he can

And, from your description, perhaps he should. You stated

the DM and my party think it would be hilarious if I was killed off

If your party wants your character dead, you probably did something wrong. By that, I mean either you joined the wrong table or you made a really annoying character that nobody wants to play with in their party. Maybe you are suffering from My Guy Syndrome, take a look in the link posted, which describes the problem and gives many suggestions on how to handle and/or solve it.

Rules

Ultimately, within the rules, the Ogre can simply attack you. It will attack with advantage, and any attack made against an unconscious creature that hits is a critical hit (see Conditions, Appendix A in the PHB). A critical hit made against a dying creature is 2 failures in the death saving throws (see Death Saving Throws, PHB). Furthermore, if the damage would exceed your maximum hit points (which 4d8 + 4 can reasonably do against low level characters), it instantly kills you as well.

The death itself can be described as the DM wishes - ripping the character off or smashing the skull, or whatever.

In-game

Many NPCs do not finish off characters because they consider that the unconscious character is no longer a threat and prefer to focus their attention on the remaining of the party, who are alive and dealing damage. If your party ran away, then good luck with that. Even if they didn't, some other monsters or characters may focus on killing the character - personally, my beasts like to make sure someone is dead as soon as possible so he will be certain food later.

Depending on how the DM portrays the Ogre, it is not only within the rules, it is also the expected behavior from the character and completely within in game motivations.

But the bottom line is:

None of this actually matters

The previous sections have answered your question - but that is not your problem at all. You have a party and a DM that want your character dead. The DM is solving it in the bad-DMish way, which is outright killing the character he doesn't like. And you are looking for answers in a random internet site (although the best one for it!) asking whether he can do it. What you both, as well as the rest of the party, should be doing is talking to each other. They should be telling you that they don't like your character and it is making it not fun for them. You should be telling them you don't want your character dead and it is making not fun for you. And hopefully you would get to a compromise where your character is alive, but stops being an asshole. If you can't find that common ground, then your character is better off dead and you are better in another table that accepts your play-style better, and they are better with some new player that fits their play-style better as well (or with one less player if the campaign permits).

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Yes they can kill you but it doesn't sound like the plan

The DM can do anything, if death wasn't really an option in the rules then there wouldn't be any particular peril in the game. The best games have that roller coaster of emotions.

From a practical stand point, however, it doesn't sound like the DM is going to kill you because that cliff hanger was how they ended the session. Between sessions is a good time to think both for players and for a DM. If the DM wanted to kill you outright then the best time to do that would be the end of a session so you can make your new character in the time between sessions. Since you haven't been given the time to think it, instead, means the DM is having time to think.

Giving players costs other than permanent death is an option for DMs but requires some thought. Perhaps the Paladin's god sends them back but they need to complete a particular holy mission or the only way the other PCs can save you is to allow an experimental healer to try saving you and your character has negative effects from that. There are a lot of options but the DM will have to think it through.

As an aside if you think your character is annoying perhaps, if they are saved, this could be a moment to turn things around. He nearly died! Perhaps this humbling experience will make him think twice before he speaks and acts. Play this experience out. Character growth is one of the best things about DnD - make use of the events that come your way.

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I agree with the other answers but I do want to add some possible spin.

Ogres, and pretty much all monsters, don't have a "Rip apart" attack in their stat block.

So the DM is (a) homebrewing something, (b) foreshadowing how they will describe if you fail your final death save, and/or (c) is trying to build tension.

Home brew

I can't think of any monster off hand that has a "Rip Apart" attack. There are very few insta-kill methods in D&D 5e. As such, the DM may just want to be rid of your character as everyone points out, you say:

...the DM and my party think it would be hilarious if my character was killed off.

So the DM is giving a method for insta-kill to make sure this happens. At 4th level, it is hard but not impossible to have a Revivify spell available (scroll, NPC, etc). So a normal death could be reversed. But being ripped apart, you'd need a much higher level spell that would most definitely be out of reach.

Foreshadowing

The DM is the story teller. As such, just dying because you missed some saving throws is pretty boring. Your character just "bled out"... yawn. But if you were torn asunder? That's the stuff bards live for! So maybe the DM wants to develop some story. It goes with the whole, "How do you want to do this?" What makes for better story telling?

"I hit the ogre with my axe and he falls dead."

or

"With all my might I swing my axe upward into the ogre's chin, cutting it in half. The axe carries on and doesn't stop until it is lodged inside its puny brain."

So maybe he wants to describe your death as being pulled apart. And maybe the ogre using your leg as a club on the next party member.

Building tension

It's how to end a session: with a cliff hanger. Just being dying isn't enough--there must be peril too! Finding the damsel tied to the railroad tracks is a good stopping point. Find the damsel tied to the railroad tracks and you hear the train whistle just around the bend? That amps up the stakes and the excitement. Your character is unconscious so they have no way of knowing they are to be ripped apart. But now all the party knows that time is running out to save their comrade (or laugh as the case may be).

Just because the DM says they are going to kill you, doesn't mean they are going to kill you... DMs are much more sneaky than that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ TBF, he did say, "you want to start thinking about rolling a new character"... was it in jest? I don't know.... \$\endgroup\$
    – binks
    Jun 25 '20 at 8:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: Don't have a "Rip Apart" attack. I would argue they do, referred to as an "unarmed strike". As others mentioned, if you are 0hp and making death saves, being attacked is a good way to die very quickly; being torn in half is an impactful way of describing that in my opinion. \$\endgroup\$
    – sharur
    Jun 25 '20 at 16:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @binks: Not necessarily in jest. Your character is in dire straights, (0 hp and the target of an angry ogre's wrath), and very likely to die, just on the mechanics. As a DM, I might give a player such a warning, especially if there was time between sessions, because rolling up a new character is time consuming. If you have one "pre-rolled" then should your character die, you are ready to start playing again with the new character much more quickly (and if the DM sees it before hand, they can start thinking of how to introduce said character). \$\endgroup\$
    – sharur
    Jun 25 '20 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @sharur, I think you missed the point. They don't have an Action stat blocked labeled "Rip Apart"; they have "Greatclub" and "Javelin" (And an assumed "Unarmed Strike"). They can use the Unarmed Strike Action, which will do 1 + Str Bonus points of damage. Since the character is already unconscious and the attacker is within 5ft. So IF the ogre hits (they have advantage, but it's not a sure thing), it would cause two death saving throws failures; most likely putting the character at 3 or more. After all that, the DM can DESCRIBE the death as ripped apart. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Jun 25 '20 at 16:58

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