I want to make a punishment for my characters should they do something that’s too evil, even within the world of our campaign. But to avoid a “rocks fall you die” or divine intervention bc they’re both lame, I want to make a specific character that I can insert to do comical amounts of damage to one target should I need.

The conditions are:

  • NO homebrew/unofficial content, with the exception of the Humblewood campaign setting and really anything official in D&D Beyond.

  • Any level is fine, but the lower you can get it the better

  • Character must either disregard race, or be one of the races featured in Humblewood.

  • No lame kills like power word kill/polymorph etc

  • This must occur within one turn (one action, one bonus action etc)

  • Method of death must cause minimal to no damage to any other surrounding creatures or structures

  • Ideally no artificer but if it provides a simply huge amount of power then sure

  • Multiclassing is fine, bonus points if you can come up with a story as to why they have multiclassed this way

  • The target is a PC at a level of no more than level 10 (the party is currently at level 2), so not a drastic amount of HP

  • The flashier the kill, the better

  • Items are allowed but ideally they would only have a few

  • Homebrew items are allowed if you can suggest official alternatives

I think that’s all the conditions, go crazy

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Have a look at the help center and take the tour for some guidelines. While I do not like your idea, I think that you must provide more details on the party, such as levels, class and so on. For example, even a Magic Missile spell cast at 1st level could be deadly for a wizard (without Shield available). \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Apr 29 at 10:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's an interesting question, but you might want to restrict it to be less opinion-based, e.g. "how can a 20th-level character deal maximum damage within a single turn, without using xyz". In particular 'lame' is very subjective (I think PWK is cool!), and 'go crazy' suggests that you want to brainstorm ideas rather than find the best possible answer to your question. \$\endgroup\$
    – aantia
    Commented Apr 29 at 10:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have voted to close. Any solution is just "rocks fall you die". If you want to improve it, you might consider explaining why a high level monster from D&D Beyond doesn't fit the bill, and how a RAW solution is any less "rocks fall you die" than an actual rock -- either way, end result is insta-death. (I'm going to assume your table thinks arbitrary insta-death is fun, but you might also consider explaining a little more about your game.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 29 at 13:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, having read three answers, I'm retracting my vote to close. I still think the question is too opinion-based, as written, but the existing answers have shown me that even as written the question can be answered well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 29 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Polymorph isn't a kill spell. It lasts for one hour. When the form gets to 0 HP the form reverts back to the creature it started being. Are you aware of that? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29 at 18:15

3 Answers 3


Frame challenge : you do not want a RAW solution

What you're asking for is a Rules As Written character for killing a player character on command. That's basically a glorified "rocks fall everyone dies". More fancy and complicated, but the result is the same.

Now, I cannot judge on why you'd want such a tool, or how you should or shouldn't use it, it would deserve its own question altogether. However, I can say for sure that there is no point in putting a crazy amount of optimisation in such a solution, because...

... it won't make it any less "lame"

You mention that you want something more elaborate than the rocks falling or divine judgement solution, because you define it as "lame". Why it is "lame" for you might not be the same reason why your party finds it "lame" though.

As a player, and similarly for many players I've played with, what we found lame wasn't the way this instakill was presented, but the fact it was brought up at all by the DM (although this might be different for each and every group, if your players like this kind of thing, go for it).

However, the more detail you put in your killing tool and the more you show your players that you're "playing by the book", the worst it's going to be.

Essentially, by telling your players you're killing them with a rules-legal character, you're giving them an illusion of agency. You're showing them that you're also "respecting the rules", while in reality they have no choice or leeway in the situation : they're going to die, whether they want it or not.

And even worse : what if they find a rules-legal way to survive or avoid the instant kill? Then you're even more in trouble, because no choice you make is going to help :

  • If you decide to ignore their solution and still kill them, you're going against your argument of "respecting the rules" and at this point, there's no reason for your players to expect you will respect the rules going forward.

  • If you decide to accept their solution, then the whole idea falls flat, and the characters may even be able to snatch some experience or rare items from the character you sent their way.

That's why I believe, as a player and as a DM, that if you really want to use this kind of method, you're better off creating a cool or funny abstraction without bending yourself to the rules.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Breaking the rules is IMO a sign of a week DM. There are always ways to accomplish everything within the rules. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29 at 12:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SamLacrumb I'd argue that a strong DM is a DM that can make good use of Rule 0 to maximise the group's fun. After all, it is the first rule of the game, and it's there specifically to not let the game's mechanics get in the way of fun. But that's only my opinion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Apr 29 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SamLacrumb Nope. Breaking the rules is IMO a sign of a week DM Manipulating the rules in D&D 5e is a DM fulfilling the DMG guidance that the DM is master of rules. (Also, I think you meant weak versus week). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29 at 13:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Not breaking the rules when it would result in more fun for everyone at the table is the sign of a weak DM. The rules should never get in the way of enjoyment of the game. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kryomaani
    Commented May 1 at 0:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ A good GM can maintain the "fun" all while using the rules. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 2 at 4:37

Putting a level 10 character against a level 2 party is essentially a "rocks fall and everyone dies" since it matters very little what the party does – one round kills a character regardless.

Instead forecast the difficulty and offer your party ways to atone.

As an example one of my early campaigns had the party commit a few crimes outside of plain view, but they carried the evidence for all to see (the warlock wore a missing merchant's ring, the barbarian slung the murdered knights great sword across his back, the cleric even wore his armour).

It didn't take long before they found themselves in an eerily empty town square – citizens had been evacuated and the guard began to block the exits and cover the rooftops. The captain came out to negotiate their surrender – the party had done some good in the town and may only be opportunist looters.

I put overwhelming numbers in, anyone who knows the game can see when action economy means things will not go your way. A fighter they've never had the measure of before won't give the same warning.

Your mileage on punishment may vary but death is, generally, a pretty boring and agency removing option. What fits best really depends on your campaign, but this way you've forecasted death to your party (if they don't seem aware just tell them) and by fighting they've chosen to go down in a blaze of (questionable) glory rather than negotiate. Put the choice in your player's hands.


If you want something funny: the Three (fey) Stooges

(Yes, this challenges the frame of the question).

Arriving from somewhere in the Feywild, or from the Ethereal Plane, the three pixies (straight from the Monster Manual) can each cast polymorph. If you run the math, making three wisdom saves in a row will likely result in a failure by a lot of PCs, although a higher-level (6th to 10th per your criteria) Cleric or Paladin will be a tough nut to crack.

The target is a PC at a level of no more than level 10 (the party is currently at level 2), so not a drastic amount of HP

Polymorph into a snail. One of the pixies - Larry, Curly, or Moe - picks it up and off they fly, giggling and shouting out "DBAD" (pronounced "Dee Bad) to any questions asked by the rest of the party. (Yes, this is a reference to Wheaton's Law).

If one of the other PCs can successfully engage in conversation with the pixies, they might learn where they are from and what is going on. Negotiation can then follow, with as much silly or straight play as you feel fits the circumstances.

Note that the pixies have other spells that could yield similar interesting results: confusion, sleep, phantasmal force, dispel magic. Consider a party under the effect of the confusion spell possibly attacking one another ...

As noted in the Basic Rules:
(1) DM can, RAW, assign advantage or disadvantage where situation calls for it. (CH-1 and Ch-7)
(2) DM determines who is, or isn't, surprised. (Ch-9)

In this case, the pixies surprise the party, and the pixies have advantage on any initiative roll if you want to put this into initiative ... but that isn't necessarily required.

Is this silly? Yes!

But silly will probably go over far better than "kill the PC" will for most players. Pixies are able to turn invisible, which means that you can plausibly sell this excuse for them popping up:

  • "They have been watching you for a while, since {some version of the Archfey} heard of your party and wanted to keep an eye on you."

There are better OOC approaches to this problem

If your players like to go hard evil now and again, simply discuss with them the fact that choices have consequences, and come up with consequences, even if delayed, that can be tied back to whatever evil they have engaged in.

  • Example: I used this a few years back with my Wednesday group in my brother's world.
    • A divination spell revealed to an NPC just who it was that killed a particular NPC who died thanks to the monk's "kill them, who cares" attitude. Four or five sessions later, a cleric and a possee confronted the party and demanded weregild. The RP between players was quite satisfying, since not all of the players were as bloody minded. They coughed up the money / fine after some very engaging in-group discussion.

Why this frame challenge?

There are many better ways to get your message across than killing the PC. You are aware of this, as your distaste for "rocks fall, everyone dies" demonstrates.

Don't kill the PC. If you feel that "punishment" is required, any punishment needs to be tied to "choices made have consequences" which is a common shared value among TTRPG players.

Discuss with your players before the next session the issue of choices and actions having consequences, and an in-world fact that some NPCs have divination spells.


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