So I posted a similar question previously (How can I suggest the DM stop trying to kill us?) which was just about general gameplay; the outcome of which was that is just how the die rolls, which is fair enough.

However, now that we have reached our "final quest", phrases like "some of you may die" and "I am going to kill some of you" have started floating around.

Now, this dungeon was designed for five level 5 characters. Our group consists of four level 5 characters, and one level 4 character, so the dungeon is already over-leveled. Additionally, we played one session with one player missing, and we took a hefty blow in that session, due to his absence. (Not blaming the DM for that one, that's on us).

Additionally, the DM has stated that resting is out of the equation. If we rested for even 20 minutes, the bad guy would send more minions our way, or even take a rest himself.

So - our current situation:

  • One character is unconscious, and has spent all of his abilities, plus has a "permanent injury" waiting for him when/if he regains consciousness (Fighter - Battle Master)
  • Two characters are at half-health, with 3/4 of their abilities spent (Rogue - Assassin and Fighter - Eldritch Knight)
  • One character is at minimal health, with most of their abilities remaining (Barbarian)
  • One character is mostly fine (the perks of missing a session) (Barbarian)

We're halfway through the Dungeon, resting is out of the question, and the Boss is holding the surrounding area under siege with a doomsday death laser.

Apart from an all out retreat (where we would still have to take our chances trying to avoid the death laser), there seems to be little chance of survival, but none of us really want to die, especially when we're only at level 5!

What could we do to attempt to prevent this from happening?

  • 15
    \$\begingroup\$ The tag problem-gm seems to suggest that this wasn't the kind of game that you (certainly) or the rest of the players had in mind. Have you talked to your GM about those expectations? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dumpcats
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 23:46
  • 44
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm noticing a distinct lack of Cleric. \$\endgroup\$
    – Liesmith
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 0:17
  • 27
    \$\begingroup\$ You already asked about this when it was coming up and we said "talk to your GM and/or man up." Now you are asking "no really it's happening!" So did you try talking with him per the answers to your previous question? Should we be bothering to tell you that again or do you not want to? Or did you and he blew you off? As far as I'm concerned this is an effective duplicate of your previous question, and you're not going to get different answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 5:27
  • 27
    \$\begingroup\$ 5+5+5+5+5~=5+5+5+5+4. The dungeon is not over leveled. \$\endgroup\$
    – Scott
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 5:35
  • 14
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ben Are you sure that that's what he meant, instead of trying to get you to take thing seriously and develop some actual tactics for once? Is your group still as suicidal as in your previous question? I do wonder why an experienced GM wouldn't take over a PC for combat instead of removing him from the game though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 11:22

9 Answers 9


It's kind of a theme around here: Talk to him.

You can't make the DM do something, you can only get all on the same page so that your DM is voluntarily running the game in the way you also wish it to be run. Is the prospect of being fictionally beaten black and blue, with the Sword of Damocles constantly hanging over your heads, not fun? Then say so.

Your DM can't read your mind. He might very well be assuming that a pre-determined plot and ending, nearly impossible odds, and a glorious death make for the kind of game you want. Personally, as DM I often struggle to provide enough challenge to my players, only to find out that I was providing too much — what feels like a reasonable challenge from the DM's chair can feel like a meat grinder from the players' seats, if the DM is judging it wrong.

You can't prevent what your DM has told you he's going to do. So step on up and respond in kind: tell him that it's not actually enjoyable to play cornered rats.

Then, together, figure out what kind of game you do want to play. A DM worth his salt can adjust even a dungeon you're already in, if you can get him on board and approaching the game in a way that you all enjoy.

  • 26
    \$\begingroup\$ You might also want to say something like "Stop giving us spoilers! We don't want to know that we're going to die because it ruins the suspense. Actually, come to think of it, why do you know? Are you fudging die rolls to ensure we die according to some sort of schedule? If so, that's pretty cold." \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 23:54
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Much as I personally don't like it, illusionist or participationist play is totally a way that people like to fun, so I'm still going to kick that back to the OP as something to use their words together about. I added that a pre-written plot/ending might be one of the DM's assumptions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 0:03


I assume that you are not having fun with this style of play. Speak to the other players and make sure that they are not having fun either. Some people like this style of play where death is an ever present companion and the character's go out in a blaze of glory - time to roll a new one; that make my 17th for this campaign.

Assuming that all players agree, talk to the DM and explain that you are not having fun and that fun is the reason you play games. Explain that you want your characters to take risks where death is a possibility not a certainty; after all your characters are the most important thing in the DM's world. Without them the DM is just sitting alone with his fantasies.

In game

A tiny point, you say "the DM has stated resting is out of the question". If the DM really said this then that is poor DMing - nothing should be out of the question for the players. That is what agency is all about, players should have choices with foreseeable consequences. Of course, there is a fine line here, offering players 3 choices, one of which is obviously superior to the others is not a choice; its a con-job.

You have identified 3 choices:

  1. Push on - the consequences are that some or all of you will probably die
  2. Rest - the consequences are the bad guy will take reasonable steps to respond to your invasion
  3. Run away - the consequences are that you may suffer casualties during the retreat and the bad guy gets to keep doing bad guy things.

All these choices suck - take the one that sucks least or come up with something out of left field that doesn't suck.


Get Over It

There are many answers to your previous question that point this out, but "ooo someone might die" is well within bounds of normal lethality of a campaign. Many GMs will warn players "Very likely, one of you is going to snuff it" when going into a majorly tough leg of the campaign. Frankly in this case if I were your GM I would have killed a character already to get you over whatever bizarre hangup you're having about it.

Question 1: "We had some close scrapes and someone could have died!" Question 2: "Things are getting worse and really now someone is likely to die!"

I am eagerly anticipating question 3, "A character died in my party, how can life go on?" (Not really.)

Characters die. They're fictional characters. You are setting yourself up for a lot of unhappiness by tying so much of your emotional state. In fact, in good stories often someone dies and that's part of it. If your group isn't willing to risk their lives in situations like this they shouldn't be adventurers, they should be part of the huddling masses of commoners waiting to be saved.

One PC dying every single session is an unusually high rate - see A PC dies every session - bad tactics or the normal outcome of adventuring? - but in a usual D&D game, occasional death happens and is usually considered a normal part of the game.

Get Going

Your PC needs to have a personal crisis moment where he finally stops whining about "oh this is hard we may die" and pushes through it to "OK guys, lets go kill this freak." Here's how you do that.

It's reasonable that you can't rest and your GM is not "forbidding" it, he's telling you that your character, a denizen of that world, can see and understand there's patrols all over the dungeon and if you do hole up and try to rest that rest will be disrupted in 20 minutes by the dungeon security guard coming through on a door check. That's fair, resting in a dungeon is not always possible. Depending on how much time you have in your race vs the clock you could withdraw, short rest, and go back in - the foes may reposition into the cleared parts of the dungeon but there shouldn't be more of them (unless they are summoning/raising dead/etc). But other than that:

  1. Avoid pointless fights - in a dungeon, the thing that depletes your resources is fights. You are not there to "clear every room" you're here to stop the Eye of Gulga Grimnar. Note that doesn't even necessarily mean you have to kill the boss. Start thinking smart. What has to happen to end the threat, and what's the lowest effort way of doing that? How is the laser controlled, is there a control widget to steal? Can it be broken? Can you bypass guards and go straight to the boss? Maybe you need to actually take a prisoner and interrogate them, they tend to have "information."
  2. Get healing/magic/etc - In a dungeon, the thing that restores your resources is someone else's stuff. You can target killing or parleying with people to that end. You seem low on clerics. Take an opposing cleric prisoner and make him heal you. Try parleying with isolated people - often in adventures like this there are "factions" where maybe someone is looking to overthrow their boss and they may be evil but aren't into the "laser death plan." "Hey let's go kill your boss, you get to be in charge but we break the laser. Deal?" Then you have more fight on your side = less PC resources expended.

There's a million ways to play smarter, but those are two of the pillars thereof.

This is basically the same answer as to your previous semi-identical question, How can I suggest the DM stop trying to kill us?, but more direct and tailored to your current situation.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ A million times this. Nothing you describe in your question seems wrong, out of order or in any way unusual \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 13:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yessss, I love that tactical solution to the problem. Don't have someone roll up a cleric, just find the nearest npc cleric and press gang them! Fun stuff. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kzqai
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 18:14

there seems to be little chance of survival, but none of us really want to die

And? Is this Dungeons and Happy Fun Times?

Consider the objective. Are you intending to win and beat the bad guy, or is your utmost goal to not die? Do you accept that the bad guy might win, and your group fails to stop the bad guy? Is the possibility that one of you might die such a terrible thing if there's a slight chance you win the battle, as a group, even though one of you has that possibility?

Given your group status it's pretty clear the GM is already treating you like babies, preventing some of the characters from dying.

Look, it's ok to die, particularly if you win.

Don't focus on the individual, focus on the group. Don't focus on death, focus on beating the bad guy.

You'll have a lot more fun if you overcome this weird hangup where your individual character's lives are worth more than winning the campaign.

Besides which, the GM might surprise you. They may be increasing the tension intentionally, without actually intending to railroad one of your into death. If you play smart and work together, you could very well come out winning and alive.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the seventh paragraph. Even in Harry Potter, important characters sometimes die; you have to see beyond that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 23:21
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @TimLymington: Too soon \$\endgroup\$
    – Guy S
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 3:03

Talk to the DM

It has already been mentioned here a few times, so I won't go on about this too much. However, it's always very important that the DM and the players are on the same page. How much of a challenge do you guys want? Do you want a certain type of adventure? This doesn't just apply to your problem. It applies to the entire game. If the players and the DM start a session, and everyone thinks it's going to be a different type of game, you have a problem. I suggest taking a look at the same page tool. https://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/the-same-page-tool/

Take a rest.

The DM said that this is not an option. He is wrong. It may not be a great option, but it's always possible. I'm going to asume that you have no other ways of regaining health and other resources than resting available to you. Hence, you HAVE to take a rest every now and then or face destruction. But you have to make sure that you're not completely vulnerable while resting:

1) Find a safe spot. Somewhere hidden, where not many enemies patrol. Somewhere with a bottleneck is also a safe spot. And somewhere where your class abilities and skills can be most useful. For instance, a place where the rogue can hide so he can make sneak attacks or something.

2) Take guard shifts. Not everyone will be able to rest at the same time. Let those that need it the least stay awake and vigilant to watch over the party, lest you be murdered in your sleep.

3) Find a way to warn yourself. This can be as easy as a bell on a rope somewhere nearby, so approaching enemies trigger a sound. But perhaps you can make the environment work for you by, for instance, making sure that a nearby wall will collapse or something like that. I'm not sure in what kind of environment you are, so I can't help with that.


I come from a completely different background then the majority of the users on this page, so this suggestion might be too radical for most.

Stop playing
In DnD, the GM is a god. Outside the game, the GM is just a person. If you are not enjoying the game because of the GM, and attempts to resolve your issues have failed, then you need to use the only power you have which the GM cannot controll, and stop playing.

Either they will keep playing without you and you will have to get over it, or the other players will also stop playing. In this case, a new GM can be chosen and the campaign continued or a new campaign can be started.

Suck it up:
If you do not want to stop playing, suck it up and start looking for alternatives. Can you achieve the goal if everyone is willing to die? Did you receive an item previously which might hold clues? Is there an alternative which might have been mentioned which you decided not to follow? DnD is known for puzzles, so solve this one.


Two options:

1) How about a ruse? Inform the Boss you want to parley - in exchange for your lives, you'll lead him to the location of your secret treasure cache from prior adventures, on the order of 50,000 gp. We'll assume your PCs won't give in under torture (you're so low on hp, the Boss wouldn't risk killing you right?). Once you're out of the dungeon, you may still be prisoners but you'll be alive & can plan your next move.

2) Use psychological warfare - sow discord in the enemy ranks. Challenge the Boss to a duel - the Barbarian is still relatively healthy, right? If you win you gain your freedom & perhaps a measure of respect from the minions. If the Boss scoffs at this suggestion, he'll risk looking weak in front of his soldiers. Or, promise to lead the Boss's minions to the gold cache (see above) if they kill their Boss. If you're lucky the enemy forces could turn on each other.


Take the challenge, where would the fun be if you knew you were never gonna die and loose your character ?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE, Roger. Please take the tour and get a feel for how our SE site operates. It may be a little different than the other SE sites that you participate in, though the core theme and purpose is the same. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 22:28

Fire the DM. Tell him, "we the players have taken a vote. You've failed your performance review, and in bad faith you've decided to punish us, even though we've surpassed all the challenges you've set before us. Please leave. The game rules decide if we die, not you."

Rules matter.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE, Chris. :-) Please take the tour and get a feel for how our site works. (Just a point from a veteran RPG player: if you ask the DM to leave, there isn't a game if he does. Ball gets picked up and taken home. Do you want to address the follow on actions to that piece of your answer?) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 22:10
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you seriously consider "there's a chance one of our PCs might die" to be a reason to "fire" a GM? Seems like it's unlikely to get you steady play groups. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 23:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .