Questions tagged [character-death]

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

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143
votes
13answers
18k 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), ...
104
votes
18answers
15k 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 ...
100
votes
18answers
9k 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,...
77
votes
14answers
21k 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 ...
76
votes
10answers
31k 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 ...
57
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11answers
8k 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-...
57
votes
6answers
6k views

Handling encounter elements that would realistically cause instant death

Creating an encounter often plays out the same for me: I come up with ideas for making the experience epic, find myself unable to solve the "what if they fail" problem, and then minimize or eliminate ...
56
votes
17answers
13k 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 ...
56
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5answers
7k 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 ...
55
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11answers
6k 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 ...
50
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8answers
14k 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 ...
50
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9answers
19k views

How to kill a character without making their player too angry

I have been DMing a game for a group of friends. In between two sessions, which ended with them facing a few enemy NPCs, I realized that these intelligent opponents had a very good way to kill one of ...
48
votes
12answers
14k views

What to do about PC rerolling for great stats?

I have a player who in the span of 3 sessions has gone through 5 characters (& made even more, some of which I told them not to play because the stats were too high), because they want "great" ...
48
votes
6answers
46k views

How do I kill a 20th level raging Zealot Barbarian?

At 20th level, the Path of the Zealot barbarian (Xanathar's Guide to Everything, p. 11) can rage indefinitely by virtue of starting a new rage just prior to their initial rage ending. This is ...
46
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7answers
3k 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 ...
45
votes
13answers
9k 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 ...
45
votes
4answers
16k views

What happens to dying PCs when combat ends?

Imagine that a PC gets reduced to 0 hit points during a battle. The battle continues for a couple more rounds and they roll their death saves, one success and one failure (not sure if this part of the ...
43
votes
7answers
13k views

I killed a PC's animal companion at the end of last session, but later realized it should have survived; what are my options?

Notes: I am the DM, my players are a group of 7, levels of 11 or 12. So, our last weeks session ended with a black dragon releasing an acid breath attack on the only visible enemies in a courtyard. ...
43
votes
6answers
8k views

Can massive damage knock out rather than causing instant death?

Suppose, as happened last night, a character intends to subdue rather than kill an opponent. She made a melee attack, hit, declared her intent to knock out. The damage roll was enough to reduce the ...
42
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1answer
166k views

What spells are available to resurrect characters?

What official spells exist that can be used by characters to resurrect their fallen comrades in Dungeons & Dragons? Which classes can cast them and at what level?
41
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9answers
11k views

How do I prevent a character from being resurrected?

I'm part of a team of level 20 characters (5 players total). I am a Shadow Dancer 10 / Investigator 10. Our party is in a war, and I am a spy within the group. I am planning to betray them. The ...
36
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4answers
4k views

What happens when an unconscious but stabilised character is hit?

At the end of this answer to a different question ("If you succeed on all of your death saving throws, what happens?"), the answer states that: If an unconscious character is attacked, the attacker ...
35
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9answers
8k views

Players better at dealing damage than taking damage

I'm currently DM'ing a high powered D&D 3.5 game with 4 PCs (Wizard, Druid, Rogue/Assassin and Bard) and a DMPC (Minotaur Barbarian) at ECL 11. My concern is that whenever I try to create a ...
34
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8answers
4k 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 ...
34
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3answers
6k views

Interactions between unarmed strikes, negative strength and an unconscious target

Consider this improbable yet possible scenario (which nonetheless came up at our table last night): A PC is unconscious and currently making Death Saving Throws. A weak (8 Strength) and hostile NPC ...
33
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
33
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3answers
4k views

Does a resurrected wizard remember their prepared spells?

Imagine that a wizard died in a fire, and their spellbook burned, too. They were in the afterlife for about a month and after that resurrected. They no longer have a spellbook. Do they remember ...
33
votes
1answer
7k 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 ...
32
votes
12answers
5k 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 ...
32
votes
6answers
9k views

Is there a spell, weapon, or effect that causes permanent and irrevocable death?

Going by RAW, is there a way to (reliably) kill someone that cannot be undone? Short of outright wishing it'd never happened, I mean. I don't mean just Imprisonment, or whatever. The creature has to ...
31
votes
7answers
5k views

How can I help a player who is horribly afraid of character death? [closed]

I'm a new DM, and the majority of my players (including myself) are either completely new to D&D (or any tabletop RPG for that matter) or very inexperienced. (By the way we're playing D&D 5e, ...
29
votes
6answers
12k 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....
29
votes
1answer
8k views

Do your spells end when you die?

I linked to this answer in a 5e question, attempting to bring support for the idea that, if you cast an open-ended spell, like Magic Mouth, it could remain after you die. Someone pointed out that, as ...
27
votes
9answers
5k 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....
27
votes
4answers
27k views

Does a Paladin's Aura of Protection Affect Allies' Death Saving Throws?

In D&D 5e, the Paladin feature Aura of Protection allows allies within 10 feet of you to add your charisma modifier as a bonus to their saving throws, as long as you are conscious. Certainly this ...
27
votes
4answers
2k views

Which incarnation is created by True Resurrection when used on a reincarnated creature?

Reincarnate creates a new body for a creature who has died. True Resurrection is able to create a new body for a creature when the original no longer exists. What happens when a reincarnated creature ...
26
votes
9answers
14k views

How to kill a PC without hard feelings?

Reading this question, the accepted advice for killing a player is to talk to them first. My campaign is run in a Game of Thrones style setting; the good and honorable die doing what is right, and ...
26
votes
4answers
35k views

Does the Power Word Kill spell instantly kill PCs?

Orcus's "Voice" lair action is casting the spell Power Word Kill. If he were to use it on a PC, would they drop to death saving throws or instantly die?
26
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5answers
6k views

Can I resurrect a corpse that was previously animated as undead?

One of my teammates has died in battle. As a noble necromancer, I do not want to carry his corpse to the temple on my shoulders, instead I plan to animate his corpse, so he can walk on its own. Then, ...
26
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
25
votes
1answer
4k views

Can massive damage kill you while at 0 HP?

The rules on "Instant Death" state: Massive damage can kill you instantly. When damage reduces you to 0 hit points and there is damage remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals or exceeds ...
25
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
25
votes
3answers
7k views

Can a Zealot Barbarian at 0 hp be disintegrated?

A Zealot Barbarian gets the feature Rage beyond Death at Level 14 which reads Beginning at 14th level, the divine power that fuels your rage allows you to shrug off fatal blows. While you’re ...
24
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 ...
24
votes
6answers
5k views

Are PCs that died counted when dividing a combat's XP?

Generally, XP is divided equally when an enemy is killed. So let's say a low level party of four all fought and killed an orc worth 100xp; they all get 25xp. But what happens if the orc kills (...
24
votes
1answer
11k views

If an attack hits you while you're unconscious and making death saving throws, does it cause 2 failed death saves?

In the PHB it says that three death saving throw failures means you die, and damage causes 1 failure, and a critical hit causes 2 failures. But the unconscious condition says that attacks against an ...
24
votes
1answer
5k views

If I am hit after I am reduced to 0 HP during this duel in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure, do I take 1 or 2 death save failures?

We're playing Hoard of the Dragon Queen. During the brutal first episode, there is a duel that can take place (p. 12; spoilers in the link). When the player loses the duel, the other participant... ...
24
votes
6answers
37k 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 ...
23
votes
11answers
7k views

How do I address the need to kill off one member of the party for on going plot?

So I have a plot that I want use, that will require a specific member of the team to be "Killed" in a run. The player is very invested in this character, and can take things at the table a little ...
23
votes
13answers
6k views

What to do about a player who takes risks and dies (without consequence)? [closed]

I have a solid group of 3-5 players who regularly play together and I DM for them. One of these players regularly dies during our campaign (sometimes multiple times). I typically allow people to re-...

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