Death, Where Is Thy Sting?


Before my vacation I released GM Cheat Sheet #08 that I don’t think I announced to you.

Check out the Forests 5 Room Dungeon Generator at DriveThruRPG. Have your dice ready to quickly create interesting forest-based 5 Room Dungeons, adventures, and encounters.

You can also watch a video walkthrough of the GM Cheat Sheet here.

Have a great (forest-filled?) weekend!

– Johnn

Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

Wizard of Adventure Auke asked on the RPT Discord: “I watched Dungeon Craft’s recent video about PC death, which made me wonder, how do you deal with this in your games? Are PCs immortal? Do they drop like flies?”

Great question! Here was my reply:

Sponge Up That Gold

For my OSE campaign, death is a treasure siphon.

The group voted from 1-10 how deadly they wanted the campaign. Votes were 7, 7, 6, 7 IIRC. So we’re expecting a few PC deaths.

A dead PC can be raised by the church, reincarnated by druids in the Wildwood, resurrected by a certain special elf, or roll for divine intervention.

The party can also quest for a Legendary Item that’ll do the job if they want.

Each option costs something.

Or they can leave the poor PC as-is, fried, shaken, or stirred, and a pin cushion no more.

You Gotta Risk to Win

Moderator Exile In Paradise also had some great comments:

From a fantasy game perspective: PCs can get themselves killed – and I’ll let them.

Without a chance for death – RPGs are just idle-clickers – you gotta risk to win.

Resurrections may be possible – but are not automatic – you have to convince the resurrectionist (many times cash is king) – but you also have to convince the power they call up (deities, demons, etc).

Sometimes a fight with Death is required to reclaim the party member – and the deity you paid for help may or may not intervene.

TL;DR – Reclaiming your comrade from Death is a side-quest … and now that I am thinking about it – you could totally 5RD it with the fallen party member as the reward at the end.

When I was a kid – my first character was a basic old fighter – roll 3d6 for each stat in order – get an armor, shield, and poker and go! My uncle was the GM, and his big bad killed my fighter in a grand fashion – decapitation for brashly jumping on the back of his horse behind him (yay leather armor!) and dousing him with holy water while attempting to stab him (having been stripped of sword turns earlier).

And I thought I did well since at least I didn’t get my skull used as a bowl like the paladin did…half-vampire baddie decapitated him too AND drank his blood from the head. In the end, we decapitated the baddie, staked his half-vampire corpse, and returned the head to town as proof we’d saved the day (eventually).

So it’s been a few hot decades since then – but I very well remember it. And I remember getting another character sheet and starting rolling while everyone finished the combat. And that’s why it matters to me that PCs can die. Now, if they live to max level – they “win” by becoming a legend of the land and retiring or getting promoted to mythic status and going to Valhalla or wherever your setting likes. And the first time you retire a character … just as memorable … story for another day.

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RPT GM: How about you? How are you handling character death in your current campaign? Is it an option? How can PCs come back from the other side? Do you stop the game while the player makes a new character? How do you work new characters into your story?

Reply to the Discord thread here.