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philip.dutre wrote:
ooozan wrote:
philip.dutre wrote:
In one of my fantasy campaigns, that ran for several years, there was one very significant character death. He was the norse/dwarf/fighter of the party. The character died near the end of a major combat. After the combat, I stopped the session, since I wanted to work out how to respond.

The next session, and in conjunction with the player controller the character, I ran a little mini-adventure, with Valkyries descending from the skies, coming to get the body. He had to appear before a tribunal of the gods to see whether he was worthy of inclusion in Walhalla, and the other players had to testify on his behalf. It was a very fitting conclusion, and felt meaningful to end the character’s career this way. But I have to admit ‘the stars were right’, and it fitted the style and tone of the campaign very well.

The player started with a new character the next session, but it always felt like a cheap substitute ...

It's a shame that his new character felt like a cheap substitute. From that experience do you think you could've prevented that or help him adjust?


It had more to do with the progression of the campaign rather than with the player. The other players all had their initial character when the campaign finished, but this new character somehow never felt as ‘part of the group’. When we recount stories about that campaign, that new character barely gets a mention, it’s always the old one.

In hindsight, there are ways I could have solved it better, by having the new character being the brother or son of the old one, or something like that, such that there is clear lineage between a memorable character and the new one, rather than only the player being the lineage.
That is a good tip to remember!

There was a story I heard or maybe even read a while ago about a D&D group, I don't quite remember the source, it might've been Matt Colville's. This group went on their first adventure and the fighter died in a battle against goblins. Without a moment of hesitation the player wrote Jr. next to his characters name on his sheet, claimed he was the son of said fighter and swore to seek revenge! It's a great story to tell to your group to implicitly introduce them to the idea of a continuation of lineage. The group carried on their adventures with the new fighter constantly attacking every goblin he saw. Both hilarious and insightful.
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Jonah Lemkins
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My players and I have very different opinions on this topic. They all like playing characters for a long time and following their stories. Personally, I like to play a wide variety of characters so I eagerly await characters exiting stage left (not necessarily because of death).
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Paul Dale
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I generally let them die. If it was a bad decision on thier part, I definitely let them die.

I've had players who took it in their stride and started rolling. I've had players who really took the death to heart. The latter I find the more difficult to deal with.

Pauli
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Personally I love it when my characters die. I appreciate every death!

In Call of Cthulhu (2nd - 6th Edition) it is so expected that in my face-to-face game all the players have a spare character rolled up and ready for when their main character dies (or more likely, goes so insane they are no longer playable). So far they have relished their unique endings. We rarely pause the game for such things, after all, evil conspiracies wait for no one!

In Eclipse Phase (First Edition) it is almost impossible to truly die. When we have "died" our selves merely come back sleeved into another body, with a bit of memory loss based on when we last backed up our memories.

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Patrick Zoch
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I often have young players at my table, so I am not brutal when death comes to a player character. The younger they are, the more matter-of-fact I am until I learn more about how they react to death. Tears have happened. But tears have happened even when the character was just in danger.

Even older players can have an adverse reaction to death. It depends on the player and how invested he or she is in the character.

I have taken to rewarding players who roleplay a good death by giving the next character they create a bonus on their abilities or a bonus item. That has lead to better role play and handling of character deaths.
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pdzoch wrote:
I often have young players at my table, so I am not brutal when death comes to a player character. The younger they are, the more matter-of-fact I am until I learn more about how they react to death. Tears have happened. But tears have happened even when the character was just in danger.

Even older players can have an adverse reaction to death. It depends on the player and how invested he or she is in the character.

I have taken to rewarding players who roleplay a good death by giving the next character they create a bonus on their abilities or a bonus item. That has lead to better role play and handling of character deaths.


Running Pendragon, the teens thrived on the deadliness.
It was the 40+ crowd who were scared off by the sheer mortality rate. (averaged 1 PC death per 2 sessions.)

The threat of Character Death runs high in my L5R campaigns. No PCs dead yet, but that's due to a combination of caution and luck.

I've killed several PCs in AL play... but the players have never complained I was unfair about it. One was a very pyrrhic victory... and a campaign end death saving the rest of the party.
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Like a lot of folks in the thread, I used to feel like character death was very important to verisimilitude but as the years have gone by I've come to realize that the gain in 'realism' isn't worth the player dissatisfaction.

I see it as the job of the gamemaster to facilitate joy, and for some parties that definitely includes ignominious death, but for most of the ones I run for it does not. It's a numbers game: if you're losing more player engagement because of individual character deaths than you are gaining by insisting on the coherent immersion of the risk of death, what is gained?

For what it is worth, I have not personally found that the relative absence of the threat of death impacts the immediacy of my campaigns.

My rules are simple:

I don't let the dice or rules kill characters. I run my table, not a shoddily manufactured plastic random number generator, and certainly not a set of badly playtested books written in total ignorance of my campaign.

If a player's choices were appropriate and assumed a reasonable level of risk, "death" results in a sanity loss and permanent scar (modified as necessary for system).

If a player's choices are inappropriate or do not respect an apparent threat, death is back on the table. I often warn my players when this condition has been met, but not always.
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