Dealing with the TPK

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..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" class="mceContentBody " contenteditable="true" />I enjoy your posts Yagami... I'd like to weigh in.  This particular advice is good in theory but I have found it impractical in application.  The OP, as the DM of his game, has said that the events leading up to a TPK are already set in motion.  It is going to happen unless he intervenes.  So...



First off, thank you for your kind words. Also, much advice is only good in theory...the proof is in the practice. So I concur.

He has come here asking what the repercussions of that might be, and if unsavory, to head that off.  That is what DMs do isn't it?  Of course!  They know the numbers, good or bad from behind the screen.  They know what waits in every dungeon, town and vessel.  DMs have to meta-game because they are the game, though their meta-gaming happens behind the screen, out of sight.  It is only to what degree he should help the party that he is actually inquring.



This is where more information is required. Depending on the situation, a resolution that won't result in a TPK might not be meta-gaming, it might be an application of in-world logic. This is where the DM is going to have to be critical of the situation. Not everything wants to outright murder the PCs...many things will simply defend themselves. Many enemies may prefer taking their foes alive. Etc etc. However, that advice is, again, good only in theory...I'd have to know more about the situation at hand to adequately reason through it to see if a TPK might be unlikely or if the party is boned.

I am sure that every DMs play-style will set that benchmark at a different degree, and that is where some may disagree a little.  If the players and DM are having fun, then, I guess that way is what you would call "right". 



The danger is in eroding the importance of decision making in the game. The other problem is that it can light a VERY dangerous fuse in the background "reality" of the game...that of the DM "sparing" the PCs of their decisions. What might seem to give a more "fun" result now may cause future issues. After all, if you do not kill someone now because you decide it is more fun but then someone IS killed in game the blame falls on the DM for not deciding to keep them from dying. Additionally, this all undermines the weight of players agency...of their ability to make decisions and see through the consequences of those actions. It is, effectively, revealing the wizard behind the curtain. It can put bumpers on the bowling alley so to speak.

Too, I think it does matter if the players are new to the game or established.  Go a little easier on newbies I say.  In that, yes, the DM is an educator.  He is teaching.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking out-of-game factors into consideration when running a game.  You do it on a conscious or unconscious level all the time if you DM.



This can depend on establishing Day 0 expectations especially as players can react quite differently to that sort of thing.

Just two nights ago, my players in their second session of a new game of level 3 characters had to contend with a puzzle/relic they found that could invoke a Save Or Die if not handled correctly. Mind you, this was not a "load bearing" sort of situation...though if you've read my posts you are probably aware that I do not create a "narrative" so nothing in my world is "load bearing" in regards to the game at large...anyway, the cleric touched it brazenly, flubbed his save and dropped dead.

Being a cleric of the god of death (and the relic was of the god of death) he was given a second chance at life if he had a deep enough religious understanding...which took the form of a secondary Religion check after he died. He made the DC and was returned to life as if he'd just been hit with the "CLEAR!" at a hospital. The event aged him 9 years. This was the players first time playing in the game with that group. He plays with my Sunday group but is new to the hobby in general with the Sunday group (which is on about its 30th session) being the first time he's played tabletop. He was COMPLETELY ready to accept the death. When he was returned to life? He said "I'm not leaving this room until I figure this out" and left unsaid the "Or I permanently die trying" part but it was heavily implied since he was told that his god would only entertain a single second chance.

He's also come close to death in the other game as well one time where he was a roll away from death after some bad decisions...but, in general, he's taken really well to the game and, all things considered, he's played safer than the two meat shields in the team so his brief brush with death as his rogue (as opposed to his cleric) was more of a one-off.

Well, anyway, he got the relic after figuring out what was expected of him (it took him maybe 5 minutes or so)...but the rest of the group had abandoned him. When he retrieved the relic he was granted a boon...that the rest of the party missed out on. He had a choice between a permanent stat boost, the next battle he was in giving him enough XP to be 1 XP from leveling, a magic item, or eternal youth. He chose the last one. So in the span of a few minutes his guy went from 39 to 48 and then to about 25-30 (physical prime). If they were present and had helped him, the other party members would have received (lesser) boons as well. They did not.

This, in a way, is also similar to a TPK because it was an opportunity for a party-wide reward (effectively the opposite of a TPK). As DM I had to choose between either going against what I knew to be fact in the game world (that the relic would reward those that were present and helped when it was recovered) and what would be "fun" (everyone gets a present!). The game world won. Why? Because people made decisions and those decisions had consequences. The other party members didn't feel it was worth their time...they gambled and were wrong. It happens. The cleric saw it through to the end and was rewarded. Again, it happens. He could have also easily chosen wrong again and died permanently. Thems the breaks. However, if I HAD given out the reward to everyone it would have invalidated the choices the rest of the party had mad (to leave) and would have lessened the importance of the clerics own decision to stay.

I know it's long-winded, but I hope that gives you an idea of where I'm coming from.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

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New definition of holiday vacation: When Yagami wasn't logging onto the boards. 



Sorry, I was a bit busy running awesome D&D games. Look into it. Actually, just continue to read everything I write with great interest (as I know you do)...some of what I say will sink in eventually.

Or continue your sad little attacks on me. Either way you're just drawing attention to my posts and, for that, I thank you.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I know that this stance is not touted much on here these days, but I believe that the threat of a TPK or of a character's death offers the players a level of suspense, that to remove from the game, cheats them out of some emotional investment.

if the players know that there is no threat, why even engage in a combat?   I mean really... There has to be some balance.



Indeed. Indeed.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" class="mceContentBody " contenteditable="true" />I enjoy your posts Yagami... I'd like to weigh in.  This particular advice is good in theory but I have found it impractical in application.  The OP, as the DM of his game, has said that the events leading up to a TPK are already set in motion.  It is going to happen unless he intervenes.  So...



First off, thank you for your kind words. Also, much advice is only good in theory...the proof is in the practice. So I concur.

He has come here asking what the repercussions of that might be, and if unsavory, to head that off.  That is what DMs do isn't it?  Of course!  They know the numbers, good or bad from behind the screen.  They know what waits in every dungeon, town and vessel.  DMs have to meta-game because they are the game, though their meta-gaming happens behind the screen, out of sight.  It is only to what degree he should help the party that he is actually inquring.



This is where more information is required. Depending on the situation, a resolution that won't result in a TPK might not be meta-gaming, it might be an application of in-world logic. This is where the DM is going to have to be critical of the situation. Not everything wants to outright murder the PCs...many things will simply defend themselves. Many enemies may prefer taking their foes alive. Etc etc. However, that advice is, again, good only in theory...I'd have to know more about the situation at hand to adequately reason through it to see if a TPK might be unlikely or if the party is boned.

I am sure that every DMs play-style will set that benchmark at a different degree, and that is where some may disagree a little.  If the players and DM are having fun, then, I guess that way is what you would call "right". 



The danger is in eroding the importance of decision making in the game. The other problem is that it can light a VERY dangerous fuse in the background "reality" of the game...that of the DM "sparing" the PCs of their decisions. What might seem to give a more "fun" result now may cause future issues. After all, if you do not kill someone now because you decide it is more fun but then someone IS killed in game the blame falls on the DM for not deciding to keep them from dying. Additionally, this all undermines the weight of players agency...of their ability to make decisions and see through the consequences of those actions. It is, effectively, revealing the wizard behind the curtain. It can put bumpers on the bowling alley so to speak.

Too, I think it does matter if the players are new to the game or established.  Go a little easier on newbies I say.  In that, yes, the DM is an educator.  He is teaching.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking out-of-game factors into consideration when running a game.  You do it on a conscious or unconscious level all the time if you DM.



This can depend on establishing Day 0 expectations especially as players can react quite differently to that sort of thing.

Just two nights ago, my players in their second session of a new game of level 3 characters had to contend with a puzzle/relic they found that could invoke a Save Or Die if not handled correctly. Mind you, this was not a "load bearing" sort of situation...though if you've read my posts you are probably aware that I do not create a "narrative" so nothing in my world is "load bearing" in regards to the game at large...anyway, the cleric touched it brazenly, flubbed his save and dropped dead.

Being a cleric of the god of death (and the relic was of the god of death) he was given a second chance at life if he had a deep enough religious understanding...which took the form of a secondary Religion check after he died. He made the DC and was returned to life as if he'd just been hit with the "CLEAR!" at a hospital. The event aged him 9 years. This was the players first time playing in the game with that group. He plays with my Sunday group but is new to the hobby in general with the Sunday group (which is on about its 30th session) being the first time he's played tabletop. He was COMPLETELY ready to accept the death. When he was returned to life? He said "I'm not leaving this room until I figure this out" and left unsaid the "Or I permanently die trying" part but it was heavily implied since he was told that his god would only entertain a single second chance.

He's also come close to death in the other game as well one time where he was a roll away from death after some bad decisions...but, in general, he's taken really well to the game and, all things considered, he's played safer than the two meat shields in the team so his brief brush with death as his rogue (as opposed to his cleric) was more of a one-off.

Well, anyway, he got the relic after figuring out what was expected of him (it took him maybe 5 minutes or so)...but the rest of the group had abandoned him. When he retrieved the relic he was granted a boon...that the rest of the party missed out on. He had a choice between a permanent stat boost, the next battle he was in giving him enough XP to be 1 XP from leveling, a magic item, or eternal youth. He chose the last one. So in the span of a few minutes his guy went from 39 to 48 and then to about 25-30 (physical prime). If they were present and had helped him, the other party members would have received (lesser) boons as well. They did not.

This, in a way, is also similar to a TPK because it was an opportunity for a party-wide reward (effectively the opposite of a TPK). As DM I had to choose between either going against what I knew to be fact in the game world (that the relic would reward those that were present and helped when it was recovered) and what would be "fun" (everyone gets a present!). The game world won. Why? Because people made decisions and those decisions had consequences. The other party members didn't feel it was worth their time...they gambled and were wrong. It happens. The cleric saw it through to the end and was rewarded. Again, it happens. He could have also easily chosen wrong again and died permanently. Thems the breaks. However, if I HAD given out the reward to everyone it would have invalidated the choices the rest of the party had mad (to leave) and would have lessened the importance of the clerics own decision to stay.

I know it's long-winded, but I hope that gives you an idea of where I'm coming from.



I like it.  Trust me... I am an advocate of repercussions that make the players think about their choices.  (See my above posts where I am arguing your position).  

Simply stated; the threat of character demise and/or the TPK should not be the goal of the game.  I am not an advocate of DM vs. player.  But to take it out completely is robbing the players of a fundamental staple of D&D and a fun kind of tension.  In my opinion of course.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I like it.  Trust me... I am an advocate of repercussions that make the players think about their choices.  (See my above posts where I am arguing your position).  

Simply stated; the threat of character demise and/or the TPK should not be the goal of the game.  I am not an advocate of DM vs. player.  But to take it out completely is robbing the players of a fundamental staple of D&D and a fun kind of tension.  In my opinion of course.




Oh I agree entirely. I have no interest in actively killing my players. I am playing no kind of game against them. DM vs player is an idiotic, childish mentality.

I work in the middle (neither for nor against) and behind the scenes and strive to make sure my desires and intention do not color the game world...because that is the domain of the players to influence.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Failure and death should not be synonymous.
New definition of holiday vacation: When Yagami wasn't logging onto the boards. 



"It's a Christmas miracle!"
Hey everyone, thanks to you all for taking the time to reply, work has prevented me from much computer acess in the last day or so, and sleep is calling me now so I didn't have time to read through everyone's individual post past the first few pages, but I skimmed them (with love), and I thank you for leaving them all the same. 

I've decided that you guys are right, it's much better for the story and for the player's enjoyment as a whole if their characters actually survive, but I didn't want their failure to be completely without consequence, so here's sort of what I came up with, and I'd happily take some feedback. Someone mentioned earlier in the thread (I tried quickly looking for it to quote, but either I looked too quickly or it's been edited out,) something about being trapped in spider webs for, say, fifty years and then waking up in the future. This idea actually works for our current campaign, not so much the spiders, but the time travel. To give a little more context to the original issue without giving away the complete backstory to our campaign, the players are about mid-way through the paragon tier and the solo-monster they're facing later this week is a Demon-like figure that can manipulate time. I was thinking, should they fall in battle to him, that I'd have the players trapped in stasis by the Demon and sent into the future. Once there, they could lament at the destruction the Demon has wrought on the surrounding area without the PCs there to stop him. I think this new arc of exploring the future world while trying to find a way back to their own time would actually be an interesting and fun little arc that I could probably pump a few sessions on before getting back to the previous quest the PCs were on, once they've found a way to return "home." 

Anyway, thanks again to all you guys for the advice.  
New definition of holiday vacation: When Yagami wasn't logging onto the boards. 



"It's a Christmas miracle!"



Actually I celebrate Festivus so I was away trying to pin my father.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I think that if I was faced with a TPK, the result would vary based on factors like what they were fighting, where they were, etc..  that sort of thing.  For example if the party TPK's against a gelatinous cube (it almost happened a few sessions ago) with an intelligence of 3, that probably means they will be dead.  The cube has no interest in prisoners... because some gelatinous cubes aren't looking for anything logical, like gold. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with.  Some cubes just want to watch the world burn. 

haha !

On the other hand someone like a powerful wizard necromancer might turn the party into undead (which might happen in the near future !) then it makes sense and I'm not just creating an out at every turn.  Sometimes it's more fun to actually have the risk of things coming to an end.  Not all the time of course, but sometimes.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

There's more to failure than death, capture, retreat or deus ex machina. Characters can survive, not be captured, not retreat and still lose. Happens all the time in stories. If a DM wants to allow for it, those stories should be emulated. One example is the enemy who wanted to destroy an object. The players might survive, not be captued, not retreat, maybe even kill the enemy, and still not prevent that enemy from accomplishing its goal.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

never said there wasn't Centauri.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

My posit was not hypothetical.  And though we go round and round sometimes, I actually engage my players for ideas about the campaign, just probably not to the degree that you may.  If a scenario comes up where my players really get in over their heads, I don't think I am robbing them of fun by letting them know "ok... You know that your characters are not really in any danger don't you?"

You don't feel that? I would have thought that you do feel that. Anyway, I don't feel that either. I will sometimes say that to a group that is overanalyzing a situation, to try to get them to make decisions and move on.

I don't challenge my players with the threat of death with every encounter... One in a dozen it might happen maybe.  But if the knowledge that it could happen is there, well, that changes their decision making.

Yes, and in my experience it changes their decision-making for the worse, as well as bringing out the worst in them as players, as they set aside their trust for me in order to do everything possible to keep their characters alive.

Your request of me was to try it.  My response is, I do.  But I mix it up.  What if at your table one night you had the BBEG really go after your players and with bloodlust tried to destroy them, just because he is ruthless.  What new emotions would your players suddenly be feeling?  Just shake the collaborative storytelling session up one night.  Try it sometime.

Obviously I have tried it. For years, I used this approach to the game, just like everyone else. And it never, in years and years of trying, gave me the results I wanted. I can't say others don't get the results they want, but I'd have a hard time believing it based on what I've seen in my own and other games, the questions that show up on this forum, and the tropes that have built up about this game over the years. And if they are getting the results they want, it's probably because the players are entirely bought in to the idea of lethal combat. Which is great, but DMs should not assume that buy in, maybe not even if the players claim to have it.

The option of lethal failure is on the table in our collaborations, as long as we can make it interesting. I think my players know this, but I will reiterate it at out next game, along with the fact that I'm not interested in the game bogging down in an attempt to keep characters alive.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

To relieve Centauri, can we all mention one more time that we all know that there are more ways to fight a combat than to the death.

What has been said (and said, and said, and said...) is that the threat of a TPK (or characer death) is one tool in the DMs toolbox that can be used to great effect in achieving tension (the good kind) in the game.

Nobody here has said that character death is their goal.  Everyone knows that there are a million other alternatives to fit a million scenarios.  I am just saying, why take the tool out of the toolbox.  It might just come in handy one day.  It might actually fit the story.  It might actually make things more interesting.

And just so it doesn't seem like I'm piling on;  I realize that everyone has their own style of DMing and everyone that has happy players believes that their way is the right one.  But for those DMs on these boards that tout their way as the only way and everyone else is just screwing up the game (and there are many here... not singling anyone out), well, to put it nicely, that's just short-sighted.

PS.  ...and before you quote that last sentence and say "that works both ways...", I am not guilty of telling folks that my way is the best way to play D&D.     


    
To relieve Centauri, can we all mention one more time that we all know that there are more ways to fight a combat than to the death.

I'll believe people know that when I start seeing them explore the idea.

What has been said (and said, and said, and said...) is that the threat of a TPK (or characer death) is one tool in the DMs toolbox that can be used to great effect in achieving tension (the good kind) in the game.

Rarely, and only with a lot of player trust and buy-in.

Nobody here has said that character death is their goal.

But it is the goal for many DMs, without consideration of its role in the game and effects out of the game, simply because they believe that it's what's supposed to be done.

Everyone knows that there are a million other alternatives to fit a million scenarios.

Not enough people do, and some think that those alternatives are "gamist" or "unrealistic" and dismiss them. The status quo is massive, here.

  I am just saying, why take the tool out of the toolbox.  It might just come in handy one day.  It might actually fit the story.  It might actually make things more interesting.

And I'm not saying to take it out of the toolbox. I'm saying, don't assume it's the right tool, or the only tool. Maybe you get this, but plenty of people don't. I'm posting to them.

And just so it doesn't seem like I'm piling on;  I realize that everyone has their own style of DMing and everyone that has happy players believes that their way is the right one.  But for those DMs on these boards that tout their way as the only way and everyone else is just screwing up the game (and there are many here... not singling anyone out), well, to put it nicely, that's just short-sighted.

PS.  ...and before you quote that last sentence and say "that works both ways...", I am not guilty of telling folks that my way is the best way to play D&D.

Nor am I, but I will point out problems with other ways, and ways to avoid those problems, as is done with anything anyone suggests here. Thereby, maybe everyone's ways of playing can be improved.

Look: there are well established ways to play D&D, ways that don't get enough questioning. People who are going to offer questions and alternatives need to do it firmly and repeatedly or they'll just get rolled over by people discussing those other ways, even if the rolling over isn't deliberate, or is done civily. If I'm too firm and repititious for anyone, I recommend the Block option.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Failure and death should not be synonymous.

true.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Hey everyone, thanks to you all for taking the time to reply, work has prevented me from much computer acess in the last day or so, and sleep is calling me now so I didn't have time to read through everyone's individual post past the first few pages, but I skimmed them (with love), and I thank you for leaving them all the same. 

I've decided that you guys are right, it's much better for the story and for the player's enjoyment as a whole if their characters actually survive, but I didn't want their failure to be completely without consequence, so here's sort of what I came up with, and I'd happily take some feedback. Someone mentioned earlier in the thread (I tried quickly looking for it to quote, but either I looked too quickly or it's been edited out,) something about being trapped in spider webs for, say, fifty years and then waking up in the future. This idea actually works for our current campaign, not so much the spiders, but the time travel. To give a little more context to the original issue without giving away the complete backstory to our campaign, the players are about mid-way through the paragon tier and the solo-monster they're facing later this week is a Demon-like figure that can manipulate time. I was thinking, should they fall in battle to him, that I'd have the players trapped in stasis by the Demon and sent into the future. Once there, they could lament at the destruction the Demon has wrought on the surrounding area without the PCs there to stop him. I think this new arc of exploring the future world while trying to find a way back to their own time would actually be an interesting and fun little arc that I could probably pump a few sessions on before getting back to the previous quest the PCs were on, once they've found a way to return "home." 

Anyway, thanks again to all you guys for the advice.  



Brilliant. I didn't see a post talking about the cobweb idea, but what you have is great.

Sorry if people let the topic turn into a debate about TPK's and death. This tends to happen in many threads.
To relieve Centauri, can we all mention one more time that we all know that there are more ways to fight a combat than to the death.

I'll believe people know that when I start seeing them explore the idea.

What has been said (and said, and said, and said...) is that the threat of a TPK (or characer death) is one tool in the DMs toolbox that can be used to great effect in achieving tension (the good kind) in the game.

Rarely, and only with a lot of player trust and buy-in.

Nobody here has said that character death is their goal.

But it is the goal for many DMs, without consideration of its role in the game and effects out of the game, simply because they believe that it's what's supposed to be done.

Everyone knows that there are a million other alternatives to fit a million scenarios.

Not enough people do, and some think that those alternatives are "gamist" or "unrealistic" and dismiss them. The status quo is massive, here.

  I am just saying, why take the tool out of the toolbox.  It might just come in handy one day.  It might actually fit the story.  It might actually make things more interesting.

And I'm not saying to take it out of the toolbox. I'm saying, don't assume it's the right tool, or the only tool. Maybe you get this, but plenty of people don't. I'm posting to them.

And just so it doesn't seem like I'm piling on;  I realize that everyone has their own style of DMing and everyone that has happy players believes that their way is the right one.  But for those DMs on these boards that tout their way as the only way and everyone else is just screwing up the game (and there are many here... not singling anyone out), well, to put it nicely, that's just short-sighted.

PS.  ...and before you quote that last sentence and say "that works both ways...", I am not guilty of telling folks that my way is the best way to play D&D.

Nor am I, but I will point out problems with other ways, and ways to avoid those problems, as is done with anything anyone suggests here. Thereby, maybe everyone's ways of playing can be improved.

Look: there are well established ways to play D&D, ways that don't get enough questioning. People who are going to offer questions and alternatives need to do it firmly and repeatedly or they'll just get rolled over by people discussing those other ways, even if the rolling over isn't deliberate, or is done civily. If I'm too firm and repititious for anyone, I recommend the Block option.




All well said, and civil.  Thanks.  And if anyone has read all that you are advocating in DMing and what I have advocated in DMing, they would probably see that we aren't all that far apart in our persective on how the DM should interact with their players.  As evidenced by the above post, we agree on much.

Every table will be different, no doubt.  Everybody's game, even in the same system, will be different.  Until someone is able to come along and play at everyone's table, no-one will ever know which way is the most "fun".  (It is a game afterall!)  All that you have championed with your voice are elements of my own game.  I guess sometimes- and perhaps because your mantra is repeated over and over- it seems that you are poo-poo-ing other DM's way of play.

I have seen you advocate the DM's liberal use of the words "Yes, and..." when a player comes up with an idea in the game.  One way to respond to a fellow poster on these threads that offers some well-intentioned advice, good or not, might be to come along behind them with  "Yes, and... another way to handle that situation is this..." or "Yes, and... although that might work, here is something that I have found that works for our table."  That could go a long way in others not feeling shot down when they are only trying to help.

I hope that you read the above paragraph with the kind of inflection that was intended- humble and respectful- and not sarcastic or glib.

Anyway, anyone that DMs with his players best interest at heart is ok in my book.  Everything else is just a friendly debate among folks who love this game.



To TPK or not to TPK can be dependent on a host of factors.  Are these long-running PCs who the players are very attached to and would truly lament losing?  Then find a way to make their failure miserable maybe without outright killing them.  (They are cursed and are awakened 100 years later wrapped in sinewy webs, adrift on a mote in the fey wild?)

if they are new characters and your players are new/ unattached to PCs/ not taking threats seriously, then maybe this early TPK would deliver an appreciation for the lethality of their decisions.  An early TPK can sometimes instill greater decision making moving forward.  It can also be a great way to introduce a recurring villain; one that the players know is capable of heinous acts.

 It really depends on the situation, but the few times that I have perpetrated a PCs death, I made sure that it made the story more interesting.  Constant DM fiat can mitigate the feeling of a real threat and the players of suspense for their actions.  But you know probably how your players might react... Act in a way that will be the most fun for them.



Here are the webs, mentioned from the first page of this thread.  You know... the guy debating on here about the right to TPK if neccessary?  This is me showing another alternative.  Smile
Our last session ended with my group's party just outside the last room of a dungeon which (unbeknownst to them) contains a fairly difficult solo monster. The encounter just before said solo monster was supposed to be not that difficult, but through a combination of poor decision making on the part of the party and certain traps and terrain effects working much better than I had intended, the party got pretty badly hurt by it. Most of them now only have a single healing surge, and several of them lack their daily abilities. I am genuinely concerned that going against the solo monster as is will result in a TPK. The party was fully aware that this was a difficult dungeon going in, and are honestly just as to blame for their current state as the monsters are. I'm posting this here to ask:

Do you guys think it's a good idea to scale back the difficulty of the solo monster, even though it may result in the monster being noticeably weaker than it should be? Or should I let the party face the monster as is?

If they do face the monster as is, and a TPK does occur, has a TPK happened to any of you guys in the past? How did you guys end up dealing with it? I don't think my group will accuse me of being out to get them, but if one of them does get upset, what are ways that you guys use to get around that?  

If they choose to RISK it, don't steal their chance for glory by eliminating the risk.

Yes, our group plays about twice a week. We had one TPK this year...  A medusa turned 5 out of 6 mid-level players to stone thanks to some unfortunate dice rolls. One of the players, playing a level 6 elven rogue rolled a 2 and got a 24 save without the aid of any magic or spell (you do the math).

Alas, the player's unfortunate math meant his character was the only one not turned to stone and he was summarily killed by the medusa's blind cultists. The statues were sold to a wizard who collected such oddities.

How did we deal with it? We made some cool new characters, most of which made it to high level and some are still being played from time to time in solo adventures. One of them ranks as a favorite character and inspired the player to write a fantasy novel based on the events.

What if a player gets upset? They'll get over it. If not, tell them to put on their big girl undergarments.

If the party has put themselves in a situation where they all die, or even if they die because of a lucky cleave chain by the big monster, do them the service of giving a bit of an epilogue. If done well, as a story element, the epilogue can inspire a whole new campaign, making it seem like the characters actually mattered, even if they died.

If one of the players carries an intelligent blade and it falls into the bottom of a pit in a mummy's tomb, mention it. Somebody in the next campaign might be seeking a sword of legend. If the player was in the middle of funding a castle back home... there's going to be an unfinished castle. Who moves into it? Give them closure.

Don't kill the players unneccessarily, however. Sometimes we get caught up in the fight to the death mentality. If the players are being killed by some thugs who only meant to rob them for some beer money, ask if such thugs would REALLY continue fighting after suffering vicious wounds in a bloody battle. Things like that. Keep the setting and monster/npc involved in mind, as well. Does the local druid REALLY throw his most powerful fire spells here in the sacred grove? Does the evil monk REALLY lose his cool and turn into a savage barbarian psychopath? Err on the side of awesome in these cases.

As far as the player being upset... it'll sting for a minute, but it won't kill them. Tell them to put some dirt on it. The biggest complaint you'll hear isn't likely just because a character dies, but it will be if the character died in some silly way. If the pit they fall into was in front of the bar in the local tavern, they may have a legitimate complaint. If your character is carrying 200 lbs of elk meat and you are attacked and killed by hungry wild wolves, it's natural to want to know if these wolves were vampire-controlled wolves or just some random encounter gone terribly wrong.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
What if you add some in game warnings letting them know just how tough the opponent behind that door is? You can even suggest out of game "This is a very hard fight, I suggest you rest" if they are willing to go at it let them.

Iffy. What does the DM do if they are then killed and don't enjoy it? Claim it was their fault? Claim that he assumed they wanted to die?


Don't rely on players heeding warnings. Set the game up so warnings aren't necessary. Don't go easy on them, but don't make death the only way to fail, either.



You say "so thats what you would have faced had you not rested. Flash back to before that fight and we rest."

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

What if you add some in game warnings letting them know just how tough the opponent behind that door is? You can even suggest out of game "This is a very hard fight, I suggest you rest" if they are willing to go at it let them.

Iffy. What does the DM do if they are then killed and don't enjoy it? Claim it was their fault? Claim that he assumed they wanted to die?


Don't rely on players heeding warnings. Set the game up so warnings aren't necessary. Don't go easy on them, but don't make death the only way to fail, either.



You say "so thats what you would have faced had you not rested. Flash back to before that fight and we rest."




That still feels like teaching everyone a lesson with the Players-be-Good stick.
What if you add some in game warnings letting them know just how tough the opponent behind that door is? You can even suggest out of game "This is a very hard fight, I suggest you rest" if they are willing to go at it let them.

Iffy. What does the DM do if they are then killed and don't enjoy it? Claim it was their fault? Claim that he assumed they wanted to die?


Don't rely on players heeding warnings. Set the game up so warnings aren't necessary. Don't go easy on them, but don't make death the only way to fail, either.



You say "so thats what you would have faced had you not rested. Flash back to before that fight and we rest."




That still feels like teaching everyone a lesson with the Players-be-Good stick.



Yeah. It's also a complete invalidation of player agency in the game.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

If they choose to RISK it, don't steal their chance for glory by eliminating the risk.

They probably have no idea what the risk is. Why should they expect it to be significant?

Yes, our group plays about twice a week. We had one TPK this year...  A medusa turned 5 out of 6 mid-level players to stone thanks to some unfortunate dice rolls. One of the players, playing a level 6 elven rogue rolled a 2 and got a 24 save without the aid of any magic or spell (you do the math).

Not just the dice rolls, but also the DM's choice of creature and creature goals.

How did we deal with it? We made some cool new characters, most of which made it to high level and some are still being played from time to time in solo adventures. One of them ranks as a favorite character and inspired the player to write a fantasy novel based on the events.

Which would probably not have happened if the character had just been offed shortly after creation due to "unfortunate dice rolls."

What if a player gets upset? They'll get over it. If not, tell them to put on their big girl undergarments.

I assume you're not sexist, but that sentence is sexist.

Also, you're not getting it. It's not about being upset, it's about the game turning boring. Death, by and large, is boring, which is reason enough for really not wanting it to occur in game.

Yes, people have crafted lots of ways find enjoyment in character death, because I guess just having interesting failure is harder. I personally like making new characters, but I still think character death is boring, and don't see a reason for it, unless it's meaningful a priori.

If the party has put themselves in a situation where they all die, or even if they die because of a lucky cleave chain by the big monster, do them the service of giving a bit of an epilogue. If done well, as a story element, the epilogue can inspire a whole new campaign, making it seem like the characters actually mattered, even if they died.

Ah, the after-the-fact meaning, a clear acknowledgement that the characters usually don't matter when random, pointless death is in the offing. As is just picking up new characters.

Don't kill the players unneccessarily, however. Sometimes we get caught up in the fight to the death mentality. If the players are being killed by some thugs who only meant to rob them for some beer money, ask if such thugs would REALLY continue fighting after suffering vicious wounds in a bloody battle. Things like that. Keep the setting and monster/npc involved in mind, as well. Does the local druid REALLY throw his most powerful fire spells here in the sacred grove? Does the evil monk REALLY lose his cool and turn into a savage barbarian psychopath? Err on the side of awesome in these cases.

Better to ask why the thugs were fighting at all, if they're just thieves. Or what the druid really needs accomplished, and whether killing the PCs serves that. Set up plausible reasons in advance for the monsters not to have to go for the kill, and it's never necessary to kill the characters.

As far as the player being upset... it'll sting for a minute, but it won't kill them. Tell them to put some dirt on it.

Are they supposed to care about their characters or not? Look: some people don't like to lose their characters. With a bit of preparation on the part of the DM, it's not necessary that the characters be lost, even if they lose.

The biggest complaint you'll hear isn't likely just because a character dies, but it will be if the character died in some silly way. If the pit they fall into was in front of the bar in the local tavern, they may have a legitimate complaint. If your character is carrying 200 lbs of elk meat and you are attacked and killed by hungry wild wolves, it's natural to want to know if these wolves were vampire-controlled wolves or just some random encounter gone terribly wrong.

The biggest complaint you're likely to hear is that the DM went out of their way to kill the character. And it's generally going to be a plausible accusation, since the DM controls the world. And, true or not, trust has been undermined, something most groups can't afford to have happen.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

If they choose to RISK it, don't steal their chance for glory by eliminating the risk.

They probably have no idea what the risk is. Why should they expect it to be significant?

Yes, our group plays about twice a week. We had one TPK this year...  A medusa turned 5 out of 6 mid-level players to stone thanks to some unfortunate dice rolls. One of the players, playing a level 6 elven rogue rolled a 2 and got a 24 save without the aid of any magic or spell (you do the math).

Not just the dice rolls, but also the DM's choice of creature and creature goals.

How did we deal with it? We made some cool new characters, most of which made it to high level and some are still being played from time to time in solo adventures. One of them ranks as a favorite character and inspired the player to write a fantasy novel based on the events.

Which would probably not have happened if the character had just been offed shortly after creation due to "unfortunate dice rolls."

What if a player gets upset? They'll get over it. If not, tell them to put on their big girl undergarments.

I assume you're not sexist, but that sentence is sexist.

Also, you're not getting it. It's not about being upset, it's about the game turning boring. Death, by and large, is boring, which is reason enough for really not wanting it to occur in game.

Yes, people have crafted lots of ways find enjoyment in character death, because I guess just having interesting failure is harder. I personally like making new characters, but I still think character death is boring, and don't see a reason for it, unless it's meaningful a priori.

If the party has put themselves in a situation where they all die, or even if they die because of a lucky cleave chain by the big monster, do them the service of giving a bit of an epilogue. If done well, as a story element, the epilogue can inspire a whole new campaign, making it seem like the characters actually mattered, even if they died.

Ah, the after-the-fact meaning, a clear acknowledgement that the characters usually don't matter when random, pointless death is in the offing. As is just picking up new characters.

Don't kill the players unneccessarily, however. Sometimes we get caught up in the fight to the death mentality. If the players are being killed by some thugs who only meant to rob them for some beer money, ask if such thugs would REALLY continue fighting after suffering vicious wounds in a bloody battle. Things like that. Keep the setting and monster/npc involved in mind, as well. Does the local druid REALLY throw his most powerful fire spells here in the sacred grove? Does the evil monk REALLY lose his cool and turn into a savage barbarian psychopath? Err on the side of awesome in these cases.

Better to ask why the thugs were fighting at all, if they're just thieves. Or what the druid really needs accomplished, and whether killing the PCs serves that. Set up plausible reasons in advance for the monsters not to have to go for the kill, and it's never necessary to kill the characters.

As far as the player being upset... it'll sting for a minute, but it won't kill them. Tell them to put some dirt on it.

Are they supposed to care about their characters or not? Look: some people don't like to lose their characters. With a bit of preparation on the part of the DM, it's not necessary that the characters be lost, even if they lose.

The biggest complaint you'll hear isn't likely just because a character dies, but it will be if the character died in some silly way. If the pit they fall into was in front of the bar in the local tavern, they may have a legitimate complaint. If your character is carrying 200 lbs of elk meat and you are attacked and killed by hungry wild wolves, it's natural to want to know if these wolves were vampire-controlled wolves or just some random encounter gone terribly wrong.

The biggest complaint you're likely to hear is that the DM went out of their way to kill the character. And it's generally going to be a plausible accusation, since the DM controls the world. And, true or not, trust has been undermined, something most groups can't afford to have happen.



Centauri, I think that most folks who have posted on this particular thread probably agree with you that character death should not be the prime threat of a combat; that a thousand other goals could be and should be explored first.  I think that everyone here has expressed that.  Perhaps the only disagreement is to the matter of degree that the players trust their DM to take them to a meaningful place, even if that PC dies.  Yes... even character death can be fun and interesting.

My only thought would be that the players know to what degree their DM is willing to go, just like children test the boundaries of their parents when it comes to discipline.  My kids won't budge until their mom starts and counts to ten, and not up until she gets to nine... for me, they know that I will ask only one time, so they move then.  (I know that the players are not children... it's just an analogy)

I believe that a sense of immersion is lost in the minds of the players if they know deep down that the DM will "immediate interrupt" on their behalf if they get in too deep , causing them to not react the way that their characters might when faced with an incredible and dangerous threat.

I don't allow my players to die as a rule, believing as you do that this here would be so much more interesting, but it has happened just enough to keep their decision-making honest.  All I'm sayin'

And again, it's the style of play... no one way is right.  Which is right between a TV show and a Movie?   Well of course, neither of those things is "right" or "wrong".  But that's kinda the difference here.  On episodic TV, you kinda know deep-down that the hero isn't going to die, because he/she has to be back here next week. It is a simple thing, but it can break the tension that the director and the actors are trying to build because everyone watching knows that, hey, really, we know Jack Bauer isn't gonna die here.  But in a movie, there is a chance to go a little more epic.  The director has no reason story-wise not to let the good guy perish if it makes a better story.  The tension is palpable.  Leonardo Dicaprio goes down with the Titanic; Obi Wan Kenobi dies; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid... you get the picture.

I prefer, like you, the episodic TV route mostly...  but I like to place just enough doubt that I won't pull their fat out of the fire that they are left wondering, "is this the time?"

I know that they enjoy that.  I wouldn't play that way if they didn't.   


    
They probably have no idea what the risk is. Why should they expect it to be significant?



The default risk of D&D is always death. It is the default fail condition.

Not just the dice rolls, but also the DM's choice of creature and creature goals.



Assuming intent by the DM = bad.

While there are dice there is luck. While there are living, breathing human beings at the table there are decisions to be made. Either of these could result in death in a game where the default fail condition is death.

Which would probably not have happened if the character had just been offed shortly after creation due to "unfortunate dice rolls."



And without risk of actual tangible loss nothing accomplished in any game is of any worth. One cannot achieve if one cannot fail.

I assume you're not sexist, but that sentence is sexist.



Oh come now. We're all adults. Or I can reply "I assume you're not an oversensitive tool fishing for a way to undermine someone, but that sentence is oversensitive toolishness fishing to undermine someone."

Let it go.

He means "Get over it". And, honestly, way more people in general need to GET OVER IT when it comes to potentially doing poorly in games.

Also, you're not getting it. It's not about being upset, it's about the game turning boring. Death, by and large, is boring, which is reason enough for really not wanting it to occur in game.



Without the possibility of real, tangible loss (a PCs, a unique part of the game world, etc) then that is the height of boredom because you aren't playing a game...you're on practice mode. You're handing out participation trophies. When one treats death as nothing then it is boring just as like if one treated a loss in any game as nothing then it would be boring. When the person is invested, however, death/loss becomes an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to improve or explore new things in the game.

Someone failing to make ANY of that more than "boring" is their failing, not the games.

Yes, people have crafted lots of ways find enjoyment in character death, because I guess just having interesting failure is harder. I personally like making new characters, but I still think character death is boring, and don't see a reason for it, unless it's meaningful a priori.



You've played with poor DMs or DMed poorly. Not much more that can be said about it. Any loss in any game can be made boring...it just depends on the people playing.

Ah, the after-the-fact meaning, a clear acknowledgement that the characters usually don't matter when random, pointless death is in the offing. As is just picking up new characters.



The characters don't matter. They never have. It is only the players investment in said characters and their accomplishments thats matter because, ultimately, those should be the accomplishments of the players. Again, however, when no one can really lose, no one is really accomplishing anything. It is the difference between character empowerment and player empowerment.

Better to ask why the thugs were fighting at all, if they're just thieves. Or what the druid really needs accomplished, and whether killing the PCs serves that. Set up plausible reasons in advance for the monsters not to have to go for the kill, and it's never necessary to kill the characters.



Never say never. If the players ever have goals that include murdering their opposition one damn well could assume they will run into foes that want to do the same. Anything else is coddling behavior that undermines a players very purpose for playing a game and being at the table: agency.

Are they supposed to care about their characters or not? Look: some people don't like to lose their characters. With a bit of preparation on the part of the DM, it's not necessary that the characters be lost, even if they lose.



If your characters are not actually risking anything to achieve their in-game accomplishments then they should have no reason to care about said character except for power-fantasies rooted in nothing to do with playing a game.

The biggest complaint you're likely to hear is that the DM went out of their way to kill the character. And it's generally going to be a plausible accusation, since the DM controls the world. And, true or not, trust has been undermined, something most groups can't afford to have happen.



Your assumptions all seem based on either A) Bad DMs or B) players with bad attitudes towards games in general. Clearly that is a poor starting point for discussing the approach to a game as games should be approached with a mind towards the highest level examples of its play.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.


..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true">You say "so thats what you would have faced had you not rested. Flash back to before that fight and we rest."



"And then you wake up in a cold sweat, heart hammering in your chest ..."
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />"And then you wake up in a cold sweat, heart hammering in your chest ..."



"...after that you realize you're playing a game and that, just like in real life, you're not allowed to make major decisions that might have big ramifications. Your career as an adventurer is a sham because you're never in any actual danger because I'll invalidate your choices by rewinding to make you safe, my stupid little child. Aren't you glad papa-DM is here to save you from yourself, dummy? God forbid you fail or succeed on your own merits..."

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Only allow him to kill half the party--then reduce his hitpoints by a substantial amount.  It'd give the illusion of a TPK being eminent and the triumph of survival (with the consequences of Raise Dead Rituals). 
Centauri, I think that most folks who have posted on this particular thread probably agree with you that character death should not be the prime threat of a combat; that a thousand other goals could be and should be explored first.  I think that everyone here has expressed that.  Perhaps the only disagreement is to the matter of degree that the players trust their DM to take them to a meaningful place, even if that PC dies.  Yes... even character death can be fun and interesting.

Yes, that's true. And trust is key. But this is tangled up in the desire to make players feel a certain way, to raise their tension level. I agree that this can be fun, and I can enjoy it as a player, but it tends to hinge on the players not knowing what's going to happen, and that's precarious. How often can death be made fun and interesting before they simply don't fear it anymore, and the challenge does have to come back to succeeding on quests?

My only thought would be that the players know to what degree their DM is willing to go, just like children test the boundaries of their parents when it comes to discipline.  My kids won't budge until their mom starts and counts to ten, and not up until she gets to nine... for me, they know that I will ask only one time, so they move then.  (I know that the players are not children... it's just an analogy)

But doesn't the analogy still hinge on one side trying to get the other side to act a certain way? Isn't that a bad road to walk down between mature friends? And what is the way we're trying to get them to act? Like kids, players who don't want to be scared will just go into "didn't hurt" mode, or blame it on the parent for overreacting. Personally, I've picked consequences that I didn't want to mete out to my kids. We have to be prepared to follow through.

I believe that a sense of immersion is lost in the minds of the players if they know deep down that the DM will "immediate interrupt" on their behalf if they get in too deep , causing them to not react the way that their characters might when faced with an incredible and dangerous threat.

There is nothing I can say about the pervasive and overriding desire to "immerse" players that won't get me in trouble.

But yeah, that's true, and we put ourselves in that situation when we hold a gun to our own games. Of course we have to follow through with it. That's fine. Some people cope by not caring if their characters die, but that seems like it would break "immersion" too.

The issue is that no one is actually dying. Best case, after the characters die, you're still going to have a table of your friends looking at you and wondering "Ok, now what?" Something has to happen next.

I don't allow my players to die as a rule, believing as you do that this here would be so much more interesting, but it has happened just enough to keep their decision-making honest.  All I'm sayin'

And... then what? What did you do after it happened? I assume you kept playing, and that there turned out to be no actual impact on the fun, no real consequences. Not only did they not have to worry about having gold for resurrections, or what happened to the rest of the world as a result of their failure, but they got to start over fresh with new characters. Or something equally fun.

The point is, the game continues, minus the previous characters. If everyone's bought into that, fine, though in that case I don't see where the tension might come from. It's not significantly different, as I see it, from the characters simply failing. The game continues, with changes, just not necessarily to the players' primary interfaces to the game.

And again, it's the style of play... no one way is right.

But all ways have problems that should be acknowledged, addressed, and dealt with.

Which is right between a TV show and a Movie?   Well of course, neither of those things is "right" or "wrong".  But that's kinda the difference here.  On episodic TV, you kinda know deep-down that the hero isn't going to die, because he/she has to be back here next week. It is a simple thing, but it can break the tension that the director and the actors are trying to build because everyone watching knows that, hey, really, we know Jack Bauer isn't gonna die here.

Right, but look at what else TV shows do: they make killing the character not the point. Sure, Jack Bauer never dies, but - and correct someone who doesn't watch the show if I'm wrong - he fails all the time.

  But in a movie, there is a chance to go a little more epic.  The director has no reason story-wise not to let the good guy perish if it makes a better story.  The tension is palpable.  Leonardo Dicaprio goes down with the Titanic; Obi Wan Kenobi dies; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid... you get the picture.

Yes, but we know that they're not going to die five minutes into the movie. They die when it's appropriate. Objectively, we know that it was appropriate for Obi-wan to die. If he'd lived, he'd just have stood around, dispensing wisdom. Which is all he did as a ghost, but no one has to wonder what what the old hero's upto while he's offscreen. PC death can be appropriate too, and when it is, bring it on. Otherwise, keep rolling.

I prefer, like you, the episodic TV route mostly...  but I like to place just enough doubt that I won't pull their fat out of the fire that they are left wondering, "is this the time?"

Is this the time what? The time that this instantiation of the game ends for no interesting reason? What I'm not getting is the follow through on the "threat" of death, and how that follow through is kept interesting for everyone. Often, DMs don't want to kill PCs either, or can't because they've set up a prophecy or something. They've threatened the kid with a punishment they don't dare administer, because it would hurt them just as much. And for what?

My core assumption, and I think its a fair one for everyone to make, is that no matter what, the game will be worth everyone's time: that no one will be sitting out, that paperwork is kept to a minimum, that trust is high, that arguments are low, that the participants in general get to do what they want to do, and avoid what they want to avoid. If any of that isn't the case, why would a player stick around? For a lot of reasons that I'm sure we're all aware of, death of a party (let alone a character) is going to tend to interfere with one or more of those assumptions. The key exception to this is when the participants feel it would be appropriate for the characters to die, because that fits into the assumption that the participants are doing what they want to do. But at that point, the TPK is not something to worry or be tense about, except in a very artificial way. The participants could get themselves just as wound up about any other crisis in the game. All it takes is buy-in.

People think buy in means no more immersion, and no more surprises. It doesn't, but I'm not about to go into that now.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Centauri, I think that most folks who have posted on this particular thread probably agree with you that character death should not be the prime threat of a combat; that a thousand other goals could be and should be explored first.  I think that everyone here has expressed that.  Perhaps the only disagreement is to the matter of degree that the players trust their DM to take them to a meaningful place, even if that PC dies.  Yes... even character death can be fun and interesting.

Yes, that's true. And trust is key. But this is tangled up in the desire to make players feel a certain way, to raise their tension level. I agree that this can be fun, and I can enjoy it as a player, but it tends to hinge on the players not knowing what's going to happen, and that's precarious. How often can death be made fun and interesting before they simply don't fear it anymore, and the challenge does have to come back to succeeding on quests?

My only thought would be that the players know to what degree their DM is willing to go, just like children test the boundaries of their parents when it comes to discipline.  My kids won't budge until their mom starts and counts to ten, and not up until she gets to nine... for me, they know that I will ask only one time, so they move then.  (I know that the players are not children... it's just an analogy)

But doesn't the analogy still hinge on one side trying to get the other side to act a certain way? Isn't that a bad road to walk down between mature friends? And what is the way we're trying to get them to act? Like kids, players who don't want to be scared will just go into "didn't hurt" mode, or blame it on the parent for overreacting. Personally, I've picked consequences that I didn't want to mete out to my kids. We have to be prepared to follow through.

I believe that a sense of immersion is lost in the minds of the players if they know deep down that the DM will "immediate interrupt" on their behalf if they get in too deep , causing them to not react the way that their characters might when faced with an incredible and dangerous threat.

There is nothing I can say about the pervasive and overriding desire to "immerse" players that won't get me in trouble.

But yeah, that's true, and we put ourselves in that situation when we hold a gun to our own games. Of course we have to follow through with it. That's fine. Some people cope by not caring if their characters die, but that seems like it would break "immersion" too.

The issue is that no one is actually dying. Best case, after the characters die, you're still going to have a table of your friends looking at you and wondering "Ok, now what?" Something has to happen next.

I don't allow my players to die as a rule, believing as you do that this here would be so much more interesting, but it has happened just enough to keep their decision-making honest.  All I'm sayin'

And... then what? What did you do after it happened? I assume you kept playing, and that there turned out to be no actual impact on the fun, no real consequences. Not only did they not have to worry about having gold for resurrections, or what happened to the rest of the world as a result of their failure, but they got to start over fresh with new characters. Or something equally fun.

The point is, the game continues, minus the previous characters. If everyone's bought into that, fine, though in that case I don't see where the tension might come from. It's not significantly different, as I see it, from the characters simply failing. The game continues, with changes, just not necessarily to the players' primary interfaces to the game.

And again, it's the style of play... no one way is right.

But all ways have problems that should be acknowledged, addressed, and dealt with.

Which is right between a TV show and a Movie?   Well of course, neither of those things is "right" or "wrong".  But that's kinda the difference here.  On episodic TV, you kinda know deep-down that the hero isn't going to die, because he/she has to be back here next week. It is a simple thing, but it can break the tension that the director and the actors are trying to build because everyone watching knows that, hey, really, we know Jack Bauer isn't gonna die here.

Right, but look at what else TV shows do: they make killing the character not the point. Sure, Jack Bauer never dies, but - and correct someone who doesn't watch the show if I'm wrong - he fails all the time.

  But in a movie, there is a chance to go a little more epic.  The director has no reason story-wise not to let the good guy perish if it makes a better story.  The tension is palpable.  Leonardo Dicaprio goes down with the Titanic; Obi Wan Kenobi dies; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid... you get the picture.

Yes, but we know that they're not going to die five minutes into the movie. They die when it's appropriate. Objectively, we know that it was appropriate for Obi-wan to die. If he'd lived, he'd just have stood around, dispensing wisdom. Which is all he did as a ghost, but no one has to wonder what what the old hero's upto while he's offscreen. PC death can be appropriate too, and when it is, bring it on. Otherwise, keep rolling.

I prefer, like you, the episodic TV route mostly...  but I like to place just enough doubt that I won't pull their fat out of the fire that they are left wondering, "is this the time?"

Is this the time what? The time that this instantiation of the game ends for no interesting reason? What I'm not getting is the follow through on the "threat" of death, and how that follow through is kept interesting for everyone. Often, DMs don't want to kill PCs either, or can't because they've set up a prophecy or something. They've threatened the kid with a punishment they don't dare administer, because it would hurt them just as much. And for what?

My core assumption, and I think its a fair one for everyone to make, is that no matter what, the game will be worth everyone's time: that no one will be sitting out, that paperwork is kept to a minimum, that trust is high, that arguments are low, that the participants in general get to do what they want to do, and avoid what they want to avoid. If any of that isn't the case, why would a player stick around? For a lot of reasons that I'm sure we're all aware of, death of a party (let alone a character) is going to tend to interfere with one or more of those assumptions. The key exception to this is when the participants feel it would be appropriate for the characters to die, because that fits into the assumption that the participants are doing what they want to do. But at that point, the TPK is not something to worry or be tense about, except in a very artificial way. The participants could get themselves just as wound up about any other crisis in the game. All it takes is buy-in.

People think buy in means no more immersion, and no more surprises. It doesn't, but I'm not about to go into that now.




Good points, all.  And not far apart at all for desired outcome; for the game to be fun for everyone.  One great question that you had was "and what happens after character death?"

Well, I can only speak for our table, but the choices there are as varied and wide as the choices would be if the encounter ended without a fatality.  I have never had a PC perish that the player didn't have the option to keep playing that character if they didn't want to.  There are so many choices in D&D as to what could happen next that there is really not much difference in the encounter ending in a character's death or with some other sort of failure.  I mean really, this is a world with many planes, many Gods with divine and/or nefarious purposes, magic, necromancy, etc... the choices are endless and sometimes (not all the times, lest it lose it potency), a character's death can be the springboard to utilize these great, wondrous possibilities.

In my view of the game, the ultimate purpose is for us to have fun by the world that we have created presenting complications to the players and them using this vast immersive world and its huge arsenal of possible solutions to overcome those complications in an entertaining way.  By presenting these complications (like the episodic tv analogy), we never know from minute to minute what trivial little tidbit of information might be the thing that saves the day.


In a world of great and unlimited imagination, a character's death is just one more way to explore what waits around the bend.  Just one of many of course, but one nonetheless.    

the choices are endless and sometimes (not all the times, lest it lose it potency), a character's death can be the springboard to utilize these great, wondrous possibilities.

You keep coming back to this: the idea that death has to retain some significance. You say that your players can choose to continue playing that character. I hope this means that the death is reflavored and some other consequence used, but I suspect you're referring to one of these endless choices. But then you say that "sometimes (not all the times" a death can involve one of these choices. What's going on at those other times, when it can't?

In a world of great and unlimited imagination, a character's death is just one more way to explore what waits around the bend.  Just one of many of course, but one nonetheless.

I'm not really seeing it, I'm afraid. For a full TPK, one of Bohrdumb's ideas in the other thread could work. What when only one player dies? Raise Dead, I suppose, but many people houserule that out or make it so unpleasant an option that they might as well, lest death "lose its potency." In any case, if the players are still going to have a coherent party, it's not going to engage that one player to play a character who is galivanting about the planes. The character is dead, at least for a little while, and the game has entered into an awkward, ill-defined region that most good games don't have: the ejection of a player from the fun.

Death can be fun, true, but the game doesn't make it easy to make death as fun as not being dead. The very fact that we have to come up with our own ideas for what to do after a TPK shows this. Most things written about the game dance oddly about this game state: it's supposed to happen, but it's not supposed to happen. It's natual, but it's also to be avoided. It can be heroic, but it can also be random and pointless. Don't coddle the players, but don't murder the their characters. It's not just D&D: just about every RPG glosses over death and character replacement all but entirely. If any other game I knew of had any good ideas, I'd just use those.

Actually, some do. In some games, killing the characters isn't the point.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

the choices are endless and sometimes (not all the times, lest it lose it potency), a character's death can be the springboard to utilize these great, wondrous possibilities.

You keep coming back to this: the idea that death has to retain some significance. You say that your players can choose to continue playing that character. I hope this means that the death is reflavored and some other consequence used, but I suspect you're referring to one of these endless choices. But then you say that "sometimes (not all the times" a death can involve one of these choices. What's going on at those other times, when it can't?

In a world of great and unlimited imagination, a character's death is just one more way to explore what waits around the bend.  Just one of many of course, but one nonetheless.

I'm not really seeing it, I'm afraid. For a full TPK, one of Bohrdumb's ideas in the other thread could work. What when only one player dies? Raise Dead, I suppose, but many people houserule that out or make it so unpleasant an option that they might as well, lest death "lose its potency." In any case, if the players are still going to have a coherent party, it's not going to engage that one player to play a character who is galivanting about the planes. The character is dead, at least for a little while, and the game has entered into an awkward, ill-defined region that most good games don't have: the ejection of a player from the fun.

Death can be fun, true, but the game doesn't make it easy to make death as fun as not being dead. The very fact that we have to come up with our own ideas for what to do after a TPK shows this. Most things written about the game dance oddly about this game state: it's supposed to happen, but it's not supposed to happen. It's natual, but it's also to be avoided. It can be heroic, but it can also be random and pointless. Don't coddle the players, but don't murder the their characters. It's not just D&D: just about every RPG glosses over death and character replacement all but entirely. If any other game I knew of had any good ideas, I'd just use those.

Actually, some do. In some games, killing the characters isn't the point.




Well, it just may be that we will disagree that character death can be an engaging motivational element in our D&D games.  I have experienced it, and others apparantly have too.  You have experienced it and found the experience to be lacking.  Fair enough.

Let me quickly add that character death has been a part of D&D games since the very beginning of the genre and I don't think that rpgs would have lasted as long as they have if folks weren't somehow mustering fun out of the game.  No doubt, Dms have addressed lethality in their games in a plethora of ways and have managed to create an enjoyable experience.

This is just one of those things where we could go 'round and 'round and never convince the other.  You know that your players are having fun; I know my player are having fun.  Guess that's all that matters in the end.    

If they choose to RISK it, don't steal their chance for glory by eliminating the risk.

They probably have no idea what the risk is. Why should they expect it to be significant?

Yes, our group plays about twice a week. We had one TPK this year...  A medusa turned 5 out of 6 mid-level players to stone thanks to some unfortunate dice rolls. One of the players, playing a level 6 elven rogue rolled a 2 and got a 24 save without the aid of any magic or spell (you do the math).

Not just the dice rolls, but also the DM's choice of creature and creature goals.

How did we deal with it? We made some cool new characters, most of which made it to high level and some are still being played from time to time in solo adventures. One of them ranks as a favorite character and inspired the player to write a fantasy novel based on the events.

Which would probably not have happened if the character had just been offed shortly after creation due to "unfortunate dice rolls."

What if a player gets upset? They'll get over it. If not, tell them to put on their big girl undergarments.

I assume you're not sexist, but that sentence is sexist.

Also, you're not getting it. It's not about being upset, it's about the game turning boring. Death, by and large, is boring, which is reason enough for really not wanting it to occur in game.

Yes, people have crafted lots of ways find enjoyment in character death, because I guess just having interesting failure is harder. I personally like making new characters, but I still think character death is boring, and don't see a reason for it, unless it's meaningful a priori.

If the party has put themselves in a situation where they all die, or even if they die because of a lucky cleave chain by the big monster, do them the service of giving a bit of an epilogue. If done well, as a story element, the epilogue can inspire a whole new campaign, making it seem like the characters actually mattered, even if they died.

Ah, the after-the-fact meaning, a clear acknowledgement that the characters usually don't matter when random, pointless death is in the offing. As is just picking up new characters.

Don't kill the players unneccessarily, however. Sometimes we get caught up in the fight to the death mentality. If the players are being killed by some thugs who only meant to rob them for some beer money, ask if such thugs would REALLY continue fighting after suffering vicious wounds in a bloody battle. Things like that. Keep the setting and monster/npc involved in mind, as well. Does the local druid REALLY throw his most powerful fire spells here in the sacred grove? Does the evil monk REALLY lose his cool and turn into a savage barbarian psychopath? Err on the side of awesome in these cases.

Better to ask why the thugs were fighting at all, if they're just thieves. Or what the druid really needs accomplished, and whether killing the PCs serves that. Set up plausible reasons in advance for the monsters not to have to go for the kill, and it's never necessary to kill the characters.

As far as the player being upset... it'll sting for a minute, but it won't kill them. Tell them to put some dirt on it.

Are they supposed to care about their characters or not? Look: some people don't like to lose their characters. With a bit of preparation on the part of the DM, it's not necessary that the characters be lost, even if they lose.

The biggest complaint you'll hear isn't likely just because a character dies, but it will be if the character died in some silly way. If the pit they fall into was in front of the bar in the local tavern, they may have a legitimate complaint. If your character is carrying 200 lbs of elk meat and you are attacked and killed by hungry wild wolves, it's natural to want to know if these wolves were vampire-controlled wolves or just some random encounter gone terribly wrong.

The biggest complaint you're likely to hear is that the DM went out of their way to kill the character. And it's generally going to be a plausible accusation, since the DM controls the world. And, true or not, trust has been undermined, something most groups can't afford to have happen.



Centauri, I think that most folks who have posted on this particular thread probably agree with you that character death should not be the prime threat of a combat; that a thousand other goals could be and should be explored first.  I think that everyone here has expressed that.  Perhaps the only disagreement is to the matter of degree that the players trust their DM to take them to a meaningful place, even if that PC dies.  Yes... even character death can be fun and interesting.

My only thought would be that the players know to what degree their DM is willing to go, just like children test the boundaries of their parents when it comes to discipline.  My kids won't budge until their mom starts and counts to ten, and not up until she gets to nine... for me, they know that I will ask only one time, so they move then.  (I know that the players are not children... it's just an analogy)

I believe that a sense of immersion is lost in the minds of the players if they know deep down that the DM will "immediate interrupt" on their behalf if they get in too deep , causing them to not react the way that their characters might when faced with an incredible and dangerous threat.

I don't allow my players to die as a rule, believing as you do that this here would be so much more interesting, but it has happened just enough to keep their decision-making honest.  All I'm sayin'

And again, it's the style of play... no one way is right.  Which is right between a TV show and a Movie?   Well of course, neither of those things is "right" or "wrong".  But that's kinda the difference here.  On episodic TV, you kinda know deep-down that the hero isn't going to die, because he/she has to be back here next week. It is a simple thing, but it can break the tension that the director and the actors are trying to build because everyone watching knows that, hey, really, we know Jack Bauer isn't gonna die here.  But in a movie, there is a chance to go a little more epic.  The director has no reason story-wise not to let the good guy perish if it makes a better story.  The tension is palpable.  Leonardo Dicaprio goes down with the Titanic; Obi Wan Kenobi dies; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid... you get the picture.

I prefer, like you, the episodic TV route mostly...  but I like to place just enough doubt that I won't pull their fat out of the fire that they are left wondering, "is this the time?"

I know that they enjoy that.  I wouldn't play that way if they didn't.   


    

I find it hard to believe that someone would drag 100 lbs of weapons, gear and armor, alchemical items and such into a mountainous region full of barbaric savage humanoids and various mythical beasts and be so clueless as to think there is no risk. They saw the medusa from well beyond the range of her gaze and chose to fight open-eyed anyway, for what it's worth. Yay! You all make your save! Poker face. Poker face. Poker face. Go heroes. Yawn.

Yes. I could have chosen the flumph. Best creature ever. I can envision the heroic battle game of kickball now.

Yes. If those awesome characters had died before becoming awesome, they would never have become awesome. Not the worse case scenario, however, which goes like this: You have fought your way through the horde of paper-wad throwing kobolds and now you face your enemy. Standing before you is a barrel of fish. You load the crossbow, take careful aim... OH NO critical failure... you get wet. Second try is a bit more successful, the helpless fish is defeated. The heroes go back and thinking on all they've 'endured', and bards sing songs of their 'bravery'.

The big girl statement is a favorite of one of my co-workers; she finds it amusing, especially when referring to over-sensitive co-workers. It has little to do with sexism, but everything to do with the ability to 'suck it up' when things aren't easy. Everyone likes to complain (myself included), but after a while, it's time to take your lumps... even if your favorite character didn't auto-defeat his enemy. Even if the giant with the hammer the size of your horse somehow actually flattens you like a pancake. So unfair.

The meaning is after the fact. That's why it's done AFTER they die, and not before. Pre-determined outcomes are boring. Auto-succeed is boring. A sword fight with nerf swords isn't quite as at all exciting. The death was unfortunate, but not totally random. After all, I believe everyone at the table was aware that medusae turn flesh to stone with a gaze.
You seem to be suggesting that if a character dies, I should ignore their entire back stories and pretend they never existed in the world at all. It was the first TPK this particular group had seen and they had been be-bopping along with their characters without being really engaged up to that point. (They probably thought I'd never let it happen that way. Some DMs wouldn't.) With their next characters, though... they were on the edge of their seats every time the dice rolled. BECAUSE they knew that their character was actually in danger when he was supposed to be in danger. Which is not boring.

Yes. They are supposed to care about the characters. Boromir wasn't any less interesting because he died. Gollum died as well. Still interesting. Boromir's dad. Brief appearance. Mad. Interesting. Dead. Watch Braveheart. Repeatedly. In the rally speech, William Wallace didn't say, "All men die. Except me, because I'm the main character."

Some people don't like to lose at chess. I remember when I was 5. I HATED to lose. I had to be the best at everything. I was a pretty smart kid, but I couldn't beat my family at chess. I just wasn't good enough. So they would let me win. I hated that worse than losing. My uncle wouldn't let me win, though. And he was pretty good at it. I stopped playing with everyone else. Because it was boring. I kept getting better though. Then one day, I managed to win. It was a lot more sweet a victory than having my mom sacrifice piece after piece until there was no way to lose. Why do people climb Mt. Everest? Because it's the big one.

We see eye-to-eye on the druid statement. I'm not trying to misrepresent myself as some sadist DM who likes killing characters. I'm not. Believe it or not, I have campaigns going that aren't very battle-heavy at all. The characters are more merchants than heroes. Their stories are more human interest. Which is fine. But if they decide the only way to get rich is to attack a merchant caravan, I really don't want to have to give a justification for why the merchant's guardsmen shoot at them with crossbows. I REALLY don't feel like making up eleborate excuses for how the crossbow bolts keep missing. The merchant was so cheap, his guards had papier mache bolts. He realized blind merchant guards worked more cheaply. Et cetera. Ah yes... the dream episode. Works once for shock value. But it erodes DM trust more than character death, by far.

If the player thinks you went out of your way to kill their character, there wasn't any trust to begin with. Yes, there are plenty of ways that are plausible where a character's meaningless death can be avoided. DMing is an art not a science. It's knowing what choices to make  for a better story, but also what choices to make for a better world in general. If you're telling the players that the evil wizard has a magic sphere that can destroy the whole continent if they don't act quickly... be prepared to make new maps or be prepared to lose player trust. Or be prepared to offer excuses, I suppose... "Oh the evil artifact failed. Whew. Good job heroes. Your apathy saved the day once again."

A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Well, it just may be that we will disagree that character death can be an engaging motivational element in our D&D games.  I have experienced it, and others apparantly have too.  You have experienced it and found the experience to be lacking.  Fair enough.

You misunderstand. I have no problem with my own characters dying. I don't care in the slightest. I probably have several ideas I want to try.

What I mind is waiting in the wings to be brought in while others are having fun. If this happens, the DM was not prepared for character death (how could they be? the game offers nothing) or sees my out-of-game inactivity as just consequence for in-game failure.

That's me. That's also others I've gamed with. But some I've gamed with would take it personally. And I'm honestly not sure why they shouldn't. I don't mean they have to pitch a fit, but why should someone be expected to enjoy being ejected from a game, or ejecting others from a game as part of the game? Not for bad behavior, maybe not even for unskilled play, but because that's what the rules say.

That's not "fair enough," that's bad game design.

Let me quickly add that character death has been a part of D&D games since the very beginning of the genre and I don't think that rpgs would have lasted as long as they have if folks weren't somehow mustering fun out of the game.  No doubt, Dms have addressed lethality in their games in a plethora of ways and have managed to create an enjoyable experience.

Then why don't game rules address this in a meaningful way? Why the weird dance around it?

Besides which, back at the beginning I think attitudes were very different. I don't think people thought much about their characters, any more than the individual soldiers in the wargames D&D evolved from. They just made a new character, which by the way was extremely easy.

This is just one of those things where we could go 'round and 'round and never convince the other.  You know that your players are having fun; I know my player are having fun.  Guess that's all that matters in the end.

Look, I'm honestly curious, and this merits discussion. Please just tell me about the "not all times" you alluded to in which the death options in the fantasy world are not available to keep death potent.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

You misunderstand. I have no problem with my own characters dying. I don't care in the slightest. I probably have several ideas I want to try.



Quite telling. If you don't care in the slightest about your character dying it means they weren't worth playing in the first place or the DM did nothing to invest you in said character.

What I mind is waiting in the wings to be brought in while others are having fun. If this happens, the DM was not prepared for character death (how could they be? the game offers nothing) or sees my out-of-game inactivity as just consequence for in-game failure.



Can you not derive any enjoyment from watching others play? Additionally, would you be open to the VARIETY of options available to a person whose character has died to immediately continue playing? In my own games, if someone were to die they have, on hand, several different ways to keep playing with the other people, not the least of which is readily taking over an NPC cohort, minion or ally. That other DMs do not have ways to handle this is ON THEM and is THEIR FAILING not that of the game.

That's me. That's also others I've gamed with. But some I've gamed with would take it personally. And I'm honestly not sure why they shouldn't. I don't mean they have to pitch a fit, but why should someone be expected to enjoy being ejected from a game, or ejecting others from a game as part of the game? Not for bad behavior, maybe not even for unskilled play, but because that's what the rules say.



That is literally part of every other game ever. Do teams pitch fits when they lose in a tournament and can no longer continue? Do people flip out when they lose their quarter in an arcade and have to wait while others take their turn against the reigning champ? Hell, do children break into tears when they're hit in dodge ball and have to sit out a round?

It's called reality. One has to get over it and be an adult. That is becoming increasingly hard in our society, I know, but it's the actual answer to the situation and I think it is what Joseph meant by "put on your big girl pants".

That's not "fair enough," that's bad game design.



No, it's bad attitudes.

Besides which, back at the beginning I think attitudes were very different. I don't think people thought much about their characters, any more than the individual soldiers in the wargames D&D evolved from. They just made a new character, which by the way was extremely easy.



This is more an argument for easier character creation...and yes I agree with that too. In fact, I may very well be working on a permutation of D&D that allows just that. Again, nothing to do with death itself and everything to do with the concept of Character Empowerment that has bloated the creation-process of the game.
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referencing harsh realities make for poor justifications in a fantasy game

"Yes. If those awesome characters had died before becoming awesome, they would never have become awesome. Not the worse case scenario, however, which goes like this: You have fought your way through the horde of paper-wad throwing kobolds and now you face your enemy. Standing before you is a barrel of fish. You load the crossbow, take careful aim... OH NO critical failure... you get wet. Second try is a bit more successful, the helpless fish is defeated. The heroes go back and thinking on all they've 'endured', and bards sing songs of their 'bravery'."

Who says strawmen aren't alive and kicking?
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And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Just because your players are at the final stretch doesn't mean they have to charge in.  Smart players who realize that thier rescources are spent might consider preparing for the next encounter.

I ran Keep on the Shadowfell and had my entire party fall to the Hobgoblins due to ignoring their surroundings (they kept going right and ignored fleeing opponents).  They were captured and I had them create another party to save them.

In the second to last encounter they decided to rest up and in the end it was a good decision.  I love my players but they tend to make poor combat decisions that can make combat drag out more so than necessary.

In the end the only advice I can give is your players need to make their OWN decisions and live with the consequences.  But if you don't want them to die then don't let them.  You're the DM its your final decision.