Gabriel Died, Then This Happened...

10 posts / 0 new
Last post
Subtitled:  "Creative ways that a PC died and the story carried on"

In the TPK thread (where things have gone round and round and the engine has run into the caboose), I was pleased to see that the conversation was mostly civil, if not spirited at moments.  That is not a bad thing and what you'd fully expect over here in thr DM forums where nearly everything is subjective, speculative and opinion. (As opposed say to the Rules forums where a page number can be provided and things are easier to prove/disprove)

Over here though... all opinion. 

That said, on the aforementioned TPK thread, Centauri asked me in sincerity I believe about how player death has worked in our actual gameplay-"Look, I'm honestly curious, and this merits discussion."

So...  even though I run the risk of this thread becoming yet another that will devolve into a retread of the other thread, I am willing to, against my better judgement, put up an example or two.  Yikes... what am I thinking...

Ok everyone... while we're at it, let's try a social experiment and do what everyone says can't be done.  I'll tell you what we did with a character death in our game (maybe two), and I'd love to hear your creative solutions too.  And that's it.  That's all.  Ideally, everyone could share a story or two and provide some inspiration and maybe help solve a problem or two for other DMs who allow characters to die, for whatever reason.  If you can inspire another DM, that is when these forums are at their best, I say. 

The rules, such as they are suggested: nobody's idea or solution should be derided.  You should be allowed to tell someone "hey... that was cool" if you want to, but let's aim to not tear down and if we can,  to keep this thread as more of a resource of ideas, with no judgements attached to them.  (Fingers crossed)

Since I was asked a more specific question about how to handle the death of one character as opposed to a TPK, I will recount instances of that.  (The assumption being that it can be easier to handle a TPK sometimes than a single player death because in that instance, you have some players ready to go and one guy/gal who's character is off the table with nothing to do but watch.)

Gabriel was a human fighter/cleric and a member of the Perilous Explorations Company.  (Yeah, they are still going strong.  We meet once a week.  I DM)  There are five players, sometimes six.  They are lower paragon, own a building in our homebrew version of Ireabor and travel the lands that surround it.  My players l-o-v-e the character builder and making characters.  After this many levels, they like to switch things up from time to time and play someone different.  By having a company that employs adventurers from all walks of life, they have many interesting explorers on call.  My only request to the players is that they keep everyone on the same level as we progress.

Without boring you with other details of the campaign (not the purpose of this thread), the company had a nasty encounter with a bronze dragon named Duregar in an abyss of the underdark, along with some drow, (the heroes aided by a a band of plucky kobolds).  The maguffin was saved but resources were depleted.  No place to retreat.  Though they could just-enough handle the drow, the dragon was going to wear them down.  In a moment of selflessness, Gabriel lept upon the back of the dragon, above the abyss.  A prone effect happened.  I ruled that they fell.  They both plummeted to the bottom, lots of D10s (which is what Gabriel was counting on, to kill the dragon)  Gabriel died too.  A heroes death.  It was what he wanted.

But wait... Gabriel awakens in a large hall, marble coulmns that ascend into the darkness and stretch in all directions as far as the eye can see.  he hears the flutter of wings.  There is a dramatic sequence with who is revealed to be the Raven Queen.  "Yes... you have shaken off the mortal coil," she purrs.  He is given the choice: return and finish your unfinished business, but in so doing, you must complete a task for me she says.  I shall reveal it in my time... trust me... it shall be small.  The player decides he is intrigued and that he now wants Gabriel to come back.  Of course, he comes back as a revenant now.  Not only is he a revenant, but he is a revenant with an origin story.  The player loves that he has this cool thing in his past.  We have derived much great roleplay opportunities from it.  It has driven the story at points. 

As far as when the character died, it did not impede anyone from doing anything.  Timing-wise, the encounter was over.  One caveot:  I always have a character at the ready just in case another players character is incapacitated for any reason.  In this case, there was a warrior kobold, one of the teams allies that could be played if needed.  Couple that with the fact that my players are part of a company that has several employees of their own creation and we never have had a player just sitting around.

I intended to give another example (we have had a few), but this thread is already long.  If the thread begins to thrive, then I will post another example or two of how we handled a character death and kept it interesting (at least to my players).

Again, I would love for this thread to not be about what was right or wrong about someone's game, but rather a collection of ingenuity and creativity concerning an admittedly hard-to-navigate area of our game; character death.     


  

ok I'll bite.

One of my players ended up getting his head cut off when a boss was stuck prone next to his already battered PC.  A crit later and the PC was truly dead.  The player laughed and agreed with the outcome, the table was awed that a PC had died during session 2 of the campaign.  I hunched my shoulders and simply stated "s**t happens".  They left the area and carried their fallen comrade back to town.  During the raise dead ritual at the temple of bahamut, the rest of the PC's decided to explore the other temples and found a temple to Zehir.  They investigated, threw a sun rod into the temple, pissed off the creatures inside.  So since Zehir was unable to punish the party, he took revenge on the one getting raised.  Came back as a revenant with permission from the player.  Led to great roleplay.  Later in the campaign he sacrificed himself to a BBEG in order to save the party from a TPK.  Then the party returned to find him under BBEG control, saved him, and brought him back to normal via a ritual that required various rare components they had to hunt for. 

In my current campaign 2 PC's recently died to a gelatinous cube.  They didn't fret though and it was more comical then anything else.  It was full of stuffed toys and red/green colored.  Didn't expect the deaths since the encounter was designed to be funny but that's the way it goes sometimes.  The in-game time jumped 2 years into the future now and they are currently playing different PC's while trying to discover what happened to the dead ones.  Having fun so far of course.
"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)

ok I'll bite.

One of my players ended up getting his head cut off when a boss was stuck prone next to his already battered PC.  A crit later and the PC was truly dead.  The player laughed and agreed with the outcome, the table was awed that a PC had died during session 2 of the campaign.  I hunched my shoulders and simply stated "s**t happens".  They left the area and carried their fallen comrade back to town.  During the raise dead ritual at the temple of bahamut, the rest of the PC's decided to explore the other temples and found a temple to Zehir.  They investigated, threw a sun rod into the temple, pissed off the creatures inside.  So since Zehir was unable to punish the party, he took revenge on the one getting raised.  Came back as a revenant with permission from the player.  Led to great roleplay.  Later in the campaign he sacrificed himself to a BBEG in order to save the party from a TPK.  Then the party returned to find him under BBEG control, saved him, and brought him back to normal via a ritual that required various rare components they had to hunt for. 

In my current campaign 2 PC's recently died to a gelatinous cube.  They didn't fret though and it was more comical then anything else.  It was full of stuffed toys and red/green colored.  Didn't expect the deaths since the encounter was designed to be funny but that's the way it goes sometimes.  The in-game time jumped 2 years into the future now and they are currently playing different PC's while trying to discover what happened to the dead ones.  Having fun so far of course.



I like that after their comrade died, they intended to raise him at one place, decided to go to another temple during, and consequences there effected the dearly-departed before he came back.  If only they had stayed and saw the job through...

Did the player's characters ever tell the raised comrade that it was their fault he was a revenant?  I could see that being a good plot device too. 
yeah when he woke up different they confessed what had happened. And yeah it opened up a whole bunch of new venues including a kind of murder mistery.  It was fun ^^
"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)

Lets see.

One character that I had who was beheaded because he wasn't paying attention and was constantly on his laptop.  That happened outside of combat and I just adjusted down the guards and carried on.  I told the beheaded character he could roll for the monsters for the rest of the night and he had a helluva time trying to fight against the PCs trying to avenge his character's sudden head-chopping.

I have a few examples, but I'm on too many pain meds to tell good stories. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Show
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
I've only seen PC's die twice in my 2 1/2 years playing.  One was an awesome death, the second was tragic and partially the fault of the dice gods.
 
Story 1:  Player had created a Beastmaster Ranger, who was annoying the rest of us players by the way he created his character and how he played him.  First off- he made a Beastmaster Ranger, then picked a lot of Beast powers.  I don't really like the idea of telling another player how to play the character, but good lord man, at least be minimally effective at your role!  Secondly, this player had a rather annoying habit of telling us everything the power he was using would do:  First, I'm gonna hit him with my longsword, then Puppy (his wolf beast companion) gets to bite him and knock him prone.  And then he'd miss, and complain about it.  Third: He roleplayed his wolf beast companion as a wild animal and refused to think of it as anything else.  Except he trained the wolf to do tricks, and expected this wild animal to be allowed to accompany him in town.  So, when we were in a dungeon, where the best placement of a Sorceror's daily blast meant catching him and like 4 of the 5 enemies, we did it.  He agreed to let his character be targeted.  (A practice I find amusing as a player and DM, that Player A gets to say whether Player B can place a blast that also includes Player A.  I get the idea that we don't like PVP, but dangit, sometimes that's the best position and you should step up and take some friendly fire.)  Lo and behold, this friendly fire critted his Ranger, going from just below bloodied to beyond negative bloodied.  He got daily'd, and thus ended his run.
The player brought in a poorly made Minotaur Warden for the next coupel of sessions, before he moved away and quite the game.  The rest of us didn't mind, we had another defender who remembered to Mark in the party.

Death 2:  We were short 2/5 players.  Not sure ifthe DM ran the encounter as planned or adjusted for fewer players.  The luck of the dice gods were against us, as my melee-based Cleric got stuck with an immobilized- Save ends effect, which I naturally failed at 5 times in a row.  I could do nothing to get free.  Party members were beyond my range for Healing Word, I tried heal checks on myself and failed.  The player whose character died ended up failing 3 death saves, because no one could get to him to stabilize or help out.   Kind of a crappy death, but we moved on and he rolled a new character for the next session.

That's it.  I haven't had a PC die during the time I've DM'ed, although I haven't ever tried to kill a PC either.  Doesn't seem fair, really.  And the players haven't wanted to change characters or go out in a blaze of glory.  IF I had a player who wanted to change characters and let the old one die a glorious death, we'll definitely work it in.
In the groups I play with it's not at all uncommon to have characters get killed/leave in 1s & 2s while the rest live.
And I mean killed as in "not-almost-imediately-rezzed-after-combat" killed.

Most often?  It's easy enough to simply recruit "new" party members.  More interesting is generally how/why their predesescors left....

A few years ago we played through the PF adventure "Rise of the Ruin Lords".
It began with 1 DM/5 Players.
* Module #1 - Two characters are lost to a barghiest & can't be recovered.  Rest of the party returns to town sad but victorius & drinks a toast to the fallen heros.
* Module #2 - Additional help (new PCs) is assigned to the group from the town gaurd.  Towards the end of the module?  One of these characters is lost stopping that chapters BBEG (mostly because the player had come up with another character who'd be near perfect in the next module!). 
* Module #3 - man was this a tough one.  One player had to miss 90% of the sessions due to work.  So his character had gone back to the hometown at the end of #2.  Then oracle is lost in the wilds & was the only PC left standing in the final act as two more were dead & one was "missing" thanks to an extra-planer escape gone poorly.
* Module #4 - The oracle makes it to a town.  Just in time to have to help the locales (including 3 new PCs) defend it against a full on stone giant + red dragon assault!  1 new PC bites it here (no problem, there's alot more people involved in the fighting.  Just change the name on the sheet.)
Oh, and ALOT of henchmen/followers get killed in the ensuing "giant-war".
* Module #5  - Now we have info that only that PC who'd "returned home" back in #2/#3 can decipher.  + that players free to play more now.   So we're back up to 5 actual characters.
No one bites it here or leaves.  But it wasn't because the DM was being soft/we weren't being stupid enough....
* Module #6 - Towards the end?  Someone zigs when they should've zagged.  And a spell is cast that negates all magic for a moment.  Including all the buffs that were keeping one of the casters alive.   Victory still results & the campaign comes to a close.

All in all?  Only the oracle character survived beginning to end.
And our individual characters thoughout?  None but the oracle ever new the entire story.
But it was much fun.         

When not enough players show up to the game I usually do what I call flashback stories.


This idea wasn't mine but a from a fellow player who ran an L5R game.


The idea is that a player in character says "Hey remember that time we did this?"


I take the idea and I turn it into a short game set in the character's past.


Dead character can participate as well and usually do when players want to relive old characters.

I was in a game where the campaign objective was to take control of a city ruled by the lawful and good.

We were evil characters aided by the cities underworld and temples dedicated to evil gods.


In the final stretch in the bowels of a ancient temple to a forsaken god, after killing many Paladins and Clerics who opposed us our DM decided to bring out his trump card.


Falrin the Everlasting, a Gold Dragon.  Legend said that as long as he lived soul with the goodness of the city.


With our character already heavily injured most of the players saw defeat in Falrin's eyes.


I saw an opportunity to win the campaign.


We battled the dragon for a time.  Every once and awhile Falrin would damage a column holding up the temple ceiling.  I waited until the DM made it clear that only a few columns remained until the ceiling caved in and killed us all.


It was then that I told my fellow members of the party to attack the columns except one and flee.  I stated I would remain and use my powers to keep Falrin for fleeing as well.


The other characters were shocked since they knew my ultimate goal was to become immortal.


When a fellow character stated I kissed that said character and said the following words:


"There is more than one way to love forever."


The characters followed my instructions, I used my powers to keep Falrin there.  The other players escaped while the ceiling collapsed killing Falrin and myself in the process.


After the incident our Bard informed the people of the city of Falrin's demise and our Cleric made claim that it was proof that the city and its rules give in to its darker desires.


We won and the campaign ended.  Years later we returned to that world as good characters, our job to help removed the 1000 year of evil rule of the city.


As we walked into the main city square our DM described a massive statue carved of stone and steel. The statue was of my previous character holding his bastard sword in hand and Falrin's head in the other.


I asked the DM why the statue.


With the biggest smile on his face my DM replied "Because there is more than one way to live forever."


When not enough players show up to the game I usually do what I call flashback stories.


This idea wasn't mine but a from a fellow player who ran an L5R game.


The idea is that a player in character says "Hey remember that time we did this?"


I take the idea and I turn it into a short game set in the character's past.


Dead character can participate as well and usually do when players want to relive old characters.




I love this idea too and have used it.  This is a contrivance that TV shows, comic books, books, and movies have used to drive their plots for as long as the mediums have been around.  As franchises, they face the same dilemma as D&Ders do in that, we have these characters and we are trying to make the threat and the stakes real but we know that the story must somehow go on.  Superman died in issue # 75 of his comic book back in 1992, but still, the comic book and the story continued on!  Go figure!

Since my players have a few running characters as members of their "Perilous Explorations Company", we have even left the main party before and gone over to the "meanwhile... back at Gatherhold Keep..."   kind of story-telling, with other characters.


Oddly enough, I have employed that method pretty-much as you have; when not enough of the regular players show up and I don't want to "mess-up" where the main story left off last.