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How many Character Deaths are normal?

whats your record?

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#1 Maceswinger

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 03:09 AM

So I'm currently running the good 'ol Savage Tide Adventure path. We are nearing the end of the 3rd part "The Sea Wyverns wake" and in the last game the party just faced the aquatic Hydra. One of the players, playing a Bard got devoured by the said Hydra. Character Deaths happen, I know that, but this player has burned through 10 characters by now and we are not even halfway through the adventure path. Its not that the player is reckless in his playing style its just he makes alot of bad decisions or gets talked into these by the other players and is usually the victim of a heck of alot of critical fumbles from heal checks. He doesn't take it too seriously and really isn't mad when the PC dies. I am not a mean DM and don't really enjoy killing PCs but sometimes you can't let those stupid decisions go "unpunished". So my questions are what is your groups death record? How many deaths do you feel are normal in standard style module? Should my player maybe try another game insted of D&D?
For the classes he has played: 9 clerics and 1 Bard...but he is back to a cleric for his next character again.
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#2 buglips*the*goblin

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 03:51 AM

My current group has shared the DM chair between four of us at different times, and my current DM when I first played alongside him went through thirty-something characters. It got to the point he showed up with them pre-rolled in a binder. A couple of them were around long enough to tell us their name, and then straight into the rotating knives.

And then I had a paladin who screwed up 8 rolls in a row, all critical misses and fumbles, before being carried off to his doom by bugs.

It happens. So long as he doesn't think you're doing it on purpose, and you know you're not, then it's copasetic. That many cleric deaths is unusual, though - generally they tend to be the safest class. Is the group not protecting their medic? If they're not, encourage the player to not make one and don't give the group one until they learn different. You want to live, you protect the restorer. You don't protect the restorer, you don't deserve to live.

Mind you this also means the cleric shouldn't be up at the front battling like a fighter, either. They mostly can, and fairly adeptly, but their job is support. Unless it's undead, then they should probably be on point.

Buglips was a goblin cleric and very rarely fought at all. I pushed a kobold out a window, hit a beholder in the eye with a rock, and one time I fought ferociously to protect the fallen party from three drow priestesses (after I killed one with lucky rolls, the others decided that whatever I might look like, it was certain I was no goblin, so they chose discretion). I think that's actually the sum total of all of Buglips's combat experience in two years of playing and 15 levels.

Naturally, he died because a wizard exploded.
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#3 smokingwreckage

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 04:00 AM

Naturally, he died because a wizard exploded.


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#4 buglips*the*goblin

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 04:15 AM

Any time anybody, ever, in any edition of D&D, complains about something "game-breaking"? You tell them about the 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms Wild Mage.

Nothing but menace.
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#5 Shakandara

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 07:31 AM

Its not that the player is reckless in his playing style its just he makes alot of bad decisions or gets talked into these by the other players


I'd put forth that dying a lot because of bad decisions *is* reckless. Perhaps it isn't "charge into the fray, swinging the mace wildly" reckless, but not making smart choices about what you should be doing is still a form of reckless behavior.

Unlike you, I have no qualms about killing characters in my home campaign. I don't consider myself to be a "killer DM", or mean or cruel. I choose to run a challenging campaign, and with that challenge comes the risk of character death, and even the possibility of TPK. My players know that I run a hard game, but that I also apply the rules fairly and equally. There are some PCs that die more frequently than others in my game, whether by chance, poor tactics, or a combination of both. It is my goal for the players to have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes (or be doomed to repeat them).

Since this player doesn't seem to be overly upset about his character deaths, I'd say it probably isn't much of an issue. However, you might want to take him aside and have a conversation with him about what mistakes have resulted in his recent character deaths. Explain to him how it would help you to have his characters survive longer (I'm sure introducing new characters over and over again for him gets tiresome and inconvenient), and make some suggestions on what he might be able to do to prevent his frequent demise. Let him know that your goal is for everyone to have a good time, and that although the high number of deaths for his characters is somewhat humorous, the whole group would benefit from the consistency of his character surviving for more than a few sessions.

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#6 sethohman

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 07:49 AM

Any time anybody, ever, in any edition of D&D, complains about something "game-breaking"? You tell them about the 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms Wild Mage.

Nothing but menace.


My 2E Wild Mage was probably the most fun I ever had as a PC. And, I killed the other PC :)

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#7 dwarvenranger

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:01 AM

Crit happens
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#8 Qwyksilver

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:03 AM

I'd also talk to the group. It sounds like they are actively encouraging the player to make bad decisions and the player may be doing it to fit in/feel accepted/be funny.

If the group doesn't care and neither does the player its not a big deal. Also try to find ways to bring the dead character (s) back. Add a side plot off the path. Pissed off sibling learns of the death. PC becomes NPC - you left me for dead! If the player and party don't like this maybe they all start working to keep the player alive.

Character death can also be caused by apathy. The player doesn't care enough. Or because new shiny in the latest Advanced Book. Or maybe the player just likes making PCs.

I know I always have a spare character or two in the wings. We usually try to retire PCs in my campaign if a player needs s change. Bring them back for one offs as appropriate etc.

Savage Tide also chews through melee based characters with all the grapple hell.
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#9 Exwilly

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:13 AM

Naturally, he died because a wizard exploded.

snagged it also
"Remember practice doesn't make perfect but it sure does help only perfect practice makes perfect but you cant be perfect without making mistakes and learning from them." dont know if this is an actual quote by someone lol.


Naturally, he died because a wizard exploded.


like i tell my employees at work who complain about working. your here to work right. yes they reply. your getting paid right. yes they reply. good now go clean the restrooms

#10 buglips*the*goblin

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 10:12 AM


Any time anybody, ever, in any edition of D&D, complains about something "game-breaking"? You tell them about the 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms Wild Mage.

Nothing but menace.


My 2E Wild Mage was probably the most fun I ever had as a PC. And, I killed the other PC :)


Did you explode? In the end, they all explode. Since that got introduced, I've seen somewhere around twenty, twenty-five wild mages. Every. Last. One. Exploded.

My Mystran survived three exploding wild wizards, and then decided that something had to be done about this most unnatural, reckless use of magic. Mystra approved, many heads were thusly split. Examination of the craniums revealed undernourished brains and a significant absence of residual explodium.
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#11 Atramagus

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 01:26 PM

One of the times when I got to be a player rather than a DM, I went with a wild mage. I never exploded (not that the game lasted beyond 5th level anyway), but the DM was also a fan of the Warhammer universe. He introduced the party to Chaos stone... I remember finding a large quantity of the stuff, and thought it would be fun to experiment with.

I would occasionally grind up small amounts of the material and slip into... certain party members potions, with the assistance of one of the rogues. One time I tried this the party member in question mutated into this huge, hulk-like beast and started thrashing the party. That was quite entertaining hehe. Most of us survived ^_^

#12 Doug Sundseth

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 06:46 PM

... he makes alot of bad decisions or gets talked into these by the other players and is usually the victim of a heck of alot of critical fumbles from heal checks. .... So my questions are what is your groups death record? How many deaths do you feel are normal in standard style module? Should my player maybe try another game insted of D&D?


Bad decisions? Kill him.

Critical Fumbles on Heal checks? House rules. There has been fairly extensive discussion about the reasons that critical fumbles of any sort are much more likely to be problematic for PCs than for NPCs. If you choose to ignore that, it's on you.

Current groups don't have many permanent deaths because we don't especially want them. They happen, but average maybe 1-2 per adventure path. When I was in my teens, the numbers were orders of magnitude higher, but that was OD&D and we were young and dumb, so not directly comparable. You can certainly tune down the number of character deaths if you want to.

Did you explode? In the end, they all explode. Since that got introduced, I've seen somewhere around twenty, twenty-five wild mages. Every. Last. One. Exploded.


The only character I ever had die to an exploding wizard was the result of a Staff of Wizardry in OD&D. 1576 points of damage when you have 23 HP is, it turns out, sufficient.

There was the character who was carrying an anti-matter-powered stereo that blew up, but he was transported to post-holocaust St. Louis rather than killed, so that doesn't really count.

#13 Loim

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:56 PM

I ran all my 2e campaigns in a homebrew setting. What is a wild mage?

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#14 buglips*the*goblin

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:00 PM

I think critical fumbles married to critical success works pretty well. We use "critical coolness" now, so if you roll a natural 20 you can do something special - and you can chain them.

I mean, yeah, my paladin got eaten by bugs from his fumble chain . . . but then there was also the time my Mystran was protecting the party and encountered some Xorn. All they wanted were some gems to eat, but I didn't know this. 6 nat 20's later, they decided they weren't hungry anymore.

And then there was also the time my Mace of Disruption made a hail mary attack (I had one hit point left, and threw it at a Marilith in defiance) and it went off.

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#15 buglips*the*goblin

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:02 PM

I ran all my 2e campaigns in a homebrew setting. What is a wild mage?


I can't remember if it appeared in the Tome of Magic or Forgotten Realms Adventures - but a wild mage can gamble for extra spells, and has a chance of a "wild surge".

Like mixing potions, sometimes this is good.

Also like mixing potions, in practice, though, most times it means exploding.
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