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How many Character Deaths are normal?


Maceswinger
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If the death was fair (and even an experienced DM can screw up, I have) then try to stay calm, neutral, and stick to your guns that the death was fairly come by. And that, while unfortunate, is the risk of adventuring.

 

If the death was not fair, acknowledge this. Because everybody already knows it. Own it, and say you messed up. Offer to redo the encounter (I hate this option) or open yourself to suggestions. Mistakes happen, and I've overjuiced monsters into ridiculousness by misjudging party strength.

 

But if the death is fair, then dig in and hold fast. Do not let a player bully you about it (and they'll try, believe me they'll try). I'm a pretty easygoing DM, but when I get one of those players (usually a new one auditioning for an extra seat, not one of my regulars) all up in my face throwing a tantrum I don't care if they pull out a gun and start waving it at me - sit down n' shut up, 'cause you ain't getting out of it. Deal with it.

 

The main thing here is to keep it from going personal. It can be as heated an argument as possible, but keep it all business. Your job is to fairly apply the rules to everybody, and if you go all rock hard zen about it and communicate clearly that you'll stand by your interpretation then it's likely the other players will intervene on your behalf.

 

But never reward a tantrum. It'll never end after that.

 

Thanks for the advice! I'm always worried about a lot of confrontation from players, and I'm sure it'll happen (even with the small group I'm with). I just need to learn to stick to my guns better I think.

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Just out of curiosity, have you ever had to deal with one of your players lashing out from a death? Or even from your tough DM'ing style? How did you handle it (if you did)? I'm newer to the Dm seat and looking for some advice :)

 

So, some background first. Although I run a 3.0 D&D campaign, there are two things I've changed with regards to character deaths. First, I use 3.5 costs for bringing characters back from the dead (i.e. it is *very* expensive to do so, monetarily). However, one area where I've relaxed the rules is the effects of dying. One of the guys that helped design the D&D game (Andy Collins) had a nice alternative approach to the level loss associated with dying (since regressing a character a level was such a PITA); instead, each time a character died and was brought back by anything other than a True Rez, they got a "permanent" negative level. The negative level condition is easy to apply, and carries much of the same effect as level loss, without really hurting the character as much. The next time that character levels, the negative level goes away, and they are right back on track with the party. If the character is exceptionally careless or unlucky, they could gain more than one such negative level, thus having to wait until subsequent leveling to gain back each additional negative level.

 

So, the overall penalty for death in my game was heavy monetary cost, but little long-lasting impact on character development. This prevents players from becoming too upset about dying, especially when it is just bad luck; the group shares the burden of the gold cost, and the player suffers a temporary and relatively minor inconvenience to their character. However, if the player habitually gets in bad situations, the accumulation of negative levels can become crippling, thus discouraging such play.

 

I only had one player become really upset about character death, and the death was only a peripheral part of his issue. I explained to him calmly what the process was; he thought I was being unfair and picking on him. I pointed him at the campaign website where the information was documented *years* before, and ticked off each instance of how the rules had been applied the same to other players. He then complained to one of the other campaign members to have them contact me, and even went so far as to try to involve my S.O. in the matter. At that point, I told him he could either play by the same rules as everyone else, or take his ball and go home.

 

I haven't missed his presence in the group. :;):

 

~v

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Only once have I gotten upset at a GM for this sort of thing. The FIRST combat: 4 level 1 adventurers (Bard, mage, ranger, monk) versus 30 goblins and 30 wargs. We had no cover to hide behind either. Yep... 15:1 odds. Wiped out the whole party in the first session.

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Only once have I gotten upset at a GM for this sort of thing. The FIRST combat: 4 level 1 adventurers (Bard, mage, ranger, monk) versus 30 goblins and 30 wargs. We had no cover to hide behind either. Yep... 15:1 odds. Wiped out the whole party in the first session.

thats just Bad DMing IMHO.
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Argentee, was there no way for your your party to escape? Sometimes a DM might throw overwhelming odds with the intention of the group fleeing. Although the DM should usually hint that the group might be up against something that they have no way of beating. I have run Undermountain (as written by Ed Greenwood) several times, and always with the warning to the group that not everything they run across down there will be level appropriate, and that "tactically withdrawing" i.e. running for their lives, may be the most appropriate solution.

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Yeah, I've been known to throw unwinable encounters (from a combat perspective) at my players from time to time, but in such cases it was almost always a) abundently clear that they were overmatched, and b) that there was some other option available to them (usually negotiation). Not every encounter needs to be met with a combat response. Of course, if the GM gave you no such option, then that's just poor GMing.

 

~v

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Only once have I gotten upset at a GM for this sort of thing. The FIRST combat: 4 level 1 adventurers (Bard, mage, ranger, monk) versus 30 goblins and 30 wargs. We had no cover to hide behind either. Yep... 15:1 odds. Wiped out the whole party in the first session.

 

Yeah, I've only gotten upset about a character death on two occassions:

 

1. First session of a new campaign being run by one of my players. It was his first time DMing. Seven players, all first level characters. The only information that we received from the DM was that there was "mysterious creatures have made the road north dangerous." We go north, assuming that was where the adventure was. We get attacked by 16 hippogriffs. Four characters die on round 1. My illusionist creates an illusion of a griffon, hoping to scare the hippogriffs away. They flee for one round, then come back and kill the rest of the party. We couldn't run, we couldn't hurt them, we all just died. And everyone is pissed at the DM, and he's pissed off at us. We're like "That encounter wasn't even vaguely balanced" and he's like "I told you not to go north!" We had to sit him down and explain that when you say things like "mysterious creatures have made the road north dangerous" that's called an adventure hook and we we're trying to be good players by biting, having assumed that north was where the adventure he'd written was. He got mad and ended the campaign right then and there, and refused to ever DM again.

 

2. After several months of playing in this killer DM's game, where he was taking a Paizo module and significantly increasing the difficulty (I later went back and read the adventure, he was adding 10 to most monster's AC, doubling the number of monsters, causing monsters to respawn that shouldn't, etc.). For some time in the campaign I had felt the DM was deliberately being a jerk and trying to kill us. We'd been playing for several months and had no treasure, had burned through several characters, and were just generally having zero fun in the game. Everyone was getting really tired of this dude and his killer DMing.

 

Then we got into a battle that just went out-of-control. We were like 8th level and this encounter was like a CR 20 encounter, and we were all going to die if we didn't figure out a way to run away. It gets to my initiative, and I start asking the DM all these questions. I'm forming a plan, something I can do in one round with all the resources in the room, to seal off the monster's path to us and give us a round or two head start in running away. And I ask the DM all these questions, confirm that what I want to do is possible, and I tell him "Okay, I do [the plan]." And he says, I kid you not, "Oh wait, I forgot that one of the monsters was supposed to go, so he acts before you." And then this monster, rather than attacking or anything normal, takes a completely random action which makes absolutely no sense but completely nerfs my plan. Basically he decides to rearrange the furniture in the room, in the middle of a combat. The DM tells me its my action, but that now that plan I had won't work. And that's when i realize he wants a TPK, and that we're not getting away.

 

So I calmly packed up my books, put my miniature away, gathered my stuff, and started heading for the door. And everyone was completely quiet. Just as I'm about to leave, he asks "What, so you're just leaving?" And I proceed to scream bloody hell at him for the next twenty minutes, giving him one of the loudest, longest, and most profanity laden Reasons You Suck Speech ever given. Dude is incredibly lucky I didn't punch him. Never played with him again.

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Argentee, was there no way for your your party to escape? Sometimes a DM might throw overwhelming odds with the intention of the group fleeing. Although the DM should usually hint that the group might be up against something that they have no way of beating. I have run Undermountain (as written by Ed Greenwood) several times, and always with the warning to the group that not everything they run across down there will be level appropriate, and that "tactically withdrawing" i.e. running for their lives, may be the most appropriate solution.

Nope! 60 enemies surrounding us on all sides. No way to flee... no way to call for help. DM swore that he had 'done the math' and we could win the fight... Oh, and did I mention they attacked us in the middle of the night while 3/4ths of us were asleep so had no action the first round?

 

... I stopped playing D&D with that guy.

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One of the neatest magic items I ever saw was a ring of invulnerability - with a catch. It would absorb any and all damage, and store it. Any time it was used (i.e. damage was taken) a D20 was rolled. On a 1, it went off and dished out all the damage.

 

For a great many encounters the Ranger got lucky. Then he didn't. When it went wrong, a slash wound opened up on his chest.

 

"Oh oh" said he.

 

Then more slashes appeared, and then the fireball he absorbed went off and he exploded. As bits of him flew through the air, they were still being cut and slashed and chopped.

 

Hell of a way to go, that. Hell of a way to go.

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