Dungeons & Dragons: Killing Players’ Characters

As heroes grow more powerful in Dungeons and Dragons, they face more and more powerful opposition. No longer do your players face off against Goblins, Wolves and Bandits- Now, they find themselves in battle with Adult and Ancient Dragons, Beholders, Krakens, and greater Demons and Devils. As the players and their characters grow, as does the chance of dying- They have more abilities and choice, but greater consequences should they fail. Player character death is a tricky subject, and there’s no one way to really deal with it- Some players are fine to see a character go, and roll up a new one straight away, where as others become quite attached to their characters, especially if they’ve been playing said character for a long time, so here are a few of my tips for dealing with player character death.

My first, and probably the most simple piece of advice is to explain death at the start of the game- If you do a session zero, explain it then- Let them know that death is a genuine possibility, and explain the consequences of it. It’s also a good time to explain if you’re using any other rules related to death, such as the Meat Grinder rules from Tomb of Annihilation (Coming out soon), or you use any alternative Resurrection Rules (Such as Matthew Mercer’s Critical Role rules).

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2 thoughts on “Dungeons & Dragons: Killing Players’ Characters”

  1. Well, yes and no. I think the first 2 levels are the deadlies for players. An onn hit from a goblin can easily finish you off, while you are going up against bugbears! At higher levels you do face harder challenges, but what usually improves is your ways to quckly diengage. Wizard with teleport or object that allow you to disengage will be a lot more common, and that makes a big difference. Of course, if your players refuse to retreat in the face of insurmontable odds, you will not need cunning traps to kill them off at any level.

    1. Exactly. I think those first two levels are probably a bit TOO deadly for players, so often, I’ll find a way around killing them- set them back a bit, but leave them alive. Part of the issue is, especially with new players, that at lower levels, they don’t know that disengaging is an option and tend to keep on fighting, even if they know they’re going to lose.

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