Character Death - a Response


”Are you fucking kidding me?”

”Wow, really? Am I dead or dead dead?”

”…” (Stunned Silence)

These are just a few of the responses that players have when their character dies. And it usually involves a lot of yelling. Players get upset when their character dies, especially at higher levels. We put our heart and souls into these characters, nurtured them through the lower levels, and felt like powerful super heroes at higher levels. But even super heroes die. So while the death may not cause the player actual physical pain, the mental anguish can take some time to recover from. So let’s break this into two parts - the player whose character has just died and the rest of the players sitting around the table and how they are affected by it.

So your character has died.

I’m sorry.

It sucks.

We’ve all been there at some point.

But that doesn’t change how you feel. It’s ok to feel a little sad and hurt. Sure, it’s just a game, but if you are playing the game right, then you have invested time and emotion into that character and to have him die hurts. But it’s still just a game. Don’t get mad at yourself, the other players or the GM. Sure, could the Cleric rushed over to save you? Maybe. Or maybe that finger of death cast on you seems like total bullshit. Why wasn’t it cast on the fighter up front? None of this changes the fact that you are still dead. Your number was up and there’s nothing you can do about it. Hopefully you died in a blaze of glory saving the rest of your party from certain doom. But now you should own it, sit in your sadness for a little while, then pull out that new character sheet and get started. Get excited about that new gunslinger class you wanted to try out. Talk to your party members and see what you can play to help balance out the group.

I guess the point is, it’s ok to be upset, just don’t let it ruin the game for you. Death comes for everyone. Just remember how you felt when the person next to you watches in horror as their beloved gnome wizard gets disintegrated.

Oh man, I’m so sorry.

Watching someones character die usually elicits a couple different thoughts.

  1. Wow, that sucks. Maybe I should have done something differently to help.

  2. I don’t know what he/she was thinking trying to pull that off. We probably should have talked that through first.

  3. What a fucking idiot. It’s no wonder he/she is dead.

Number One is a normal human response. Empathy is a healthy trait. Learn from what happened so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else, especially you. But realize that you as a character can only do so much to help and that you probably did the best you could for the party as a whole. (unless you’re the cleric, then it’s ALWAYS the cleric’s fault)

Two is usually how I feel when someone dies. In my experience, most players die because they are trying something totally out of the box or are trying to save someone else, maybe even entire party, by trying some crazy maneuver. Again, it’s another learning experience. How did you get to that point? What could all of you done differently? Every battle is an unique experience, but you should always learn from each of them, and hopefully prevent someone else from dying.

Three is the most dangerous. As I constantly say, players do dumb shit all the time. And just because someone did something really stupid and died, doesn't mean you should be a dick about it. Yes, you can be exasperated and frustrated at them. That’s ok. Just keep in mind that you have probably done some really dumb shit yourself, and are lucky you didn’t die.

Finally, there is also a danger that when your feelings on the person playing the character influences your feelings on the character that died. Look, we usually aren’t best friends with everyone sitting at the table. If you have an intense hatred for someone, you should probably look for a new table. But even a person that you are neutral towards deserves some empathy when their character dies.

Unless they been playing a Lawful Evil Assassin and been a cunt the entire game.

Then fuck them.

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The Hall Monitor