How-To DM: Dealing With Character Death

All jokes aside, in most tabletop roleplaying games, death is a very real possibility for player characters. Whether it is the result of a failed saving throw, a critical hit from a powerful enemy, or some other unfortunate circumstance, character death can be a devastating experience for players. Dealing with character death in a way that is respectful and meaningful can be a challenge, but it is an important part of the game.

The first thing to consider when dealing with character death is the emotional impact it can have on players. For many players, their characters are an extension of themselves, and losing a character can feel like a personal loss. It is important to acknowledge this and to allow players to express their feelings about the loss of their character.

One way to do this is to hold a memorial service or a moment of silence for the fallen character. This can give players a chance to say goodbye to their character and to reflect on the impact they had on the game. It can also be a way to honor the character’s achievements and to celebrate their life.

Another important consideration when dealing with character death is the impact it can have on the story. Losing a character can have far-reaching consequences, both in terms of the narrative and in terms of gameplay. It is important to take these consequences into account and to adjust the story and the game mechanics accordingly.

For example, if the deceased character was a key part of the party’s quest, the party may need to find a new way to complete their mission. If the character had valuable skills or abilities that were essential to the party’s survival, the party may need to find a way to fill that gap. This can be an opportunity for the remaining players to step up and take on new roles within the party.

One of the most important things to remember when dealing with character death is to be fair and consistent. Players should feel that their characters’ lives are in their hands, and that the consequences of their actions are real. This means that death should be a possibility for all characters, not just those who are in combat or who are taking big risks.

It is also important to establish clear rules and expectations around character death. Players should understand that death is a possibility, and that there are consequences for their actions. They should also understand what happens to their characters when they die, and what their options are for creating a new character.

One option for players who have lost a character is to create a new character to join the party. This can be a chance to try out a new race or class, or to explore a different aspect of the game. It is important to work with the DM to ensure that the new character fits seamlessly into the story and the party dynamic.

Another option for players who have lost a character is to continue playing as a non-player character (NPC). This can be a way to keep the character’s story alive and to continue to contribute to the party’s success. It is important to work with the DM to ensure that the NPC’s actions are consistent with their character and that they do not overshadow the other players.

Ultimately, dealing with character death in Dungeons and Dragons is about finding a balance between respecting the emotional impact of the loss and maintaining the integrity of the game. It is important to be fair and consistent, to communicate clearly with players, and to work together to find a solution that honors the fallen character and keeps the game moving forward.

In conclusion, character death is an inevitable part of playing Dungeons and Dragons. While it can be a difficult and emotional experience, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the character’s life and to explore new aspects of the game. By approaching character death with respect and sensitivity, players and DMs can navigate this challenging aspect of the game and emerge stronger for it.

What do you think, Dear Readers? How do you deal with a player character death? What about an NPC death? Let me know in the comment section below!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Published by The Daily DM

I'm just a DM telling the stories of my tables.

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