Thats right, you read that correctly, today I am going to talk about killing characters in tabletop games. In my case this is in pathfinder as that is the primary system I have played, but regardless it applies everywhere. Today will mostly be about characters I have killed while DMing various campaigns.
So in my tenure as a DM, I have killed a grand total of three characters, two of which belonged to my brother. Also one of my brother’s and one of a friends in the last 3 sessions of the campaign we are running alone. I am currently running the Rise of the Runelords campaign path for pathfinder, and I like this one quite a bit. I think though I really created a bit of a catch 22 here with this campaign, because of my own history with DMing. A lot of premade campaigns really don’t have the difficulty scaled correctly, once the levels get high, its just a cake walk.
So for this campaign I decided to level them a bit slower than was supposed to, as well as a few other things just to make it more difficult. It was successful, the big bads, the bosses, all the nasty big things they take on are an actual challenge. They can surmount the challenge sure, but it is still difficult and there is risk. The bad part is that because of said difficulty I am killing off characters apparently.
Let us start with my brother’s character, modeled after the Belmonts from Castlevania, his name Riktor Belmont. The man was a whip fighter, took all the feats, and was able to do some killer damage. He was kind of a morose man though, an alcoholic, who’s village was plundered by undead commanded by vampires. You know…Castlevania stuff. Well he was doing pretty well, got the guy up to level 10…..and then a Dragon happened. The dragon decided he didn’t like the human who had dinged away 2/3 of his health, so he did a full attack on Riktor. Well there went Riktor, into a mess of bloody pulp, crushed into a ground by a Red Dragon. Though he was saving his home, the city he lived in, and the people he cared for…so he went out in a certifiably awesome way.
And no they didn’t resurrect him, wouldn’t have fit in with his character and the god he worshiped, and they didn’t have the resources to do so anyway. So pop went the weasel and my brother made a new character.
Now on to my friend, who was playing a halfling fighter/barbarian mixture, he was a cocky little bugger. We are talking grade A ballzy little guy, just loved to get in fights and hit on women. Well they were going through the dungeons of an ancient ruin currently resided in as a fort by Stone Giants, and Ogres, and Trolls. Well there were two trolls behind slitted walls, which they stabbed through with reach weapons, and the fight was close to done, then the Troll attacked him twice. So it essentially was a through and through as the little halfling was skewered through by a Ranseur.
The last character was another one played by my brother, a Viking ax wielder named Jorvar Stomrcloak. He was fighting with the party vs a group of barbarians, and one of those barbarians charged him. The barbarian then proceeded to roll 4 natural 20’s in a row, thus proceeding to remove Jorvar’s head. I mean it was just brutal, decisive, and it was over in but a few seconds. So there went Jorvar, my brother had to make a new character for that campaign.
So there it is folks, those are all of the characters I have killed in my tenure as a DM, and I have a feeling they will not be the last. Hell if this campaign keeps up at this rate, the last two remaining original characters from the campaign will die off too. Knock on wood guys, don’t wanna kill off all of them.
So here are a few questions for you all.
Have you ever killed characters in your campaign?
Do you purposely try and kill your characters, or keep them alive to continue the story?
Do you try and not kill characters for the sake of story or the party or your players?
How many characters have you killed?
Do you allow for resurrection?
Have you ever had a character killed?
Have you ever used any kind of Resurrection?
How many characters have you had die?
How does it make you feel?
Cya later everyone,
I end up DMing most of the time, but I definitely do kill off characters. It’s not like I DM with the sole purpose of killing people, but I do not pull punches and if someone who should know better plays less than smart(or if a new player makes REALLY bad choices) then they tend to not live very long afterwards(oh! I especially hate LG characters that do really ridiculous things in the name of their alignment). I can’t remember how many characters I kill, but it tends to be at a rate of 1 per session if I am DMing something. It’s not my fault. If they didn’t want so many character deaths then they would develop teamwork and put a little thought into their decisions. Although I do allow for resurrection if they have the resources and the carebear part of me sometimes gives discounts. 😛
When it comes to playing I have rarely experienced character death. I think most DMs tend to have problems killing characters and I usually have a cautious play style and focus on team work and survival. I have lost characters and it doesn’t feel great that it happens, but I usually have a greater respect for a DM who is willing to do it since it adds more of an element of danger to games that makes adventuring feel dangerous. Also when I die, I look at it as a chance to try something new. 🙂
I’ve tended to be behind the GM’s screen more often than not, and I have a line of bodies behind me. I’m not a vicious GM and I usually talk to my players about how gritty and dangerous they want the campaign to be. More often than not, if I fudge a bit it’s in the sake of player survival. That said, if a player is doing something dumb I have no problem striking their character down for it.
On the player side I’ve lost more characters than I can count over the years. Most of the time it’s not a big deal to me. Some I have regretted losing though. Some have even been set back to have their concept re-used at a later time if I really liked them.
One campaign in particular I seemed to have the worst luck in. It was an Oriental Adventures campaign (D&D 3.5). I first played a staff-wielding excorcist, One of those anime standards. Large, loud, boisterous and a bit of a drunkard. Unfortunately he ran afoul of an ogre with a reach weapon after only two sessions. The next character was a martial artist. They too fell to someone with a reach weapon after only two sessions. My third character in that campaign was an archer who was very good at climbing and sniping from long distances….
As a GM I have killed a few characters, but almost always due to the player overestimating his or her abilities. Also sometimes it was malicious because I couldn’t stand a player and wanted him to leave a game. I am a bad person.
In return, I have also experienced several character deaths as well. The most prominent was probably my Adept in a Dark Heresy campaign. He was the guy who poked everything and read every book the party came across, which is generally not a great plan in Dark Heresy, and he slowly built up quite a number of Corruption and Insanity points. Eventually, the party came upon a shrine to Khorne, and the Adept examined a big blood red brass suit of armor. A few moments later the party turned around to see their friendly little nerd decked out in a suit of spikey Khorneate armor, licking blood off of a sacrificial altar. All of the huge combat bonuses the armor gave my Adept did not make up for the fact that he was still a weedy little librarian, and he was brutally beaten to death with an Arbite’s truncheon while ineffectually slap fighting said Arbite and shouting, “Blood for the blood god!” When it was over I shook the Arbite’s hand and started rolling up another character. Before I had finished the entire party was killed by a daemon and we all decided to play Rogue Trader next time.