I don’t often take a hard-line stance on things on this blog. I try to be a pretty calm head and I usually regret it when I do give in to the urge to rant… but this is really bugging me, a lot.
Deal. With. It.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why character death is such a big deal. I’m a Role-player far more than a roll-player. I love to get into a character, I love to build relationships, have depth in my gaming, and you know what? I don’t care one bit if a character dies – and I’ve often gone into the jaws of death with characters with eyes wide open.
If you don’t want characters to die, play “Papers and Paychecks” and pray you don’t get hit by a bus crossing those busy urban streets!
I know I sound like a jerk, but seriously? I’ve listened to the objections – you know, that it’s such a burden to lose a character, that it takes away the fun because a player is “sitting out” for a few minutes…Really? Are we all attention-starved five-year olds? I prefer to play with adults – they’re not whining about having to go get another Mt. Dew and roll up their next character, they’re doing it.
A GM who is going out of their way to kill characters and playing really adversarial isn’t what I’m looking for here – that’s just as bad – but if your character dies during an adventure? Well, adventuring is a highly dangerous occupation… and perfectly balanced encounters all the time are boring… plain and simple. You want to talk about metagaming? Does your fourth level warlock always know that their facing a custom-tailored encounter whenever they go into battle? Probably not. He should be worried that all those fine gentlemen with the fiery blades are about to skewer him and prepared for that possibility.
I hear everyone talking about how death shouldn’t be the only threat. Of course it shouldn’t. If the GM wants to kill the PCs it’s not hard, you can always be unfair, you can always kill a character if your that kinda guy… but death should be a threat that the PCs have to take seriously.
I hear everyone talking about how death should be seen as an opportunity – you know, afterlife adventures and stuff… or pick a path to resurrection – ew. If death is just a speed bump then you might as well go read comics, or play a videogame… Here’s a great opportunity the next time a character dies – make a new character, start a new story, be awesome.
How often do you hear a player reminisce about old games and really get excited about that one time you rolled a 19? Not often, but you always hear stories about the super-close fights, or the time that Miranda died while facing down a god, or that time that tiny little goblin wiped the floor with the paladin? And speaking of rolls, if you think dying in a random battle that wasn’t super-heroic is so awful, then don’t play a game where a goblin can crit and kill you… I mean, that’s the point, right?
I know that I have no right whatsoever to tell you how to play your game – and I hope you’ll forgive me the occasional rant. I know that this is my opinion, but I’m all about running a game that includes the threat of death, I don’t think that having to sit out a few minutes when a character dies “kills the fun,” I certainly don’t want to lose that threat when I’m a player, and I certainly see death as an opportunity – to try out new ideas, and new options!
Thanks for reading and feel free to tell me about your favorite character death.
PS – I feel better now, no more ranting (for a while).