Friday, February 7, 2014

1st Player Death in an RPG

First character death ... 

I have to admit that I have had very few character deaths, and never died in an actual D&D game.  The times we've had a party wipe I was playing a rogue who manged to cut and run.   Even in 4e where that isn't really always possible (thanks to the damn grid) I managed to escape via some GM adjudication.   I've been close of course a hundred times.  I am not a professional D&D player, nor am I a super genius who always outsmarts the DM.  I do usually take a leadership role if I'm playing OR I tend to be the a stealthy scout type character.  One would think I would therefor have had more player deaths, but I guess I just play conservative.  I try to plan ahead and talk things out with the party, etc. and make good choices.  So maybe that yields less player death.  I really enjoy more realistic, immersive  RPGing where the game is approached that way.  Instead of kicking doors in and behaving gung-ho crazy all the time, methodical calculated moves.  That is what I like to think it is.  But maybe I've just had wamby-pamby DMs ... I don't know.  Actually I think I've generally been lucky with the DMs I've had for the most part (of course I've had a few that were not very skilled, as most of us have). 

I do know that when I'm running games, I tend to have some player deaths.  I'm not a killer DM who squishes PCs for fun constantly.  But when a party does something that is going to put them in a deadly spot, I feel it is incumbent upon me to deliver.  That makes the game more enjoyable for us all in the long run.  I feel it is my job to populate the world, make it live and breath and to make the game feel exciting and real danger is a big part of that.  Fudging for the party to live all the time, no matter what, makes the game boring really quickly ... at least in my experience and opinion. 

The only fantasy game I've had a PC death in was in a Hackmaster game.  I was actually playing a 2 player game.  The DM was running an interesting game, with two evil PCs.  We were really just doing a kick the tires kind of test run on the system before we launched into a full game with a five party group.  We had three months to finish our campaign.  I was playing a grel (Dark Elf) assassin and the other person was playing a dwarf thief.  We both had a few solo adventures to bring us to the point where our characters met. I was playing a cold calculated character, trying to be sort of serious (yes in a Hackmaster game that is pretty funny isn't it ... lol) and he was just playing a chaotic insane character.  Well long story short.  Towards the end of the campaign we were in a town, completing an assassination job.  We just finished offing the deputy mayor (and his poor guards, and probably half of his family ... we were instructed not to be quiet about it and make it look like orcs did it) and had collected our payment.  We ended up down the coast in another larger town with money to burn and no direct business at hand.  So the other player in the game decided to break into a large estate ... because ... why?!? (satisfactory answer never produced, silly me for not riding off into the sunset at that point eh?).

I urged him not to, I threatened him to no avail, even offered a bribe, but he was insistent so in the end I begrudgingly followed and agreed to at most play lookout.  Well he badly botched the "burglary" which turned into a full on robbery (including offing the residents of the home, but not before one of them made it to the street and alerted the town guard).  I was in a nearby tree playing lookout, but of course my companion allowed the one survivor to escape out of the front of the home.  He wasn't supposed to attack anyone, let alone murder them all!

So I cut and ran at that point, but it was too late. The alarm was sounded and I was on a more dangerous street before I knew it and quickly surrounded by amazingly competent, mixed-unit town guards.  One of the guards made me out as a bandit and I was caught.  The other PC was killed outright as he fled.  I tried to talk my way out of it.  I was nearly successful as I had a compelling line.  But the GM gave me minuses due to my carrying a substantial amount of wealth.  My dice abandoned me and I was sent to the block the next morning.  Something of an ignoble end ... but ... the campaign itself was fun.  We never played evil for one thing, so it was novel in that regard.  Also a two player game was strange too.  We got so much done usually.  My fellow player, Jason, was not used to playing an evil character (neither was I honestly) so he just played like a mad man.  It was funny at first, but as the game went on it became annoying honestly.  So when the game was over, I was a little relieved.  But it was the one black mark on my record, and with a character I liked no less! But as they say ... crime doesn't pay ... so there you have it.  My one and only fantasy PC death to date.

I've had a score of non-fantasy PC deaths though.  Many characters downed in Rifts, Shadowrun, Apocalypse World, Gamma World, Deadlands, D20 Modern, hell I even had a PC die in a Dogs in the Vineyard game once.  

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