Regret Killing a PC


Advice


So I wacked a PC. I normally don't like doing it, but the lethality my players feel the game has adds something intangible to it, which I think is really important.

In short, the party just completed a quest, having destroyed an evil alter at high noon in a town mostly full of vampires. Well, the party came during the day to avoid them, but they had nearly lost one person fighting their minions. Both the casters were out of spells. It was time to go.

For some reason, two of the players, with no other help, decided to see what was in one of the buildings. I don't know why. In any case, the guy playing the rogue got yanked inside and stabbed to death. The party was forced to flee.

While it was completely his fault (in that all of the party's successful planning was to avoid confronting the vampires directly sense they are first level) because he picked a fight they had been working to avoid, I feel like it was a mistake to kill his character.

The guy who did it has a habit of getting killed in my games and I'm sure he isn't all together thrilled with his druid. He was pretty into the rogue.

I'm thinking of giving him a chance to bring the guy back. Maybe I can use the rogue as a "ghoul" or something and the paladin / party can attempt to restore him, thereby returning his preferred character.

While this would be "easy" to set up, I'm not sure I should. The deed is done and I'm basically pussing out here.

If there a way to pull off a "not really dead" without losing credibility? Is it in the difficulty of the quest?

I'll admit I'm unusually attached to the PCs in this game.


There may be a way to do this without losing credibility, but I never figured it out.

I hate killing PCs too, but I seem to kill two or three in every campaign I run. And frequently it's due to exactly the sort of thing you describe here. If a player has their character do something stupid, in a lethal environment, they can die pretty easily. And when they do, I don't agonize over it, or give do-overs.

But that's just me. Maybe I'm a hard-ass GM. If the player is not enjoying his druid, let him build another rogue. Or maybe a ranger.

For what it's worth, I love druids. They are one of the most flavorful classes in the game, and one of the most powerful. What's not to like?


Talk to the player. If he wants to play another rogue, let him do one up. He wouldn't be far behind the rest for xp, and maybe he'll be more careful next time. Or maybe not...


Bring in a wealthy patron who liked the rogue and is willing to pay for a raise dead. Before letting him go, give him a lecture on the merits of discretion (it was a heavy investment, after all). Throw in a sidequest while you're at it. Make it look like the rogue was essential to the storyline - which, of course, he is.

Letting the player have the character he wants is essential to a player's enjoyment of the game.


flamethrower49 wrote:


Letting the player have the character he wants is essential to a player's enjoyment of the game.

This is a statement that is obviously only true within certain bounds. What those bounds are can be highly dependent on personal preference and taste. If the player wants a +5 keen, speed, flame burst axe at level 1 (and who doesn't?) you don't give it to him no matter how much more "fun" it would make the game for him.

This really is a question about the integrity of the game. If you have told your players that your campaigns are potentially deadly, and the first time a player character dies, some wealthy patron pops up and offers to raise him from the dead, don't expect your players to believe much more about what you say about your campaign.

If you have not sold your campaign that way, and it really doesn't matter if you raise him, go ahead and do it. It mostly depends on what tone you have tried to set for the campaign.

When I tell my players that my campaigns are potentially deadly, I mean it. But that's just me.


I would say don't worry about it. I have killed a few PC's and had a few of mine killed as well. This may be just the groups I have played in but it also helps to let players know they aren't invulnerable and keeps them from doing things their characters normally wouldn't because they aren't afraid to die.

Liberty's Edge

Get his opinion on it. Even if you decide the rogue is in the dirt he'll feel better that he had input. If he wants the rogue back a surviving vampire could have made him a skeletal champion so you can have one encounter with him as an enemy then restore him. Say the vampire was trying to use the rogue's corpse as a way to track and hunt them down and perhaps a mental warfare effect.

The Exchange

cranewings wrote:
In any case, the guy playing the rogue got yanked inside and stabbed to death. The party was forced to flee.

Bravely bold Sir Robin rode forth from Camelot.

He was not afraid to die, O brave Sir Robin!
He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways,
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin!

He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp,
Or to have his eyes gouged out, and his elbows broken;
To have his kneecaps split, and his body burned away;
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin!

His head smashed in and his heart cut out
And his liver removed and his bowels unplugged
And his nostrils raped and his bottom burned off
And his...


brassbaboon wrote:


This is a statement that is obviously only true within certain bounds. What those bounds are can be highly dependent on personal preference and taste. If the player wants a +5 keen, speed, flame burst axe at level 1 (and who doesn't?) you don't give it to him no matter how much more "fun" it would make the game for him.

...

When I tell my players that my campaigns are potentially deadly, I mean it. But that's just me.

That's silly. Rogues don't use axes. :)

In seriousness: I said the character he wants, not whatever he wants. If the player is forced to play this druid, while he really wants that rogue he was playing, he may grow to resent the game.

Rereading the original post, I do see that the DM seems to have at least some expectation of lethality. In which case, don't do what I said. But you certainly need to talk to the player and find out what he's hoping to gain from the game. Using the redeemed undead hook could be kinda cool.


Perhaps the vampire didn't actually kill him, and instead incapacitated him. Then he can mind control him and use him as a minion during daylight hours. The party finds him , hopefully undoes the mental conditioning, and the rogue is back with the party.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Have the player of the rogue roll up a new character. When you kill off his new character (it sounds like a lethal campaign), replace it with the ghouled up version of his rogue! He probably won't be expecting that a few levels down the road, so it will be a bit of an emotional roller coaster for him (You keep killing off my PCs! Wait, my rogue is still alive?!?!?!?!?!), but hopefully in a good way.

You might even be able to pull it off as if you had planned the whole thing from the start.

All you'll have to do is keep a copy of the ghoulish rogue leveled up to match the party's level.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Or maybe the vampires kept him just alive enough to feed on.

I wouldn't get too choked up over it. A few of my players do dumb thing that get them killed all. the. time. Once a player's character has died for the fourth time in a campaign because they picked a fight with something they knew they couldn't handle, I start to lose a lot of sympathy for them and suspect they're just trying to game the system by probing weaknesses until they come up with something that works or figure they've thrown enough fodder at the problem, their new character can come in and clean up.

Man, I'm jaded.


Velcro Zipper wrote:

Or maybe the vampires kept him just alive enough to feed on.

First thing I thought of.

Stabbed to unconciousness then thrown into the barn as feeding livestock with the rest of the bloodbags. Or maybe one of the vampiress' wanted to keep the dashing rogue as a plaything for a while...

Probably a few story hooks in there for how he can escape/get rescued...

But I do agree that if he isn't having fun playing a druid... he shouldn't play a druid. 1st level deaths should be easy enough to get around...

Odds are pretty good that his base personality and backstory PROBABLY haven't even come into play yet... so either bringing him back....

OR.....

Another rogue who stole the dead guy's unused story strolls into town...

Honestly it really depends on the group you play with. Are they the type of group who.... Thinks he may be alive and need to rescue him? Thinks he was killed and maybe turned into a vampire and need to put him to rest... or the type who realizes they are short one rogue, and actively look for someone to replace him?


I think I will talk to the player what he wants.
If he likes to play the rogue I'll let him know and play a little secret on the rest of the party.
Give the party and the druid aswell an assignment to free the bloodbags.
once the party enters the building I let the enemy one shot the druid and the handover the rogues character sheet (ofcourse with wounds) and let the rogue try to free himself from the rope he is tied up with.

Sidenote: I am a sucker for good stories and keep the story flowing.


Let him stay dead. I see no reason to let him have the character back. If he is not having fun w/ the druid...than let him make a new character. But bringing back his old character to me screams cheese...especialy if he'll just die stupidly again.


This is a tough one. On the one hand rpgs are games - a set of rules where the possibility of failure is intrinsic for it to be meaningful. On the other hand, the PC must be the most highly detailed 'piece' in the history of gaming; they naturally become extensions of players and people become attached to them. By the sounds of things the rogue character did something pretty stupid, so I can sympathize with him staying dead. If your player was so attached to the character he should have been more careful with him. Eventually he might find a replacement he likes and move on. On the other hand, rpgs are social as well. If the player's just not enjoying the game after his screw up, how is that benefiting anyone? The alternative might be that he loses interest and drops out. It depends upon how much you want to stick to your guns. What you could do is find some way of resurrecting the rogue - but make it hard, a major undertaking. Once this happens, tell the player that next time he dies that's it and stick to this. He's had his second chance and if he dies again through his own fault, tough cheese.


Go off alone by yourself = sooner or later you will die. It's like playing chess and bringing your Queen out early. Or shooting the Moon in Hearts. Sometimes it works; maybe more than sometimes, if you're good. But do it often enough and you'll get hammered.

-- Let's put it in pure game-mechanical terms. Double the numbers of monsters = +2 CR, right? So, half the number of PCs, you're /effectively/ doubling the CR. Four PCs of level X meet a level X monster, it's no biggie -- they should roll over it without much trouble. 2 PCs meet that same monster, it's like CR+2, they're going to struggle. And if *one* PC meets that same monster, now it's like CR+4. That's beyond a boss encounter. It's very likely death.

So, the mechanics of the game discourage soloing away from the party. It's got nothing to do with you as a DM -- it's more or less hardwired.

I've killed a lot of PCs for doing that. No regrets.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Never, Ever, Ever, reward stupidity.

The group came up with a very very good plan, executed it correctly, and were sailing pretty.

Then Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dead decided to go poke a hornets nest.

There are a lot of people on here who say 'Never kill a character'. My current GM says she will never kill a character unless it's through their own stupidity. I really hate that. it makes me feel like I'm in a video game where there's a respawn point. It takes the edge off combats, I'm never nervous and I do things I wouldn't in a different game because I know I can take risks without them actually being risks, because I can't die unless I do something stupid.

If he's not happy with his new character, let him switch it out for a different one when you can, but don't undo his stupidity. That will ruin your game faster than you can sneeze. You'll have people doing stupid things like attacking the dragon at level 3 because they know you won't kill them if they fail.


I don't like killing PCs, but I'm not pulling punches either. I try to play the monsters/NPCs to the best of their abilities; if that means a PC ends up dead, so be it.

However, I do warn the players if I think what they're about to do is going to get them killed. For instance, by saying "Are you SURE you want to do that?" after a player has stated his PCs actions. Some times they heed my warning and thus stand a greater chance of survival, other times they don't and stand a high risk of death.

If you wish to give the player a chance to get his character back, have a friendly NPC give them the location of a place where a high value diamond is rumored to be hidden. When the party finds the diamond, make a spellcaster who can cast raise dead (or resurrection, if necessary) available to them.

Alternatively, that spellcaster can already be available (and already have the diamond), and be willing to raise the character from the dead if the party afterwards goes on a quest for him.


snobi wrote:
cranewings wrote:
In any case, the guy playing the rogue got yanked inside and stabbed to death. The party was forced to flee.

Bravely bold Sir Robin rode forth from Camelot.

He was not afraid to die, O brave Sir Robin!
He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways,
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin!

He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp,
Or to have his eyes gouged out, and his elbows broken;
To have his kneecaps split, and his body burned away;
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin!

His head smashed in and his heart cut out
And his liver removed and his bowels unplugged
And his nostrils raped and his bottom burned off
And his...

Hush now, there is evil afoot.

Halt!
it was the dreaded three headed blackguard; the fiercest thing for miles around


Just let him stay dead and move on. This way the players know their choices are meaningful and have real results. I always have my players make character trees to make sure another PC that they are familiar with is ready to go if they need it.


mdt wrote:


Then Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dead decided to go poke a hornets nest.

Thank you mdt. I nearly had coke on my monitor from this...


Do you have an overarching story in mind? If the PCs are Epic Heros(tm) destined to save the world, you could pull the divine intervention card.

"I have Acted now, because you are needed, but due to my action here, the Great Evil has been permitted to set one of his agents loose upon the world. I will be unable to intervene again. Head to the town of McGuffinville and speak with the high priest of my temple, he will set you upon your path, but be wary of the Black Rider..."


Sniggevert wrote:
mdt wrote:


Then Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dead decided to go poke a hornets nest.

Thank you mdt. I nearly had coke on my monitor from this...

I had the same reaction.

I guess I shouldn't have left it out, but I was really brutal with the vampire family because there was more to why I thought this was stupid.

The party had met a number of npcs along the way that warned them about the people on the mountain top, each adding something to the story.

"They are cursed and can't come out in the sun."

"They are cursed. They are masters of magics relating to the element of fire, yet they can't come into the sun."

"They worship wolves and drink their blood. They eat human flesh and scream at the moon."

"Those people are cannibals. They drink human blood and eat our flesh. They kidnap people from the surrounding tribes and use them during the day as thralls."

So when they get there, the spend the night near by listening to these people laugh and scream and curse at one another in bursts all night. Imagine if Captain JTK showed up on one of those crazy planets, but the people were rednecks in a trailer park. Just before dawn, they vanish.

But you see, I went into really pains taking detail about the construction of the building they were in:

[img]http://passportmagic.wordpress.com/files/2009/04/yurt.jpeg[/img]

So why they went inside instead of knocking it down or cutting up the roof, I thought I'd never know: until the guy playing the dwarf who instigated this told me, "but John, we didn't think they would really be vampires."


Khuldar wrote:

Do you have an overarching story in mind? If the PCs are Epic Heros(tm) destined to save the world, you could pull the divine intervention card.

"I have Acted now, because you are needed, but due to my action here, the Great Evil has been permitted to set one of his agents loose upon the world. I will be unable to intervene again. Head to the town of McGuffinville and speak with the high priest of my temple, he will set you upon your path, but be wary of the Black Rider..."

No, while that would make it easy, there isn't any such thing.


Since the OP didn't directly address the question of how he portrayed the lethality of his campaign to his players when the campaign began, I will repeat myself.

If you want to maintain credibility as a GM, you have to stick to your stated principles. If you told the players that their characters could die, then you should not resurrect the rogue. It's that simple. If you did not, and you want your players to expect their characters to be able to do foolish things and not die, then by all means give the player back his rogue.

I would not do that. And every player I have ever had in one of my campaigns has told me that I am one of, if not the best, GM they have ever played with. And MOST OF THEM say that one of the best things about my campaigns is that they have an edge to them and the players know that THEIR CHARACTERS CAN DIE. They learn to play their characters much more carefully, and they take much more satisfaction in defeating powerful enemies because they know THEY EARNED IT.

That's just how I roll.


Too late for this now but, in my games, I tend to take the position that the players' characters are "smarter" than the players about the stuff they're undertaking.

It might not occur to our friends, who are safely eating chips in a comfy room, that when their characters are wandering around a vampire-infested burg at high noon they shouldn't go off-script by poking their snouts into dark buildings...but I bet it'd ring a bell with the folks who are really there.

I'll remind them, "Well, you snuck into town during the day to avoid the vampires so going into a building where they might be lurking would be counter to that, don't you think?" If they still want to do it then have at thee.

Sure, it's handholding...but it's less work than trying to figure out some way to bring back a beloved character after they've done something stupid (thereby rewarding the stupid). I know I've had my characters do foolish things that they never would have done and they paid the price for it. If my DM had said, "That's a bit silly, isn't it?" I might have changed my mind and done something sensible instead.

Just some thoughts.
M


cranewings wrote:

So I wacked a PC. I normally don't like doing it, but the lethality my players feel the game has adds something intangible to it, which I think is really important.

In short, the party just completed a quest, having destroyed an evil alter at high noon in a town mostly full of vampires. Well, the party came during the day to avoid them, but they had nearly lost one person fighting their minions. Both the casters were out of spells. It was time to go.

For some reason, two of the players, with no other help, decided to see what was in one of the buildings. I don't know why. In any case, the guy playing the rogue got yanked inside and stabbed to death. The party was forced to flee.

While it was completely his fault (in that all of the party's successful planning was to avoid confronting the vampires directly sense they are first level) because he picked a fight they had been working to avoid, I feel like it was a mistake to kill his character.

The guy who did it has a habit of getting killed in my games and I'm sure he isn't all together thrilled with his druid. He was pretty into the rogue.

I'm thinking of giving him a chance to bring the guy back. Maybe I can use the rogue as a "ghoul" or something and the paladin / party can attempt to restore him, thereby returning his preferred character.

While this would be "easy" to set up, I'm not sure I should. The deed is done and I'm basically pussing out here.

If there a way to pull off a "not really dead" without losing credibility? Is it in the difficulty of the quest?

I'll admit I'm unusually attached to the PCs in this game.

They are first level.

"Hi, here's a Rogue you totally don't know that is just like the other Rogue."


brassbaboon wrote:

Since the OP didn't directly address the question of how he portrayed the lethality of his campaign to his players when the campaign began, I will repeat myself.

I actually have a reputation as a killer GM with this group. I killed a PC the week before, and they think I have less of a problem with it than I do. I roll all my dice in the open and have a bad reputation with some other area gamers of letting the dice run my game.

Liberty's Edge

Cartigan wrote:


They are first level.
"Hi, here's a Rogue you totally don't know that is just like the other Rogue."

You can even make him the twin brother of the first one :-)


Cartigan wrote:
"Hi, here's a Rogue you totally don't know that is just like the other Rogue."

His twin brother! Fearing that his foolish, unnecessary-risk-taking brother was going to vamptown, he had a feeling something would go wrong. He finds the party, learns of his brother's horrible fate, and swears vengeance on the undead who killed him. He volunteers to accompany the party and end the menace once and for all.

Sure, it's cheesy. But, really, the whole game is cheesy. That's why I like it. No plot device is too hackneyed, as long as it gets the PCs in fights with monsters, and everyone's having a good time.


mearrin69 wrote:


Sure, it's handholding...but it's less work than trying to figure out some way to bring back a beloved character after they've done something stupid (thereby rewarding the stupid). I know I've had my characters do foolish things that they never would have done and they paid the price for it. If my DM had said, "That's a bit silly, isn't it?" I might have changed my mind and done something sensible instead.

I have a bit of the opposite feeling on this. I do more hand holding in modern / science fiction because the players might not know how something works (especially in science fiction). Pathfinder, outside of court politics and spellcraft, doesn't really have that...

and I hate it when people try to play my hand for me. Hand holding is about the same thing. Losing your agency to do whatever stupid thing you think of kills half the point of the game. I'd rather try to string it back together.


Benicio Del Espada wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
"Hi, here's a Rogue you totally don't know that is just like the other Rogue."

His twin brother! Fearing that his foolish, unnecessary-risk-taking brother was going to vamptown, he had a feeling something would go wrong. He finds the party, learns of his brother's horrible fate, and swears vengeance on the undead who killed him. He volunteers to accompany the party and end the menace once and for all.

Sure, it's cheesy. But, really, the whole game is cheesy. That's why I like it. No plot device is too hackneyed, as long as it gets the PCs in fights with monsters.

The paladin that got killed by a mob the week before inspired one of the onlookers to greater things: who then became a divine paladin with nearly the same stats and joined the party. (;

The Exchange

Twin brother with the same name, a la George Foreman's sons.

I created my own race where all males are identical, so I don't have to have a million twin brothers. :)


Hey, we've all had a 'new favorite 1st level character'. Oh well, I guess he should have been more careful, taken some hints from the 4 hp wizard.


My first ever campaign in D&D (1st edition) was one where I played two characters, a fighter and a wizard. I wrote them up as boyhood friends who went into adventuring together. After the first couple of sessions we paused that campaign and I took my fighter into a one-shot dungeon where he was killed by a giant scorpion. So, the GM at the time agreed to let my wizard go in to try to rescue him (the wizard didn't know he was dead, he only knew the fighter did not return from the dungeon). So the wizard went in alone, with the GM warning that the wizard was probably more likely to die than the fighter was, essentially telling me that he was going to kill my wizard too. But I had to role play the wizard as doing everything possible to save his friend.

Of course after losing my first character I was far more cautious and intelligent than I was with my fighter. The fight with the giant scorpion was one of the most epic ever in all my years of RPGing. My wizard barely survived but managed to kill the scorpion. In the lair the wizard found the dried up husk of the body of the fighter. He hauled the body out of the dungeon and back to the hovel they shared at the time, then went out to find a priest. Back then it was incredibly difficult to raise a dead character, and at low levels, the cost was pretty much out of reach. But there were more powerful spells at higher levels that could resurrect long-dead beings, so my wizard essentially stored the remains of the dead fighter until he could afford the spells to do the resurrection. Every one of those spells had a chance of failure, and one after another, each one failed. Eventually all that was left was a pile of lifeless dust.

The experience drove the wizard insane. This became a central element to the wizard's backstory and to this day that wizard is a dramatically more interesting character to play because of the experience. He is one of my all-time favorite characters, and the experience of losing his best friend is one of the critical aspects of why he is such a powerful and compelling character to play. In retrospect I wouldn't have it any other way. As much as I hated it at the time, that first character death enriched my role playing experiences so much that I think it made me a much better player and GM.

Just my $.02


In my games i don't pull my blows. I like to keep it "realistic" meaning if they die then they die. If the groups sorcerer goes into melee with a hill giant, chances are he is a red smear on the ground.

There is nothing wrong with doing that, as long as your not purposefully making encounters to kill PCs anymore than the NPCs would want to.

Being a PC doesn't make you immune to death, it just means that the story is about you. That Kobold tribe the PCs are trying to wipe out want to live just as much as the PCs do.

If you fudge dice and the PCs know it they will grow bolder in action until they are doing things that would be normally suicide, since they know that you won't kill them.

Dark Archive

cranewings wrote:
"Those people are cannibals. They drink human blood and eat our flesh. They kidnap people from the surrounding tribes and use them during the day as thralls."

Looks like he's lunchmeat then.

So no skeletal champion or ghoul PC, at best parts of him could used to make a doorstop or if he's lucky his skull could end up as a paperweight. Maybe you can have the vampires talk to it affectionately and call it by the dead pcs name.

And yeah, as mdt said - you never reward stupidity. Let him make up a brand new PC, don't force him to play something he isn't going to like.

Quote:
"but John, we didn't think they would really be vampires."

Best metagaming failure quote evah!


Yeah, I have to say I think you did it right, OP.

You had warnings before, they had a well-sensible plan, and then two people decided to go be heroes. That's how people die. There are 4-6 Heroes (plus familiars, mounts, cohorts, animal companions), not 2.

There are 3 rules in D&D...I mean Pathfinder:

1. Keep the fighters in front.
2. Don't split up the party.
3. Keep the clerics alive.

They clearly violated rule 2. If you must split up the party, you keep everyone close enough so that if stuff goes down, they can at least make an effort to support.

I have had 1 character die. It was not fun. 1st level Druid. My second-ever character (my first was also a Druid, I had 2 adventures with, and now that I had some experience, I gave it another shot, and made a new one). We were crossing a bridge, I think, and some monsters attacked us while we were on it. We got smashed by some monsters on the other side, but when combat started, I was on the bridge still. They cut the ropes. I got 2 checks to save myself, I think. Neither worked, and I plummeted 50 feet onto some spikes. Never had a chance.

As a GM, I have killed 3 characters. One I regretted, since I should have been aware of his HP as a Drow Wizard (1st level) and should have reduced the damage to not kill him, since he was really attached to his character, and was his most well-fleshed out character he ever made, and still is.

The second the PC deserved - a rope bridge to cross across a large chasm in a mountain. The first person to cross was the acrobatic rouge, who made his balance check - the PCs knew a balance check was necessary. The Marshall, in his heavy armor, crossed next, and didn't take off anything. He failed the DC 8 balance check, failed the hard reflex save, and fell into the river and died. He was massively depressed, but nothing could be done about it. They all knew a balance check was necessary.

The third was a fight against salamanders - he was a light fighter (Swashbuckler from Complete Warrior) and the party had no heavy fighter or healing source. He stayed in melee at 1HP, and he simply got struck down by a combination of a spear and fire damage.

It sounds like you did everything right - if he wants a rouge, let him play a rouge, but confirm your decision and let him know for certain - he died. He has a new character now. Try to play up the opportunity - he can play something else he had his eye on, or continue to do something he liked, such as the Rouge.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Regret Killing a PC All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.