Saturday, April 12, 2014

How Often Do You Kill - PCs?

There are Killer DMs, Carebear DMs and then most of the rest taking up somewhere in the middle.

Me? I don't particularly enjoy killing PCs. I, however, have no problem when their own actions lead to their demise. Most of the time I find it amusing. It removes that little bit of guilt from my DM's soul ;)

I am certainly a "let the dice fall as they may" type of DM, which can obviously lead to PC death, but I'm not so fond of "save or die" situations. Yep, not so simple to peg.

What kind of DM are you when it comes to PC mortality?


  1. Let the bodies hit the floor. PCs seldom die by sheer randomness they usually die when they make a poor decision. What value is there in fake victory without fake defeat?

  2. I'd say I'm right in the middle. And depending on the day, I may be a little more to one extreme or the other.

  3. I try very hard to be as neutral as possible about it. I let the dice fall where they fall (though truth be told, I hold my breath, hoping I roll a "1" for damage every time a PC gets hit). But I never take a "gotcha" approach, and I always try to give the PCs enough info to weigh the probabilities before the dice decide the outcome.

  4. I do my best to be neutral, like Chris C.

    I'm a killer GM in that I really try to kill the PCs in combat, and I feel badly when my monsters and NPCs don't roll well. But I'm equally hoping the PCs win and pull off cool stuff and live. I don't like to set up "save or die" situations, although I'm fine with save or die being at the end of a cascade of bad luck combined with player errors. I try to give the players all the tools they need for victory and then try to beat them anyway.

    Some of this depends on the game - some games I have run were cheerfully lethal, and others made PC death such a rarity that only a tiny fraction of the players ever made more than their first guy for the life of the campaign. I'm neutral about their victory or defeat, though.

  5. I try to push the limit without actually killing the PCs if it's at all plausible, but I can't control the dice, so sometimes I do it accidentally (which is of course intentional).

    I don't like "save or die", so I play it "die or save". That is, I present a situation, telegraph as hard as I can that it's deadly, and if the PC still goes for it and fails, then instead of the death he deserves, he gets a "Hail Mary" save to try to survive despite himself.

  6. When I was younger and we played all the time, dying was no big deal, we had a book of the dead for all the character's that got stacked up from grievous injuries and bad decisions. As a young DM I was probably more adversarial in my style, while not a killer, I tended to cut little slack. By the time college came about and time was tighter and I matured, I tended to warn player if they had a lethal choice coming up that could be avoided. The dice could still kill you with lethal rolls, but I tried to weed out encounters or situations that offered little choice other than a die roll. These days I am still a let the dice fall where they may, but I tend to warn characters about impending doom. Sometimes with the younger players I am trying to teach the hobby, I feel like the voice of Gauntlet. "The fighter needs healing - badly." "The cleric is about to die."

  7. very rare - cthulhu my exeption - you gotta be pretty dumb and possibly annoying to die in my games and worse fates than death - reincarnation table a hoot

  8. I've never had to kill a PC. But I've had plenty of PCs kill themselves.

    I want the players to succeed, but to do that in a meaningful way means I have to play the monsters like they want to live.

    I don't set up save-or-die situations. Even if I don't have a way out planned, I will allow a good plan to succeed.

  9. DMs don't kill PCs.
    Player choices kill PCs.
    At least that is how it works chez moi, and I let players know this from the start.

  10. Hmm. Normally I try not to kill PCs unless their choice is obviously just downright stupid.

    Still, there have been times when I've thought about being a grizzled and hardened DM veteran, chewing on a cigar stub while grimly slaughtering the players. Each death would result in the player having to submit to a plaster mold of their head which would then be used to fashion replica character skulls that could be mounted on the wall as a reminder to all of the survivors. But usually those thoughts only creep up when I'm dealing with someone who won't be invited back :)

  11. I really do my best not to.. but it happens sometimes..

  12. I've expected the Dungeon my group is trudging through to take a few casualties so far but they've been playing very smart and cautiously after I warned them of the lethal nature of an Old School game. So far, zero deaths, that may change tonight!

  13. If you kill your characters, you can't continue to torture them.

  14. Kill 'em all! Better roll up some spares before we start a session. Someone's gonna bite the dust more likely than not.


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