View Full Version : PC Deaths

Paul Klein
24 January 2002, 05:27 AM
What are your opinions on PC deaths?

24 January 2002, 05:47 AM
I think it is apropriat to fudge the dice at certain times. if the PC's go out looking for a fight and they get them selves killed, to bad their dead.

if they just walk down the street in and they are mugged, but for some reason the dice want them dead

the Rodain youth mugs our lvl 7 jedi gaurdian with his bare fists, the jedi gaurdian never gets enough sucsess to even come near hiting the muger and is severly beaten to death with one critical hit from the muger

in this case i'm gona fudge the dice, if the PC however decides to pick on a Rodain youth, and the youth pulls out a heavy blaster and nails the PC in the face turning him in to an unidentifyable mass of ex-biomatter, then that charachtor is staying dead.....................

Rigil Kent
24 January 2002, 06:04 AM
My characters generally have script immunity and the players are aware of this; however, they are also aware that I won't hesitate to hit them in the teeth with a sledgehammer if they do something unbearably stupid ("I charge the 18th level Sith Master with my pointy stick!"). As a player in D&D, I get absolutely sick of GMs who kill a PC every other session, especially since it means you can't invest any real emotion or personality traits to a character since you know he's just another meat puppet.

I think that this is the real reason I generally go out of my to avoid killing PCs. If it is a dramatically appropriate moment, I might whack one but the story is more important than taking an hour out of the game for Bob over there to make a new character 'cause his 12th level Jedi got punked by a 1st level Mook. :D

24 January 2002, 06:36 AM
Personally I try to keep a sort of a near death score card, when you've had too many you probably deserve it (Although I do take into account the reasons why you've ended up there). In, my games characters typically have to worry about surviving, I make them difficult and challanging but also entertaining and creative, and usually bit of humorous. Usually I don't kill a character unless they've used up their preverbial nine lives, or I need to do so to make a point (sometimes as a plot device, sometimes because the character decided to be too heroic and did something really dumb in the process). I also will fudge rolls so that they don't die (but this depends on the reason). Since I have some GM PCs in the games they also have to worry about dying, I don't really distinguish (It also tends to make them really worry if one of my characters dies).

24 January 2002, 06:54 AM
Although i filled in the poll that i never change the die roll this is not always the case...

the characters i GM have a very real chance of dying ... and if the dice wants them dead... they're dead...
bad luck always happens and the occasional death (not to often... but it's a thin line) add an element of excitement in my opinion

I do make exceptions sometimes though... but i will decide on the exception before combat starts...

sometimes i involve a combat scene into the game just to get the characters in the mood... or to make them a bit more comitted to the story for instance... And i decide for myself that noone will die in this specific combat scene... since it was only meant to get the story going...
so in these cases i will fidget the dice rolls to save a character...

the characters never know this offcourse... and i trie to hide most of my rolls so that they never find out...

so to them every gunfight is really lifetreathening... while in reality it is not...

24 January 2002, 09:03 AM
There are too many variables to decide only one. I usually try to make PC death as dramatic as possible without tongue and check'n it. It would be kinda like your good friend dies, except your heroes (or villians that see themselves as right). So that can impact alot more lives and situations.

Also if it just happens in the middle of an unexpected combat I might let it go if the player doesn't care. Usually the players I have want one of those epic deaths. I'm a big fan of comic books so epic deaths of major PC do not bother me.

As far as the fudge'n of dice go it probaly 60:40. (60% I do, 40% I don't)

Mad Tech
24 January 2002, 09:32 AM
So far, I have GMed 7 SWd20 games of my on-going campaign. I have had characters drop to 0 WPs many times, but only one actual death. I later let the player use a Force Point to increase the result of the failed Fort save so that he actually passed it and survived.
If things are going bad for the players, I will often fudge a few die rolls to keep them from being killed, but if they get careless or over-confident, then I'll let them take a well deserved thrashing.

Mad Tech

24 January 2002, 10:15 AM
I've killed very, very few characters. Funny to me that I still manage to scare the crap out of them so often. There is one player who's convinced I won't kill anybody because I haven't since he started playing in our group...

Really, to do it well, you need to drop ALL of them within a few rounds of each other. Too many times a character has dropped and someone else stopped what they were doing to use a medpac during combat to stabilize their buddy. And when they go for the medpac, the rest of the group usually goes defensive and covers that person so they can concentrate and focus on the patient, not incoming blaster bolts.

In d6, I managed to get folks to Mortally Wounded several times, without fudging the dice. And most of them lived to tell about it, again without fudging the dice. We did have a house rule that when you hit Mort. Wounded you got a permanent scar. The folks in my group started trading war stories. "I got this one on Tahika, from an Imperial Storm Commando... whew he was a nasty one, too!" :)

In d20, I've whittled away their wound points and gotten several people "stunned" and a couple lost all their wounds and went unconscious. But somehow those were always the soldiers with the rocking Fortitude saves, so nobody's died outright yet.

Now, to actually answer the question. I guess since my games have a good feeling of tension and appropriate success so far, I haven't needed to fudge dice to keep them alive (or kill them off). I think I would fudge to keep them from dying needlessly (like from the rodian mugger with his bare hands). In a heroic campaign (even if they're playing Imps or other bad guys) I think that character death should be timely, meaningful, and dramatic.

Getting out of bed, tripping and falling, and hitting your head on the nightstand shouldn't be killing my characters...



24 January 2002, 10:19 AM
I only kill PCs when they do stupid things (and they are at or above the party's average level - I never kill the 1st level guy who just joined the group when all the other PC's are 10th level!!).

Sometimes a PC will even want to die, so I will ask.

Two weeks ago, a PC in my game charged into battle against a Force-User (double lightsaber wielding) bad-dude . . . and critically hit him, but not for enough to kill, and he made his Fort Save . . . then the bad dude spent a DS point and used a full-round attack on him . . . taking him into wounds (and he completely failed his fort save).

Then the rest of the round took place, and when then dude's turn came up in the next round, he was alone in the room, so I asked the player, "The bad-guy wants to do a Coup-D'Grace on you . . . will you get pissed?"

And he was like, "No, I already got an idea for a new character!" . . . and then he laughed as his 7th or 8th level Jedi got his head chopped off.

So . . . sometimes it's worth it just to ask.

Nerpine the Verpine
24 January 2002, 10:41 AM
In SW RPG, as well as D&D, I prefer the GM/DM to be honest. Yes losing a character by accident or coincidence really bites, but for me as a player, it's part of the game. One way the GM can overcome this is to allow any person whose character dies to roll up a totally new character whose level is determined by the average of the XP of the remaining PC's.

Example: 4th Scout dies because he forgot to unload his weapon before cleaning it. Or whatever. The other members of the group have an average of 5800 XP. The person running the Scout character can now begin rolling up a new character at level 3 and starts with 5800 XP. The GM may have some say as to what character type the new PC will be, and will determine the best time for the new PC to join the party.

This way, any time someone loses a character, even if by a stupid twist of fate, he/she would get the opportunity to create a whole new character and not have to start over from the very beginning (way behind the rest of the party). I have found this works well for keeping people from getting too upset about losing a PC. In fact it gives them a chance to try something totally new.

24 January 2002, 11:19 AM
In SW RPG, as well as D&D, I prefer the GM/DM to be honest.Thanks, Nerpine, you just reminded me of something.

When I play DnD, the dice are deadly. For me and my group, DnD is more nitty-gritty, combat oriented, and death happens much more often. When we play StarWars, we're playing SpaceOpera, and so death happens a bit less often.

Sure, it's possible to play DnD in a "heroic" fashion like SW, but we play the two games for two different reasons. We sort of keep them and their styles separate.



24 January 2002, 11:31 AM
I think that a little fudging here and there is good. If a character is going to die I generally prefer it to be in some heroic way. So if a GM were to have my character killed in a drunken brawl, I would be a bit mad, but would not complain. I have not had too many characters die and when they do it is usualy a sacrifice so that others may live.

Donovan Morningfire
24 January 2002, 12:16 PM
Ya know, I'm so glad my old Deadlands players aren't on this board. I'd be decried as a black-hearted fiend of the highest order :D

Anyrate, despite some stories that have been spread about me being a killer GM, I actually go a little out of my way to avoid killing PCs. It is rarely ever the result of a random roll of the dice, and I try to make it worthwhile (or at least memorable :D ). But you can only grant so much script immunity before PCs start abusing it. If they do something so totally brain-dead that killing them would be merciful, well then I show mercy :). That's not to say anything about stories or situations where the PCs wished they were dead, but then that's half the fun of being the GM :D

24 January 2002, 03:53 PM
I have been GMing for about a year now, never before participating in D&D or anthing like that, except in computer games. So, i didn't want to kill all my friends off because of the difficulty factor, so in some cases I would change the rolls. Only once has a char gone to 0 wound, but almost every battle do they drop to 0 vitality. Yet the trouble with now deaths is that if you play for along time you eventually get to lvl 20, and that is a bit unbalance, to have a bounty hunter the same lvl as Yoda! SO you gotta drop a character everyonce in a while to ensure balance in the game. So they gotta die sometimes, if anyone else has a piece of advice i would love to hear it.

24 January 2002, 04:01 PM
Hehe, i just read my own post, and realized it was a little unclear, sorry.

what i meant was that I usually change the rolls to ensure that character lasts for at least a few missions. BUt there must a line drawn, and if someone could help me to figure where that line should be, it would be greatly appreciated

24 January 2002, 05:53 PM
On this one, it's just really up to GM discretion. You don't want your players killed by some random puny npc due to a bad roll- that doesn't make any sense. However, SW is a dangerous universe, at least for PCs, and if they get smacked around in combat, well, manure occurs. At least in the d6 system, they'd have to either be really heroic (stupid?) be really unlucky, or really overmatched in order to run out of all charcter points, force points, what have you, and get nailed. A GM should never throw a character into a situation in which he/she/it is almost certainly going to get killed, but a well-done campaign could certainly include situations in which the characters have the option of going into a really dangerous situation because it is, emphatically, the Right Thing. Such situations make for great roleplaying.

And the GM can always reward them for their heroism by, in the end, not killing them off. Knocked unconcious and taken prisoner, reienforced at the last second, what have you.

A possible example thrown at my current charcter, a Jedi-in-training, involved facing down what's turning out to be the major nemesis in out campaign, a dark jedi Inquisitor. With the options of running away (not really an option at all; can anyone say "lightsaber throw"?) my character choose to fight; and although he did alright, was obviously overmatched. I grinned nervously and chanted the mantra under my breath "He wouldn't kill me off arbitrarily, He wouldn't kill me off arbitrarily, He wouldn't kill me off arbitrarily...." through the whole thing. Although I wasn't rescued, I wasn't killed, since this was only the 3rd or so adventure in our campaign- but I didn't win; instead, the sadistic Dark Jedi bastard settled for shattering every bone in my right arm instead. :D Ah, good times.

24 January 2002, 06:06 PM
I fudge the dice throughout the campaign. However, in the last section of the last adventure, "script immunity" is lost. That way a PC only dies in a meaningful scene that matters a lot. Plus, it is the last adventure anyway so sometimes players want their character to go out in blaze of glory.

As for stupidity, I have never had to deal with that issue. Although I've heard rumors of PCs taking on Star Destroyers with their ship...

Talonne Hauk
24 January 2002, 08:04 PM
In Star Wars, I find that it's a bit hard to really endanger the PC's. I have had to bend the rules a bit, but even then, the dice don't lie. So if a character rolls a natural one when trying to rappel down the side of the Emperor's Tower, well, adios amigo. However, Star Wars being what it is, there always seems to be a just-in-time rescue of some sort. My players work well, and are very clever, so I generally am not in the position where I have to make a judgement call like that. They usually can save their own hashes from the frying pan.

25 January 2002, 02:13 AM
Originally posted by Ralzma02
Hehe, i just read my own post, and realized it was a little unclear, sorry.

what i meant was that I usually change the rolls to ensure that character lasts for at least a few missions. BUt there must a line drawn, and if someone could help me to figure where that line should be, it would be greatly appreciated

Offcourse the decision where to draw the line is entirely up to you...
but i wouldnt advise to make it a set line...
i think most Gm's out there constantly move that line according to the current situation... mindset of the characters... etc...

But since you asked for advice on the subject i'll offer you my way of handling this delicate subject
Determine where to put the line exactly before a combat situation begins... I always consciously ask myself the following question when a certain combat scene presents itself...
"will it be possible for someone to die in this combat scene?? would it hinder the story if someone did... or is this really meant to be dangerous?"
If the answer is that this is supposed to be dangerous and that it is (maybe just a very remote chance) possible for someone to die... i will not fidget any die roll in any way...
If the answer is that this combat scene is not supposed to kill anyone or that it is not favourable for the story of someone dying at this scene... I will make sure that noone dies... but i still try not to let the character notice that they've been saved...in this case i will hide most rolls... if it possible for someone to die.. i will mostly roll out in the open...
So the line is drawn differently at every situation... but the characters would never know this... So that they do not start thinking that you just "suddenly decided to kill off" one of the characters...

So-Var Leet
25 January 2002, 06:57 AM
I believe our GM fudges the dice sometimes. I mean, sometime there are those days were it seems you just can't roll over a 10. :D

If I was the GM, I'd fudge the dice a little too. Granted, if a player rolled badly I wouldn't make it a clean getaway, but I'd beat them up a little.

25 January 2002, 11:22 AM
I look at this in the sense of computer games. We all like them and play them, some poeple like to play on the hard level for challange, while some like to play it safer and go with the easy level for the fun. I was looking at the dif×××ulty setting of Baldur's gate, (sorry for the free commercial). And I noticed that there were 3 lvls, basically easy, hard, and AD&D which was the hardest lvl. So it showes how difficult the AD&D rules are, as well as the WotC rules can be. Sso sometime you have to play on the easy lvl. that means letting the die roll in the favor of the chars occasionally. then when you get to higher lvls you can start uping the difficulty, thats how i do it, and it has worked well.

25 January 2002, 06:53 PM
Well, with me, i rarely fudge the die in the players favor. I'm one of those who looks at combat as the book says (DEADLY!!). As such, in my games DEATH is ever present, but it does NOT always occur.
For when i dm AD&D (still on 2nd ed only), i always have the players make up 2 characters, so that way, WHEN one dies, he/she always has a back-up. I say when, because i am not a whimp when it comes to killing a party member if the dice calls for it. But in some cases (vary rare), i will be leinent.

Case and point #1: At Gencon 1999, during one of my Gming sessions for starwars, the players are charging a group of well dug in regular imperial troopers (not stormies), and one of the leaders calls for a combined fire on the player with the lightsaber. Dice called for death. I Forced him to drop 2 FP, and left him at MW, with 1 limb blasted off.

Case and point #2: An ad&d game with my military buddies in Bahrain. Party hits one of my PLANED "random encounters", of 3 Manticores. One of the players had already lost 2 characters to these creatures in previous adventures, and was pissed. so he deliberatly called them out. HE DIED!

For note, when i Gm starwars, if a players roll is suckky enough to call for death (more than 16 under the damage roll), i will always say are you gonn'a leave that there. if they do NOT take the hint, and spend a character point, they are dead. If they do (or for what ever reason cannot), i place them at MW but roll 1D to determin the # of rounds before they are actually dead.
When i play ad&d, i always use the -10 hp death's door rule, and also have my own house rule that they can make a Con roll (with a minus to the roll equal to the negative hp value they are) to stay active for one more round, or until they take more damage.

25 January 2002, 08:09 PM
My GM is seriously sadistic. With Star Wars, he'll send in the entire local police force if even one person dies. With Vampire, we've got flamethrowers and clergy all over the place. We walked into a room where the prince was fighting off fanatics, and there were 20 NPCs all armed with flamethrowers. Needless to say, don't fire a gun and hit a gas tank :)