Just the RIGHT amount of death

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Ill-Fated Peasant
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Just the RIGHT amount of death

Post by Obrackenbury » Fri Dec 20, 2019 1:54 pm

I'm a very experienced GM/DM/Judge/whatever, and have played in a DCC campaign for a year as well as run some one-shots, but am only now a few sessions into running my first DCC campaign...and I'm starting to get nervous about death.


I ended my last OSR campaign in part because it had run long enough that the players were deeply in love with their characters - each other's, as well as their own - and even I would have been heartbroken if one of them had died. That limit soon made things a bit dull for yours truly, so I gracefully wrapped things up over a few sessions while plotting my next campaign with a very death-happy system in mind....Dungeon Crawl Classic!

Wanting to get my players really comfortable with character death, I actually ran two parallel funnels that fed their survivors into a third funnel like some deranged dungeon crawl uterus, birthing their level one characters out into my sandbox-y campaign proper. We're now four sessions in and a couple of level ones have bit the dust while the remainder are getting close to hitting level 2. In the last session, when a TPK looked possible, my players groaned at the thought of having to start over. Thankfully it didn't happen, but this finally brings me to my question:

How do each of you balance the need to keep death a real threat to your players while also respecting how invested in their characters they are by the time they hit levels two, three, or higher? This feels especially challenging when you have things like the Purple Planet disintegration rays (Fort save to avoid instant death!) present in a lot of the official modules. I don't want to neuter my campaign, but I also don't want to leave my players feeling frustrated or that their characters are interchangeable murder hobos not worth getting invested in.

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Re: Just the RIGHT amount of death

Post by GnomeBoy » Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:40 pm

My gut reacts with two things:

First, the foremost reason for playing RPGs is to have fun. Some folks find the possibility of character death anti-fun, and if you have a predominance of such opinions at the table, then modify the game. It could be as simple as giving them a "get out of death free card" type of item that works only X number of times. Yes, lots of folks discover that higher stakes make for MORE fun via playing DCC, but that's not all people everywhere, obviously. Do what you need to do that keeps you happy and keeps your friends at the table happy.

Next, if a character dies, make it part of the ongoing campaign that they are 'rescue-able'. Whatever that mechanism may be, maybe the player plays some other character for the short term, while the party 'rescues' their comrade from the grip of Death, Hades, Dimension Y, or wherever they are now... In this way you don't eliminate the chance of death, the risk is still there, but it can be mitigated through MORE PLAY, which sounds perfect to me. YMMV

In strange eons, even death may die. Assume this is a strange eon. 8)
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