One of the hardest things about rpgs [sic] isn’t prep, or out-maneuvering Advanced Gaming & Theory
dragons but keeping a group of players engaged in what you are doing on a long term basis. –
Part of the challenge of any game is that you can lose. People tend to be competitive in many endeavors, not just games, and they want to win. If they know they can win, most games, and roleplaying games are no exception, become boring and stale very quickly. The very real risk of losing keeps a game fresh and interesting.
While most roleplaying games are not the game master versus the players, they are the players versus the environment.The environment challenges the players and in the form of actual terrain, monsters or villains presents the players with the challenge to beat it and achieve the goal thereby “winning the game”.
There are many ways to lose. If the characters have a goal of getting the Mining Pick +8 vs Adamantine, then not getting it will be a loss. A monster they choose to avoid goes around them and ravages the village they base their operations from and becomes a less concrete loss as it affects their ability to use that base of operations but its a loss nonetheless. Even a miss in combat can be a loss if they care enough about winning the combat. And of course, they can die.
Character death should be a normal part of a well balanced but challenging adventure with natural consequences for poor choices. – DND Corner
I disagree. Character death is the worst way a player can lose. Either they have to roll a new character and completely lose all the investment they’ve put into the one that just died, both emotional and in terms of time, or they’re out of the scene and can just sit there and watch everyone else have fun.
In addition, I challenge the entire premise. Books and movies are excellent examples of my point of view. The main character isn’t going to die and you know it the entire time. No matter how steep the cliff, how deadly the bullets, how invasive the poison, the hero lives and we still have engaging blockbuster films and New York Times Bestseller novels. Why? Because the Story is Just That Good.
I don’t kill characters. Let me amend that – I don’t kill characters who are trying their best. Someone who’s being stupid will die in a heartbeat in one of my games. But a player who really tries to do his best, even though he sucks at it, has the reassurance I will make him fail in any other way than killing his character.
This has the added benefit that my players aren’t afraid to try new and imaginative solutions. The ideas might not work but if they put real effort into it, death won’t be the penalty. Players will always think of things GMs won’t – that almost an axiom at this point in gaming. Voicing the things they think of should be encouraged.
A party who ignores the bright yellow sign saying that there’s a poison cloud in the canyon dies. The party who tries to find a way to survive by circumventing that cloud will live even if they might not get the Mining Pick in the hut at the end of that canyon.
But the longer I played the more it became apparent that the players in my game also knew I didn’t want to kill anyone. That became a downhill slide that eventually removed any attempt at “realism” in my game. The players developed an attitude that was even cockier then most adventurers. They were unafraid, unchallenged, and eventually became uninterested in what was happening in the game. – RoleplayingPro
If characters are cocky about dying, the story isn’t good enough. There is no emotional investment in what is going on. The challenge shouldn’t be in if a character lives or not but in if they can acheive other goals. If they don’t care about those goals enough then even character death won’t make the game any more interesting or keep it from getting stale and boring.
So instead of killing the character destroy the goal, kill the NPC, ravage the village. But leave the PC alive to try another day and even more importantly – suffer the consequences of failure. The players are your heroes. A hero should live long enough to save the world.