Claws and Teeth: Character Death in Games

As a fairly new GM and player, it’s understandable that I haven’t experienced my first character deaths until late. First it was one of my friend’s characters, Nyx the Wild Magic gnome Sorceress (we liked to call her the 420Mancer because we’re all a bunch of immature college students at the time). Cleaved in half by a Solar, a massive green skinned angel with a holy greatsword, her corpse fell to the earth below as her party members were showered in her blood. 

Today though is a different story.

Syrilith is a Faerie Dragonborn who has taken up the mantle of a Summoner (which the GM graciously let me test-run my homebrew class to make sure base mechanics were solid and not overpowered). Prideful of her art form, she doesn’t take it lightly when other magic-users come into the party makeup and hoards books when she can. I like to describe her as a librarian from hell, while others have given her the titles of Angry Blue Iguana and Squish. The party Orc Barbarian is responsible for the latter of the two.

Once reaching level five though, that was when she had near death experiences. First it was at the jaws of a Giant Crocodile, who decided she looked like a tasty snack. Jaws clamping her lower body and tossing her like a rag doll, the Grim Reaper seemed to be playing with her lifeline.

At the latest session last night (it’s around seven A.M.when I’m typing this up), and at the hands of trolls, she takes a total of over thirty damage in two turns. How our GM described it: “Claws and teeth in vital organs, arms being ripped out from the sockets”. I imagine her wings also furled up as well.

After this deadly encounter, Urd the full-Orc Cleric of Davian decides to cast a spell which made her corpse re-animated and his personal meat puppet. Syrilith is now an undead NPC, and I am out of a character.
I’m a little salty about her passing but not too much: it’s a short campaign, and amazed that she hadn’t died sooner, quite frankly. A d8 hit die and light armor keeps you alive for only so long! But I managed to see the campaign out until the last two or so sessions so I’m happy about that.
But how though do you deal with the death of a character?

Many times, the GM will just have you make a new character to fill the void in the party at someone’s passing. Sometimes it feels off for that character to join, especially if they die late in the campaign. At that point, is it even worth it to roll up a new character?

I have a rule in my own games, where I roll a d100. If I get certain die rolls, a character has the chance to come back as a multiclass Warlock. An otherworldly patron has become interested in the now deceased character, so it is their choice whether or not to act on their promises at servitude and a continuing of their lifestyle but with what cost?

But let’s get a conversation going. How do you treat the death of a character? Type put your responses below!

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One thought on “Claws and Teeth: Character Death in Games

  1. It depends. I’m game for trying out different combinations of character races/classes/backgrounds. If I’m already feeling like the crust is growing on a character, I’ll begin to play them like a suicidal maniac. Yes, I’m fixin’ to get killed, but then again, if they’re surviving and I’m pushing them to the limit, perhaps the character has finally emerged into somewhat of a likable PC. Or, if I am really enjoying a character, I’ll be more thoughtful and take the time to explore who this character is and what they mean to the party or even to me as a player.

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