Friday, April 18, 2014

...but you're dead Billy!!

Character deaths are more an inconvenience than anything else in a majority of games I have played, granted I have a short history in the RPG tabletop gaming area (about a year now) but aside from having to roll a new character there was no incentive to not play my characters a bit haphazardly, so I have decided on a couple ways to make it more interesting for both the players and the DM.

What could possibly make death more interesting you ask?

Good question, allow me to explain a bit of back story. I am currently putting together plans to run my first game as a DM, I have been reading books, listening to podcasts, building characters, scribbling outlines of basic concepts and generally over thinking the whole process as I do. It all kind of fell apart when it came to how I am going to handle character deaths (actually just one of many spots) and after some thinking I came to the conclusion that an adventurer needed a proper burial once the battle dies down and it must be in accordance to their religion of choice or they must carry the body out if a funeral cannot be carried out. I mean deep in the darkness of a dungeon is not a proper place for an Elf to be buried after all.

If this is not done there needs to be a penalty right? But of course I want it to be fun for everyone and the dead guy isn't having much fun sitting there watching his corpse rot is he? So if a proper burial is not performed and everyone goes about robbing the body (we all do it right?) of all the useful stuff. After a time (to be determined) the dead character rises to play as a zombie with goals and some skills remaining.

My thought on this was they get basically half skills, no magic abilities and can only use basic weapons or surrounding objects as weapons if their weapons have been stolen. Movement speed becomes halved and intelligence is dropped to that of just above a zombie so they still have some tactical knowledge and no speech skills to explain their intentions. Again this isn't completely worked out but the idea being that they have to retrieve all items taken from them by the players and if this goal is accomplished (not likely) the character is returned to life with penalties placed until such a time as they can be healed properly through ritual, if they fail and the players kill the zombie character then that character is dead and must roll a new one.

Wow John, that sounds like a lot to worry about when all I want to do is move on with the game.

Is it really? In real life there is a grieving process and a funeral for a person who has passed. So how do I handle this in a more detailed form? Well having not yet implemented it and this post being part of my fleshing out process, I have decided that all characters take penalties to a variety of skills for a period of time (not yet determined). The idea behind this is again they are grieving for their friend so things like concentration for spells, called shots etc. would be skewed.

I have not set in stone what the penalties would be for the various issues and will be working on this a bit further to hopefully create some kind of a table based on character class and skill levels. It is a slow process for me as I am still learning a lot but wanted to toss the idea out into the wild with the intention of getting a bit of feedback from others on it and it's implementation.

Have you done something similar to this to make death either more realistic or more traumatizing to the party?

If so how or what did you do?

Leave comments and feedback below, all is appreciated and more thoughts on this and other oddball ideas to come in future posts.


After posting this I realized I had not given proper credit to +Gamerstable and their podcast for inspiring this idea after listening to their podcast relating to character death.

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