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Old 10-11-2018, 03:14 PM   #1
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Killing PCs

So, I was wondering, when do you kill PCs? Is it just random luck, consequences for in game actions, or planned fatalities?
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Old 10-11-2018, 03:21 PM   #2
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

Usually it's because "Oops, overtuned that encounter" or just "wow, your dice suck tonight", though player stubbornness is often a factor (they could have retreated when it became obvious that they were losing, and didn't).
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: Killing PCs

It happens very seldom in my game, and is generally from unlucky rolls catching up with a PC. Every so often it's the result of the players insisting that they can take an opponent that they really shouldn't be attacking, rather than leaving it or leaving and returning with more firepower and/or a better plan.
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
So, I was wondering, when do you kill PCs? Is it just random luck, consequences for in game actions, or planned fatalities?
Yes.


Though honestly, Character death is relative infrequent in my games. I don't run old school, I prefer to see the story get to shine, so I like to give them plenty of opportunities to pull back before plunging off the cliff into Character Death.
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:27 PM   #5
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

Yeah, I think the odds of one or more PCs dying in a session I run is maybe 2% (so for a game that runs less than 50 sessions, good chance no deaths at all). That makes me a 'killer GM' by the standards of groups I've gamed with recently.
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Yeah, I think the odds of one or more PCs dying in a session I run is maybe 2% (so for a game that runs less than 50 sessions, good chance no deaths at all). That makes me a 'killer GM' by the standards of groups I've gamed with recently.
As long as you aren't putting a Plotco lock on doors to prevent the "RUN AWAY!" tactic from working, it's not your fault if the PCs fight to the death.
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:08 PM   #7
mr beer
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

It's rare but not unheard of. Kind of depends on the type of game I'm running. I like long running campaigns which become somewhat flavourless IMO if you have high PC turnover. Sometimes I run more meatgrinder-style dungeon bashes, in which case character death is more common.

Reasons for PC death in my games are usually a) bad luck coupled with a tough encounter or b) poor tactical player decisions and c) player is bored of that character and wants them killed off instead of retiring (generally resolved via option b).
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Old 10-11-2018, 05:44 PM   #8
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Default Re: Killing PCs

I'm an acolyte of John Wick, so I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't kill a PC unless it moves the story forward. And then, only with the player's permission. But, players also shouldn't try to protect their characters, they should be willingly exposing them and their weaknesses to tell a more interesting story.

Drama doesn't come from spontaneous death. You can't do anything to a dead character. But a living character . . . you can do so much to them. So many things.

All that said, I do, sometimes, invoke Dire Peril and the players know that I'm no longer pulling my punches and that character death is a possibility because of how dangerous the situation is.
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by Mark Skarr View Post
I'm an acolyte of John Wick, so I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't kill a PC unless it moves the story forward.
G/N/S theory has its problems, but this is a prime example where it describe something relevant, because that's basically a narrativist way of looking at PC death. By comparison
  • In Gamist play, the character dies because that's what the rules and the dice said happened. This can be modified or eliminated by choice of scenario and rules, gamist play likely insists on a chance to lose, but dying is not needed.
  • In Simulationist play, the character dies because that's what would happen. Simulationist play is probably the most prone to highly mismatched fights.
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Old 10-11-2018, 06:35 PM   #10
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Default Re: Killing PCs

I never plan a fatality. They've been known to happen, though, due to bad dice or bad player decisions. (When the GM says 'I suggest you duck' and instead the PC raises his head for the better look, well... okay, that player was an idiot.)

The general idea is that agreeing to play in my game means accepting the possibility of taking enough damage to kill you. I don't go for "save or die", and I won't target a character specifically for death, though most adversarial NPCs will go for the kill (but not always stick around to get killed; running away to live and fight another day is always on the table).
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