Gamemaster’s Guidepost: Character Death – Part II

And we’re back! Still talking about character death, its causes, possible outcomes, and what you can do about it.

Well. That Was a Dumb Idea
It’s happened to all of us. We went left when we should have gone right. You weren’t paying attention entirely to the GM when he spilled a crucial bit of information. Welp…nothing to do now. You screwed up. There are no taksies backsies (or are there? That’s the GM’s call). Time to cowboy up and see if you can salvage the situation. Or…if your actions resulted in death…time to make a new character. The merciful GM will either let you buy a Extra Life or give you some bonus points when making your new character. Maybe consider buying Common Sense with Inspired this time? 😉

Intentional Death and Self-Sacrifice
Losing a character isn’t always about bad rolls or stupid decisions. Sometimes it’s a very deliberate, very thought-out  collaborative decision between the player and GM. Sometimes it’s something born out of an event that happens in game that offers a pure roleplaying moment. Self-sacrifice can be as intentionally rewarding and gut-wrenching as anything else. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Some of the most visceral moments I’ve ever experienced in gaming have stemmed from a moment where a player has stayed behind to buy time for the other players to do what needs to be done. When this happens, you, as the GM, need to step back and let it happen. The player would have never done what he did without thinking about it. Just. Let. Him. Do. It. Better yet, stack the odds against him. Where there was a dozen orcs cutting off the escape of the players before make it twenty or forty or more – but not too much. In short, make it epic. Make it so epic that your players will never forget that moment in your shared gaming history. Make it so that they will tell other gamers at different tables. If you’ve done it right – they’re going to be talking about it for years to come. Depending on how it occurred, you, as the GM, might feel obligated to let the character come back to life – unless the player wants that, don’t. You’ll cheapen the moment.

It Turns Out, He Was Only Mostly Dead.
Death – especially in GURPS can be extremely final in some campaigns…not so much in others. I’ve talked about Extra Life before. But this isn’t the only answer. Entire game sessions could be built around the other characters getting their dead (or mostly dead) compatriot to someone who can help. Of course, this also begs the question of what the dead/mostly dead’s player is going to do during that time. A few suggestions are here.

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