2019-03-09 Lethality

I wanted to talk about the lethality of my games. In a recent blog post I talked about the importance of character death and the threat of character death. In another, much older post I mentioned that my parties are usually very big: between ten and fifteen characters, plus a handful, of dogs or other pets.

So, how much death is there? I’ve kept track. In my current campaign (Razor Coast/Status) we had 38 sessions, 8 characters died and 1 character retired (blind); in my previous campaign (Castle of the Mad Archmage/Status) we had 67 sessions, 12 characters died, 2 were petrified, 1 turned into a werewolf, and 1 character retired (lost both legs). Raising characters from the dead is super rare because the spellcasters to do it are very rare. In total, these stats cover 105 sessions and 25 characters lost, i.e. a tiny bit less than one character every four sessions. I do not differentiate between main characters and retainers.

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I’d also like to point to blog post from 2011 where I talk about the transition from low level play and fear of death to mid level play where those characters that have formed attachments with the setting can also be threatened via the places and people they are now attached to – but it doesn’t happen with all the players. A certain level of empathy is required, and the readiness to let yourself be sucked into the setting. And that requires a certain level of trust for the referee. If players are conditioned to expect death to come for everybody they love in the setting, then they will harden, obviously. Thus, both players and referee must listen for those small cues that signal the readiness to get involved in adventures relating to loved ones.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-03-10 10:37 UTC


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