What if that fighter doesn't die?
Recently in our AD&D2ed Game a wizard got kicked off the side of a cliff by a Rhemoraz. He landed in the bottom of a 100 foot gully, face first, on a broken spear being held by another unfortunate dead soul tossed there during the battle.
He was as they say well and truly dead. Before I had finished describing his fall I could hear the player tying up his new character over Skype.
That was a cut and dry death , the illusionist was in over his head and paid the ultimate price for party and kingdom. Pour some out for our fallen comrade, whats his name.
Not every character death is as cut and dry.
There are times when characters get the living crap beat out of them, but the situation is simply more mundane. Dice are fickle and even a careful player can get in over their heads pretty quickly.
Here is a proposal:
Use this If you are playing with characters anything over 5th level which I know is not high level by any means but it’s more about the player connection to the character than actual level. Once a character hits around 5th level, I have to assume the player has developed some affinity for it or else they would have done something suicidal and written up a new character.
If a player character falls below 0 hit points in a way that does not seem fitting to the status of the character (this would be a GM / Player discretion affair) And the party recovers the character.
Give the player an option:
Option One the character is dead:
Fair enough the player was not as connected to that character as you might have thought, cool your 12th level fighter got back stabbed by a thief, failed his poison save, and died alone in some shit filled city gutter .. heroic.
Option two Serious injury:
Perhaps the characters leg is broken, perhaps it's an arm, or some ribs. What ever the reason the character is going to be in bed for a while. The player is given a number of game sessions that the character must sit out. Give the player the option to play one of the characters followers or a party retainer. Give the player an excuse to take a break from the character that just went down in battle and try out a new character for a few games. At the end of the recovery period, the original character can com back with a good story and a cool new scar. The GM might want to subtract some attribute points or something of the sort, but that’s up the individual GM.
Option three the NPC rack:
The player might decide that the character has had a goo run and it's time for some new blood, but that the character is just to useful to let go of completely.
So the character can “retire” back to the parties home city. Open a bar, become a blacksmith, what ever. This is a good idea in that if your players are like mine they keep notes, notes that might contain information the party could use latter. If the old character is now a merchant in town, the party could go back to their old friend and ask about the information. The old party member might even become a source of new quests or adventure hooks. Either way I gives the part a solid connection to the home town.
This Idea becomes especially interesting as the original party members start to thin out through attrition, there might be one old timer left and a few new wet behind the ears characters traveling around with him.
How cool would it be to take the new guys to the a local farmer and introduce him as “Your old friend Muhdin who you used to adventure with.
”Muhadin was with me that night and he might remember where that abandon mine was located..”
It comes down to Hit points are not a direct measurement of how close to death the character is. It's not like every time a character looses a hit point one of his or her fingers gets lobbed off. (though that's awesome.)
HP are a measure of the ability to avoid damage, soak damage and ignore damage. So logically having 0 hit points does not have to mean your character's head falls off. (Or negative Hp if you swing that way, I use dead at 0 because I'm a prick)
Zero hit points could simply represent the inability to continue, the inability to adventure further, exhaustion, injury, a broken spirit, a failing of bravery. So why not let that character that has been built up has a history, has knowledge, has built in connections, become a resource for the campaign and continue on in some other capacity?
Thank you for reading , let me know what you think.
Give it a try.
Drop some knowledge in the comments section below.