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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    In 32 years of playing tabletop RPG's, I think I've killed - as the GM - maybe 5 characters, tops. I've had even fewer die as a player.
    Tangent: Number of character deaths is not a good metric: it could be because the DM isn't putting up potenially deadly challenges. But it could also be the DM is just doing that but the players are skillfull/powerfull/lucky enough to get their characters through.

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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    In 32 years of playing tabletop RPG's, I think I've killed - as the GM - maybe 5 characters, tops. I've had even fewer die as a player. And most of the characters that have died at my table were when someone wanted to reroll.

    It doesn't just 'happen eventually'. If you set out to have a bloody campaign, then sure, eventually it will get bloody, or you're not doing it right. But defeat can take many forms, and it's not difficult to avoid outright slaughter if that's what you want.
    It most certainly can "just happen".

    The last three campaigns I ran to completion, all with the same pool of players had radically different lethalities. My WFRP Enemy Within campaign (arguably a much more lethal system than D&D) ran to completion without a single character death (in a group of 6 players), whereas my Dark Heresy campaign (6 players, 3 the same from the WFRP game) saw two character deaths, and my Ravenloft campaign (8 players, everyone from the WFRP game) saw eleven character deaths, with only two players making it from start to completion on a single character, one player losing four characters (I love you Sam, but you're a ****-up ), two characters being killed by the party itself, and four characters going down in a single session.

    The secret is to not have any preconceived goal of how the campaign will go, just set it up and see where it ends up. And surely, isn't that the number one rule that DM's should abide by?

    It seems odd to me. Railroading is universally despised, being a killer-DM and purposefully killing characters is viewed as a cardinal sin, and even fudging dicerolls is a contentious subject with many viewing it as a deeply unfair practice. Yet, perplexingly to me, sheltering and protecting characters (without the players knowledge and permission) is quite frequently given a pass. To me, it is no different than railroading or fudging dice, it is the DM making a choice for the players, taking away their agency. I sincerely believe that a DM that purposefully and deliberately keeps a character alive is no better than one that purposefully kills one; in both cases, it was not their decision to make.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    Tangent: Number of character deaths is not a good metric: it could be because the DM isn't putting up potenially deadly challenges. But it could also be the DM is just doing that but the players are skillfull/powerfull/lucky enough to get their characters through.
    Could be any number of things. It is, in this case, a concensus built over time by a tight group of friends. But a good tangent all the same. I think any group - to remain together over time - needs to reach some form of agreement, stated or otherwise, of what type of game they want.

    What would be a better metric though? No matter how you put it, we're measuring rubber bands here =)

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    Yet, perplexingly to me, sheltering and protecting characters (without the players knowledge and permission) is quite frequently given a pass.
    Because more peoples implicitly give the permission to their DM to do so, and assume this permission is implicitly given by most other players.

    While explicit permission is always better (hence session 0), most tables still work through implicit permissions given by the tone of the campaign, and whatever previous experiences the players.
    (Which in case of modern audience, video-game-RPG is most likely part of them, and those do not hesitate to railroad and shelter players through plot convenience or easy resurrection / save&reload. They even frequently fudge rolls too, but that one is rarely openly assumed by the game...).

    In fact, outside of those forums, I don't see that much complaints against railroading.
    Sure, most prefer not having a railroaded campaign, but it's not at the point of being "despised".
    (Fudging rolls would probably get a lot more hate than railroading in a D&D campaign, at least among the players I know)
    Last edited by MoiMagnus; 2019-11-12 at 06:58 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    Because more peoples implicitly give the permission to their DM to do so, and assume this permission is implicitly given by most other players.
    I have seen severe misunderstandings both way. That is the problem with implicit agreements. That is why session 0 and explicit agreements are better

    But as long as the DM only does what he thinks he has an implicit agreement to do, it is still morally fine.

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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    Kill his character. Kill the next two or three too. Easiest way to get over this particular hangupu is to just confront it directly. Tell him you're doing it up front, afterwards, or not at all. That's up to you and how you think they'd handle that particular bit of knowledge.
    I guess that's a way to solve that problem, considering that he'll propably be gone after the first death, certainly after the second or you admitting you're doing it on purpose. But at that point, you can kick him out of the game and save some time.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Switch to Dungeon Crawl Classics, or Basic D&D, or Paranoia. That'll get him used to the idea that charcater life is cheap, and it's all about how heroically you die. Or how many other Pcs you take with you, for the last.

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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    It most certainly can "just happen".
    Of course it can. IF you push the envelope of what is survivable for PC's - then they will die. If you play with a high level of randomness, PC's will die.

    If you do not, generally speaking, they won't.

    I don't coddle players, but I play with easily controlled variables. Because I roll many attacks with low damage rather than a few for high damage, I very rarely get random swings that kill my PC's. And then, occasionally, I will have an enemy capable of 1-shotting (more of less) a PC on a lucky roll - but I'll have a backup plan, because I don't ever go out of my way to kill my PC's.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    The secret is to not have any preconceived goal of how the campaign will go, just set it up and see where it ends up. And surely, isn't that the number one rule that DM's should abide by?
    Surely not. As GM, you're the boss, and the PC's are your employees. It's your job - your #1 rule - to provide a safe, fun and engaging workplace environment, as well as relevant challenges to the skills and abilities of your workforce. And if, in the course of those things, unavoidable accidents happen, then so be it. Sometimes, you cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Switch to Dungeon Crawl Classics, or Basic D&D, or Paranoia. That'll get him used to the idea that charcater life is cheap, and it's all about how heroically you die. Or how many other Pcs you take with you, for the last.
    And why would a player who doesn't want his characters to die agree to play one of those systems ?

  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Surely not. As GM, you're the boss, and the PC's are your employees. It's your job - your #1 rule - to provide a safe, fun and engaging workplace environment, as well as relevant challenges to the skills and abilities of your workforce. And if, in the course of those things, unavoidable accidents happen, then so be it. Sometimes, you cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
    {Scrubbed}

    Aw hell naw. This is a game, dude, not a job. The GM is not "the boss" even if his position does give hiim some authority. If you make a living world with several concurrent happenings, you can let the players decide which of those happenings, if any, they want to engage with. If they'd rather go monster-hunting or dungeon-crawling, that's fine too. You don't have to direct things along only the one true plot you decided on before they ever rolled up their characters. I'd argue that you're doing them a pretty substantial disservice to do so, in fact.

    As for in-character risks, they're a part-in-parcel to the whole adventure genre. If they're not really there then you're just telling a story and you don't need game mechanics for that. Worse still if the risk is absent because you're fudging rolls on your side of the screen. Then you're letting them think they're playing a game when they really aren't. They're just bit-players in the story -you- are telling rather than even telling a story together.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And why would a player who doesn't want his characters to die agree to play one of those systems ?
    He probably wouldn't and you'll have solved the problem. Might have a new one if you don't have enough players without him or if you meet at his house or something like that but that -is- another problem.
    Last edited by Ventruenox; 2019-12-09 at 12:57 PM. Reason: Cleanup, Aisle D&D
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    Kelb, recently it looks like you're the Avatar of Reason in these forums, man.
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  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Surely not. As GM, you're the boss, and the PC's are your employees. It's your job - your #1 rule - to provide a safe, fun and engaging workplace environment, as well as relevant challenges to the skills and abilities of your workforce. And if, in the course of those things, unavoidable accidents happen, then so be it. Sometimes, you cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
    No. This is all wrong.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And why would a player who doesn't want his characters to die agree to play one of those systems ?
    Good point.

    Guess the OP will just have to fall back on the solution of just killing the character a bunch until the player gets over this phobia. Because clearly the answer is exposure therapy without consent.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    The secret is to not have any preconceived goal of how the campaign will go, just set it up and see where it ends up. And surely, isn't that the number one rule that DM's should abide by?
    Although I liked your post in general, I just wanted to call out this particular passage as a thing of beauty.

    That said, just like "not killing PCs", it is technically something with multiple right answers, dependent upon the table.

  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    I kinda want to know how it's going...
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  15. - Top - End - #45
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by GrottoSteelKlaw View Post
    ...I want to prepare them for that, even if it means making 10 characters you may never ever get the chance to play.
    Based on 90% of the many, many players I know, this is not the norm. I know that some like to make many character sheets, and consider character building almost as a side hobby, and there is nothing wrong with that. But I would never have the expectation that someone made extra character sheets and kept them up to date while their current character was still in play.

    My advice would be to tell the player that if the character gets into dangerous situations, there is a risk that they will get hurt. If the character would happen to die, you will offer to help them create a new character that fits well into the group.

    Dont go out of your way to kill the character, but also dont fudge to save them.

    I will add that if I get the feeling that a GM is killing my characters more than I expect for that game/genre, my characters will become more and more 2 dimensional. I will most like lean towards silly characters or psychopaths, because those are easy to pick up and roleplay, and I dont need to spend a lot of time developing the personality.
    This is not me trying to bring boring characters to the game, but I expect to spend more time playing the character, than I spend on building and developing the character.
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  16. - Top - End - #46
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    It most certainly can "just happen".

    The last three campaigns I ran to completion, all with the same pool of players had radically different lethalities.
    I would argue that Warhammer and Ravenloft are both examples of "setting out to have a bloody game."
    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    The secret is to not have any preconceived goal of how the campaign will go... I sincerely believe that a DM that purposefully and deliberately keeps a character alive is no better than one that purposefully kills one; in both cases, it was not their decision to make.
    You can have both, in systems where running out of HP results in stable unconsciousness instead of system spiral. Before introducing an NPC into the situation, you just answer the question "if this npc, in pursuit of their goals, reduced this player to 0 HP, what would they do with them?" And if the answer is "kill them immediately" you just rewrite the npc until that doesn't seem like a plausible response.
    There's a lot of waking up in ogre caves as they try to get the fire going under their man-sized stew pots, but not much dying.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Surely not. As GM, you're the boss, and the PC's are your employees. It's your job - your #1 rule - to provide a safe, fun and engaging workplace environment, as well as relevant challenges to the skills and abilities of your workforce. And if, in the course of those things, unavoidable accidents happen, then so be it. Sometimes, you cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
    Down one great, sad, branch of my Never-when's is the life where I became a sociologist of gaming, and wrote a whole book on how the metaphors we appeal to to explain the game's social dynamic correspond to what we consider appropriate table behavior.
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  17. - Top - End - #47
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Count me as another voice less-than-convinced by Kelb's advice, though ironically not because I am pretty averse to character death (though that is true about me; character deaths leave me feeling physically ill). Rather, it's because that is a pretty friggin cruel thing to do to a friend, whether you tell them or not. "I'm going to make you suffer until the pain stops bothering you!" Who says that? I want to know so I can avoid ever associating with that person!

    Part of the problem, Kelb, is that you act as though character death is unavoidable. It's not. There are multiple ways to address it. You do not have to be fudging rolls nor pulling punches (I do neither in my home game and we have yet to see a single death); note how when someone critiqued your statement that it "does" happen, those who agree with you had to retreat to merely saying that it can happen, which is a far, far weaker claim. It's not like learning to box, where a punch to the face is unavoidable. It's not like learning to write, where negative criticism is very nearly unavoidable (even fantastic authors will encounter unfair critics). Instead, it's much more like learning to cook, where a careful beginner chef may overcook things (or undertook them), but need not ever burn the food so badly it becomes inedible. (Again, my own experience there; I have had scorched *bits,* I've left bread in the oven until it had a...lovely...milk-chocolate-colored crust, but I've never destroyed a meal.) And since the inevitability was central to your original argument, where does that leave us? Again, it seems as though you are {Scrubbed} targeting a friend, who has confided their anxieties to you, solely on the hope that they will "man up" rather than bewildered and pained. It doesn't matter if you disguise your intent by simply making it a statistical certainty rather than a directly causative one {Scrubbed}

    "Non-consensual shock therapy" is a pretty apt term here. Like, would you seriously be okay with "surprising" a friend who doesn't like dark meat chicken, to the point of finding it actively unpleasant, by repeatedly serving them obvious dark meat dishes until they either refuse any dinner invitations or *possibly* decide that dark meat is okay? "Well they're bound to eat some eventually, so if I just keep feeding it to them they'll learn the lesson or stop eating at my house." That's not at all a friendly sentiment! Or if you have a friend afraid of being touched, you actively work to surprise them with unexpected hugs. That's not being a good friend helping someone learn a valuable lesson, that's being an inconsiderate {Scrubbed} who cares nothing for a friend's mental health as long as they "grow" the way you think they should grow, or cut you out of their life if they are unable or unwilling to do so.
    Last edited by Ventruenox; 2019-12-09 at 01:04 PM. Reason: Cleanup, Aisle D&D

  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    And why would a player who doesn't want his characters to die agree to play one of those systems ?
    Small comment on this: systems with very high death ratio (my Paranoia games turns at 2 deaths per session per player in average, and we rarely keep characters from a session to another anyway), death kind of change of meaning. Paranoia's death is more alike of death in a FPS game rather than death in a "true" RPG: it's bound to happen, and as such you see your character more as a pawn you move around for fun than as yourself.

    As such, I'm not convinced a game of Paranoia would actually help a player afraid to die (assuming you manage to convince them to play): there is a big difference between losing a character randomly generated (or generated in 10min with almost no background) and losing a character you actually cared about and used time to think about motivations and dreams.

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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    i don't know if anybody mentionned this to the op, but what about homebrewing a type of fate points like in dark heresy? my game is absurdly lethal. i mean, i saw a space marine get shanked in the neck for 3 times his hitpoint total thanks to a critical hit. same happens to players, they regularly get dismembered, concussed, get their bones broken, get blinded, etc... sometimes, bionics are an option. most of the time, that means playing a cripple for a few 10 hour sessions. you want to avoid death or dismemberment at a really bad time? burn fate. think of it as a 1up in super mario. also has the added advantage of making it so if or when death occurs, that pc went to hell and back and you got time to mentally prepare oneself.

    or how about just replacing the first time death by dismemberment? i know i was at a 3.5 table where one dude freaked out i chopped off his hand to save him from a trapped altar, but two sessions later, he got his hand back thanks to a restoration scroll i bought to heal him. he took the maiming as bad as a character death, but it was reversible, and he held a grudge against my character for only 3 years! oh, by the way, i was the cleric. by that point, my character had had his lungs perforated, got his knees broken, got blinded in one eye, the elven rogue got disfigured by an acid trap, the halfling monk died twice, and the wizard got a fused kneecap giving him a distinctive limp. except for the limp, all the wounds were fixed and left only cosmetic scars. we still learned the lesson that this game was dangerous, we were punching above our weight, and only our bad actions inflicted bad outcomes (except the perforated lung, that was rng and a bad call by the dm).
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  20. - Top - End - #50
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    Default Re: How to deal with a player who's afraid of character death and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    Kill his character. Kill the next two or three too. Easiest way to get over this particular hangupu is to just confront it directly. Tell him you're doing it up front, afterwards, or not at all. That's up to you and how you think they'd handle that particular bit of knowledge.

    As far as being a burden or taking too long to writeup a new sheet, you can help him with character gen. Practice makes a task go faster and, I presume, you're better at character gen than he is so you can help him avoid making poor decisions.
    I know that a number of people have talked about this already, but I will jump on the list: if I was at a table and the GM did this to anyone else at the table, not only would they no longer be the GM, but until they apologized profusely to that person they would no longer be my friend.

    If someone is trusting you with their concerns, and you abuse that trust because you've decided that forcing them onto your playstyle is more important to you than listening to their anxiety and helping them, {Scrubbed} you are not someone that I want to spend my limited social time interacting with. {Scrubbed}

    If you sit down with them and say, "Hey, look, the style of game I enjoy is one where death is common, and if your character dies I'm happy to help you make a new one, and it's not that bad," that's fine. That's good! If you and the other player have a discussion and decide that your gaming styles don't mesh, that's also good.

    Deliberately hitting people where they've explicitly told you that they're vulnerable {Scrubbed}

    *EDIT* I just saw this statement:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    I'm not shy with the ban hammer for players that I suspect are trying to deliberately upend the game. You shouldn't be either. This is the worst outcome, in my opinion. It speaks to deeper interpersonal issues if the player is a friend and it's not great for the reputation if you're playing with strangers at your FLGS. Sometimes what's necessary is regrettably so and I'd rather talk it out and separate amicably but sometimes people just suck.

    {Scrubbed}


    But you are right about one thing - sometimes people just suck.
    Last edited by Ventruenox; 2019-12-09 at 01:13 PM. Reason: Cleanup, Aisle D&D
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