Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dead Characters

Every once in a while, the player characters have to die. I know, it’s a bummer, but if no one dies, then there really isn’t much threat. No suspense! So what do you do as a GM when a character dies? You can’t make the person start again at minimum level. Then they’d never survive the threats that the survivors are encountering. Legend Quest runs on a skill base system. Characters are built with character points, so they are completely customizable. Therefore you almost have to cut the number of character points you give them to create a replacement character. Characters that are built over a long period of time tend to use character points in a broader manner. Maybe they were going to sail across the ocean, so some of the PCs learned Sailing and Swimming. Maybe they learned a couple of extra languages and a couple of extra Localities too. Letting the replacement create strictly from scratch, he’s going to be pretty streamlined, without that broad use of skills. Generically, I dock the new guy about 15-20% of the character points. If we were playing a class based game, I would probably dock the new guy a class level or maybe two, especially two if they were higher level (basically 15-20% here too). But there is an important difference: The player has to make up two or three characters, and let the survivors choose. No, you don’t get to make up three warriors and just sub sword for axe for spear. You have to make up two or three completely different characters. Why? Because a party of adventurers is not going to take the first guy who walks in the door. OK, they might, but still - You have to give them an option. Maybe they’re desperate for some healing magic. Maybe they’re desperate for a front line damage sponge. This is actually of benefit to the party, because they get to better craft their party. Maybe they had a good balance and are looking for the new guy to replace the old. That doesn’t mean they have to be twins. In fact the GM should prevent that from happening. “This is my little brother” is not a valid explanation! Last bit on this - The GM should simply assign some equipment. Whatever would make sense for that experience of character, but make it all the dull stuff. Nothing fancy - That will encourage them to start grabbing some of the loot right away. Be careful just giving the old guy’s stuff to the new guy. Like the little brother idea, this makes for bad role-play. After all - Would a group give a really important magic item to a guy they just met? But when it comes to who gets what of the old guy’s stuff - The GM has to step in and make the decisions. Don’t let the players do it, even if it seems heavy handed and a breech of the role-play. If Player A dies and Player B decides to take his armor, Player A’s new character is going to resent Player B forever! If the GM makes the decision, then the player has to be angry with the GM, but can still work as a team member with the rest of the party. It’s the only way it will work. Otherwise, just sell all the old character’s stuff and split the money. That way the new guy can’t resent seeing “his” gear on other people.

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