13 August 2014

#RPGaDay: Day Thirteen - Most Memorable Character Death

Sort of like this, only the DM's orcs looked like Klingons.
I know I've had characters die in games before, but to be honest, I can't remember any specifics. I spend much of my time as a DM/GM/Moderator/Storyteller, and I've been inundated with both PC deaths, as well as the deaths of the multitudes of NPCs I've controlled at any single point in time. On the rare occasion I play RPGs, my characters are seldom killed... but they come damn close pretty often.

There was one death that I remember, though, which is memorable mostly because it upset me a little bit, and it's not something I'd condone in my own games. I was in high school at the time, and I'd started playing in a long-term AD&D game with a rather large, diverse player group. I was one of the youngest players, and there were a lot of new faces, but I knew one or two of them from school.

Long story short, we were all still in the 1st and 2nd level range. I was playing a Half-Orc Fighter/Cleric, Arkon Blackbone, and another player was my trusted companion and defender. During the party's travels, we encountered a group of monsters. I can't remember what kind of monsters they were, but during the battle I was knocked below zero hit points. I was stabilized, so I wasn't going to get any worse, but when the fight was over, the party discovered someone had cut my character's throat as he lay there unconscious.

As I came to understand it, this was someone's in-character action performed after a note had been secretly passed to the DM. Apparently, their character hated orcs, and wouldn't suffer one to travel with the group. I eventually found out which player was responsible, but by then it was too late and I'd put it behind me. At the time it happened, though, it felt low and mean-spirited.

The player who'd been assigned as my companion and protector came to my aid. He picked up my character's corpse and carried it back to town. At such an early level, we had few enough magic weapons in the party, and he owned one of them. He sacrificed his magic weapon to the local temple in exchange for a Raise Dead spell, which brought my character back to life.

My character lived for a long time after that, and I played him until I was literally sick of him. That gaming group's internal politics and drama were another reason I left it behind, but I learned a lot about people, players, and games in general in those days.

As I said, what happened to my character is something I'd never condone as a GM. Conflict in a player party is one thing when it's verbal, providing tension to character relationships. It's another thing entirely when it comes to blows and PCs start to die at the hands of their friends' characters. I don't care how "in-character" it might be for a player of mine to secretly kill another player's character, it's just plain mean. If I allowed such a thing to take place in my game, I'd be complicit in it, too.

So yeah, that's my most memorable character death. I suppose many of these recollections are liable to be happy ones, or at least mildly entertaining. This one's a little grimmer, but I think it serves as a lesson of sorts.

Capped in the head in an alley. What a way to go.

You'll have to forgive me, dear reader. There was a character death I'd forgotten about up until this moment, and I suppose I'll give you the low down after the fact rather than delete my original post. I think both are relevant.

I met a guy online who wanted to run a Star Wars d20 game a few years back. This was shortly after I had Ord Vaxal: Prison Planet of the Empire published in Dungeon Magazine, so I'm thinking this was late 2003/early 2004. Either way, I was excited to be playing Star Wars for once. I met up with the guy and the other player he found, and we created our toons.

As far as the game went, it lasted one session. We were investigating something Imperial-flavored on a water world, and while walking through the alleyways of a port town we were set upon by a street gang. The way he described them, they weren't anything to worry about, so we didn't. They ended up shooting at us, so we shot back. Then more of the guys showed up, and they started shooting us, too.

After taking down a couple of these guys, the rest of them (maybe ten in total) gunned us down pretty well. Rather than leaving us for dead in the alley after taking anything of value from us, the gang's leader put his blaster to my head and blew me away. He did the same to the other player's character, too.

I remember we were both sort of surprised and looked at each other with blank expressions. The GM said, "That was fun!" and started asking us what kinds of characters we wanted to play next. We hemmed and hawed a little, then made our excuses to leave. The other player and I, walking to our cars, laughed a little and agreed that we weren't coming back.

And we didn't.

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