Content of the article: "After 10y of experience (3.5), I still don’t know how to kill PCs"
Sorry for formatting, Reddit mobile sucks.
Backstory: I'm DMing since 2015, after 5y of playing, for my uni buddies. 2 years ago one of our oneshots became a beautiful campaign, and it's still going strong.
The problem is: I don't know how to deal with PCs death. The campaign has often near-death situation, I like them, the party loves them, they want to be challenged every encounter and I'm happy to oblige.
In this 2 years I killed two PCs: one after a Triple 1, jumped in a 10story dwell and died on impact. The other during a boss battle, not time nothing I could do about it. I felt awful, but both time it has been productive, and my players love the new 2 PCs more than the previous ones, so no harm done.
But tomorrow it happened again: after deciding not to follow and imp escaped by the previous battle, the party search the room. The Imp alerts 5 Carnage Demons who plan an ambush and, long story short, the Fighter drops at -4 (3.5ed) with only the Wizard to help him. The healer can't get through the narrow corridor occupied by the other two PCs, so in the next turn I decide (to spare the PC, first strike) to ignore him and go for the Wizard: he cast his last Flame Explosion, 2/5 demons are down, but the other 3 drop him to -9. Damn. The player informs me that he made a mistake, he wasn't as full health at the beginning, so he should be dead, not dying. I override it to try and save him (second strike).
Given that the demons where torturing people, I thought "Okay, one of them take the Fighter with them without killing him", even if the monster strategy told otherwise. But the Wizard problem remains, he'll die naturally on the next turn.
The ranger shoots: 1hit, 1 crits. If he kills one with the first blow, he sure as hell kills the second with the crit, the healer can get through and save the Wizard. He rolls. 7 on a D8. I look at the enemy health. He is left with 1PF. He could kill him with the crit, but the two remaining would still kill the two PCs. So I tell him to use his inspiration to max the damage die (we never did it), he kills the first one and then the second with the crit (Third strike).
The Artificer and the healer then go in and save the day. I told them that they should have been dead more than once, but I'm too soft because I love their PCs and the situation was very hard (in the middle of a enemies' lair), but did I make a mistake? Should I have done things differently? I don't feel right with myself, but at the same time it wasn't all my fault (CR8 for a level 6 party), and my players always say that they don't hold a grudge against me, even if they really love the current party. What could I do in order to improve, if I need to?
People of Reddits, kill my guilt or tell me I'm a shitty DM, your word.
- I have a “That Guy” in my party, how can I deal with him?
- Double Down on your Player’s Creations
- New Save the world Players
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