Content of the article: "Am I wrong for having rule-lawyered to save my character from death?"
Back, about a year ago me and a few friends started playing DnD together, with most of us being new players. We were playing pretty loosely with the rules as people worked out how to play. During this time the DM explained that death would occur if you went to negative whatever your Constitution was. So 16 con would mean that you die at -16. This was simply given as how death works, but not established as a homebrew rule, or something that would be changed. It didn't occur to us to check, so we took this as standard.
Well, this weeks campaign we were pursuing a lead on chasing down a group of evil cultists and ended up attacking an outpost. After reaching the leaders room, the leader offered to help us, so that he in turn could assume the position as leader of this cult. He would essentially get us all the way to the big bad if we agreed. I tried to simply fish all the necessary information out fast, but the Cult middle-manager was unwilling to divulge the final key, a password to enter the heavily fortified castle/fort where the leader was, as this was leverage to assure his life and that we would agree.
One player, a Drunken Monk thought this was the best option available to us, and that we should go for it, then just backstab this upstart cultist later. Another player, a druid agreed, but wasn't as sold on the idea and was more open to other options. A third, a ranger would go along with it, but didn't feel it was a good idea. He had previously been captured by this person and held an in-character grudge.
Then there's me, a cleric worshipping a god that is in direct opposition to the god these cultists worship, with my "divine purpose" being to stop these cultists in whatever way possible. My character was not willing to replace one despotic heathen with another as it conflicted with my ideals. I was also not willing to lie and stab this person in the back later, as it would be dishonorable, and in conflict with the ideals of my god. I chose to reject this offer, as my character would not budge on this, and I gave a counter offer: Give us the password, and we'd let him leave and would not pursue him. He seemed annoyed with this response, but before we could get a formal answer (fully expected combat this point), the druid tries to charm this "middle-manager" and failed. The middle-manager answers by casting Ray of Frost at her and starting combat.
The Monk then decided that since he didn't agree with the solution to this, he would stand aside, refuse to fight and simply continuously plead for the fighting to stop, and for everyone to see reason.
The fight goes badly. The druid is swarmed by well armed henchmen that were guarding the "middle-manager" now revealed to be a powerful caster in his own right. We expend most of our best spells, leaving several of the guards close to death. The ranger's player then had to leave urgently during combat and we decided that he would just keep firing shots at the boss, and nothing else, as this was his final command before having to leave.
The boss then heals the guards with a significant amount of health. The druid goes down, and I follow shortly after as the DM is critting and hitting like crazy. I go down, and I go down quite a lot, with 46 max health and about 32 from entering the room I am taken from 32 to -16 in one series of hits and crits. Having 16 constitution, the DM declares I am dead. Not downed. Dead. I immediately ask if this is indeed how death work, and that I vaguely recall you had to go to minus whatever your maximum is. So -46 in my case. He didn't think that was the case, and I got out the PHB and pointed to the rule explaining this. The DM reluctantly agrees after some push from me, since he never formally declared this was a homebrew rule, and decides to just drop the concept. He didn't seem very happy about it though, and clearly wanted me to just accept it and make another character, even going as far as to indicate the cultists would simply finish me off anyway. Part of the reason I did this is because I lost my previous character two session earlier by being pushed by the DM into drawing from a Deck of Many Things, and ending up stasis'd in the abyss, effectively losing that character and rendering the miniature pointless. Luckily I had a backup and last week prepared a new miniature, character and everything. These are heroforge miniatures and I wasn't as willing to just let it go at a whim and make yet another character with miniature and all. After agreeing, the DM then indicated it wouldn't matter anyway since the cultists were not gonna leave me alive, only the Druid. As the Monk has bargained for the Druids life (not mine, since I had gone against his preferred plan). The DM then initially declared I would be thrown unconcious into a pit of Wyverns and would be eaten alive. I get a bit bummed out by this naturally, and somewhat passive aggressively accept it, but argue that it seems a bit harsh, and that I'm not very motivated to roll up an evil character so the Monk can join them as part of his bargain to save the druid. After some discussion I'm able to convince the DM and the monk to change the deal so that I too would be a hostage and imprisoned rather than killed, but I doubt it would have gone this way if I hadn't pushed against this, or brought up the base rules in the first place.
TLDR: My character died due to unclear death rules. I pushed against this, since it was not declared as a homebrew rule, but rather as how the game itself presented the rules. This ended in a begrudged retcon of the event and wher the session ended for the day. The DM partially came to terms with this due to me arguing the resulting story would be more interesting, but I do feel bad questioning it and being hesitant to accept my death under these circumstances. Was I wrong to do this? Was the DM wrong, atleast initially? Let me know what you think if this ramble wasn't too incoherent. I'd just like an unbiased opinion from a third party that wasn't there.
- Player Extortion Mid-Game “If I can’t have what I want my character will jump off a cliff.” Rant/Venting
- What are you favorite “additional rule systems” That you like to put in your campaigns?
- What the actual first rule of DMing is, that is also the first rule for any relationship, or group activity, ever: COMMUNICATE
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