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BrooklynMike

Killing Player Characters

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A few months ago I ran an adventure which pitted the acolytes against an arch-heretic (once an Interrogator). They managed to save the day, but only by provoking a destructive Ork invasion of Hive Tranch, blowing their Inquisitor's secret identity to a key gangland supporter, and wiping out a station of Arbites. In the end, the player characters were either recycled as servitors were banished to a penal battalion, serving as organic matter on some deathworld to lure out the Tyrranids.

This was the first time I actually 'killed' player characters, and it turns out it was very consistant with the 40K 'feel' of the game ... total disaster, heros die, but the universe is saved. Players LOVED it. In subsequent games I've now been less shy about ending a scrub / low level player character (haven't off'ed anyone's beloved 4th level character yet!) and find that if it works with the story then real 40K fans appreciate the thematic validity.

Just wondering what experiences other GMs have had with eliminating player characters? 

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 The only characters I´ve killed off in DH are psykers that loose control of their powers or start to "behave strangely".

Example: There was once a very nervous psyker in the cell, he had a hard time making friends since he suffered from the stigma of being born as he was. So he decided to try to find out what the cell´s prime would like to recieve as a gift. This led to him skulking around alot and being very elusive when asked about it.

In the end the cell´s prime got suspicious and reported the behaviour the their interrogator, just to be safe, another of the groups psykers had gone rogue in the past and was still on the loose.

This well meaning psyker was captured and tortured to death in an attempt by the interrogator to discover whatever heretical plan the psyker had put in the working.

This was something that was built up to during many many sessions and it worked marvelously. My players now understand the consequenses of being a psyker in a universe that hates them. Everyone felt that this was a well needed lesson.

They are now very much interested in hunting down the previous psyker that went rogue due to insanity and possession, a rank 8 templar calix biomancer/telepath. Psykers are now considered with the dread and hate they are supposed to. The previous psyker player is especially zealous for some reason demonio.gif

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So far I haven’t killed any characters in DH and must say that I am (as always) a little reluctant to do. I play with more or less the same people for more than 20 years now (with me as GM for about 15 years) and during our 8 year WFRP campaign I killed only three characters (two of which were from the same player). I only killed those because of very bad decisions by the respective players (e.g. running (alone) into melee with 0 wounds as a non-combatant) and never due to bad luck or other silly unexpected things. My players also tend to sort of cling to their characters and their character’s progression, so that it would be a hard blow for them to really lose the character. But maybe I am just too soft at heart… angel.gif

Apart from this, my players are really cautious and protect each other rather well and so most still have a few FP to spend. I expect them to go insane (due to their many Insanity Points) before any one of them dies.

The most important thing is, that the players do not get the impression that as a GM you won’t let characters die (and thus maybe even important to kill a character once in a while). Without the fear of losing a character through death, a RP loses some of its depth in my opinion. So maybe I have to make an example in the near future once more…

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I generally only kill off characters who do something incredibly stupid or if the player asks me to kill off the character so they can try out a new one. I usually allow them to get out of bad luck situations with a few parts missing.

The relatively low lethality of my games is due to the fact that I try to make the plot somewhat based around the characters. If I am running a Heretek subplot and the Tech-Priest gets offed beforehand than it loses half the story right there. Can't have the Scum face down his old rival before hitting Rank 9 if the Scum fell off a cliff (jumping is horrible....).

Psykers however end up dead (or burn FP) if they invoke the wrong Perils of the Warp; the powers are simply too good to not enforce the drawbacks. I am generally easier on the guys around the psyker. Still worried about the upcoming Deathwatch campaign where the guy playing the Librarian says he is going to push every power he uses....

If I am planning to run a high lethality campaign I make sure to suggest that everyone has a few back ups characters done up. Nothing slows down a session more than having to reroll an entirely new character.

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I'm probabley a bit harsh but my players learn quickly that doing stupid things gets you killed and don't seem to mind the odd burnt fate point. I don't think I would kill them off outright as a story mechanic, your all executed by your inquisitor make a new character thing, but none of them have done anything to deserve it yet. I think I would offer them an "escape" if such an incident happens, like running away and going rogue.

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I've RP'ed in the same group now for about 10 years, been both a ref/ST/GM(whatever other title you care to give) as well as a player, during my time reffing and playing i have killed off both other characters and my own on serveral occassions, it is rare i will kill everyone off at the same time.  The other main ref in the group prefers games that are high adrenaline, rushed, crazed combat stories where players are rewarded for invation and quick thinking. I prefer a balance as a result the players are weary of death but know it's not the end in all cases, and new characters are normally welcomed into the group with relative ease.

 

Haven't had the pleasure of sucking the pysker into the warp with a burping noise, but my psyker player has used his fear aura and now one of the other players reliases why the universe hates him(the pysker) and the faith is a powerful defense.

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I prefer to avoid killing PCs unless they've done something to mad that survival is implausible.

That said, my last DH campaign ended with the players realizing that they'd accidentally sold their souls to Chaos and committing ritual suicide.

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I must say that I seem to have about 1 PC death.....per session.  Average is about 1.5 or so, and all, for the most part from Published Adventures. But it means that the team are nearly always on edge, the tension can get quite high.

 

demonio.gif

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I don't think i'll be able forget the first session I ran for my DH crowd. Was only three of them then; a pysker a shotgun toting Enforcer and a combat brute assassin with claws (lucky mutation roll during character creation). Party was hit with a damaged Terrorfex grenade after surprising a Dark Eldar Pirate who was in the middle of indulging himself with a few captured imperial adminustratum staff. The Enforcer and Pysker both happily passed their willpower tests and beat up on the poor surprised Pirate, while in the back the slightly slower combat brute completely lost it. The crazed assassin swooped down on the psyker first, tore his leg off win a single enraged blow killing him instantly (or would have been without burning a fate point). The Enforcer unleashed a lucky salvo of shotgun shells into the head and body of the pirate, promptly turned around to celebrate to find a crazed assassin jumping at him - the result was leathal damage to his face in the following round. Fate points saved the enforcer as well though. The Assassin takes 13 attempts to shake off the blood haze: just 10 feet away from the parties Unsuspecting NPC pilot and their only way off the world. Close call! They managed to complete the mission with two of the party on critical wounds - full of sims and painkillers. 

Combat 1, Session 1: two party "kills". One party member perma blind in one eye and heavy scars across his face, the other missing a Leg! DH is a Dark, Deadly game, and the party shouldn't ever be allowed to forget it. There is no respite in the 41st Millenium after all... 

Perhaps I should go a bit easier on my party? 

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I was running "Edge of Darkness" with fresh characters (who where already beefed up to Rank3, me thinks. 1000xp). 

The group decided to flee the area after they found out that the Enforcers where in fact in liege with the "enemey" (they had not discovered the true enemie yet). So, they stole hover (I decided that the Enforcer station would have two of them) and road it straight back to the secret (!) entry point to the meeting room. Their, I gave the mission a cut.

Between sessions, they received an eMail with a short report of Medicae-Interrogator Sands to his Inquisitor. About the failure of the new cell to show the needed independence...and that they ruined the cover of the meeting point!

The rapport described that each of them was either killed, "promoted" to a job with near-certain death risk or send on a yourney to an isolated backwater planet half a year away from this system. Till end of their life.

It was although statet that a nother cell would be activated with haste to lead an Arbitrator-Assault on the Coscarla District.


My players got the nudge... but a little to hard. They are now actually afraid to ask for back-up during an ongoing mission.

 

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So far 3 characters have died in my DH campaign, all at the hands of the player party and all played by the same guy....

A scum who got crushed when the voidborn assasain landed a drop ship on him (and lots of enemies, and their hostage that the party was trying to rescue and a wing of the imperial governor's palace).

A techpriest who's reaction to necrons was "I bow down to my robotic overlords" which didn't go well, then when he got out he went too far the other way and tried to grab the shuttle which would have left the party at the mercy of the necrons so he was gunned down by the sister of battle (it hadn't helped that he'd earlier acted like private hudsen when they were taking on some ambull's (though to be fair they wern't sure initially if they were genestealers so it could have been a reference))

A psyker who tried to take over the local underworld with mind control, when this annoyed people (people with many guns) the party decided that the thing to do would be as none of them were known to the people who were coming for them that they'd kill the psyker making it look like a hit and then get on with things.........

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In my games (DH, WFRP) PCs die, but it happens rarely. However, my PCs are not guaranteed against a '01' rolled by snotling attacking them. That's why they need so many Fate Points, to save their hides against a lucky roll by their enemy, after all.

 

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The only case like that that I've had thus far was a Commisar executing a psyker that had gone off his nut. The character was completely wiped out bonkers, but the death wasn't THAT bad as it was very low level and the player wanted to go with another character, so it was a good way to segway that character out of the game. Plus he got a chuckle out of it.

And the IG unit they were with loved it. Never trust a psyker! ;) j/k

I

 

 

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