Welp, just had my first PC death.

Welp, just had my first PC death.

Welp, just had my first PC death. I’ve played tabletop RPGs for years, but have only been actively GMing for the past few. Never had someone die before. The party’s Fighter rolled a 6 on Last Breath. It’s a huge bummer. This campaign is actually just two people, so it feels especially crippling.

The good news is that the other member of the party is a Cleric, and he just hit level 3. So–he has Resurrection as a spell. How have the GMs out there handled the cost of Resurrection in the past? I would love to hear your insight. The Fighter is really bummed to lose a character he spent so much time on, and I am actually intrigued by narrative possibilities.

15 thoughts on “Welp, just had my first PC death.”

  1. In this case, if the player is really bummed out their character is dead and doesn’t want to play a new one, I wouldn’t make the cost fairly low. Maybe don’t even have a cost, but choose other options from the list under the Resurrection spell.

  2. Make the cost something not related to gold, some significant action or asset that can integrate well in the campaign and which can fire some interesting outcomes for the characters involved.

    Be a fan of the characters: the fighter died heroically and the faithful cleric asks his deity to manifest its powers through him in a grand way.

  3. Maybe have the resurrection mean he has the 7-9 result of last breath so he has to make a deal with desth. This will i think make an interesting choice and if the player goes with it, interesting ramifications in game.

  4. james day I don’t think this proposal is fair. I’m pasting from the gazzeteer:

    *Resurrection* Level 3

    Tell the GM you would like to resurrect a corpse whose soul has not yet fully departed this world. Resurrection is always possible, but the GM will give you one or more (possibly all) of these conditions to fulfill:

    It’s going to take days/weeks/months

    You must get help from __

    It will require a lot of money

    You must sacrifice __ to do it

    The GM may, depending on the circumstances, allow you to resurrect the corpse now, with the understanding that the conditions must be met before it’s permanent, or require you to meet the conditions before the corpse is resurrected.

    So in no way the spell can be mean to reverse the last breath, unless you read You must get help from *Death*: this seems legit to me but I don’t think you would be a fan of the characters in this case.

  5. Yeah, I agree with Palin Majere here. The Last Breath roll has been made, and the result was a 6-. That needs to have meaning. Leave the dice roll as it is. The requirements to successfully resurrect the Fighter via the spell will lead to interesting ramifications.

  6. I had a fighter die on a 6- fairly recently also. The requirements of the Cleric were that she needed help from a goddess and had to sacrifice a powerful artifact to do so. Luckily a long running NPC companion had just been empowered to godhood and they also have a sword they retrieved from an ancient sea goddess’ temple. The sword vanished and the fighter came back, but I ended up being a kind GM and adding the properties of the sword to the fighter’s signature weapon afterwards 🙂

    I think in your scenario it would be funny to have the Cleric take the body somewhere, not too far, while the fighter’s ghost travelled along. It would be both interesting and comical as the fighter would be constant color commentary during any situations that arise on the journey.

  7. I’ve always disliked “easy” resurrection in games.

    I like resurrection costs to be personal to the target of the spell in some way. My favorite choices from those mentioned above are the You must get help from _ & You must sacrifice __ to do it

    I don’t think saying “You need help from Death” is not being a fan of the characters. It shows the Cleric is badass enough to knock on Death’s door and demand an audience. The Cleric is going to take their friend back, whether he likes it or not. The question is, what will it cost the Cleric or Fighter?

    I’ve seen a game where blood ties and family were important, so to bring someone back, Death needed a sacrifice of one of their family members.

    It created a great story when the dead character woke up and questioned whether it was worth it. To everyone else it was, they needed that hero and gladly (and grimly) paid the cost.

    So I would say make it interesting. A lot of it depends on the details of campaign/world. Maybe they need to sacrifice something to the God(s) that will bring back the hero, maybe they need help from an ancient Fey that Death owes a favor to. Maybe the Cleric has to sacrifice part of himself to complete the spell.

    The resurrection spell is a huge way to break the “spiritual rules” of the campaign setting. Not everyone gets to come back from the dead. It has the potential to take the game in a very cool place, even for a short while. I’d take the opportunity to work with the group on what resurrection in this setting means. Otherwise it feels like using a Phoenix Down in Final Fantasy.

  8. Note that in standard Dungeon World, not even the Resurrection spell is necessary to bring back the dead. It just helps pin down how it will happen, a little. In Playing the Game -> Harm and Healing -> Death -> After Death, it says “If your character dies you can ask the GM and the other players to try and resurrect you. The GM will tell them what it will cost to return your poor, dead character to life. If you fulfill the GM’s conditions the character is returned to life. The Resurrection spell is a special case of this: the magic of the spell gives you an easier way to get a companion back, but the GM still has a say.”

    Later, it says “GM, when you tell the players what needs to be done to bring their comrade back, don’t feel like it has to derail the flow of the current game. Weave it in to what you know of the world. This is a great opportunity to change focus or introduce an element you’ve been waiting to show off. Don’t feel, either, that it has to be some great and epic quest. If the character died at the end of a goblin pike, maybe all it takes is an awkward walk home and a few thousand gold pieces donated to a local temple. Think about the ramifications of such a charitable act and how it might affect the world. Remember: Death never forgets a soul stolen from his realm.”

    Other people here have good ideas, for sure, but it’s good to know what the book has in terms of “permission” for these things.

  9. Eric Willisson​ I agree. In the case of the fighter who died in my game, I asked the fighter if they wanted to live or pass on. She said live, so the Cleric had to prepare Resurrection to do it, but the fighter had rolled 6-. Death was good and ready to take her, so I had the Cleric’s goddess show up at the moonlit meadow that was death’s door for the fighter. She kept death and the fighter occupied stargazing (she is the goddess of the stars) while the Cleric prepared the spell. It all flowed together beautifully and didn’t break up the action. You can certainly do the same if you are a fan of the characters and ask them for help if it comes down to it.

  10. In some cases, simply dying can also be quite interesting. It’s really easy to create a new DW character (not a full day process like, say, in Shadowrun) and level 1 characters are quite competent. A new character can shake things up, if the player is game for it.

  11. Chris Stone-Bush Palin Majere Thanks guys, really great advice. You hit the nail on the head here–I want to make sure that there is a narrative cost that has meaning to the players (and to me). Lots of good ideas in this thread, and I think a plan is starting to come together.

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