posted Wednesday, September 26th 2007 by
Dungeon Mastering Advice
My earlier post brought up the topic of danger and lethality in the game. Something you really can’t run nowadays is the oldschool lethal dungeon crawl or the kind of thing you see in videogames. Players really have too much attachment to their character and D&D doesn’t have the “save game” feature that lets regular games ramp up the difficulty.
A very important piece of DM advice is that should never be afraid to kill off player characters. There is a thin line between expecting to survive, and knowing you’ll survive. The moment your players realise that they cannot be killed, the danger level drops and the game becomes that much more dull. Danger is fun.
Asked what they enjoyed the most, my own players each discuss the time their own character almost got killed. The time the cleric was possessed by a ghost, which turned out to be a pacifist: but he didn’t know that, and that’s what made it exciting for him. The time the rogue was almost killed by an ambush when everyone else was two full rounds away. The sorcerer’s player still talks about the time his previous fighter character was almost beaten to a pulp by a door.
When you win fights as frequently as D&D characters do, what’s truly exciting is not the next assured victory, but those rare incidences of true danger.