Author Topic: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)  (Read 2830 times)

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Necrosnoop110

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It happens, PC death or PC save and suck. So you have a good player at the table just twiddling his or her thumbs. Being knocked out of the game or otherwise incapacitated for the encounter if not the rest of the game session. 

How do you handle this? Just grin and bear it? Another option? Suggestions? Tips? Experiences?

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2011, 11:21:53 PM »
If the PC is dead or incapacitated for a long period (weeks/months/years, not just an encounter or two) we usually try to make the player come in as soon as possible with a new one (atm we're playing a military campaign, so we just request reinforcements if our commando team isn't 5 members strong, but there's plenty of ways to integrate characters even during dungeons or whatever)

From level 7-8 we start buying Revivify scrolls with the party loot before sharing it (we stick to WBL quite closely), from level 9 the cleric starts casting it, so barring UMD failures or inability to cast it, people will just get ressed in a matter of 6 seconds and be as good as new in 12. If that's not possible and the player isn't willing to spend the money for a raise dead/resurrect or doesn't want to deal with a level loss we always keep at hand a pool of premade optimized character builds to pick (there's around 20 builds or so as for now, costantly adding more and balancing them with each other), so while the rest of the party finishes the encounter the dead guy just has to fill the character sheet (takes 10-15 minutes usually)

Outside D&D, where character can't usually get ressed we just use the premade character pools.

I've seen sometime the "free" player used by the master to roleplay some of the NPC with shallow connection to the story (and no noteworthy new info) and to control part of the monsters in the encounters, that I suppose it's still better than just staying there and watch.

Other than that... in some old groups the master wouldn't let a new pc enter till the next session so the guy just stood there or just goes into a corner and start making the character sheet for the following time... or he's used to start calculating xp, loot, whatever or some other annoying task like keeping a journal ;D
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veekie

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2011, 11:48:40 PM »
For if theres more of a session remaining I usually would hand the player a suitable NPC to run with at first opportunity. Nothing sucks like just sitting there, not participating until the end of the game.
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Mooncrow

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2011, 12:02:36 AM »
For if theres more of a session remaining I usually would hand the player a suitable NPC to run with at first opportunity. Nothing sucks like just sitting there, not participating until the end of the game.

This, if it's a one-time thing.  If the campaign is high-fatality, and this type of thing happens a lot, make sure the characters have a cohort that they can switch to playing.

Rejakor

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2011, 02:35:02 AM »
I typically fail at killing players, even in games supposedly for that.

However, I generally just go 'bring extra characters', and sub them in nigh-instantaneously.  Always an excuse for someone to burst in.

Tenebrus

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2011, 07:35:47 PM »
If a PC dies, they usually take over the NPC until the next session. Being laid out (nauseated, paralyzed, etc) is tougher, and they usually do have to twiddle their thumbs.

b100d_arrowz

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2011, 10:18:12 PM »
Depends on the campaign and the character. One very annoying incident involved a player who had been literally swept away by his own idiocy (seriously it wasn't my fault for once! He tried to swim in a strong current river with a negative strength mod and no ranks in swim... and disdained party assistance  :rollseyes) and gave poor strategy suggestions the entire next combat  :banghead. But for the most part my players deal with it in the following ways: They start rolling up a new character (I had a few players who rarely were attached to their character and/or the plot at certain points, or they started a concept that sounded cool but then they found to be useless: like a spiked chain fighter, all different kinds of monks  :lol, and a dwarven wizard who spent every encounter drunk ergo he has always confused (player's choice not mine  :bigeye), a rage mage etc) The more veteran of my player's spent their dead times trying to offer a bit of assistance to the younger ones. If there isn't a way for the player's character to come back quickly (like a campaign with no divine magic period, which was the one my player's enjoyed the most, or when they were on the run from the church of Heironious) I find random NPC #47 or so that is surprisingly competent  for the player to be for a duration.


Depending on the save or suck situation, sometimes my PCs have enjoyed being in such a situation (surprising I know  :o) They usually use such a situation to create an intraparty plot point and sore from there. Once I got turned into a house cat, and then we had a fun half session going about restoring me to personhood... which incidentally in the process we found information that made our character's switch sides in the war that was supposed to define the campaign, and eventually set up the entire plane we were on being destroyed  :bigeye

And then there's always the option that some of my player's took by playing pokemon with the sound muted... not nearly the best solution but they were quiet, didn't mess with the combat currently going on, and were able to roll-play better (according to them) their reactions to being restored then if they had paid attention the whole combat.
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kitep

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2011, 11:17:00 PM »
First we take a 1/2 hour to mock and laugh at the dead guy  (just kidding)

In my buddy's game where he doesn't allow coming back from the dead, the guy starts making his new character.

In my game where death is just a minor annoyance, he's quickly revived.

In the case where they're incapacitated but not dead (turned to stone or whatnot), they usually sit at the table making the same kind of remarks as if their character was still there.  Sometimes they'll flip through the books deciding what new item or feat or class or whatever they want for their character in the future.  Sometimes (rarely) they'll take out their phones and start texting, or go upstairs and play video games.  We've also done the run an NPC/monster thing.

Nachofan99

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2011, 01:00:18 AM »
I second/third/fourth the "NPC" approach.  Hey you're dead - hey this mysterious stranger appears and starts helping the party - here's a sheet.

Obviously you *cannot* do this *every time*.  But if you're killing your PCs that much, I would doubt the campaign is *super enjoyable* in the first place.

We also employ "fate points"; if you do not like something that is happening, spend a fate point and it doesn't happen.  We only give them out every couple of sessions, and their entire purpose is to make the players NOT have NOT fun.

Other than that, death and incapacitation happens - deal with it.  Play Hello Kitty's Island Adventure if you don't want to deal with it.


b100d_arrowz

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2011, 02:00:24 AM »
Quote
We also employ "fate points"; if you do not like something that is happening, spend a fate point and it doesn't happen.  We only give them out every couple of sessions, and their entire purpose is to make the players NOT have NOT fun.
We had something very similar in the last campaign I played in... only one guy had to end up using his more then once... but being a xenophobic chaotic evil elf will do that too you  :rollseyes But that system really helped out the guys who weren't quite that competent at keeping their characters alive, and let us escape from those circumstances where three straight poor rolls put you in an early grave  :(
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Nachofan99

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2011, 02:26:24 AM »
Yeah, I can't put enough emphasis on that; bad rolls happen.  Multiple bad rolls.  Repeatedly.  In a row.  Forever.  I have had 1 player roll 6 back to back to back 1's during a session. His breakout 7th roll? A 2.

Sometimes you just need a "get out of jail free" card.  You don't give them away ALL the time as DM but occasionally should be plenty.

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2011, 02:44:19 AM »
On the subject of get out of jail free cards, there are some cards made for 4E (free download) that provide tier based bonuses or tricks to get you out of a tight spot. All my players who made it to the first game got one. First fight of the game was against an acid beetle swarm (1d6 acid damage autohit).

The squishiest character happened to have the resist "5/10/15 any one element for one encounter" card. Saved his bacon.
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b100d_arrowz

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2011, 06:23:06 AM »
Quote
Yeah, I can't put enough emphasis on that; bad rolls happen.  Multiple bad rolls.  Repeatedly.  In a row.  Forever.  I have had 1 player roll 6 back to back to back 1's during a session. His breakout 7th roll? A 2.
In one campaign I played in we had a scaling fumble rule after back to back nat 1s, but once two player's got the three straight 1's that ended in death... yeah that got scrapped.
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veekie

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Re: DM Pragmatics: PC Sitting on the Sidelines (Death or Failed Save)
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2011, 09:15:17 AM »
Well, generally, the NPC isn't quite that blatant, my lot likes to acquire tagalong NPCs who're significantly weaker than the party, but its something to do besides twiddling their thumbs. Even hostile NPCs can work fine.
The mind transcends the body.
It's also a little cold because of that.
Please get it a blanket.

I wish I could read your mind,
I can barely read mine.

"Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. At 2:15, it begins rolling up characters."

[spoiler]
"Just what do you think the moon up in the sky is? Everyone sees that big, round shiny thing and thinks there must be something round up there, right? That's just silly. The truth is much more awesome than that. You can almost never see the real Moon, and its appearance is death to humans. You can only see the Moon when it's reflected in things. And the things it reflects in, like water or glass, can all be broken, right? Since the moon you see in the sky is just being reflected in the heavens, if you tear open the heavens it's easy to break it~"
-Ibuki Suika, on overkill

To sumbolaion diakoneto moi, basilisk ouranionon.
Epigenentheto, apoleia keraune hos timeis pteirei.
Hekatonkatis kai khiliakis astrapsato.
Khiliarkhou Astrape!
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There is no higher price than 'free'.

"I won't die. I've been ordered not to die."