Thursday, August 19, 2010

Killer DM, Killer DM !

Ever been called a Killer DM or heard it said like it was a slur?

A PC died last session and I enjoyed it immensely as DM.

We are in the third session of the campaign. The players sought out and got a contract to protect the general area of a community from goblin raids. They found a peel tower occupied by a captured old man and a band of goblins. So they set the tower on fire, the old man turned out to be a glamoured Redcap so they had a brawl with him but prevalled and then realized...oh crud most of the loot just got ruined in the fire didn't it? They almost found their way to the dungeon but managed to pass it up. They've spent a number of days wandering around the country side and camping the same spot almost every night (they hoped to ride out the terms of their contract with the town and collect the fee for protecting the area from goblins without having to do much fighting).

Then one night the sentry (one of the PCs) noticed the horses all laid down and slept on the ground, there was something burrowing in the earth in a circle around their camp and went to wake the other PCs and discovered one of the humans and the dwarf were asleep and couldn't be awoken. All of a sudden a dark furry form with red claws and fangs burst out from the ground knocking a small sigil aside. He stated his purpose in goblin as an assassin sent to avenge the destruction of the tower and his price was blood. The players were all slow to react asking questions and taking actions that gave the opponent an edge. One attempted to use a fear spell from a scroll and found it had no effect. The beast rushed forward and eviscerated the sentry (inflicting almost triple his HP in a flurry of attacks). The following round it ripped the flesh from the sentries skull in it's red toothed maw and kicked the skull at the other elf in the party. One of the players realized blood had been paid so they stood down and the foe left with the terms of it's contract complete. The party located the split sigil discovering it to be a goblin item that drew the Buggane to them.

It was fun killing the PC, I liked it. They are now really p.o.'d at the goblins and scarred of Bugganes. It was early in the campaign so the player wasn't attached to his character yet.
Did I say I liked killing the PC?

Maybe I'm a killer DM. Maybe I've manged to set the tone for this campaign being lethal and while the players are free to do as they wish they also have to deal with active foes that aren't tied to die rolls and fixed locations and the actions of the PCs will have repercussions. The PCs just might want to be a little more careful, they may be dealing with a killer DM after all.


  1. It took us to our 5th session before we had our first PC death and players were shocked. Complete silence at the table. It definitely brought to the forefront the lethality of the campaign. And yes, it was fun (hehe).

    We had our 3rd PC death on our 20th session. A 3rd level beloved character and that was just as shocking to them.

  2. I kill people all the time. Well, PCs anyway. I have found that once players wrap their heads around the concept of death in the game, that it not just might but probably will occur, that the game becomes much more engaging and fun for everyone.

  3. Meh. "Killer DM" was almost an honorific title rather a slur in my gaming group BITD. I get bored with DMs who are afraid to kill PCs, or worse yet can't kill certain (or all) PCs because they are too important to the plot or whatever. One of the more memorable characters in one campaign was killed in the session he first appeared (noone ever found out his secrets either) and another PC was later killed in the most brutal and vicious fashion by Ivar the Boneless (in single combat while other PCs watched helplessly).
    Anyway as a player, I think character deaths should happen and the risk of death has to be present or why even bother with dice?

  4. Killing PC's in my campaign is a frequent thing, however its typically not the end of the character or the story. While my players get pissed initially (had one guy's face turn bright red when the hammer fell, so to speak) and thought for about 30 min it was the end of the world that his 12th level cleric had died. The campaign is a planescape campaign using pathfinder and the group is entirely evil with a few neutrals thrown in. I had planned something special for the cleric if he ever died. I essentially animated dead the character via his deity and created an animus "class" with some pretty kick ass powers that my player is throughly enjoying now, there are drawbacks of course but he's really enjoying playing his "new class".

    Another character died earlier in the campaign from an exploding balor and unbeknown to the players new character who is searching for his "lost brother" , the brothers only remains was a femur which was nabbed by the necromancer in the group who then used it to create a undead familiar for himself. The necromancer keeps him hidden from the party for the most part, and on occasion the new character catches glimpses of his "brother" but only to be foiled by the necromancer again quickly hiding his familiar from the new character. Its made from some really inventive and suspenseful episodes.

    -david - My Game Blog