Do I coddle my players? I ask this question not referring only to my current Hekinoe campaign. These characters are the plot, if they all die, the campaign is done and no one, not even Fred, gets to know what happens or what it was all about (Eric already knows, I told him about three or four years ago...actually, Shawn does too, wow). I shudder to think what would happen if one of them died. Would the others undertake an epic quest to try and restore their fallen friend to life? I doubt it. They basically left Kethranmeer on the wolf-iron floor where he fell, no memorial, no words of passing, just dead, melted slag. No attempts were made to restore him to life, other than waving a wrench at him in the hopes that it would fix all the magic bits in him that had been destroyed by being dropped to negative twenty-seven hit points.
...that was just a hair ranty. I miss Kethranmeer. ::sigh::
Looking back, it was my NPC that died. It was Kethranmeer that came close to death time and time again, but not the PCs of my players, save for a few times over the course of the campaign. Looking further back, it was Jason that offed players more often than not, not my monsters.
I've always kind of been of the mindset that, yeah sure, you took a nap, you have all your hit points back. I've never implemented strong wounding mechanics or mechanics that represent being brought right to the welcome mat of Death's door. I've never even killed a player, other than my own NPC.
Wait. Scratch that. Nate had a Gorvix Paladin that died in battle against a red dragon back in 2nd Edition AD&D. I gave the guys a wish scroll, and then like a bitch, was just belligerently a bastard about my interpretation of their wording in the attempt to kill the dragon in question. They were very creative, and I should have just let them have it after all the going back and forth because they did deserve to succeed. Eventually they got pissed at me and just barreled into the dragon's lair and Nate's Gorvix died. Oh well, you learn I guess.
I'm not speaking from the standpoint of mourning my lack of notches on the old battle axe haft. I just look at things like Eric freaking out and trying to create a feat that performs true resurrection for free and I didn't immediately tell him no. Instead, I try to power it down and make it yet another viable means for them to avoid death. Here is how you avoid death in this campaign:
- Don't do stupid things.
- Xein is an Alchemist, use formulas to heal people.
- Kuyst is a Witch, use spells and hexes to heal people.
- Create and buy potions to heal people.
- Everyone takes the Skill Focus (Heal) feat, even Ran'dahl's little living nightmare critter.
- For fuck's sake, someone take levels in Druid, the only divine class allowed in the game! Nakmander did.
There are also six supernatural ways to come back from death. Three are spells, two are class features, another is something that was mentioned here on the blog a long time ago. If the guys want to avoid death, they should follow the above methods and I should let fate take them from this world if it so desires it and leave it up to them to get the fallen back to this side of the shadow realm. It is the GM's prerogative to fudge the dice any way he so chooses, but fudging them in the player's favor every time is counter productive.
I need to accept that death is a possibility, their characters are mortal (despite the huge bonus to stats I let them have), and they can die, and should dread it if they like their characters. I have a long record of not ever killing a player. I think that long record is a disservice to my players. I think now that it bred complacency, but not necessarily on a conscious level. They've just never seen anyone go past one hit point, or stay down for longer than a round, only to get back up on the very next.
If they like their characters, they should be cautious with them, but it is my duty as the GM to make being cautious a necessity and worth it. It is my duty to show them that the world is not covered in foam and bubblewrap, and they could honestly get gutted by a Fell-Human thug's knife, or eaten by a karthak in the sewer.
I think I need to hardcore reassess my GMing style. Thanks Fourthcore!