The epic death or near-death experience is a rite of passage for the role-playing crowd. How we react to it is immortalized forever in the psyche of that campaign, that two-bit town, and your surly group. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each reaction to your comrade’s fall.
Reaction 1: Do SOMETHING!!!!!
This is the plan to react directly off your character’s emotions. No time to think or process, just act accordingly.
Pros: This solution can be more natural. People do weird things when their loved ones get hurt. Some people gather some super strength and resolve and save the day. Others melt into a puddle at the sight of their loved ones falling. Along with being authentic, this reaction can define your character and their relationship with the fallen.
Cons: Often, people’s reactions to ‘do something’ are terrible, uncoordinated, and strategically unsound.
Reaction 2: Let the healer figure it out
When you have some sort of healer in the group, it could easily fall to that character to always head to those who have fallen. This can be either a spoken plan of action or working on an assumption.
Pros: This can be often be the most clever plan for your group. Sending the person who may be able to save your comrade is a great plan.
Cons: Letting someone else ‘figure it out’ is often a cop-out of the role-playing responsibility. This may cause your character to not react (even verbally or emotionally) to the gravity of the situation. Just be aware that a friend’s body falling should not be shrug-worthy, and you should be fine.
Reaction 3: Assume that they will be okay
Pros: Virtually no work involved.
Cons: In a harsh fantasy world where many things can go wrong, those things will go wrong. The strategy is bad. The story suffers. And bodies will hit the floor.
Reaction 4: Shoot them and put them out of their misery
Pros: Could be more humane than watching them suffer (eeerrrr…. Sorry this one is a stretch.)
Cons: This isn’t the best way to build trust within your group. And isn’t the best solution for player retention either.
I have examples from role-playing of many of these reactions. I have been the one left on the floor dying and eventually dying from reaction 3. After all, all I have to do is roll the dice and eventually I will stabilize.
Which ones do you usually use within your group? What are some of the tragic ends you have seen?
Vanessa is a sarcastic, 30-something wife and mother. She likes things and stuff, but not simultaneously. When she isn’t involved in things and stuff, she teaches middle school math and art. She sometimes bothers her friends to help with her blog articles and other times it all comes from her head… scary... She is also trying out this new twitter handle at @sarasma_nessa
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