Last week, I joined my first in-person D&D 5e session at a local gaming store that hosts organized play events every Sunday.
Much like the taverns most parties quest from, the room was full of adventurers of all ages and skill levels; some starting out with me at level 1 at the tier 1 table.
In fact, only three of us comprised the party assembled to quest through the first parts of Descent to Avernus.
For some of you, that sentence alone tells you everything you need to know about why we were TPK’d in the first dungeon. We only made it to level 2.
Accepting death leads to better gameplay
Death is weird. Whether it’s someone we know or the thought of dying ourselves, death is this looming inevitability that our brains try to hide from us lest we succumb to nihilism.
And so, sensibly, the death of a D&D character whose backstory and kit were carefully crafted over hours and days is something we want to avoid. Nobody plans for their PC to die; well, nobody new.
So, I’m glad I’m dead because it rips that bandaid off. Death is a part of the game (and life) and coming to terms with that outcome enables us to pull our own fears out from the character so we can better play them as they would be played. Instead of drawing from the personal attachment to life, I can inject realistic flaws and behaviors that my character would do that would get them killed, rather than an ever-present desire to flee to save their life at all costs.
I am not my character; if my character dies, it’s okay.
In fact, some characters should die with the right circumstances. Think to yourself, “what would my character die for?” when building them. To protect the innocent? To save a companion? To complete an evil ritual?
Plan for their death – even with your DM – and embrace it when it comes.
Besides, your PC’s twin sibling can always show up at the dungeon entrance with the same stats 🙂