Tag: Big Bad Evil Guy

Friday Night D&D – Dreamwalkers

Friday Night D&D – Dreamwalkers

You fall asleep and you’re in a world that you never thought was possible, and something is very wrong with it. This Dungeons and Dragons campaign idea takes you from the fantasy world of the waking into a dark world of sleep, dreams, and nightmares, 

You, Me, and NPC – Building Interesting NPC’s in D&D

You, Me, and NPC – Building Interesting NPC’s in D&D

I’ve been busy with my top 100 list and Halloween for the past couple of weeks, so I haven’t written much about Dungeons and Dragons. Today I’m getting back to it and look at creating an NPC for Dungeons and Dragons. This is a topic 

Dealing with Death… in D&D

Dealing with Death… in D&D

“We are gathered here to remember the life and death of Gornag the Half-Orc Barbarian. He died like he lived, violently, and in the end, would he have really wanted to go any other way?”

“True.”

“Bring forth the character sheet and the lighter to usher Gornag to the afterlife.”

“He shall be remembered.”

“We send him back into the ether from whence he came.”

“He shall be remembered.”

Alright, that might be very goofy, and you don’t need to do any routine or anything like that, but it’s a topic that I don’t think ends up being talked about that much in Dungeons and Dragons or any RPG, how do you handle the death of a character.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

It isn’t something that I’ve had a ton of experience with, I’ve “killed” three characters. The first was a convention game at the end of the one shot, so it worked out well, and technically, it was another character failing to throw a dart horribly and then hitting the unconscious character who was one death saving throw short and floating face down in water. Then, in Dungeons and Flagons, Finja died, sacrificing her life in their successful attempt to destroy a beholder. It was a sad but fitting end for that character. Finally, a barbarian who was amazing and smashing everything came up against some specters that he couldn’t kill as easily and he was rolling poorly. He got to come back, but with some pretty dire consequences for the party.

So I haven’t done a TPK (total party kill) and have to end a campaign because of that, or pick it up with new characters. I’ve knocked out characters before, but that was all with a plan of what was going to happen next and with a reason why the monsters wouldn’t just kill the players.

There are several questions that come out of death, but let’s start for a Dungeon Master even before death of a character.

Do you need to have the threat of death in your game?

It might seem like you need to, but do you really need to have that threat of death in your game? I would say that yes, death is something that has to be a threat in your game, but it should be a rare threat. You are playing with heroes, so why should these heroes be likely to go down in every fight? They shouldn’t, is my answer. There will be times when fighting against a level boss that it should be a threat, but if they are fighting a random encounter of goblins on the road, it probably shouldn’t be enough to kill them, unless I’m rolling very hot and they are rolling ice cold.

What do you do when death does happen?

This is a harder question, because you need to know how your players would react and how it happened. If it happened because a character jumped out of a fourth story window as a first level wizard, yeah, it’s going to be easier because that player was doing something dumb with their character.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

If it’s because it was in an epic combat, I think that most players would still be pretty cool with it. Especially if they sacrificed themselves to do damage to get that BBEG to deaths doorsteps and the party was able to kill them. That sort of heroes death can even be a big story element and driving force for a character if you want it. But even if it wasn’t something for the character, that death feels like it has meaning.

The harder ones to deal with are the ones that come out of the blue. It could be that the monsters were rolling hot, like I said, and the player was doing poorly, and with a critical failure on a death saving throw, you can be out fast. How do you as a DM deal with that, and then, how do you as a player deal with that?

I think as a DM, it’s about giving some time. I wouldn’t gloat about it, I wouldn’t rush quickly into the next thing. It’s fairly dumb in movies when you get that moment where the protagonists best friend dies in a fight and you get that flow motion moment of the protagonist crying, but that’s what you kind of want to do in your game. Give the players at the table that reprieve from the battle, don’t ask for any rolls, any checks, just let the players process it. Then, once there has been a little bit of time, or the players have said their piece, then you jump back into what was happening. And once that is done, you can give the other players the options of things that they can do.

Also know that players will act differently. Some are going to try and find a way that the encounter was unbalanced or something along those lines and justify why they shouldn’t have died. Others are going to find that whole moment just humorous. Then there are others who are going to be ready to start rolling up their next character right then and there. The best thing, as a DM you can do in any of those situations is just give them a moment and be considerate.

As a player, how do you deal with it when another character dies, not yours? It’s pretty similar to the DM, you give it some time. You buy into the moment and are there for the player as you can be, and in character, you play out that movie moment where you fight your way to the side of your dead comrade and pick up their body in your arms and scream at the sky. You don’t treat it lightly.

If it was your character that died, it can be tough. You grow to like your character, you want to know what is going to happen with your character and you had ideas of the story that was going to continue with them for longer in the campaign until the campaign was done. You wrote a backstory for them, you drew a picture of them, it is hard to lose something that you put time and effort into. It is kind of hard to write, because it is fairly trite to say, but remember that this is a game. You are going to like the new character that you roll up as well. The best I can liken this to is Doctor Who when you get a new Doctor, I’m always a bit hesitant with the new Doctor and I don’t think I like them as well, but basically all of them have grown on me to the point where I’m sad to see them leave. That’s the case with your D&D character as well, you might not like the new one as well at the start, but you’ll grow to love them too.

But allow yourself some time to soak in the death of the character. Don’t rush yourself into creating that new character if you don’t want to. Don’t feel like you need to be more than an observer for the rest of the session. It’s fine to wait and then when the next session is come back with a new character for the game.

Finally, as a group, when you have that first character death, come up with a way that you are going to memorialize it. I have a very silly thing written at the top, but figure out what you want to do. It doesn’t need to be much, but do something in game or out of game that you want to do for future deaths. This will help with the sense of closure for the dead character and it can be something fun to do. Toasting the fallen character in and out of game would make a lot of sense. Or, if the person doesn’t want to keep the character sheet, burning it, ideally after being folded into a paper boat and floating in a bathtub to give it a proper Viking burial, would make a lot of sense as well, but that’s going to be up to your group.

How have you dealt with the death of character in your Dungeons and Dragons games? Have you had a particularly epic character death or any really funny one?

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D&D Alignment – Lawful Evil

D&D Alignment – Lawful Evil

Welcome to the dark side of Dungeons and Dragons. Today we’re looking at the only evil alignment, in my opinion, that would make sense to join a generally good adventuring party, and that is why they make an interesting character. I also think that Lawful 

Friday Night D&D – The Losers Club

Friday Night D&D – The Losers Club

Now, you might recognize The Losers Club from It by Stephen King. That’s not what we’re going for in this case. Our Losers Club is going to be a specific mechanical thing that is going to make an interesting game and a lot of progression 

D&D Campaign: The BBEG

D&D Campaign: The BBEG

We’ve created a town, determined the magic level of the town and of our game by doing that, and we’ve come up with a hook. So who is the BBEG in this game?

First off, what is the BBEG? BBEG, if you don’t know what it stands for, means the Big Bad Evil Guy. The BBEG is also going to be the person or deity or monster that is causing the issues that your party faces in the campaign as planned thus far. It’s possible that your game could end up having several BBEG, but each one would be a separate arc, and we’re planning one arc that could be your whole campaign unless you decide to continue playing more.

Image Source: Wizards of the Coast

So, what makes a good BBEG? Some evil tyrant trying to rule everyone? Sure, that works. A mistaken wizard who believes that the person who killed their family is the king? Yup, that works too. Is it the Queen who believes that the only way to save her people is by kidnapping the youngest child and making them part of a weird cult to appease the gods? Yup, that also works.

This is one area where you can really decide how you want to take your game. The easiest thing to do to create your BBEG is to think about what type of game that you want to run again. We’ve limited our game to this smaller area, so that probably precludes some of the ideas that I’ve come up with. But a crazed wizard in the woods is always interesting.

I’m going to create what I call a mind horror that is going to be my BBEG. The Mind Horror is going to be an intelligent monster that has come into the area and is looking to gain control of the lands so that it can create a breeding ground for more Mind Horrors. So if the players actually bother to talk with it and interact with it more than just try and kill it, they can possibly come to an agreement where it will stop killing people.

Now with the BBEG, you want to hint at them early on, but your players shouldn’t come across them until later in the game, probably still before they can actually handle it, but not that much before so the BBEG doesn’t just murder your whole party in one shot. So you have to set-up stuff before your players are at that level that they can deal with.

Image Source: Encounter Roleplay

These are the smaller story arcs that the players get to play through that teach them about the BBEG and getting an idea of what sort of monster they might be facing again. So you most likely will want to have several of these arcs prior to them facing off against the BBEG. I’m thinking that my Mind Horror is going to be set as someone they face off against at level 10. Depending on how I do it, I think that I’d want about 3-4 arcs for the PC’s to have to go through before getting to the BBEG arc.

So in some order the arcs would go like the following:

Something strange going on in the mine. Most likely the workers are coming back crazy and some of them are murdering each other. The PC’s can go and investigate. First it’s thought that it’s a goblin tribe, but the players will find out the same thing is happening to the goblins. The players can then explore underground and determine eventually that it’s going to be a tainted under ground stream.

There’s also going to be a cult that is following the Mind Horror around that comes into the town. They are going to be causing problems because of killing of livestock, generally causing a malaise to come over the town and plants and animals are dying off. They are doing something to prepare the way for the Mind Horror to take over the land.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

We’re also going to have a Grima Wormtongue situation where the Wizard is going to be influenced by a new adviser into doing more and more destructive and crazy things. So the players are going to have to figure out who is causing the problem, but then will have to figure out if they decide to deal with it as a Wormtongue problem, how to get the Wizard back to normal, or deal with the Wizard as well and create a power vacuum.

Then we’ll have a situation where there are mindlings that come out of the mines and caves in the mountains. Basically they are weaker versions of the mind horror and are setting up nests in the mountains.

This would probably be somewhere in the middle. Wormtongue part would probably be the last one before they have to face off against the Mind Horror. There would also be some overlap between these things as well. Probably the earliest thing that would actually have happened is the Wormtongue situation where the Wizard is being influenced, and that’s why the wizard wants the gems. The Goblins/Mine issue might be the first thing, but the cult would start moving into town and influencing things while that is going as well.

You can see how it can become a bit to manage, but the multi-leveled story and multi-arc story gives it a better feel. And I don’t need to plan out all the way to level 20, or even all the way through the arcs until I get closer to them. Maybe the players decide they want to continue the campaign, while that can happen with introducing a new and bigger bad guy.

You can also see how I’ve tied basically everything into the small area. It doesn’t matter where the Mind Horror has come from, because it’s there already. They don’t need to go anywhere else to deal with it besides a few days out of the town at times. Maybe the next arc is more epic. Now that the PC’s have a name for themselves the Queen of the land will send them on a mission to deal with a rogue dragon up in the mountains? Or maybe it’s to infiltrate another kingdom and deal with a problem that they thought was just a normal king, turns out to be a dragon who now wants to wipe out the kingdom they are from. But that’s how you can build stories on top of each other. You could even tie it together barely by saying that the reason the Mind Horror moved to this location is because the dragon forced them out of the other kingdom.

So what do you think of the story thus far. I’m not sure there is a ton more that I would do to create this game, but I will talk some more about creating the specifics of the town and surrounding area in a later article.

What are your thoughts on the BBEG I’ve created? How do you create a BBEG?

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