Dungeons & Dragons Players Discuss Fates Worse Than Death

Dungeons & Dragons players discuss the ways Dungeon Masters have created consequences worse than death for their characters.

Dungeons & Dragons players are well aware of the threat of death in the game. The fact that characters with days or even weeks of combat, storytelling, and lore invested in them can die permanently is part of what makes the game Dungeons & Dragons significant. The Dungeon Masters know this, of course, and the best DMs treat the death of player characters very carefully. DMs also know that sometimes death just isn’t enough. Dungeons & Dragons players recently shared their experiences of when DMs gave their character a fate worse than death.


In a Reddit thread titled “Besides dying, what’s the one thing you’re worried your DM might do to your character?” Dungeons & Dragons players share their biggest fears and scariest experiences. The thread is full of gruesome ways a campaign has led to a nightmare for their character, whether it’s a fitting ending, an over the top DM, or something entirely unexpected.

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The comment at the top of the Reddit thread captures the basic idea behind a fate worse than death. Dungeons & Dragons Player _Squint explains that their “happy Gnome father of 4 children” liked to tell little stories about their wife and children throughout his adventures. That is to say, he liked to tell stories about his family before the villain of the D&D campaign “stole all the memories of the wife from my PC.” It’s the kind of tragedy that endures, especially for the player who remembers how much his Gnome character loved his wife.

An example of fate worse than death that revolves more around Dungeon Master error than storytelling is summed up in one short sentence: “Let them survive when they should have died.” Sometimes a player character’s death is either a natural conclusion to a story or perfectly appropriate in a given scenario. Having them not die can take the teeth out of an adventure, derail a character’s arc, and just reduce player investment in general. Doing what may seem nice can be a DM’s biggest mistake.

There are also plenty of examples given of DMs being just jerks, either because they’re mediocre at work or because they think it’s funny. Examples include “undermining” a Dungeons & Dragons the player-character’s motivation or personality trait, causing a PC to be unable to control the volume of their voice, unfairly overriding background decisions, or deciding that a character’s story ends without the player involvement. A particularly gruesome decision by a DM is to use a player character as an NPC, at least without asking for approval first.

Many of the answers to the question ultimately boiled down to Dungeons & Dragons players view a poorly executed game as worse than their character’s death, which is entirely understandable. But the ways a campaign can go wrong also reveal how well it can go. Communication and creativity are at the heart of any great Dungeons & Dragons decision, to the point that they can even create incredible moments when a fate worse than death is exactly the right thing to do.

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