This weekend I ran a DCC RPG game for two fourth graders and one dad. As mentioned on G+, my original thought was to not kill any of the PCs. Instead, at 0 HP they'd fall unconscious. Later, they'd be recovered by their comrades, and continue on.
After all, I wanted them to have "fun" right? I'm trying to create life-long gamers, here.
Well meaning, but very, VERY ass-backwards.
Fortunately the players' actions forced my hand:
- Beset by a veritable tide of bristling black spiders, Zero the Dwarf leaped into their midst. The tide washed over him, the rest of the PCs bolted, and Zero was never seen again.
- Parlaying with brigands atop a cliff, Zero Mk II decided to break off negotiations with a magic missile cast at melee range. Zero lost initiative and the brigands charged, pitching Zero to his rocky doom some 50' below.
- Deep beneath the brigand's ruined tower, Jazee the Slave opted to take a stand against a horde of oncoming brigands, with predictable results.
Each time, the group took a five minute break and had a slice of pizza while I helped the player roll up a new character. (By the end of the session, he could do it solo.)
The same player lost three characters during our session. Not once did his interest flag. The deaths weren't arbitrary or due to DM fiat – the player made his own decisions and they went poorly. As a result, he grew more focused and (slowly) more cautious with each new PC.
But what if, per my original plan, he had only blacked out, to be revived by his companions at the end of the scene?
What a boring, trivial game – utterly devoid of player agency, consequence, or reward – that would have been.
Instead, death was the great motivator. Remove death and what would we have had? Why even act at all? The results would all be the same.
So, yeah. Thank you Zero, Zero Mk II, Jazee, and finally, Golgoth*. Lesson learned.
Want to convert kids into lifelong gamers? Kill them (rather, let them die) early and often.
(*Even his names got better.)