OK, gamers, I want your opinions: what do you think about killing player characters? I have always played in games where killing a PC was a last resort, and if it did happen, it was either necessary, discussed beforehand, or in a finale. I always felt that, if you expected a player to invest a lot of time and energy in character creation and development, you should honor that investment. Sometimes, you can sit with a player and say, “Your character is going to die. How do you want to go out?” and make it fun and dramatic for all the players, with no hard feelings in the end.
Note that this attitude doesn’t apply to one-shots or games that I’m playing/running for broke, without much investment in developing the character for a long-term game, though I find it’s a PITA to get people to make another character in the middle of a one-shot. It’s safe to say that, in general, when I’m GMing, I do whatever possible to make sure the players have fun and walk away from the table feeling like they were part of a interesting story, and usually this means that their characters have been successful in some way. As a player, if I bust my butt to come up with a great character and put in a lot of effort, I hope he won’t be killed frivolously.
However, I was discussing this with a fellow gamer who felt that he could and would kill PCs whenever it was realistic to do so, without warning. He didn’t go out of his way to make it happen, but if it came to pass, he expected the player to just make another character and move on. What made it harder to take is that he wants his players to come up with extensive background histories, write journals in character after each game, etc., but after a player has done all that work, he’d still cap 'em. We had to agree to disagree, but it led me to wonder what the consensus view was among gamers.
So GMs, what is your philosophy with regard to killing PCs? Players, how do you feel about your characters being killed? Ever lost a character in a way that really ticked you off? Tell me your stories and share your opinions.