D&D characters are all the same, right? If I roll up two fighters, there's nothing to make one different from another?
I rolled up a BECMI fighter like any other. Nothing to distinguish him other than an above average (17) constitution.
He has played in exactly three sessions ever in his life. He is first level.
He has a hand crossbow with sleep arrows.
He has a dog named rot-gut that is the worst AA sponsor in the world.
His armor is dirty smelly rags that provide the protection of plate mail.
He has a goblin servant named something he's never bothered to listen to that he calls frank.
He is frequently impatient and likes to bang his sword on his shield.
His inebriation makes him incautious.
He has rejected his merchant class background.
Someday, you are going to die.
|Giovanni Martinelli says welcome to Death!|
What this means is that what we choose to do with our time is important. The characters you roll up in a simple moment for your D&D game are different from any other character created, because for a short while they exist.
This has nothing to do with the school of play. Gus L's comment about the party being the focus of the adventure is a core pillar of fourth edition. It is of critical importance to have a party, the above is just as meaningful for that type of game as any other.
Death, character death, and the possibility of it is what makes gaming matter. If there is no threat of failure, then the activity carries no risk. With no risk it can still be a fun activity, but it loses value. If we take on the arch-dracolich and know we are going to win, then we hung out and rolled some dice with friends for a few hours to come to a known conclusion.
If we did it and we know we can lose, a real meaningful thing happened.
When the life we led flashes before our eyes what I want to see are the things that I accomplished that might not have been. You can't have that without failure, without character death.
So the next time a player complains about character death, validate their feelings. "Yes, that is very frustrating." Let them roll up a new character. They will learn to play more intelligently. And when they accomplish something, determined not to be killed this time, it will have real meaning. Because their accomplishment might not have happened.
And that will be a session to remember.