D&D 4E Forces More Interesting Stories

Jun 21 2011

"Death Face Vector Image" by Vectorportal on Flickr

"Death Face Vector Image" by Vectorportal on Flickr

D&D 4th Edition makes death rare. A player-character can be knocked unconscious, and one can be dying, but actual character death is generally uncommon.

Character death is a big driving force for players, and provides the primary dramatic tension. Death is always scary. For a long time, the possible death of your character (usually via poor Hit Point rolls and good monster Hit Dice rolls) created a lot of the tension in D&D–will the next monster murder my character? Will this boss crush her?

Now that 4E makes death rare, combat is less of a risk than before, and death is no longer a driving force. That means that DMs must now make the overall story more interesting.

The story itself must be dramatically interesting now. DMs can’t rely on possible death for drama.

I wonder if 4E’s designers intended this, or if it was a lucky result of incorporating player feedback that random character death in the middle of a dungeon isn’t fun.

Just thinking.

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