Okay, I'm Dead. Now What?

Hi, everyone,

One question I have that’s not really answered by the text is, what does a group do with a player whose character has died - he may have spent a Persona on Will to Live, but still failed his Health test, or maybe just decided that his character has gone as far as he can go, story-wise - but the player himself wants to keep playing? Is it a decision that should be left to each group? Have any of you folks been in that situation?

One thing that I heard on a gaming podcast somewhere (I think it might’ve been Sons of Kryos) is the idea of letting a player keep his last character’s XP, simply because the player earned it through good play. Are there any pitfalls with doing that with Artha, if nothing else? Artha seems to be the most direct reward for good play under BE.

Character’s dead and out. Player can play his character’s second in command/bodyguard/lieutenant/assistant if he had one.

If not, the player’s out for the phase. He can jump in again with a fully burned up PC at the start of the next phase.


I meant to ask this, but why does he have to wait for the end of the phase? That would really suck if you intended on playing only one phase to begin with! And phases can take months to play out. That means you can’t game for that long, which is terrible.

What would be the harm in creating a new character immediately if he had great BITs that tied him into the story without a wrinkle?

Thanks for asking, Pete! This a common question and should be addressed.

Ya can’t come back in with a new character in the same phase because of the way the game is set up from the beginning. It’s a competitive race to the end. Killing your opponent’s characters is one way to cripple the opposing side.

Popping in new characters when ever convenient would destabilize that competitive balance.


So in this aspect, the game is very much like a board or video game.

Final analysis: Don’t die and if you do, read a book or go home.

How about letting him play mook # 462? As a mook, you wouldn’t get a real character’s allotment of scenes, or a real say in anything, but you could get in a little dialogue if a real PC addresses you and maybe get to roll if a real character gets into a conflict scene and then your real PC unit commander scripts something that might grant you an Individual Action.

Scenes and helping dice are a real and valuable commodity in this game. Granting them willy nilly undermines the victor’s successes.

How about this scenario:
“Hah, I finally killed that bastard Forged Lord! That’s it all of your figures of note are dead! We’ve won! Hurray for humanity”

“Actually, you’re going to have to fight through their mook army. And their clones. Did I mention their clones?”


Though I have no problem pushing for a Win as GM (my most likely position given my group) and really sticking it to the players. Combioning Character Death (which generally sucks) with having to play out a mook (i.e. a pre existing body guard) and having no story inter action for what could be weeks on end. Would make me very hesitant to kill a character. I can see how it would be considered mean spirited, after all they can kill my figsd of Note and I still have a number of players in the NPC stable, though they may not have as much ummpphh.

I think it would really tick me off in early in the phase the GM killed my character and I had to sit out. Where if my character died and I could still make a new one I would be okay with it.

At the same time, I woundn’t want to be soft on the players, nor as a player would I want the GM to hold his punches, as I feel that it is taking away my right to lose (in a blaze of glory!). I want them to try and kill me, and if they succeed, I want to try and come back and keep the fight up.

I remember Luke mentioning a mechanic from the Buffy game, where the GM buys off a villains death with bonuses for the characters and gets to keep his villain alive. A soft-hearted GM might do something like that here, letting the players pay out artha and maybe a stat point or three to keep their beloved comrade alive.

You guys are whimps.

  1. If you don’t want to kill a character in BE, you don’t have to. Ever. Ever. Ever.

  2. If it’s a situation of deadly force, you better damn well go for the throat. We’re not talking about sitting out from a year long campaign. We’re talking about getting aced while fighting for the glory. Sometimes death is on the line. And if you can’t handle that, I know plenty of other games you can play.

Would you argue that allowing them to fudge the roll to live, assuming they spend the aratha, would be reasonable? That way their character doesn’t die, but they’re knocked out until they can recover, they’ve lost significant aratha, they’ve probably lost equipment that needs to be rebought, and most likely, if they got in a situation where they were taking lethal amounts of damage, they either lost the engagement and are running or have been captured and need to withstand interrogation.

It’s much easier and more profitable to be a good GM and not use overwhelming force against your players when it’s in appropriate than it is be a bad GM and undermine everything that your players are working for by fudging the dice.

If you’re just going to make the dice say whatever you want, why bother sweating the conflict mechanics in the game at all? Just tell the players what happens.

Anyway, everyone who’s lost a character in Burning Empires raise your hand. I see one hand.

Ok, you there, in the back. Did you have to sit out the remainder of the phase? Yes? Ok, how long was that? Half a session? Must have been painful.

Anyone else actually lose a character while playing Burning Empires?

Stop worrying!

Was that the “loading dock incident” - when we were deep into playtesting and haven’t had all of the mechanics figured out yet?

Hmm. Hmmm, okay, yeah, seeing it in context of the competitive nature of BE, it makes sense. The player’s created at least one character he has a relationship, probably the head of his retinue like Lord Faisal’s Sgt. Eliazar, so having that character step in would be cool and give a nice sense of community; it’d also likely be powerful enough that the hit to the group’s resources would be lesser while still palpable. (Does that make sense? I don’t kike how it’s written, but can’t think of better.)

Point taken. And if it’s longer, you can always give the player an inviting glance and say, “So, honey… How about some one-on-one world burning?”

Oh, wait. Yeah, sorry, folks, I’m married to one of the players I’d like in my campaign. Mightn’t work as well for those under different circumstances.

My other players? Oh. Right. Hmm. No, wouldn’t work so well if one of them got killed out. Still, there’s always Dogs in the Vineyard. On alternate weeks, of course.

Yeah, but - it’s a nuclear device, goddamn it! How do you expect me to love it?

Seriously man, getting a character killed in Burning Empires is really, really hard. Unless someone is specifically trying to kill a specific character it won’t happen. The defending side always gets to choose who receives a shot, except in Close Combat and I Corner Him and Stab Him in the Face situations. If you don’t use those and you don’t force them into a Firefight where the only forces are the PCs (without their troops), you won’t kill a character. You have to work pretty hard to engineer a situation where an important character can die.

If one character kills another character in this game, the player meant to do it. As the GM, you don’t have to pull the trigger until the last session of the phase, if you do at all.

Would it be unfair if the Player whose character died played one of the GMs Figures of Note? Would this work well with the whole players can be split between Human and Vaylen side option?

Thor’s completely right. In almost all cases, you have to put your character in a situation where they can be killed on purpose. This just isn’t going to happen because of a bad random roll. This isn’t that kind of game.

That being said, I could see situations occur where it is thematically cool for a player’s character to die and it be a decision they push for (again, not a random thing). It would be cool if you could push for this, still participate in the game, and not undermine the competitive nature of the game and the resource balance. Does the dead player character replaced by one of the GM’s Figure of Note option make sense in this case?

Sorry, Thor. It must be holdover paranoia from Heavy Gear and other “harsh” sets of rules. That, and trying to play without playing, I think.

If you’re playing another science fiction roleplaying game, sure.

Come on, people! Let the deaths be meaningful! Let them have an impact on the game! They are not a matter of inconveniece! They are a “holy shit!” moment. And the next scene is the funeral. It’s an immensely important moving event. It’s not just losing one of your lives in a video game or a matter of waiting to respawn. It’s the freaking death of a protagonist! Let it push the game forward.

And as far as participation goes: If this is an issue at your table, state the consequences at your table. “Death is serious business in this game. You die, you’re out. I cannot just cheap shot you and give you a ‘bang, you’re dead result,’ but if the situation arises, I might have my FoNs try to off you.”

I just can’t imagine playing a Usurpation or Invasion phase game in which the kidnappings, hullings and deaths were mitigated with “Hey, why don’t you bring in another 8-LP Hammer Lord?” Oh, now that makes all of the crazy shit that’s happened up to this point meaningful, yes it does…

Stop worrying!*

*BTW, the other place to really sweat it is piloting a vehicle in a Firefight. There are potentially catastrophic results there! :roll:

But again, only if it’s the sole actor on your side of the fight. :wink: