How to Manage the Death of the Characters in OSR: a Guide

Hello everyone! I have just written a brief essay discussing what is the point and the role of death in OSR roleplaying-games. This will be the first of a series clarifying some assumptions for new school players — including some practical advice also. It is nothing exceptional nor new. But, I had the feeling that the advice and the old-school common sense related were scattered around different blogs and discussion boards.

How to Manage the Death of the Characters in OSR: a Guide

Of course, I’m open to feedback, further advice to add to the list, and counter-examples to my point.


One piece of advice I’ve seen recently (I think it was from Whitehack) was to make the Player act as a ghost who has the limited ability to interact with the scene. So, maybe the dead character can go through walls into the next room, but can’t actually communicate too well with the party.


That’s another option I didn’t know about.

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FYI I have written a reply to some objections and suggestions I received on my post on the characters’ death.

I think it comes down to the poetic nature of the character death and how easy the individual game’s rules make it to make a new character. I focus very heavily on telling the story with my rules and making a new character is extremely quick. Systems with a lot of statistics rollups and assigning stuff and so on- that is going to hurt the player more because they know it will be a grind to make a new character.

Part of it though is how marooned the player characters are in the story as well. If the story is taking place in a way where there are no bystanders, family members, fellow members of the same organisation or guild or whatever then yes, it will be more like a superhero game where the uniqueness of the character and the demoralising grind of making another one up will add to the grief.