Farewell, Zyn: Dealing With Character Death in Dungeons and Dragons

The inevitable has happened.

Zyn Zoland by the talented @Zombie_octopus

I’m somewhat surprised it has taken this long to be honest with you. I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons for about four years now, so going this long without suffering death is lucky. Unfortunately, said luck as run out as my Drow Wizard, Zyn Zoland, was killed.

It was a tough fight. We should have fled when we realised that we were not only outnumbered but facing some fearsome foe, yet we stood our ground. I managed to get a counterspell in and do some damage, although it ended up being all for nought. The party went down, meaning it was time to roll our death saves.

When Zyn went down and failed his death saves, my heart sank. Being attached to Zyn, it hurt to see that final nail get pushed into his coffin when the dice revealed his fate.

At the same time, I was a bit relieved. You see, after picking up an item, it turned out to be cursed. Now Zyn had a personality flaw that broke his entire character. If I was a better roleplayer, I might have been able to make it work. However, I couldn’t see that being any fun to play.

a Death Slaad

So, Ben and I decided that he was going to not be revived in tomorrow’s session. His body will be eaten by a Death Slaad before they can save him. The rest of the party doesn’t know what happened as we rolled our death saves privately to Ben.

I’m still a bit upset about it. I knew it was unlikely that Zyn would survive the whole campaign. Curse of Strahd is notorious for being a brutal module. Playing him for ten months is not bad, with all things considered. Yet it feels like a disappointing and unsatisfying end to his story. I hoped that his death would be more impactful or honourable than this, dying to save someone or casting one last spell to help the party. We can’t always get what we want, it was fun while it lasted.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, since after deciding Zyn’s fate, Ben helped me make a new character to play starting tomorrow. Daphne Lethe, Divine Soul Sorcerer, will make her debut. I’ll tell you more about her soon. I had a tad too much fun making her and can’t wait to start playing as her. Internet cookies to everyone who gets the references in her name.

I feel conflicted as on one hand, I’m mourning Zyn, while on the other, I am excited to play someone new.

As I mentioned earlier, this happens to everyone at one point or another. D&D is a game of strategy but also luck. You can make an immensely powerful character, but the dice can screw you over at a moment’s notice. Nothing is set in stone, and frankly, that is part of the fun. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when it happens. It sucks.

Naturally, you grow fond of the characters you make from the ground up and inventest a lot of time and energy into. So, how do you deal with it?

It might be a good idea to take a step back if you feel that would help. Your DM will surely understand if you want to take a break from the game for a spell. We all know the pain of losing a beloved character. Miss a session or two. Maybe use that time to make a new character.

Instead of viewing this as the end of one story, see it as the start of a new one. It’s a chance to change directions or try something new out.

In terms of strategy, this is a good opportunity to shake things up for the party overall. We are playing as a three-person party, the other two are a Rouge and a Paladin. We have limited healing, so I made Daphne a Divine Soul Sorcerer to help out in that department. She is still a spellcaster like Zyn was, so it doesn’t change things too much, just enough to hopefully give us a boost.

Farewell, Zyn. You were a delight to play, but your time has come. Maybe I will bring you back for another adventure down the road. But for now, your story ends here.

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