A Fitting Death: Do We Always Need to Live to Save the Day?

Dungeons and Dragons 5e

The Story

I send a message to my DM letting him know I am going for the Rod of Ruin. My note reads simply:

My mistress compels me to seek the Rod of Ruin, I have no choice but to follow her command.

Careful to make sure some of the metagamers in the group don’t see me, I slip the note to the DM. Distracted by the euphoric end to game, my companions don’t see the hand over.

This Kalarel bugger is a right nasty fellow.

Kalarel, the arch nemesis of our campaign, was almost dead and I made the first of my dex(stealth) rolls. Being a -1 on Dexterity was no help, but my mistress Silussa was looking down on me this day. My first roll was an 18 followed by my second, a 17. I send another note to my DM giving him the results and telling him I can make it to the Rod in two turns.

On our second round, Kalarel is toast. I can’t even remember how he died. I was too focused. I needed the rod and then I had to get to the portal to Orcus.

We continue our round according to initiative. I don’t move my character so the metagamers don’t know where I am headed.

I quietly whisper to my DM that I have made it to the rod while my companions attempt to examine the room and try and destroy the portal to the Underworld, and Orcus. I make a strength check of 15, plus 1 for my strength modifier. It should be enough. Let’s see what the Dungeon Master thinks.

Orcus, Lord of the Undead.
Orcus, Lord of the Undead.

I scratch out a note as the party attempt to make Medicine and History checks. They must get 8 successful check before they make 3 failures. They are up to 3 successes and 1 failure right now. I palm the message to the DM:

I’m gonna make a run for the mirror and try and jump through.

The DM looks at me quizzically. “You really want to do this, bud?”

“Yep,” I say, “ And I am going see if my Mistress gives me any insight into this mirror on the way.”

“You’re sure.” The DM replies trying to will me to understand that this is certain death.

“Uh hu, I’m already running to the portal”

“O-kay.” He responds reluctantly, “You’re gonna have to roll for arcana.”

The D20 is still working, I roll a 17 plus my arcana modifier. “21!” I declare. A baffled silence fills the room as my companions are completely mortified by what is happening.

The signs were already there however. The increased nattering with my character’s self (That sentence just sounds weird). The uncontrolled use of Mask of Many Faces – a glorified Disguise Self, but at will, for Warlock – which at the end made me look like I was wearing a Ram Onesie. Clearly the situation with my Warlock character’s fiend benefactor was at some kind of tipping point.

Sprinting up to the podium, my DM reads out a vague response to what magical history I am encountering resulting in a successful point for my companions before I launch myself into oblivion.

For all intents and purposes, I am dead.

My companions are shocked at the sudden turn of events and respond with confusion. Why? They ask, but the DM keeps them in check. No time to mourn. There is a gate to close with a warlock, most likely dead, on the other side.

With two failures to deactivate the mirror and seven successes, the fate of Winterhaven lies on the roll of the die.

Sagan Bra'el's last Hurrah - last seen leaping into a portal to meet Orcus.
Sagan Bra’el’s last Hurrah – last seen leaping into a portal to meet Orcus.


But…Why do it? Why Kill Your Character?

My warlock half-elf, Sagan Bra’el was a pretty cool character to play, but before this meet to take on this boss in the campaign, the DM said that he would not continue with the campaign. The DM said that he wanted to do something a little bit different in future Friday DM’s sessions and complete a sort of a bucket list of loosely bound together oneshots.

For me, there was no real significance in holding onto my character, when I could create more drama and suspense for my friends by a suicidal last ditched attempt to protect my companions. And I think it worked.

My second reason was to give my DM a bit of inspiration to create some of his oneshots. My character, Sagan’s mistress, Silussa an arch-succubus, would certainly have the power to plane shift me and also have a reason for me to take the Rod of Ruin through the portal to face the overlord of the undead, Orcus. There is room for resurrecting the character or sending the party after Sagan in future oneshots. Sagan could even be changed into a villain and play against his former companions. Or Sagan could just fade away into memory.

Dying didn’t really matter. The story did and the enjoyment of my friends did. A Dungeons and Dragon character is a big investment in time, thought and emotion, but sometimes it is better to let them go.


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