Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games can be fantastic for social skills, self-exploration and creative expression, but they don’t come without risk. In the video above, popular game master Matt Mercer breaks down his methods for dealing with one of the hardest parts of a successful roleplaying game: player character (PC) death.
I don’t think I’m alone in having clung too tightly to a D&D character as a coping mechanism in a difficult time, and that can certainly make the prospect of PC death even scarier. Losing that resource can be bitterly painful, and letting go is hard. But with a little thought and effort, game masters and players can take the sting out of that loss and pave the way for moving on.
Mercer’s tips aren’t specific to playing with or as someone with mental health issues, but treating PC deaths with respect is beneficial to everyone involved. It can help the player get through the moment, it can help the group deal with the loss and accept a replacement character, and it can give the game and game world added depth and significance.
And given that Mercer runs Critical Role, a popular weekly D&D stream, it’s also worth nothing that treating player character death with gravity might also help one more group: the anxious viewers watching at home as the team takes on the big, bad dragon they’ve been building up toward for months.