Fear of Death: Creating Unforgettable Character Death Scenes

In our last adventure, after pursuing an army of darkspawn and their diabolical mage masters, Nall and his friends saved his people from death – and an even more terrible fate (reproduction with darkspawn, anyone?). 

But it was a costly victory.  It all happened so quickly, yet in slow motion.  And… I helped.

My character, the proud and always-aggressive Avvar hillsman, Nall, already black and blue and bleeding from countless wounds, was lifted towards the sky by a massive horned ogre.  And as my barbarian looked to the heavens, its massive hands clamped around my chest and ribs, its muscles rippling… the beast squeezed hard.  Bones snapped, blood and guts exploded and showered the battlefield.  My dwarf warrior and elven mage friends watched in horror and shock, their rock-like protector and instigator suddenly and brutally dead.

But it wasn’t over.  Here is where I jumped in, adding to the grizzly narration of my death scene.  This is Dragon Age after all: violent, gritty, tragic, dark fantasy.  (Perfect timing with Halloween right around the corner by the way!)  As my GM finished the description of my character being killed, stunned by strangely fascinated by the spectacular death, I wanted it to be even more spectactular.  Especially because the beast wasn’t done fighting in this awesome battle.  So I added: “And then, the ogre grabs onto the barbarian’s head, and tears Nall’s head off with its monstrous strength – and then starts beating the rest of you with it, like a rock in its fist, crushing Nall’s head further until he is completely unrecognizable.”

Pretty horrific right?  Now that’s a death scene for the ages!  The guys loved it and said they’d never forget.  I know I never will.  Domnall “Nall” Ar Colban Frosthold died spectactularly, as tragic as it was and as much as we had all come to love his sometimes exasperating restlessness and incredible toughness.  One of the guys even called me after the game to reiterate how regrettable yet awesome that death scene was, telling me he doesn’t think anyone will be topping that death for the rest of the campaign!

So remember, one of the more creative and collaborative ways to die – and die with style! – is for the player and GM to team up during the character’s death scene.  It’s just one subtle, creative way to sharpen your roleplaying and storytelling skills on either side of the table.  And while no one loves seeing their character killed, it happens in every RPG.  And when it does, fight the natural desire to quietly lament, sulk or speed through it.  Instead, turn it into a cinematic, dramatic and unforgettable scene together.  Make it great.

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