What Happens When You Die in D&D 5e?

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So you failed that third death saving throw, or maybe you fell into a bottomless pit, and now your player character (PC) is dead! What do you do? You roll up a new character and start anew!

It’s easy to become attached to your D&D character. In fact, it’s a testament to the power of D&D that players become so attached to their characters. However, keep in mind this is a game. A part of which involves character death.

Losing your character is practically a rite of passage for new D&D players.

Some DMs carefully avoid killing PCs. Others seem to go out of their way to do so.

I dislike both styles of DMing. But I actually prefer games where PC death is a real possibility because it makes the stakes higher, intensifies combats, makes victories more incredible. It also creates amazing role-playing moments when someone in the party dies, and again when your new character joins the party.

Having said that, take a breath before you assume your character is actually dead. You might be emotional, but try to remain calm. Reexamine the situation carefully to make sure that no one made a rules mistake. Even stubborn DMs don’t (usually) want a PC to die due to a mistake, so they will usually come up with a way to keep your character alive.


Continuing The Game

If you’re sure your character is dead, talk to the other players. Maybe someone can cast revivify, reincarnate, or raise dead.

Note: this usually isn’t an option until characters reach at least level 5.

If you’re playing in Adventurers League, provided that your body is “recoverable,” you are allowed to pay for a raise dead spell to be cast on you. If you’re Level 4 or lower, you can invoke Faction Charity to pay for the Raise Dead instead. See the Adventurers League rules for details.

If these options fail and you’re determined to see if there’s a way to keep your character alive, talk to your DM away from the other players, or discretely send a text message. Some DMs are willing to help a party find ways to bring a PC back to life. Or maybe they’ll let your former-PC’s “identical twin” join the party.

However, DMs usually don’t want to do this in the middle of combat or in front of the other players.

If you’re forced to roll up a new character due to character death, your DM really should allow your new character to start at the same level as your former character, unless you’re playing in Adventurers League.

There is nothing more frustrating than losing levels because the dice didn’t roll in your favor.

It also puts you at an unfair position compared to the other PCs. Feel free to show this post to your DM if they don’t believe you.

In the event of a Total Party Kill, also known as a Total Party Wipe, the DM may want everyone to re-start at a lower level.

This is a reasonable request and should be negotiated between the DM and players.

Ultimately, remember that part of the fun of playing a role-playing game is in playing different roles. This is why it’s usually a lot of fun to role-play a new character. Odds are you’ll eventually become just as attached to your new character as you were to your old character.

And you’ll also have an awesome story to tell about how your character died!

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