This announcement by NewbieDM came across my RSS feeds earlier this week, and it’s a great cause to support. Follow the link for more details.
Characters die. It’s a fact. If they don’t, then you’re not playing the game right (ooohh… I can hear the debate on that point starting already.) My suggestion for the GMs out there is to let the player of a dead character take over some Bad Guys, NPCs or other some such characters/events until they have the time to create a new character. I don’t like the idea of stopping the game cold while the new character is created. This means that a handful of people are bored instead of a single person. I’m not capricious or mean, but characters in my games die. When this happens, I let the player pick up their dice and start rolling up a new character right away. It may take them out of the game for a short bit, but that’s the price they pay for getting themselves into a situation that they couldn’t get out of.
I love these types of posts. I’ve joined lots of groups with more success than failure, but those failures really stick out in my mind. Anything I’ll do anything I can to help my few readers avoid my mistakes. Surveys like this one that I’ve linked to are key.
Make your NPCs memorable! It’ll make for a richer campaign setting. Even the best description of a room in a dungeon won’t help because it’ll be forgotten as soon as the characters exit. The best city layouts and maps are tools to help keep things organized, but are not immersive (usually.) However, a great NPC will be remembered for years and can become a key point in the quality of the game.
I agree with the post over at Tao of D&D wholeheartedly. While I’ve run my fair share of NPCs as party members to fill the gaps when a group is small, I hate doing it. It splits my focus when it shouldn’t be. Likewise, the GM is there to provide a quality game for the players at the table, and not be a player himself. It’s just the way it should be done. If a GM thinks of himself as a player, then he’ll start to want to “win” and when that happens the game suffers horribly.