The Play-Your-Dead-Character Campaign

15 March, 2011

I’ve read a few articles on the topic, notably Wizards’ article about revenants. The particular idea that I’m trying to work with is… that a Total Party Kill (or similar happening) does not grind the party to a screeching halt, but rather becomes a new turn.

In my Hell Campaign, the list of characters the party can use is made up of characters that have died or been killed during the last 1.5 years of the campaign. It’s a side-campaign that has a goal that must somehow be accomplished for the main campaign to viably continue. There are three parts of this campaign that I wish to be different from the norm. The first is the foundation, the view of the world and of hell. The second is the subtle effects the world itself has on the characters. And lastly, but most interestingly, is the cruelty inherent to the world.

Some awaken, while others have been wandering for decades and centuries. It’s a world that mirrors their own, but somehow feels off, slightly wrong, or uncomfortable. Perhaps the sky is a hue too sickly, or the sounds of footsteps echoes too ominously. Blood runs from the eyes of the fountain statue in the middle of town and no one bats an eye. This is my world’s foundation.

Of the possibilities I plan to explore is how the actions of a powerful party affects certain parts of the Underworld. Allies and enemies long since defeated may have been changed drastically in unlife. Certain powerful fallen may have grown even stronger in the Shadowfell. One of the most powerful messages I wish to convey in this campaign is that though everything may seem the same, everything is different…

On the topic of the characters, each PC is vaguely aware that they have been killed, with their own opinions on the matter. This hell has been warping certain facets of their personalities in the shape of character flaws. These are roleplaying tools that should prove interesting. One flaw that I highly look forward to is a young Dwarven girl that was unfortunate enough to strangle her elderly father and clan leader to death. One of her character flaws is that in times of stress, she seeks to strangle a living creature. Further, it remains a flaw because such an action is ironic to her nature.

Body mutations, race changes, inability to use the abilities of their previous class, peronality changes… everything is permitted, as I am an advocate of character death able to change a character entirely. Further, going along with the subtlety of the setting, I think much will work out. For example, a character previously a Warforged has been brought to hell, but is succumbing to a curse of flesh. Another character has developed a fractured personality, one that is near-opposite of his normal one. Using the example in the previous paragraph, there is much offsetting about a sweet, young girl, tears running from her eyes, slowly and unwillingly twisting the neck of a small mammal.

Finally, each player knows of the campaign’s cruelty. The goal of the campaign, for each PC involved, is the chance to return to life. Each and every character have lost hooks, stories that could not be finished, because they could not fill the role. It pleases me greatly as a DM, because I would love to pick up some of these stories again and be able to finish them with a satisfying ending. It also pleases me to see players feel strongly about their happenings, with a desire to fulfill their goals. The creature that lives, I foresee, will be responsible to fulfill the wishes of his fallen comrades.

Because I am a humorous DM, all of the PCs involved are actually related to one actual player. So regardless of who will “win” and who will “lose” along the way, we will make that player cry. Oh, and the campaign will be epic.

How have you made your players cry, recently?



One Response to “The Play-Your-Dead-Character Campaign”

  1. Sounds like a great framework for a campaign. Hope you can report on it as it plays out.

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