Death Rules

A Survey and Analysis of PC Death in Tabletop Role-Playing Games



TRPGs, death, mechanics


In this paper, we define and explore player character (PC) death in tabletop role-playing games (TRPGs) through a survey of how PC death is addressed in a range of TRPG rulebooks. We connect PC death to player agency and in doing so connect death to downtime and other play modes in which players have less or no control of their PCs. We discuss how PC death affects gameplay by breaking up time, by ending or starting a period of play, or by reinforcing or severing player and PC connections. The objective of this analysis is to improve our understanding of PC death, as well as PC life and the control, agency and play associated with it.


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