Real life death in your DnD group is something that we hopefully won’t have to deal with, but it can happen. In these trying times, we often don’t know what to do.
Real life death in your DnD group can happen to a player or DM. Either way, it is terrible but there are some tips to help you deal with it.
These tips are meant to help in the DnD setting, but are not as good as professional help. If you are looking for help on how to deal with grief or loss, look towards a professional. These tips are just meant to help you deal with loss in your own way.
Dealing with loss
I know I just stated this, but if you need help with grief or loss look towards professionals. This is just to help you deal with loss in a way that only DnD can help you with, and to honor their passing.
Now that we have the legal part out of the way, let’s look into how you can honor your fallen player.
Real life death in your DnD group is tragic, but there are a few pieces of advice that I can give.
Personally, you should take some time to grieve. It is not a show of weakness to be sad for your friend dying. Everyone has to die eventually, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that how a person dies, or the fact that they die, isn’t tragic. So take some time and grieve if you need.
In this time, you can use your DnD group as a source of support. They were friends with your DnD player as well, so they can share in the memories and help ease the pain of their passing.
Aside from leaning on your group, you can also honor them in the game that they so loved. You can give them one final sendoff in DnD.
Not many players talk about real life death in your DnD group, so you might not have heard of funeral sessions.
The player who died will have a funeral that you can attend, but that isn’t the same as a funeral session. Many times, a funeral session gives a much better funeral to the player for other DnD friends than a traditional funeral.
A traditional funeral is meant to give a sense of closure, but you might not know their family or care about the rest of their personal life. Even if you do, it isn’t as personal as setting up a funeral session for your lost player.
Funeral sessions are when you as a group give a personal sendoff to the player as you knew them, and it is a much closer way to give a final sendoff that helps everyone with their grief much better than a standard funeral would.
So, how would you give a funeral session? The answer depends on if that player who died is a normal player in the group, or a DM.
Player funeral sessions
For a player, the session is generally about their character. You will still grieve the real life death in your DnD group, but you knew them through their character. This is the case for most groups. If you have played with this player for years and they have played with different characters, then this may not be as effective. For most groups however, even those who have been with this player for multiple characters, player funerals will help ease their passing.
A player funeral session is where the character is sent off in a good way. Do not send the player off in a terrible manner even if it makes story sense! I cannot stress this enough. You want to honor that player’s memory and even if it is a little different than what you had planned, send the player’s character out with a bang.
If the last session before the player’s untimely demise had the party wrapped up in combat, give that player character an important roll that befits the player. If the character dies, it has to be in a noble sacrifice of course, but that character doesn’t need to die.
The player’s character can be sent off to retire and never heard from again doing what they always loved to do. This is just as good, if not better since it gives a feeling of happiness towards that character, and thus, the player.
You may be wondering why I am so concentrated on the character’s sendoff. It is an understandable question.
We have seen the player and character as a connected entity. Yes, they are different people but that character is a part of the player. Thus, if you say farewell to the character in a good way it is like saying farewell to the player. This also gives a sense of closure, and though it may sound silly it does help everyone.
DM funeral sessions are a bit different though since they are not connected to a singular character.
DM funeral sessions
For player funeral sessions we focused on giving their character a proper sendoff, but that isn’t the case with DMs. They don’t have a singular character, and giving all their NPCs sendoffs doesn’t really help. NPCs are just tools used by the DM and not as personal and player characters.
For DM funeral sessions, players should focus on ending the story. This may seem quite different than the glorious or happy sendoff that a character gets, but it is the most effective way to send off a DM.
The DM built this world and created a grand environment for you players to play around in and most likely screw up. In a good way of course, but you buffoons cause trouble wherever you go and sometimes save the day. It is a fun adventure that you all have had together, but it’s time has come to a close and having that closure is important.
A DM funeral session might start out like a normal funeral. You all go around and talk about what were the highlights of the game and what you appreciated from the lost DM. After these emotional highlights, you should finish the story by giving a quick epilogue.
If you are in a final fight, finish it. If not, just give a quick brief descriptor on how to finish the plot and what happens to your characters. Strangely enough, your characters are a part of the DM’s world and the closest connection that you have to the DM is through your characters. That is why you need to give a brief epilogue on what happens to all your characters, in addition to ending the story.
This real life death in your DnD group may not seem like it as focused as a player funeral, and it isn’t. A DM deals with a vast world that you are apart of, and if you give it a satisfying conclusion that is the same as saying farewell to your lost DM.
Real life death in your DnD group is not something to easily deal with. It is a hard topic to write about, but I hope that I have helped you deal with this hard situation.
DM and player funerals are extremely important. Your game is personal to you, your group of players/friends, and the world that you all created together. If you give a sendoff to the world, plot, or character, it is even more impactful than a standard funeral for most groups.
Once again, this isn’t a way to replace dealing with grief and loss in the traditional sense. This is just a way to help you cope with the grief in a way that only DnD can.
I once again really hope that I have helped you grieve your loss, and maybe helped you find closure.
This has been Wizo, and keep rolling.