Pushing A Pull Door, And Other Ridiculous Tabletop Game Deaths

Last week I asked on Twitter about your dumbest tabletop roleplaying deaths, and boy, did you all deliver.

An exciting and terrifying aspect of each new gameplay session for my tabletop games is that I'm just one or two bad dice rolls from completely eating shit. Once, when playing a dragonborn bard, I almost got taken out by a flying table. I managed to get a success on a death saving throw after being bonked in the head, but I was knocked unconscious again pretty soon afterward. I think I only managed to survive that one because the battle ended before I was declared dead.

After reading some of your stories, I see that I could have gone out in much, much stupider ways. Harvey Starter told me that he was almost taken out by his party's healer:

"So my character got caught in a giant spider web inside a narrow corridor. She decided to try to free me by hitting the web with a mace. She kept failing the roll and bonking me in the head," he wrote. "Worst part is she was the DM's wife so he didn't try and stop her. Meanwhile everyone else is screaming at her to stop. Our rogue with a knife kept trying get to me but our DM, being the sadist that he was, just let her keep going." Thanks Harvey - that is sad but also extremely funny.

Sometimes it's not the death that's humiliating, but what kills you. "My friend Dean was in a party that, for reasons lost to time, decided to rob some poor peasant farmer. He fought back, and rolled a magnificent critical hit on Dean, who demanded to know what the weapon was. DM quietly rolled a die, checked the farmer's possession list, looked up, and calmly said, 'bag o' foodstuffs,'" Tom told me. "It's been over 30 years, and we can still make Dean erupt into a stream of furious profanity by saying 'bag o' foodstuffs.'

Jeremy emailed me a story of a one-shot campaign he ran where everyone wanted to kill each other. "The DM had us roll up level 5 evil characters we weren't attached to and get into a Reservoir Dogs situation where everyone has motivation to kill and betray at least one other party member on the delivery run," he said. "I got downed by an ogre and another player claimed to be doing CPR but was actually just stabbing me while saying 'I guess he didn't make it.'"

Jeremy also said that it's been pretty hard to die in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, which has been the case for me too. He thinks that maybe his DMs are fudging the rolls a little. "I know I do," he said. "One of my players just plain caught an arrow from a goblin at level 1 for twice her hit points. I said the goblin failed its intelligence check to think to time the shot through the windmill's blades up in its sniper perch and the lazy pastoral windmill caught it."

A lot of people seem to have bad luck with inanimate objects in tabletop games. Cherry, for instance, was killed by her armour. "My mech had reactive armour that blew up to reduce the first hit of damage taken per fight, but i didn't get hit until the boss used its strongest attack," she said. "It did no damage but sent my character FLYING, and I took a ton of fall damage which triggered the armour, launching me again."

A lack of trust almost killed Kirby's entire party. "Years and and years years ago, in a one-shot, entire party was mortally wounded because most of us refused to trust an ordinary unlocked door," they said. "Wasn't even a combat-focused game, but if you ram yourself into something enough times something's gotta give. It was a pull door."

Luna wiped out her party with a stray arrow. "Missed arrow hit beer barrels that were too full," she said, "so it built up incredible pressure that when the arrow hit, it exploded and killed the whole party (and the bad guys)." The mental image of this is truly incredible. Is it like when Charlie has the fizzy lifting drink in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but lethal?

Luna isn't the only person who had a problem with deadly beverages. Joseph Knoop told me that his party's "vampire rogue fell through the floor of an abandoned church and into a small pool of holy water." Feel like I saw that one on Buffy.

Dimsumcinema had my favourite falling death. "Scared by my ancestor's ghost while I was crawling inside the ceiling, fell down on a sword and impaled. Fun times," he said. At least he got to join his ancestors shortly thereafter.

Some players are taken out by their own hubris. "My dwarf paladin was mooning a charging group of scouts on horseback and two of them had bows," Muaz said. "Both rolled crits and I died with an arrow in each cheek."

Nich emailed me a story where his eyes were bigger than his stomach as well. "Endgame of our campaign, we were storming an archfiend's fortress in Hell, and came across the barracks of the entire place," he said. "Riot, my tiefling bard, looks at the room's dimensions, thinks 'I have a spell that can hit everything in here!' runs in and casts. The damage roll is low, all 16 devils inside survive it, and on the next turn in combat I eat 32 scorching rays at once." You tried, at least.

When I asked about all the dumb ways you died in tabletop games, I knew I'd get some hilarious answers. You've been impaled by your own weapons, accidentally killed by party members, and been the victim of some truly cruel dice rolls. My absolute favourite response, though, is from Natalie, who just wrote, "Bees."

Thank you Natalie. Please never give me any more context for this one.


    Back in 3.5 we had a party that was pretty low, but high enough that I had been able to enact my plan of getting what I was sure to be a super annoying Barbarian perk. Our party had a character that was notorious for checking literally every door we came across for traps and so had earned the name "Dr Phil".

    Dr Phil had checked over twenty doors in this dungeon without finding a single trap before I got frustrated and threw a door open only to find a high level a maximised fireball spell attached to it. Hijinx ensues with three of our eight players going down immediately and the remainder preparing con/dex rolls to remove the fire.

    The perk I had mentioned earlier was a perk that made it so when you raged everyone in your vicinity had to make a will check or flee at full speed with will checks every round after to save them from the fear of my beastly barbarian. Problem was that my intimidate skill was pretty high as I wasn't building for reals, but for laughs. Long story short everyone except one player fails their will and con saves and ends up burning to death (including me) and our last player was trapped in a dungeon full monsters that he was not really equipped to fight.

    It was my first full party accidental wipe, but not my last.

    Some of these deaths really seem like "rocks fall the entire party dies" cheap deaths

    DMs do realise you arent supposed to be adversarial to the party right? Your not just supposed to murder them with cheap bullshit deaths, its not the 80s anymore rocks fall and the party dies is not fun, DMs are supposed to be the handlers of fun and adventure

    That doesnt mean nobody ever dies but if someone dies it should be their own fault not like "oh look your one weakness appeared out of nowhere gg get rekt you died" dont be cheap with your storytelling

    Details have been lost in the shadows of time, but hearken back to the days of lore (read: mid 80's), and I was playing my very first campaign. I had a human thief as a character (ah Houdini, you were a treasure), and we toddled off for an adventure.

    At some point along the way, we needed to get some gem for some reason or other. Pretty important part of the story, it was a pivotal part of the story. Cant remember why. Anyhow, Houdini stepped up and attempted to pinch it.

    Thanks to some bizarre run of die rolls, he managed to steal the gem, but get killed by the God who owned it. Who then felt pity for him, because our quest was noble or something like that, so resurrected him. Unfortunately, it was a Dwarven God, so got turned into a Dwarf. Multiclass as well, in a combo Dwarves couldn't usually do.

    Was a lot of head scratching and improvising to make it work, but we did. including needing to run around naked for a while because his armor no longer fit...

    He ended up getting crushed by a wagon just outside of a town a few weeks later, trying to pinch some loaves of bread.

    Another one from me. I had a centaur warrior to whom the DM took a disliking. We ended up on a ship that was boarded by pirates. My poor centaur lost his grip on the deck and was swept overboard, where he was swimming quite strongly until he fell unconscious from blood loss and was eaten by sharks...

      @haoran how was my previous comment inappropriate?

        @haoran I've read the community guidelines. Please let me know how my previous comment violated them.

        Last edited 07/06/18 10:50 am

          One of the words you used in your comment is not appropriate in a modern context, even if is an archaically accurate use of the term. I'm sure you can find a way to rephrase the story without the word in question.

          Also Haoran doesn't moderate comments, he's busy keeping the sites up and running so in future feel free to ping myself or Alex instead :)

            Sorry Hayley, it showed that Haoran replied to my comment, so I thought he had moderated it. Apologies for the error @haoran and thanks Hayley for the explanation.

    My kids with pits and doors. It's the fucking best.

    Playing Pathfinder as a spiky purple-haired gnome bard. We were at the bottom of a cliff and needed to get to the only swinging bridge at the top.

    We worked out that a summoned eagle had the strength to carry a gnome - if the gnome was naked and carrying one end of a long rope, so up I went.

    Turns out that the spell reached 90% of the height of the bridge, leaving a naked gnome suddenly clutching one handful of rope and one fistful of nothing when the eagle evaporated into thin air.

    It was a long, glorious descent.

    I'll never forget the ridiculous predicaments you end up in when playing Paranoia. Yeah, I know it isn't tabletop, but dear god it is fun. You're lucky if you manage to achieve anything in that game.

    Last edited 07/06/18 2:42 am

    I had a character who was min-maxed as a ranger/scout/skirmisher, who on a full attack (+42/+37/+32) would hit for 1d8+7d6+25 damage on each hit with her bow, as long as the target was an evil undead.

    Needless to say, in an undead-heavy campaign, our DM was getting frustrated, and started making me account for ammo. Introduce Nancy the mule, who carried numerous sheaves of arrows (up to her maximum carrying capacity) making her look something like a moving haystack of arrows. Naturally, this made Nancy somewhat of a fire hazard.

    My character was burned to death by a flaming Nancy and burning sheaves of arrows after a fireball hit.

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