Losing a character you love can be so hard..Support the show
I've played on and off in campaigns that fizzle out due to work pressure and/or lack of interest, over the years, and finally ended up in a group who solidly play every week.
It turns out when you get older finding a group with a schedule that lines up with yours is the hardest part of actually playing.
The DM is amazing and has his own huge homebrew World he's been developing and DMing in for the best part of a decade. He is expanding into an area he hasn't completely written allowing the group to help flesh out the cultures and customs he's loosely established through roleplay and chat, it's been amazing.
I decided to go for a complete change of pace for my character and created a Goliath Barbarian. Between sessions, I started fleshing out some details of his tribe, the religion and practices of the mountain people, and backstory for my massive, smashy Himbo, Dulrigg Oathbreaker.
I even created some local legends and beliefs I was looking forward to exploring.
The party had just hit level 8 the previous week after an intense combat session that gave us a lead on the Big Bad. So the party is travelling through the Tundra trying to find where we need to go. I try a nature check to see if there's anything useful I recognise in the area that would help the party, and roll a nat 20, revealing worn tracks in the snow behind a berry bush filled with two days worth of food.
Fortune smiled upon us!
We follow the tracks, and encounter a gaggle of ogres, and a couple of gung-ho party members opt to ambush them, kicking off combat.
Dulrigg and Scathach, the fellow Barbarian (Hobgoblin) of the party launch into frenzied rage and together obliterate one ogre in one turn. A solid start. After knocking another prone and caving it's head in with my warhammer, I've taken a couple of nasty hits and crits and tried pulling back to the group, having taken a substantial beating despite being a big tanky slab of ham.
Our druid casts spike growth, trapping the ogres in place and dealing solid damage.
Unfortunately, one is... incredibly powerful, and packing a bear-trap on a chain, with a weird, Baraka-Style arm blade, and three legendary abilities, a real tough bastard.
She manages to snare Dulrigg, and, with a VERY successful roll, pulls him straight to her position, flanked by two other ogres. Unable to move for the spike growth, they proceed to beat the absolute tar out of Dulrigg, and KO him. I hit a 19 on my first death saving throw.
Turn rolls around and the boss has no real option but to attack Dulrigg. DM rolls a miss, Dulrigg may just survive this I thought. And if to mock my hopefulness the DM followed the miss with two Nat 20s. The critical damage rolls are coming to 3D8 each.
The ogress lifts Dulrigg's limp, unconscious body with the bear trap. Sis knees leave large bloody furrows in the snow as he is dragged helplessly to the ogress. She stares my party down, and with a bellowing roar, unsheathes the arm blade, and decapitates Dulrigg in one swift blow.
The party goes silent. My jaw drops open as the DM describes what had just transpired.
Scathach, whose backstory has her wife executed in front of her the same way, goes into a state of shock. She drops out of rage. Staggering forward she limpy swings her battleaxe, her heart isn’t in it as her mind reels from the horrific images of her past flashing through her mind. She drops to her knees and is promptly KO'd by another Ogre.
It's all falling apart.
The rest of the party are all fairly squishy and the odds are not at all in their favor. It's late, and the DM asks if we want to pause and come back next week.
"No, we finish this"
The druid and the ranger snap out of it, and with some incredible combinations of skills and talents. They manage to, somehow, defeat every last Ogre, and make the Big One Ogress suffer for it. In brutal, unmerciful fashion they cut her down while cursing her.
They managed to avenge Dulrigg...
Nobody asks about loot, or XP. There's simply a breath. A rest. A loss.
Honestly, it was an incredible impact, and I do not fault the DM for killing Dulrigg after the double Nat 20s on a flanked, unconscious body. My man was screwed, and these Ogres were characteristically brutal.
The DM opens up about not having outright killed a PC ever before. I'm left to accept the untimely end to Dulrigg’s potential. Never reunited with his clan, never getting the opportunity to partake in a particular, nigh impossible trial that his people held in high regard, or communicating again with the joint gods of sky and land his people worshipped.
Never got to bring the party to his homelands, hearing the throat singing echoing through the valleys, as if the Gods were communicating from the rocks themselves.
While being 7 feet of pure muscle and as witty as a brick half the time, he always looked out for his far smaller, far squishier party members.
But no more.
The party logs off one by one.
I realise one thing I hadn't discussed with the DM was the funeral traditions of the clan... but I'm going to have to decide now.
A funeral pyre.
Releasing the soul to the skymother, and the ashes scattered for the earthfather. Gunnar, a party member native to these islands, and longest companion of Dulrigg, should hopefully know this, and the party will see to it that he is given a traditional farewell next week.
Until then, I have a hole where a character I was finally getting to flesh out and fully enjoy once was, but with an amazing party and a brilliant DM, I look forward to continuing. The DM offered me the chance to come back next week, but... I feel that loss needs to be tangible. Being a man down, losing a friend, an ally needs to be felt. Processed. Realised. It needs to mean something.
I'm rolling up another character to introduce in a couple of session's time, when the opportunity naturally presents itself, rather than hamfisting in a new companion immediately.
Rest easy, Dulrigg. You did good.