[RPG] How to deal with dead characters’ gear


A few of my PCs have died. It happens. But now what? Specifically, now what happens to their items? They are rolling up some new characters and I assume they should follow the character wealth guidelines for their current level, but what is stopping them from locating their corpses and effectively doubling their wealth just like that? How do you deal with dead characters' wealth?

Best Answer

Do they have the corpses?

Do they already know where the corpses are? Do they have access to them? Are they already in someones possession?

If the party doesn't currently have the corpses but does know where they are... then it's easy: by time the new characters get to them, someone else has already looted the bodies.

If you think the party can actually get the items on the corpses, lower their starting wealth appropriately. Character wealth guidelines are guidelines, they can and should be altered as needed.

If you can't do that (because the players will be angry about it), then you'll have to alter the upcoming encounters to lower the amount of loot they get until they're back in line with where they should be.

Unintended Consequences

If you just use the wealth rules as-is but also let them get all their previous character's stuff back, you're encouraging them to change characters every time they die. Doing so gives them a major wealth boost.

There's lots of reasons you want to discourage that:

  1. It encourages people to die, and punishes those who don't die by having them fall behind on the wealth curve. That makes everyone reckless.
  2. It absolutely sucks for trying to tell a coherent story in a campaign when new characters are constantly coming and going.
  3. It also sucks for player RP and character development, as the party is constantly changing.

I was in a game once where resurrection was strongly encouraged, because a new character would come in with HALF the wealth of the old character. Granted in the event of a total party wipe he likely wouldn't enforce that, but we wouldn't be able to get the gear back in that case either without so much work that it'd just be an adventure of its own.

If you wanted to retire a character, you would leave the party while alive (with all your gear, so the party gets no wealth boost), and your new one would come in with full equivalent value. As a result, that only happened when someone was unhappy with their character and not because the character wealth chart said they could get ahead by doing it.

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