My wife and my roomate have been playing in an online game for a few months now, largely out of a sense of nostalgia. It’s an online “SAGA” edition of Star Wars, and she’s having a good time with the other players, and she really likes the majority of the people involved, but she plays every Saturday night, and every Sunday morning, she’s mopey and unhappy with the GM of her Saturday game because he railroaded the group into a 4 hour combat that nearly resulted in a TPK yet again, and nobody was having a good time, and she swears she’s not going to the game the next week, because she hates it.

Then next week rolls around, and she’s dialing in late at night once more, because she is worried that since she’s the healer, the whole party will die without her, and her friends will suffer.

Its that last part that gets me. The GM in question has a long history of running games that are borderline deadly every single game. And he writes the entire game as a “point to point” journey between his combats. They’re all so desparately railroaded that I gave up a long time ago. But one failing that makes no sense to me is the assertion that if one PC doesn’t show up, the other PCs will all die. Her thought is that the GM will, not realizing how tough he’s made his enemies, kill them without intending to do so.

The GM should never have to kill a PC if they don’t want to. Having a party with no healer is only a problem if the PCs act like bulls in a china shop, rushing in to combat when they should be holding back and cautiously advancing. If the PCs choose to act in a rational fashion, and choose to advance through the adventure cautiously, lack of a healer shouldn’t be an issue. And even if it is, the GM should always be able to adjust their game to deal with a weakened party, and still make it challenging but not deadly. Being able to adjust your game on the fly is a vital skill to GMing.