It’s bound to happen at one point or another. You have a group of players that take their characters off on grand adventures, gather power and fame and then. . . one dies.
How you deal with the heartbreak is one issue to deal with, but I’ll put the cart before the horse and not talk about that today. I want to talk about how you put the player group back together. The bereft player now must generate a new character. You now have several high power characters and one beginner. Who do you think is not going to be having fun for a while?
Going from a character that almost never fails to one that only sometimes succeeds is frustrating. If it had been a TPK and everyone had to go back to start, that would be one thing. Having to watch as everyone else is neck deep in danger and loving it while you’ve got to have floaties in the shallow end is no fun.
So what can the GM do? You’ll have to work with the player to find a character concept they like.
One option is to encourage Min/Maxing. I know that it’s usually bad form but in this case it could save a player from being left behind. In some systems this may not even be enough to balance things out.
Another option is to go story heavy on the character. Instead of worrying about what a character can do, emphasize who they are. They don’t have to all be the long lost heir to the throne. The character could be a local boy who has a lot of contacts in town. Everyone knows him and likes him. That can be really powerful if the GM leaves a place for it in the story.
One of the most natural options is to fill a need that the party has or didn’t know they had. Things like healers and mechanics may not always seem the most exciting but if the GM makes the job necessary in the story the character is now a functional member of the group even if they can’t hold their own in a fight.
Any other ways you’ve found that makes a new player character feel at home in a group?