Massively Overthinking: The dumbest deaths in MMORPGs


This past week has been amusing for everyone in the MMO community and beyond who loves to watch people die stupid deaths in video games, all thanks to World of Warcraft’s hardcore classic mode, where a dead character represents hours and hours of lost work. For example, there’s the story of the Night Elf Hunter who feigned death in Stormwind, only to find out the hard way that if you don’t stop the skill in six minutes, you die for real. Or the Hunter who rolled need on an INT/SPI belt, provoking the Mage into a duel to the death – a very final death in hardcore, all over a dumb belt. (The thieving Hunter won. Seriously, why is it always Hunters?!)

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, tell us about the dumbest MMO death you’ve ever experienced! Oh, what’s that? You’re an elite gamer who’s never died a dumb death? In that case, tell us about the dumbest MMO death you’ve ever witnessed!

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): My Asheron’s Call 1 patron had a saying: “If you’re not dying, you’re not trying.” I can’t remember half my dumb deaths. I’ve died in acid pits in a few games, AFKed in a lowbie zone and came back dead from that game’s goblin-proxy, let a child play my WoW character on a PvP server only to have said child rush over to tell me they got me killed, sacrificed myself to AC1 bunnies and cows multiple times so they’d level up and kill new players.

But the dumbest deaths I can really remember were in AC1, and not my own. In AC1, when you died, you lost items and took a 5% stat hit. You could run back to get your items off your in-game corpse and earn xp to work off the stat hit, but obviously you had to play smarter after that death. One buddy of mine never did that. To make matters worse, he was impatient and played a mage. Mages needed sometimes 15 minutes of buffing just to play for that amount of time or less. It was a recipe for disaster.

So the first deaths happened in a high-level, fast spawning area that only got more intense as more people would come. He told me what happened, and I told him to wait for me to come help. Naturally, he wasn’t going to wait and died before I got there. And again right when I got there. I knew I needed backup, so I called over a mage buddy, thinking that stronger buffs and area-of-effect magic could help us keep things clear. Before the higher-level mage could arrive, my buddy died again despite my pleading for him to wait. Our rescue attempts only led to more deaths, as my buddy was in such a weakened state that he died in one or two hits. We told him to stand back while party-xp helped him regain his stats, but he’d always jump in when he wrongly thought he could grab some of his items.

So we called in my patron, as she had a bizarre bug that ensured monsters would prioritize her over most other players. Not only did my buddy die again before she got there, but he started dying just running to the rescue staging area. Even when she was nearby, he’d die from things like impact damage from jumping off small hills he no longer had the HP to survive.

And suddenly, he logged out. I told the others it was probably a ragequit and I’d talk to him, but out-of-game he told me he’d been smacked with a 15-minute suspension for “bug abuse,” which of course wasn’t the case. When his timeout was up, he returned full of cursing for the game. Suddenly, he stopped replying: His character was there, madly jumping up and down but saying nothing. Apparently, his potty mouth got him blocked in chat too (we communicated through the inscription panel on his wand).

Using the wand trick, he told us that the admins suspended him for dying too much and were prepared to do it again. Then an admin appeared and took his wand-of-smack-talk, issuing a public warning and accusing him of trying to intentionally crash the server by spawning multiple bodies. So I had to explain that no, my friend was just reckless, impatient, and a little dumb, after which the admin, laughing all the way, gave my buddy and our rescue crew some max-level buffs so we could clean up the mess. In the end, we managed to recover all the bodies, but without a doubt, that was the dumbest set of deaths I’ve ever seen in an MMO.

Andy McAdams: Somewhat recently, when I was playing WoW with the Evoker, I got really used to my glide and I would just yeet myself off of cliffs and glide away. It worked great! Except when I wasn’t playing an Evoker, and I would throw myself off a cliff only to realize that I couldn’t… actually glide. Similarly, I’ve jumped to my death on more occasions than I can count because I’ve been on a cliff with a non-flying mount and I just take a long, glorious flight that ends in a corpse run.

But there is one that wasn’t me but was caused by me. In one of the many iterations of talents in WoW, Rogue had a talent that ensured if you were attacked and dodged, you retaliated with an attack automatically. I was standing in Razor Hill, mounted on my Brewfest ram. A random lowbie toon came up and challenged me to duel, and for whatever reason I accepted. The duel started, and the lowbie attacked. I dodged and automatically retaliated, insta-killing the lowbie… without actually dismounting in the course of the whole duel. It was a dumb thing, but it made me laugh at the time, and it’s one of those deaths that stuck with me because of its absurdity.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): My own dumb deaths are nearly always to the environment, not to players or mobs – you haven’t really played Classic EverQuest until you’ve fallen off Kelethin and added to the pile of naked Wood Elf corpses at the bottom of the lift. Hell, I just did the equivalent of this not all that long ago in Guild Wars 2, where I’m still getting re-acclimated to my mount buttons. Let’s just say that before I got my “remount in midair” mastery skill, I exited my own skyscale a few times and splatted on the ground. I have definitely died to scrapper-lock in City of Heroes too (locking on to meleeing targets so obsessively that you overlook what’s about to murder you, the extra mobs about to get pulled by a runner, the fact that the controller is overwhelmed, etc.).

I will say that some of the most entertaining and cackle-worthy deaths I’ve seen came in Ultima Online because of the nefarious PvP scene. Back in the early days, pretty much everyone carried a trapped box and placed it over their keys or runes or reggie pack; if a thief accidentally double-clicked on the box while trying to rifle through your back, kablammo to said thief. On the flipside, poisoner toons also had to carry their poisons with them to reapply to their weapons, and I fully admit that I more than once died to my own poisons from accidentally misclicking them and being unable to cure myself in time. Whoops.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): Final Fantasy XIV released the Leviathan trial in patch 2.2 waaaay back in 2014, and it’s the first thing I think of when it comes to silly deaths. Even today, if it pops up as one of my random trials, there’s still a chance that there’s going to be a party wipe. It all stems from the timing for pushing a button at just the right moment to prevent said wipe. There are times where a group of seven experienced FFXIV players and a newbie will experience the party wipe, and it’s hilarious! I don’t do it anymore, but I used to take a shot every time I saw a wipe from that mechanic.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): One of my dumbest deaths that I can best recall happened while I was playing through the base quests of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which happened at a location in Coerthas known as the Witchdrop.

For context, this POI is basically a big deep ravine in the middle of the ground, and in the game’s lore it was a place where members of the Ishgaridan inquisition brought people who were suspected of consorting with dragons; if the accused died from the fall, they were deemed innocent and would be welcomed into the halls of the goddess Halone, while the guilty would sprout dragon wings and attempt to fly away, at which point they would be shot down by attending archers.

In-game, the Witchdrop location does indeed causes fall damage enough to lower character HP to one point (nobody outright dies from a fall) – something I discovered by tossing myself down the ravine as part of a quest step… where I was immediately beset by a couple of demons who snacked on my single hit point.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): Me: “I bet there are invisible walls around this hole in the ground, I’ll just take a shortcut over it to turn this quest in.”
Game: “That was a deep well.”
Game: “You have been incapacitated by misadventure.”
Game: “Deed Completed: Well Traveled”
Me: “I… What? Where the heck did I respawn?”

LOTRO players know.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): All of the years — and the deaths — have blended together into a montage of silly moments. No one character demise sticks out in my mind, but I will say that I never feel quite so foolish as when I die by accidentally falling from a great height. Not only did I have to suffer the ignominy of dying, but now I’ve got to climb. It. All. Over. Again. That’s a table flip moment.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I’m not completely sure of my absolute dumbest death of all time, but certainly one of the worst was in Guild Wars 2 – several times. Basically, I’m thinking of jumping puzzles and stupid deaths immediately before the ending. Those are the absolute worst. Especially since I have my jump and dodge macro’d together. Sometimes they just don’t trigger properly, and instead of jumping, I’ll just do a normal dodge roll… right off the cliff to my death. No matter how many times I do it, it’s always infuriating and especially dumb.

Perhaps another dumb one is from using the teleportation travel power in Champions Online. I recall messing up my landing somehow and instantly dying.

Tyler Edwards (blog): Obligatory mentions of the elevator boss aside…

There was one time in The Secret World. This was many years ago, so my memory of the details is a bit fuzzy, but I will do my best.

I was chilling in Agartha, and another player randomly traded me a consumable — I think it was a drink, or a cigarette. A bit random, but Agartha is the place for random, fun, weirdness (or it was — /sob). Seeing as consumables like that were mostly for RP anyway, I imbibed it straight away. And promptly dropped dead. I had been poisoned.

I can’t recall exactly how they did it. There was the hot sauce that kills you if you drink it, but I’m positive it wasn’t that. (I did kill myself drinking the hot sauce on a different occassion, but that was on purpose.) I have some vague recollection of a poison item you could combine with consumables to trick people, but I think I imagined that. Embarrassingly, I’m pretty sure the truth is it was an item that straight up said it was poison, and I was just too dumb to finish reading the tooltip.

Don’t take candy from strangers, kids.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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