The Spiderman Rule in Tabletop Roleplaying

For the new campaign we’re starting, the game master asked us if there were any house rules we wanted to add (there’s some other good ideas over here on Reddit). I suggested one that seemed to go over pretty well, so I thought I’d share it with you. While the mechanics are for 5th Ed Dungeons & Dragons (hence “death saves”), it’s easily adaptable to any system.

Famous Last Words

aka “the Spider Man rule”


Death for our heroes, well, should be, heroic. And sometimes the dice don’t cooperate, potentially meaning the Great Quest of Ulthar of The Hill People ends with him tripping on his own sword and getting a critical hit on himself. Which is dumb. Shouldn’t there be at least a moment of gravitas?


After failing your last death save, the player gets to utter one to two sentences as the character’s dying words. (Be reasonable on how long to take to consider these words, or put a time limit on it.)

These can be useful-ish (“Fly, you fools!) or poignant (“Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so well.”) or mystifying (“Rosebud”). To be clear, the character is utterly and completely doomed; this does not provide an extra “chance” to cast a spell, make a death save, etc. At most there might be a last warning with a dying breath.

Featured image copyright Marvel/Disney