I love this post by Jeff Rients:
Don't give up. Don't beg for mercy. Bargain!
Go read it.
Good stuff, eh?
I approve, although in my own games I'd expect a lot more willingness to trade one kind of suffering for another - "Could I have had time to Dodge and Drop for a +3?" or "If I let go of the chest of loot I was carrying, my encumbrance would go down and I'd just have made it - can we say I did that?"
I do want to spare your guy.
But I equally want you to have the consequences of your own actions.
You can't get out of failure by trading in argument ("I should be able to Dodge and Drop and have been Waiting for anyone to jump out at me and hold onto all of my weapons when I fell.") Trade in things of actual value.
My only quibble with it is his suggestion of sacrificing magic items. I play with a lot of group-minded groups. I guess it's different when you are running a 'FLAILSNAILS' game where people bring PCs in from another game. In a fantasy game with access to resurrection and revivification and regeneration of lost limbs, and with a loyal party of delvers (in the meta, run by your friends), dying is temporary but loss of stuff is permanent. So you're less likely to say, "Couldn't my magic sword have snapped but saved me?" because you could come back with that blade if others survive. And if you're too poor to get brought back, your next guy or your friend's guy can use that blade.
We don't act that way in Gamma Terra, though, our Post-Apoc game. I suspect our GM would find a way to let us revivify our PCs, possibly with some "minor defects" (lost abilities) due to "minor inaccuracies in the process." But we're not sure, and I know for me I'd rather be naked in the radiated wilderness than dead and I'd give up all of my stuff to make that trade.
But given Raise Dead, trading off your cool amulet or your magic sword or whatever to live isn't a trade I see a lot of people making.
I have also dealt with the same kind of students as he has, as a teacher and as family of teachers. I always want to say that the time to beg, bargain, and claw for a better score was the whole semester. Remember that, delvers. The best way to avoid, "What can I do here to get out of dying?" is to have taken appropriate risk and appropriate care along the way. Be prepared, read your Players Handbook p. 107-109, and if your game has a luck stat or a Luck advantage (like mine does), save it for when you really need it.