"Two things to remember about Original D&D:
- HP Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith were Gary Gygax' and Rob Kuntz' favorite authors respectively. Both of them wrote stories where the main character did not survive.
- Another favorite author was Robert E. Howard, but seen through a wargamer's lens. Remember "Tower of the Elephant?" Remember the guy who went up the tower with Conan? Well, he thought HE was the hero of the story... right up until the giant spider killed him."