What's your opinion on "Save or Die" effects?
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  1. #1
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



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    What's your opinion on "Save or Die" effects?

    Speaking as a DM, I find that I'm a bit torn on the subject of save-or-die effects.

    You see, I've been running my guys through a medusa cult, and the risk of oops-I'm-a-rock has added a solid sense of danger to the proceedings. Like I said though, it's an entire medusa-themed level, meaning that I'm running the risk of going overboard, becoming annoying rather than challenging.

    So help me out here. How often do you use save-or-die effects in your games? And if you do use 'em, how easy should it be to bounce back with a resurrection (or in my case a de-stoning potion)?

    Comic for illustrative purposes.
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  2. #2
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    Enchanter (Lvl 12)



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    Save or Suck is fair game in my book.
    Save or Die is exceptionally boring. Death ends a narrative thread, and creates a new ones with less emotional and sentimental weight (the new character). There are so many more interesting things that can happen to a character and keep the story moving than Death.
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  3. #3
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    Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)



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    I use save-or-die quite rarely especially because coming back from the dead unless it's Spare the Dying is not simple. I suppose a raise dead could also work, but only if cast almost immediately after dying. There simply isn't much time before the soul departs and starts to travel on to their final destination. Once at their final destination, coming back is basically unheard of.

    Being turned to stone is a little different because they aren't really dead until the statue is destroyed. Until then they're just in stasis.
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  4. #4
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    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)



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    Unless you are perfectly ready to kill your characters or resurrection is an option, I recommend against using Save-or-Dies, no matter how unlikely they are to proc. Although, that also would depend on the vibe and lethality you're going for in your campaign.

  5. #5
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    Titan (Lvl 27)



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    Before I answer, I have to ask what specifically are considered "save or die" effects in D&D 5e?
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  6. #6
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    Spellbinder (Lvl 16)



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    Quote Originally Posted by Fauchard1520 View Post
    You see, I've been running my guys through a medusa cult, and the risk of oops-I'm-a-rock has added a solid sense of danger to the proceedings.
    I see what you did there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oofta View Post
    Being turned to stone is a little different because they aren't really dead until the statue is destroyed. Until then they're just in stasis.
    True dat. These types of Save-or-Suck rolls are great for most levels. Now a low level party has to figure out how to get their statue friend to a temple for some Stone-to-Flesh help. Or convince the priest to go into the cultist den to the scene of the failed save.

    At the highest tier of play, all bets are off and Save-or-Die is on the table. Otherwise, the baddies can't have things like Finger of Death or Power Word Kill. Of course, that latter one is actually No Save-and-Die, so, yeah.

  7. #7
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    Lama (Lvl 13)



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    Hmmm...there are a lot of "Save or Suck" effects that can basically be a "Save or Die" as, when employed in combat, they could easily lead to character death due to the debilitating effects. That said, 5e has gone to great lengths to reduce the "Save or Die/Suck" by making it more of a Save, Save, Save or Suck/Die. This helps mitigate the more arbitrary effect of the event, one of the problems I had with it in earlier additions, particularly AD&D.

    To take the example in the OP, I would probably not run a heavy Medusa adventure without telegraphing the danger to the PCs beforehand, so they could perhaps prepare contingencies and counter measures (potion of Restoration or such). I find the spell in 5e that causes the effect to be somewhat lackluster, mostly due to the unnecessary concentration requirement that I can only surmise is there to give the Party a fighting chance to remove the effect on an unfortunate PC that fails 3 (or is that 4?) saves and is petrified. They don't get the same opportunity when encountering a Medusa or Gorgon, so I'm not sure why this is added to the spell requirements.
    Last edited by Gadget; Thursday, 18th April, 2019 at 09:26 PM. Reason: typos & grammer
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  8. #8
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    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)



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    I have absolutely no problem with save-or-die provided I've done my part to provide enough clues/warnings/foreshadow to the players so they can make an informed decision on their own. In other words, I wouldn't just spring it on them out of nowhere. It takes a lot of time and brain-wracking to telegraph deadly encounters, especially without making it a dead giveaway, but as long as the DM knows the players have enough information beforehand then it's fair game.
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  9. #9
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    I've used save or die effects in the past, but I don't think the themes you'll generally see in a D&D campaign are well-aligned with that kind of power. To me, the ability to outright kill or promptly resurrect people work better in a "magic has its consequences" frame that D&D avoids even more with every new edition.
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  10. #10
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    Hydra (Lvl 25)



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    Quote Originally Posted by Autumn Bask View Post
    Unless you are perfectly ready to kill your characters or resurrection is an option, I recommend against using Save-or-Dies, no matter how unlikely they are to proc. Although, that also would depend on the vibe and lethality you're going for in your campaign.
    Yeah, this. If the DM isn't committed to PCs dying, then save-or-dies should be of the table.

    But even then . . . in my megadungeon campaign* where I am totally committed to PCs dying, I still tend to avoid save-or-dies. The latest trap I wrote up involves a collapsing ceiling, which I think was the sort of thing that would be automatic death in the earliest editions. I pulled back a bit on that instinct , however. Instead I have the trap severe lethal damage (20d6) and a save, but the survivors remaim buried alive under the rubble - if they can't be rescued or free themselves they will still die.

    I kind of find save-or-dies boring.

    I have a suggestion for the OP: instead of making the petrification instantaneous . . . er, instantaneously permanent, have it work someone like this: on a failed save the target is petrified and begins turning to stone. At the end of the target's following turns, he must make a Constitution save. If successful, the effect ends. On a failure he suffers 1d10 damage (or whatever value makes sense). If the target is reduced to 0 hit points, the petrification becomes permanent.



    *Hey, is there a forum macro I could use to automate this, instead of typing it out everytime?

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