How to deal with death in RPG? - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)



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    I just tell them to roll up a new L3 PC in my current campaign and figure out how to slot that PC in. If they can afford to raise that one then its up to the party to get them back somwhere there is a sufficiently high level cleric, though they lose CON permanently. You never come back whole...

    I haven't decided the exact effects yet as there have been many deaths but no resurrections. Nobody knows what happens until they are pulled back from the land of teh dead. I'm thinking CON save. Pass you lose 1 Con, fail and you lose 1d3+1 Con. Or I could just paste he 1e survival check rules in but I don't think that is necessary.
    Last edited by Flexor the Mighty!; Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019 at 03:44 PM.
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  2. #22
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    Imma leave this here, to help deal with the larger issues at play suggested by the poll (to which I did not respond as a result):

    https://dmz2112.blogspot.com/2017/02...ous-fudge.html

    But my short, specific answer is that honesty is a terrible trait in a storyteller. Nobody Very few people want honest stories. Character death, like any other character action, ought to be meaningful.

    As gamemasters, we are rightly frustrated when a player trivially circumvents an aspect of our game that we put a lot of effort into, and what is a character if not an aspect of their game that a player has put a lot of effort into? I don't agree that PC death should be taboo, but I also don't think it's a consequence that should be invoked lightly.

    This is a relatively new attitude for me. I'm old school enough to believe PC death is an important part of campaign verisimilitude, but I'm old (full stop) enough to have seen what it does to players, and to have felt them feels myself. The result of my calculus is that no, the added 'realism' isn't worth the hassle.

    I think the concept of conditional immortality, as described by Andrew Hussie, has some useful implementations in this space, with some modification. I'd post a link, but the relevant wiki page is strewn with inexcusable folly. The core concept is that a PC's death should be either just or heroic, or it doesn't count.

    • Bard rushes headlong into a room filled with draconians; just.
    • Rogue willingly touches Anarchocles' circlet to the Wand of Orcus, destroying utterly both the Wand and himself; heroic.
    • Wizard uses a fireball in melee range atop a fortress wall while carrying an oversized basket of alchemist's fire; just.
    • Paladin rolls a natural 1 on his Perception check and has his throat slit in the night by a kobold; stupid not how I would do things.


    So yes, I kill PCs. But /I/ decide when it's a good idea, not my dice. Just like all the other important stuff in my campaign. Random dungeon generators are fun but they make for terrible campaign guides.

    EDIT: This is very D&D5 specific, but when my PCs fail three death saves and I don't feel their end would be just or heroic, they suffer a permanent affliction instead, as well as a sanity penalty.
    /\/\/\/\/\
    The dungeon master is not a god. Gods are NPCs.
    ----------->
    "I think it all began when some sages started talking of the World Tree,
    and were allowed to go on doing so. Madness, sheer madness.
    Give me the Great Wheel, and I know where I stand."
    ~Lord Snelgarth, Ed Greenwood's The Herald
    \/\/\/\/\/

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMZ2112 View Post
    EDIT: This is very D&D5 specific, but when my PCs fail three death saves and I don't feel their end would be just or heroic, they suffer a permanent affliction instead, as well as a sanity penalty.
    Yeah, in GURPS or DFRPG (my prefered systems these days), you can add appropriate disadvantages (Combat Paralysis, Cowardice, Enemy, Obsession, Phobia, Post-Combat Shakes, Wounded, etc.) to your character to reflect the long term impact of a near-death experience. Depending on the genre, this can enhance the story and jumpstart character development in the rest of the party too (grappling with nearly losing their comrade).
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  4. #24
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    This passage from Dogs in the Vineyard (p 89) seems relevant:

    Whats at stake: do you get murdered in your bed?

    - The stage: your room at night. A possessed sinner creeps into your room without waking you. . . .

    I should tell you, in an early playtest I startled one of my players bad with this very conflict. In most roleplaying games, saying "an enemy sneaks into your room in the middle of the night and hits you in the head with an axe" is cheating. Ive hosed the character and the player with no warning and no way out. Not in Dogs, though: the resolution rules are built to handle it. I dont have to pull my punches!

    The idea of "random PC death" can't be usefully discussed, I don't think, outside the context of particular systems which resolve conflicts and establish consequences in this way or that way.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMZ2112 View Post
    As gamemasters, we are rightly frustrated when a player trivially circumvents an aspect of our game that we put a lot of effort into
    No, I think it's hilarious; I love that stuff. I congratulate the players on 'beating the adventure'. Like when my group saw a dam on the wilderness map during a rainy week and immediately went "Got to get there before it breaches!" - which they did, and stopped the pre-scripted damn breach that was supposed to happen, saving the nearby town and circumventing that whole section of the AP. The players were right chuffed when I explained that.
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  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    No, I think it's hilarious; I love that stuff. I congratulate the players on 'beating the adventure'. Like when my group saw a dam on the wilderness map during a rainy week and immediately went "Got to get there before it breaches!" - which they did, and stopped the pre-scripted damn breach that was supposed to happen, saving the nearby town and circumventing that whole section of the AP. The players were right chuffed when I explained that.
    That is an awesome story, and it's not really what I meant. Player ingenuity is one thing -- what I'm describing usually results from player ambivalence. Killing the sphinx rather than bother solving the riddle you spent all night coming up with, sort of thing.

    If they demand a riddle in lieu of a combat encounter you planned, I think that's a win win, all things considered. I mean, provided you are good at improvising riddles.
    /\/\/\/\/\
    The dungeon master is not a god. Gods are NPCs.
    ----------->
    "I think it all began when some sages started talking of the World Tree,
    and were allowed to go on doing so. Madness, sheer madness.
    Give me the Great Wheel, and I know where I stand."
    ~Lord Snelgarth, Ed Greenwood's The Herald
    \/\/\/\/\/

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMZ2112 View Post
    But my short, specific answer is that honesty is a terrible trait in a storyteller. Nobody Very few people want honest stories. Character death, like any other character action, ought to be meaningful.
    Alternatively, wanting to tell is a story is a terrible trait for a DM. If I wanted my character to be treated like a mere character in a story, rather than a living person in an impartial fantasy world, then I would have signed up to play some other game. Maybe FATE.

    I'm not saying that the paladin should die, out of some misplaced sense of verisimilitude. I'm saying that it's the world-builder's job to not include unpredictable random death factors within their setting. Instead of including save-or-die events, and then arbitrarily deciding that the PCs survive (on the meta-game grounds that it would be unfair to the players), just don't include those things in the first place.
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  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    Alternatively, wanting to tell is a story is a terrible trait for a DM. If I wanted my character to be treated like a mere character in a story, rather than a living person in an impartial fantasy world, then I would have signed up to play some other game. Maybe FATE.

    I'm not saying that the paladin should die, out of some misplaced sense of verisimilitude. I'm saying that it's the world-builder's job to not include unpredictable random death factors within their setting. Instead of including save-or-die events, and then arbitrarily deciding that the PCs survive (on the meta-game grounds that it would be unfair to the players), just don't include those things in the first place.
    This is absolutely a sliding scale. I feel verisimilitude is secondary to fun. You believe that verisimilitude can be conditional. Someone else thinks verisimilitude is sacrosanct and would kill the unlucky paladin. It's all about doing what you love.

    For what it's worth, though, I've never for a moment bought the line that the gamemaster is ever not a storyteller. We wear a lot of hats, and some are more ostentatious than others, but the skullcap of the storyteller is always under there, even if all we're doing is narrating the results of raw die results following completely unsolicited player action. If our job could be done by a computer, it already would be.
    /\/\/\/\/\
    The dungeon master is not a god. Gods are NPCs.
    ----------->
    "I think it all began when some sages started talking of the World Tree,
    and were allowed to go on doing so. Madness, sheer madness.
    Give me the Great Wheel, and I know where I stand."
    ~Lord Snelgarth, Ed Greenwood's The Herald
    \/\/\/\/\/

  9. #29
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    Part of me is tempted to reply to @Saelorn sarcastically. Instead, I'll be serious.

    Monsters from mythology lose a lot of their bite if they lose their defining trait. Did Perseus win because Zeus fudged the dice? No, he won because he used his brain and worked against what he knew Medusa would use against him. Would Perseus turning to stone have been random? No, because he knew what he was going against. And you know, a garden of statues in creepy poses would be a dead giveaway.

    That said, the idea of the "dungeon theme park" ride adventure has crossed my mind.
    Last edited by Zhaleskra; Wednesday, 3rd April, 2019 at 01:17 AM. Reason: To point out who I was replying to

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zhaleskra View Post
    Monsters from mythology lose a lot of their bite if they lose their defining trait. Did Perseus win because Zeus fudged the dice? No, he won because he used his brain and worked against what he knew Medusa would use against him. Would Perseus turning to stone have been random? No, because he knew what he was going against. And you know, a garden of statues in creepy poses would be a dead giveaway.
    Exactly. As the world-builder, you don't include random surprise medusae that show up out of nowhere to force a save-or-die, because that sort of world does not lead itself to fun gameplay. The players would get frustrated, and then they would lose investment.

    Instead, if you want to include a medusa or two (with appropriately-powerful petrifying gaze), they should exist within the world in such a fashion that they can be interacted with and not randomly risk a TPK. There should be legends, and the garden of statues, so the PCs can think their way around the obstacle without forcing a saving throw. The saving throw is fine as a last resort, to potentially spare a PC if they've already failed by drawing its gaze, but rolling a save-or-die shouldn't be the primary expected method of interacting with a medusa.

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