D&D General D&D without Death. Is it possible? (+)

éxypnos

Explorer
Indeed. My point is that Wizards, who are already squishy, are by default made even squishier as none can ever have a DT that high (unless you somehow have Wizards able to start with 13 h.p., which would be well into houserule territory).

To get around this, my suggestion is simply that one's DT potential should be based on something - size, species, whatever - other than one's class in order to make it more equal across the classes; and, as a side effect, to also provide an avenue to translate this mechanic across to non-classed individuals in the setting.
I would base it on Con/2 + Con bonus
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I would base it on Con/2 + Con bonus
Sure; maybe with a flat upward modifier or a species-based minimum such that nobody has a DT worse than, say, -8. Otherwise a Con-8 character would have a DT of (4 - 1) 3; which I think might defeat the purpose of what DnD_Reborn is after here as it would be unlikely that a blow would happen to leave such a character in the narrow range of 0, -1 or -2 very often. :)
 

heks

Explorer
So, like always, I am curious: does anyone play D&D so that even the creatures your PCs encounter aren't actually killed, or at the very least only rarely when it is important to the story?
two of the best 'd&d' games i ever played were almost entirely without combat (one of them having a single duel to first blood and the other a boxing match between one of the players and a small time criminal.)
 

éxypnos

Explorer
Sure; maybe with a flat upward modifier or a species-based minimum such that nobody has a DT worse than, say, -8. Otherwise a Con-8 character would have a DT of (4 - 1) 3; which I think might defeat the purpose of what DnD_Reborn is after here as it would be unlikely that a blow would happen to leave such a character in the narrow range of 0, -1 or -2 very often. :)
Unless I'm running little kids through a game I don't see why it shouldn't be Con based. I mean should we stop using other attributes like Int to base stuff becuase a PC may have low Int? You make choices when you create a PC. If one wants high DT choose a high Con. Like I said unless you are running children.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
UPDATE:

I am pleased to report success with our session yesterday. It was only our 3rd session with this new campaign, and the PCs had 3 battles (8 kobolds, 3 kobolds, and 4 kobold guards + chief + 3 consorts).

In the first fight, after only 2 kobolds were actually "killed", the rest defeated and surrendered. In the second fight, just 1 kobold was killed (by a critical hit), and only 1 was killed in the last battle...the rest either knocked unconscious or surrendered, etc.

So, only 4 out of 19 foes were actually killed. Now, a lot of this is narrative just by making going to 0 hp "defeat" (surrender, flee, etc.) or unconscious. Only those who went to 0 on critical hits actually died in the combat. It just seemed more "real" and less generic than "dead, dead, dead, etc."

The best was when 17 kobolds were rushing the party after they defeated the chieftain, the half-orc fighter held the body aloft while the gnome cleric spoke in Draconic for them to surrender/flee. They failed morale and ran.

After further discussion, our house-rules will be revised a bit more, but so far I really like the narrative difference, and the difference it makes to the story when the party returned with over a dozen prisoners instead of a dozen corpses.
 

éxypnos

Explorer
UPDATE:
In the first fight, after only 2 kobolds were actually "killed", the rest defeated and surrendered. In the second fight, just 1 kobold was killed (by a critical hit), and only 1 was killed in the last battle...the rest either knocked unconscious or surrendered, etc.

So, only 4 out of 19 foes were actually killed.
That's good to see. Most intelligent beings will choose life over death. Sometimes DMs forget this.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Unless I'm running little kids through a game I don't see why it shouldn't be Con based. I mean should we stop using other attributes like Int to base stuff becuase a PC may have low Int? You make choices when you create a PC. If one wants high DT choose a high Con. Like I said unless you are running children.
I'm not suggesting Con shouldn't be a factor. Quite the opposite, in fact.

What I am suggesting is that the idea of [half-Con + Con mod] will end up with a too-low value for low-Constitution characters (and commoners; I assume this mechanic becomes universal if implemented) and so there needs to either be a flat boost of some sort e.g. [half-Con + Con mod + x] or a floor e.g. [(half-Con + Con mod) or (z), whichever is greater in absolute value].

The floor idea takes away some emphasis from having a high Con score, which IMO is a good thing. Con is already important enough.

To take Con out of this equation entirely one could just make the DP a flat value no matter what, and if that flat value is -10 you're right back to what 2e had. For what's being sought here, however, I think -10 isn't enough; -15 or even -20 would be better, in order to widen the gap between fully functional (i.e. at 1 h.p. or more) and dead.
 

To quote Jeff Goldblume in Jurassic Park.

While we are asking ourselves can we do this, maybe we should be asking should we do it.

I vote no, on zero death. But hey man, do I believe it can be done, sure.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
(more for my own sake that anything) Here's what 1/2 Con plus Con mod. is:

Ability Score --> Death Threshold
Con 8 --> DT 3 (not sure who dumps Con but for the sake of the exercise...)
Con 9 --> DT 4 (assuming rounding up)
Con 10 --> DT 5
Con 11 --> DT 6
Con 12 --> DT 7
Con 13 --> DT 8
Con 14 --> DT 9
Con 15 --> DT 10
Con 16 --> DT 11
Con 17 --> DT 12
Con 18 --> DT 13

It has the merit of being linear, but the numbers are pretty low all round IMO
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
So, like always, I am curious: does anyone play D&D so that even the creatures your PCs encounter aren't actually killed, or at the very least only rarely when it is important to the story?
In the last few years I always default to non-lethal damage and if I’m the one who knocks an NPC to zero hp I specify that I’m not killing them, just knocking them out. I persist even when the DM uses this to bite me on the ass. On a few occasions I’ve outright killed NPCs, but only when it’s a relevant story beat.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Below are our groups updated rules. The goal is to make combat dangerous, but not necessarily lethal, so as to deter players from it. PCs should only die if the player pushes their luck too much, as CON provides a bit of a buffer from death. We are not using Death Saves at present.

First, I should state we do NOT use CON modifier for bonus HP when you level. We play you add your highest ability modifier to your HP at 1st level only (we want a lower HP game). This is true for creatures as well as PCs.

What we are doing is folding levels of Exhaustion into CON after a lengthy discussion last night, and we'll try this out next time:

Exhaustion (replaced by CON loss)
Levels of exhaustion are replaced by reduction in CON. Each level of exhaustion is instead a reduction of CON by 1 point.
Since you regain 1 level of exhaustion per short rest, you regain 1 point of CON instead.

1645458735374.png


Unless you roll for ability scores, you won't have a CON less than 8 to begin the game. Since it isn't linked to HP via a per level bonus, this works for us. Also, I checked my creature database and only Gas Spores (that I could find) had a CON below 8.

This allows most creatures to take exhaustion before feeling the effects, which begin at CON 7. However, since CON is still a common save and used in other ways, you don't want a high CON to get low or you'll lose your modifier.

Critical Hits
You do not score a critical hit on a roll of 20. Instead, whenever a damage die rolls maximum, it explodes and is considered a critical. You roll another die and add it to the maximum roll, continuing until you do not roll maximum. This applies to weapon and spell damage.

Features which grant you additional damage dice can also explode on a maximum roll.

Dropping to 0 Hit Points
When your hit points are reduced to 0, any remaining damage is applied to your CON score. You are stable and make a DC 20 CON save to remain conscious. If you fail the check, you are "knocked out" for a number of rounds equal to the amount of CON reduction you have.

If the damage which reduced you to 0 hit points was critical, you are not stable. You lose 1 point of CON at the end of each of your turns until you become stable. You also make a DC 20 CON save to remain conscious, but with disadvantage.

If you take damage while at 0 hit points, it is deducted from your CON score and if you are conscious you must make another check to remain conscious. If damage is critical, this save is also with disadvantage.

Stabilizing a Creature
A creature can self-stabilize by making a DC 20 CON save at the start of its turn.

You can also make a Wisdom (Medicine) check to stabilize a creature. The DC is equal to 10 + CON loss, and expends a use of a healing kit. If you do not have a healing kit, the check is made with disadvantage.

Regaining Consciousness
An unconscious creature will regain consciousness in 1d4 hours + 1 hour for each point of CON lost, and regain 1 hp when they become conscious. You can make a Wisdom (Medicine) check, DC 10 + CON loss, to revive an unconscious creature, by expending a use of a healing kit.

Magical Healing
Spells and magic which restore hit points do not help in restoring lost CON. Lesser and Greater Restoration spells will restore 1 point of CON for each spell level used when the spell is cast.

A potion of Vitality will restore 2d6 points of lost CON.

Natural healing
You regain 1 point of CON per long rest up until CON 10, and then 2 points per long rest when you are above CON 10. For example, if you have CON 14, but it is reduced to CON 8, you will require two long rests to get it to CON 10, and then two more long rests to restore it to CON 14.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Below are our groups updated rules. The goal is to make combat dangerous, but not necessarily lethal, so as to deter players from it. PCs should only die if the player pushes their luck too much, as CON provides a bit of a buffer from death. We are not using Death Saves at present.

First, I should state we do NOT use CON modifier for bonus HP when you level. We play you add your highest ability modifier to your HP at 1st level only (we want a lower HP game). This is true for creatures as well as PCs.

What we are doing is folding levels of Exhaustion into CON after a lengthy discussion last night, and we'll try this out next time:

Exhaustion (replaced by CON loss)
Levels of exhaustion are replaced by reduction in CON. Each level of exhaustion is instead a reduction of CON by 1 point.
Since you regain 1 level of exhaustion per short rest, you regain 1 point of CON instead.

View attachment 152233

Unless you roll for ability scores, you won't have a CON less than 8 to begin the game. Since it isn't linked to HP via a per level bonus, this works for us. Also, I checked my creature database and only Gas Spores (that I could find) had a CON below 8.

This allows most creatures to take exhaustion before feeling the effects, which begin at CON 7. However, since CON is still a common save and used in other ways, you don't want a high CON to get low or you'll lose your modifier.

Critical Hits
You do not score a critical hit on a roll of 20. Instead, whenever a damage die rolls maximum, it explodes and is considered a critical. You roll another die and add it to the maximum roll, continuing until you do not roll maximum. This applies to weapon and spell damage.

Features which grant you additional damage dice can also explode on a maximum roll.

Dropping to 0 Hit Points
When your hit points are reduced to 0, any remaining damage is applied to your CON score. You are stable and make a DC 20 CON save to remain conscious. If you fail the check, you are "knocked out" for a number of rounds equal to the amount of CON reduction you have.

If the damage which reduced you to 0 hit points was critical, you are not stable. You lose 1 point of CON at the end of each of your turns until you become stable. You also make a DC 20 CON save to remain conscious, but with disadvantage.

If you take damage while at 0 hit points, it is deducted from your CON score and if you are conscious you must make another check to remain conscious. If damage is critical, this save is also with disadvantage.

Stabilizing a Creature
A creature can self-stabilize by making a DC 20 CON save at the start of its turn.

You can also make a Wisdom (Medicine) check to stabilize a creature. The DC is equal to 10 + CON loss, and expends a use of a healing kit. If you do not have a healing kit, the check is made with disadvantage.

Regaining Consciousness
An unconscious creature will regain consciousness in 1d4 hours + 1 hour for each point of CON lost, and regain 1 hp when they become conscious. You can make a Wisdom (Medicine) check, DC 10 + CON loss, to revive an unconscious creature, by expending a use of a healing kit.

Magical Healing
Spells and magic which restore hit points do not help in restoring lost CON. Lesser and Greater Restoration spells will restore 1 point of CON for each spell level used when the spell is cast.

A potion of Vitality will restore 2d6 points of lost CON.

Natural healing
You regain 1 point of CON per long rest up until CON 10, and then 2 points per long rest when you are above CON 10. For example, if you have CON 14, but it is reduced to CON 8, you will require two long rests to get it to CON 10, and then two more long rests to restore it to CON 14.
Not bad. Not bad at all. :)

A few minor suggestions leap to mind:

--- on the table for effects of Con lower than 8 you might want to add in something about how-when spellcasting is affected e.g. at a certain point concentration cannot be maintained, and-or at a certain point spells need a saving throw in order to be cast, etc. Otherwise, I worry this will end up favouring casters too much in the long run.

--- under Regaining Consciousness I wonder if there should be some sort of mechanic in there that means an unconscious creature, if unlucky and not otherwise tended to, never wakes up (i.e. is in a coma) or will eventually die when it otherwise would have awoken.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Not bad. Not bad at all. :)
Thanks!

A few minor suggestions leap to mind:

--- on the table for effects of Con lower than 8 you might want to add in something about how-when spellcasting is affected e.g. at a certain point concentration cannot be maintained, and-or at a certain point spells need a saving throw in order to be cast, etc. Otherwise, I worry this will end up favouring casters too much in the long run.
Well, concentration is a CON save, so at the point when you would have disadvantage that would kick in.

But, if you mean an option to prevent spellcasting, I would have to think about it. Maybe at CON 5 (disadvantage on attack rolls/saves) I could add something to require a concentration check to successfully cast a spell, but that would be double-jeopardy for attack spells because you would need a save to successful cast and then also make an attack roll...

It is something to ponder. We aren't playing for two weeks so I have some time (unfortunately...).

--- under Regaining Consciousness I wonder if there should be some sort of mechanic in there that means an unconscious creature, if unlucky and not otherwise tended to, never wakes up (i.e. is in a coma) or will eventually die when it otherwise would have awoken.
Well, in a different version where we were using levels of exhaustion (instead of CON loss) you could not regain consciousness until your exhaustion was all gone (so 1 long rest / level of exhaustion). That might penalize someone with a higher CON though because it would take them longer to wake up.

Maybe you recover 1 CON per long rest, and make a check to wake up? I don't know. :unsure:
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Thanks!


Well, concentration is a CON save, so at the point when you would have disadvantage that would kick in.

But, if you mean an option to prevent spellcasting, I would have to think about it. Maybe at CON 5 (disadvantage on attack rolls/saves) I could add something to require a concentration check to successfully cast a spell, but that would be double-jeopardy for attack spells because you would need a save to successful cast and then also make an attack roll...
I was thinking more of some way of having casting become progressively more difficult as one's Con got lower, rather than a binary on-off point.

What we do is have the caster make a consciousness check when the spell resolves, failure meaing the caster passed out in the attempt and the spell has either fizzled or gone wild. Consciousness checks get more difficult as your hit point total goes farther below 0; in your case this would be as the Con score got lower, so this covers the gradating part.
Well, in a different version where we were using levels of exhaustion (instead of CON loss) you could not regain consciousness until your exhaustion was all gone (so 1 long rest / level of exhaustion). That might penalize someone with a higher CON though because it would take them longer to wake up.

Maybe you recover 1 CON per long rest, and make a check to wake up? I don't know. :unsure:
Or, make that check do more work by gradating the results. Maybe some variant on:

At the end of each long rest make a check to update your condition:

Check failed by 8 or more: do not wake up, AND lose a Con point
Check failed by 4-7: do not wake up, Con remains where it is (i.e. status quo)
Check failed by 1-3: do not wake up, gain a Con point
Check passed: wake up AND gain a Con point.

Tending or curing during a long rest gives an immediate check to awaken without affecting Con; if still unconscious after this, treat any failure of more than 3 on that period's status-update check as if it was a failure of less than 3.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I was thinking more of some way of having casting become progressively more difficult as one's Con got lower, rather than a binary on-off point.

What we do is have the caster make a consciousness check when the spell resolves, failure meaing the caster passed out in the attempt and the spell has either fizzled or gone wild. Consciousness checks get more difficult as your hit point total goes farther below 0; in your case this would be as the Con score got lower, so this covers the gradating part.
So to be clear, are you currently doing that or offering it as a suggestion?

If you are currently doing that, do you see attack spells and save spells as double-jeopardy? Normally, only one die roll indicates success or failure (successful attack or failed save). If you require a check to actually cast the spell, then now casters need two succeed on two rolls instead of one.

It brings up an interesting side discussion: RAW 3 levels of exhaustion is disadvantage on attacks and saves. This include spell attacks, but it doesn't impact other spellcasting at all OR spells that require the target to save. So, you might not hit with your Guiding Bolt due to the disadvantage on attacks, but if you cast Command, the target saves normally. If you cast a non-attack spell--nothing changes.

Or, make that check do more work by gradating the results. Maybe some variant on:

At the end of each long rest make a check to update your condition:

Check failed by 8 or more: do not wake up, AND lose a Con point
Check failed by 4-7: do not wake up, Con remains where it is (i.e. status quo)
Check failed by 1-3: do not wake up, gain a Con point
Check passed: wake up AND gain a Con point.

Tending or curing during a long rest gives an immediate check to awaken without affecting Con; if still unconscious after this, treat any failure of more than 3 on that period's status-update check as if it was a failure of less than 3.
We do rule if you fail checks by more than 5, it is a failure as opposed to success w/ setback or no progress.

So, a simpler idea along the same lines might be if you fail by more than 5, you do not regain consciousness and cannot check again for a week or something?

In summary:

Make the check, regain consciousness, gain 1 CON
Fail check by 1-5, gain 1 CON
Fail by more than 5, no CON, no check for 1 week
Roll natural 1, lose 1 CON, check only for possible lose for 1 week

I don't know, just brainstorming it.
 
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(more for my own sake that anything) Here's what 1/2 Con plus Con mod. is:

Ability Score --> Death Threshold
Con 8 --> DT 3 (not sure who dumps Con but for the sake of the exercise...)
Con 9 --> DT 4 (assuming rounding up)
Con 10 --> DT 5
Con 11 --> DT 6
Con 12 --> DT 7
Con 13 --> DT 8
Con 14 --> DT 9
Con 15 --> DT 10
Con 16 --> DT 11
Con 17 --> DT 12
Con 18 --> DT 13

It has the merit of being linear, but the numbers are pretty low all round IMO
Just use Con score directly, I would think. Ignore the mod.

I would probably want to add level as well because at high levels 20 stops being a lot of damage for a single hit let alone a round of combat.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So to be clear, are you currently doing that or offering it as a suggestion?
Currently, and have been for many years.
If you are currently doing that, do you see attack spells and save spells as double-jeopardy? Normally, only one die roll indicates success or failure (successful attack or failed save). If you require a check to actually cast the spell, then now casters need two succeed on two rolls instead of one.
If a caster is badly-enough hurt for this to matter then yes: they need to make one check to get the spell off at all, then the usual one (if needed) for aiming. If casting is successful then saving throws at the recipient's end don't change.

Where this becomes more relevant is when a spell has no save e.g. (and this is a common one) a cure. With a cure, particularly one being cast on self, the pass-out check is the only check needed.

Rationale is that it takes more mental/physical effort to cast a spell than to swing/shoot a weapon, which might cause a caster to pass out; an equally-badly-hurt warrior is at minuses to hit and at correspondingly greater risk of fumbling but does not risk passing out unless more damage is taken.
It brings up an interesting side discussion: RAW 3 levels of exhaustion is disadvantage on attacks and saves. This include spell attacks, but it doesn't impact other spellcasting at all OR spells that require the target to save. So, you might not hit with your Guiding Bolt due to the disadvantage on attacks, but if you cast Command, the target saves normally. If you cast a non-attack spell--nothing changes.
I don't use exhaustion in my system thus don't have to worry with this. :)
We do rule if you fail checks by more than 5, it is a failure as opposed to success w/ setback or no progress.

So, a simpler idea along the same lines might be if you fail by more than 5, you do not regain consciousness and cannot check again for a week or something?

In summary:

Make the check, regain consciousness, gain 1 CON
Fail check by 1-5, gain 1 CON
Fail by more than 5, no CON, no check for 1 week
Roll natural 1, lose 1 CON, check only for possible lose for 1 week

I don't know, just brainstorming it.
I'd say

Fail by more than 5, no CON
Roll natural 1, lose 1 CON and next such check is at disadvantage.

A week between checks might get tedious. :)
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
If a caster is badly-enough hurt for this to matter then yes: they need to make one check to get the spell off at all, then the usual one (if needed) for aiming. If casting is successful then saving throws at the recipient's end don't change.

Where this becomes more relevant is when a spell has no save e.g. (and this is a common one) a cure. With a cure, particularly one being cast on self, the pass-out check is the only check needed.
So, are the successful casting checks only required if they are badly hurt?

You said you aren't using exhaustion, so what constitutes "badly hurt"?

Rationale is that it takes more mental/physical effort to cast a spell than to swing/shoot a weapon, which might cause a caster to pass out; an equally-badly-hurt warrior is at minuses to hit and at correspondingly greater risk of fumbling but does not risk passing out unless more damage is taken.
So, again, the successful casting checks are only when injured, in which case I agree casting would seem to require more effort, but I think a lot of that could depend on components and spell level, if you wanted to go to that length.

I'd say

Fail by more than 5, no CON
Roll natural 1, lose 1 CON and next such check is at disadvantage.

A week between checks might get tedious. :)
Could be something along those lines. I'll make some notes and see what my group thinks.

Thanks for your input!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So, are the successful casting checks only required if they are badly hurt?
Other than very unusual cases, yes.
You said you aren't using exhaustion, so what constitutes "badly hurt"?
Being at or below 0 h.p. (death is at -10 here).
So, again, the successful casting checks are only when injured, in which case I agree casting would seem to require more effort, but I think a lot of that could depend on components and spell level, if you wanted to go to that length.
I could break it down spell by spell, I suppose, but I think it'd be deep into diminishing-returns territory at that point. :)
Could be something along those lines. I'll make some notes and see what my group thinks.

Thanks for your input!
Y're welcome. :)
 

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