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Level Up (A5E) Deadlier combat


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Talltomwright

Explorer
I think my big issue with 0 hp = unconscious and death saves is that most characters die slowly in a pool of their own blood. I would prefer the option to go out in a Blaze of Glory. Our home brew solution is that you can choose to stay up on 0hp but each round you do so you take a level of exhaustion and that you have to make concentration checks when you take damage or pass out (in addition to usual death saves). We’ve only been doing it a few months so I don’t know how balanced it is but it led to one memorable death and one memorable narrowly avoided TPK which Is what I’m looking for - more drama! But I would love Level Up to feature a robustly play-tested version of this.
 

I think my big issue with 0 hp = unconscious and death saves is that most characters die slowly in a pool of their own blood. I would prefer the option to go out in a Blaze of Glory. Our home brew solution is that you can choose to stay up on 0hp but each round you do so you take a level of exhaustion and that you have to make concentration checks when you take damage or pass out (in addition to usual death saves).

An alternative to this, would be that as soon as you make your deathsave, you can choose to continue fighting or stay down. But regardless, you can't be healed until you get a full rest, and dipping beneath -10 hp (or below your negative constitution score) is instant death. Further more, any injuries you take will become permanent injuries, barring a restoration spell of some sort.

This allows you to go down in a blaze of glory, without adding any extra checks. This blaze of glory could also be applied as a special ability to opponents.

I personally like this sort of modular approach to the design. Where the core rules of 5E remain in place, but you can add a thing to it that doesn't introduce a dozen new rules. And being able to apply the same rule to monsters is a plus. I could see a boss go down in a blaze of glory.
 
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Talltomwright

Explorer
An alternative to this, would be that as soon as you make your deathsave, you can choose to continue fighting or stay down. But regardless, you can't be healed until you get a full rest, and dipping beneath -10 hp (or below your negative constitution score) is instant death. Further more, any injuries you take will become permanent injuries, barring a restoration spell of some sort.

This allows you to go down in a blaze of glory, without adding any extra checks. This blaze of glory could also be applied as a special ability to opponents.

I personally like this sort of modular approach to the design. Where the core rules of 5E remain in place, but you can add a thing to it that doesn't introduce a dozen new rules. And being able to apply the same rule to monsters is a plus. I could see a boss go down in a blaze of glory.
Thank you! Yes, I’m all for simpler ways of doing it and that really helps.
 

Expanding on the aura thing a bit, they could have a multitude of effects, allowing DM's to pick and choose how they want to make their special foes more deadly. Auras only negatively affect the players. Killing the foe with the aura, ends the aura's effect.

For example:

Suppressing aura - As discussed, anyone at 0 hp cannot be healed while in this aura.
Delaying aura - Every spell cast inside the aura requires an extra round to cast.
Disrupting aura - There is a % chance a spell will fail while casting in the aura.
Weakening aura - Any spell cast within the aura is only 50% effective. Damage spells do half damage, healing spells provide half their healing. Roll for these spells as normal, but divide the outcome by 2.
Bolstering aura - Any allies of the monster within the aura, gain DR 2.
Protection aura - Any allies of the monster within the aura, have their AC increase by 2.
Leadership aura - Any allies of the monster within the aura, are immune to morale and fear effects.
Obscuring aura - Melee attacks made within the aura have a % miss chance, due to obscuring smoke.
Rotting aura - Injuries received from melee attacks while in the aura, also poison.
Vampiric aura - Injuries received from melee attacks while in the aura, also steal life.
Deathly aura - If you are in the aura and hit 0 hp, you are dead. No death save.
 


MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Just make extra attack on unconscious Pc. A single attack give 2 failures. Sometime let the players roll for the third one!
We could have a touch, main action, concentration cantrip that allows to remove a failed death save during the next round. As long as you can keep it, your ally won't die, but will only get stable on their own.
 

I think « deadlier » is more a style of play by the DM than a set of rules.
Not really, @Cap'n Kobold mentioned the old negative hp thing. Back when -5hp meant instant death i was terrifying to be anywhere near the point where a crit could down you because that crit could take you way past -5 & instantly kill you if it got lucky or the damage rolls you've been seeing were unlucky.

There is also the massive impact that Save or Suck & Save or Lose spells & abilities had on things.The old ghoul was something that would make the party rethink an entire fight at almost any level the second it showed up because it could instantly cause someone to die while the 5e version is really no big deal. The old Trog would make you suffer for what very well might be the entire session (or longer) while the 5e one is pretty much guaranteed to be self nullifying even if a player fails a save the first time & it's certainly no going to matter in a later fight. 5e wraith does damage to max hp instead of con like the old wraith... but with the 5e one that damage is erased after sleeping for the night & needs to roll really high to hit anyone with decent ac while the old one was very difficult to recover from & targeted touch AC for almost guaranteed hits against a very small pool of con. it's much more difficult to make combat that feels like it could be deadly in 5e than it was in the past & trying it in 5e tends to feel not very different from deadpool & wolverine playing rocket tag where the only real risk is getting hit by the rocker and getting unlucky repeatedly and having the rest of the party somehow unable to help you.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I've seen too many combats with characters bouncing up and down, from 0hp, getting a Healing Word to give a handful back, getting knocked down again. There is no sense of fear to going into combat.

The grittier variant rule in the DMG to slow down healing and regaining hit dice just slows the campaign, it doesn't make combat deadlier.

There are quick fixes, like making death save failures reset only on a short or long rest so that deadlines builds up over the course of the day. However you might get you Healing Word in every round before you need to make a save.

A harsher effect could be gaining a level of exhaustion each time you drop to 0hp. That might be too harsh though and turn into a quick death spiral. You might get a level of exhaustion right at the start of the day and be wrecked for the rest of the adventure, which isn't much fun.

More complex (but that's what we're here for) could be something like tracking Wounds. You start with Wounds equal to your Constitution score. Each time you drop to 0hp, are hit by a critical hit, take damage greater than 50% (or maybe 25%) of your total hit points, you lose a wound. Once you are below 50% your total wounds, get a level of exhaustion that can't be removed. Once below 25% gain a second level of exhaustion.

Once you hit 0 wounds, your dead, no saves. Or once you hit 0 wounds you are dying but can't stabilise, you just keep making death saves until you die. You might still have hit points, so not unconscious, just staggering across the battlefield, flailing with your weapon, one hand clamped over the severed artery that's leading away your life blood.

Regain 1 wound on a long rest, or half level, or trade hit dice for wounds. High level magic, like Restoration or Heal could restore 1 wound.

Adds some lasting consequences to combat that build up over the course of the day. Makes healing magic feel like more of a patch up job than curing any injury. Useful for the DM to explain why an NPCs hold on long enough to tell you a plot point but a quick Cure Wound doesn't bring them back to their feet, ready to explain the mystery in detail.

Tried and proven method is to give PC's a bit more hp but make 0 be permanent death. I can certify I've tried this and it makes d&d 5e alot deadlier.
 

Tried and proven method is to give PC's a bit more hp but make 0 be permanent death. I can certify I've tried this and it makes d&d 5e alot deadlier.

That would be an easy solution, but it would also remove death saves from the game. I think we should look for a solution that does not alter existing rules too much.
 

That would be an easy solution, but it would also remove death saves from the game. I think we should look for a solution that does not alter existing rules too much.
Getting rid of an absorb shield thst recharges with even a single point of healing but absorbs a hit of 1-9999999999+ damage is probably a good thing.a big component in 5e's invulnerability feel stems from how they replaced jerk monters (some combo ofsos/sol/dr/spike damage/etc) with the need to force the gm to be a jerk who attacks players that are down. When someone got hit by a crit/aoe/dot or whatever and went to -5 in the past everyone pulled together and reminisced or shifted to how they could bring back bob... when the gm beats Bob's corpse twice to kill him everyone looks at the GM & says "wow.. really? ". Sure bob could theoretically fail three death saves if nobody had a healing word... or a potion within 5feet... or a healers kit... or lay on hands within 5ft... or cure wounds within 5feet... or.... it's such a remote chance of happening naturally that it's not really a fear under any circumstances.
 

I think it is several things:

-Death saves are very forgiving, mostly due to:
-Ranged healing
-Monsters have been downgraded, no more instant death abilities.

You could easily buff the monsters. You could make changes to healing spells, but it would be a lot of work and confusing. You could remove death saves entirely, but it would mean discarding a core rule.

I'm wondering if we can come up with ways to make 5E combat more deadly, by adding to the game, instead of taking things away.
 

Giauz

Explorer
Why not an alternative HP system? Say HP = Constitution Modifier. Each HP = d% Cuts Points. Total CP = nd% + (n×Constitution Score) + (n×AC) up to 1,000 CP.

At the start of each combat, each player rolls their nd% at disadvantage (the lowest result of the nd%'s is the number chosen). Highest numbers among those chosen go first (results of 100% go in order of lowest current CP to highest current CP). The chosen numbers are the target numbers for enemies to hit the PCs at or below the target numbers for CP damage. Hitting above the target number is a miss or scenery damage (that can do immediate or eventual damage to any of the PCs) or a hit on another PC if in range (details TBD). An enemy hitting for 100% or over 100% takes down 1 HP, does not do damage to CP, and causes the PC to incur a long-term penalty. If over the course of adventuring a PC loses all CP or all HP, they are dead. At 100 CP or below the PC is unconscious.

To attack, a player rolls the d% ( and d10 to complete it of course) and adds their Strength Modifier +/- the weapon or spell ndx. If the target range falls in this margin of error, CP damage is dealt. If the margin of error hit 100/+%, then 1 HP damage is dealt instead.

The goal of this HP/CP system is to give PCs and enemy NPCs both a small amount of health that is relatively difficult to damage, but has lasting consequences for losing and is easy to recover (the consequences are harder to get rid of if they can be gotten rid of). The other part of the system is a lot of health that is easy to lose especially over time and is hard to recover due to the sheer impracticality of healing so many wounds. In this way we have the possibility of a looming instant death by HP loss and some loss of functionality and a death waiting in the future, a death by (up to) a thousand cuts. I think the system allows for vey deadly combat indeed.

What do you all think?
 

That sounds needlessly complicated, and I don't understand one word of it. What is n? What is nd%? What are Cuts Points? Plus you need to reroll all this for every fight?

I don't think we should be redesigning the core rules. HP is fine the way it is, and easy to understand. What we're looking for is not more math, or ways to make hitpoints more difficult to understand. What we need is (I think) a way to make the game more deadly within the core rules. Not a radical redesign of the rules that we already have.
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
Getting rid of an absorb shield thst recharges with even a single point of healing but absorbs a hit of 1-9999999999+ damage is probably a good thing.
Let us not forget that doing a PC's HP in overkill kills them instantaneously. If you have 40hp but unconscious, An enemy doing 40 damage in a single hit instantly kills you.

It should be rare that something does damage so high, yet by time some of the more vulnerable PC's get up to 40hp, their level is roughly level 6 which also means the CR of those creatures are a minimum of 1 CR 6. Could be higher if the DM wants deadlier.

If you are attacked while down by a cyclops, well, they do an average of 50 damage to you if they walk up to you, more than enough to kill you instantaneously even as a medium encounter enemy. (When you're unconscious, any attack within 5 ft of you, be it melee or ranged, is a critical hit and does double damage dice).

So it's not like the buffer can't just be powered through by a strong monster.
 

Let us not forget that doing a PC's HP in overkill kills them instantaneously. If you have 40hp but unconscious, An enemy doing 40 damage in a single hit instantly kills you.

It should be rare that something does damage so high, yet by time some of the more vulnerable PC's get up to 40hp, their level is roughly level 6 which also means the CR of those creatures are a minimum of 1 CR 6. Could be higher if the DM wants deadlier.

If you are attacked while down by a cyclops, well, they do an average of 50 damage to you if they walk up to you, more than enough to kill you instantaneously even as a medium encounter enemy. (When you're unconscious, any attack within 5 ft of you, be it melee or ranged, is a critical hit and does double damage dice).

So it's not like the buffer can't just be powered through by a strong monster.
No not really. The 99999 was a bit if Sarcasm yes, but you only need to look at the complaints about pcs bouncing up and down, ranged healing & so forth to see evidence to problems caused by how that absorb shield known as death saves and not going below zero hp causes problems
 

No not really. The 99999 was a bit if Sarcasm yes, but you only need to look at the complaints about pcs bouncing up and down, ranged healing & so forth to see evidence to problems caused by how that absorb shield known as death saves and not going below zero hp causes problems

I think this is a legit problem. However, I think we should also recognize that death saves do have a legitimate purpose. Putting some restraints on the healing of downed players would be a good way to alleviate some of these concerns.

I think we should seek a middleground between what we have now (which makes players really hard to kill), and a complete massacre.
 

I think this is a legit problem. However, I think we should also recognize that death saves do have a legitimate purpose. Putting some restraints on the healing of downed players would be a good way to alleviate some of these concerns.

I think we should seek a middleground between what we have now (which makes players really hard to kill), and a complete massacre.
" death saves do have a legitimate purposes" do they? Such as? They cause very real problems witj surviveability though.
 

" death saves do have a legitimate purposes" do they? Such as? They cause very real problems with surviveability though.

They act mostly as a safety net (especially at lower levels).

It is an accepted fact that due to the unpredictability of the dice, players can have unlucky streaks, and monsters can have lucky streaks. A crit from a monster at the wrong moment, could instantly drop you down to 0 hp when you thought you were fine. Death saves allow for a means to recover from a streak of bad luck.

While deadlier combat is the goal of this thread, I don't think we want the deaths to be completely arbitrary and out of the blue. I don't think we should do away with the safety net, especially since it works mostly as intended. It's the combination with ranged healing that causes issues.

Another way to go, would be to modify how death saves work. Maybe you get only one death save instead of 3?
 
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Not really, @Cap'n Kobold mentioned the old negative hp thing. Back when -5hp meant instant death i was terrifying to be anywhere near the point where a crit could down you because that crit could take you way past -5 & instantly kill you if it got lucky or the damage rolls you've been seeing were unlucky.

There is also the massive impact that Save or Suck & Save or Lose spells & abilities had on things.The old ghoul was something that would make the party rethink an entire fight at almost any level the second it showed up because it could instantly cause someone to die while the 5e version is really no big deal. The old Trog would make you suffer for what very well might be the entire session (or longer) while the 5e one is pretty much guaranteed to be self nullifying even if a player fails a save the first time & it's certainly no going to matter in a later fight. 5e wraith does damage to max hp instead of con like the old wraith... but with the 5e one that damage is erased after sleeping for the night & needs to roll really high to hit anyone with decent ac while the old one was very difficult to recover from & targeted touch AC for almost guaranteed hits against a very small pool of con. it's much more difficult to make combat that feels like it could be deadly in 5e than it was in the past & trying it in 5e tends to feel not very different from deadpool & wolverine playing rocket tag where the only real risk is getting hit by the rocker and getting unlucky repeatedly and having the rest of the party somehow unable to help you.
it don’t need a new rule set to:
Attack unconscious character
Use focus fire
Increase To hit and DC of monsters
Attack PC when they are resting
Have more frequent random encounter
Use terrain where monsters are obviously advantaged
 

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