Do you like being slated to win?

What level realism do you like (Assume a hefty story element)?

  • Super-heroic: Characters hardly, if ever, die.

    Votes: 13 10.4%
  • Heroic: Death is very uncommon.

    Votes: 47 37.6%
  • Normal: Death lurks in dark places.

    Votes: 40 32.0%
  • Gritty: Death always hovers over your shoulder. Dice are not fudged.

    Votes: 25 20.0%

  • Poll closed .

Jeff Wilder

First Post
phindar said:
I voted "Normal", but that represents an average of my preferences. My preferred default style is Gritty, but I like to have a limited number of karma-based resources (Hero or Action Points) that can stave off death.
This is me as well. One of my players and I independently judged "both Heroic and Gritty" for my game.

I really dislike death in my games (multiple deaths, especially, actually kinda depress me), so my very few house rules are designed to make death a little less likely, but also more final. (I use action points and death at negative-Con. I've replaced raise dead and resurrection with revivify and resuscitate, which respectively allow rounds or minutes to get to a dead PC and revive him or her. I've kept reincarnate and true resurrection, the first because it's especially fun, and the second because as a ninth-level spell, it's mostly a plot point.)

On the other hand, I roll all dice in front of the players. To the extent that I "fudge," it takes the form of realistic enemy behavior. For example, a (sane) enemy fighting for his life against another PC won't take the full-round action to coup de grace, even if he could probably survive the AoO. An insane enemy, on the other hand, may do just that. Truly homicidal bad guys are to be feared for what they'll do.

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First Post
Fifth Element said:
Even if character success is all but assured, this does not mean characters have no meaningful choices. There is more to D&D than "live or die" and "succeed or fail".
I agree, but we're talking about the level of mortality in the game. I think the problem is that in D&D, the default setting for failure is death and this leads to situation where if the PC's fail they die, and if they die the game stops. Therefore the player's either have to win or go home (to put it into basketball playoff terms).

I could go on, but I think I'll just link to someone who said it better and first.

Meaningful Death

In particular, "Death and bodily injury has been a regular, and poor substitute for real stakes in a lot of gaming. In the absence of meaningful fictional stakes, we instead put 'do you still have right to input?" on the table all the time.'"

edited for clarity


First Post
Do you like being slated to win?
Hate it. I will leave the table at that sort of game.

For victory to exist, defeat has to be a real possibility. Forethought and tactics should have some impact to alleviate bad odds, but in the end, if one side is rolling really good, the lucky side should be winning.

I also feel not using tactics should usually be bad. The party should suffer when they don't perform as a cohesive unit. Death should be routine for fools who follow the path of "Duuu--uurrrr, charge!"
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First Post
In my opinion, it's the DM's job to make a world, and help you make a character, so that if that character dies, you're so connected to it that it DOES bother you when you die. You should, in my opinion, have a sense of loss. If you don't, you're missing a vital part of the game.

My games rarely feature permanent death, although it has occurred. Characters can die and I tend to roll the dice straight up, although the setting I'm currently running is hard for the protagonists to permanently die in.


Front Range Warlock
For D&D? I prefer what it supports (and always has supported) as written. I suppose that it would fall into your "Normal" category above. If I want 'gritty realism' (i.e., verisimilitude) I use a system that is specifically built to support it, like HarnMaster or GURPS.


For my games, the PCs are expected to 'win'. Otherwise, why bother playing? (At least, in a campaign, where I arrange things in advance to give the players the edge.) Not that death, and even failure, are totally unavoidable. I usually let the dice fall where they may. But on rare occasions I'll fudge. (A player is doing cool stuff that ought to work, but the dice are just being ornery. Hey, we're here to have fun, so I'll let his fun stuff work!)

Silvercat Moonpaw

Okay, so I chose Superheroic because:

1. I know in real life that there are a whole lot of things faster than I can think and without my consent. I play the game to be the opposite of that.

2. It's nearly impossible to disconnect my feeling of vulnerability from the character's. Therefore to play someone who isn't severely hampered by a fear of death there has to be a lot less chance of it in the game than real life.

3. Most systems I play make it tedious to write up new characters. And if background is required it's four times as tedious.

There's probably more, but I'm drawing a blank right now.

phindar said:
I agree, but we're talking about the level of mortality in the game.
I should have said "party success" rather than "character success". I don't mind some character death in my campaigns, but TPKs are to be avoided. To continue the campaign, there needs to be some continuity in characters. While the party that ultimately "wins" the campaign may have none of the original characters, there would never be a point where the entire party was made up of new characters.


First Post
Yeah, a TPK is usually if not the end of the campaign, at least a dramatic restart. I guess it depends on the nature of the group as well; my old group ran in one game world the GM had been running since 1e, so if the party got killed the next party would still exist in the same world. Whatever plot the party failed to stop is still a part of the game, and other characters might encounter it at a later point. Whereas in my current group, if we're playing an AP and the party makes it half way through and gets cacked, we're more likely to move on to another campaign than to try to pick up in the middle of an AP with all new (or raised) characters.


First Post
I suppose my definition of a "challenging" battle is one that the PCs will win if they play their cards right, but if they don't, they will die.

I might fudge something a bit tosave a PC, but only if I think my battle is too hard rather than being poorly handled by the player.
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First Post
Very interesting. I think that I mis-labeled and mis-typed the whole darned thing.

I should have said "failure" instead of "death". I have seen the kind of game where the players cannot screw up bad enough for the DM to simply alter his setting in order to reflect that badness. In other words, the only impact that the game has on the setting is good. None of the bad player actions matter because the DM always leads em back to the right path.

I agree with FranktheDM the most though. If my choices do not matter then I do not want to play.

Thanks for your replies. As a DM it is good input to see what players think.

Next time I will word my post better ><


I voted Superheroic. I play for both combat and character interaction, I would not like for my PC to die(I do not like it when other PCs die).


Victoria Rules
As both player and DM, I am used to - and expect - gritty as defined here. Characters come and go, and if I feel I'm being given a free pass to "succeed" then I feel cheated somehow.

That said, someone above made an excellent point: the party's success overall matters far more than that of any one character. I've run games where by the end of an adventure there were no characters left from the party that began it...yet there was still a thing identifyable as the same party made up of different characters that had been picked up as the party went along.

And if all else fails: kill 'em all and let the gods sort 'em out. :)


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