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His point is that Xoth should take the opportunity to showcase S&S specific rules.

Nothing wrong with "gritty" rules.
Yes IMO Xoth is showcasing S&S specific rules. There are different opinions on how to create the S&S atmosphere in a D&D game. Excellent that he’s acknowledged this with an optional rule.
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
Oh that - that story trope really needs to be outside the combat mechanic.

What I did when I ran OGL Conan was to have such things be completely arbitrary/fiated, since they occur to 'move the story along', not part of world-sim.
See my previous reply about "telling a story" vs "playing a game".

If you simply decide, by GM fiat, that the PC gets smacked in the head and captured, "outside the combat mechanic", to "move the story along", then you might as well invite your friends over and read a Conan story aloud to them.

I prefer to play a game, where any "story" is one that develops through emergent play, as a mix of randomness and player choice, and where I as the GM don't know how the "story" will develop. I set up situations, react to player choice, and let the dice fall where they may.
 

S'mon

Legend
I prefer to play a game, where any "story" is one that develops through emergent play, as a mix of randomness and player choice, and where I as the GM don't know how the "story" will develop. I set up situations, react to player choice, and let the dice fall where they may.

Me too - I only used the Fate Point thing with published adventures, and that was 16 years ago. I'm a very sandboxy GM.

But you need to understand the impact on play of your rule. Do you want the PCs to avoid combat? Or to act as if random death is always a moment away? That fits Game of Thrones and some other Low Fantasy, but not Nehwon/Conan/Elric and such S&S. (Of course you can have low fantasy grim & gritty in an S&S setting - the players just need to know they're not Conan & never wil be).
 

Nehwon/Conan/Elric and such S&S. (Of course you can have low fantasy grim & gritty in an S&S setting - the players just need to know they're not Conan & never wil be).

I think that’s an over simplification. I don’t see it as black and white, there are shades in between. You can have a bit of grit and heroic at the same time, and be more heroic for it. As has been mentioned before death saves are a pretty large heroic safety net built into 5e.
The ruling doesn’t bring 5e anywhere near wfrp or even RQ levels of danger, it’s still largely the same 5e game with a bit of added (optional) spice.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Please remember: the massive damage rule included in the actual Player's Guide isn't the rule discussed here (recently).

(deleted)
 
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Please remember: the massive damage rule included in the actual Player's Guide isn't the rule discussed here (recently).

(deleted)
Ah ok. Crossed streams.

The instant death rule in the players guide is something that is already part of 5e. The difference with the (optional) rule, is that it unties the chances of dying instantly from a direct correlation with the amount of hp’s you have.
This has the effect of actually making you much less prone to instant death in the beginning levels, but then it flattens out a little. There’s still the level bonus increase, so you do have that increasing greater ability to thwart death (becoming more heroic), but not at the same rate as the PHB.
Again this strikes me (excuse the pun) as a more gritty but still heroic ruling. There’s a balance in there, with lower levels getting a big boost, then a gradual increase in survivability, which reflects an S&S with a pinch more grit, but still modelling heroic progression...just not at the same level as standard 5e which quickly sweeps up into super heroic.
Again really easy to ignore that rule (though instant death will be much more likely at low levels).
Personally I’m fine with it and will use it in my games. Very happy to have that optional suggestion as it fits with the balance of grit (not too much) and heroism in the S&S I’d like to play. I want hero’s, but not super high fantasy hero’s.

These optional rules makes the game accessible to me. Everyone is a winner.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Ah ok. Crossed streams.

The instant death rule in the players guide is something that is already part of 5e. The difference with the (optional) rule, is that it unties the chances of dying instantly from a direct correlation with the amount of hp’s you have.
This has the effect of actually making you much less prone to instant death in the beginning levels, but then it flattens out a little. There’s still the level bonus increase, so you do have that increasing greater ability to thwart death (becoming more heroic), but not at the same rate as the PHB.
Again this strikes me (excuse the pun) as a more gritty but still heroic ruling. There’s a balance in there, with lower levels getting a big boost, then a gradual increase in survivability, which reflects an S&S with a pinch more grit, but still modelling heroic progression...just not at the same level as standard 5e which quickly sweeps up into super heroic.
Again really easy to ignore that rule (though instant death will be much more likely at low levels).
Personally I’m fine with it and will use it in my games. Very happy to have that optional suggestion as it fits with the balance of grit (not too much) and heroism in the S&S I’d like to play. I want hero’s, but not super high fantasy hero’s.

These optional rules makes the game accessible to me. Everyone is a winner.
Again, I beg to differ. The instant death rule in the players guide is decidedly different from the core PHB rule.

The Xoth rule makes "low on hit points" an extremely risky state to be in for characters of every level.
The core PHB rule on the other hand can practically be forgotten about after the very lowest levels. And at level 1 or 2, you are so fragile anyway there is little need for extra ways to die.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The point is that neither variant accomplishes the stated goal, and I quote, "In sword and sorcery stories, the protagonists regularly kill their foes with a single well-placed hit."

(The other point is that while "In sword and sorcery stories, the protagonists regularly kill their foes with a single well-placed hit" might well be true, but the reverse isn't. This phrase suggests a mook rule reminiscent of 4th Edition would much more directly and accurately accomplish the stated goal.

But I (and S'mon) have already made a futile attempt to argue what you say you want is not what your suggested rules actually accomplishes :( )
 

(The other point is that while "In sword and sorcery stories, the protagonists regularly kill their foes with a single well-placed hit" might well be true, but the reverse isn't.
There’s clearly a spectrum of different approaches possible which emphasis different aspects of S&S, as evidenced by our discussions here. Yours and Simons suggestions are valid, but so are approaches that emphasis a bit more grit, danger, and unpredictability.
As it stands both approaches are accommodated comfortably, so I really don’t see the problem. The rules suggestions are optional, so your preferred game mode is still the default.

Personally I think the modified instant death rule does do a good job of illustrating the difference in world presumptions in relation to standard D&D. I certainly don’t see it as a failure of S&S rule design as you do. S&S genre is a broad church so to speak, and there’s room for alternative approaches as Xoth has thoughtfully catered for.

Back to your point about mooks. A rule that enhances the mook aspect (player facing) could be the use of inspiration on a critical to trigger the one-shot take down.

Though I still like the danger and element of unpredictability in Xoths suggestion for the second critical roll. I think it emphasises a gaming aspect that the world can be a dangerous unpredictable place. But the balance is no where near wfrp grit, so I thinks it’s pitched at the right level for a slightly darker dangerous S&S 5e game.

Regarding future rule suggestions - We know changing major 5e rules assumptions like weapons damage output, and amount of hps is off the cards, so that’s at least a good way to help focus minds on any other future rule suggestions.
 
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S'mon

Legend
S&S genre is a broad church so to speak, and there’s room for alternative approaches as Xoth has thoughtfully catered for.
I guess this is the thing I'm not seeing. The S&S stories I know do* have some sudden shocking protagonist deaths, but they are at the hands of something like Chun the Unavoidable or a bad-weather-bringing soul-drinking demon sword - never the random mook.

Of course you can have a game where you play the random mooks in an S&S world - arguably WHFRP itself is that, since it's based on the much less gritty, & heavily S&S-influenced, Warhammer Fantasy Battle. But I didn't think that's what Xoth was going for.

*I'd go so far as to say that the sudden death of a powerful protagonist or protagonist's rival/peer/companion at the hands of an Out of Context Event is so common as to be an established S&S trope. But in game terms that is what "Save or Die" is for - and you don't give Save or Die power to every town guard in S&S. When Corum or Elric meet their end, it's not because some mook stabbed their ankle like in GoT.
 

But I didn't think that's what Xoth was going for
Yes I don’t think that’s what he’s done. Wfrp is far more dangerous.

On the scale of grit, Xoths suggestion is far from wfrp levels. Yes it may not emphasis the Conan stories as you’d like it, but it does shift presumption about the world into a more dangerous unpredictable place, but it’s a far cry from wfrp carnage.

I imagine whilst of course the Conan stories are a central touching point, there is a whole lot of other popular S&S culture that has sprung up around it which Xoth is drawing on, along with a gameist bent.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
Paid a bod yn dwp, my overall point is that you and Xoth aren't meeting our arguments head on. You provide a suggestion, we point out it does not accomplish what you say you want, you keep that suggestion anyway, perhaps adding a new different reason why, perhaps even shifting the goal. What I hoped for is "know what? you're right. Didn't think of it that way. Your arguments for cutting out that rule makes a lot of sense, thank you."

When we suggest alternative solutions that actually does give the effect you say you want, you focus on shooting these down for various reasons rather than acknowledging that, yes, they are actually more effective in accomplishing the stated goal.

It all makes constructive discussion very frustrating.

For example: you said "We know changing major 5e rules assumptions like weapons damage output, and amount of hps is off the cards, so that’s at least a good way to help focus minds on any other future rule suggestions." But if every other approach is closed than the one you have already decided you like, why not simply say "my rules are not open for feedback, I won't change them no matter what you say"...?

In the end, after all this discussion, the only argument I can see for keeping any of the massive, instant or random death rules remains "because I like it". This is what I find disappointing. Regards, Zapp
 

What I hoped for is "know what? you're right. Didn't think of it that way. Your arguments for cutting out that rule makes a lot of sense, thank you."
I disagreed, it’d be odd to agree with your reasoning if that wasn’t also my belief.

If you’re looking for validation, I think you and S’mon have made good points on the Conan stories, and I haven’t disputed those. What I have disputed is your opinion of Xoths approach and design of his optional rules. I’ve also made the point that the S&S genre is a broad church and there are varied valid ways of expressing the genre in a game of 5e. It seems we both have different things we’d like to emphasis, which is cool. It also seems to me that we are both catered for thanks to Xoth’s approach to his game.

Now if you wish to continue to tell me how I’m wrong, then we probably won’t reach agreement there. Be more constructive to acknowledge differences of opinion, and move on.

I’ve mentioned that I agreed with your analysis of magic in S&S. So that’s a
point of agreement.

I also liked S’mon point about increasing the level of threat of the foes.

We also know that Xoth isn’t going to make big upheavals to the 5e system, like changing hp’s per level, or increasing general weapon damage. He wants to keep the game as compatible to 5e as possible to (understandably) reach that audience, hence my comment. I said that not to shut off debate, but to save us all time and effort in where we direct focus for future discussions.

If you’re looking for something much more Conan focused there’s already a bespoke Conan game which is pretty decent. Well worth a look if you haven’t already.
 
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S'mon

Legend
Apart from early-GoT style low fantasy, another genre that suits insta-death rules is the gritty war drama. "Anyone can die" is perfect for 'Fantasy Effin Vietnam", to coin a phrase. :D
Basically it suits any genre where going into combat can result in random, sudden death from 'ordinary' threats, no matter the capabilities of the central characters. That does not match any Swords & Sorcery I'm aware of.
 

Apart from early-GoT style low fantasy, another genre that suits insta-death rules is the gritty war drama. "Anyone can die" is perfect for 'Fantasy Effin Vietnam", to coin a phrase. :D
Basically it suits any genre where going into combat can result in random, sudden death from 'ordinary' threats, no matter the capabilities of the central characters. That does not match any Swords & Sorcery I'm aware of.
Yeah not disputing those. The antagonist’s in most S&S literature don’t die at all. This is where gamest elements come into play, IMO you need a threat of failure to game it. Besides with the predictable damage of 5e, low level mooks are very unlikely to cause instant death anyway, unless they collapse a building on you. But the instant death rule does a good job (for me) of adjusting presumptions about the world in comparison to standard 5e. It sends out a message that we are all mortals, flesh and blood, at the same time still acknowledges growing heroic status. If that’s not your bag it’s very easy to leave it out, and take away any threat a mook might pose. What’s proposed is optional, so you can decide what you want to emphasise in your S&S. We’re all naturally going to be emphasising different aspects in our games as we take ownership of them at our (virtual) tables.

In my game creating tension through a small element of unpredictability is something that helps create a slightly more edgy S&S atmosphere. It’s certainly a gamest device. If there’s no threat the game becomes very bland, and S&S for me is anything but bland.

I think we all have valid points here. But your argument is premised on literally emulating all aspects of the Conan texts for instance, then we’re going to have hero’s that can’t die in our games. That doesn’t strike me as something I’d wish to play in a D&D game. I need gamest elements as well, that don’t just focus on emulating texts, but are also mindful of how they create atmosphere at the table. Gaming is a different medium and sometimes it helps to emphasis chance and failure in that medium to keep tension and atmosphere alive. In a sense I see it as translating from one language to another, sometimes it’s not desired to do it literally.

In my view we are still no where near the level of threat in games like RuneQuest, or wfrp. That’s why I agree with Xoth, the 1/400 chance of a deadly crit is very low, but it shifts the paradigm of standard 5e slightly, but not too much, the right balance (in my game).
 
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S'mon

Legend
I think we all have valid points here. But your argument is premised on literally emulating all aspects of the Conan texts for instance, then we’re going to have hero’s that can’t die in our games.

I generally take it that in playing an S&S game you don't know if your PC is Red Sonja or Belit - you don't know if she might die - but you do know that you're a protagonist-level character, not one of the random unnamed mooks Conan cleaves through. :D
 

S'mon

Legend
That’s why I agree with Xoth, the 1/400 chance of a deadly crit is very low

Maybe it's because I mostly run long term campaigns over dozens to hundreds of sessions, but I have to disagree with this. In anything other than a one-shot, you are going to see a 1 in 400 chance come up pretty frequently. Over the long term it will guarantee a revolving door of replacement characters.
 

Maybe it's because I mostly run long term campaigns over dozens to hundreds of sessions, but I have to disagree with this. In anything other than a one-shot, you are going to see a 1 in 400 chance come up pretty frequently. Over the long term it will guarantee a revolving door of replacement characters.
Yeah cool. Don’t use it, it’s optional.
 

I generally take it that in playing an S&S game you don't know if your PC is Red Sonja or Belit - you don't know if she might die - but you do know that you're a protagonist-level character, not one of the random unnamed mooks Conan cleaves through. :D
Yeah for me the pc’s are still powerful and are likely to win the day. It’s hard to die in 5e. And if that standard 5e approach is what your after it’s not being dispensed of in Xoths game .

Inspiration is a very useful tool in 5e. Could easily see it being used to thwart death heroically in this game.
 

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