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S'mon

Legend
Yeah for me the pc’s are still powerful and are likely to win the day. It’s hard to die in 5e.

It has not been my experience that it's hard to die in standard 5e. For that to be the case:

1. You have to be running at level 5+, certainly at 3+. But there are plenty of low-CR critters that can down a full hp level 3 PC in one blow. Or crit and insta-kill a PC at low hp.
2. The GM is sticking to the DMG encounter building rules, and not using much over minimal-Deadly
3. Monsters don't finish off fallen/0 hp PCs
4. The players are fairly skilled at running their PCs.
 

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It has not been my experience that it's hard to die in standard 5e. For that to be the case:

1. You have to be running at level 5+, certainly at 3+. But there are plenty of low-CR critters that can down a full hp level 3 PC in one blow. Or crit and insta-kill a PC at low hp.
2. The GM is sticking to the DMG encounter building rules, and not using much over minimal-Deadly
3. Monsters don't finish off fallen/0 hp PCs
4. The players are fairly skilled at running their PCs.
Yeah agreed. it’s not all a bed of roses. I certainly enjoy the lower levels when there is a greater risk of failure. The risk is more exciting.
Regardless, 5e death saves have kept all my characters alive. Which some old school die hards deplore, but I think it’s a pretty good mechanic. You can use it to allow more risk, but with a sturdy safety net. Perfect for conanesque games.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
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.
Exactly.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Yeah cool. Don’t use it, it’s optional.
No, the argument is: don't include rules that risk biting DMs in the behind.

Nothing suggests Xoth is a setting more geared towards one-offs than regular campaigns, and so it is a bad decision to suggest such a rule.

In other words: don't hide behind "it's optional". The idea the quality of rules can go down when presented as a variant is not a good idea.
 

No, the argument is: don't include rules that risk biting DMs in the behind.

Nothing suggests Xoth is a setting more geared towards one-offs than regular campaigns, and so it is a bad decision to suggest such a rule.

In other words: don't hide behind "it's optional". The idea the quality of rules can go down when presented as a variant is not a good idea.
Well that’s subjective. Remember there are other opinions out there which are just as valid as yours :)

No one is forcing you to use optional rules. But thanks very much Xoth for providing them, I appreciate them. This obviously is just going rumble on. Think I’ve said everything i need to about why I like the rules. Totally cool that you don’t. Your game is yours, and your reasons for playing are naturally going to be different from the next person.
 
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xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
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.


OK, so what you're presenting as a fact here is that it will "guarantee" lots of dead player characters.

Care to calculate the actual probability of someone dying after:
  1. Getting hit with a crit
  2. Choosing NOT to use the other (optional) rule to sacrifice your weapon or shield to block the critical in the first place
  3. Getting hit with a second crit
  4. Failing the first death save
  5. Failing the second death save
  6. Failing the third death save
  7. During all of this, not getting any healing from an ally, and no allies able to make a DC 10 check to stabilize you
  8. Boom, you're "suddenly" dead!
Presenting the above as a "guarantee" of "a revolving door of replacement characters" is clearly overblown.
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
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.
I think you are forgetting the difference between a book and a game.

Of course the protagonists in books don't die from "a single well-placed hit" from a random mook. They generally don't die at all. Because if they did, the book would end there. Unless you have a large gallery of protagonists, Game of Thrones-style, so the author can kill off some protagonists because there are more left to continue the story.

A game is different. There is no "story" (other than that which emerges through play) and hence no guarantee that just because you are a Player Character, you can't die. (Well, in some games and settings/adventures there is, more or less, such a guarantee, but those games and settings/adventures are pretty lame and probably quite railroady.)

There has to be a risk of dying to keep the game interesting. At least for me; you may have a different opinion. Just compare the first seasons of Game of Thrones, when protagonists could die, against the last seasons, when most of the main characters suddenly developed "plot armor" regardless of the situation they ended up in. Watch how the show ratings dropped like a stone when this happened.

Playing a game of adventure and combat without any risk of dying is a snoozefest.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
I think you are forgetting the difference between a book and a game.
I thought I was discussing the different needs of different (sub-)genres.

Playing a game of adventure and combat without any risk of dying is a snoozefest.
I fully understand you personally like massive/insta/random death (I'll call it MIRD from now on ;) ) in your campaigns. But that has (should have?) nothing to do with the publication of a S&S-themed sourcebook. As an author, I would save such a rule for a genre actually benefiting from it.

The basis of this argument is this: MARD is appropriate for any game where combat is not a desired state, where combat is interpreted to mean a failure on some level (whether of intrigue, subterfuge, or just planning). WFRP and Game of Thrones are good examples of this "gritty" fantasy.

Sword & Sorcery is nothing like that. Solving challenges with your sword is expected. Sure Conan & Co may avoid combat when it would be stupid or suicidal, but just as often he's forced into exactly stupid and suicidal combats - and he still prevails.

In this regard, it shares the DNA with regular D&D. Sure intrigue, subterfuge and planning can play a large role in regular D&D too, and for many gamers play a huge role. But the core assumption in D&D is that heroes will have many combats and that they will like it.

Put otherwise, in D&D combat is not a punishment, it is a reward (if not for the characters, definitely the players). The whole game is focused on providing exciting fun combat, and rewarding its participants (fun and challenge for the players; experience and loot for the characters).

If your outlook on S&S is different here (and more in line with WFRP or GoT) then, and only then, is the inclusion of MIRD rules appropriate. But the pushback you are experiencing (from me and others) should be interpreted as you not communicating this (and I don't mean here on the forums, but in the Player's Guide itself), at least not so clearly that I have gotten the message.

The pushback is because currently you come across as offering your favorite generic D&D houserules in a supplement with different needs.

I hope you see my point. I'm not dead set against you adding various rules; I just don't see the genre-specific justification, and I feel a supplement like your is better off when kept lean, slim and to the point :)

Best Regards,
Zapp
 

turnip_farmer

Adventurer
Lots of nipples. Probably a genre-appropriate quantity.
Today I learned that there are no nipples in the PHB.

I discovered this after reading the content rules for DM's Guild, which forbid any depiction of nipples, regardless of gender. I was somewhat taken aback by this excessive puritanism, thinking that WotC's own publications must violate it. But I checked, and no. There are no nipples. The depictions of barbarians, male and female, are all dressed for arctic conditions.
 

S'mon

Legend
Today I learned that there are no nipples in the PHB.

I discovered this after reading the content rules for DM's Guild, which forbid any depiction of nipples, regardless of gender. I was somewhat taken aback by this excessive puritanism, thinking that WotC's own publications must violate it. But I checked, and no. There are no nipples. The depictions of barbarians, male and female, are all dressed for arctic conditions.

I was recently told no nipples in my Dragonsfoot PBP game - not even Frazetta art nipples! O Tempora O Mores! :-O
 

The basis of this argument is this: MARD is appropriate for any game where combat is not a desired state

Your premise isn’t wholly correct. You’re overstating the impact of these rules on the game. As Xoth very clearly pointed out in his last post ,the stages you would need to go through for character death (not just zero hit points) still makes death unlikely. I’ve mentioned before, any genre elements for example “grit” are on a sliding scale. let’s say you have wfrp at one end and 5e at the other. Wfrp is in a different league of grit compared to what we are talking about here. You can sneeze in wfrp fall on your sword, and die from your wounds 3 days later. That’s more like game of thrones level of futility your describing.
The D&D hero aspect is still a central part of the game in Xoths proposals, but with a little pinch of mortal vulnerability. Steal is the ultimate weapon and no mortal can escape that.

What’s proposed is nothing like the futility of play you just described, where players are afraid of combat, that’s much more wfrp’s realm, though even that has martial characters built for battle.

let’s take this further, if we slide the scale of grit higher in Xoth’s game we could introduce other elements like more frequently achievable take-downs, or the “fumble”. With the fumble we would be getting into the lower fantasy fantasy realm which models accidental/calamitous self inflicted wounds. That would be inappropriate IMO in a game of S&S mediated through DnD 5e. That’s taking it too far on the scale of grit IMO, and to levels more appropriate to Game of thrones as you have descibed

In contrast to the fumble, critical’s (and deadly critical’s) are very much part of the flavour of the S&S genre. Extraordinary hits that can cleeve a foe, remove a sorcerer’s head before he/she has a chance to cast their evil magic. That’s the power of steal, and its fully genre appropriate.

Hero’s should have things partly weighted in their favour, to avoid many of these outcomes in the game on themselves, and Xoth has provided that with the sacrificing a weapon/shield rule, 5e has provided the other tools to safe guard most adventurers. Most people admit it’s quite a safe system for players. That’s why it can take a little slide up on the scale of grit without it turning into a different genre, as you seem afraid it will.

As has been pointed out there should be a risk of failure in any game of D&D to make it playable. The whole game is premised on chance of success or failure. If we’re sticking to the Conan stories then we shouldn’t allow those elements in our game at all - Conan shouldn’t fail his climb up the sorcerer’s tower for example.

The optional rules also serve a purpose to colour the atmosphere of the game, in-line with S&S elements. It can be a cruel world, with little moral compass for example, death is always a possibility. Our hero’s are more heroic for the risks they take in such a world.

An element of Grit is genre appropriate in S&S. I sat through 1982’s Conan, very gritty film with gory deaths, and one-shot take downs. Even lost one of the protagonists, and nearly lost Conan. But steal always has the last word.
 

S'mon

Legend
If we’re sticking to the Conan stories then we shouldn’t allow those elements in our game at all - Conan shouldn’t fail his climb up the sorcerer’s tower for example.
Not exactly - some good GM advice I read from Ron Edwards in Sorcerer & Sword, Conan fails often but never looks incompetent. So a failed climb check should be dramatically described as eg stones suddenly come loose from the crumbling wall, Conan with his pantherish reflexes twists aside and survives the fall where a lesser man would be crushed by the tumbling masonry.
 

Not exactly - some good GM advice I read from Ron Edwards in Sorcerer & Sword, Conan fails often but never looks incompetent. So a failed climb check should be dramatically described as eg stones suddenly come loose from the crumbling wall, Conan with his pantherish reflexes twists aside and survives the fall where a lesser man would be crushed by the tumbling masonry.
Yes good way to describe it. Not disputing that. But the point is there’s a chance for you to fail in the game, unlike Conan who will always succeed in the end.
You also have to ask yourself are we playing Conan where nothing can affect him because of canon? It’s the equivalent of playing Gandalf in lord of the rings. Pretty boring from my point of view.

There are many ways you could write a bespoke game, though, and I’m not disputing your approach that you’ve suggested, I’m defending what to me is very genre appropriate for the reasons I’ve outlined.
Judging by discussion here ( which seems possibly polarised) Xoth has got the balance just right. There’s the standard 5e mode, and optional rule suggestions.
 
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Not exactly - some good GM advice I read from Ron Edwards in Sorcerer & Sword, Conan fails often but never looks incompetent. So a failed climb check should be dramatically described as eg stones suddenly come loose from the crumbling wall, Conan with his pantherish reflexes twists aside and survives the fall where a lesser man would be crushed by the tumbling masonry.
I really like that. I would like to think that I handle poor rolls like that for characters 5th+ level. The thief avoids all the squeaky boards, but just right then the guard needs to stretch turns around and looks right at them. I'll be more mindful of that amongst the skillful.
 

FXR

Explorer
Yes good way to describe it. Not disputing that. But the point is there’s a chance for you to fail in the game, unlike Conan who will always succeed in the end.
You also have to ask yourself are we playing Conan where nothing can affect him because of canon? It’s the equivalent of playing Gandalf in lord of the rings. Pretty boring from my point of view.

S&S main characters all lean on competent side, regardless of Conan. Red Sonja, Jirel of Joiry and Kull all feel competent, so do Fhard and the Gray Mouser.

From my experience, people who want to play a S&S game want to play characters such as those I mentioned, not some run-of-the-mill guard who gets kill by the first bandit he meets. However, competent doesn't mean invincible. Even Conan knew when retreat or stealth was a better option than regular combat.
 


xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
I hope you see my point. I'm not dead set against you adding various rules; I just don't see the genre-specific justification, and I feel a supplement like your is better off when kept lean, slim and to the point :)
I'd like to thank you (and others who have contributed to the discussion) for your thoughtful input. Obviously I don't always agree or have the same vision for the supplement, but I do appreciate the feedback!
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
There is a new update of the Player's Guide available (version 1.10).

The changes in this version include:
  • Added examples of ability score arrays.
  • Noted that low Intelligence score reduces starting languages.
  • Added (optional) "Deadly Critical" rule to replace Instant Death.
  • Added exhaustion rule after being unconscious.
  • Added clause about full HD recovery on long rest.
  • Added Artificer as playable class.
  • Added background on Howard's cyclic history and "barbarism vs civilization" theory to the Cultures of Xoth chapter first page.
  • Adjusted some race descriptions to increase variety in the suggested cultures.
  • Noted that rapiers do not exist.
  • Sushranite longbows can add Strength to damage.

Enjoy! :)
 

Blue Orange

Explorer
I was recently told no nipples in my Dragonsfoot PBP game - not even Frazetta art nipples! O Tempora O Mores! :-O
“Life was such a wheel that no man could stand upon it for long. And it always, at the end, came round to the same place again.” -Stephen King, The Stand.
 


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