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D&D General "Hot Take": Fear is a bad motivator

Mort

Legend
I'm buying in to playing my character to the reasonable best of its abilities, such as those may be. (I'm neither munchkin nor powergamer, hence "reasonable best")

If the game gives me the ability to not die, it's kinda dumb of me not to use it.
People have explained, repeatedly, that not die means through general means like bad die rolls/unluckiness etc. If you looney tunes, engage in behavior that's clearly suicidal (rather than adventurous/ a bit reckless) then they'll oblige - and likely not ask you back.

Unless of course, the concept really is that (a la Plansecape Torment but for a whole party). In which case, it changes the dynamic of play quite a bit - but in a really interesting way! Heck Torment had a puzzle where the whole point was you had to die several times in specific ways - to complete it.

That's just it - I am buying in to a central concept of the campaign, that being that PCs can't die. At the same time, I'm trying to point out just how horribly bad that central concept is.
The concept is only horrible if abused - why do you keep assuming players will abuse the concept?

Or, again, Planescape Torment - often touted as the best of the D&D CRPGs - I think a concept like that for an entire party could be really awesome!
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There are many more ways to fail than death. Frankly, in most games, death of a character is barely a spead-bump for a player.

If a PC dies than either:

1) the campaign has a mechanism for raising the character and he doesn't stay dead;
Yes, and I don't mind this at all; though in the 0e-1e-2e days that revival came at significant financial cost to the character and with a small-but significant risk of failure, meaning permadeath. (5e has made revival far too easy IMO)
2) The player brings in a new character either at the same level as the old one or a a bit lower. I've only seen 1 or 2 campaigns where character death results in bringing in a 1st level character and I've never seen a "your character dies, you're out until the next campaign" Iron Man style group.
I've never seen an Iron Man group like you describe and - given that our campaigns tend to go for 10+ years - hope I never do. :)

New characters in my game come in usually a level below the party average, unless the party is still raw 1st.
Failure of an objective (failure to save an NPC, failure to save a town, failure to prevent the party getting cursed) however, is often much more than a speed-bump and much harder to get around. The party can be saddled with the failure, and it can be truly campaign defining.
All true.

Or the PCs can, if they're less heroic, simply walk away from the town or NPC they failed to save and try their luck somewhere else. Curses are harder to shake, ditto quests or geases.

However, I still think the addition of significant individual failure or hard-loss possitilities (e.g. death, level drain, magic item meltdown) adds a lot more than it subtracts.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Why do you immediately assume bad faith gaming? If player's bought into the no death concept they've also agreed to not exploit it.
I assume players are, as in any game you can think of, going to test the limits of what they're allowed to do.
That said, there are some changes in playstyle that might result - and that's not a bad thing. Gives players a chance to play in a way they might not when death is a constant fear (more adventurous, more reckless/headstrong etc.)
Which can be great for a while, until the lack of realistic consequences for reckless-headstrong-gonzo actions slowly makes it start to feel like Looney Tunes.

And I say this as a player who has lost a huge number of PCs over the years through trying reckless-headstrong-gonzo actions! If there's no risk, what's the point?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
People have explained, repeatedly, that not die means through general means like bad die rolls/unluckiness etc.
Nuh-uh. Not die means not die, period. Black and white.

Otherwise you're into judgment-call territory as to whether a death is "good" or "bad", which puts the DM in a really bad spot.
Unless of course, the concept really is that (a la Plansecape Torment but for a whole party). In which case, it changes the dynamic of play quite a bit - but in a really interesting way! Heck Torment had a puzzle where the whole point was you had to die several times in specific ways - to complete it.
I once ran a one-off gonzo game where the most efficient way to earn loads of xp was to die; and there was a little prize for whoever got the most xp that day. Never have I seen players so eager to chuck their PCs into every combat they could find!

Thing is, I didn't tell the players how I was doing xp until I handed out the prize; and the player who thought she was going to come in last due to her PC dying twice and missing most of the adventure in fact won! :)
The concept is only horrible if abused - why do you keep assuming players will abuse the concept?
Because it's so barn-door-wide open for it.
Or, again, Planescape Torment - often touted as the best of the D&D CRPGs - I think a concept like that for an entire party could be really awesome!
The last D&D CRPG I touched, and that only briefly, was Pools of Radiance from the 2e gold-box series.
 

Mort

Legend
Because it's so barn-door-wide open for it.
I think plenty of people disagree, but we're getting into "Chocolate is great," "Chocolate is icky," territory, so I'll drop it.

The last D&D CRPG I touched, and that only briefly, was Pools of Radiance from the 2e gold-box series.
The game is available for $20 on Steam. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to lose way too much time to a computer game.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I assume players are, as in any game you can think of, going to test the limits of what they're allowed to do.
Personally speaking, testing limits is not condoned at my table unless we're explicitly doing a playtest. In actual play we're trying to use the system (including any houserules) as a tool, not deliberately test that tool to see where it fails.

The idea that players would deliberately test the limits of what is acceptable in a group game is a foreign concept to me. If by chance one is new enough to the group to not know where those limits are, I think it's far better to simply ask, rather than experimenting with what one can get away with.
 

Arilyn

Hero
My response: Whether or not we meant to make it into Looney Tunes, the very fact that PCs can't die makes it so by default, which means we made a dumb decision. All I'm doing is pointing that out in an extreme enough manner to make y'all sit up and take notice.
But many of us are successfully playing no death games. They don't end up feeling like Toon, and players are not abusing the situation, even a little. Really! Obviously not everyone will want to play this way, and I don't play this way exclusively. I wish you would quit assuming we don't know what we are talking about when we keep telling you no death games work perfectly well. If they devolved into what you're describing, do you really think we'd be doing it?
 

Meh. If I'm playing with someone that goes from Tom to Tom II to Tom III, one of us is leaving the game.
Wait, so you aren't actually okay with the revolving-door character? I'm deeply confused now as to what you are and aren't in favor of, with regard to character turnover.

Raise dead is only a 5th level spell and money is plentiful. The PCs can just do it themselves or hire someone to do it
What does this do to the permanency of death? Doesn't this imply that there truly are NO permanent consequences whatsoever, by your own arguments? Death just requires scraping up some resources and handing off responsibility to your friends, which is WAY easier than befriending a bloody DIETY. Or so I should bloody well hope!

I'd rather move away from the 'Fear of Death' conversation and focus on the 'Fear of Permanent Loss' one.
Permanent losses should always be possible. Not necessarily likely, not necessarily unavoidable, but possible. That's one of the ways you create uncertainty. I, at least, have not disputed this at any point in the thread.

Many in here have mentioned they prefer no-death campaigns because other consequences can be just as meaningful or even more so.
Yes. I said this because, as I've said repeatedly, an irrevocable (and, in particular, random and purposeless, terms I have repeatedly used in this thread) PC death erases a story. That story no longer matters, by definition; the character is dead, and can no longer do anything, can no longer grow or respond in any way. Total stoppage of development, I argue, can be less meaningful than continuing to develop, but never knowing for sure where the development will take you.

So I wonder, do you let campaigns end in failure or loss? <snip> If it is not [acceptable], why not? Why no hard non-death fail state for the party as a whole?
It's on the table. It's not going to be very likely, because that implies a hardcore downer ending, and I don't think my friends and I would enjoy that. Several of us have depression, so "the thing you put three years of your life into just went up in flames and now Sucks Forever" would not be a particularly good thing....most of the time. But I allow for it, as a remote but still extant possibility, because I want to make good on my assertion that the world I run is "bright but under threat." It's a fairly nice place to live--not perfect, absolutely not, but pretty good for being inspired by the Islamic Golden Age and Al-Andalus. E.g. unlike the real world in those times and places, slavery is not okay; the dominant religious institution really is primarily concerned with helping the masses and stopping both internal and external abusers; the ruler of the main city-state the PCs live in is a genuinely just and kind woman, and fairly wise for her young age; there are both honest and crooked businessmen, and there's a Robin Hood-esque thieves' guild in addition to more unsavory ones; etc. But all of that COULD change. It really, genuinely COULD all be ruined, with hundreds of thousands dead, good leaders assassinated, the benevolent religion replaced with a horrible assassin cult, etc.

Heck, I introduced a memetic mind-virus spirit, the Song of Thorns, which can spread purely by reading or hearing the titular Song, and which both warps reality and the bodies and minds of people affected with it, turning them into bestial pre-sapient beings. Had the Song broken out (which would have been VERY easy, the ritual to reach the plane it was trapped in is incredibly simple), it would have devastated the world, and that would have permanently defined the campaign from there on out. This didn't happen because the players stepped up, and succeeded (with flying colors, I might add!) at defeating it and destroying its spirit-essence so it could never infect anyone again. Some of my players were very anxious about facing it, but we talked it out, and they gave it a go. Good times were had by all.

On number 2: Can you elaborate on this a bit? With the players you've had, what sorts of situations have they seen such a conclusion as acceptable? What situations have they not?
I haven't ended any campaigns with my group yet, so I can't really say (this is only the second campaign I've ever run). However, based on what stuff I've done with them, I could see it being acceptable to have the equivalent of a "moral/symbolic TPK" if, say, the Sultana married one of the villainous characters (she is a highly eligible bachelorette) and, as a result thereof, felt they could no longer trust her or her decisions. That would be a pretty devastating blow, but it's something that COULD come out of things naturally, and which they would feel hard-pressed to try to change, because that would require causing some kind of harm to her, and the whole point would be to protect her from harm. There are also some other apocalypse-level threats that could potentially apply (the Song of Thorns above was an example, but they defeated it), but that would require they learn more about the threats in question, because they don't really know what all of the bad-guy factions WANT.

I guess I am just curious as to what other parties view as an Acceptable 'We screwed up, we lose' scenario. Does it entirely depend on if it creates a 'satisfying story'? Or can they accept the loss due to screw up/bad decisions even if it ends in an ignoble tragedy for the party?
I'm very certain that if my players did something really really dumb, having ignored my "Are you sure you want to do that?"/"Did you actually say that in character?" type questions (which I have explicitly told my players is my tacit warning, "That might have consequences you won't like, are you really really sure?"), and understood why their really really dumb choices caused a particular consequence, they would accept that with good grace. We all strive for respectful, adult interactions, and owning up to "...oh boy, we really DID break the world, didn't we?" is, I hope, a part of that. Even if it isn't strictly narratively satisfying.

I guess the standard is that it needs to "make sense." There needs to be a rationale or a purpose to it. If it makes sense that a character should die as a result of their actions--and the player(s) and I agree that it should make sense--then it does, even if we were hoping to see more. Late last year, I had a player feel the need to bow out, trying to keep maximum availability open for job-searching--it was a hard decision, but we understood. The druid played by this player did something bold and dangerous, and his player told me, "Yeah, I expect him to die here." I, on the other hand, didn't feel that that made sense--so we talked it out. The character in question instead went on permanent hiatus, being "taken away" by a powerful (but nominally friendly) being for purposes unknown. This left his allies needing to clean up after the contract he made with a devil, which was a serious consequence. After we talked it out, the player definitely agreed that this was a much better, more sensible choice than killing off the character--especially because it meant that there was at least the possibility that he could come back, but absolutely no guarantee.

If you've ever played Dungeon World (which is the system we use), it's sort of like how several moves say something to the effect of, "This lasts until the end of the scene or when it would make sense" (emphasis added). Sometimes, it's sensible that an effect should last into another scene, even though normally it wouldn't. Sometimes, it's sensible that something should not last even for a full scene. What "makes sense" isn't easily tied down to what feels satisfying, nor to what is logical per se. It's the product of reasonable discussion between individuals who respect each other--which, I'd argue, all good games are.

I think that broadly, adventure is the goal of the game. Combat is a part of those adventures, but it's not the main part. You have to explore to find dungeons and places where monsters wander. The game involves interaction with NPCs to get quests, learn information, etc. I don't see any part of those three as inherently greater than the others when we play the game. More specifically it's a table decision. If a table wants combat to be the focus of their adventures, then that's what the game is about. If a table wants social interaction to be the focus of their game, then that's what the game is about. Same with exploration as the focus or a mix of equal parts.
Exploring to learn about the unknown is absolutely a huge motivator for my group. They are enthusiastic about finding the answers to questions and uncovering hidden truths. (Multiple players have alignments moves specifically about that, actually.) One of the things I've found is a very very effective loss/setback is, as the DW rules put it, "Reveal an unwelcome truth." For example, when a player fails a Discern Realities roll (the closest equivalent of Perception), I tell them to still ask one question from the list, and they know I will answer that question truthfully. But the truth will be something they DON'T want to hear, something that shows their enemies are better prepared than they thought, or that the threat is much more immediate, or some other Bad Sign.

You might be joking, but seriously I am one of those people: if the map has borders or the program has limits I want to go beyond them; and if the program doesn't allow for that I'm disappointed.
Alright. What happens when the limits aren't programmed racetracks, but being a respectful and rational participant in a group activity? If someone asks you to play chess, do you make illegal moves because you're annoyed that only knights can pass through allied pieces, for example? If playing charades, do you decide to start shouting words while it's your go to make gestures, because limits are dumb?

I'm buying in to playing my character to the reasonable best of its abilities, such as those may be. (I'm neither munchkin nor powergamer, hence "reasonable best")
I disagree. Responding to my expressed gesture of respect and positivity, my "I won't take your character away from you for light and transient causes" (a phrase I literally used in the OP) by interpreting that as, "Aha, so I can do literally anything I ever want, and it'll never negatively affect my character's health and wellbeing? SWEET, time to jump in lava!" is pretty clearly munchkin behavior. It isn't necessarily powergaming (you aren't strictly optimizing here), but you ARE, as Wikipedia puts it, behaving "at the expense and disregard of [your] teammates," which includes me, the DM.

If the game gives me the ability to not die, it's kinda dumb of me not to use it.
That isn't what I said. I said I wouldn't do it for light and transient causes, that I wouldn't engage in random, purposeless permadeath. All of that was in the OP. I even EXPLICITLY said, slightly later in the thread, that if you intentionally do incredibly stupid things, I'll eventually give you what you want. BECAUSE you are blatantly exploiting my generosity (supporting your continued participation and character development) by intentionally doing anything and everything to press the envelop as much as possible. That's disrespectful, frankly, and there's a limit to how much disrespect I'll tolerate from my players. (It's a fair amount, admittedly, since I only run games for friends, but the limit exists.)

That's just it - I am buying in to a central concept of the campaign, that being that PCs can't die. At the same time, I'm trying to point out just how horribly bad that central concept is.
No, you aren't.

That's the whole point I'm making, and have made, repeatedly, both in the OP and since.

To behave that way is flagrantly disrespectful.

My response: Whether or not we meant to make it into Looney Tunes, the very fact that PCs can't die makes it so by default, which means we made a dumb decision. All I'm doing is pointing that out in an extreme enough manner to make y'all sit up and take notice.
So...you somehow DON'T think this is being flagrantly disrespectful and abusive?

Or the PCs can, if they're less heroic, simply walk away from the town or NPC they failed to save and try their luck somewhere else. Curses are harder to shake, ditto quests or geases.
As mentioned, I have explicitly told my players I would allow them to do this. I have also said that, if they DID decide to leave, I would feel very disappointed both about the decision generally and in myself specifically, because it would be conclusive proof that I had failed them as DM. But I would support them and attempt to come up with new adventures nonetheless. Being perfectly honest, it might kill the campaign in the long run, simply due to dampened enthusiasm on my part, but I would do my level best to avoid that.

However, I still think the addition of significant individual failure or hard-loss possitilities (e.g. death, level drain, magic item meltdown) adds a lot more than it subtracts.
I am absolutely okay with level drain (well, it'd have to be translated to work in Dungeon World terms, but still) and DEFINITELY okay with effects that might damage or destroy magic items as consequences for failure. I never, ever said I wouldn't make costs, sometimes painful ones. (In fact, I said almost precisely the opposite, multiple times.) I'm just removing ONE, and ONLY one, of those things from happening unless my player(s) and I agree it makes sense.

Nuh-uh. Not die means not die, period. Black and white.
Okay. I'm legit actually mad at you now, Lanefan. You have the gall to say this, after already (in this very thread) saying that I was taking things YOU said far too seriously? I have explicitly, and repeatedly, rejected this notion. I have explicitly, and repeatedly, said that rationality, behaving like an adult, and showing respect for your fellow players and the spirit of the game are part and parcel of this process. I did not ever, and would not ever, say that it is flat impossible for characters to die in my game.

For the love of God, stop pretending that I'm an idiot, and actually respond to the limits I've explicitly mentioned from literally the very first post.

Otherwise you're into judgment-call territory as to whether a death is "good" or "bad", which puts the DM in a really bad spot.
In my experience, it doesn't. We come to consensus about what makes sense, because we're friends, who can communicate respectfully and forthrightly with one another. Doesn't your group do the same?

I once ran a one-off gonzo game where the most efficient way to earn loads of xp was to die; and there was a little prize for whoever got the most xp that day. Never have I seen players so eager to chuck their PCs into every combat they could find!
That sounds perfectly reasonable to me. It's also not what I'm offering. I am explicitly--as I've said since the very first post--offering, "You don't have to suffer anxiety about whether you'll lose your character." I have explicitly and repeatedly talked about how this is about reducing player anxiety and encouraging players to do creative or unusual things. Please, please, please consider that.

Because it's so barn-door-wide open for it.
So, anything that depends on being respectful toward your friends and their shared interests is abusable? Good Lord, you must live in a terribly depressing world.
 

One side effect of 5e is that I fond I don't often have to deal with these issues.

If the players aren't being reckless and the dm isn't trying to kill them by fiat, it's unlikely you'll just die to bad luck. A lot has to go very wrong for a character to die without having a chance to retreat.

And if resurrections is left in, death doesn't mean character loss unless someone vetoes it. The player can, of course. The dm might, but I've never seen one actually use that authority. The rest of the party could decide not to try, but if the player wants them to most will.

Raise dead is a high enough level spell that getting is cast is likely to cause a quest, but he: quest! It's also probably the least fun option when reincarnate exists. If it ever comes up again when I'm dming I'd probably also offer necromantic and artificer options, but not raise dead as written.

So: fear isn't a great motivator not only because it doesn't always work well, but also because it's hard to impose fairly. I do allow for the possibility, of course, and failure at the mission is always on the table, but death is rather rare.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Wait, so you aren't actually okay with the revolving-door character? I'm deeply confused now as to what you are and aren't in favor of, with regard to character turnover.
Why would I be? Death is rare in my games. We lose 0-2 PCs on average over a yearish campaign. Raising is also rarish, so those times when character die, they usually remain dead. Those character are replaced with new characters with different classes, personalities, goals, etc.
What does this do to the permanency of death? Doesn't this imply that there truly are NO permanent consequences whatsoever, by your own arguments?
We were discussing a game with no PC death in it, not one were PC's could die. Those questions don't matter in such a game. And yes, in a game with no PC death, there are no permanent consequences(Unless the DM gets adversarial and just fiats in stuff which can never be undone), which is consistent with the statement by me that you just quoted.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I guess I am just curious as to what other parties view as an Acceptable 'We screwed up, we lose' scenario. Does it entirely depend on if it creates a 'satisfying story'? Or can they accept the loss due to screw up/bad decisions even if it ends in an ignoble tragedy for the party?
For my part, there are always enough simultaneous plots going on that failing at any one (or more than one) of them isn't a campaign-ending hard loss. The outcome of failure might indeed be tragic and irreversible, but the game doesn't stop because there's still so much to do! (Including dealing with the consequences of the failure.) The game might change--a failure to successfully defend the party's stronghold might change a game with a home base to something itinerant--but the game doesn't stop just because the PCs failed.

The exception is if the PCs knowingly opt for a heroic last stand. If they do that, then it's indeed game over if they lose, but since it was their choice I wouldn't call it a "hard loss" so much as an "epic conclusion".

For reference, characters can and do die in my campaigns, they just don't do so very often. They're only going to die if the players make bad choices or get in over their heads. But because I prioritize player agency and telegraphing danger, players routinely have the information they need to be able to make good choices and avoid getting in over their heads. As a result, most character deaths at my table are conscious sacrifices or deliberate gambles. (That's not to say I run easy encounters--my game worlds are full of ultra-deadly, level-inappropriate potential encounters, but since I run Combat-as-War style the expectation is that players only engage those opponents if they've first successfully weighted the odds in their favor. Choosing to engage in a "fair fight" is indeed the sort of deliberate gamble where characters sometimes die.)

I'm honestly not sure where my games fall on the spectrum discussed in this thread. Since character deaths are rare and the result of informed choices, maybe I'm closer to the no-random-death side. On the other hand, the threat of death is still always present (even if it's avoidable) so maybe I'm more on the pro-fear-of-death side.
 

Campbell

Legend
I like death as a consequence for D&D, but the idea that in a game where PC death is off the table that there are no permanent consequences is just counter to just about all my experiences basically in most games that are not D&D. Right now I'm playing in 3 ongoing games (Masks, Infinity, and Vampire). Fear of my character dying is like the last thing on my mind in any of those games. In Masks it literally is completely off the table. Still I feel like there is a tremendous amount at stake in all of these games, including a lot of permanent consequences.
 

For my part, there are always enough simultaneous plots going on that failing at any one (or more than one) of them isn't a campaign-ending hard loss. The outcome of failure might indeed be tragic and irreversible, but the game doesn't stop because there's still so much to do! (Including dealing with the consequences of the failure.) The game might change--a failure to successfully defend the party's stronghold might change a game with a home base to something itinerant--but the game doesn't stop just because the PCs failed.

The exception is if the PCs knowingly opt for a heroic last stand. If they do that, then it's indeed game over if they lose, but since it was their choice I wouldn't call it a "hard loss" so much as an "epic conclusion".

For reference, characters can and do die in my campaigns, they just don't do so very often. They're only going to die if the players make bad choices or get in over their heads. But because I prioritize player agency and telegraphing danger, players routinely have the information they need to be able to make good choices and avoid getting in over their heads. As a result, most character deaths at my table are conscious sacrifices or deliberate gambles. (That's not to say I run easy encounters--my game worlds are full of ultra-deadly, level-inappropriate potential encounters, but since I run Combat-as-War style the expectation is that players only engage those opponents if they've first successfully weighted the odds in their favor. Choosing to engage in a "fair fight" is indeed the sort of deliberate gamble where characters sometimes die.)

I'm honestly not sure where my games fall on the spectrum discussed in this thread. Since character deaths are rare and the result of informed choices, maybe I'm closer to the no-random-death side. On the other hand, the threat of death is still always present (even if it's avoidable) so maybe I'm more on the pro-fear-of-death side.
It sounds like we have similar styles in this regard at least but your post raises a good point that nicely shows why the mechanics need to support loss conditions for players to feat along the way to success or failure at any narrowed strand within a single isolated plot thread. At any given time there are five things going wrong right now & a few more are being sucked into the drain because the players chose to focus on this particular element. The players may or may not be explicitly aware of those other things they are ignoring & could be causing the problems themselves by solving a problem they are in the process of solving.

That's not to say that it's an endless loop of nice job breaking it hero, just that the world is a complex living thing filled with people who have their own desires & motivations they act on & that those people are doing that while the players are doing the same. Someone mentioned a swamp being blighted earlier, of course there's a swamp being blighted... probably more than one in fact. Yea it didn't get stopped, instead these other things were solved. Even if no thing was "solved" the act of doing whatever was being done built ties with allies ho now owe a debt, revealed new information that could be useful towards meeting some goal, gained information, weakened a foe or whatever.
 

MGibster

Legend
In D&D of even a somewhat "old school" bent, it has always seemed to me that the game outright encourages inducing paranoia in your players. Making them distrust every offer of allegiance, every kind gesture, every calm scene, every peaceful town. Making them rightfully believe that they're in constant danger of losing their ability to participate in play, aka, in constant danger of character permadeath, for light and transient causes. I've even been told, just recently and on this very forum, that such paranoia absolutely is how play should work.

I had a player who made it a point to tell me after every combat encounter that they were reloading their weapon. After a few sessions I just said, "Your character isn't just a competent gunfighter he's a highly skilled and respected gunfighter. I will always assume you reload your weapon when combat is over and I will never screw you over by saying you forgot to reload." I often feel as though many players are suffering from post traumatic gaming disorder due to gaming with bad DMs. I have certainly run into players who were overly concerned that I was out to screw their characters over at every opportunity and that sometimes gets in the way of the fun. What you describe above does not make for a fun game. You are correct.
 


loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
If the DM is acting in good faith and not just arbitrarily shutting down ways to solve the problem, then eventually I will be able to solve it. In a game with no PC death, there isn't even death by old age to stop me.

It's also not a true setback. True temporary setbacks can happen all the time. Permanent setbacks are what I'm talking about. Without the risk of permanent death, I can be sure that setbacks, even severe ones, are temporary. The DM would literally have to become adversarial to stop me, and I consider adversarial play by a DM to be bad faith.
Yes and no.

"After Lorenzo the Mad has been stopped for good and his reign of evil and darkness has been put to an end, Joaquin de la Rouco went searching for ways to restore the city of Rorate to its former glory and bring back all the innocent lives lost there from the other side of the Gates of Death" is a cool epilogue for a character. Doesn't mean that we will play long enough to see this noble quest come to fruition.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
I get that. My response was to, "Frankly, a "no death" campaign often has MORE opportunity for a DM to torture his players..." The opportunity is identical. You don't get more of it by not killing PCs.
No death gives opportunity to do stuff that I wouldn't normally do. I would feel bad for arbitrary telling a player that an undead knight has desintegrated their heirloom sword, destroying the spirits residing there forever.

I wouldn't feel bad about telling the player "You are alive. You barely managed to dodge the thin green ray... But you feel like the sword in your hand grows lighter... A heartbeat later, you feel agony and sorrow of the spirits of your ancestors residing there meeting their final end. "It's okay, kid. That's a fine end. Now show him, what you are made of", - you hear the truly last words of your father in your head. So, what ya gonna do?"
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
No death gives opportunity to do stuff that I wouldn't normally do. I would feel bad for arbitrary telling a player that an undead knight has desintegrated their heirloom sword, destroying the spirits residing there forever.

I wouldn't feel bad about telling the player "You are alive. You barely managed to dodge the thin green ray... But you feel like the sword in your hand grows lighter... A heartbeat later, you feel agony and sorrow of the spirits of your ancestors residing there meeting their final end. "It's okay, kid. That's a fine end. Now show him, what you are made of", - you hear the truly last words of your father in your head. So, what ya gonna do?"
Okay, but that's a personal choice. I've lost heirlooms and such in games where death was part of the game. I've had my characters tested sorely in game where death was around. Removing death doesn't change the options available to you, instead it only changes the options you will choose to exercise.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yes and no.

"After Lorenzo the Mad has been stopped for good and his reign of evil and darkness has been put to an end, Joaquin de la Rouco went searching for ways to restore the city of Rorate to its former glory and bring back all the innocent lives lost there from the other side of the Gates of Death" is a cool epilogue for a character. Doesn't mean that we will play long enough to see this noble quest come to fruition.
Sure, the campaign can end before it happens. However, assuming it doesn't end early, Joaquin de la Rouco should be able to eventually find a way.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Personally speaking, testing limits is not condoned at my table unless we're explicitly doing a playtest. In actual play we're trying to use the system (including any houserules) as a tool, not deliberately test that tool to see where it fails.
I'm always looking to test the tool to see where (or if) it fails, and if-when it does I expect the DM to houserule it to not fail.
The idea that players would deliberately test the limits of what is acceptable in a group game is a foreign concept to me. If by chance one is new enough to the group to not know where those limits are, I think it's far better to simply ask, rather than experimenting with what one can get away with.
My general philosophy on such things is "do it till something tells you to stop, then analyze the reasons why whatever's telling me to stop is doing so, then if those reasons don't make sense, question the reasons".
 

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