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

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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.
Other than by the thread's entire premise; because if permanent losses (including but not limited to death) are possible then fear of those losses is also possible, and can be a strong motivator.

The focus then got put on death as the prime example of a permanent loss because in 5e - most people's default these days - there really aren't very many other examples.
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.
Perhaps our philosophies differ on a more basic level.

I see D&D - and any game involving dice and random numbers - as very much a game of pure luck, where good luck means you do well and bad luck means you don't on both large and small scales. This to me means that hard-loss conditions can be achieved by sheer bad luck; and all the caution in the world can reduce the odds of a bad-luck hard loss but can never quite completely zero them out.
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?"),
I do this as well. Doesn't always help much... :)
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?
Chess: no, because the rules are hard and fast. No judgment involved, no reason to question them, and nothing to question in any case.

Charades: I can't remember the last time I played it, if ever. Hard and fast rule that I can't speak: fine. Only gestures: fine. Now let's push the limits on what non-verbal gestures are allowed and see what happens (e.g. if I saw the word I was trying to get across in the title of a book on the shelf I'd walk over, pull the book down, and point at the word). :)

I've taken the liberty of changing the sequence of some of the quoted material below, to put similar points together.

Regarding DM judgment:
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.

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.)

So...you somehow DON'T think this is being flagrantly disrespectful and abusive?

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?
We're also all friends, and we communicate respectfully and sometimes very (!) forthrightly, but in the end the DM's word is final.

Which in this case means it's ultimately down to the DM to consistently determine what a "light and transient cause" actually is. Sometimes it'll be obvious. It's the borderline cases where the DM runs a high risk of (rightly or wrongly) meeting accusations of favouritism or the opposite should a series of these calls go in favour of or against one particular player, and that's bad news all over.

If instead of DM's ruling you put it to the table for consensus or a vote you're just asking for a session-long argument, and probably giving your louder players a considerable advantage; this is why we have it that the DM's word is final.
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.
Were it me as DM, I wouldn't see it as a failure in the least. They obviously still want to play in your game, though perhaps they've had their fill of that particular storyline (or just aren't playing the type of characters that suit it); and really all they've done is thrown a curveball at you in the expectation that you'll hit it.

So hit it. :)

Wherever they decide to go, DM that. Wing it if you have to, you can always fill in the gaps during the week. Let their choices drive the game and-or story.
But I would support them and attempt to come up with new adventures nonetheless.
Great!
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.
Sometimes the new adventures turn out to be way more interesting than what was originally planned. That, and as it's a simple fact of life that not every adventure or story is going to click - I think we've all seen or done that - all you can do is switch gears and keep going.
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.
I don't know DW mechanics well at all. Does it support magic item loss or destruction? I've seen players grow more attached to their and-or the party's magic items than to the characters carrying them.
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.
To me, that low-grade anxiety or concern around losing is part of any game; be it Monopoly or Risk or Roborally or basketball* or D&D.

As for encouraging creative or unusual things, that's a laudable goal. I simply disagree with this particular method.

One thing I should point out here: experience has taught me the hard way to somewhat discourage players from getting too attached to their characters in general, as in the past I've had players who would take it far too personally if-when anything bad happened to their characters.

* - in basketball there's also the not-quite-as-low grade anxiety around sustaining an actual injury.
So, anything that depends on being respectful toward your friends and their shared interests is abusable?
Anything that relies on judgment calls is potentially abusable. In some cases that potential for abuse is much higher than others and in those cases I'd prefer to get it flagged and dealt with before it causes headaches rather than after. In this particular example, where dealing with it is as easy as just saying let the dice fall where they may, it seems a little odd to me not to just do this and move on.
Good Lord, you must live in a terribly depressing world.
Not at all. :)
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
And if resurrections is left in, death doesn't mean character loss unless someone vetoes it. The player can, of course.
General SOP here is that if revival is possible and enough of the corpse is left then Speak With Dead is cast, with the first question almost always being "Do you desire revival?" This makes it an in-character question as well as a player-level question.

The second question, if the first gets a "yes", is almost always "How would you like to pay for it?"
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.
And some things, e.g. being turned into an undead or disintegrated to dust, can't be fixed even with Resurrection; you're in to full Wish territory there - and if you have to ask, you can't afford it. :)
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.
The threat of Reincarnation sends players and characters screaming for the hills around here!

I mean, who wants to have a common badger - with the brains etc. of a common badger - as their PC?
 

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.

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.
That's not what I was asking.

Doesn't resurrection--y'know, the thing that removes death using a "plentiful" resource--mean that death isn't a permanent consequence? I mean, for goodness' sake, if you're willing to assume that it's trivial for someone to befriend the gods themselves, surely a little raise dead (or if we're talking 5e, revivify, which is only 3rd level!) is but a speedbump. There is even a subclass in 5e (Zealot) that has class features depending on the character dying at least some of the time.

And if that's true, doesn't that mean that, unless you house-rule it, no edition of D&D has ever had permanent consequences once raise dead becomes an option, whether gotten from a third party or cast by one of the players?
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
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.

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".
Thanks for elaborating! At my table we expect everyone to be proactive about helping to make sure that the tool doesn't break. So, deliberately doing the opposite would indeed be, let's say, problematic. :)

Similarly, testing borderline cases to see if someone tells you to stop (rather than inquiring first) wouldn't be considered helpful at my table. Indeed, of all the ways to not get invited back, it's probably among the fastest.

In any case, since you do it yourself I can see why you assume that players are going to always be testing limits. That seems like an eminently reasonable assumption at your table if you play with similarly minded folks. Just please know that such active testing of limits isn't a good expectation for all tables.
 

Other than by the thread's entire premise; because if permanent losses (including but not limited to death) are possible then fear of those losses is also possible, and can be a strong motivator. The focus then got put on death as the prime example of a permanent loss because in 5e - most people's default these days - there really aren't very many other examples.
Except that losing your artifacts or your beloved NPCs or whatever else, no matter how hurtful they are, doesn't mean losing your connection to the game. Death does. That's really the only fundamental difference between death and other permanent losses; with (irrevocable) character death, the player must invent an entirely new connection to the game.

Having discussed it with my players, there's also a sense in which all the other things--the items, the NPCs, the city, etc.--are less "personal" than one's character. The other things that can be permanently lost are ours, collectively because we collaborate to develop them, or mine, because I'm the DM and I run them (and possibly created them). The Bard belongs to the Bard's player, and nobody else. I've contributed challenges and questions and opportunities, but fundamentally, that's the only thing that truly, unequivocally belongs to that player and nobody else. It's a special kind of hurt to lose that. It doesn't mean losing the other things wouldn't hurt--it totally would, that's why we call it loss. But it's a hurt that can be tolerated far better.

I see D&D - and any game involving dice and random numbers - as very much a game of pure luck, where good luck means you do well and bad luck means you don't on both large and small scales. This to me means that hard-loss conditions can be achieved by sheer bad luck; and all the caution in the world can reduce the odds of a bad-luck hard loss but can never quite completely zero them out.
Being "pure luck" implies skill has no relevance, but you then say it does (it can reduce odds). Otherwise...I honestly have no idea how this is relevant, nor where I meaningfully disagree with you. Yes, hard loss is always an option. I said as much myself. I support my players' efforts to avoid it. But they can fail. I prepared, for example, for the possibility that they could flat-out fail to defeat the Song of Thorns--worse, that it could grow in power due to their attempts to stop it. Had they failed, it would have been utterly disastrous; had they failed badly, it would have been nothing short of Armageddon for their world. Those possibilities were remote, but still possible. They did not come to pass.

I do this as well. Doesn't always help much... :)
My players generally listen, but there have been times where they plowed ahead anyway. Not a lot of times, but still.

Chess: no, because the rules are hard and fast. No judgment involved, no reason to question them, and nothing to question in any case.
I do not understand why this is a "hard and fast" rule, whereas "races occur on racetracks" is not. Same goes for "computer programs (without procedural generation) are finite in scope."

Charades: I can't remember the last time I played it, if ever. Hard and fast rule that I can't speak: fine. Only gestures: fine. Now let's push the limits on what non-verbal gestures are allowed and see what happens (e.g. if I saw the word I was trying to get across in the title of a book on the shelf I'd walk over, pull the book down, and point at the word). :)
So, you really couldn't give a (ahem) fig about respecting the spirit of the game? This honestly comes across as incredibly rude. Like, this sounds like straight-up "Stop Having Fun" Guy material. "Stop limiting yourself in ways the rules don't explicitly require! Isn't it so much more fun to push the limits to their breaking point?!?"

We're also all friends, and we communicate respectfully and sometimes very (!) forthrightly, but in the end the DM's word is final.
I don't understand how the "but" part is relevant.

Which in this case means it's ultimately down to the DM to consistently determine what a "light and transient cause" actually is. Sometimes it'll be obvious. It's the borderline cases where the DM runs a high risk of (rightly or wrongly) meeting accusations of favouritism or the opposite should a series of these calls go in favour of or against one particular player, and that's bad news all over.
Three years of DMing and ~20 years of playing have never shown a situation like this. If accusations of favoritism are flying, the game is already WAY dead, regardless of whether the DM adjudged a death rightly. It means the players no longer respect the DM. Again, whether rightfully or wrongly doesn't matter. The relationship is already broken. And it can only be restored by restoring that respect, which is vital for making the entire thing--including rules based on "what makes sense"--functional.

If instead of DM's ruling you put it to the table for consensus or a vote you're just asking for a session-long argument, and probably giving your louder players a considerable advantage; this is why we have it that the DM's word is final.
I have not ever seen this happen, and with my game group, I can pretty much guarantee it wouldn't. I certainly have more sway than others, being the one who knows the cosmology best etc., but I am always willing to defer to a player that has an idea that sounds better, or to yield to the group--just as I would yield to them if they said, "Nope, sorry, all the campaign stuff you've made is boring, we wanna go set sail." I absolutely would not tolerate "loud" players shouting down everyone else; if someone behaved that way at my table, ever, they would get one warning. Failure to heed that warning would result in being removed from the game. Being respectful to your fellow players is mandatory. This has only once been an issue (for completely unrelated reasons; a player was pretty rudely failing to engage with the game, and it was weighing down the group), and we resolved it with a respectful, adult conversation in private.

Do you have problems with keeping your players respectful to one another? If so, that sounds like a really really serious issue. I would struggle to play in such a group, and certainly could not run anything for one.

Were it me as DM, I wouldn't see it as a failure in the least. They obviously still want to play in your game, though perhaps they've had their fill of that particular storyline (or just aren't playing the type of characters that suit it); and really all they've done is thrown a curveball at you in the expectation that you'll hit it.
Let me be clear here: the kind of departure I'm talking about is "we literally cannot find anything interesting about the millions of square miles of territory you've described, so we're going to head out to an area about which you've prepared absolutely nothing whatsoever, not even world-map-level prep." This would be the Fellowship of the Ring heading, not toward Mount Doom, but as far due south of Gondor as possible--to areas where no map exists at all. If the players even remotely stayed within the region in question, they'd still be directly dealing with at least SOMETHING related to the stuff I've done.

I'm also not super happy with your implication that I've put them on rails here. I haven't. I have prepared a world, a fairly sizable one, which contains many things in it. The players are absolutely free to contribute more things (and have done so, thankfully!), to go exploring in unfilled parts of the map and I'll improvise stuff to find. (Well, sometimes there might be a big fat nothing, but big fat nothings take very little time to interact with, so the party will sooner rather than later reach something that isn't a big fat nothing.) The party has, in fact, just gone exploring before, to find what might be out there. I've made stuff up to fill it. I very intentionally leave most of the map blank so I have to fill it later, as they learn new things.

Wherever they decide to go, DM that. Wing it if you have to, you can always fill in the gaps during the week. Let their choices drive the game and-or story.
Again: I do. I just, y'know, would be really really disappointed if, after having articulated various factions, ally NPCs, enemy NPCs, lost civilizations, mysteries yet unsolved (and which I don't know the answer to yet), things in peril, etc., etc., the players just say, "Nope. Literally nothing here is even remotely interesting to us. We're sailing off into the sea. What do we find?" Because, again, that would mean that the cities, the people, the factions, the politics, the races, EVERYTHING I had crafted with the hope that it would interest them, was completely and utterly worthless in their eyes, and "sail off to a place we know nothing about, simply because we can" was in fact more interesting than every single piece of it.

I'd feel, and I think this is a pretty reasonable feeling, like I had so radically misunderstood my friends that I should be ashamed of myself. To truly strike out so badly that, out of the whole lot of them, not one person could think of something already present that was more interesting than sailing off into the total unknown? That's a pretty stunning rebuke.

Sometimes the new adventures turn out to be way more interesting than what was originally planned. That, and as it's a simple fact of life that not every adventure or story is going to click - I think we've all seen or done that - all you can do is switch gears and keep going.
Lanefan, this comes across as very condescending. Yes, I'm aware that spontaneity is important. It has played an extremely important role in my game. I have known very high-level ideas--less "plot" and more "the secret histories," so to speak--but intentionally do not prepare comprehensive notes so that I am forced to adapt and extemporize, so that there really is very, very little "planned." Unless you mean to tell me that I should be so radically anti-planning that I should literally invent every encounter spontaneously (which would take forever, by the way) and never even pause to think about what things might appear at a destination the party has chosen. But I doubt you want me to be...well, hostile to the very idea of planning.

I don't know DW mechanics well at all. Does it support magic item loss or destruction? I've seen players grow more attached to their and-or the party's magic items than to the characters carrying them.
It "supports" it in as much as it "supports" any cost, that is, by the application of the GM Agendas and Principles and the various GM Moves.
The Agendas are:
  • Make the world fantastic
  • Fill the characters' lives with adventure
  • Play to find out what happens
The Principles are:
  • Draw maps, leave blanks
  • Address the characters, not the players
  • Embrace the fantastic
  • Make a move that follows
  • Never speak the name of your move
  • Give every monster life
  • Name every person
  • Ask questions and use the answers
  • Be a fan of the characters
  • Think Dangerous
  • Begin and end with the fiction
  • Think offscreen, too
The GM Moves are:
  • Use a monster, location or danger move
  • Reveal an unwelcome truth
  • Show signs of an approaching threat
  • Deal damage
  • Use up their resources
  • Turn their move back on them
  • Separate the characters from each other
  • Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities
  • Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment
  • Offer an opportunity, with or without cost
  • Put someone in a spot
  • Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask
Destroying a magic item could easily be "use up their resources," "turn their move back on them" (if the item has an associated move), "show a downside to their...equipment," "offer an opportunity, with or without cost," or "tell them the requirements or consequences and ask." Permanent destruction of a magic item would be appropriate for a hard move (the result of a miss aka fail on a die roll, or the players ignoring a threat caused by a soft move, or the players making a major error of judgment). I, personally, would reserve such destruction for only a relatively high-tension scenario; it would feel dumb and cheap to just destroy magic items out of the blue, but in a high-tension situation, this can add some real bite to the challenge.

I can also promise you, without doubt, that at most exactly one player is more attached to the items than the character. And even in that case, I'm fairly certain the items are less important. A sword, even a fancy special sword, can be replaced. The investment of who a character is, and that they belong to that player specifically, cannot be replaced.

To me, that low-grade anxiety or concern around losing is part of any game; be it Monopoly or Risk or Roborally or basketball* or D&D.
Low-grade anxiety specifically about the character is something that sours the fun of at least two of my players. Not having that specific type of anxiety gives them the peace of mind to actually engage with the game, and go on adventures, rather than becoming hypochondriac turtles. I honestly wish I were joking; my players are EXTREMELY skittish, even by my standards (and I tend to be a risk-averse player myself). Even with me explicitly saying that I won't kill off their characters unless it makes sense and we've come to an understanding, they're still very, very shy about taking risks. It's been getting a little better since the Song of Thorns fight, I suspect because that triumph made them realize what they could achieve....but even with that, they continue to exhibit an overwhelming abundance of caution.

One thing I should point out here: experience has taught me the hard way to somewhat discourage players from getting too attached to their characters in general, as in the past I've had players who would take it far too personally if-when anything bad happened to their characters.
I have had one player, somewhat younger than the others, who slightly verged in that direction. It never became a problem, and he ended up needing to leave the game for unrelated reasons. (Working on his mental and physical health, mostly.) Had it become a problem, I would have done exactly what I did with the other player: sat him down for an adult conversation. If he proved incapable of having a respectful, adult conversation about it, I'd ask him to leave. Given that we play over Discord, "asking" is mostly a matter of being polite.

None of my current players would take character death as a personal attack. They would, however, be very sad, and be daunted by the task of creating a new character with a similar level of gravitas as the one they'd lost. Since we as a group have agreed that those experiences would sour an otherwise beloved experience, we choose to set that, and only that, aside. Other permanent losses, which would not induce quite the same pitch and intensity of sadness, and which do not have the cost of re-inventing one's investment in the game, are acceptable, so they remain.

Anything that relies on judgment calls is potentially abusable.
Anything that relies on absolute ironclad rules is potentially abusable. Where does that leave us?

In this particular example, where dealing with it is as easy as just saying let the dice fall where they may, it seems a little odd to me not to just do this and move on.
Except that it isn't that easy. I already let the dice fall where they may; the dice just aren't invoked in the first place for determining whether a character survives. If I were to, it would cost me at least two players, who would almost certainly cease to be able to enjoy play, because they would be so preoccupied about losing their investment into the game.

Not at all. :)
Okay. So, why is it that you can do other things because you like and respect your friends, but you can't adhere to the spirit of a pleasant leisure-time activity because you like and respect your friends? This is very confusing to me.
 

Democratus

Adventurer
Thanks for elaborating! At my table we expect everyone to be proactive about helping to make sure that the tool doesn't break. So, deliberately doing the opposite would indeed be, let's say, problematic. :)

Similarly, testing borderline cases to see if someone tells you to stop (rather than inquiring first) wouldn't be considered helpful at my table. Indeed, of all the ways to not get invited back, it's probably among the fastest.

In any case, since you do it yourself I can see why you assume that players are going to always be testing limits. That seems like an eminently reasonable assumption at your table if you play with similarly minded folks. Just please know that such active testing of limits isn't a good expectation for all tables.
This is entirely the case when I run a game for adults. The table tends to be made up of people who are communicative, considerate, and there to make the game work.

Lord help you, though, when running the game for kids. :) Boundary testing is one of the many things you need to be ready for. I wonder if we have a good thread around here about running games for kids vs. teenagers vs. adults. They are such different experiences.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Other than by the thread's entire premise; because if permanent losses (including but not limited to death) are possible then fear of those losses is also possible, and can be a strong motivator.
It can, yes. The DM has to figure out which things the players enjoy risking and which things they don't. Some players enjoy risking character death with every roll of the dice and would be bored if they couldn't. Some players hate the thought of losing a character and would be driven to play overcautiously if that was on the line; but those same players might have a blast risking permanent injury, poverty, or disgrace for their characters instead.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That's not what I was asking.

Doesn't resurrection--y'know, the thing that removes death using a "plentiful" resource--mean that death isn't a permanent consequence? I mean, for goodness' sake, if you're willing to assume that it's trivial for someone to befriend the gods themselves, surely a little raise dead (or if we're talking 5e, revivify, which is only 3rd level!) is but a speedbump. There is even a subclass in 5e (Zealot) that has class features depending on the character dying at least some of the time.

And if that's true, doesn't that mean that, unless you house-rule it, no edition of D&D has ever had permanent consequences once raise dead becomes an option, whether gotten from a third party or cast by one of the players?
So that's a pretty incredible Strawman. I never said or implied anything about it being trivial to befriend or be owed a favor by a god. I believe I mentioned something about 20th level and quests. That's hardly trivial. Second, I've set up in-fiction reasons why gods are very hesitant to raise the dead, even with their own followers.

Also, you lost a permanent con point in early editions when raised via raise dead and made resurrection survival rolls that if failed, meant permanent death. So that claim of no edition having permanent consequences is wrong.

Edit: corrected system shock to resurrection.
 
Last edited:

Remathilis

Legend
Agreed. I used the degenerate examples to show the outer extremes of what's IMO almost certain to happen to a lower-grade or more subtle degree: players gently (ab)using the no-death rule to give their PCs unfair advantages or get-out-of-jail-free cards when sheer common sense would otherwise say they're dead.

To me that's every bit as degenerate.
Clearly the answer is narrow corridors with 10-ft deep pit traps filled with spikes covered in lethal contact poison. That will keep them in line and properly fearful of interacting with any feature or object except with the precautions of a bomb-defusion team. If your not making your PCs roll at least three save-or-die rolls per game, are you really playing D&D?
 
Last edited:

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
So that's a pretty incredible Strawman. I never said or implied anything about it being trivial to befriend or be owed a favor by a god. I believe I mentioned something about 20th level and quests. That's hardly trivial.
Ok, I'm confused. I thought your entire point was that without the possibility of permanent character death, no consequences of any sort will ever be permanent because one could just wait to high level and use high-level resources and/or get a god to retroactively fix all the past consequences. Doesn't that necessarily imply that using high-level resources and getting favors from gods are sufficiently trivial that such amelioration of past consequences can be successfully pursued faster than new otherwise-permanent consequences arise?

Without the assumption that using high-level resources and accumulating divine favors are trivial, how does one address the new otherwise-permanent in-game consequences from all the quests failed while the party is busy trying to fix the older consequences?
 

Coroc

Hero
Would you disagree that, by page or word count, the rules are predominantly about combat?

Might be that many rules cover combat but still, I would disagree based on that D&D is a RPG, a Role Playing Game, not a CSG a Combat Simulation Game.

I do agree, that the mechanical aids for role playing situations are less than in other RPGs, but ideally you would not have to use these much, other than if in a social interaction some player tries something extraordinary, or some player wants to do a social interaction but is not that fond of roleplaying it, therefore only describing what he likes to do. Still the tools are there, whether there could be more or not.

Just that many people do not use the role playing part of the game and others do, does not change that. The eight encounter / day suggestion enforced that, some people seem to think, that that is all, that D&D is about. But the best games imho, are those, where multiple solutions to some situation are possible, one of these well migh be combat.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Ok, I'm confused. I thought your entire point was that without the possibility of permanent character death, no consequences of any sort will ever be permanent because one could just wait to high level and use high-level resources and/or get a god to retroactively fix all the past consequences. Doesn't that necessarily imply that using high-level resources and getting favors from gods are sufficiently trivial that such amelioration of past consequences can be successfully pursued faster than new otherwise-permanent consequences arise?
No. There are going to be many ways to accomplish a goal, especially at powerful levels. Gods may not ever play into it and even if they do, it doesn't mean that it's a trivial thing. Trivial would be calling up a god on commune and being like, "Hey Sune, I need you to come down and take care of something else now." Having to go on quests meant for 20th level groups in order to curry favor with a god is not a trivial thing.
Without the assumption that using high-level resources and accumulating divine favors are trivial, how does one address the new otherwise-permanent in-game consequences from all the quests failed while the party is busy trying to fix the older consequences?
Because very few of them will need a god. Most, if not all will have other solutions as well.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
This is entirely the case when I run a game for adults. The table tends to be made up of people who are communicative, considerate, and there to make the game work.

Lord help you, though, when running the game for kids. :) Boundary testing is one of the many things you need to be ready for. I wonder if we have a good thread around here about running games for kids vs. teenagers vs. adults. They are such different experiences.
Yeah, running for kids is different. I ran a few games for my son and his 13 year old friends (with the additional challenge of it being over zoom). They are always testing boundaries and will pounce in a heartbeat if they sense weakness! Plus they seem to speak in memes, it's almost a foreign language. It was a bit jarring, as I'm used to my long-running group where the youngster is 36.

I think there was a thread around here somewhere, but maybe a new one is warranted.
 

Remathilis

Legend
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.

This is why I get - or got, when I played them back in the day - annoyed with a lot of geography-based computer games. Take a typical car race game. The programmers expect you to try to stay on the racetrack, where sooner or later I want to get off the track and explore the city in my racecar (and maybe find a shortcut, or maybe get completely lost...). :)

It's not the programmers' fault for not including those things - it's not like they're part of the basic mandate they were given - but I still find it unnecessarily limiting, once I get bored of going round and round the racetrack.
Every game has boundaries.

I mean, I once played (once being the operative word) with a guy who was obsessed with Dragonlance. So much so he asked to play a kender (red flag 1) in my homebrew. I relented. He came though a magic portal from Krynn. Once here, he complained how stupid things were that no one knew he was a kender and decided his goal was to find another portal so he and the other PCs could go to a "real campaign setting" while still expecting me to run the game, just on Krynn! He wasn't invited back.

You can argue he was just pushing against the map boundaries and expecting there to be content. You can argue he found a loophole and was just exploiting it (magic portals between settings). You can also argue he was a massive jerk who tried to hijack the game and went against the spirit of the game.

I'll let you decide which was applicable.
 

General SOP here is that if revival is possible and enough of the corpse is left then Speak With Dead is cast, with the first question almost always being "Do you desire revival?" This makes it an in-character question as well as a player-level question.

The second question, if the first gets a "yes", is almost always "How would you like to pay for it?"
Yup. It leaves room for the dm or even other party members to decide not to move forward, though I've never seen them choose not to try to revive a character that the player wants revived.
And some things, e.g. being turned into an undead or disintegrated to dust, can't be fixed even with Resurrection; you're in to full Wish territory there - and if you have to ask, you can't afford it. :)
True costs are fun, IME.
The threat of Reincarnation sends players and characters screaming for the hills around here!

I mean, who wants to have a common badger - with the brains etc. of a common badger - as their PC?
We use the 5e version, which at least keeps you humanoid. The point is to not violate the Ship of Theseus-type continuity of the character, while making it something the player will need to actually deal with, for some time.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
No. There are going to be many ways to accomplish a goal, especially at powerful levels. Gods may not ever play into it and even if they do, it doesn't mean that it's a trivial thing. Trivial would be calling up a god on commune and being like, "Hey Sune, I need you to come down and take care of something else now." Having to go on quests meant for 20th level groups in order to curry favor with a god is not a trivial thing.
Thanks for clarifying.

Because very few of them will need a god. Most, if not all will have other solutions as well.
What other types of solutions do you have in mind that are able to retroactively correct consequences from past failures?

I understand how high-level spells (or political influence, or even, in some cases, simply tons of cash) can change the current situation, but I'm not aware of easily accessible options that allow retroactive correction. So while you may be able to restore something/someone that was lost, you can't make up for the fact that it/they were gone between the time of the original failure and the eventual high-level correction.

For example, say the party fails to save the infant crown princess at 5th level. Once they reach high level they may be able to track her down (and/or ressurrect her if necessary) using spells, but there's no way to fix the fact that the kingdom was without an heir in the meantime. Plus, even after you restore her, she may lack the upbringing she would need to be a successful queen (or be brought back as an infant in the ressurection case). Bringing her back later also won't undo any political upheaval caused by the lack of an heir.

And this isn't an isolated example. Bringing anyone back from the dead later on will cause them to now be a different age than their former peers. Widows and widowers may have moved on and remarried in the interim, or died of old age. Survivors of destroyed cities may now be scattered across the continent, unable or unwilling to migrate back to repopulate the city you eventually rebuilt. These are all permanent consequences that it would require extraordinary means, such as a favor from a god, to correct yet they are going to be common consequences of nearly every failure.

So if favors from a god are rare, but otherwise-permanent consequences are common, how do you justify your claim that there can be no permanent consequences without the risk of permanent character death?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Thanks for clarifying.


What other types of solutions do you have in mind that are able to retroactively correct consequences from past failures?

I understand how high-level spells (or political influence, or even, in some cases, simply tons of cash) can change the current situation, but I'm not aware of easily accessible options that allow retroactive correction. So while you may be able to restore something/someone that was lost, you can't make up for the fact that it/they were gone between the time of the original failure and the eventual high-level correction.

For example, say the party fails to save the infant crown princess at 5th level. Once they reach high level they may be able to track her down (and/or ressurrect her if necessary) using spells, but there's no way to fix the fact that the kingdom was without an heir in the meantime. Plus, even after you restore her, she may lack the upbringing she would need to be a successful queen (or be brought back as an infant in the ressurection case). Bringing her back later also won't undo any political upheaval caused by the lack of an heir.

And this isn't an isolated example. Bringing anyone back from the dead later on will cause them to now be a different age than their former peers. Widows and widowers may have moved on and remarried in the interim, or died of old age. Survivors of destroyed cities may now be scattered across the continent, unable or unwilling to migrate back to repopulate the city you eventually rebuilt. These are all permanent consequences that it would require extraordinary means, such as a favor from a god, to correct yet they are going to be common consequences of nearly every failure.

So if favors from a god are rare, but otherwise-permanent consequences are common, how do you justify your claim that there can be no permanent consequences without the risk of permanent character death?
It doesn't have to be retroactive. It just has to fix the problem. If you failed to save the royal family, eventually bringing them back to life fixes the failure. I was never talking retroactive. Just eventually being able to succeed.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
It doesn't have to be retroactive. It just has to fix the problem. If you failed to save the royal family, eventually bringing them back to life fixes the failure. I was never talking retroactive. Just eventually being able to succeed.
How does later bringing the royal family back to life fix the failure? The royal family has been gone in the interim. Isn't that an unfixed permanent consequences for failure?
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
It doesn't have to be retroactive. It just has to fix the problem. If you failed to save the royal family, eventually bringing them back to life fixes the failure. I was never talking retroactive. Just eventually being able to succeed.
But, as @Xetheral stated - it may be too late to resolve - or at least problematic.

Lets say you fail to save the royal family when your characters are 5th level. You don't have the resources to bring them back until your characters are 13th level - many, many years later.

In that time, the game world has had a whole succession issue (either resolved peacefully, by war or by some other conflict). There's a new family on the throne. Bringing back the original royals isn't going to solve the problem, it's going to create a mess!
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
How does later bringing the royal family back to life fix the failure? The royal family has been gone in the interim. Isn't that an unfixed permanent consequences for failure?
Someone ruled the country while they were gone. I guarantee it. People don't leave countries without leadership. You may have to remove those who stepped up if they won't step down, but that's a different problem. It may even be that the PCs stepped in to do it. Lots of ways to play it. Also, consequence does not equal failure. The failure was in letting the royal family die. The correction was in bringing them back. A consequence OF the failure was different leadership. The new leadership was not the failure, though.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top