How do you feel about Save or Die?

Save or Die?

  • Sure, I don't mind it.

    Votes: 48 46.2%
  • It isn't my cup of tea, but of others enjoy it good for them.

    Votes: 31 29.8%
  • No, it is a terrible design flaw.

    Votes: 25 24.0%

  • Total voters
    104
  • Poll closed .

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
As long as the threat is adequately telegraphed to the players so that they can prepare accordingly (or choose not to), then I am fine with just about anything.

And technically, lots of spells are "save or die" if they do damage and the character is low enough on hit points (and not too high a level).
 
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5ekyu

Adventurer
Not a fan of single roll KO or kill - esp outright kill with no lead in. It's not drama just chance.

I would much prefer a three saves race or a three fails vs countermeasures race. Something that forces immediate response, even costly ones, from the victims. Bang, dead, next - just so dull.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
In an OSR game that's a one-shot or short-term campaign, I love the thrill of danger and death. It hearkens back to where I began with gaming. But in an on-going. long-term campaign, I'm not a big fan of save or die. When character death is proven to be arbitrary, it eventually erodes player investment in the game and the world. I suspect that's why there are so many stories from back in the day of Ulfric IX, the Human Fighter, cousin of the recently and suddenly deceased Ulfric VIII.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I've never cared for save or die even back in the days of 1E. In general my PCs mean more to me than just a piece of paper, it's hopefully like a favorite TV character or protagonist of a good novel. I get invested in that character's ongoing story.

So if my PC dies (guaranteed if I'm playing an elf) that story either ends or I'm just bored until they can respawn. But even more than that, dying because of bad luck is just pointless. It's not heroic, it's not because I made a mistake and did something stupid. It's almost never something I could have seen coming or prevented. It's just dumb luck completely out of my control on a one time roll. It takes away my player agency.
 
It fits with a certain play style that includes multiple PCs per player, fast char gen, and PCs motivated by the acquisition of loot. If those things aren't true then it doesn't work so well.
 

The Glen

Adventurer
It does add an element of risk that sadly seems to be missing in the current edition. How many people forget the lesson of poor Black Dougal who gave his life to remind us always check the chest for traps
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
As long as the threat is adequately telegraphed to the players so that they can prepare accordingly (or choose not to), then I am fine with just about anything.

And technically, lots of spells are "save or die" if they do damage and the character is low enough on hit points (and not too high a level).
This. As I always say, save or die is at its best when no one ever has to actually make the save. The threat of character death on a failed save, when properly telegraphed, is sufficient for creating a fun, memorable experience. Of course, if you make that threat as a DM you have to be willing to follow through with it, which is why that telegraphing is so important. If you’re going to put a creature into your campaign that can kill a PC with a single failed save, you want to make darn sure that the players have every opportunity to avoid having to make it in the first place.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
An example of save or die done poorly:
DM: “As you descend the stairs, waiting for you at the bottom is a woman with a wretched face and snakes for hair. Make a Con save!”
PLAYER: “Wait, I close my eyes!”
DM: “Too late, by the time you’ve seen her you have to save.”
PLAYER: “Well I already had them closed!”
DM:“While you were on the stairs? Your character would have no way of knowing there was a Medusa at the bottom. Besides, you never said you had them closed.”
PLAYER: “I hate this campaign.”

An example of save or die done well:
DM: “As you traverse deeper and deeper into the dungeon, you pass statue after statue, each of people in adventuring gear much like your own, each frozen with a look of surprise on its face. Not a one has their weapons drawn.”
PLAYER: “Sounds like the Medusa who lairs here petrified them in a single glance. Good thing the villagers warned us she’d be here. I’m still navigating with that mirror I bought, by the way!”
 
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Rhianni32

Explorer
If its a functional save or die because of massive damage I am ok with it. If you are going up against Tiamat then you can get some elemental resistance effects to help counterattack when she unleashes 5 breath attacks. If its by surprise then there are usually some mitigating factors that you can do.

If its literal save or die then not only do I not put it in my game, I think its lazy writing/planning. There is nothing tense or story compelling about a floating skull with gems sitting there then oh dave failed his save his soul is devoured. or a wizard fight and oomph you got a power word kill coming your way vs the other couple dozen choices they could have made.

Course the demi lich was created for the sole purpose of being a 4 hour tournament meat grinder so who cares! Those can be fun but are different then a regular campaign.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I like it. Tension is high at the table when poison is in play. Very high. Even a higher level PC is in danger from a low HD spider with lethal poison.

When they whine about "well Conan never got killed by a poisonous snake!" I tell them, "Well Conan made his saves..."

Traps sometimes have save or die poisons, but I don't go with "well you walk into this room aaaaaaaand you are now dead." type situations.
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
I like it. Tension is high at the table when poison is in play. Very high. Even a higher level PC is in danger from a low HD spider with lethal poison.

When the whine about "well Conan never got killed by a poisonous snake!" I tell them, "Well Conan made his saves..."

Traps sometimes have save or die poisons, but I don't go with "well you walk into this room aaaaaaaand you are now dead." type situations.
Robert E. Howard had to eat through his fiction, players don't.
 

Wiseblood

Adventurer
I have misused, or I should say, employed them poorly, in the past. I would use them again, just better this time.
 

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