D&D 5E [+] Questions for zero character death players and DMs…

overgeeked

B/X Known World
This is a [+] thread.

I’m honestly curious about this style of play. It’s utterly alien to me but I’m naturally curious and want to understand.

So in a no death game…

What is the point of tracking hit points and death saves? I’m curious about how this is supposed to work, mechanically.

A lot of referees don’t bother tracking things like weight carried, food and water, ammo, etc in the name of eliminating pointless bookkeeping. They don’t care about those aspects of play so don’t make players track those things. Essentially, you’re never going to run out of food and water, so don’t keep track. You have unlimited ammo, so don’t bother. Etc.

So I’m curious if hit points and death saves are also ignored for similar reasons. Since nothing happens if you fail three death saves, do they stay in the game? Are they tracked? Do you make the roll? If your character can’t die, why bother rolling?

What about hit points? If the end result of hitting zero hit points is ultimately nothing, why track them? If you do track hit points, what happens at zero? Are characters unconscious until someone revives them at zero hit points? Are they out of the combat until it’s over? How does it work?

Are monsters also immune to death or are their hit points still tracked and they’re as gleefully slaughtered as in every other style of play?

Finally, what benefit is gained by having no character death?
 

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Oofta

Legend
No character deaths at all? Or minimal character deaths? Because I generally fall into the latter camp based on group preference. PCs can die, but it's rare. So the threat of death is always there.

But even with death off the table, there are other types of failure, including being knocked unconscious.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
My players weren’t super keen on having a gritty game, life is gritty enough and some had been through some rough times and would have taken their characters death very badly.

This is not to say that PCs never dropped or never had to make death saves, but the other players made sure to stabilize those characters and I was not interested in having monsters pile on to guarantee a kill. Monsters were happily slaughtered.

The players had fun and that was my main objective.
 

JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
I'm a "only die if you do something blatantly stupid OR it is dramatically appropriate" GM.

I do track HP, death saves, etc ... but a character "dying" doesn't have to mean they never play their character again.

1. Lots of NPC clerics can raise dead.
2. Lots of interested gods can raise dead.
3. Random magical effects can raise dead.
4. A character can gain permanent scars, disabilities, or other body maiming baggage by "dying".
5. A character can lose a valuable item in lieu of dying (a +5 shield of the gods blocks the disintegration ray but you walk away).
6. A character can lose status, loved ones, comrades, honor by "dying".
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Since you go unconscious at 0 hit points, I would imagine tracking hit points is still important to see if you are in the fight or not, but death saves might not be important.
Right. But removing death as an option is house ruling the game, so I’m curious where the potential cascade of related house rules ends. No reason to assume zero hit points mean unconscious in a no death game.
No character deaths at all?
That’s the style of game I’m curious about, yes.
But even with death off the table, there are other types of failure, including being knocked unconscious.
Other story consequences and failures, sure. But I don’t think we can assume being KO’ed is on the table.
the other players made sure to stabilize those characters and I was not interested in having monsters pile on to guarantee a kill.
So technically no rule changes, but a table agreement to not let anyone die. On the off chance a character would die, what do you do? Like massive damage or no one heals before three failed death saves, etc? Do you just handwave it away?
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
No death doesnt mean no defeat. At character who failed their 3 DST can be removed from play by becoming and NPC or patron, not fit for adventuring but still able to contribute to story told.

There's something worst than death to inflict on a character. Death is barely an obstacle easily removed by a mechanic in the hands of players, while something like story loss, major in-game setbacks (losing important items, losing prestige etc) give more material to explore for the whole table.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
No death doesnt mean no defeat. At character who failed their 3 DST can be removed from play by becoming and NPC or patron, not fit for adventuring but still able to contribute to story told.
Hmm. Wouldn’t removal of the character as a PC be functionally killing them? Isn’t the point if no death in a game to prevent the loss of the player’s character?
 
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Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Hmm. Would removal of the character as a PC be functionally killing them. Isn’t the point if no death in a game to prevent the loss of the player’s character?
Not necessarily. The character themselves are still able to add to the story, even if they are not completely in the hands of the player.

Death is so NOT final in D&D that I prefer my solution, its more interesting than a simple cast of a 3rd level spell, IMHO. If death was more...deadly...it would add to the tension in-game, but as of now, its barely the equivalent of a medium skill check. At least a story loss requires the party to go to work and try to correct the situation.

But yeah, I've not seen a player who prefer to have no in-game death AND refuse to have setback or loss.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
There are A LOT of consequences and failure conditions other than character death.

There was a story hour that exemplified this kind of play, where though, for the most part, death was off the table, the game was ANYTHING BUT consequence free.

Basically, many bad things happened, including what in most games, works be TPKs but instead - other story related consequences where imposed.

Found it very long 3e Eberron story hour, but worth a read and will certainly give insight into the kind of game where death might be off the table but consequences are plentiful and varied.
 

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