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


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Mort

Legend
Supporter
Yes, obviously. I’m not asking about that however.

The rest of my post addressed your post by providing an example story hour that exemplifies the type of play you date asking about.

But to be more specific:

Tracking HP and death saves can sell help impose those consequences. Are you knocked out, world the character be "dead" normally? But because of the nature of the game, another consequence happens instead.

Maybe the character incurs an obligation from their God, maybe the character dropping (even if they were revived because that's how the game worked) allowed the bad guys to accomplish a goal and now the characters have more to do.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The rest of my post addressed your post by providing an example story hour that exemplifies the type of play you date asking about.

But to be more specific:

Tracking HP and death saves can sell help impose those consequences. Are you knocked out, world the character be "dead" normally? But because of the nature of the game, another consequence happens instead.

Maybe the character incurs an obligation from their God, maybe the character dropping (even if they were revived because that's how the game worked) allowed the bad guys to accomplish a goal and now the characters have more to do.
Thank you, but I’m not asking about what consequences to impose instead of death.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
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.
True. You could have 0 hit points is some sort of condition, exhaustion, etc. mechanic, and then death saves are made to remain conscious. Fail the three saves and you go unconscious and are out of the fight.
 


toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
Finally, what benefit is gained by having no character death?
My understanding is that it's like playing Dragon Age (video game) where so long as one person lives, the entire party lives, though the 0hp folks may be saddled with malaise (perhaps lesser degrees of exhaustion) when the battle is over.

You'd still track death saves and complete failure would probably mean you can't get that person back into the combat at all. While I personally don't play this style because I believe the thrill of combat comes largely from fear of losing a character, I am a huge believer of customizing the game the way you want it. If there's an entire table that likes the idea of a contiguous cast of characters, you can make it work. Quoting D&D designer Chris Perkins: "The first rule of D&D is make it your own. That’s neither bad design nor lazy design. In D&D’s case, it has kept the game alive."
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
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?
Fortunately it never got to that point, and let me tell you, in Tier 4, I was trying to hit them hard! :)

But in the higher tiers there are plenty of options and they had allies who could help of course. So it’s doubtful that anything permanent would have happened.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
This isn’t how I typically run the game, but I have run no-death campaigns before, so I’ll answer as best I can.

Without hit points, combat stops really being much of a game. They give you a means of tracking progress toward victory or loss. Just because loss doesn’t mean the character becomes permanently unplayable, doesn’t mean it isn’t meaningful.

Death saves are still important to track because after 3 you can’t be healed conscious again. There also may be some other long-term consequences for racking up three failed saves, even if it isn’t death. Sometimes it’s narrative consequences, sometimes it’s mechanical ones like long-term injuries.
 


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