D&D 5E Should 5e have save or die?

Ahnehnois

First Post
And, truly, if there are options for no SoD then fine. There is nothing wrong with that. But if the system presume they don't exist then that is also an absolute that closes out play styles. (as the past few years have shown so well)
Agreed. There's nothing wrong with having a FantasyCraft style rule somewhere that says "Heroes of Destiny: if the DM decides that the PCs are destined for greatness, he may deem them immune to effects that cause death or disablement; they suffer X effect on a failed save instead". Or a similar option under one of various other justifications. You can have a game where characters can't die at all if you want it.

There's nothing exclusionary about putting a bodak in the core rules that works the way it always has.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
How's that "other play styles" thing working for the current edition?
No need for the sarcasm. This is not the "current edition" forum. This is the D&D Next discussion forum. You may want to check out their design goals and see whether they match your own. ;)

And, truly, if there are options for no SoD then fine. There is nothing wrong with that. But if the system presume they don't exist then that is also an absolute that closes out play styles. (as the past few years have shown so well)
I want for there to be options for SoD, but I also don't want someone else's style of gaming to trample and impede on mine.

And even with that, if you fall into lava, you die. If you look at Medusa you turn to stone. Those absolutes have nothing to do with gaming. The only question is, does your game pay head to those absolutes or not.
How do they not have anything to do with gaming? These "absolutes" effectively form rules for how the game works. Your statement below, for example, basically dictates the rules for how the the rules for the medusa must operate along SoD, and if it's not SoD, then it's not a "true Medusa."
You don't have to find those fun. I'm not arguing fun. Do what is fun for you.
But if you can't have "look at her == turn to stone" then truly, you are "not allowed" to have Medusa in your game. But only because you are not allowing it.
I would rather see monster abilities have lethality dial options for DMs, who may want appropriately adjust monsters as they see fit for their particular campaigns and settings.
 

ferratus

Adventurer
For the record guys, I don't disagree with save or die because I'm scared or I need to be coddled.

I just value the time I put into the storyline of my campaigns, and I don't do dungeon crawls where the PC's are interchangeable and can be replaced at will. The PC's usually have a place in the ongoing place in the campaign, and the work of rewriting the entire campaign arc for a new character is something I really don't have time for. Plus, many people on the thread find the disappointment of losing a character on a single bad roll that they've put weeks into and had expectations for to not be worth the momentary fear or danger.

Losing a character because of tactical mistakes is fine. In my last session as a player, I was playing a bard and my friends were playing a druid, a warden and an assassin. We directed a tribe of gnolls to attack a city, because it was controlled by an Amnian agent known as Ghelvuun the Buzzard and he was protected by a score of men and a fortress. This action so offended the druid and the warden that the assassin and I went in to assassinate the robber baron ourselves only to find out he was a shapechanged dragon who promptly tore us to pieces. Now that was an impossible situation, but it was an impossible situation that we put ourselves in by splitting the party. That doesn't bother me, because our end came about as a logical consequence of telling story.

You know what bothers me? Scuttling a long running campaign because we open a door with a medusa in it, and she turns the half the party to stone, thus killing the half of the campaign that involved those characters. It is cheap, it's pointless, and it is only suited to a campaign style where the dungeon not the ongoing story of the characters is the point of the campaign.

If save or die is as intertwined as 1e - 3e, I'm out because that just won't be the rules system that can do what I need it to do.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
For the record guys, I don't disagree with save or die because I'm scared or I need to be coddled.

I just value the time I put into the storyline of my campaigns, and I don't do dungeon crawls where the PC's are interchangeable and can be replaced at will. The PC's usually have a place in the ongoing place in the campaign, and the work of rewriting the entire campaign arc for a new character is something I really don't have time for. Plus, many people on the thread find the disappointment of losing a character on a single bad roll that they've put weeks into and had expectations for to not be worth the momentary fear or danger.

You know what bothers me? Scuttling a long running campaign because we open a door with a medusa in it, and she turns the half the party to stone, thus killing the half of the campaign that involved those characters. It is cheap, it's pointless, and it is only suited to a campaign style where the dungeon not the ongoing story of the characters is the point of the campaign.

If save or die is as intertwined as 1e - 3e, I'm out because that just won't be the rules system that can do what I need it to do.
I think the social contract idea is probably the best argument against this kind odf quick character death. I always think it's important that if someone makes the time to come to one of my sessions, it's my job to make it worth their time. Losing a character that you've invested time and energy in to a single die roll is frustrating. If it happens often, it's hard to maintain continuity in the campaign.

However, I object to the notion that such things are only appropriate if characters are interchangeable or irrelevant. Many great adventure fiction involves characters dying-often arbitrarily. If your character dies well, it's a privilege to be able to play it. And a sudden, surprising death can be dramatic and push the story into new territory. If your DM is a Joss Whedon fan, or watched 'The Wire', or even thought Boromir's death in Fellowship was a moment worthy of emulating, he can create a character death that feels just.

I would expect a player to advocate for their character's survivability, just as an actor in a TV show advocates not to have their character killed off. However, I think a sudden character death can be a good thing.

It is, however, the responsibility of the DM to use save-or-die effects (as well as any number of other highly lethal rules) judiciously and appropriately. Save-or-die grants the DM the ability to kill a PC without thinking about it, and it allows poor DMing to shine through. Ultimately, however, whenever your character dies, it is some combination of the DM's responsibility and possibly the player's; it's not the game's fault.
 

Aldarc

Legend
However, I object to the notion that such things are only appropriate if characters are interchangeable or irrelevant. Many great adventure fiction involves characters dying-often arbitrarily. If your character dies well, it's a privilege to be able to play it. And a sudden, surprising death can be dramatic and push the story into new territory. If your DM is a Joss Whedon fan, or watched 'The Wire', or even thought Boromir's death in Fellowship was a moment worthy of emulating, he can create a character death that feels just.
A medusa's immediate petrification does not strike me as a heroic death, but as a red shirt's death. Yes, sudden or seemingly arbitrary deaths in fiction can be great, in the context of the larger narrative, but what holds true in a work created by a single author does not necessarily hold true for the fiction of a cooperative game, not unless you subscribe to the idea that the campaign is somehow the DM's story.

I would expect a player to advocate for their character's survivability, just as an actor in a TV show advocates not to have their character killed off. However, I think a sudden character death can be a good thing.
Or it can be the point that the TV show "jumps the shark." ;)

It is, however, the responsibility of the DM to use save-or-die effects (as well as any number of other highly lethal rules) judiciously and appropriately. Save-or-die grants the DM the ability to kill a PC without thinking about it, and it allows poor DMing to shine through. Ultimately, however, whenever your character dies, it is some combination of the DM's responsibility and possibly the player's; it's not the game's fault.
This is largely why I advocate that lethality dials for monsters that allow DMs to adjust the lethality of particular monster abilities as appropriate. But I think that it's easier if the rules have you turn the lethality setting up than it is to turn it down.
 

JRRNeiklot

First Post
Variant: What chance of failing a save should people have?

Frex, in 2e by the time you're running into lots of save or dies, you often had a 5-25% chance of failure.

In 3e, that ran from 5-95% dependent on a variety of things, mostly DM whim. (He could also throw blasphemy-ing half-fiend T-rexes and remove the ability to save entirely) Enough so that it changed from "Eh, sometime you fail a save" to "Right, let's make ourselves immune".

So... people who live save or dies, what's an acceptable chance of dying?

Well, if you are rolling a save, you've already failed, so any chance is okay.
 

ferratus

Adventurer
If your DM is a Joss Whedon fan, or watched 'The Wire', or even thought Boromir's death in Fellowship was a moment worthy of emulating, he can create a character death that feels just.

Well, Boromir's death isn't a save or die situation, its just a death, and its a death that occurs because of logical progression of the story. Namely the party tensions have driven everyone apart, and thus they are easy pickings for the orcs. Boromir died trying to defend the hobbits.

For the other two situations, they are indeed unexpected deaths that could qualify for save or die. However, D&D is not an authored work, it is a cooperative one. The question I would ask, is does the player want his character to die in an arbitrary way? I generally find that I (and most of the people I game with) generally are more tolerant of character death if it is the result of a player's mistake or if it serves some wider purpose to the story.

It is, however, the responsibility of the DM to use save-or-die effects (as well as any number of other highly lethal rules) judiciously and appropriately. Save-or-die grants the DM the ability to kill a PC without thinking about it, and it allows poor DMing to shine through. Ultimately, however, whenever your character dies, it is some combination of the DM's responsibility and possibly the player's; it's not the game's fault.

I can certainly appreciate the sentiment here, but what's judiciously? One character per campaign randomly killed by a single bad dice roll? Two? Or is the proper etiquette that you warn them first that they will face a monster that can kill you with one dice roll? Do you keep save or die effects out of the game until they can be easily undone by raise dead?

I've used save or die, and it generally seems to lead to disgust afterward rather than tension beforehand.
 

JRRNeiklot

First Post
You know what bothers me? Scuttling a long running campaign because we open a door with a medusa in it, and she turns the half the party to stone, thus killing the half of the campaign that involved those characters. It is cheap, it's pointless, and it is only suited to a campaign style where the dungeon not the ongoing story of the characters is the point of the campaign.

Those stories might end. But other stories get told in their place. I don't want to play in some pre-defined story. I want to make my own story, and dying to a medusa might be the ending to my story, and I'm okay with that. Besides, save, save, save or die can still have the same outcome.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
A medusa's immediate petrification does not strike me as a heroic death, but as a red shirt's death. Yes, sudden or seemingly arbitrary deaths in fiction can be great, in the context of the larger narrative, but what holds true in a work created by a single author does not necessarily hold true for the fiction of a cooperative game, not unless you subscribe to the idea that the campaign is somehow the DM's story.
It's cooperative, but I do subscribe to the notion that it's the DM's story. I think it's analagous to a director on a set with a bunch of actors. The director has the vision that unites everyone, and hopefully he pays attention to all the individuals and uses them well. In any campaign, if the DM says your character is dead, he's dead.

Or it can be the point that the TV show "jumps the shark." ;)
It can be, no doubt.

This is largely why I advocate that lethality dials for monsters that allow DMs to adjust the lethality of particular monster abilities as appropriate. But I think that it's easier if the rules have you turn the lethality setting up than it is to turn it down.
I think makes more sense to say "those within the bodak's gaze must save or die" and then add "if the DM wishes to reduce the creature's lethality, the gaze deals 5d6 negative energy damage instead" than it does to say "The lich's touch causes you to take a -2 penalty to everything for X rounds" and then add on "or it paralyzes the character permanently. Your call!"

I also think it's important to maintain the classic save-or-dies (finger of death, medusa, etc.) as part of the rules. I'd also rather have beginners experience save-or-die as the default and then decide from experience whether they like it or not, as you have. It's not a deal-breaker for everyone or nearly everyone; although I hesitate to postulate the opinions of the entire gaming community.

At the end of the day, you can still play it either way.
 
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nnms

First Post
I think that there's some conflicting play preference priorities going on here that are at the root of the disagreement.

Some prioritize story and characterization and find save or die character death anathema to their goals.

Some prioritize plausibility during exploration and find save or die character death to be potentially realistic.

Some prioritize game play and find save or die character death to be too effective at removing them from participation.

And within these kinds of priorities, you can have the reverse as well.

Some prioritize story and want save or die effects to weed out the unimportant characters and create who is important through emergence in play.

Some prioritize plausibility during exploration and find save or die to be too simplistic to actually be plausible.

Some prioritize game play and find save or die to be a great challenge to overcome.

My own position is that save or die is good and that the game should support it as much or as little as the people playing want.
 

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