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D&D 5E Should 5e have save or die?

ferratus

Adventurer
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.

Not if your warlord or cleric interrupts the third save by expending a resource. Sort of like casting neutralize poison or protection from petrification on people in advance, only you aren't casting it in advance.

I don't really get the hate for turning to stone or causing death over 3 rounds. That's 18 seconds, which is about the time you need for a cleric to realize Bob the fighter is turning to stone or being disintegrated and hurriedly disrupt the curse before it reaches his vital organs and kills him.

Still quick and sudden but with a chance for the party to react and save themselves to an unexpected monster.

Even the black mamba doesn't kill you in less than 18 seconds guys.
 

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ferratus

Adventurer
The black mamba is not Medusa.

The Medusa was the daughter of gods who didn't hang around in dungeon complexes or on random encounter tabes.

Orcus in 4e killed people with a save or die effect too. When Orcus does it, its cool. He's a demon lord. When a fairly low level or random monster does it, not so much.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
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.
I imagine most players don't want their characters to be victims of instead death. However, if players always got what they wanted or always felt like they could predict or understand what was happening, the game would seem quite stale and boring, wouldn't it? The loss of a character to sudden death hurts, but so did watching a character on 'The Wire' get shot in the back of the head by a kid while shopping at a convenience store, or watching Wash get impaled at the end of Serenity. Drama is supposed to make you feel the full range of human emotions, not just the good ones. That's the purpose to the story.

If the DM and the players prefer to run a different style of game, that's totally fine and I don't begrudge anyone for advocating it. Some people live hard enough lives and game for escapist fun. Others simply enjoy a certain style of fiction and that's fine.

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.
It's definitely a challenge for the DM. I hold-CdGed a character once and it was definitely tough on both sides. I used a completely inappropriate cloudkill on a PC that killed him, and resurrected the character for free as an apology. That said, it's not the only element of the game that can really screw things up. I'm a firm believer that rules don't replace good DMing skills. If you've instakilled a character and it didn't go over well, you need to evaluate what happened and decide what needs to be done differently next time.

The same is true of many different elements in the game. I once had one of those "I'll kill you if you do something evil" paladins ruin a game I played on. Does that mean that the paladin class is anti-fun or that it should be removed from the game? Truthfully I banned paladins from my game after that. But I don't expect everyone else to follow suit. They're part of the game. So are petrification, paralysis, and instant death.

FWIW, I think the sheer number of save-or-die and save-or-almost-die situations is probably too large. Like anything, it uses its potency if overused. But I don't think that's enough reason to cut it or relegate it to an optional rule.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I'm not a fan of anything that takes out a long-played character to one lousy roll.

That said, I do want to see save-or-die in the game, but something on the order you get a couple chances to mitigate or hold off the effect. And something that most likely you don't just "walk off" if you do make the save.

The Medusa Example:

1st failed save: Slowed
2nd failed save: Immobilized
3rd failed save: Petrified

Making the save doesn't undo the 1st or 2nd failed save, you need to make an additional save to move backward through the effects (and optionally, you could move back downwards through the track).

Finger of Death Example:

1st failed save: Lose 1/4 of your total hp
2nd failed save: Lose 1/2 of your total hp
3rd failed save: Lose all your hp

Though it would make most sense there could be no moving back upwards along the track (fighting for your life?), it could be applied to this as well, though most likely making the save would just eject you from the track with whatever hit point loss you accrued.

I guess in may ways, this might make "Save or Die" like the 4E disease track.
 

Mr. Patient

Adventurer
I don't really get the hate for turning to stone or causing death over 3 rounds. That's 18 seconds, which is about the time you need for a cleric to realize Bob the fighter is turning to stone or being disintegrated and hurriedly disrupt the curse before it reaches his vital organs and kills him.

Hate is too strong a word for me, but personally, I find it boring. I know the idea is that it somehow ratchets up the tension when it's in slo-mo like this, but I never found that to be the case in practice. In my 4e game, the PCs have multiple ways to get bonuses to saves over the course of a few rounds, and the end result is that iconic deadly monsters don't get to do their schtick very often (or at all) -- they're just sacks of hit points.
 

ferratus

Adventurer
[MENTION=52734]Stormonu[/MENTION]

That's another compromise I'd be willing to accept. Certainly deadlier than 4e, but without it being a matter of being randomly screwed over.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
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.
Do you hand them a script to read and memorize as well? Or do you call cut on the scenes when they fail to live up to your vision and force them to do it again until they get it right too? ;) I don't subscribe to a DM-centric universe with D&D, and I think that's a fundamental philosophical divide between our styles. When I say that D&D is a cooperative game, I believe it has to exist between the DM and players. If I wanted a game with a set script and delineated vision of the "director" or game creator, I would just have my players play a video game RPG instead. It's also the players' story and their choices and world to explore. I have seen far too many DMs with set scripts for campaigns they envisioned as "their story" run amok in chaos as players utterly resisted at every step to just be the DMs puppets for his story. I've been one of those resistant players as well, including my first D&D campaign, which has left a sour taste in my mouth towards that style of DMing.

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 liches 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.
Again, this is another game philosophy divide. I think it's much easier to turn the lethality dial up than it is turn it down. Have the non-lethal option as the default, and then if the DM decides to increase lethality, then he can turn the dial to an appropriate temperature of lethality. It strikes me as easier to have a rule that says, "If you want to make the bodak more challenging, make the gaze lethal with a save-or-die roll, DC X." Those who truly like save-or-die can have their lethality dials without necessarily having it be the default. What you want your players to experience should not necessarily be forced on those who do not want their players to experience it. But I doubt we will agree eye-to-eye on this matter, as there does seem to be fundamental game philosophy divides between our preferences and styles.
 

ferratus

Adventurer
Hate is too strong a word for me, but personally, I find it boring. I know the idea is that it somehow ratchets up the tension when it's in slo-mo like this, but I never found that to be the case in practice. In my 4e game, the PCs have multiple ways to get bonuses to saves over the course of a few rounds, and the end result is that iconic deadly monsters don't get to do their schtick very often (or at all) -- they're just sacks of hit points.

That's an actual criticism I could understand. However, in my experience the iconic deadly monsters were doing their shtick. A medusa slowing, then immobilizing was turning someone to stone. The fact that she doesn't quite seal the deal doesn't she wasn't doing it.

Besides, which is more anti-climatic? Never quite turning someone to stone because the players fought off the curse, or being able to undo turning someone to stone after a quick prayer and a nap?
 
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Ahnehnois

First Post
Do you hand them a script to read and memorize as well? Or do you call cut on the scenes when they fail to live up to your vision and force them to do it again until they get it right too? ;) I don't subscribe to a DM-centric universe with D&D, and I think that's a fundamental philosophical divide between our styles. When I say that D&D is a cooperative game, I believe it has to exist between the DM and players. If I wanted a game with a set script and delineated vision of the "director" or game creator, I would just have my players play a video game RPG instead. It's also the players' story and their choices and world to explore. I have seen far too many DMs with set scripts for campaigns they envisioned as "their story" run amok in chaos as players utterly resisted at every step to just be the DMs puppets for his story. I've been one of those resistant players as well, including my first D&D campaign, which has left a sour taste in my mouth towards that style of DMing.
I've seen campaigns fail because the DM tries to please everybody and ends up pleasing nobody, or because the DM lacks the force of will to hold the thing together. I think DMing requires leadership. Good leaders won't leave a sour taste. That said, good leaders are hard to find, in any domain. Again, I think that rules aren't a substitute for good DMing.

Do I have a script? Do I cut things that don't work after they happen? No. I'm directing an improv. It did take me time to learn how to balance the few things that I dictate over reactions and developments that happen during play. I think my players have complained more about having too much responsibility than not enough! But these days everyone's on the same page.

Again, this is another game philosophy divide. I think it's much easier to turn the lethality dial up than it is turn it down. Have the non-lethal option as the default, and then if the DM decides to increase lethality, then he can turn the dial to an appropriate temperature of lethality. It strikes me as easier to have a rule that says, "If you want to make the bodak more challenging, make the gaze lethal with a save-or-die roll, DC X." Those who truly like save-or-die can have their lethality dials without necessarily having it be the default. What you want your players to experience should not necessarily be forced on those who do not want their players to experience it. But I doubt we will agree eye-to-eye on this matter, as there does seem to be fundamental game philosophy divides between our preferences and styles.
I suspect that this is true. I think I've stated my case well and you seem to have done yours. I doubt either of us is likely to change philosphies, so I'll amicably agree to disagree and hopefully the coversation will be an interesting read for others.
 

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