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5E Super Deadly 5E?

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
I know a lot of players enjoy the appeal of 5E's high survivability rate, and much of it depends greatly on the DM's style, etc. but...

I find that, especially after tier 1, character deaths are few and far between, almost unheard of, and of course when they do occur recovering from them in many 5E games seems pretty simple with spells like Revivify. Even stabilizing is not that hard (the given mechanic is about 60% survival IIRC, even without aid). Exceeding your maximum HP after lower levels seems almost impossible in most situations for the insta-kill mechanic.

I've considered ways to make the game feel more deadly, such as imposing a level of exhaustion when you go to 0 HP, or giving a level for each failed death save (so even if you recover, you will need strong magic or some long rests to remove the penalties).

I was curious if anyone plays in a style of with house-rules that makes 5E more lethal to them?

Combat will near full HP should not be a terrifying experience (for the player anyway), but as HP dwindle and that 0 approaches, the player should understand their character is in danger and consider their options.
 

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Big Bucky

Explorer
I have players roll their death saving rolls secretly. Adds more tension. The others can’t say, he rolled two saves so we can leave him down for a while.

I do wish it was more balanced so that one character dying was a more frequent event. As it is now if anyone is going to die it’s because of a tpk. It’s more interesting to see how the other characters have to go on after they’ve lost a close friend.
 


tetrasodium

Adventurer
I don't think the problem is so much the fact that 5e is not deadly so much as the fact that the bar for "eek this could be deadly" is so high. Placing that bar somewhere between a beholder & other save or die effects or "I'm down, failed two death saves, & don't think bob can healing word/spare the dying/potion/etc me for at least 1 hp"
.
The rest>nova>nova>nova>nova>repeat thing is still a pretty big problem contributing to already the high bar, but I'm leaning towards using either the old -5 equals dead, or something like this

Each level you gain a number of grit points equal to your costitution mod plus half your strength mod (minimum zero) that represents your ability to continue fighting in the fact of mortal & potentially lethal wounds. When you fall below zero hit points you continue to accumulate damage until you reach your maximum grit.

For example: Alice is level 10 with 20 strength & 16 con so has 55 grit while Bob has 6 strength & 12 con so has 5 points of grit. Well into a combat where alice has 18hp & bob 12hp remaining both are hit by a fireball dealing 33 fire damage resulting in alice at -15 hp while bob is dead at -21. While Alice will live she needs to heal all of those 15 points before she can begin recovering hit points normally. Bob is hoping for options other than reincarnate.
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I've used the slow natural healing/gritty realism/heal kit depent/etc options from the dmg & none work meaningfully if at all or cause larger problems.
 


tetrasodium

Adventurer
It's easy enough to kill off PCs once they're down. Just double tap. you auto crit which causes two failed death saves. Oh, and take out the cleric first or drag the body off.
In prior editions you had all of these could be deadly & create riskof being deadly regardless ofif anyone dies or not.
  • "we cut that a little too close & overestimated ourselves"
  • Those crits/fireball/etc really threw us for a loop Alice almost died
  • Dick monsters with save or suck/save or lose mechanics
  • damn, I really should have cast x instead of doing y
  • ack sorry Bob I thought that fireball would be ok.
  • Dick monsters with save or die abilities.
  • Dick killer GM's
In 5e you only have those last two, the first 5 are practically as scary as a five year old threatening to beat up an adult & your post pretty much admits that by listing the last one as the solution.
 

It's easy enough to kill off PCs once they're down. Just double tap. you auto crit which causes two failed death saves. Oh, and take out the cleric first or drag the body off.
Yup
Just double tap.

5e flipped the game on its head.
Before a Solo monster was Scary because it had a scary PC killer feature. In 5e the mob boss plus henchmen is Scary because if the boss knocks out anyone, the henchmen will kill them.

6 throwaway goblins = RIP

Do you waste time killing the measly goblins or do you risk the double deathsave fail?
 


dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
It's easy enough to kill off PCs once they're down. Just double tap. you auto crit which causes two failed death saves. Oh, and take out the cleric first or drag the body off.
Yup
Just double tap.

5e flipped the game on its head.
Before a Solo monster was Scary because it had a scary PC killer feature. In 5e the mob boss plus henchmen is Scary because if the boss knocks out anyone, the henchmen will kill them.

6 throwaway goblins = RIP

Do you waste time killing the measly goblins or do you risk the double deathsave fail?
So, when you DM do you actually do this or are you just offering it as a non-solution?

Because IME DMs will joke about it, but rarely have I seen it done. Many players I've seen react to DMs who actually do this get pretty upset.

The DM I am playing with now has done it and will do it again, I am sure. I don't mind it as a player because when my character's HP is getting low, I am responsible for understanding the threat of being killed via the auto-crits on death saves. If my character reaches 0 HP and falls unconscious at the feet of a frost giant, I know that giant could kill me in one turn--luckily, it will likely have the other PCs to contend with at the time. ;)

In fact, several weeks ago, this was how our party was captured in a BBEG fight. We were losing, only one character still up and fighting and out-numbered 5-1. It was a looming TPK, but the DM rolled for how the BBEG wanted to handle it. Roll-high, we were captives; roll low, they killed us all. Luckily for the campaign, he rolled a 16 on the d20, and the last character was forced to surrender and we were captives, etc. had to escape/ revolt yadda yadda yadda and so on.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
I had players not roll their death saves until someone checked. Until then they simply counted rounds and noted rounds they took damage.
Love this idea. If nothing else, I will probably go this route when I DM. Removes the metagaming from it all. Thanks!

I just don't understand the assumption that characters don't die in 5e. Every one of my campaigns has had at least one death and most had several. I play rules as written and it can get very hairy from time to time.
Sure, they can, but a lot depends on the DM, etc. My question to you would be: how many of those deaths stayed dead? Part of the problem as I see it is also the ease of access to spells such as Revivify and even Raise Dead in many games, and in the presumed concept of the design of 5E that access to such powers should likely be available.

We've had many "deaths" since I've played--but as yet, short of the potential TPK I mentioned above, none of those characters have stayed dead. Most were revivified, and a couple with either raised or reincarnated. Now, as we reach higher levels, despite greater threats, those already rare deaths are becoming even rarer.

AS @Big Bucky mentions, it seems like more often than not everything will be fine, or you are facing a TPK--there seems little middle ground.
 
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Rabbitbait

Adventurer
Love this idea. If nothing else, I will probably go this route when I DM. Removes the metagaming from it all. Thanks!



Sure, they can, but a lot depends on the DM, etc. My question to you would be: how many of those deaths stayed dead? Part of the problem as I see it is also the ease of access to spells such as Revivify and even Raise Dead in many games, and in the presumed concept of the design of 5E that access to such powers should likely be available.

We've had many "deaths" since I've played--but as yet, short of the potential TPK I mentioned above, none of those characters have stayed dead. Most were revivified, and a couple with either raised or reincarnated. Now, as we reach higher levels, despite greater threats, those already rare deaths are becoming even rarer.

AS @Big Bucky mentions, it seems like more often than not everything will be fine, or you are facing a TPK--there seems little middle ground.
They all stayed dead. In every case the other characters have escaped but got no chance to get the body, or did not have the resources or access to get such powerful magic.
 

aco175

Hero
I never attack the PCs when down, sane as the PCs never attack (barring trolls) monsters when they drop. I guess some of the monsters could stabilize and wake up at some point, but they just die and get taken off the board. Just as monsters concentrate firepower on those still standing, the PCs do the same.

As a DM I do not gang up on the PCs or have the monsters attack them when they are down, unless the monsters is just trying to grab one and get away. I tend to have smarter monsters gang up or attack the cleric and mage. Undead tend to just swarm the first PCs they come to.
 

dave2008

Legend
There are lots of ways to make the game more dangerous with just the ideas in the DMG and lost of ways beyond that.
However, our rule is 0 = death. No one wants to get close to 0, so things get tense when a PC goes below 10 HP. Of course, my PCs have very little healing magic too.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Animal intelligence monsters will drag the body off depending on why they attack. Whether I double tap or not depends on the players. It's something we discuss at our session 0.

Targeting the cleric first just makes sense for intelligent enemies.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
They all stayed dead. In every case the other characters have escaped but got no chance to get the body, or did not have the resources or access to get such powerful magic.
So, in other words the character either win or left their dead behind or couldn't afford it.What levels are you taking about? I see that in tier 1, but by tier2 not so much and hardly at all in tier3.

There are lots of ways to make the game more dangerous with just the ideas in the DMG and lost of ways beyond that.
However, our rule is 0 = death. No one wants to get close to 0, so things get tense when a PC goes below 10 HP. Of course, my PCs have very little healing magic too.
Brutal return to 1E, etc. Love it. :)

Last session

Fighter player: I hate you. I hate you and your sneaky goblin throatslitting sons of ...
And as I have asked the others: do they stay dead?

Animal intelligence monsters will drag the body off depending on why they attack. Whether I double tap or not depends on the players. It's something we discuss at our session 0.

Targeting the cleric first just makes sense for intelligent enemies.
Session 0 discussion are good of course, but as with the others: do they stay dead?

Finally, for those who mention targeting casters, particularly clerics, unless they see the cleric casting a divine spell and recognize it as such, how do they know? Or are you meta-DMing?
 


dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
Fighter player is playing a monk now.

D&D 5e has clear tier. Below level 5 you stay dead. 5-9, you might come back. 10-15 you will come back. 16+, death isn't what scares you.
So, what level was said fighter? Given the goblin reference I am guessing in tier 1 or maybe 2?

Otherwise, I think that is a fairly accurate summary.

I might label 5-9 as "you should come back" because by then you have revivify and unless funds are insanely low (no component) or battle last longer than the 10 rounds you have to cast it, or the death occurs in such a way that there is no corpse, pretty much coming back is a cinch.
 

So, what level was said fighter? Given the goblin reference I am guessing in tier 1 or maybe 2?

Otherwise, I think that is a fairly accurate summary.

I might label 5-9 as "you should come back" because by then you have revivify and unless funds are insanely low (no component) or battle last longer than the 10 rounds you have to cast it, or the death occurs in such a way that there is no corpse, pretty much coming back is a cinch.
7th

Goblins slit throat then their boss told them to take the head. Due to party's actions, the head fell in a river.

The boss and fighter have been resurrected before. Boss Goblin knows you need the head.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
7th

Goblins slit throat then their boss told them to take the head. Due to party's actions, the head fell in a river.

The boss and fighter have been resurrected before. Boss Goblin knows you need the head.
I am assuming you don't mean actual "resurrection" since for that you don't need the head. I am guessing you mean either revivify or raise dead?
 

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