D&D 5E The Decrease in Desire for Magic in D&D


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Thomas Shey

Legend
I'm pretty curious about this. Does the study mention if/how much the injuries impacted general combat effectiveness for those who carried on, and what the related weapons systems for the study are?

Depends on what you mean by "carry on"; note this only applies short term, i.e. during one continuous exchange. After the adrenaline has worn off all kinds of things come home to roost (including the shock they've managed to avoid setting in and various impairing levels of pain).

Its been some time since I saw it, but it involved modern exchanges between police and criminals primarily, and thus a lot of it was firearms injuries, but I remember distinctly some break-out sections on blunt impact and knife wounds (which were common enough there was a summary list). Its also, as far as I know, not been repeated but then, it required the agency doing it (I want to say the American FBI but its been some years now) to do a fair amount of data trawling. I do know I've seen some similar data from military sources, though I expect the weapon profiles involved were somewhat different (would have leaned into longarms and small scale fragmentation more than the police data did, and probably didn't deal with melee attacks to any real extent); in any case there was some consistency of conclusion.

(There was also some similar data from trauma centers some years ago.)
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
I'm not much for death spirals, but I would guess more gritty fiction where death comes cheap and easy?

That's easily handled by making people, well, die easily. Its not like there's not plenty of ways to do that compared to D&D that don't involve death spirals (I mentioned the BRP family of games; they don't do death spirals, but I remember when we first shifted a long time ago, and how abrupt the difference was. You could be very capable and pretty good at defending yourself, but you learned you were never, ever safe no matter what you were fighting).
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
As for non-combat solutions...maybe? But it's been my experience that most people who play melee characters actually want to fight with them, to the point that I've had people protest when I attempt diplomacy or lock down foes with a spell!

Honestly, its a little perverse to expect people who pick a combat focused character type not to expect them to want to get into combat.
 

Military studies I read indicated there was something like a 5 percent performance degradation
That's pretty impressive.
Depends on what you mean by "carry on"; note this only applies short term, i.e. during one continuous exchange. After the adrenaline has worn off all kinds of things come home to roost (including the shock they've managed to avoid setting in and various impairing levels of pain).

Its been some time since I saw it, but it involved modern exchanges between police and criminals primarily, and thus a lot of it was firearms injuries, but I remember distinctly some break-out sections on blunt impact and knife wounds (which were common enough there was a summary list). Its also, as far as I know, not been repeated but then, it required the agency doing it (I want to say the American FBI but its been some years now) to do a fair amount of data trawling. I do know I've seen some similar data from military sources, though I expect the weapon profiles involved were somewhat different (would have leaned into longarms and small scale fragmentation more than the police data did, and probably didn't deal with melee attacks to any real extent); in any case there was some consistency of conclusion.

(There was also some similar data from trauma centers some years ago.)
Was referring to the population that did not succumb to shock/blood loss during combat. If they're still pretty high functioning and able to capably protect themselves (especially in melee) that takes any remaining air out of the whole death spiral logic (at least for earth humans).
 

Undrave

Hero
Pull out those best moves before it comes down to the wire, then. Lead with them. Get the BBEG into its own death spiral before it gets you into yours; and if the BBEG gets lucky and you can't hurt it fast, have a getaway plan. Make not getting damaged an important part of your attack plan, rather than just wading in and trading blows. Etc.
Which sounds like a good idea but then you start to get into the 'HP are meat' debate and I don't know if you want to go down that route? It's not like you can guaratee not to take any hits, there's gotta at least be some thresholds going on here. You'll also end up with way more wack-a-mole healing.

Death spirals are a good incentive to avoid combat all together, but a lot of people LIKE combat so you gotta make the rest of the game more fun. I can see where that would be attractive to someone used to 1e where fighting was basically failing.
It's not like you can prevent taking hit point damage while adventuring, especially if you're a melee character. You kind of sort of need to be standing next to bad guys to do your work. If there were penalties for taking hit point damage, who would want to be a melee character? Everyone would be ranged specialists trying to use crowd control spells and summoned minions to take melee damage.

Twilight Clerics would probably replace all other healing classes, I suppose.
You end up with the Heroclix Batman problem where the most efficient thing you can do is to HEROICALLY hide in bushes chucking batarangs at the enemy.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Which sounds like a good idea but then you start to get into the 'HP are meat' debate and I don't know if you want to go down that route? It's not like you can guaratee not to take any hits, there's gotta at least be some thresholds going on here. You'll also end up with way more wack-a-mole healing.

Death spirals are a good incentive to avoid combat all together, but a lot of people LIKE combat so you gotta make the rest of the game more fun. I can see where that would be attractive to someone used to 1e where fighting was basically failing.

You end up with the Heroclix Batman problem where the most efficient thing you can do is to HEROICALLY hide in bushes chucking batarangs at the enemy.
Oof, yeah, Heroclix is a pretty rough example of this sort of thing. Even if you have a click that makes you super powered, good luck staying on it for more than a zeptosecond. But for most characters, you just go from bad to worse with frightening rapidity if someone can target you.

I remember my first game, I had some old clicks, and I actually thought my Living Laser with Defense Value 10 would be about invincible. Yeah, not so much, lol.
 

Undrave

Hero
Or take defensive feats and abilities rather than just those that add to your DPR.
Except that's a losing proposition, as you'll want to send the enemy into THEIR death spiral faster. Advancing the game state, to use TCG speak, will always be more desirable and the more efficient. You won't see people take defensive actions, you'll see them take feats to be able to snipe opponent from 100 yards away and hit as fast as possible. You'll end up with a bunch of Skyrim Stealth Archer.
 
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Undrave

Hero
Oof, yeah, Heroclix is a pretty rough example of this sort of thing. Even if you have a click that makes you super powered, good luck staying on it for more than a zeptosecond. But for most characters, you just go from bad to worse with frightening rapidity if someone can target you.

I remember my first game, I had some old clicks, and I actually thought my Living Laser with Defense Value 10 would be about invincible. Yeah, not so much, lol.
At least in Heroclix you have multiple units when they start going down the death spiral.

I only played Heroclix a short while WAAAAAY back when it first came out. The best unit in the first few runs of DC Heroclix was the experienced Batman (not the Veteran one, who had the JLA team ability). I dunno how it is now, but back then, being able to climb and move unhindered in difficult terrain was a power on the same stat where you would find Stealth (letting you hide in stuff like bushes, making you basically invisible even after attacking), but Bat Family members got Stealth as a bonus power. So you'd often see Batman or Robin just hiding in a bush chucking Batarangs. And Batman in particular had the 'Willpower' power which mean it could activate two turns in a row without taking damage. I think he might even have had a way to ignore defensive abilities?

Anyway, he was kinda broken AF. And with the fact that you could only move OR attack (if I remember), melee was basically useless.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
That's pretty impressive.

Was referring to the population that did not succumb to shock/blood loss during combat. If they're still pretty high functioning and able to capably protect themselves (especially in melee) that takes any remaining air out of the whole death spiral logic (at least for earth humans).

Barring the extreme cases of disabling trauma or immediate death, yes; that was the point. People have kept fighting effectively with a dozen small caliber bullets in them, three relatively deep stab wounds, or (in a couple cases) a .50 caliber machine gun round in them.

Impairment within the context of a single combat exchange is vastly overstated in death spiral games. I can only speculate why.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Barring the extreme cases of disabling trauma or immediate death, yes; that was the point. People have kept fighting effectively with a dozen small caliber bullets in them, three relatively deep stab wounds, or (in a couple cases) a .50 caliber machine gun round in them.

Impairment within the context of a single combat exchange is vastly overstated in death spiral games. I can only speculate why.
I speculate that it relates to the myth of the hero... resisting and ignoring injury is supposed to be only something the hero does... ie not something that is a normal evolved trait in humans.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Which sounds like a good idea but then you start to get into the 'HP are meat' debate
I'm not sure about that, as even if most hit points represent fatigue rather than meat all of what I've been suggesting still holds true.
and I don't know if you want to go down that route? It's not like you can guaratee not to take any hits, there's gotta at least be some thresholds going on here. You'll also end up with way more wack-a-mole healing.
That doesn't follow. Whack-a-mole healing only happens when someone goes down at 0 then gets healed and gets up again at 1 or more. In fact I think there'd be way less whack-a-mole healing in that players would want to keep their characters a long way above 0.

Now if you mean there'll be more in-combat healing in general, perhaps that's true.
Death spirals are a good incentive to avoid combat all together, but a lot of people LIKE combat so you gotta make the rest of the game more fun. I can see where that would be attractive to someone used to 1e where fighting was basically failing.
Fighting should be the last resort, not the first one, particularly for any PCs that want to call themselves Good. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Except that's a losing proposition, as you'll want to send the enemy into THEIR death spiral faster. Advancing the game state, to use TCG speak, will always be more desirable and the more efficient. You won't see people take defensive actions, you'll see them take feats to be able to snipe opponent from 100 years away and hit as fast as possible. You'll end up with a bunch of Skyrim Stealth Archer.
Now that would be one hell of a shot - not only hit the target but hit it a century back or foward in time. :)
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Fighting should be the last resort, not the first one, particularly for any PCs that want to call themselves Good. :)
I think that one of the draws of fantasy games is often the more simplistic and child-like depiction of good vs evil, wherein good guys beat up bad guys because that's what good guys do.

Obviously, in the real world things aren't so simple. To even know where to begin we often have to examine the philosophical or religious lens through which an individual views the world. Something that is good from one perspective may be evil from the perspective of a different moral framework.

Is barging into the warren of a bunch of goblins who were minding their own business, slaughtering them, and taking their stuff, the act of someone good? From a real world perspective it's extremely colonialist, and that's arguably the most positive thing I can say about it. But from a simpler perspective they were "bad guys" who were going to commit evil at some point and therefore stopping them is a good act. Even if, here in the real world, we recognize that as overly simplistic.

At my table we're all adults who know better, but for a few hours a week we like to forget about the complexities of the real world and return to a more simplistic and child-like view of what good is. So we don't generally worry about that stuff. There's nothing wrong with a little escapism.

The point being that good, particularly in the context of a fantasy game, is relative. And that good characters can absolutely shoot first and ask questions later, depending on the style of game you're playing.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
that's the thing, D&D allows me to be hit by 3 arrows, get breathed on by a dragon (taking full damage) and fall 30ft landing on my back... and if I have 7hp left I have no penalties to attack or skills. I am as good then as I am after a month of rest at everything I do.

The alternative, is a death spiral.

And (IMO) death spirals are the worst. I'd much rather have a bit of abstract (un)reality than to have to deal with death spirals in play.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Hot take warning.....

Indeed; and that's a significant problem now and, to a slightly lesser extent, always has been.

Thing is, any means of solving it that's the least bit penalizing to characters who are running low on h.p. will immediately draw widespread howls of protest in which the words "death spiral" will figure prominently.

And yet, a death spiral is - or should be - the whole damn point! The more hurt or fatigued you are, the less effective you are. Don't want to get into a potential death spiral? Then don't lose the hit points in the first place.

Far too often it seems the only hit point anyone cares about is the one that takes them from +1 to 0. Ideally, every hit point should have importance, even the one that takes you from full to one less than full.

From a "realism" perspective sure, but from a "fun" perspective, yuck.

Death spirals unevenly target certain styles of play. If they (death spirals) are implemented, those will be avoided. Which again, is fine from a "realism" perspective but awful from a "fun" perspective for anyone who likes those styles.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Fighting should be the last resort, not the first one, particularly for any PCs that want to call themselves Good. :)

This is a style of play that D&D has never encouraged, certainly not with mechanics. Suddenly encouraging it would be a RADICAL departure and world likely require a massive tonal shift in adventures and the rules themselves.
 

Composer99

Adventurer
Where I'd rather every hit point count, not just the last one.
Every hit point does count, because every hit point is one more hit point between you and losing that last one.



Broadly speaking, I think if I wanted to encourage a "combat as the last resort" approach to a game, I'd want either lower hit point totals and sudden death at 0 hit points (maybe a single death save), or a general expectation that there are always loads and loads of enemies about - if you want to start a fight you're going to get swarmed (*).

(*) Although in that case having a "swarm"-equivalent stat block for bigger creatures would be necessary to reduce GM workload and table time spent on resolving monster actions in combat. ENWorld's A5E has such a thing, for instance.

I would not, in any event, want a death spiral.

(That being stated, in my Fantasy Heartbreaker™, I have planned a variant rule that adds a death spiral - at least for PCs, although it does it by adding what amounts to a second hit point pool functionally equivalent to "Wound Points" from d20 Star Wars and the 3.5 UA.)
 


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